Disclaimer: The following words do not work if you are allergic to common sense or if Kanye West is your spirit animal. They work only if you have pledged allegiance to good decision-making.
Until I saw the movie Brown Sugar in the early aughts, I’d never heard the term “trust yourself.” That might sound crazy, but it’s true. In the movie, Sid Shaw (played by Sanaa Lathan) tells Andre Ellis (played by Taye Diggs) a few times to trust himself, always in those moments when he feels unsure about a decision he’s about to make, like leaving Millennium Records or starting his own label. The idea being that you are the master of your own destiny and know yourself better than anybody else; believe in your instincts and they won’t lead you wrong.
Today, church, I’d like to talk about trusting yourself.
One of the hardest and easiest things to do in life is to trust other people. It’s hard because many of us are guarded with our emotions and vulnerabilities because we don’t want others to use those things against us. This makes total sense. I personally hate it when I trust somebody who then screws me over in the very way that they know I have issues. Typically, this results in violence and damage to personal property, though my lawyers have cautioned me against sounding as if I condone such things. For the record, I think that if somebody drives you to potential criminal acts, you should probably do yourself a favor and put your hands up on your hip, and when I dip, you dip, we dip.
But it is easy to trust people, too. When you meet people and they say the things that open your heart and soul and make you say things out loud that you’ve never said before, it becomes easy to trust in those people and believe that the feeling they brought you is unique and that you can confide in and open up to them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s the beauty of life. I’m the type of person who trusts first, then pretends you don’t exist after you burn me. It’s one of my greatest flaws while simultaneously saving me from unwanted nonsense.
What I’ve found in my travels with Gulliver is that trusting yourself is the hardest of all for some people. Self-confidence can be your greatest asset in life; it can have you walking around in colors and patterns that clash, but nobody is the wiser because your vibe is the one wearing it. And your vibe is kicking ass and taking names. Self-confidence, or lack thereof, can also be one of the biggest burdens in your life. Constantly second-guessing yourself is the quickest way to Nowheresville, USA, population: you, bitch.
Now, nobody is immune to bouts of self-doubt. We all go through it. There are times when I write something and reread it and wonder whether I should share it with the community or masses because maybe it won’t be received right. Or it will be received the way I want it to, except everyone thinks it’s trash. What if I’m not as funny as I think I am or as witty?
What if I’m like Rafiki talking to Simba by the water, not knowing who I am? Don’t be Simba.
But here’s the thing about momentary bouts: They’re momentary. Usually, my self-doubt pisses me off to the point where I become overconfident and remind myself who I am and just how awesome I am. Nobody is better at being me than I am, and I’m good with me, for better or worse.
See, I trust myself. I trust that when it comes to sharing pieces of me, I’m adept enough to put it out there and take what comes with it. I believe in who I am as a person and what I bring to the table enough that I can live with the outcome. I trust me to be the best me I can be, but I also trust that who I am is good enough to have a best me.
And I trust that everybody else has a “best me.” You have two feet, which means you’ll always have a best foot to put forward. You have a voice and words that are unique to you, which represent a thought or belief that you have, and nobody can take that from you. If you wake up feeling like a million bucks even though you only have 2 dollars and some lint in your pocket, then that 2 dollars is worth a million.
One of the hardest things to do is not focus on what other people think about decisions you make. In Brown Sugar, when Dre wanted to start his own label, his self-doubt was created by the fact that he was leaving what to many people was probably a dream job and taking a leap of faith that he knew what he was doing and that he would be successful. Ultimately, he didn’t want to fail and allow people to view his initial decision as a stupid one. Nobody wants to look stupid.
But here’s the fun part about trusting yourself: You can never look stupid if you trust yourself enough to make the best decision for you and your heart and carry it that way. If you are doing what you need to do, what can anybody say about you? It only never works when you make a decision even though you aren’t fully invested in it. If you half-ass a decision that causes you consternation, chances are you failed before you started.
But if you trust in who you are and what you bring to the table and in the fact that you wouldn’t make a decision you aren’t prepared for, then you’ve won before the game even started.
Nobody is perfect and nobody is above a moment of self-doubt. But if you trust who you are and in your instincts and the stuff that makes you a valuable human being, there really isn’t anything you can’t get done. Or anybody you can’t be.
Unless you want to dunk a basketball and you’re 4 feet tall. That s—t is impossible, or at least improbable. But if I have hops and trust in myself to be able to do it, who knows what I’m capable of?
I trust myself as a writer and a thinker. I might not know where I’m going, but I trust that the decisions and choices I make are leading me toward a road of prosperity because what else would I be doing?
I’m awesome. And you are, too. So trust yourself to be so.
Panama Jackson is the co-founder and senior editor of VerySmartBrothas.com. He lives in Washington, D.C., and believes the children are our future.