This month’s guest writer is Tabitha D. James. I am so excited to be able to share her piece with you all. Tabitha is the creator of 1 Am She Blog and a motivational speaker. She is a true advocate for others and I hope you all enjoy her story!
Mask Off: Living Your Truth
“Mask off . .Mask off . . Living life with your MASK OFF”
Several people, especially women of color, walk around for days, months, years, even decades living a “masked life”. Tabitha, “what is a masked life?”, glad you asked! One living and operating in a “masked life” is defying, denying and strategically hiding the truths of their story. Maybe they have a history of abuse, neglect, hardship, rape or homelessness. Maybe even a combination of all. Possibly these things occurred years ago, yet, were never addressed or even worse, they are still happening.
Tabitha, “how do you know about the masked life?”, once again, glad you asked! You see for years I was shackled and shattered by my “untold story”, never bold enough to “live my truth”. I was ROCKING my mask! My mother was diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia when I was 9 years-old, turning what I knew as normal completely upside down. For just under 15 years, I hid my truths, I wore my mask. I thought I would never share the unmasked truth of heartaches, challenges, history of why I was so “responsible” and the truths of my story. It wasn’t until I began my healing process after a meltdown rooted in tension that I realized how important and crucial it was to live in and appreciate my untold story and all that lies within it. It was time to take the mask off!
In 2014, I started the journey to living my truth. It has been long, it has been hard, it has been a process. I can’t quite state if it’s over however, what I can say is that 4 years later, I am in a MUCH better headspace. In this piece, I want to share with you somethings I learned in hopes that it can help you in healing, living and being holistically well.
- Find an Outlet – For me writing has been an outlet for years, additionally, reading has helped. For some its songs, dancing, painting, talking, crafting or physical activity, just to name a few. Whatever your outlet is, find it, use it, allow it to help. Wondering how to identify an outlet . . . Do something that make you happy, very peaceful and puts you in a mode of thinking. It’s time to take the mask off!
- Embrace Your Story – No matter how hard, how challenging, how tragic the memories, you must embrace your story and all that lies within. Maybe for you it’s not publicly writing or speaking out but merely having personal time with yourself and identifying 1) what happened 2) how it impacted you and 3) how to heal. Once you embrace your story, it is easier to move and operate beyond the pain. Remember “hurt people, hurt people” you cannot fully function while masked and unhealed. Mask off!
- Live Your Truth – As hard as it may seem or sound, living your truth provides a level of freedom like none other. Being able to embrace your story, unmask and live your truth may take time, it may take a process, it may take you challenging yourself to forgive people who never said sorry, so what, just do it! This is for you, not for them. Do not be the hurt person who is in their own way, blocking life progression because you neglected to live in your truth. Mask off!
I’m challenging you to live your truth – find an outlet, embrace your story and live your truth – it is time to take the mask off. Life is already challenging enough on its own, living a masked life only provides more weight, more pain and more worries as you are trying to be your best self without even embracing your core. It is imperative that we channel our energy and become one with self before trying to coexist with others.
For many women of color operating in professional spaces, it is frowned upon when we exemplify ourselves as the “angry black woman”. Often the anger we exert has nothing to do with the space and/or people but is rooted in another issue that we kept masked. By allowing ourselves to heal, to grow, to let go of the mask, we are helping ourselves be better humans. I conclude by saying, don’t be afraid of your untold story, it is a part of you. You my friend, my sister, my girl, have survived 100% of your challenging days thus far and you deserve to be celebrated. Pat yourself on the back, take that mask off and begin living your truth!
Tabitha is a native of South Carolina who currently has a nomadic work-life profile. She is the caretaker for her mother, business strategist for 1 Am She and freelance professional leveraging her skills to develop a creative career. She is an alum of Coastal Carolina University and Florida Atlantic University with a background in business, hospitality and leadership studies. She spends a large deal of her free-time mentoring young ladies, serving on various nonprofit broads and volunteering.
Tabitha believes whole-heartdly in embracing untold stories and living one’s truths. “It is only once we are aware of what hurt us that we can heal.”
LinkedIn: Tabitha D. James