A spotlight shines quietly over an empty stage where a lone microphone waits.
It’s taken blood, sweat and a lot of tears to get to this moment – this very uncertain, unknown, exhilarating moment.
I peak through the curtains stage right, palms sweating and surveying the dimly lit gymnasium, thankful for the natural light streaming in. Chairs are lined in mostly straight lines, and a few friendly faces fill those seats. Some family and friends who know and love me. I smile. I am not just doing this for me; I am doing this for them. But it is also because of them I can find the courage to even be here.
I wonder who will fill the remaining seats. What new faces will come. I get a little nervous.
I read a quote recently – one that I have been encouraged to adopt as daily reading. It reads:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
I believe in the power of story. So, this is mine.
How do I possibly begin to summarize the roller coaster that has been the past 7-8 years? Not to mention, the last 2 1/2 of those years. Phrases like peaks but mostly valleys, hopeless disappointment, crippling exhaustion, and “at the end of my rope” are a start. And my goodness, the waiting. #canigetanamen
This took a noticeable toll on my body too. Oh, and let’s not forget the ever-popular aging process. I spent an entire year hiding from cameras. And crying a lot.
Then one day this past fall, while I was volunteering for the first time ever for Kansas City Fashion Week’s fall show, I looked at the models walking the runway, and realized, “I can do that.”
I had been told in my 20s that I should model. But I did not see what they saw, and I imagined only mockery, heckling, and pointing and laughing in my direction. I imagined my worst nightmare. My answer was always no.
“Who the hell does this girl think she is?”
“She looks just like my sister, random acquaintance, that one girl on that one TV show, the cashier at the grocery store, every other girl I have ever known in my life. She is not unique looking.”
“She’s not that pretty. Or in shape. Or talented.”
“I thought she was a good girl. Good girls don’t ever do, say, experience that or this or god-forbid THAT (whatever “that” may be to someone).”
Armed with the hard work of therapy and inner healing, I am embarking on arguably the worst and best timed modeling career (or whatever this turns out to be). I started trying out for shows, and walked my first ever show a couple weeks ago!
But this isn’t just about modeling (again, or whatever this is).
This is about the next chapter of my life. This is about me becoming me.
I’ll chat about modeling, networking (because I love showing off the amazing people in my life), vulnerable moments, health and wellness, beliefs, business ventures and advocacy (I sell Beauty Counter, so it’s bound to make an appearance every once in a while), probably a smidge of controversy, as much laughter as possible, maybe a man. Whatever, and come what may.
I believe it is time to share my story, because I also believe this is many of yours – this journey of shedding the old and walking into the new.
It’ll be messy and imperfect, but it’ll be worth it. You may love me now and not like me later, or vice versa. You may question my morals, judge my version of beauty, be brought to tears, or walk away feeling refreshed and empowered to finally be you. One thing this won’t be is squeaky clean. Consider this your friendly warning.
As dramatic as this may sound, I believe it is time to be seen. I feel like many of you can relate. I mostly hope this may (possibly, hopefully, definitely) serve, empower and compel you to flex your you-muscles to a waiting world. For me, there is no glory to settling for the sidelines or sitting in the cheap seats. #brenebrown I am drawing a line in the sand. And I am asking you to cross it with me.
Please cross it with me.
Is this audacious? Possibly.
Scary? Hell yeah.
Encouraging, uplifting, empowering? My greatest hope and reward.
As I begin my walk onto that creaky wooden stage leaving my veiled existence behind, I think about how everything up unto this point matters. I know I don’t have it all figured out, and I fear the criticisms and the misunderstandings. I left my speech notes backstage, and I’m excited where this may go. I know Marianne is right – playing small does not serve the world. I smile to myself knowingly – I am right where I am meant to be.
I reach the microphone, adjust the stand, tap it to make sure it’s on…
And open my mouth to speak.