Travelled: Knowing Who You Are

Martina McGowan made a brave decision at an early age to be true to herself, and in that moment, she changed the course of her life. You can change the course of your life too. You begin by knowing who you are.

“If you know who you are, no one can define you.

If you know what you stand for, no one can distort you.”

~ Lolly Daskal

Perhaps it is because February is Black History Month that I am suddenly reminded of this story.

I am a native Yankee. My parents, grandparents, etc are all from the South. My great-grandfather was a freed slave.

Knowing Who You Are, LifeIsHOTBlog, Statue of James Meredith on the campus of Mississippi University. Meredith enrolled in Ole Miss after a US Supreme Court ruling enforced desegregation there. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Statue of James Meredith on the campus of Mississippi University. Meredith enrolled in Ole Miss after a US Supreme Court ruling enforced desegregation there. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

We often travelled through the deep South visiting relatives who had not moved northward in the great migration seeking better lives.

So, as a small child, I was exposed to signs reading, “For Whites Only, “Colored Entrance” and the like. My portents dutifully explained these things to me to keep me from wandering across some magical barrier or causing some unintended offence.

I am a child of the turbulent ’60s as well as a participant and first-generation beneficiary of the Civil Rights struggle. I am also told often by a close friend that I am obviously a “child of the Depression” because of some of my frugal habits.

I have always known what I wanted to do with my life. And I have been blessed in that my childhood dreams and wishes have come to fruition.

As I was completing my sojourn in college, finances became available for me to take my first few airplane trips to visit medical schools for interviews. Most of these went well, except one, and it is the main subject of this post.

It was a visit in the deep South. Rising from a good night’s rest, all dressed up for my med school interview, I stopped in the hotel cafe for a quick breakfast. Standing there behind the “please Wait to Be Seated” sign, person and after person was escorted to a table or booth, while I continued to wait.

A  moment of choice and decision

I took a deep breath and contemplated how best to broach this subject of being so obviously overlooked.

I politely approached the host, and asked if there was some reason that I could not be seated to eat breakfast. Without missing a beat, he looked me over and said, “Oh, I thought you were here to apply for a job.”

A moment of shock, awe, hesitation, and silence… “Why would you think that?” To which there was no reply.

Yes, I could have “zoned out,” maybe dropped a few “f-bombs,” spoken at length about my intelligence and life’s unfairness and struggles, and berated the host for making such a foolish assumption. An assumption based on what? My nerdy outfit? My shoes? My skin color?

But, wisdom and a wiser head prevailed. Secure in myself, despite this awkward situation, I politely suggested that if there was some doubt in the future, perhaps he should ask. I decided to pass on breakfast, and left with a silent promise that I could not let myself be educated in such a backward space.

Knowing Who You Are
  • Where we go in life comes down to precious little moments, choices and decisions. But underneath all of that are our values.
  • Knowing who we are and who we are not.
  • Knowing who we are surpasses what or who anyone else thinks we may be.

“Know who you are.

Be that.

Know why you’ve come.

Do that…well!”

 ~ martina


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Would you like to share what it means to you to live Honest, Open and True? I welcome your story. Tell me how you handled a situation that required you to be HOT, or how you felt when someone else either embraced these beliefs or failed to embrace them with you. To continue this discussion, connect with me.

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0 Responses to Travelled: Knowing Who You Are

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  4. What an honor to be part of this wonderful article.

    Once you know who you are, you can take a stand for what is important to you.

    Lets spread the message of know thyself.

    Lots of love coming your way,
    Lead From Within.

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