As I sat down to write on this specific topic, four words kept reverberating in my mind. Shake that load off. To know me, is to know that I am a music fanatic. I live for beats and lyrics, and in that actual order. I just about know all the lyrics to most songs from the unpopular ones, to the mainstream. And I don’t have a favorite genre either. My ears gravitate to sultry singers from old school to new; R&B to pop and gospel. From hip hop tunes of the 80s, through the 90s and the current. And if you’re wondering, yes I get down with the rachet as well as the conscious. I just call it well-rounded, Sis.
One of my favorite conscious tunes is by Outkast from their Aquemini album; a song titled Liberation. Shake that load off is the repeated bridge that ushers in the chorus. Not only does it have a message I strive to live by, but the group is joined by the soulful croons of my girl Erykah Badu (South Dallas stand up). Then, add in Ceelo Green's funk, followed by the poetic outro of the song by Big Rube, and what you have is a classic, baby! The song is pure poetry, and one of the verses touches on being in the confines of other peoples’ reassurance. In 1998 when it came out, even as a young woman the words resonated loud and strong, though it took me many years after to manifest it. Andre 3000 spoke the unadulterated truth when he sang:
Can't worry 'bout what a _________ think now see
That's liberation and baby I want it.
Insert whatever title you want in the place of the blank, either way, the message remains. The point is we all want it; to live freely without self-conscious constraint. One thing I witness often and want to address in this blog is the need for reassurance. Specifically, how the constant seeking of it can stifle you from being your best self. So, picture this simple scenario. You have a party to attend and you just can’t miss it. You won't miss it, not for anything in the world. When you get the invite you already know the place will be peppered with people you know, from the ones you can’t wait to see, to the ones you can do without. First thing you do is block out some time to go shopping for an outfit. You search your favorite stores online, or stroll on down to mall and snag something you love. The evening of the event you get dressed and look at yourself in the mirror like, yaasss, a lady is looking good!
When you walk into the party, you pass out hugs and give a few air kisses, only for no one to tell you how fab you look. They didn’t compliment your hair, said nada about your new stilettos, and the ultimate offense was that they didn’t even rave about that bad ass dress you just knew would be a showstopper. To top it all off, not one man shot you the eye—assuming you're a single lady. If not, imagine your own man not swooning over your look. A true crime indeed. Now your mood goes from confident to a tad bit insecure, and the night goes downhill from there. You don’t enjoy yourself when you should have. As a matter of fact, you would have, if only you weren’t triggered by your need for validation. Ladies, read this and hear my virtual voice loudly—you don’t need to be reassured when you know what you know. You have to believe in yourself from an internal perspective. And in the words of the young queen Sha’Carri Richardson, believe that YOU ARE THAT GIRL!
So, why do we doubt ourselves when we don't get the reaction we imagined? I have a theory based on living life, and the mentoring and teaching of many young women over the years. Some who I've watched resolve this issue way earlier in life than I did. My theory is that somewhere along the trail of your life, you didn’t get the "flowers" you needed to develop your confidence. Or maybe someone gave them to you, but took them back and demeaned you every time you didn’t meet one of their standards. That someone could be a parent/caregiver, a family member you looked up to, an ex-lover, or anyone who contributed to your foundation of self-discovery.
Whatever the case is, it’s fine time to liberate yourself from seeking outside affirmation. I can recall a time period of being trapped in my own head, always assuming what someone else was thinking about me. And I can assure you, when you're in that space, you are missing out on the glorious aspects of life. You are not living for yourself when you’re at the mercy of someone else's approval. At that point, the epitome of who you are is based on outside opinion, and that, my beautiful sis, is not liberation.
This doesn't only apply to physical appearance. I used that scenario to express a relatable situation. You may be a person who has always been complimented on your fashion and beauty. However, you're waiting for someone to recognize your internal worth; to see the real you and connect with your spirit. Whichever one it may be, the outcome is the same. Your best self is being held back and you're in control of letting her out of those confines. And you can do just that.
Let's start here: Make a list of all of the things you would do if you weren't seeking reassurance from others.
Would you go back to school and educate yourself on a subject you've always wanted to learn?
Would you take steps to start your own business?
Would you leave a broken relationship that's not serving you?
Would you make new friends who uplift you instead of staying in toxic friendships?
Would you relocate and create a new path for your future?
What would you do if you weren't worried about outside opinions and/or judgment? When you make your list, I encourage you to tackle your wishes one by one. Begin going after those things despite what someone may think about them. And this time, don't share the wish with anyone, because that is also a form of seeking reassurance. We sometimes share our desires to dry beg for an opinion, because we're afraid to follow the plan God instilled in us. This time will be different. Just write it down, research the steps to get it done, and act on it. As the saying goes, imagine the woman you want to be, then show up as that woman every single day. Eventually, the imagined attributes will manifest into your reality.
It's worth the discomfort to step outside of your norms and go for what you really want. The people who really matter will never look down at you for your changes. The ones who judge you for making moves are simply not your tribe. Have a peaceful, forward-thinking weekend, beauties. Shake that load off, and liberation to all!