When I first heard Viola Davis, playing Aibilene, a maid in “The Help”, say “You is kind. You is smart. You is important, ” to Mae Mobley, a toddler, I wondered if Aibilene said the same thing to herself. My hunch is she did not.
Aibilene probably saw herself as being stuck, and required to live in a role society expected from people who looked like her. She is portrayed as a strong, caring, kind, loving, respectful, honorable, smart and committed person (this is my observation).
All these are excellent and admirable characteristics. Yet, the character, Aibilene, probably didn’t feel she was important. I don’t mean to the external world, but in the world within. Within, she probably felt like she didn’t matter.
She was defined externally by her job, income status, social status and most definitely by her complexion. Within, she seems to have internalized how others defined her.
In one part of the movie, Skeeter, played by Emma Stone, asked Aibilene if she ever dreamed of being something other than a maid. She simply nods her head. She never says what she dreamed of.
I understand Aibilene. Although her character was in Jackson, Mississippi in the 60’s, I was born and raised in Chicago. I lived in “low-income” high rise buildings call “Projects.”
I wasn’t expected to do much with my life. I finished in the top 40% of my class at a private Catholic high school. Yet, the guidance counselor didn’t recommend me going to college. He suggest going to the Army.
I got accepted to several colleges and I attended for one semester. I decided to enlist in the Marine Corps because I needed more discipline in my life. Yet, I did have a feeling that any college that let me enrolled wasn’t a very good college.
I didn’t know back then that I was living according to some external views. I did have a dream. I dreamed of being a broadcaster or a lawyer.
I attended a broadcasting school while serving in the Marine Corps. I did achieve my broadcaster dream after completing my enlistment contract. A couple of years into living my dream, someone woke me up with the words “You are fired.”
I lost my confidence and never made it back to my dream career. Again, I saw me as others described me. I finished my graduate degree and went back into the Marine Corps.
I served 14 years in the Marine Corps. Later I worked as a photojournalist for seven years, an evidence coordinator for four years, sold cars, sold Encyclopedia Britannica, worked as a database administrator for a year, a director of a technology training center for one year, and a technology support analyst for the past 11 years.
No dream anywhere in my jobs. I was the poster child for a “wandering generality.”
I’ve decided to “retire” from my technology job on July 1, 2017. Why? I started dreaming again.
I have a big, bold dream. I’ve gave myself permission to dream, and not “stay in my place,” or “stay in my lane.”
I honestly don’t have a clue how I’m going to achieve my dream, but I know I will. I must give it my best shot.
My dream is to be a philanthropist — just like the people on the “Secret Millionaire” program. That’s my dream. No, that’s my calling. My unique mission.
During the Master Key session Sunday afternoon, Mark said the magic word — Permission.
Making a contribution to strangers would be oh soooooo cool to me. Sometime ago it was just a dream. Months ago, during this Master Key experience it became a living DREAM!
What changed. I GAVE MYSELF PERMISSION TO DREAM MY IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. I felt the shift. I felt the power from giving myself permission.
Yes, I is also Kind, I is also Smart, I is also Important. Let me add unique to those statements.
Out of the billions of people on this planet, no one has my dream. There are dreams that might look like mine, but they are only reproductions. My dream is unique. It’s mine.
It’s my mission to give it life. I am responsible to train my dream to walk, talk and grow in my unique way. Yeap, I must do it my way. I proclaim I did it my way! (I got Frank Sinatra in my head https://youtu.be/6E2hYDIFDIU)
In the words of Lou Rawls, “I don’t want no gold watch for working 50 years from 9-to-5.” He continues, “I want to be happy and free living and loving for me. I want to be happy and free living and loving for me like a Natural Man” (https://youtu.be/gck1eSScRjc?list=RDgck1eSScRjc).
Nearly a year ago I started giving. I consistently remind myself to give and give abundantly. Now the time has come to leave the minors and play in the majors. I gave myself permission to do so.
With permission, time does not matter. The size of the gift does not matter. Other folks opinions don’t matter. Obstacles don’t. Doing does.
This is the ultimate self-permission statement from Lou Rawls:
“Well now, I tried to do what others say that I should do
They say that I should fit in, fool ’em, fake it, well
Those kinda dues just make me crazy and blue
Man, I just can’t take it”
I can take it, but I choose not to any more.
What have you given yourself permission to do, and what are you going to do with it?
You is kind, you is smart, you is important….and you is unique.