Who Am I?

I came across something recently which spoke about statements starting with “I am”. I can’t remember exactly what it said but it was something along the lines of be careful making I am statements… so I decided to investigate this further. During my research the biggest commonality about these statements is that is a Declaration, a declaration of self. So, I started to think about all the times I say ‘I am’ in a day and the adjectives that followed those two declarative words. When I started writing this it was ‘I am tired.’, ‘I am in too much pain to do anything productive today.’ ‘I am an amazing woman.’ In this moment (days later) its ‘I am hurt’, ‘I am sad’, ‘I am selfish for feeling hurt and sad’. Honestly, I really think making these declarative statements does have an effect. ‘I am in too much pain to do anything productive today’; I started typing this with a wrist I kept convincing myself hurt too much to do anything that whole day. I stayed in bed that same day because ‘I am tired.’ There is nothing wrong with being honest and making an ‘I am’ statement that is not positive. I think it’s good to recognize and own your true feelings in each moment.

If you are a member of my family or are a close friend, you would know that I am the worst at speaking negatively about myself. Bang the gavel, I am guilty (Lock me up!). I am quick to blame myself or put myself down. I could spend a lifetime trying to understand why I do this. Heck, I’ve spent loads of hours in therapy over the last 12 years trying to understand this behavior when I should have been unlearning it. My self-doubt is comfortable for me. It’s my kinda like my safe place. No one’s doubts, negative thoughts or opinions about me can affect me as much if I think and feel this way about myself. I am worthless. I am unwanted. I am alone. These statements are so easy for me to say and so easy for me to believe. So easy for me to declare. It’s become a habit to go down that road of statements before being brave and making positive statements. I am Beautiful. I am Unique. I am Creative. I am Amazing. Yup, frig those boring, ordinary people want to take an adjective as wonderful as Unique and turn it into something negative. (Haters!) You know the one I mean “Yea they unique… unique and special “. And y’all guilty folk (used to be me too) don’t act dim, flick on the switch. I used to be ashamed of my uniqueness; I think I grew up in an age where being unique, being special, standing out in a crowd was considered to not be a good thing. It was more accepted if you ‘blended’ with your surroundings.

Here’s a little background to the start of my journey of being Unique and Special…From the age of 2 I had a skin condition vitiligo. I can’t say for sure, but I can imagine it was not very common in Bermuda (being the small island we are). My first positive memory of having this is when Michael Jackson announced he had it. I thought “I am as cool as Michael freaking Jackson.” I remember thinking, “oh yea, Michael is going to go to the hospital I did, and we are going to be best friends.” LOL! The damn planner in me has been setting me up for decades. I was teased by kids. Starred at by adults. All the time. Whispering to my parents, “how does she handle it? How does she make out?” I never knew there was a problem until I got a little bit older and realized the teasing wasn’t ending and I was being treated differently. I was being subtly left out. I didn’t date. I was the friend the guys would talk to get an in to talk to my friend or cousin. Initiate Self Doubt, Low Self Esteem, & Shame in 5,4,3,2,1!

For most of my life (literally), I defined who I was by these interactions. I allowed the comments, the teasing, the looks, stares, and yes, some children used to cry to define how I thought about myself. It’s so strange because even though people asked my parents those questions, NO ONE asked me. Now there are super models, barbie dolls, a whole acceptance movement for people with vitiligo, which is amazing, but it doesn’t erase my scars. The scars I never knew existed until someone asked me recently, “Why do you speak to and about yourself so negatively?”

So, Who Am I?

Honestly, at age 41, I don’t know. I am a whirlwind of adjectives. I am everything. I am Light. I am Darkness. I am positive. I am negative. I am happy. I am sad. I am.

I agree that I am is a declaration but what if we take that declaration and choose to not end it with a period, but we end it with a semi-colon because if we can take another breath we are not finished. In this moment, I am sad; but I will find my happiness and smile again. I am hurt; but I will heal and take a step forward in light. I am worthless; but every day that I get up and that a step forward I will celebrate me because I am eager to learn my worth. In each moment I am something or someone, but that moment is just that, a moment. A step down that yellow brick road with Zoe and Paris (my Toto) yapping and trotting on beside me. We must always continue to the next step. We spend so much energy trying to convince ourselves and others that we are this beacon of positive sunshine, sitting on rainbows popping out skittles and flying through the air with a spoon full of sugar, but life has ups and downs. Highs and lows. Light and dark. As we flow through the paths of life, we must allow ourselves to feel that negative emotion we feel in the moment. Feel it, own it, then take that next step forward in positivity.

I am Shaneeka Andrea Hollis; she is undefined and unapologetic about it. Who I am? I don’t know and I don’t care that I can’t be defined, but I will, and I promise you, I will enjoy this journey of discovering me. There is no end to discovering who I am as long as I am blessed to see another morning, as long as I am able to open my eyes and breathe every day. I cannot say where life’s swirly and every changing path is going to take me and with each new high or new low, new win or new loss I will discover another part of the magnificence that is me.

So, who are you?


Stay Awesome, Stay Beautiful, Stay Blessed & Stay Safe!

Love, S.

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