Running from the past and who we once were can be the easiest thing to do when life gets tough. However, we can only run for so long. Years can pass before we realize what we need to do: embrace ourselves. Brenda was liberated from the negative patterns she had developed by embracing and accepting her life and her identity.
I have always said that I can move to any part of the world and survive. Standing still, genuinely accepting my past, appreciating my present and pushing through fear wasn’t as easy. Running (physically and/or emotionally) to a new identity that was accepted by others was so much easier. Life slowly turned around for the better when I began to embrace all of me. I realized that I would never have the life I truly deserve to live if I didn’t embrace and change my story. Embracing my true self and changing the story was by far the most liberating thing I have done for myself.
I have always been “different” from everyone I knew (family, friends, co-workers, and fellow students). I was the “blacksheep” and ashamed of being different. As an African-American from New York City, I was expected to fit in a certain box. Every time I chose to kick open the walls of that box and do the unexpected, I was made fun of for choosing to live on my own terms.
From elementary school through my twenties, I compromised portions of myself to get along with others. Compromising and living a lie resulted in a decade of feeding my feelings, dressing my shame in nice clothes, drowning my guilt with red wine and engaging in unhealthy relationships.
It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I slowly began to embrace every part of me. I embraced the 9-year-old little girl that enjoyed needlepoint, the 13-year-old that read every book she could get her hands on about nutrition and ate all of her vegetables, the 23-year-old woman that fell in love with nature, and the 33-year-old woman that loves cycling, gardening and visiting farms. I accepted that I will always be different and that is okay.
I am currently embracing the relationships that ended amicably, the one night stands, the toxic mistakes and life as a single woman. According to some, this 30-something year old woman is past her prime, should adopt a few cats and prepare for life as a spinster. Just because I am over 30 and single, does not mean that opportunity for love has passed me by. By embracing my true self, I know “love” will come my way at the right time.
Embracing these aspects of my life has provided me with peace. No longer am I running away from my failures, shame, guilt and fears. No longer will I hide sections of my story in a dusty file cabinet and constantly wonder “I hope ____ doesn’t find out.” I truly believe every negative situation occurred for a reason. I can sit at home and feel ashamed or I can move forward, turn the shame and guilt into gifts and make a difference in my community by helping women embrace their stories. I chose the latter.
See how Brenda answered our Identity Five Questions:
What have you accepted within yourself and/or within your life? Is there anything you are working on accepting?
I accept that there will never be a perfect time. If I wait for perfection, nothing will get done.
What do you appreciate about yourself or your life?
I appreciate my freedom.
What have you achieved, or what are you working to achieve personally, physically, or mentally?
I launched a health coaching business that focuses on providing strategies to professionals that are struggling to survive cubicle life. I had to push through fears and mental blocks that were holding me back; I have grown tremendously since becoming an entrepreneur.
What is your no-so-perfect way? We are all unique with quirks and imperfections, so why not flaunt them and embrace them!
I use spaghetti sauce jars as drinking glasses. It’s the only way I am sure to get the water I need for the day.
How would you complete this sentence, “I Love My…” This has to be about you, physically or mentally.
I love my eyes. They are the windows to my soul.
Brenda Coleman is a health and wellness coach that specializes in helping professionals struggling to survive cubicle life take back their health and live the life they truly want. She is a graduate of Syracuse University and attended the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. In addition to coaching individuals via her coaching practice, she is a volunteer nutrition instructor and coach with a unit of Community Lodgings, Inc. (located in the Alexandria, VA) that helps women transition out of homelessness. You can learn more about Brenda at www.brendarcoleman.com.