The moment you decide to intentionally hide something about yourself, I want you to think real hard about why. I want you to ask yourself if creating this secret is what you think is best for you, or is it more for other people. Is it because you’re afraid of what people may think of you, and how they may treat you differently if they knew? Is this something you want to hide long term, or is this just for now? And if just for “now,” when will you know it’s the right time to reveal this part of you?
Seven years ago, I made a decision to “cover up” a part of me in the work world. “Just for now,” I said. Just enough time for me to build up my reputation. Just enough time for people to see the real me, the hard working, honest, reliable and ambitious part of me. I did this in fear of judgement, in fear that they wouldn’t give me a chance to prove myself to “them.” People I had never met.
Months went by, and then months turned into years. I finally realized, this “temporary” hiding situation had morphed into what felt like a dirty little secret. My co-workers had turned into friends, and I started feeling guilty about hiding this part of me from them. As if I didn’t trust them with my true self. I also started feeling annoyed with myself, and angry for letting it get this far. For not being brave with myself sooner.
In August of 2018, I decided to change all that. I decided that if people didn’t respect me despite how I look at this point, then I just probably was never going to earn that respect, and just now, was that fine with me.
This month marks my one year anniversary for coming out the tattooed professional closet, and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. I got a ton of stares and looks and unwanted attention but I am so glad to be on the other side of that.
Why am sharing this? I’m sharing this because I want you all to know that we all have fears and are scared about judgment from others, no matter who we are. But I also want you to know that you deserve to feel proud of who you are, whatever you look like, whomever you love, however you feel inside.
Today and every day, I hope choose to be brave. To make a decision to push past fear and show your true self. Because like Brene Brown said, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”