2016 began a year of transparency for me. It came after recognizing that there was room for a change in the direction I was taking to approach new challenges. In being told out right, that I was not as transparent as people would like, and that because of this, they don’t “know who I am” I decided to delve more into it. Initially I didn’t take to that very well, as I thought I did good at being an open book, if I should say so myself.
However, in this season and along this journey, I’ve come to the realization that being an open book about my life and happenstance, wasn’t exactly the transparency that they were referring to. It’s awesome to show people a strong courageous girl, after detailing some of the things that life throws at you…. but sometimes, it’s even more awesome when people can relate to your testimony, by knowing the tribulation as well, so that they will know that the things they may be burdened with, are also things that someone else has been burdened with. They are then able to seek refuge in knowing that there is a way out. IE: “XYZ happened to me, and I made it out.” V.S. more Transparency: “These are the things I endured, when XYZ happened. And this is what I had to do, to get beyond the things which happened to me. It wasn’t a cake walk, but I made it.
…. We breeze right past the hard part because we’re anxious about telling the good part…and we are so happy to share the good news. Or because we do not want to dwell on the bad part, we skip right to how we triumphed, and it comes across as, all good. As women, working mothers, single moms… we make it look so easy sometimes, because no one really hears the part about where we fell down a few times during the trials and on the journey to make it through and out. However, that’s what they need.
For some reason, and one that I am sure will continue to reveal itself to me more over time, as I become familiar with why people want to know about the bad days, I understand that it’s important that you share that you had some tough decisions to make; which came with some hefty consequences from choices or even moves you did or didn’t make when the time was necessary, and that you struggled in the process.
I understand that people want to know about the battle and they want a bird’s eye view into some of the pain, without hearing a victim. This takes some crafting, because there’s a tiny little line, in which if crossed, the dynamic and tone of the story will change to reflect bragging or even boasting. On the flip side, someone who’s constantly talking about “what has happened to them” instead of talking about the process of how what happened, brought you to a brighter place, the message tends to get lost in translation. While we should be happy in our own right- and celebrate our victories, as well as be proud of the fact that we made it out of a rough patch, we don’t want the testimony to get trapped in a maze of affirmations about self.
“With reference to those times that you hear someone say, that someone has put a bad taste in their mouth, think of this: The taste you give someone about yourself, comes from the soil that you mature and grow in.” – Sincerely, Niedria Kenny
When we speak of the victory all the time, without balancing and filtering into the story, the things that make us normal- to show people how they too can overcome something, they don’t believe they can. Such as: How we managed to move through the ranks, what we did in between jobs and we transitioned in careers, what we faced when we were fired from our jobs, what happened to us when we did not get the raise we needed, what we did in the meantime, while we waited on the promotion, how we came to the conclusion to leave a job, in order to create a better life, or how we had to make a life-altering decision to loose in order to win again. If you do not share these things, people begin to see you as super human, and no one wants to be around a super human or someone that makes them feel inferior. If you always make it look easy, you contribute to a person’s sense of failure, in that if they can’t do something that’s being described as so easy… they began to ponder the question of, “what does that make them, what’s wrong with them?”
Be not mistaken. I’m not standing in the gap for people who constantly need ego stroking or people who are generally always down and looking for someone else to pull them out of the slumps of which they won’t do their part in helping themselves. I am not standing in the gap for those who relish in knowing that someone else is miserable. Both are toxic people and can end up pulling you back into the place that you are so happy to have escaped.
This was also something that I had to learn to decipher between: Someone who wants to know about your fall before success, so that they can encouraged themselves and speak life over themselves to move into a place for change. . vs. someone who just wants to know that you fell, just so that they can say, aha!
I would like to encourage Mothers, Single Moms and Work Moms, who are successful or finding success by navigating through the trenches; to not be ashamed of sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. If it is a victory that you want to share, share the trial as well. If you messed up somewhere along the way, or did not get it right the first time, or it took longer than you anticipated, it’s OK. There is someone, somewhere, who will benefit in knowing that seasons change, and they can too.
“You know, I don’t think any mother aims to be a single mom. I didn’t wish for that, but it happened.” Charlize Theron
This post originally appeared on Working Mother.
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