From the time of your birth, you are provided with an identity, which separates you from anyone else. Your foot print in the nursery at the hospital, as well as the distinct name you are given and placed on your birth certificate says you are unique, you are different, and there is no one else like you. As philosopher John Locke once wrote, you are “tabula rasa,” a blank slate for the world to write its imprints. But if the world writes its imprints, what happens to your unique, personal identity?
The greatest aspects about being unique and different from others, is the fact that you are endowed with choice. You can choose between good and evil, right and wrong, success and failure, as well as the type of person you will become. However, how much freedom do you really have to be your unique self when you are born of two parents, whether they are together after you are born or not? And then, what about the neighbors, the church, the community, the schools, the media, cell phones, computers, Ipads, and many of the other external influences that impact who you are and whom you will become? And like with many other things in life, there are rules and regulations, norms, laws, and stipulations based on who you are, where you live, how you look, your race, your sex, your religion, your education, and your social standing in society, your political stance, as well as your socioeconomic status.
From the time you were born, starting with your parents, you were being shaped and molded into mini replicas of people with whom you associated. Clearly, as you grew and matured, you found yourself torn between being you and either trying to be like your friends or others you admire or wanted to emulate. The struggle to be you can be very difficult, especially if others place their values and beliefs on you. Although you have been provided with certain inalienable rights afforded to you by the constitution of the United States of America, you will find that based on the aforementioned characteristics, you often lose the freedom you were born with, to be free to be you. There are external expectations, as well as self-imposed expectations that you often place on yourself in order for you to fit into a society that might not necessarily be reflective of whom you truly are. But then you are constantly forced to wear the proverbial shoes that don’t belong to you and don’t necessarily fit you or your feet.
Wouldn’t it be great to live in a society where everyone looks like you, follows the same rules as you, likes many of the same things as you, respected and accepted you for being you, and so on and so on? Stop the record…it’s not reality!
Although I was born in America and have lived here all my life, I sometimes feel as if I am a stranger in a foreign land. Even though there are many people who look like me, have the same beliefs and ideals as me, there seem to be a constant battle to be me and to be free. Many rights afforded me under the constitution are often challenged or there is a calculated effort to take them away. Because of my color, my sex, and my beliefs, the right to be free is often challenged because I choose to be me. To speak up, speak the truth, take a stand, fight for who and what’s right, and not take on the identity of others or become clones of them negatively impacts my right to choose, grow and just be me. But I choose to be me; I choose to be free!
And then, I had the audacity, as an African-American female to wear my hair short! Fox television wanted me to wear a wig for a pilot television show, for which I had been selected. When they were questioned, I was told, ‘you would look softer.’ “Are you saying I look hard?” That wasn’t for me; I couldn’t be me and I most certainly would no longer be free. All of the education I was told would benefit me, my expertise as a psychotherapist and an educator, my overall beauty, intelligence, difference in perceptions, thoughts, ideals, and abilities didn’t matter; I was expected to fit a mold and relinquish me. But, I don’t want to look like anyone else, and you shouldn’t either!
When you become someone else, you no longer exist! To compromise your beliefs, your values, your looks, and any other defining characteristics that make you who you are, is like selling your soul to the devil. Once you sell your self and compromise who you are, you will have to keep selling yourself and you no longer own yourself. Ask the many actresses, actors, those in other fields of entertainment, and other positions, who have compromised their beliefs, their values, and their very being in order to have a role, a job, a position, or perceived power. It is difficult for you to sleep with yourself, look at yourself in the mirror, and above all, it is virtually impossible for you to be yourself, when you have sold yourself to someone else. You are no longer you and you are most certainly no longer free!
I recently visited China. Although everyone looked alike, and they spoke the same language for the most part, it was hard to discern their separate identities. They don’t have to grapple with the differences among people that exist within the United States. They seem to live in a harmonious state; their streets were very clean, there were no guns, they seemed less stressed, everyone seemed to get along, and they seemed to not live in fear. However, I wondered about the freedom of individuals in China to be themselves. As a matter of fact, do they truly know who they are? But, then again, they don’t have to worry about or deal with all of the isms you and I face in America on a daily basis, causing too many of you to live in fear as you are faced with the isms that often hinders you from being able to be you, such as racism, sexism, classism, ageism, etc.
Sadly to say, in 2017, the freedom to be you and the freedom to be free is often hindered and hampered because of your differences, including, who you are, how you look, how you view life, how you speak, your race, your color, your nationality, your sexuality, your religion, your socioeconomic status, your abilities, your aptitudes, your thoughts, and your beliefs. However, you have the right to stand up, speak up, and speak out! You also have the right to stand for and declare your constitutional rights to be recognized and respected. And if you choose to take a stand or stance against your mistreatment and maltreatment, based on he aforementioned characteristics, by taking to one knee, you can. Taking a knee, basically says, I am me, and I choose to be free! Don’t let the rhetoric from the white house or any other house misconstrue your intentions or what you stand for. The flag and our soldiers are important, but without your freedom, you don't matter. Just tell them to remember who wrote the national anthem, as well as the words contained in the national anthem and the pledge to the flag. They don’t fit all of us and we have the right to bring attention to them. If the words mattered, you and I would matter, and we would not have the continuous loss of lives and freedom by individuals who are born different, or choose to be different.
The games are finally over. Either you stand for something, or you will keep falling for anything. Never fall for anything or anyone, who denounces and denies you being you and you being free! It is time for you to take a stand and take a stance to longer pimp or prostitute being you. You will no longer compromise who you are, because of your race, your sex, your social status, your sexual orientation, your religious beliefs, your socioeconomic status, your nationality, how you look, where you live, where you work, what you do or don’t have, as well as the kind of car you drive! You must take a stand today and loudly proclaim, I AM SOMEBODY, BECAUSE GOD DOESN’T MAKE ANY JUNK! You must further exclaim, I am not for sale; my mind, my heart, and my spirit are all mine and I choose to be me, all because I am truly free!
Please see my “Declaration of Self-Esteem” below. Post it where you can see it, touch it, and repeat it each and every day.
©2017; J. Morley Productions, Inc.; P.O. Box 1745; Decatur, GA 30031; 770-808-6570; www.doctorjoyce.com
DECLARATION OF SELF-ESTEEM
I am me, the best in the world! There is only one me; no other like me. I can’t be what everyone wants me to be, because I am unique. I may not be able to do what everyone else does, but I have unique things that I do in a special way that no one else can do like me; for I am me…unique, different, I am me.
From my head to my toes, I am who I am. I am me! If I become you, I am lost; I no longer exist. Therefore, I must remain in my shadow and act the way that I am. Whatever I may become; whatever my shortcomings and limitations may be, they’re all a part of making me be me. MY FEELINGS, MY ATTITUDES, MY BELIEFS, ARE ALL REAL BECAUSE THEY ARE MINE! THEY BELONG TO ME!
A……………………. ACCEPT YOURSELF
L……………………. LOVE YOURSELF
T……………………. TRUST YOURSELF
A……………………. AFFIRM YOURSELF
R……………………. RESPECT YOURSELF
B……………………. BE YOURSELF