This is the month of LGBTQ Pride and I’ve heard many people refer to it as a celebration of love or a celebration of freedom. While those things aren’t necessarily untrue, it’s important to know the history of LGBTQ Pride and the significance of June 28th, 1969. In my understanding of LGBTQ culture, I’ve learned that being (unapologetically) yourself is important. That’s a lesson that I’ve had to re-learn over the past decade.
It’s Worth Mentioning… When I use words like unapologetically, that is not the same as a self-issued license to be rude. You know that person that pre-empts their “feedback” by announcing that they’re direct so that they can say rude/horrible things under the guise of constructive criticism? Yeah, that’s just a shitty human being. I’m talking about something very different. I’m talking about that feeling you had of being the weird one in grade/high school being gone. No more weird feeling because you’ve decided to love who you are and others will either love who you are or leave you alone. Be. Unapologetically. Yourself.
It’s (Also) Worth Mentioning… There are a lot of humans in the closet and afraid of persecution were they to come out to friends and family. Some can’t be themselves out of (a well justified) fear. You can help to create a safe space by being an Allie for those that may need someone they can trust. Show the world that you love everyone, even the marginalized humans. You might find that someone trusts you enough to be themselves with/around you.
When I was young, I tried to be the person that everyone liked. I tried to accommodate for this person, make that person feel comfortable, help that third person, and I got beat up for it. All of this happened before I heard the old advice that you can’t please everybody. I learned that lesson the hard way, I stopped trying to please everybody. Eventually, I stopped being afraid of bullies and I decided that anyone not in my corner or “on my team” could fuck right off. I decided to celebrate being myself. I just decided to stop apologizing to the world for existing.
As a Fitness Instructor, I’ve been trying to make everyone happy and many people still take issue with my (no excuses) style of coaching. The conundrum is that my “no excuses” approach is what they praise about me that makes me a good coach. On the flip, some claim that my no excuses approach leaves them feeling judged. That’s called projection people! Own your shit and stop trying to blame others for the feelings which you carry around on your sleeve. One day, I watched a flamboyantly wonderful man teach a group exercise class. He was as sassy as they come, lip smacking and all! My take away from watching him perform (group exercise instruction is a performance, don’t let anyone tell you differently) was that he was being himself and using his truth as the foundation for a high energy class.
My truth is a call back to the days of growing up in Detroit with a big brother that was fresh off the plane from a tour of duty in Desert Storm. He was my first coach. There were no excuses. You either completed the challenge or you kept trying until you completed the challenge. I began teaching my classes that way, I make sure to keep every body moving and I won’t allow anyone to call themselves weak or to say the other four-letter word, can’t. This is what it means to be myself. I’m not trying to be an asshole. I want to be nice to people. If people can’t figure out that I’m being kind and attempting to help then oh well.
Now, it’s your turn. Before you can be yourself, it’s important to take time and consider who you are and how you want the world to remember you. Everything you do, say, and write will be remembered long after you’ve forgotten it. Know yourself first and then go out and show the world your best self!