I was about 13 years old when I was confronted with the first pivotal moment that set the stage for the rest of my life. It was my first day of riding camp. To say I loved horses is an understatement – I was obsessed with them. I even came up with a scheme to turn our backyard shed into a barn for a horse of my own, which seemed like the least my parents could give me in exchange for my good grades.
As per usual, I was the only black girl at camp. No biggie. I was used to that. But I was also one of the few new people among a group of kids who had been attending for weeks.
Everything was fine until lunch. The lunch room overlooked the riding ring with booths that could fit about four people, two people seated on each side. There was one booth in front of me with 1 seat available.
As I stood there, frozen, watching the three other girls at the table laugh and chat over their sandwiches, it was as if time stood still. It felt as if there was an invisible barrier preventing me from crossing over onto the other side, the place where I truly wanted to be.
It was within that torturous place of conflict that suddenly a voice spoke to me. Believe it or not, in an epic, Hollywood-movie kind of way, this deep male voice (think Morgan Freeman) clearly stated the following: “Don’t be afraid of people”. This was the command I heard and received to step out of the pattern of shyness and join the party.
It was my profound shyness as a child that has always caused me to label myself as an introvert. Unlike true introverts who experience energy drain when they engage with others, I get energy from human interaction. For me, the more the better. I seek it. I crave it. As much as I enjoy time on my own, I much prefer doing just about anything with someone else.
I am clearly not an introvert. I have been living a pattern of introversion. It is a pattern I fell into at a young age, likely because of my awareness of being “the other”, an awareness that was communicated in subtle and not so subtle ways once I started school at the age of 3.
My shyness was my response to what I perceived was a world that noticed me, but did not seem truly interested in understanding who I was. It was the experience of being noticed and not really seen. In effect, my shyness became a way of protecting my authentic self from push back from others who I believed would not be open to receiving and respecting it. It was a coping strategy born from an inner knowing, an inner wisdom that lay far below the surface, unknowable to anyone, not even myself.
That day at riding camp as I stood staring at those other three girls, I made the choice to follow that command I heard so clearly in my head and step out of the pattern. In the movie version of this scene, you would see me walk through a transparent permeable barrier no one knew was there until I started to push into it causing ripples of concentric circles as a traversed onto the other side, into a new reality. That step I took that day out of the pattern that seemed to form the core of my personality, changed the course of my life.
The opportunity to step out of the pattern is there for all of us. It shows up in those moments of inner conflict, when you hold yourself back, keeping yourself from experiencing what your soul truly desires.
It is at those very moments, when you feel frozen that you need to listen. Just stay there and listen. Stay in the fear that has you stuck in your tracks. Notice the pattern. You have been here many times before. Pause. Listen. Whether it’s a whisper or a booming command, there is a voice there, coaxing you to break free of the matrix, to walk through the old world into a new one. A world where you will have the chance to discover your authentic self.
Learning how to access and nurture your authentic self in order to Design Your Life, is what I am all about. But in this world that is phobic of living from the inside out, it takes practice of the right mindset, and tools to do it. The Mindful World Parenting Summit, the free online summit that goes live Jan 21-27 2019, is that rare opportunity to learn what it takes to create the pause we all need when triggered, and mine these moments for all they have for us.
Here is a piece of video I took of myself after two back to back interviews I did one evening with two transformative leaders, Jennifer McLean & Les Brown.
In their own way, they each touched that little girl inside of me who continues to struggle with the fear of being unseen. The process with Jennifer happened on camera during our interview; it continued with Les after I stopped recording the interview for the summit.
I offer you this piece of my experience so that you understand that this process of unfolding and evolving into our authenticity never ends. And you don’t want it to. It is the process that allows us to connect with the source of our power and our joy.
Join me and the over 40 experts that have contributed to this summit and learn how to free yourself from The Matrix. You don’t have to be a parent to participate; all that is needed is to have had one.
With Deep Respect & Gratitude