Carry On Friends: The Caribbean American Experience

Unique by Nature: Lessons on Standing Out and Embracing Yourself

May 14, 2024 Kerry-Ann Reid-Brown Season 2024 Episode 231
Unique by Nature: Lessons on Standing Out and Embracing Yourself
Carry On Friends: The Caribbean American Experience
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Carry On Friends: The Caribbean American Experience
Unique by Nature: Lessons on Standing Out and Embracing Yourself
May 14, 2024 Season 2024 Episode 231
Kerry-Ann Reid-Brown

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Have you ever felt like a yellow tulip in a sea of pink, daring to stand out yet unsure if you should? Join me as I share my challenges of trying to fit in when I naturally stand out.

This episode isn't just about me; it's about all of us who've navigated the complexities of fitting in and shining as our true selves. We'll explore the delicate dance between conformity and self-assertion. The conversation is an invitation to reflect on those times when you've dimmed your own light and an encouragement to boldly reclaim the space you deserve in the world.

Wrapping up, this episode is, at its heart, a celebration of authenticity and diversity, an encouragement to let your unique presence bloom vibrantly, no matter where you're planted. So, let's embrace what makes us different, because that’s exactly what makes us extraordinary.

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Caribbean Legal Solutions is the easiest way to find an attorney in the Caribbean. Visit their website at caribbeanlegalsolutions.com 

Disclaimer: This podcast ad contains general information about Caribbean Legal Solutions and is not intended as legal advice.  Always consult with a qualified attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.

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Have you ever felt like a yellow tulip in a sea of pink, daring to stand out yet unsure if you should? Join me as I share my challenges of trying to fit in when I naturally stand out.

This episode isn't just about me; it's about all of us who've navigated the complexities of fitting in and shining as our true selves. We'll explore the delicate dance between conformity and self-assertion. The conversation is an invitation to reflect on those times when you've dimmed your own light and an encouragement to boldly reclaim the space you deserve in the world.

Wrapping up, this episode is, at its heart, a celebration of authenticity and diversity, an encouragement to let your unique presence bloom vibrantly, no matter where you're planted. So, let's embrace what makes us different, because that’s exactly what makes us extraordinary.

Sign Up for the Newsletter: https://bit.ly/3UBDXkF


Caribbean Legal Solutions is the easiest way to find an attorney in the Caribbean. Visit their website at caribbeanlegalsolutions.com 

Disclaimer: This podcast ad contains general information about Caribbean Legal Solutions and is not intended as legal advice.  Always consult with a qualified attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.

Support the Show.

Connect with @carryonfriends - Instagram | Facebook | YouTube
A Breadfruit Media Production

Speaker 1:

Hello everyone, welcome back to another episode of Carry On Friends the Caribbean American experience and I'm excited that you are listening. Before we jump into today's episode, got a couple announcements very excited about them. So the first announcement is that you all now have the chance to send me a text. That's right If you've got questions, comments or you just want to share something about an episode that you've listened to. Look into the description of the podcast right now and you'll see send us a message and that's it. Just click on it. The number will open up in your text app and you could send me a message. It will not accept voice notes, so text only. So I just want to let you know that I cannot wait to hear from you all. I've tested it myself. It's perfect. So again, very excited about this feature.

Speaker 1:

Also, I recently started an editorial commentary called Moments in Every Day, where I muse on life, work, culture and everything in between, and I do this in my existing Carry On Friends newsletter. If you have not already subscribed to the newsletter, I recommend that you subscribe. I'll also make sure that's in the show notes as well, or in the description. So by joining the newsletter, not only will you get these musings directly into the inbox. You know you also receive the exclusive invite to carry on with Carrie Ann, which is my virtual fireside Zoom series. There's not many topics, it's just an opportunity to chat with me, ask me almost anything, and it's just a relaxing way to have a conversation and connect with you off the air not online via social media and it's a pretty informal setting. So if you sign up to the newsletter, you'll get the moments in everyday editorial that I send out once a month. You also get any other updates, but you also get the invite for the Carry On With Carrie Ann virtual fireside series. So I had one already. The next one that I'll be having is June 2024. So again, click on the link in the show notes to subscribe to the newsletter. All right to the newsletter, all right. Now on to the main topic for today. So I didn't initially plan to record this as an episode, but I was sharing it with someone and they said you should make that an episode.

Speaker 1:

So I love tulips. I feel like tulips are just a happy flower. You see them and they're just bright and you cannot help but be happy or feel happy at the sight of them. And I remember the first time I to the supermarket or the shop and we had to get toilet paper, and the brand of the toilet paper was Tulip, you know, because it was like a four packer or something like that. And I looked at it and I was like, wow, this is a really pretty flower.

