16 Aug Don’t Label Me For Your Comfort
The Universe has worked its magic and has allowed Alicia Keys and I to sync in purpose and message.
I started this blog with the purpose to explore and discuss the concept of authenticity in life, culture and business. I am of the belief that most people are not tapping into their natural talents and gifts and this is partly due to the fact that they don’t really know who they are.
Remember when we used to talk about Alicia Keys and say that we loved the fact that she wasn’t all sexual like Beyonce or Brittany Spears? That we loved that she dressed modestly, played her piano and belted out sweet melodies? That she didn’t need to dress sexy and shake her ass because she was the real talent? Yea, so sorry to burst your bubble but the whole time, Alicia Keys was a sensual woman who was deliberately hiding the way she wanted to dress because of the labels and judgments she knew she would face if she embraced her desire to dress sexually.
Alicia Keys hits home what many women face daily. Boxes people put us into label us, “the pretty girl”, “the party girl”,”whore”, “the quiet one”, “the smart one”, “the driven one”. In an effort to be smart, women dress modestly so that people can focus on their words as opposed to their cleavage. Since society has spent centuries convincing women that their worth is in their physical appearance, even if they do embrace their sexuality, it looks like women are trying to blind people to their lack of talent with scantily clothing.
I feel as a female, one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced my entire life is fighting to get out of the boxes that people insist on putting me in.
I just want to scream to the world, “Don’t put me in a box for your comfort!“
I used to think that since I wasn’t fitting into people’s boxes or conforming to labels, there was something innately wrong with me. I had to change to suit the world so that people can better understand me as an individual. Not a woman – an individual. I was so far off base with this premise.
Boxes are not only done socially, it’s more dangerous when they are done professionally. So I’m going to tackle this from 2 angles: 1. when putting women in a box socially doesn’t work and 2. when putting women in a box professionally doesn’t quite work either.
Let’s explore them, shall we?
There are alot of misconceptions about how I should act and what I should like as a female. I’m confronted with them all of the time and frankly hearing this stuff is like being smacked in the face. It just shows me that people don’t understand the difference between gender expression and gender identity. It also shows me that we as a people only have a singular definition of how a woman should portray herself.
Women think that we need to choose – choose if we’re smart, if we are sexy, if we are the homemaker but never are we taught that we can be any combination we choose to be.
Here is what Alicia said and what we need to be teaching all girls and women:
You are allowed to be smartYou are allowed to be beautifulYou are allowed to be radical and have strong thoughts that others might not agree withYou are allowed to be toughYou are allowed to be sexyYou are allowed to be boldYou are allowed to be shapelyYou are allowed to be kindAnd guess what?? I can be all these things all at the same time. I don’t have to give up one to the other. I don’t have to hide anymore, I don’t have to pretend and hold back, I don’t have to think that my intelligence, beauty and sensuality are intimidating to others. Who cares??!!! I don’t have to think my silliness, clumsiness, or hallmark card optimism, is something I can’t be proud of! Who cares????!!!!
That’s right! We can just be our authentic selves! Amen!
The same way we as a society can accept that a man can be an excellent worker who meets all of his targets but is a piss poor husband when he gets home, the same way you should be able to accept that when I’m working I’m serious about work and when I’m in the club, I’m there to have fun.
My parents taught me a simple lesson from young, “Analise, there is a time and place for everything.” That meant when it’s time to work, you better work hard and when it’s time to play, ball the fuck out.
We have been taught over the years that we need to be an expert in one area. Do your 10,000 hours and become an expert in one area for success. Actually, I call bullshit on that. I am actually talented in a number of areas. Again, I hate to admit this because I’ve been taught as a woman you should be modest about your talents. Plus, I’m an introvert and us introverts, we hate talking about ourselves.
However, I’m embracing the fact that I can be great at more than more professional area in my life. In fact my friend, Michael Simmons wrote an article on the concept of the expert-generalist and there are famous, successful people who embrace this term. Orit Gadiesh, chairman of Bain & Co (and totally my woman crush), who coined the term, describes the expert-generalist as:
“Someone who has the ability and curiosity to master and collect expertise in many different disciplines, industries, skills, capabilities, countries, and topics., etc. He or she can then, without necessarily even realizing it, but often by design:
- Draw on that palette of diverse knowledge to recognize patterns and connect the dots across multiple areas.
- Drill deep to focus and perfect the thinking.
Ever been told that you can’t do engineering, dance and build your fashion company? Well yes you can! Even though we live in a world that denies the complexity of women, this does not mean we need to distill ourselves down to fit into someone else’s box.
Stop downplaying your brilliance. Stop apologizing for your gifts. Give yourself permission to be your fabulous, awesome self.
Oh yea and in case I wasn’t abundantly clear, putting me in a box for your comfort is unacceptable. Get to know me. Understand that I am multi-faceted and that my interests are wide and varied.
Have a courageous day!
P.S. – Do you know a badass female who has been downplaying herself and needs to hear this message? Be a good parent, brother, sister, friends and pass this message along. It just might be the picker-upper she needs to hear.