An insightful interview with singer, Brandy Norwood, has surfaced where she discusses multiple topics including her joyful weight gain, her approach to performing, and the most interesting, finding her voice. And she’s not referring to her singing voice, which has always been perfection, but her inner voice of courage.
Norwood discusses discovering the confidence that’s finally allowed her to “clap back” at the negative comments she constantly receives on social media. Watching the songstress talk about her journey to become more empowered to advocate for herself reminded me of mine.
I wouldn’t say I was once a wimp, but there was a long period in my life where I was too permissive. I didn’t feel empowered to consistently stand up for myself in personal and professional situations. Sometimes I was fearful of the confrontation or either losing the relationship. Other times I was afraid of losing my job. These are both natural and real concerns. But at other times it came down to me not believing I deserved to be treated better, and therefore not feeling like I had the right to speak up when I wasn’t. Growing up I was treated as if my feelings didn’t matter so I couldn’t connect with them enough to even express them, let alone stand up for them.
I got over that, but it took a while.
It took time for me to first, identify my feelings – then, to value them. I had to get in touch with my emotions and be able to say to myself I felt hurt or disrespected or even rejected. Then I had to examine and define my boundaries. If your boundaries aren’t defined, it’s an open invitation for anyone to come into your life and run roughshod over you and ultimately your self-respect. After I did the work to become more empowered to advocate for myself – it was on!
I had a work situation where I was new, and out of the gate this young woman with obvious self-esteem issues performed a bizarre act of aggression against me. (Black people, particularly those of us who appear to be educated, confident, and possess an unexpected air of sophistication often find ourselves being confronted by those who can’t handle the black magic.) My former self would have allowed the incident to fester within me, causing me anxiety and making me lose sleep. I would have been afraid to speak up because I wouldn’t have wanted to be labeled as problematic or even the “angry black woman”. The offender was a white woman I and also didn’t want to set myself up for a “white woman victim” scenario that so many black women are subjected to.
Check this video of Jully Black and Jeanne Becker that demonstrates what I mean…
There was a lot to consider. But this time, I decided not to care. I nipped it in the bud and swiftly reported her to upper management. I practically dared them not to take me seriously. I believed I was a valuable employee who did good work and deserved to be respected and essentially, feel safe.
I’m no longer allowing people and their crazy to show up at my door unannounced and unchecked. Nope. We’re not doing that.
Finding your voice and being able to advocate for yourself–with the key word being, “effectively”, is not easy. It takes guts, moxie, chutzpah. It takes believing that you are worthy of respect and deserve to speak on it when you’re not receiving it. Now, we have to pick our battles because everything isn’t worth our attention, but with true self-respect comes discernment. When we’ve arrived at that place of self-love and confidence, we’ll know when to get folks together, and when we can let foolishness ride.
So if you find yourself struggling to stand up for yourself when you’re being treated badly, start telling yourself that you not only deserve better, but you also have the right to use your voice and ask for it. This can be hard work-scary work, but in the end, very worth it. You are worth it.
Watch Brandy’s interview. She begins talking about finding her confidence at about 3 minutes and 40 seconds into the conversation.