The Light Within

I’m a fighter.

But I seem to forget that often.

I was recently reminded of the value there is in hearing (and being reminded of) who you are from people who have seen you in a different light, especially when you were younger. People who can remind you of parts of yourself whose light has dimmed for whatever reason. People who can help revive those parts.

And the resounding message from this reminder was that I am a fighter. I have actually stood up for myself, or went after something ambitiously all because younger me simply believed she could. There are three stories that come to mind when I think about this little girl who could.

I stared at the blank paper and racked my brain about how I would fill it out…if I would even fill it out. Application for Vice President of Student Council. The words were daunting to me - a mere seventh grade immigrant girl who was still trying to find her place in the school; they felt so big even my excitement couldn’t be contained, as evidenced by my nonstop foot tapping.

As I stared at the paper while waiting for the bus to take me home, one of my classmates looked over my shoulder and asked what I was looking at. I looked at my (so-called) friend and said, “I’m applying for this because what’s the worst that can happen…if I lose, at least I tried; and if I win, it’ll be such a great experiment.” Little did I know, as I naively gave up my “strategy,” this friend of mine agreed so much so, the next day she went and signed up to campaign as well.

She ended up winning.

I can go over why I think she won versus me but that’s not the focus of this blog post. I look back, beaming, at that young girl, who had the audacity to say, “I can do this” … and she did just that.

Or when I consider the time I sent my very traditional African father a detailed letter as to why I should go on a mission trip I was interested in. I had heard through the family grape vine that my dad didn’t want me to go on said mission trip.

Me in all my gutsy-ness, prepped my fingers and proceeded to type out a colorful breakdown as to why he had no base to refuse. I debunked every myth and broke down each argument point by point. And then I ended the email with a challenge…inviting him to share any other plausible reason as to why going on this trip was a bad idea. 

Well, I never did receive that email. (But I think I got a call later that night lol).

The long and short of it all though…I ended up going on my trip. When you get to the point where you can stand up to your parents, in person or online, something shifts internally. For me, even though afterwards I still sometimes struggled with firmly speaking up; the experience showed me that when I really needed to…I would.

Lastly, I recall a moment as a fresh college student trying to come into her own. My department put the onus on us to find our own internships if we wanted to get any practical experience (good looking out coms department…). Nevertheless, I would not be thwarted. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely caused me a lot of anxiety trying to figure out the details of securing a summer internship.

But…spoiler alert…I did manage to find one. Let’s get a bit into the how.

Every year at the end of Black history month, there was this event that was held on campus but it was for the general public. One of my friends was going to be competing so I went to support her…without having seen the other acts yet, I knew she had it in the bag. Her voice was simply too ethereal to not be the judges’ selection. (Another spoiler, she did win). While the different talents wowed the audience all night, my focus was on the MC. I loved how he was moving through the crowd. I knew that was something I could easily do.

After the show, I made a beeline for the stage, side-stepping my way by people to get in front of him. Our initial chit chat quickly transitioned into me flat out asking if he offered any internships. Lo and behold, he was! He handed me his card and told me to reach out. No surprise to anyone, I was sitting in his office as a summer intern a few months later.

The actual internship and the lessons I learned during that time is a post for another day (whew chile!), but today..right now, I revel in the boldness of that young lady. The young student who stood up and made something happen for herself even when the structures put in place to support her failed. She did that.

As these stories come back to the forefront of my mind, and their associated memories, I can’t help but smile and be uber proud of who I was…of who I am.

Whether it’s my audacity to go for a position no one would have thought I would, my courage to speak up (and stand up) for myself in front of my father, or my boldness to make an opportunity for myself out of thin air…she’s in me even when there are moments where she is hidden or small, she’s never truly gone. She’s always ready to be tapped in for just the right fight.

It’s nice…to be reminded of who you are from people who have had the honor of seeing you before life tried to snuff out your light.

I am a fighter.

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