What I've learned working with RuPaul: Lesson #2
When I first started working for RuPaul I was terrified and convinced that a mistake had been made. I stood next to him and just knew that at any moment he would realize I wasn't suppose to be there and send me on my way. I was a ball of nerves coated in anxiety.
You see, Ru is a giant who fills up every room he walks into. He is an EVENT! Sometimes extravagantly, sometimes more subtly...always unapologetically.
Who was I to attempt to LITERALLY walk in his shoes?
LESSON 2 - Be YOU, without apology.
I have spent the majority of my life trying to fit. Shrinking myself down so as not to take up too much space or make others uncomfortable. Being 6'4 I am acutely aware of my physical stature so I crouch in photos to keep from towering over everyone. I take a wide legged stance when I am talking with people shorter than me so I don't seem too menacing. When people asked if I played basketball I would cringe then lie because how dare I not be athletic. Some of this is internalized overreaction but a lot of it stems from a lifetime of being told by the world around me, who I should be and HOW I should be it.
On my first day with Ru I watched this long legged glamorous man in 6 inch heels, standing 7 feet tall, SASHAY into the room and capture everyone. He commanded the space with a vibrancy and humility like nothing I had ever seen. The entire room suckled on his every word, every movement, and he got everything he wanted and needed out of that moment. I was STUNNED but I thought perhaps this was just the power of hair and makeup and heels. Then the following day Ru walked into the room in an Adidas sweat suit, and still, every eye was fixed on him. I had questions?
How does this man NOT SHRINK? How does he take up space unapologetically yet leave room for others? The short answer is he knows who he is, what he likes, and what works for him...from his looks, to lighting, to the way he takes his tea. And he doesn't apologize for any of it. In fact, he recognizes that this self knowledge allows him to give back to the world in ways that are unique to who he is. We all benefit because RuPaul chooses not to shy away from his HIM-NESS. The realization that this same principle applies to me and every person on this planet, changed everything. As I observed Ru and got to know him better the most incredible thing began to happen. I started standing up taller. I stopped shrinking back and started filling up space meant for me...the spaces I deserved. And although it took more of a conscious effort, I decommissioned that conditioning that prompted the need to apologize for my ME-ness. It was as if Ru's presence in my life gave me the permission to be my truest self and the courage to do so without apology.
I think it is important to note that when I say "Be you unapologetically" I don't mean be a jerk or reach into other people's lanes (obviously Ru is the furthest thing from this). What I mean is recognizing who you are truly and wholly, aligning your efforts and actions with THAT person, and having the courage to stand tall when society tries to make you more palatable, manageable, or change you completely. In my experience, opportunities flow from being your most authentic self...but we can talk about that another time.
The world is waiting for you to be your truest self...unapologetically.