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Posted by on Nov 27, 2013 in Elevate, Empower, Inspiration, Woman on the RISE | 0 comments

The Authentic Version of You.

The Authentic Version of You.

By Vonae Deyshawn, Founder of LEAD Youth Initiative

Have you ever ventured into Chinatown, NYC? You know, that small world located within the expanse of Manhattan that teleports you into what seems like a far away land?

Chinatown is a shopper’s delight and a luxury brand’s thorn in the side. It’s where you can acquire the most sought after gems of the fashion world at literally a quarter of the price.

Or so it seems.

Louis Vuitton handbags are sold stealthily in the streets of this culturally rich neighborhood, and to get your hands on one will send you on quite the covert mission.

Down an alley, into a van with blacked out windows, sitting in complete darkness, wondering, “Am I going to die?”

Oh what we will do and risk for a label.

While these bags appear to be the real deal on the outside, a closer examination will reveal that they are anything but authentic. The L’s and V’s aren’t following the typical pattern, the gold locket starts to turn silver, a strap breaks mid shopping trip.

Need I go on?

You see, when something’s authentic it stands the test of time. It’s forthcoming. There’s no tricks, gimmicks, annoying surprises. It operates just as it was created to.  It’s not afraid to be all it was designed to be. Thriving in its fabulousness. Letting nothing for lack of better words, “cramp its style.”

That my friend is where you come in.

Have you ever stepped back and wondered, “What on Earth happened to me?” All of a sudden you realize you’re a shell of the person you used to be. Where there was once radiance, pizazz, spark, dreams, (insert your own adjective), there’s now mediocrity. You’ve simply blended into the scenery.  Stopped dreaming and settled for what was offered to you. Toned down your fabulous self in order to seem a little more like the people around you. The people who think you’re just doing too much!

I hate to ask, but how is that going for you?

If you’re like me, the answer would be terrible.

When did we become okay with being the watered down version of ourselves? It’s an atrocity.  The world needs you and me to be who we were created to be. To spread a little light in the darkness, dash a handful of glitter into the boring places of life, and to do a little dance simply because we want to.

To be our authentic self.

The other day while talking with an awesome friend who always looks so well put together, another woman started suggesting why this particular friend shouldn’t wear heels. She proceeded to list medical reason after medical reason, why she should in fact stop wearing heels altogether and opt for a more comfortable option. As she was being somewhat lectured, I could tell her spirit was becoming a little deflated. What she thought was a great way of expressing her style, personality, and love for feeling good about herself was being challenged; critiqued and criticized. She was being asked to become the watered down version of herself.

As I thought about her over the next several days, I began realizing just how much I’d become some other person. Someone I didn’t even know. A person who stopped wearing this or that, simply because no one else did. I began to simply blend in.

And then it hit me.

I was created to be Vonae and all that encompassed, not the watered down version. The full personality, lover of things that sparkle, high heel wearing, life loving Vonae. Don’t get me wrong, this is not just about the shoes we wear, but the life we choose to live. We can go around being the unauthentic versions of ourselves, but who are we really hurting? After all, it’s easier to be ourselves than it is to pretend to be someone else. Just like the Louis Vuitton, our seams will start coming apart until the truth is revealed; showing exactly what was underneath the entire time.

So, be who you are. Let your light shine. Do a little dance and spread glitter, joy and love to all those who need help. There will never be another you on this Earth. We need your gifts, talents and abilities to make this world a better place. Don’t waste your life being the watered down version of who you were created to be.

Be the authentic version of you!