By FELICIA RICHARDSON-BATTLE
This year I'll be 38 years old. Wow!
I'm happy to report that I am not approaching The Big 4-0 with the anxiety that some women feel as they hit that milestone age. Instead, I'm finding more confidence, humor at every turn, and a healthy new respect for life. But along with this introspection comes some discomfort. Taking a look back at your life with knowing eyes brings to light some things that perhaps you weren't so willing to face before.
Having my first book published last year was a dream come true. Funny how you can work on something so hard for so long, but when it finally happens, it's nothing like you thought it would be. Holding a copy of Feel Good, Girl! in my hands for the first time was amazing. Speaking to the crowds that came for book signings, answering questions and being the center of attention was not.
Hello, Fear of Public Speaking! (How many people are in that room?).
Come on in, Fear of Rejection! (NO one will even buy this book, probably).
And who's this? Self-Doubt! It's been so long! Come on in and have a seat.
A big part of me wished I'd never written the book—that I could just go home and hide. "You have no business trying to tell girls how to live their lives. You've messed up so many times. This book is a joke…and your hair is a mess, too." Oh yeah, my inner voice is harsh. And bending to it is what I've spent most of my life doing. Sitting on the side lines ("Keep those knees closed when you have a skirt on, girl!"). Never talking too much ("No one asked for your opinion."). Giving in, even when every bone in my body said not to ("He won't like you anymore if you don't."). Words that come from a place inside me that I wish I could shush and never hear from again. But that place is where the book came from. If I'm not able to talk about it—to warn every other girl-child I can get my hands on to never cave to her fears—then what the hell am I here for?
It's taken me 38 years, two children, a husband and a book to realize that I've lived my entire life in fear—guided through situations by a frightened little conductor whose sole purpose was to avoid confrontation, to be liked, and to remain "good" in the eyes of those around me. All at the cost of never speaking up for myself or uttering the word "no"—and rarely standing for what was right if it went against the crowd.
I've allowed myself to be driven through life from the safety of the backseat. Oh yes, I've lived my wild side; but in a lowly, secreted fashion that can in no way be called "living." Things I've done in the dark to build confidence in the light are nothing but covers for fear and shame. A lonely cry wrapped up in sequins.
I'm so done.
Trust your gut. Speak your mind. Live your dreams. Those are the things that I tell girls in my book. Time to take my own advice.
Tonight, I send my frightened little conductor on her way. Her bags are already packed. I wish her no harm, because she truly believed she was helping me. But it's time for her to go. She's boarding a big boat and floating away on her sea of worry and fear. Perhaps she will find some peace on her journey. A bit of moonlight to soothe her choppy waters.
But me, I've got work to do. Felicia is ready to take on the world, grab for stars, and taste what it means to stand confident and strong. Even if it means I must stand alone. For the first time, that doesn’t sound so bad.
Life is cheap, bittersweet,
but it tastes good to me.
Take my turn
Crash and burn
that's how it's supposed to be.
—"Sure Looks Good to Me" Alicia Keyes
About our MyBrownBaby contributor:
Felicia Richardson-Battle is a professional writer and author who writes about girl empowerment issues at her hugely popular blog, Reign of the Girl-Child. She lives in Long Island, N.Y., with her husband and two kids—one girl-child and one rambunctious boy. Check out her book, Feel Good, Girl!, here.