Speaker 1:

And so when I moved to Brooklyn, I used to walk to school every day at least a mile, because it was faster to walk than to take the bus, and we would walk by the hospital and every spring these beautiful various colors of tulips would just pop up and the sun would hit it just right and it was just so beautiful. So every time I see tulips, I stop, I take pictures and I just admire them. They don't last very long once they open up and they're in bloom, but for the time when they're a bud and they're just beautiful. So anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was walking to my doctor's appointment and it's spring and all these tulips are just like blooming. And I walked and I looked down and there were all these tulips. Almost all of them were the same color, but one was a different color. And not only was it a different color, it stood tall. I'll make sure.

Speaker 1:

I put a picture of this on Instagram, but also on the website, the blog post associated with this episode, and immediately when I looked down at it, I heard the spirit say to me it doesn't matter what you try to do, sometimes you're just made to stand out. And it was a message I needed, because I felt like there's a point in my life where I didn't want to stand out. I wanted to fit out. And it was a message I needed because I felt like there's a point in my life where I didn't want to stand out. I wanted to fit in. And it was just like even nature says it right Sometimes you fit in and other times you stand out.

Speaker 1:

So, as a Jamaican girl, as a Jamaican kid, enough and tired are two words you don't want to be assigned to you. So for any non-Jamaicans, enough would be someone who's in everything they're always in everything, and tired is someone maybe you'd call extra. And growing up, I had no choice but to be in the things that I was voluntold to do. I'm a rule follower when it comes to my parents, my grandmother, grandfather. I did not break those rules, because them belt that, then it like at. So I was the first grandchild and I followed all the rules. So a lot of experiences I got.

Speaker 1:

I had a lot of responsibilities at a very young age because I was voluntold to do certain things at church. I taught Sunday school to my peers at a very young age. Like any Sunday school class I was in, I taught that class, maybe the class that was relegated, like if I was like in kindergarten, first grade, whatever, I wouldn't have taught those classes. But I know that, like when I was in the bigger classes, I started teaching, like you know, maybe fifth grade class. You know, like taking the Sunday school lesson and like teaching the class and I also assisted the Sunday school superintendent with collecting, offering and Triff Club. So I was given those responsibilities at an early age. Those were incredibly important lessons and skills that I developed at an early age. Like it's the one thing that I know when it comes to me I'm going to be organized, I'm going to be very operations focused because of what my grandmother, Valen, told me to do and that I sat there with these older women at church and I learned these skills regarding administration and organization.

Speaker 1:

But when kids your age are like, why is she not everything? She's enough? Like that feeling of like you are in everything. You begin to not want to do those things because you stand out by doing those things and you want to like back away from it. I mean, when I was younger I really had no choice because even if the kids my age were whispering or whatever, I didn't have no choice. My grandmother was like I just would tell her to do you learn to do it. But as I got older, the wounds of those early experiences you know, almost like playing your head Right.

Speaker 1:

And so when I'm naturally being me and you know it could be like, oh, I just suggest something. And it's to the point where I'll have suggestions, even in my job today, and I'd be like, listen, I'm just suggesting I don't want this leadership role, I don't want none of this. And they're like yeah, okay, fine, in the last how many years I've had two or three different people say this to me I was volunteering for something. I was the chair. They asked me to be on the chair. I didn't go and petition myself. They asked me and then I backed away from it and the person said, no matter how much you don't want this, or you say you don't want this, you can't hide that you can do this. It's like you are like no, no, no, let somebody else do it. And no matter how much you, you run away from this, not the responsibility, maybe the title or the visibility. They kept saying that you can't hide this. This is not truly you.

Speaker 1:

Right before COVID broke out, I was in this role at church, my husband and I. You know we're in this role. And I said you know what I? I'm exhausted, I don't want to do this. Right now, I'm going to give up this role, let somebody else do it. And I remember the elder said to me well, brown, I understand, but you know you don't have far to go, because when you're a leader, something's going to find you.

Speaker 1:

And I was like yeah, right, sure and sure enough, right. And there was something else and somebody kind of said the same thing Like you are backing away from things that everybody else sees that you can do, you are just like no, let me be out here with everybody else. And I've used that as an example because I got clear feedback from different people of how I stood out and I know I may stand out to the point where I was giving a disclaimer. So if I'm standing out, it's because I have these ideas. So no, don't put me in any leadership role, just take these ideas and just do stuff with it. And as I'm getting older, I'm embracing that. If this is like a light, it's like the sun rays right, they're going to find their way through the window. That is the energy or whatever it is that people are seeing. No matter how much I tried to lock it off, it finds some way. If it said peep, ctr, it did it, it did it. That was just something that I've learned and I embrace this in different ways, or I'm learning to embrace this in different ways.

