“Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.” –Iyanla Vanzant
These words continuously play out in my life every day. As a Black woman in this society, I have found myself battling with self-confidence and positive affirmation in my desire to be a stay at home mother.
As I grew older I started exploring my strengths and looking to find how I fit in this world. I see many women, particularly black women, attempting to find their place and belonging in this world; whether it be through corporate America, education, relationships, family, religion, or beauty. We seem to either hit the nail or miss the mark in some or all of these systems individually. Collectively, none of these systems are catered to our needs or shaped as a prototype for us to excel; especially in the confines of mothering. Some of us were given great examples and mentorship; while the rest of us were left to fend for ourselves to “hit or miss” in what works for us. Leaving some with blows to her confidence and self-esteem.
How to build confidence? As black women, the question of self-esteem is one that weaves itself into the fibers of our lives from a very young age and only grows in importance as we do. From career to relationships, to body image, hair, and personal achievements, the truth is that the level we believe in ourselves and the effort we put toward building confidence affects every aspect of who we are, how we live and what we accomplish. I believe that a lot of the confidence that we have in ourselves are based on the ideals of society norms which is shaped to tell us what we do (our job or career) is more important than who we are; what we look like versus what we should not look like; how we speak versus how we sound.
I had to realize for myself that who I am and what I do and feel about myself is more important to me than anyone else’s expectation for me. This knowing alone builds confidence and assurance that I am teaching my little observers self-value and self-worth. When you value yourself, by default those who are closely connected to you raise in value too. As women, our value is not solely in the hard hours we grind or in a number of dollars in the bank, yet in the wealth of self-value and care. I needed to change my focus; get out of the rat race and run in my lane for my race.
How to build confidence in changing lanes; here are few tips on what I did, and still do:
1. Change the thoughts and body language of your new role. I start my day with a smile and a thought. One thing that helped me to become confident in this was thinking how beneficial I will be in my daughter’s life and how she brings me joy.
2. Talk to yourself. I changed the words of my situation; instead of negative self-talk, I became my own cheerleader and encouraged myself. I validated myself. While I can still be my own worst critic; I am learning the difference between holding myself accountable versus downing myself.
3. Hold onto the relationships that are important to you and support what you are doing. As I go through life, I learned and still learning that not every person deserves the front row in my life, some may need to be escorted to the back row, middle aisle, or even out the door; keeping relationships, new or old, that support and want the best for you can help affirm that inner confidence. It is important to surround yourself with like-minded people; iron sharpens iron.
4. Do Not compare yourself to anyone else! Again, you are on your own race and it is not given to the swift but to those who endure until the end. With that said, play on your strengths. I had to literally write out my best attributes and relate that to my family. Great or small, we all have skills, ideas, or gifts that can be directed towards the betterment of our family and children. Just like the Proverbs 31 woman:
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
5. Stop being cynical. I am Queen of the Cynics; I am working on dethroning her. And yes, there is a difference between being realistic and being cynical. Again, remember we manifest thoughts and words into our lives, and that does not just affect us, but our families too. I had to look at what I was saying or thinking and then ask myself if what I am saying was to come into play right now, will it hinder or help my family? Nobody wants to be found to be “weakest link” so I had to strengthen myself through thoughts and words. One of my favorite songs I keep in constant rotation is Jonathon Nelson My Name is Victory An awesome positive and spiritual affirmation song!
Hey Black mom, despite whatever you are facing, whether you are taking the leap or transitioning; be confident in who you are and do that for the betterment of your children and your spouse, and all those who are connected to you that matter. While our story is unwritten, we hold the pen, so put the ink to the paper. With that blessings and understanding to you, until next time…