Mask Off: Balancing the Bull and Butterfly

Raise your hand if you ever felt uncomfortable in your own skin or you’ve been afraid to be who you are out of fear others won’t accept you. I get it, I’m right there standing beside you raising my hand and jumping in the air. Once upon a time, I lost myself, I couldn’t figure out who I was supposed to be. I remember being nervous before walking into a room full of people. I worried if my hair was ok, am I dressed properly, are people whispering as I walk past, what should I talk about, should I say this or keep that to myself; I know, exhausting. The truth is I wasn’t able to decipher which Kiffany to turn on and which one of us to turn off. I have always felt like two people living in one body fighting over who would show up on any given day. Finally, I realized I would always be too much for some people and not enough for others. So, I began to focus on being enough for myself.

I have often been described as stubborn, quirky and random. My favorite description is “airy” like some sort of 60’s free-loving flower child. I believe, if I were a vegetable or a spice, I would be an onion because I have many layers yet to be explored. I credit my personality to my upbringing and environmental exposure.

Authentically, I am a girl from southwest Detroit by way of Batesville, Mississippi. According to the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, my personality type is INFP (Introverted Feeling with Extraverted Intuition). I am impatient yet attentive to the needs of others. To protect my peace, I try and avoid drama and chaos. To some, I am quiet and reserved. To others, I am a spontaneous comedian who might start singing the theme to the “Love Boat” at any given moment. At my core, I am bold and headstrong like a bull, yet as whimsical as a butterfly.

Just random!

My therapist tells me we need to work on finding a balance between the two; I’m either hot or cold. She’s right, I am unbalanced and I love it. I am a fan of old-school hip-hop, some mornings I have to listen to a little 8 Ball and MJG just to get my day started. By the evening you might hear me blasting, “This ain’t no ordinary worship.” I believe Tupac is alive and living in the Caribbean; he is my Elvis. I love Andrea Bocelli and my favorite song in the whole world is Reba McEntire’s “Fancy.” My dream vehicle is not a Bentley or Lamborghini, it is a four-door black Jeep Wrangler. I find more enjoyment sitting outside enjoying the peace of a spring breeze than partying like a rock star all night. People often accuse me of being antisocial, but the truth is I am awkwardly shy and I protect my sacred space. God has blessed me with a discerning spirit, I can sense when someone is disingenuous, so why bother pretending. Since I believe authentic connections flow naturally, I don’t force relationships of any kind. My facial expressions don’t lie; typically, I cannot hide my true feelings. I am a walking oxymoron. Although I am shy I have a very strong personality, I am very outspoken, and I have to think before I speak most of the time.

I used to hate it when people asked, “Where are you from?” I’ve always felt like I needed to be loyal to both places, depending on how I feel you might receive a different answer to the question. Some Detroit influences have made me strong, street-smart, and capable of handling myself in any environment. Some Mississippi influences have fostered within me a sensibility of compassion, strong roots, and Southern charm.

I used to try and tame the bull and keep the butterfly in her cocoon, but it became exhausting. Confidence exudes radiant beauty, it is an inner beauty that shines strait through your soul and aluminates your spirit. Confidence allows you to walk boldly into your destiny like a brazen bull, yet flutter about with the graceful whimsy of a butterfly. Everyone is born with a unique gift, their own special super power. Never let the need to fit in or be accepted cause you to harness your power. My advice to anyone who struggles with wanting to just be yourself and break out of the emotional box you’ve placed yourself in is:

  1. Be you: Start doing things that make you happy without considering what others think. Start by allowing your voice to be heard. Next time you’re engaged in a conversation don’t pretend to agree with social, personal, religious, or political views just to be liked by others. It is possible to stand firm without confrontation. People will respect you for standing your ground. Those that are willing to walk away from you because you have an opinion are not your people, let them keep walking.
  2. Stop worrying about who likes you and who doesn’t: We’re not in kindergarten anymore. There will always be people who will not like or accept you, that’s just the way life goes. But, there are people who will love you for who you are, those are your people.
  3. Don’t be afraid to grow: Growth often means outgrowing people, relationships and thought patterns. Growth can be a lonely, painful and uncomfortable place. If you fight the growth process out of fear of discomfort you block the blessings God has just for you. What if your blessing is across the street waiting for you, but you’re too afraid to cross the street to claim it? You will continue to stand on the other side of the street watching others enjoy life. Do you want to continue to stand on the sidelines all your life? Get in the game.
  4. Spend time getting to know yourself: For the next 7 days set aside 30 minutes to an hour and unplug from everything. Spend time in silence visualizing what your best life looks like to you (not your parents, husband, kids, or friends). Ask yourself who would I be or what would I do if I weren’t afraid of being judged (write this down)? Write down your likes and dislikes. While you’re enjoying the peace and tranquility of silence, ask God to search your heart and soul and reveal who you are and what makes your heart sing. (Trust me, it works)
    • This is one of the items I wrote on my list.
      If I were not afraid of how others would view me I would cut all my hair and go blonde. I actually cut off my hair and also bleached my hair (extensions) blonde, not at the same time, but I took the risk…and loved it! Sometimes it takes baby steps
  5. Identify your values: List 10 things that are most important to you. Beginning with number 10 (the highest value), rank the items according to priority. Ask yourself what do you value most, is it knowledge, popularity, spiritual growth, job, family, security, financial independence, etc? After you have completed your list and assigned a numerical value list each item starting with the most important. Next to each item write why you value that particular time.
    • 10 = Popularity: I value popularity because how other people view me is important. I want to be seen as beautiful, smart, popular, etc.