Speaker 1:

It's not easy to undo years of telling yourself, like you know, if you do this, you're going to be perceived as being too enough. Just stay over here, so I'm not quiet, kind of. You know you're going to be perceived as tired or extra or whatever it is, and so the story of the tulip was just this reminder, like yeah, you're a flower, you're a tulip, you are beautiful like everything else, but we put you in this spot. You just going to pop out, and sometimes it's. I can see why you want to fit in, like it's cool, but there are other times, like once you, you are accustomed to your environment, you're going to shoot out. That was just a lesson that I got from looking at these gifts that I have and not trying to quench them or downplay them, to lean into them and not worry about what anyone else has to say or how I'm being perceived.

Speaker 1:

And the question that I'm asking is how often do we find ourselves trying to blend in? Asking is how often do we find ourselves trying to blend in to match whatever the uniformity that is perceived to be normal, right, and like that tulip or natural inclination is to stand out. But this idea of standing out I can only speak for myself is like it feels weird being out in front. It feels weird standing out. It feels weird going the opposite direction of everybody else. It feels weird, and so you start second guessing yourself and there's a level of where you're like am I really supposed to do X, y, z? Am I supposed to think that way? You know, asking questions is normal, but when, when you ruminate about it and you're you're like but your gut feeling something is saying that no, this is this. But you still second guess yourself. That's the part that I'm talking about.

Speaker 1:

Of course, there's nuances to everything, but in my experiences, I'm talking about being a content creator, even sometimes at work, the way that I think it is different and you sometimes want to conform or go with whatever the group says. But you also have to be careful of like groupthink, right. But it's also scary to step out and be out there by yourself, right? Everyone thinks being a leader is great. Being a leader is scary because it's you out front and when you out front, you are forbear the consequences, whichever way it go.

Speaker 1:

Even the most emotionally aware, they find themselves in situations where they're like they've tried to fit in as opposed to you know what. You just naturally stand out. Why are you trying to fit into this thing? And, as I was even thinking about this episode, you realize that there are many reasons we try to fit in. It's the part of being human, it's being social. You want to connect. So you, in ways you try to conform and be like everyone else, to feel like you're part of a community.

Speaker 1:

It's not always about fitting in. I know I used fitting in before because it's intentional, but the revelation is it really wasn't about fitting in. It's about owning what makes me different, what makes me stand out, what makes me me. So putting it all together, standing out, really means that you own what makes you different. You own what makes you think different. You own what makes you different. You own what makes you think different. You own what makes you approach things differently. That makes you you.

Speaker 1:

And the minute you start changing all of that to be like other people is when you start to feel like am I really being me? So I ruminated over that. So once I was like okay, I want to stand out all the time. That was the mindset, right? So I realized that, okay, I was trying to fit in, but it's really not trying to fit in. I wasn't. You know, I really wasn't owning what makes me stand out and what makes me me. So I'm like, okay, I want to own what makes me me. I want to stand out all the time, every time, and show up. But I realized that I still didn't do it. Even though I knew this, I still wasn't doing that.

Speaker 1:

And I learned this past week it really came to me that we all have parts to ourselves. They all make up who we are, but we have many parts to ourselves, right, and I learned that if I feel like I'm not owning what makes me me, it's because it's probably I'm not in a safe space or place to be me and couple things. So don't beat up yourself because you feel like, oh, when we go over this or when we do this, I don't feel like I'm being myself. Sometimes it's be like that. Some people experience that at work, you know, and unfortunately you just have to say all right, this is just how I move at work. Some people, they may recognize this when they go around certain type of friends or, if not, their friends, their friends' friends.

Speaker 1:

So if you feel like you're not presenting the way that you know, you are at your core and you just feel different, it could be that you're in a space or place where you don't feel safe to stand out to own what's you. And again, this is very blanket and generic. So again, I don't know your specific circumstance, but for me I recognize that okay, if I'm not this, I'm just being a lot more reserved. I have to watch my space and feel it out a little bit before I ta-da. Here I am and in other ways you have to evaluate is this a space that I need to be in? So there's a lot that you kind of have to unpack in a situation like that.

Speaker 1:

But I want you to think about your own life moments. Right, are there any areas where you are dimming your shine, your light to fit in to a space, a box? That's not you face a box, that's not you. And I also want to be clear like standing out doesn't always mean like look at me, look at me. It could be very subtle. So think of moments where you feel like you've wanted and tried to fit in, but in hindsight you were meant to stand out. I've asked a few friends to answer this question and this is what they've said.

