In 2019, I graduated with my Doctor of Business Administration from the University of South Florida. This was huge for me.
Success always seemed like a losing battle. A doctorate degree, let alone finishing high school would have been alien to me when I was younger. At 12 years old I was assigned a truancy officer for skipping school too much, and at 13 I was kicked out of school.
When I hit my late teenage years, I found determination to build a better life for myself, and that started with mustering up the courage to take two busses a night to GED study classes. I failed the math portion of the test, but on the second try a few months later I passed.
At 21 with a 6-month-old baby at home, I enrolled in college courses. Despite my worries that I wasn’t smart enough and that leaving my baby at night made me a bad mother, I earned my bachelor’s degree. Then two master’s. Then my terminal degree.
To me, my doctorate degree means: overcoming adversity, successfully navigating impostor syndrome, perseverance, sacrifice, self-love… and finally earning the ‘Dr.’ in front of my name.
After graduation, the time came to announce to the world that I was ‘Dr. Clark’. I was thrilled, but a sense of hesitancy creeped in. For several months and even with my business students, I’d introduce myself as ‘Danielle’ or ‘Professor Clark’ and avoid the doctorate title altogether.
What if people think I’m conceited? What if my students think I have an ego? I feared coming across as arrogant, as some kind of pompous professor shining a stage light on my achievements.
A friend I graduated with had the letters ‘Dr.’ beautifully tattooed on his wrist. I loved the idea of having a visible daily reminder of ‘I can do anything I put my mind to’ whenever I needed the confidence boost.
I told a few people I was considering getting the tattoo myself and each one further fed my fears by responding along the lines of, “Conceited much?”
It took many conversations with myself and others to finally realize I’m the only one who knows if I have ego, and I shouldn’t care what others think. If it feels good to me, why not? If I want to honor my journey and who I am today by introducing myself as ‘Dr. Clark’ in certain situations (like the classroom), then go me!
It’s now been a few years of hearing ‘Dr. Clark’ echoed back to me. Each time I hear it, I experience a ping of pride. And I’ve heard from many others that knowing I am a young terminal degree holder with an at-risk youth path inspires them to shoot for the stars.
I still don’t have that ‘Dr.’ tattoo. I’ve chosen not to get it; not for concern of what others think, but because I’m just not ready for a tattoo yet (this would be my first so I’m taking it slow).
What have you been holding back from because you’re worried others will assume you have ego? Where have you made yourself small to make others comfortable? And the most important question, how can you put others’ thoughts aside and follow your ego-free desires?
Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this newsletter to a few family members and friends. The greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.
PS – Here’s an affirmation to remind you that your desires matter regardless of what others think, ‘I know my intent and truth. I am a magnet for my dreams and desires.’
PPS – Do you want to work on your self-confidence when it comes to owning your growth and achievements? If so, grab your journal and a pen. Jot down areas of your life you’ve grown in the last year (health, finances, career, spirituality etc.) Have you told your family and friends about your progress and wins? And not just the short generic version because you didn’t want to look like you had an ego? If yes, good for you! Give yourself a pat on the back and write yourself a kudos note. If you answered no, write out how you think a conversation with a family member or friend would play out if you humbly boasted about the things you’re proud of. If this person hints at arrogance or ego within you, how will you respond in a courageous way?
A few weeks ago, in my Learn by doing newsletter, I talked about how I unintentionally interrupted Shawna, the host of The Quantum Shift when she had me on her podcast as a guest. The days that followed, I wasted time and lost positive energy as I hyper-focused on my blunder. Fortunately, I finally snapped out of my funk when I remembered that we all learn by doing and that my intention was pure.
I wrote that newsletter as a healing vehicle for myself (writing is such a good release), as a learning opportunity for you, and as an ‘I’m sorry’ to Shawna. I posted the newsletter to Instagram and tagged Shawna, feeling good that I owned my mistakes and that the air was cleared.
