Who I Am

This month at Jersey Cares we are celebrating Women’s History Month by inviting some of our friends to share their thoughts and experiences on the women who have inspired them.  Today we feature a piece by Alexis Slade, External Affairs Coordinator at Jersey Cares. 

File Mar 09, 12 34 13 PM

Alexis Slade, Jersey Cares External Affairs Coordinator

My thoughts, my ambitions, my quirks, – who I am, is directly connected to the many intelligent, creative, and powerful women that have come and gone during the last 31 years of my life. I am grateful for the fact that I have had the opportunity to learn from so many diverse women. In this moment, I want to honor a woman that has had a great impact on my life by challenging me to wholly embrace who I am.

Maya Angelou.

As an artist, so much of my struggle comes from being able to give myself permission to be authentic and true to who I am. I am often told that I am too wild, too colorful, too expressive, simply – too much. Maya’s words give me courage to be myself, to speak my mind with love, to be ME. She reminds me that my differences are what make me beautiful and that I need to be unapologetically true to myself. She challenges me to see beyond the “norm”, to step in to my biggest self, and to embrace every inch of what makes me a woman. Caged Bird, paints a picture of what it feels like to be trapped within the boundaries of fear. All too often the walls of those cages have been built by my own hands. I am afraid to be myself and of being “too much” of something once again. But the caged bird sings of freedom and freedom is what I deserve and long for.

For me, that inner freedom comes and goes. It changes with my surroundings and the people in my life. I often forget that I have wings and tuck away the things that bring me the most joy. I don’t always remember to embrace my body or dance as wildly through the world as much as I want to. But deep down, I know my worth and love who I am. Of course I never knew Maya personally, but her words resonate within my soul and I carry her with me for the moments that I need to be reminded to be ME. Phenomenally.

Maya Angelou

8th January 1993: Headshot portrait of African-American author Maya Angelou wearing black sweater with a pearl necklace, smiling and holding flowers in one hand. (Photo by Stephen Matteson Jr/New York Times Co./Getty Images)

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