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  • Writer's pictureTina Bryson

My Complete Self

Updated: Mar 20, 2021

We kicked off Women's History Month last week with Natalie Jones. My conversation with her gave me the opportunity to think about my life and how I have settled into myself. There was a time when I had stepped away from my career to raise our four children. I loved being a wife and a mother, but hated being seen as one dimensional. When I would attend functions with my husband and people asked what I did, as soon as I say I was a stay-at-home mom, they would nod and smile and then move on as if that statement had rendered me invisible, as if I had no opinions, no passions, no gifts, no life apart from my role as wife and mother. There were even times that I seemed to lose m very identity when I ceased to have a name but was only Sebastian's wife of Jordan's mom.

When I turned 50, I celebrated that milestone. I had longed since settled that inner clash within myself. I knew who I was and wasn't afraid to show up as my complete self. I didn't have to elevate one over the other but could be all of those things proudly. They could coexist: wife, mother, author, podcast host, volunteer, friend. I had learned to be comfortable in my own skin, to speak up for myself and for those whose voices weren't heard.

It was a process to learn to embrace my whole self, to show up in spaces not quieting my Blackness, but boldly walking in the legacy of my ancestors. I could both see the structures erected to put me in a box, and likewise navigate the system to be exactly who I am.

Then this Sunday, the Meghan Markle and Prince Harry interview broke and I was again reminded of that journey to be the most authentic version of your self that you can, to draw strength from those who love you the fiercest, and to never apologize when who you are conflicts with another's artificial constructs of who you should be.

Monday was International Women's Day. What a great reminder of the women who have come before us constantly working to shatter the glass ceiling, make a seat at the table, and still embrace the rewards and struggles of marriage and motherhood. I draw strength from those women and hope to impact the women that come after me.

Tuesday's guest was Elsa Jones, the oldest daughter of Natalie. She said her mother would say, "There are some roads you don't have to go down, I've already traveled them for you." Wow! What a reminder. We stand on the shoulders of so many that have gone before us and for many of us those shoulders belong to our mothers and other women who poured into us, spoke life to us, counseled and chastised us. Women who loved us fiercely and also found a way, made a way to follow their own passions and live their own dreams.

This Women's History Month celebrate the amazing women in your life.

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