Speaker 2:

There are definitely many times in my life that I've experienced moments where I've wanted to fit in, but in hindsight I was really meant to stand out, and one moment that becomes very prevalent to me at this time is my experiences in the dance world.

Speaker 2:

So, as a dancer, you know, being tall, being black, being curvy, is difficult to navigate when auditioning for pieces and also just trying to be seen or acclimate to the culture or environment.

Speaker 2:

The culture or environment. And I remember when I would audition for pieces at my college's dance company, I was aware that I would be one of very few black women or women of color there, and so, you know, I would go and audition for pieces and I never really felt like I was in pieces that I wanted to be, and when I was in pieces that I got in, I was always put in the back. And so after my freshman year I decided I was going to choreograph instead, and so my sophomore year I auditioned to be a choreographer and they allowed me to choreograph that season and I had been choreographing ever since, and that was the first time I ever choreographed a piece, and I feel like that was like God's way of being, like you weren't meant to just be in these pieces. You were meant to create these pieces, and so I'm actually really thankful that I wasn't able to fit in, because I was able to create a path for myself where I was able to stand out and also help others stand out.

Speaker 3:

Hmm. So a time when I wanted to fit in but I was truly meant to stand out. I would say my very first day when I actually started at the company that I'm at now, which was almost 16 years ago. It was a very corporate culture, down to even how you dressed, and I remember my first day. Of course, we know, as Black women, whenever we interview for any job, we straighten our hair, we pull it back, we have a particular look because we're trying to as much as they don't say it, it impacts the decision on whether or not we get jobs right. So this was 16 years ago. So, anyways, I interviewed for the job. I had, you know, my hair pulled back, I think I had it straightened, whatever, you know, very plain black suit, whatever.

Speaker 3:

So when I got the job, I still dressed very corporate, um, but my personality wasn't really shining through, um, my appearance, right. So I remember one day I wore like this very structured, you know um skirt it was very, it was, it was very, it was very, it wasn't very. Uh, it wasn't your typical corporate, you know, straight line skirt it was very, it was, it was very, it was very, it wasn't very. Uh, it wasn't your typical corporate, you know, straight line skirt. It was very structured and very it was. It was very interesting to look at and I had paired it with, I think, a a white top or whatever.

Speaker 3:

And I remember walking down the hallway and, um, one of the managers in marketing stopped me. She's like, oh my gosh. Of the managers in marketing stopped me. She's like, oh my gosh, that skirt looks great on you. She's like it totally looks like your personality. And I thought about that. I'm like here I am masking who I am through my attire, thinking I want to fit in to a very corporate culture and I'm not really living up to that in my appearance. So ever since that day, I remember the next day I came in, my hair was curly. I had an outfit that fit the corporate culture but also represented my personality and I'm like you know what I need to just be who I am, and if that means I'm meant to stand out in certain instances, then that's just what it is. So.

Speaker 1:

So tell me what you think. We now have the send me a text feature. Let me know what you think that any of this resonate with you. Maybe you want to share with me your moment that you reflected on and in hindsight, yeah, I was trying to conform Send me. I want to hear from you If you've embraced your uniqueness from the get-go. Still send us a message and maybe share some of the tips and the strategies that you've used to. You know, just be this way in life. Some people might need that advice as well.

Speaker 1:

So as we wrap up, like all those tulips the vast majority were pink and one yellow one stood out. That yellow one was different in a sea of pink. That yellow one was different in a sea of pink. Our true colors, the blend of our experience, our perspectives, our dreams, that's what makes us different in a garden of tulips, just really diverse.

Speaker 1:

And remember, standing out isn't just about being seen, it's really about being true to who you are and in that truth of being who you are, you will know where you truly belong, including the spaces that make you safe to be fully who you are.

Speaker 1:

And even if you're not fully safe to be that, you're going to show up with an awareness that I am being a version of me that I know is still me, but it's the space Menage a la descente to this space. The more mature, the more self-aware, the more introspection, the more retrospection that you know I've done. The books that I've read, the journaling that I've done. I realized that my unique perspectives, my different approach, my life experience, all of that catches the attention because it's just the way that I approach and think about things and that is what makes the difference. It's not about fitting in, it's really owning what makes me me me, what makes me stand out. And so thank you again for tuning in, send a text, subscribe to the newsletter so you can keep up with what's happening over there and you can also get the moments and everyday editorial when that comes out and, as I love to say at the end of every episode, walk good.

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