The Courage to Be Fierce like Frida
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in a collaborative series dreamed up by the amazingly talented Catia Holm. Catia is a mama, writer, speaker and all around badass lady who is passionate about inspiring authenticity and teaching others how to flourish.
Catia’s “Courage to Become” series features women from all walks of life with uniquely inspiring stories on how they garnered the courage to BECOME. Women blazing their own trails despite fear and doubt so they could BECOME the women they are truly meant to be. The series will highlight and celebrate each woman’s journey and I’m overjoyed that Catia invited me to join the group!
When Catia reached out, I was honestly like, "Huh? Me? I’m boring." But I think that might also be the point. Navigating womanhood can be brutal. Expectations are high, judgments are common, and self-esteem is a journey all its own. To combat that, we need community and we need to know that our voice matters. We need to be told and understand that our purpose is unique and absolutely attainable despite our fears and doubts.
I think many of us truly struggle to become. When I looked up the definition, I found the meaning “begin to be”. To be or not to be, that is the question, right? It certainly has been for me. My life has been a series of inner dialogues about whether or not to begin and while it’s never easy to take the plunge, each new beginning has helped shape me into the woman I am today.
I haven’t lived the easiest life. I was born to very young parents who raised me in a blended and messy shared custody battle ground. My mother struggled with mental illness, substance abuse and I moved from one city to the next as she chased her broken dreams. We didn’t live in one place for longer than a year or two and my life felt completely nomadic. I yearned for normalcy and endlessly hoped for freedom from the roaming chaos.
While not the nuclear family of my peers, my imperfectly disordered upbringing is exactly where everything about my personality was born. It was the beginning of my becoming. I was forced into a life of independence and resilience and quickly learned how to take charge and meet the needs of others. All of which led me to the career path I’m still walking today.
Since before I can remember, I always wanted to be a helper of sorts, well there was that one time when I was four and wanted to be a ballerina trapeze artist, but other than that I wanted to be a vet, a doctor, a teacher, basically all the kickass people saving (or changing) lives.
It’s my theory that those of us that have been broken are pulled into roles of mending and helping and will continuously do everything in our power to bring things (or people) back into wholeness. And that’s exactly what I did.
I came “home” to Louisiana for undergrad, desperate to dig roots, to be still. I thought, “This is where I will stay forever,” but turns out my wild heart needed more adventure. Despite my dad’s dismay, I did not end up going to medical school, I mean math is hard, but I did discover a calling that allowed me to not only heal my own pain, but to also channel it into serving others.
I applied to graduate school at the UT Austin School of Social Work and after visiting the campus felt an intense pull to stay, my first influential internal dialogue about becoming. What about my family and friends in Louisiana? What if I regretted it? What if I failed? But the thing I’ve learned time and time again, is that your gut is your truth.
Each time I’ve doubted or questioned or feared, I’ve closed my eyes and listened to my heart. Deep down, we all know what we need. We all know what is right or wrong or necessary. Our heart and soul whispers the answers into every part of our being. The problem is that we don’t trust ourselves enough to hold those truths steady.
Eventually I became a mother and realized that mothering was hard. I doubt myself daily and find myself frequently telling a friend, “Today I was a bad mom”. It’s as if the hard things, the struggles, make us feel like we are doing everything wrong. The truth that we are good and alive and doing our best – becomes unsteady -- because the pressure outside says darkness is bad. Failure is wrong. Losing isn’t right. But for me, it’s the things in my life that were all of it, the good, bad and ugly, that brought me the most joy --that made me grow and change and become more human. We can struggle and still be good.
My gut (truth) has never let me down. I followed my truth from grad school in Austin to an internship in South Africa and back again. I followed it again into marriage and motherhood. I followed it when leaving my career to stay home with my babies and I’m following it today as I embark on the journey to reignite my career all over again.
I still have zero clue what I’m doing, but I’m experiencing life. I’m trusting the process and listening to my heart every step of the way. I’m sitting with discomfort and fear and letting it guide me as I unearth the truth behind it all.
I think so often about HOW my children will become WHOLE. About how they can reach self-love and embrace their truth and I think the answer is in teaching them -- not so much about right from wrong -- but more about right and wrong. Strange and normal. Easy and hard. Sadness and joy. Fear and confidence. How the most dichotomous of experiences are actually immensely intertwined and living them together is the only way to authentically become.
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
Head on over to Alexis' web site for more great writing!
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Bravo to Alexis for pushing into her becoming despite fear and messiness! We can all learn so much from her. Be sure to share with your girlfriends, spread the inspo!
Hey guys - if you're looking to feel better, feel happy and feel confident - I have something for you.
I 100% wrote this in service of you. I want you to find joy in everyday life!