Shawna wrote me back and here’s what she said: “I don’t even recall you ‘interrupting’ me! You left me with the impression that you’re a very knowledgeable coach and lovely human with an absolutely huge heart from having overcome great challenges. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and hope to have you back again!”
I chuckled when I read her response, looked up to the sky and said, “Okay Universe. Message received.”
Can you believe it? I spent days beating myself up for a faux pas Shawna didn’t even notice, a mistake that didn’t even exist.
Shawna’s note gave me a powerful reminder: I can be my own worst enemy. The next time I doubt myself (and worse, bully myself) about how I think someone perceives me, I’m going to:
Use the affirmation below as many times a day as I need to so that I quiet the negative noise in my head;
Fill myself with understanding and grace by remembering the positive purpose of my actions;
Directly ask the person how they felt about whatever it is I did or think I did.
Hopefully, you’ll be kinder to yourself too the next time you ‘make a mistake’.
Did you enjoy this story? Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this newsletter to a few family members and friends. The greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.
PS – Here’s an affirmation to help you (and to help me!) stop focusing on others’ opinions, “I live life without concern of what others think of me.”
PPS – To help you feel more comfortable with ‘mistakes’, think back to a time you made one and because of it, things turned out great. Get out your journal and write out the story. Did you miss your exit and ended up late to work but found an amazing coffee shop you wouldn’t have known about otherwise? Did you bomb a first date which led you to meeting your husband? Keep this story handy and the next time you are down-in-the-dumps because you made a perceived mistake, read this story to yourself.
Thanks to 2020, I, like many others, have been in survivor mode: Protecting my physical, emotional and mental health has been my top priority. With the heightened focus on me, I’ve found it much easier to say ‘no’ to people and things that don’t support me, that don’t lift me up and make me stronger. Over the last few months, I have:
Changed nails salons so I no longer have to hear the nail tech talk angrily about politics;
Parted ways with my car detail guy who is awesome to shoot-the-shit with but doesn’t do the best job actually cleaning my car (and with a yellow lab that sheds a ton, this is a necessity);
Stopped going to the young woman who gives an awesome facial but steals away my relaxation because she complains of her boyfriend and tries to squeeze free life coaching from me
While my actions may seem small and obvious, they are big to me. Before 2020, I would have stayed in these unfulfilling relationships due to some jaded belief I should be loyal and avoid hurting others’ feelings. Or, I would have ended these relationships, all the while letting guilt live inside me for weeks, if not months. But I’m different now, and everlasting guilt is no longer my M.O.
Thank you, 2020, for helping me find my power (and hello to you, 2021 – prepare to witness my strengths!). Every time I took steps to remove negativity from my life, I felt nothing but better. I could feel it in my shoulders. I could feel it in my stomach. I could feel it in my mind, heart and soul. The calm, the ease. By choosing to honor my time, my money and myself, I’m lighter and more open to the people I need along my journey. I now have a new nail tech, a new car detail guy and a new esthetician, and all are enhancing my life and feeding my soul.
Do you have anyone in your life who’s dragging you down? If so, you know what to do.
PS – Here’s an affirmation to help you find the power you need to say ‘no’ to the things and people that aren’t serving you, “I am in touch with my wants and needs. I stand up for myself and am confident in my ability to make change and say ‘no’.”
PPS – It’s all too easy to settle for mediocre, to go out to a restaurant and be served a lukewarm meal and say nothing to the waiter because you’d rather not ‘look bad’ or cause problems. Get out your journal. Here’s a writing prompt to give yourself confidence the next time you need to speak up for yourself: Get your imagination going. Think of a situation where someone isn’t meeting your expectations (i.e. the lukewarm dinner you’re paying for!). Write out the scene. What happens? And what do you do to voice your concerns? Make sure the story has a happy ending and carry those triumphant feelings with you until you need to speak up for real.
Break Judgment Habits
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