By Minaa B. Photography by Deun Ivory
For most of my younger life I taught myself how to hide and how to hide well. I knew how to become one with the darkness and blend into the background, too afraid to step into the light and be forced to face myself. The more I hid, the more I became unsure of who I was and didn’t have an idea of the ingredients that formed my identity. My eyes always wandered from left to right in search of who + what could make me whole. All of this wandering left me vulnerable to the expectations of others. I told myself I had to be everything everyone wanted me to be because I was still too afraid to step out into the light and just be me unapologetically.
Since hiding was my superpower for most of my past life, it is always interesting when people ask me questions like, “how did you learn how to be grounded in your truth?” Or, “how did you learn how to be unafraid and stop living in shame?”
On my journey, the most important thing that I learned is that you cannot hide yourself and expect to be seen. I used to hustle for acceptance, but what I failed to realize was that I wanted people to accept me for the person I was trying to be, not the person I felt I truly was. I always had this belief that I was odd, awkward, un-pretty, unworthy-and I played dress up with personality traits, trying to find which identity I felt I could get away with and grant me the acceptance I was desperately yearning for. The more I did this, the more I found myself rooted in pain while stunting my growth.
I believe most of us have this theory that we are lost. I once held space for that belief. Now though, I don’t believe in being lost. Life doesn’t come with directions-none of us truly know where we are going, we are just wandering and on the way we get distracted by concepts and ideologies that tell us who we should be and what we should be doing with our lives. And when we are not accomplishing those things, this idea of being lost gets rooted in our minds and makes it harder for us to trust the direction in which we are going in.
I urge you to take the time out to shift through the thoughts + beliefs you have about yourself and begin to challenge the things that you hold space for. You might be wondering how to do that, so here is some guidance on how to learn how to be rooted in your true self.
Make time for introspection: Self-care, self-love and self-development all starts with the self. We must be willing to look inward and navigate who we are at our core so that we can begin to filter out the beliefs others may have imposed on us or the myths that we once believed in that isn’t nurturing for our souls. I often encourage people to do this kind of work with a therapist, so that you can have someone asking you the right questions to help guide you along the way, but this work can also be done through the simple practice of journaling. Some self-reflective questions you can ask yourself are: Why do I believe the things that I believe about myself? What evidence do I possess that makes these beliefs true and worthy of holding onto? What characteristics do I enjoy most about myself and how can I illuminate them more?
Make time for examination: The same way it is important to look inward, it is also important to look outward, and that is because what you make room for is what you are absorbing, and everything isn’t meant to take up space in your body. Do you surround yourself with people who make you feel seen, heard and valued? Do you give space for intellectual advancement by taking time to read + learn? Do you filter what you watch + listen to so that your spirit can rejuvenate and be fueled by positivity? All of these things play a role in how you maximize your time here on earth. To be rooted in oneself, also means knowing how to water yourself from the inside out. You cannot feed a flower poison and expect it to grow.
Free yourself from trauma: Pain has a way of holding us hostage, keeping us rooted in misery and unable to be rooted and connected to ourselves. I am not telling you to forget the things that happened to you, that is impossible; I am however, asking you to do what needs to be done to find healing from what has happened to you. It is important to remember that healing will always be your responsibility, even if you are not to blame for your brokenness. Take the time to work with someone who can help you with release, whether it is a therapist or a support group. Also, remember that the body keeps score, so that means you can start the act of cleansing by engaging in body movement practices like yoga, dance, exercise, a sport, etc. Creative practices are also helpful for this form of release such as journaling, writing, painting, sculpting, photography, etc.
There was a time in my life when rising with the sun felt like a cruel thing. I didn’t want to breathe. I didn’t want to drag these heavy bones that ached with depression + confusion another day. Eventually, I got tired of this way of living and decided to get going on doing the work. I believe we all harness the power inside of us to heal, no matter how badly bruised or shattered you are.
I also want to note that the act of healing is not fast paced. Nothing in life can be rushed. We must move as steadily as possible so that we can feel the fullness of life. All good things take time, but what they also need is consistency, so when you start doing the work it is equally important to continue. Don’t let the hard days or bad days stop you or make you feel like change is happening.
We are all rising in slow motion.
And some day, you too shall rise.
Minaa is a licensed social worker, creative expressive coach, and author of the book Rivers Are Coming, a collection of essays and poems about healing from emotional trauma. She uses her love for creative writing to coach women into achieving optimal mental wellness and enhancing their self-care practices, and shares inspiration daily on her mantra-filled Instagram account @minaa_b. To learn more about her and how to work with her visit, www.minaab.com