I finally understand what people mean when they say they found themselves. I mean, I never *literally* lost myself––myself has been here the whole time. But over the last few years, after facing some painful yet life-changing experiences and learning some potent lessons, I became myself. I shed everything people thought I should be and became who I am, and my life changed.
Living a life without the need for confirmation or validation from other humans is a superpower, one that Tracee Ellis Ross says that she has been learning to master ever since she heard her first "no". In an interview with The Atlantic, the Black-ish actress and multi-talented entrepreneur broke down how she learned to embrace her eccentricities and become her truest self. And, honey, it was a whole word.
Tracee told the publication that early in her career, despite her talent, tenacity, and persistence, she was constantly met with rejection and disappointment. Despite her widespread success on the show Girlfriends, Tracee revealed that she was virtually blackballed on the late-night talk show circuit:
"Even if we reached out, the answer was no. The response was, 'We love Tracee. Call us when she gets something.' Get what? Can you tell me what kind of thing? Is it something I can get at a store? Can you send it in a package?!"
It was at this point that self-doubt took over and Tracee began to compare herself to her peers who had taken the same path and gotten more effective results:
"I was like, OK, so this person does feel like the right person, but his show has a smaller viewership than ours, so I'm not sure I understand. So I was like, Hmm, what's happening here?"
It wasn't long before Tracee changed course and timing finally aligned with her purpose. As the landscape of the entertainment industry shifted, so did Tracee's focus. Throughout this process, Tracee says that her true self not only grew, but thrived––and so did her career.
"I sort of unapologetically became myself. I was like, Look, if twisting myself into weird spaces is not going to get me parts, then I might as well enjoy being me while I work through this process."
In the interview, Tracee also opened about the importance of self-acceptance and the valuable lesson her mother taught her about coming to the table as your best self.
"It's delightful to be acknowledged for your work. It is not validating. If I look for validation from those aspects of a career, I would be ruined. [She'd ask,] 'Did you do your best today? Not 'Did you get a good grade?' but 'Did you do your best? How do you feel about it, Tracee?' [These questions taught invaluable lessons on] how to navigate a life through how it feels to you as opposed to how it looks to everyone else."
To read Tracee's full interview, click here.
Featured image by Instagram/@TraceeEllisRoss.