A pageant is not just the crown. To paraphrase the latest Spiderman movie – “If you’re nothing without the [crown], then you don’t deserve it.” My platform is Living Out Loud, from the Lupus movement encouraging those with Lupus to be advocates and bring awareness to the devastation of this disease. I take it further. Living Out Loud (laughing out loud, loving out loud) means to be uniquely and unapologetically yourself.
Women (successful women) in particular suffer from the “imposter syndrome” where they don’t feel that they deserve the role, position, salary, responsibilities that have earned – that any day now, someone will recognize that they are not good enough.
As a single mom, poor, on welfare, struggling to earn a nursing degree so I could support my two girls (1 and 3 years old), I had a dream. I dreamed that I could go into the local corner store and buy a coke without having to balance my checkbook first. Dream accomplished, I went on to dream more, but there are thousands of women / minorities who dare not dream.
Researching success metrics is disheartening in male-dominated fields – women are not considered successful because they don’t hit the metrics that were defined by men as indicators of success. My theory is that women define success differently – it’s not the c-suite title that matters, it’s the salary and position that they aimed for and the time to pursue other interests.
My view on life was included in a recent book “The She Shift” – issued this week. How inspiring to see that my story inspires others. Living Out Loud means being vulnerable, but being authentic. It took me years to learn how to be me, and who “me” is, but I am honest in expressing who I am and being true to myself – making life more …. everything for my family. Once you do live out loud, you will find that you become an advocate for yourself and others.
Living out loud is not easy. It takes courage to dream, to expose your inner self (if only to yourself), and to shoot for that dream, to define your own success, to be true to yourself – whether that means standing up, standing out, or standing still.