Who Do You Think You Are?
Posted on November 02 2015
“Have I ever told you the story of how the Fox started hunting the Rooster?” my mother asked me last night. “ This is bound to be interesting…” I whispered under my breath. In the Yoruba culture (Nigeria), there is not only an adage for every life situation but there is a folktale for every challenge one faces. I’m grateful for these stories and words of wisdom, as I’ve heard most of them for most of my life. They’re funny, applicable but most importantly they always teach you something about yourself.
“The Fox didn’t always hunt the Rooster. In fact, the Fox was always pretty afraid of this particular bird. He thought that the bright red crest on top of the Rooster’s head was live fire. He didn’t want to get close as he was afraid of getting burned. The Rooster noticed how the Fox often kept his distance and decided to ask him why. The Fox divulged his fear and the Rooster laughed innocently. ‘You don’t have to be afraid’ he said. 'It’s just extra meat on top of my head. It won’t burn you at all.’ Relieved, the Fox bid adieu to his feathery new friend. The next time the two creatures met, the Fox felt no fear and approached the Rooster with confidence. He was so comfortable that he grabbed the Rooster crest first and made a nice dinner out of him.”
I laughed but I knew exactly what my mom was getting at by telling me this old folktale. “If you think or say that you’re not much, then that is exactly how the world will treat you” she concluded.
A day before our storytelling session, an opportunity had come my way. I wasn’t sure if I should say yes. My doubt, surprisingly wasn’t driven by whether or not this opportunity would prove to be successful; my doubt was driven by an annoying voice in my head whispering “why me?” It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this question. Although it’s come more often from other people than myself.
In addition to recruiting, I have had some great opportunities come my way in the fashion industry. When my extra-curricular activities have come up in conversations, a few people have asked “No offense but why you? How did they find you? How do you get invitations to events like that?” Not wanting to come off as arrogant, I smile and politely explain that things just worked out the way that they did. As I walk away, my head is screaming “I’ve spent many years building my expertise in that field. What do you mean 'why me?’ Why not me?”
I’ve realized that sometimes you have to say these things out loud. It’s not arrogance, it’s confidence. The fact is, it’s not only important for you to know who you are on the inside but it’s equally important to be able to affirm who you are on the outside as well. I’ve often said that if you don’t make a decision on what you’re worth, the world will decide for you. We coyly show off our "amazing” lives on social media but if someone complements us on anything in person, we immediately feel the need to downplay things. When someone says you look great, you respond with “Oh no, I don’t look great, look at these bags under my eyes” or maybe a stranger compliments you on what you’re wearing, “This is 20 years old” you respond.
We would rather be liked than feared or respected and because of this, we often sell ourselves short. The Rooster sold himself short. He also got eaten for dinner.