NEW YORK — Today would have been any other Tuesday in March.
People would have gone about their day.
They would have probably raised a pint or two after work for St. Patrick’s Day.
But today is not any other Tuesday.
An unprecedented global event has completely upended life as we know it.
“Social distancing” and “quarantine” have taken over our vocabularies as we do everything to flatten the curve of COVID19 and its death grasp.
And yet I’ve never been more thankful to be alive.
Not only because it’s my birthday, but also being alive to witness and experience a once in a lifetime event that will define us for decades and challenge our humanity.
This is the time to break through and connect with our communities.
This is the time to step up and help each other.
I know this new normal is uncomfortable.
But it’s only when we’re uncomfortable is when we grow.
I had a breakthrough recently.
It wasn’t until the beginning of this year I realized the true power of our voices.
I have always fought imposter syndrome for as long as I remember.
As an introvert in a world and industry dominated by extroverts, it’s always been a challenge to break through and let your voice be heard.
But 2019 was different.
It was the year I let go and let people in.
I found clarity.
I found connections.
I found community.
And it’s within these communities, I found what I didn’t know I needed — unparalleled support and empathy.
I discovered cohorts of people who saw me, heard me and supported me for me — no agenda, no BS.
It was the first time I didn’t have to fit the expectations of someone or some company or entity.
When 2020 began, all of these pieces finally clicked into place when I acknowledged imposter syndrome.
While it never goes away completely, once I called it out by name, I’ve been able to better manage it.
I find myself catching it when it creeps up and squashing it when tries to convince that I’m not good enough.
This new proactive mindset paved the way to become the next version of myself:
— someone who is confident and unafraid
— someone who is a risk-taker
— someone who speaks truth to power
It’s amazing how a person, the community and a series of pivotal moments can be the final push that leads to your next best iteration.
Leezel 2.0 is the person who I was always meant to be.
I wasn’t ready for her until now.
I had to go through some hard and painful lessons to get me ready to embody and embrace the challenges ahead.
I don’t ask “why,” anymore.
Instead, I ask, “why not?”
Rather than say, “what do I have to lose?” I say, “what do I have to gain?”
I’m no longer anxious or afraid of my own power, my voice.
A “breakthrough” can be such a misnomer, often implying that change happened overnight.
The reality is that each experience, both good and bad changes you over time.
The question then becomes, “have you been paying attention?”
As a storyteller, I tell other people’s stories for a living.
But rarely do I listen to myself and my story.
And it’s that story that’s been waiting to be unleashed into the universe, that ultimately lights the path forward.
I’ve never experienced more clarity in what my role is until now — using my voice to speak truth to power.
Facts over Fake over Fear
We may not have control over what happens next in this age of COVID19, but there are several things we do have within our grasp.
We can stop the spread of fake news and misinformation.
This is within our control.
We want to help each other.
We help each other by being informed.
We help each other by taking care of ourselves.
Just like washing your hands is part of your routine, so should checking before sharing that info.
When misinformation runs rampant, we add to the dangerous growing panic.
Fake news and misinformation is a distraction from the real issues and challenges.
We can do better.
We are better.
I can no longer just watch something that can be squashed and actionable.
In this new version of myself on the day I mark my entrance into the world, I let go of that girl who was once voted in high school, “Least likely say anything.”
These days, I have got a lot to say.
And you’re going to listen.