It’s been an incredibly long time since I’ve written anything but I got inspired as I looked at responses from my recent headshot pictures posted to my Facebook page. I took new pics in an effort to capture a realistic portrait of who I am right now and how I feel at this point in my life. I’ve cut all my hair off, started dreaming of life and love again, and just needed a fresh look to go with my new heart.
As the comments poured in, several friends left kind, sweet responses like “cute,” or pushed the “like” button, but the ones with the most impact were from my college sorority sisters. My favorite response, “our baby is all grown up now,” brought a quiet smile to my face. It reminded me of a time when unlike most of my undergrad classmates, I was truly still a baby in college. Trying to figure out what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be when I grew up, and how exactly to go about it was more than enough. Not to mention taking a full load of classes and trying to manage my new found hobby, MEN! As a result, I’m used to the “baby’s grown up” line that I get now when I run into old classmates. I have to admit as the youngest or “baby” of my sorority’s line, I didn’t get a lot that was going on. Let me rephrase that, I didn’t have a clue! Navigating how I was chosen, what it meant to finally have sisters after being the baby of the family with a big (sometimes annoying) brother, was something I always dreamed of, but didn’t really know how to maintain.
I can honestly say I wasn’t too comfortable in my skin and didn’t know how to be at ease around so many strong, confident women who did. So instead of showing all of me, I’d shy away so I could remain guarded. Of course, there were rare times when I WAS comfortable in my element, and connected to my sorors, competing as part of the step team and working together with community service projects like the “Elephant Walk”—one of my all-time favorite fundraisers for Delta Sigma Theta. Because I wasn’t so sure of myself, and assumed I should automatically be like the women around me, I took a step back and shrunk. Especially after graduation, when parties occurred outside of the occasional wedding or bridal shower I participated in, I’d avoid some of them so I didn’t look too bad for still not having “life” together. Unfortunately, I missed out on some great opportunities to share, grow, and just live without the necessary judgments I often put on myself. I have to admit, it was hard not to wonder “Shouldn’t I be married since ten of my line sisters married within the first five years of graduation?” or “Shouldn’t I be a manager by now, like her, or is it really okay to take this journey in pursuit of determining my own happiness?” These questions seemed to torture me as I really wanted to create my own path but worried too, too much about “fitting the status quo.” Sad to say, nurturing and learning to glean wisdom from the women around me just wasn’t my strong suit.
Twenty years later and possibly twenty pounds heavier, the Internet and social media has made it possible to connect with many of the sisters I once shied away from. One by one, I’ve reconnected with many who are still dynamic, still incredibly talented, and now are exceptional leaders in their respective careers and families. I’m so grateful to those who recognized my immaturity for just that, and chose to stay connected and loved me anyway because of the goodness of their hearts and the good that they saw in me. The difference is that many of them are still the centered, grounded women they’ve always been, and somehow NOW, I see myself among them. No, I’m not married yet but have loved deeply and desperately. No, I don’t own my own company yet but have managed to direct a counseling center after traveling the world and exploring as a performing artist. I still admit there’s more work to do in getting completely comfortable with who I’ve become and who I will be. But how grateful I am to be grown up adult now and while it may not mean a lot to some, it’s the difference between night and day for me. A picture’s worth a thousand words, from “cute” to “beautiful” to “baby girl is all grown up.” Words have always been important to me and although I’m flattered to hear them from my line sisters who’ve inspired and encouraged me to forge my own path, it’s much more important to focus on my own thoughts. When I look at my pictures, I like what I see, I love who I am, and I am growing more confident in the grown-up woman I’ve become.