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  • LaShawndra Vernon

Write Your Own Story...


I’ve been in the “wilderness” several times in my life story. Three identifiable

experiences in the “wilderness” have been defining for me. The time spent wandering and searching for purpose helped shape the person I perceive I am. I am in a particularly sticky “wilderness” period right now. Starting a new brand, leaving several brands behind that defined me, and working through the lies I told myself in my previous stories forced a stillness. I am a strategic person, so I look for vision, mission and purpose in anything I place my energy.

During this stillness period, I’ve returned to a more “routine” based approach to my life and practice. When I am experiencing a “wilderness” routines get shot. In focusing on routine, I found some important truths about myself that still hold true.

Morning coffee in a space with lots of windows…

Music that doesn’t require my full attention…

My TUL notebook and my computer…

One pensive morning I sat reading “The Voice of Knowledge; A Practical Guide to Inner Peace” and I came across a statement that struck me to the core:

“If other people try to write your story, it means they don’t respect you.”

It raised so many follow up questions I felt compelled to write them out, answer them to the best of my ability, and begin to make the edits necessary to my own story. I’m paying it forward by sharing these questions and answers. It’s always the right time to “Write Your Own Story”.

Observation:

My immediate observation after reading the above quote was the many times someone else “wrote my story”. I’ve worked in community engagement, advocacy and social justice my entire career. I can’t tell you how many times there was someone in this work that was actively “making edits to my story”.

Whether it was telling me that my tone was too direct, that my words weren’t reader friendly. My words weren’t provocative enough, my words were too provocative. People won’t understand intersectionality, we should just focus on one issue, not all the social determinants. This issue is about feminism, why are you bringing race into this? All these statements rang in my head like a bell.

They were the unwelcomed editors of my story. And they couldn’t help it, they were the authors of their own stories. My story strongly convicted some of the characters in theirs. They did what they felt they had to do to protect their story. This wasn’t helpful in forming mine.

This realization caused a chain reaction of self-check questions. I immediately wanted to analyze my own story and omit anything that wasn’t my art.

How do I see myself?

My ego wants to tell you that I see myself as a giant, able to conquer anything that comes my way. My truth is that I am unsure if the next time I get knocked down will be the last. I have always been brave. Bravery has its risks. I’ve always viewed myself as a “calculated risk taker”. I don’t trust anyone but myself, I have very few expectations of others, and I spend lots of time reflecting and being alone. I’m not lonely, but people drain me. It takes effort to interact with people because I can’t stop myself from evaluating people. I constantly judge, I decide what drives people based on their actions and I categorize them accordingly. It’s rather mechanical, but it is my truth.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t have warm feelings for people. I love and adore people, but I do place them at a distance.

I think some of this is learned behavior, but it has become part of my story.

What do I believe about myself?

I believe I am a great person once you get to know me. I am a protector, I am dedicated to the advancement of my children first. I have lots of love to give, and I don’t place conditions on that love. I understand love to not be possessive, so I don’t expect to own people. I have a passion for what is right, social justice is in my blood. There are times when I experience a fire in the pit of my belly. The heat from this fire forces words and actions to come forth. Some would say my words are sharp, and sometimes they are. Usually though, my words and actions are out of love and rage. Not sure which one proceeds the other, that is the gambling part!

How does my story begin?

My story begins in fire. A Firey Phoenix emerging from ashes that predate my memory. Fire is a constant in my story. It symbolizes rebirth, rage, correction, protection, emotion, human rights, art, passion, music, love.

What are my story edits?

Because I am sharp tonged, my story has backlash. My edits of this story would eliminate every “Angry Black Woman” myth that is attached to my desire to see righteousness win. My integrity is my guide. If I have offended others they have retaliated in back biting and negative narratives to people in positions of power. I remove the influence of those messages from my story. I have more power than I allow my story to tell. I take back the powers others tried to take from my because I chose not to remain silent.

Who gets to publish my story?

No one gets to publish my story but me. I own the rights to my story. My story is for me to carry forward. My words, my art, my message is my own. I encourage the rest of the world to focus on their own story, and stop working to edit the story of others. This is the reason that your story doesn’t quite add up, it is to externally focused, to busy focusing on the other characters. Focus on your protagonist.

Going forward I will meditate on the following things as I rewrite my story:

  • Forgiving myself for believing their stories about me.

  • Remembering their stories have nothing to do with me. They reflect the stories they tell themselves.

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