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Grow Inside

I grew up in an environment that asked me to grow To extend my reach as high as I could To tiptoe and show that I am tall Tall, sturdy, unwavering.

I grew up in a world that asked me to excel No, DEMANDED me to achieve. Demanded me to be someone Someone to be given praise, be given respect, be given value.

I grew up in an environment that praised me for my wits. Showering me with accolades of what I am doing good Bombarding me with the programming of how to stay busy Busy to make a name, be productive, be the face to change the world.

I grew up in this environment believing I am not enough. That I need MORE to be seen, to be acknowledged, to be loved That if I fail to grow my reach, I immensely falter That if I fail to scale up, to make someone of myself, then I am no one.

I grew up hearing these over and over and over. Telling me, no INSISTING me to grow.

And I tried. I tried to fit in with what society demanded. Wore my high heels when they were damned so uncomfortable. Tucked in my tummy in as much as I could And hating myself for not fitting in society's standards Standards on beauty, on prestige, on importance.

And throughout my life I was facing forward. Never looking in. Always gauging what others see, what they perceive, the labels I am put in.

Until one day I heard a faint and different voice. A voice that told me "I am enough" A voice that told me "I matter" A voice that told me not to scale outwards but to grow inside. A voice that challenged me to understand myself Devoid of all the expectations I willingly and unconsciously put on.

I screamed, I bellowed, I threw a tantrum rivaling that of a toddler. I resisted that voice because I was scared Scared to have a relationship with myself Because I didn't know how to. I was never told. Never taught. Never urged.

All my life I was told to reach out for the skies Never touching nor even seeing my own light.

And I cried. Mourning that person that I became That person whose self-worth was attached to something or someone A praise, an acknowledgment, a pat on the back And yes I got hooked even with the harshest of critics. I knew myself because of the labels this box that I was put in with all my different names and titles a wife, a student, a mother, a woman The only person I knew was her.

Slowly I started to listen to that faint voice Giving myself space between my stories Giving myself compassion Reconnecting with who I am By tuning in with my body. Feeling my yes's and my no's Savoring my longings, caressing them.

As I started growing inward I realized that voice That voice that told me I am enough That voice that stirred me, challenged me, nudged me. That voice is the woman that I see each day Standing in the mirror looking lovingly at me.

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