Let’s talk about odds.
“The odds are just odds in my opinion. They are there to increase my strength. I definitely see my odds as adding a little bit of weight onto my bench press every step of the way. And although sometimes it hurt to push through those things and although it was sometimes hard to label those situations, the best thing I could do was identify them and face them. I came out stronger on the other side.”
Tiana is an 8th grade math teacher, and someone who truly is walking in her calling. She loves those children like they are her own, and she is able to weave her story into every aspect of her life. She can relate to her students on a deeper level because she is able to put herself in their shoes. She meets people in her friend group where they are because of the level of empathy and strength she had to develop at a young age. Tiana was one of my suitemates my first year of college, and from that point on I knew Tiana would be a lifelong friend. I admired her ability to be so comfortable with her story, and I watched as it gave so many young women and men the power to do the same.
“I would say the biggest odd I overcame was being raised by young parents. When my mom was 22 I was seven years old. I had family members that struggled with addiction and alcoholism. It felt like our family had a generational curse of teen pregnancy. I definitely felt like the odds were against me. When I was heading off to college all of my family was at or below the poverty line. When I stepped foot on campus, I definitely felt like the odds were completely against me.”
However, something Tiana highlighted was that odds don’t have to be just the things in our life that cripple us – our odds can be used to strengthen us and even heal us, if we give them the chance to do so.
What if our odds are actually our secret weapon?
“There were a lot of things I watched my mom encounter and endure at a very aware age. I could see what was going on at seven years old. But the truth is that facing those situations with her really strengthened me to be able to recognize certain things and when I became 22 I was like “wait, I have seen this before.” Because of the fact that I got to live through it with my mom, it made me stronger. It reminded me that this 22-year-old season was not the end of my story because I can see my mom now, and how she made it through that season of her life. And I think “oh, okay, I can keep going.” My odds helped me understand this was not the end of my story.”
It was beautiful to see someone be able to take their hardest times, and use them as stepping stones for the next chapter in their life. One thing that she and I talk about often is how it can be easy on this journey to be so captivated by someone else’s path that we forget the beauty of our own. Something that Tiana said that has stuck with me is that the best thing to do when you are feeling envious, jealous, or even insecure is to call yourself out about it.
Have the courage to call yourself out.
“I combat comparison on my journey by living in my truth and being honest that I have had moments where I have been envious, jealous, and bitter. I have had moments where I was constantly comparing myself to someone else and throwing shade on their accomplishments. I didn’t give them the credit they deserved and was stuck feeling that I deserved what they were accomplishing more than they did. So there I was, bitter and throwing shade. And instead of acting like I wasn’t bitter, I had to stop and say to myself “girl, you are being bitter!” Because that is what it was. When you accept the truth that that is how you are feeling, only then can you address it. Recognize and honor your own story.”
Tiana mentioned time and time again that in those moments when we feel insecure it is not the other person’s problem. It is OUR problem.
“In moments where I really stopped and reflected I realized that it was never about the other person’s success. I was never really upset with them, I was upset with the fact that I knew I could be at the exact same spot in life and I was choosing not to. The reason another person’s success makes us bitter is because it calls out the crap that we are putting up with or doing right now. It makes you look at yourself and think “well what am I not doing?” And if you trust that person and they are a good friend, go to them and let them support you and be there for you through that vulnerable space. I emphasize the fact that only if they are a true friend, because not everyone truly is your friend.”
Honor your story – every single time.
When I asked Tiana if there was anything that she wanted to drive home for other women, it was that honoring your story is the best thing you can do.
“Honor your story always. Don’t bully the person that you used to be. She made decisions that she thought was best in that time and in that moment. Did some of those decisions cause not so great outcomes? Absolutely. But she was doing the best that she could. I want the woman I am becoming to never forget to honor the places that she has been. Don’t put yourself down, recognize your part in every piece of your life, and honor the person that you were and the person that you are becoming. You are never done developing. Personal development is a lifelong journey. You are never done healing. If I had known then what I know now, I would have started this journey sooner.”
Thank you for sharing your story Tiana – you truly are a light to so many people.
Keep Water Your Garden today ladies.