Phree to Be the Original, the Authentic, the Real, the First

“The other day I heard someone compare me to Nas, saying I was the next Nas. And that’s cool, but I just want to be the 1st Chill Moody. “ – Chill Moody

I went to a hip hop and art show the other night and no Chill Moody was not in the building unfortunately. However as I listened to the different artists perform my bias toward artists who clearly weren’t trying to be “the next” but were content with being “the first” was apparent. These artists were the ones I made a note to follow up with for an interview for the blog. These were the ones who I heard through the beat, saw past the sea of fitted cap head nods, and reminded me of the conversation I had with Chill Moody where he shared he just wants to be the first him.

If you think about it, especially with the holiday season not too far behind us, many of us have an affinity for the original, the authentic, the real. We want real gold. We want real leather. We want organic food. Heck we want organic cotton made clothes. We can appreciate the chemically engineered but we do have a soft spot for the genuine thing. So if we can desire the real when it comes to material goods, why should you or I settle for anything less when it comes to who we are and aspire to be?

We shouldn’t.

My hope for you readers is that as you look at all you aspire to be and do in the future that you aspire to be the first you. My hope is that as you look at your calendars, to do list, vision boards, and whatever else you have or use when it comes to identifying and pursuing goals and self improvement is that it all climaxes at you being you.

Now, if you are reading this and you don’t know who you are, you may want to make that your number one goal. Scratch that- make knowing who you are the number one goal. Make knowing the core components of you, your core beliefs, values, and characteristics a priority. If you don’t know who you are how are you going to know where you are going? If you don’t know who you are you may spend what will be wasted time being who others perceive you to be and pursuing other people’s goals and dreams for you. If you don’t know who you are, how will anyone else know who you are?

Those are some good questions I just asked you right? So you might have one for me. Like, “how do I figure out who I am?”

That question is almost as good as mine are. And I’m glad you asked it. So here is my “I just want you to be phree to be the best you” response

1. Set aside some time to really think about your past experiences. Think about the ones you really enjoyed and what made them so enjoyable. Even if it was the people with whom you shared the experience with, it may highlight that you are definitely a people person through and through.

2. Set aside time to think about your future and where you want to see yourself in the next three months, the end of the year, the next couple of years, and when you retire. Think about everything. And by everything, I mean everything. Getting or quitting a job, Applying to or withdrawing from school. Taking voice or dance lessons. Moving out or moving in. Getting married or having children (or more children or adopting.) Going from an online establishment to a brick and mortar establishment. Traveling to Africa or Europe. Let yourself dream and then see what those dreams have in common. You might see that you are a bit of a nomad and like flexibility. You might find you love family but are not sure how you feel about creating one. You may find that while education is important to you, you don’t want any more degrees or certifications.

3. Set aside time to think about how you spend your time. Are you constantly at the gym? Maybe that’s because health is important to you. Are you constantly cooking because people are always “stopping by”? Maybe that’s because you are compassionate and you like to host. Or maybe it’s because you love to cook and love the creativity that cooking invites. Are you a TV watcher? That’s fine, but what are you watching? I have come to realize I LOVE documentaries. And I will watch them on almost anything. Politics, historical events, people, international affairs, etc. I love to learn and documentaries help me with that. I am a nerd, and not on the low. As always, look for the patterns, the things you spend most of your time doing. Oh, and make sure you spend your time doing it because you want to.

4. Write. Write a list of what you do well and what you are constantly working on. Everything from making amazing spaghetti-o’s to having amazing style, from consistently being late to avoiding confrontation.

5. Listen. Listen to what people say about you. Do your best to listen objectively. What are people saying? Are you constantly being told how creative you are? Articulate? Smart? Passionate? Are you being teased for always traveling somewhere? Are you constantly being asked to edit a paper or lead a team? Does your supervisor talk to you about appreciating your feedback but encouraging you to use more tact when you share? My former executive director called me a go getter and told me the agency “needs people like me- people with initiative.” I use that to get out of ruts and keep moving forward. It may be corny but those words are written in my journal and the page dog eared. She saw an aspect of myself that I am committed to utilizing and further developing.

6. Ask. Ask people what your strengths are and challenges are. Again, just be open to what they say. Listen to their response objectively. Ask for examples. Look for the commonalties in the responses you gather from different folk.

As you work your way through these steps my hope is that you really will begin to see a pattern of characteristics, interests and behaviors that are unique to and inherently you. Just remember these steps are not a sure fire way to you pin pointing all of who you are. They are only meant to help you get started with identifying and reveling in some of the core parts of who you are. They are only meant to help you highlight the parts of you that won’t change regardless of if you grow your hair out or cut it, keep it natural or wear someone else’s like it’s natural, wear Jordans or classic Adidas shell tops, tie or tee. They are only meant to help you be the original, authentic, real, first you.

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