We often times get so wrapped up in the good of our lives that we sort of intentionally disregard the unfavorable aspects we would much rather forget. For the majority of my life, I’ve always been praised for getting good grades, and for “staying on the right track” despite my “circumstances”, and even now all I seem to hear is “I’m so proud of what you’re doing”, or “How did you get where you are?”… Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate compliments and definitely don’t downplay my accomplishments, but it’s so much easier to give a quick answer that is reflective upon the positive aspects of my life as opposed to telling of the hard to hear details that are the REAL driving forces behind my determination to be an EXAMPLE of greatness.
I was just watching the television show “Beyond Scared Straight”, where they take at risk teens into state prisons to show them what life in jail is really like, and seeing that reality sent a burning rush of something through me! One inmate was telling her story to a teen and it made me think of my mother, who has been incarcerated off and on my entire life. THAT alone, not having a mother there for practically anything can be enough in itself to make you resent the world and everyone in it. I can remember ONE birthday where she was present in the flesh, the rest of my important life moments were represented by timed phone calls and cards that spoke words of endearment that I always felt exaggerated anything she could ever say and mean to me. Growing up, when I’d tell people where my mom was, the pity parties began and I HATED it! I stopped telling people, I didn’t want people to feel bad for me because of her mistakes, I wanted them to recognize my strengths and accomplishments because of what I proved to accomplish on my own. When I realized that, I knew that I couldn’t get that from emulating anything she did or by behaving out of anger and hate towards her, but that I wanted to be BETTER, prove her and everyone else wrong. Oh, I’ve heard plenty of times “You act just like your mother!”, “You’ll end up just like her”, “I’m surprised you didn’t go the other route”…time and time again, and each time I heard any of those comments, as it broke me down on the inside, by the grace of God it lifted my chin and made me stronger in my conviction that I’d be better.
My grandmother is the best thing that ever happened to me, the BEST thing that has EVER HAPPENED TO ME. Without her, I’d have surely gone into foster care and into a life I don’t even care to think about. She has raised me since birth and I can honestly say that I thank God for her every single day. When people ask me where it all started, how come I’m so smart, why I have so much drive and determination…SHE is the first thing that comes to mind. My grandmother taught me about the power I had within myself and the worth of myself as a woman and a leader. She planted her strength in me and to this day I still don’t know how she did it or why. There are plenty of times I still go to her in times of fear, doubt, and uncertainty and you know what she always says to me? “You know what I love about you? EVERYTHING..and you are the best thing that ever happened to me”. When she says that to me, it fills me with a feeling of love that I cannot explain and I know that I can tackle the world! My grandmother is my mother, father, grandmom, and all the rest…the biggest driving force behind everything that I am and will ever be. She is such a big part of my testimony because without her, I can almost assure you that I wouldn’t be here.
In an age where a name and brand hold so much power in a person’s life as they try to build and better, I feel like it has to represent the person from ALL aspects of who they are and not just the glitz and glam details that “look” good. On social media, people say they are weary to share aspects of their lives because of a chance of jeopardizing the “image” of their brand, but I just feel like if I can’t be expressive and share all angles of who I am, then it’s only a partial representation and that’s not what I’m in this for. I believe that we all have a story, and that we learn from one another’s in knowing that we are not alone in our struggles. Every single hardship has made me more confident than any sing of praise from a higher up! The lack of my mother’s presence and guidance has made me an independent woman who leans on my faith in God for guidance when I feel lost, the multiple molestations and violations of my innocence taught me the power and conviction of the word NO and the value of abstinence until marriage, the disease of alcoholism that plagued the minds and actions of loved ones taught me that I’d rather get high on life, losing 4 close family members in the same year taught me the greatness of a legacy, and the moments of depression and feeling sorry for myself taught me that there are people that have it way worse… now who said you can’t get a positive from every negative?! I’m a living testimony. The thing I love most about my story and circumstance is that when my mother talks to me about life and her choices, she is my biggest fan. She cries tears of joy every chance she gets because of my choice to be her better half, and that I didn’t go the “other route”…and of course that I haven’t given her grandchildren yet 😉 haha…. I say all this to say, that NO ONE has an excuse not to be great! We all come from different places, people, experiences, expectations, and we are all taking different paths on the SAME journey to success.
I built my brand by accident. Yes, I literally became “TyrasLilSis” by accident…but now on purpose of course. It merely started as a Twittername that I chose because I always wanted a big sis like Tyra Banks. Until recently, I wouldn’t even refer to it as a brand…it was weird to do so. I’ve since embraced it because I realized just what I’ve done and decided that I was going to to cultivate it and stop letting it just “be”. Often times, people will flat out ask me “Who are you?”, “why do all these people talk to you?”, “Why do you have so many followers?”(Twitter)…and to be honest, it’s still a little difficult to answer. I created a personal website just to answer all those questions because honestly, there’s so much more to Sharontina V. Brightman than a twittername and 140 characters… so much more. I find passion in inspiring others and if I don’t get any message across in this little testimony, I have to stress that it does not matter where you come from and what that situation was like, all that matters is what YOU are DOING to make it the way you WANT it! I can’t put it any other way, there is no time for excuses and playing the blame game because when that’s your method, who ends up winning? Not you. I’ve been through, and if I can guide someone else who has been in a similar situation than I’m willing to be that. I was the kid who was smart and dreamed of college but had no clue how I’d get the money to pay for it, look who’s now a junior in college in one of the best business schools in the nation?! I was exposed to the drugs, sex, and alcohol too….does that mean I HAD to participate in the “fun”? Nope…and neither do you. It’s oh so easy to curse the world and “live it up” on social media and present an image very contrary to the one you meant to, but do you have to? Nope. It’s all up to YOU and I just want everyone reading this to know that all of the power lies within you. I couldn’t leave 2011 without sharing myself with you all and I hope that at least one of you was inspired by my story and that it may inspire you to be encouraged by your own and touch someone else’s life. Be blessed and bless someone else in the process.
This song represents my testimony in more ways than one, find your song and share it with the world!