Recently, I saw the TEDx Talk by Daralyse Lyons, in which she explains how she’s always said she’s biracial despite being told that she has to choose to identify as black or white.
(I have to say this whole concept is alien to me. Here in Israel I see skins of various hues, but never identify people as anything but Israeli. But I understand this practice of putting people into colour boxes is common in the USA, where Daralyse lives, and probably in other countries.)
You can find Daralyse’s talk here and I can tell you it’s worth a listen.
On the same day that I heard that talk, I saw an interesting post from Jennifer Gilmour. The post ends with:
Have you ever struggled with being “unapologetically you”?
Have I ever not struggled with it?
Growing up, I was taught not to mention being Jewish where it wasn’t necessary. Because that was a big part of who I was, I found this difficult, especially as there were several other secrets I had to keep.
Here in Israel, I don’t have that problem. I also don’t have a problem with saying I’m Israeli at home, while abroad that can also be hard to say.
And then, of course, there’s social anxiety, which I’m keen to discuss in order to raise awareness, but that’s also hard. What’s lies behind all of those difficulties is a fear of being judged for who I am.
Following that introduction, I want to pass the question on to you. Have you ever struggled with being “unapologetically you”?
I was on Facebook recently when one special post caught my eye. I thought, this would be perfect for my Power of Belief series. Fortunately the post’s author allowed me to use her post. It was Jennifer Gilmour.
The post speaks for itself, so I’m copying it here before adding anything else.
This photo just came up in my memories. A production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with my tutors and fellow students. It was way back when I was at Hull College studying Acting.
Here’s a story for you.
At the time I didn’t believe in myself, my mum had instilled in me that I needed a fall back plan because it’s unlikely that this career path would work out for me. It wasn’t just my mum though, but the school system and others around me.
I applied for a gap year in Youthwork and decided not to apply for anything in Acting. I was absolutely gutted when I received some pretty awesome grades from my diploma in Acting. However, I thought to myself that I would carry on with what I had decided and maybe come back to it. I went on to study youthwork at the University of Chester. I found myself doing acting within this, being a part of acting groups and I worked with young people with drama.
My life went in a different direction as most know. I fell into an abusive relationship for several years and I felt my life was on hold. I didn’t progress in myself or with any kind of career.
However, the last several years of building myself back up after fleeing that abusive relationship has given me an appreciation for life. The last two years have been a big game changer for me and I believe in myself. I’ve made sure I take advantage of my freedom and really worked on my self development.
I’ve taken away the negative support in my life, those who said I couldn’t make it or achieve it. In anything I have chosen, I have not stuck to a ‘normal’ job or typical ‘career path’ that the school system encourages. I’m not saying that those paths are wrong or bad but it simply wasn’t right for me. If my creativity had of been encouraged who knows where I would be? If someone had have told me they believed in me, motivated me and backed me- where would I be?
I may not be the actor I wanted to be in my childhood and teens but those experiences have helped me today. Those skills have been put into practice when I speak at events in the UK or happen to appear in the news or on a documentary. They appear in events I host or interviews I facilitate.
That experience wasn’t a waste of time because it only made me certain of who I was meant to be.
If I could go back in time and give myself a message it would be “Believe in yourself and surprise those who don’t believe you can do it”.
I’ve surprised myself in the last two years and I hope it’s turned the heads of those who said I couldn’t do it.
I certainly don’t have a typical day at work in my self-employment. I’m never bored and there’s a different sense of achievement when something works. My hope is that my children see that there are options and that I pass on the message that dreams can be goals.
So my message to you this evening is, whatever has happened in your life… it’s not a waste! It can equip you with what you need to make it happen. Believe in yourself because that’s the number one person you need to convince. If you can’t do that, I’m waving a flag with your name on it and I will personally cheer you on.
Isn’t that amazing? Jennifer’s former tutors thought so, too. They wrote some moving comments, which you can see in this post.
There’s plenty more that I could say about Jennifer, but I’ll let you find out more via the links: