Ego-trippin’, Nikki Giovanni
I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star that only glows every one hundred years falls into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad
I sat on the throne drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is Nefertiti
The tears from my birth pains created the nile
I am a beautiful woman
I gazed on the forest and burned out the sahara desert
With a packet of goat’s meat and a change of clothes I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift so swift you can’t catch me
For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother’s day
My strength flows ever on
My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was jesus
Men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save
I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
The filings from my fingernails are semi-previous jewels semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid across three continents
I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal I cannot be comprehended except by my permission
I mean … I … can fly like a bird in the sky …
Confidence. Authenticity. Brilliance. Inspiration. All of this is what comes to me when I read this poem. It, and it’s author-the incomparable Nikki Giovanni, were first introduced to me at eight years old during summer camp at Lena Park. I had to memorize it for the show we would put on at the end of the summer. I recall getting it and just soaking it all in…it took nothing to memorize it because every word hit me with a stroke of inspiration that I can’t even describe. I actually remember standing up a little straighter… I was “taller” after reading it for the first time in the library of the building we were in.
Today, much older than eight years old, as I read these words and also reflect on actually meeting Ms. Giovanni just a few weeks ago, it reminds me of the importance, the critical need in this world for each and every one of us to show up as our most authentic selves and to be unapologetic about all that that we are. In this world full of social media that presents us with standards and expectations that we should emulate and try to meet, it appears that more and more we’re called to be the same, leaving distinctions behind. With that, it sometimes calls us to “apologize” in many different forms for who we are, how we show up, not meeting others’ expectations of us.
Earlier today, I read a Huffington Post on the challenges of being Afro-Latino which presented this challenge of being unique yet not meeting expectations and then having to, on some level, “cover” just to ensure access, further challenging the opportunities to show up as unapologetically authentic. We all face this challenge in some form or fashion. That being said, what are we supposed to do? It’s actually quite simple-just. be. you. Yes, I’m saying it’s simple because quite frankly who else can you or should you be? The answer is very, very simple. Just be unapologetically you.
See, it’s actually not this-being authentic, being you, unapologetically- that’s hard. What’s hard is not giving into the noise, the environment, the world, that tries to put you in a box and not welcome or accept the beauty of our flaws. Therefore, the challenge is really with us to decide to just be ourselves regardless-imperfections and all. Yes, we have to stop pretending we’re flawless! Stop pretending we have it all together.
Let’s start accepting the beauty in our imperfections, internally and externally. Accept the things about us that continue to keep us from being the same as others. Accept the challenges that come with just being who we are as well as the blessings!!! And just be you.
No there’s no multi-step process this week. Just a challenge to accept who you are, how incredibly fabulous you are, how unbelievable fierce you can be. Now here’s the active part…be, unapologetic about it. Next time you walk into a room, do so as your whole self, not feeling or showing regret or shame; not apologetic for who you are, how you show up, and the fabulously fierce energy you bring!
Soundtrack of the Week: Who You Are, recognizing someone who is definitely unapologetically herself, Jessie J