I AM. Who are you?
Don’t quote me, but when Jesus was asked to identify himself, he didn’t list his occupation: teacher or Rabbi. He didn’t distinguish himself by naming his parents: Mary and Joseph and son of the most high G.O.D. Holla. He didn’t drop the name of any illustrious and famous friends: brethren of John the Baptist. Instead, he answered the question about his identity with just two words. I AM. A world of meaning is wrapped up in those tiny words and says so much about the speaker. It says that he’s confident, that he’s in touch with his inner truth and that no one needs to tell him who he is because he knows already. Our name is our identity—our essence. It says who we are and declares our purpose. It lifts us out of obscurity and individualizes us. What’s in a name? Everything! The holy one had it right. I’m digging his swagger. I want his confidence. You should want it too. It shouldn’t be too hard. After all doesn’t God live in everybody?
The toughest advice anyone ever gave me was to be myself. It shouldn’t have been difficult, right? I liked myself. I felt good about myself. I admired the woman I’d become. So why was I struggling with my self-identity? The problem was that I liked myself more than everyone else did. People called that cocky. I felt confident in my abilities. People called that conceited. I felt that I was destined to be someone and no one could dissuade me. They called that delusional. The doubts and the negativity started to get to me so I collapsed in on myself and let the outside world have its way. It was easier. To be the true and authentic version of myself that meant I had to stop seeking acceptance. I had to live without the admiration and support I thought I needed. It meant that I had to settle into the idea that no matter what I did and how much I twisted myself into a knot of likeability, some people would always think I was female Kayne—but without the record deal and the rhymes. I had to give up the idea of being everything to everyone and submit to being the raw, unvarnished version of myself and give that to people to swallow straight no chaser. I would have to offer no apologies, no excuses and just be. The thought was terrifying.
But what I know now is that it’s better to be who you’re intended to be. It’s against nature to conform, give in and give up any piece of yourself to fit into anyone else’s idea of perfection. Abandoning your true self for the sake of conformity will wear away your shine, strip you of your magic and rob you of your joy. What may seem easy at first becomes the most time-consuming and labor intensive endeavor of your life. Instead I say, let go and let God. Be yourself. When someone stops you on the street and asks you for your name, respond with a straight face: I AM.
Anyone who gives this a try, promise me you’ll come back and tell me if any lightning strikes.