Be Your Freaking Self…The President Is, and He’s Awesome

You’re doper than you think. A great lesson from President Obama on his birthday.

Me being me.

The President is probably the dopest person on Earth. Today is his birthday and while most people take full advantage of being as self absorbed as possible on their special day, he did the exact opposite. In fact he penned an entire letter for Glamour Magazine dedicated to the celebration of other people. What moved me the most about his discussion on fatherhood, leadership, and feminism was the following:

When you’re the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society. You see the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues transmitted through culture. You feel the enormous pressure girls are under to look and behave and even think a certain way.
And those same stereotypes affected my own consciousness as a young man. Growing up without a dad, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I was, how the world perceived me, and what kind of man I wanted to be. It’s easy to absorb all kinds of messages from society about masculinity and come to believe that there’s a right way and a wrong way to be a man. But as I got older, I realized that my ideas about being a tough guy or cool guy just weren’t me. They were a manifestation of my youth and insecurity. Life became a lot easier when I simply started being myself.”

Unlike President Obama, I don’t know what it’s like to be a father, but as a woman, (a Black woman) I feel the absurd, “not-so-subtle- cues” he references everyday. The idea that we’re always supposed to be sexy, smiley and maybe smart (but not too smart because you might be perceived as a know-it-all)but also submissive, unassertive, and meek. Society, on one hand, preaches that everyone, including women, should strive to be true to themselves yet constantly crafts the model of what being true to yourself should be.

President Obama being himself.
With so many mixed signals it’s no wonder that so many of us are confused about what “being yourself” really means or feels like.

With so many mixed signals it’s no wonder that so many of us (myself included) are confused about what “being yourself” really means or feels like. I’d posit that most of us are uncomfortable with it. Understanding what makes you, you and valuable and then having the courage to fearlessly promote it takes guts.

Yet when we just let go for a second, and tune everything out, including those annoying negative voices in our heads, it can also be the most liberating thing we ever do. We just gotta lean into it.

For the rest of the year, I’m going to challenge myself to lean into who I am in every situation. I hope you can find the courage to do the same. While I’m not sure it’ll help you become the president, I think it’ll provide the confidence you need to make your life a little easier.