What does it mean to be equal to everyone else? It means that we get the opportunity to know ourselves, be ourselves, and embrace ourselves. We get to self-actualize. In other words, we get to fulfill our individual talent and potential.

On a larger scale it means that we become capable of opening the door for others until one day we can take the door off for all – for good.

That’s what I like about talking to people who’ve “made it”. Each one of them tells a story about how, in the face of incredible odds, they’ve found a way to move past survival and then use their hard-won personal influence to open the doors for others.

Their story always starts with some version of they got sick and tired of the status quo. Somewhere along the lines they started to stand up for themselves – inside of themselves. Whenever I picture the stories they tell, I always see the little kid in them beating up another little kid in them in the interest of protecting themselves. Does that make sense? It’s as if many of us get an extra part of our personality – a vigilant part – whose sole purpose is to keep us safe.

Some of us turn it inwards and use it to shut down the part of ourselves that doesn’t fit in. Some of us turn it outwards to either hit back or deflect the heat from ourselves. It makes perfect sense why we would do this – we are subjected to violence and aggression every single day at macro and micro levels.

As Alice Walker would say, “No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow.” Including ourselves. Which is why we must tell our internal protector to knock it off while we get about the business of being ourselves.

Being yourself means learning to love yourself and loving yourself gives you the ability to love others. Or maybe it’s the opposite way around for you – learning to love others gives you the ability to learn to love yourself. Either way, we can do this together. We can help each other unpack the things that matter the most no matter what.

On the other side of being ourselves is:

  • Work we care about – maybe your work opens doors for others, or is about creating the perfect souffle, or creating art so magnificent we cannot look away, or saving lives, or birthing babies, or something new you’re supposed to bring to the world
  • More freedom – I have a girlfriend who drives a Tesla, travels the world, and is restoring a house. She’s a maverick who innovates and inspires because she lives her own life. It’s beautiful to see her live her best life and know she’s part of the world. That’s what freedom does – it inspires, engages, and motivates.
  • Better relationships – do you know how freeing it is to have an entire conversation with people where everyone is open, engaged, and working on the same positive agenda? It’s possible. For all of us.

Now, thriving doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that requires commitment to your own growth and healing. It literally means staring down all the stuff that threatened to destroy you and deny its ability to stop you from being your biggest, baddest, most beautiful self. It requires a decision to do more than just survive.

Thriving is a process that requires learning to ask yourself better questions. Questions like these:

  • What makes me happy? How can I do more of that?
  • What can I contribute to the world?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • What do I want my life to stand for?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • What do I want to create?

We can ask ourselves these questions on a grander scale because in our state we have laws to protect us. The most courageous act we can take now is to take advantage of these protections and live our best lives. It inspires others and encourages people in the rest of the country to keep fighting for their rights.

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Johanna Dolan
Johanna Dolan
“The principal of Dolan Research International, Johanna M. Dolan brings nearly two decades of personal experience as an entrepreneur, nine years as a professional financial planner, eighteen years as a life coach, and eight years as an ordained minister. She speaks openly and candidly on issues ranging from addiction, dysfunctional relationships, finances, the effects of long term chronic illness on life, and more.”