In December 2014 when I launched FemmePowered I made it my personal mission to live intentionally, authentically and wholeheartedly. In fact, it was the running tagline on the site until I did a redesign at the start of February. I also purposed that I would, with consistency, share my life stories. I recognized the power in my stories (in all our stories, too) and how they can inspire, transform and create meaningful conversation and change. I decided that my story mattered and I would not let shame, fear of ridicule and criticism silence me. But I didn’t always feel that way. In fact, I let shame, fear of ridicule and criticism frighten me for years and keep me in an unhealthy relationship long after it had run its course.
So often we keep the broken for fear of the unknown. Often you’ll hear women say things like I’ll stick with a known devil than risk an unknown. Familiarity, no matter how unhealthy it may be can create places. Places we should run from, places that imprison us mentally and emotionally. In this sense, I see familiarity like a worn, beat up sofa. It’s too lumpy, dirty and maybe even smelly and faded in some parts. But it’s what we know. We’ve learned to find our sweet spot in the lumpiness and ignore the smell. We don’t even see the grease and dirt stains in it anymore and the faded parts don’t phase us. Deep down we really want a new, ergonomic, tricked- out sofa, but find a strange kind of comfort in old lumpy. But why do we stick to old lumpy? Because it’s familiar.
I figured that if I was to live intentionally, meaning that I wouldn’t just sail through life, but I’d live as someone with a commitment to loving life an engaging in it from a place of purpose and a sense of commitment to my dreams and goals, I’d have to make changes. And when it came to authenticity, it meant that I’d be who I am wherever I was, no matter who was around. It meant I wouldn’t pimp out myself for acceptance, appreciation or to avoid scrutiny. I’d embrace all of me, quirks and idiosyncrasies and all, and I’d remain who I was at my core. And so, I stoically refused to omit the pieces of me that made anyone uncomfortable, no matter who they were. The final piece of my personal manifesto was wholehearted living, engaging in my life from a place of worthiness, knowing that I was enough, sufficient and complete.
Now here’s the kicker – just because I decided to create and daily live out my personal manifesto means that I immediately got it. It was hard. It still is, sometimes. Some days I don’t want to be intentional and at times in can be easy to be inauthentic and forgo the wholehearted thing. But I trudge on anyways. You see, every time we seek to make changes in the way we approach our lives we must do so with the understanding that it won’t happen overnight. Meaningful change is a process. We’re not taking things off to put them back on again. We are trying to make lifelong changes in the way we see ourselves and engage in our lives. We are attempting to build a lifestyle which requires we make small, yet significant changes overtime. It’s a paradigm shift, it’s a mental and even physical movement from a place we’ve always known to a place we desire to be. It will not be easy, but it will always be worth it.
Today I’m extending you the invitation to make a shift from the familiar you no longer desire. It could a something as small as turning off the tv and choosing to read more when all you’ve always done was watch Bravo when you know a good book will be better for your mind than the show you’re addicted to. It could even be throwing out out lumpy and heading to Courts for a new sofa because you know it’s better for your back. It could even be walking away from a friendship or an intimate relationship that is not building you up and failing to serve in many ways. Stepping away from the known familiar may be scary but pursuing the life we want is always worth the effort.
Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2017.