I decided to wear pink socks to school one day at the age of 10, and for the record, I have not worn colorful socks since. I’d been teased for most of my young life for the way I walked and talked, but up until that point I hadn’t been picked on for the way I chose to express myself.
Sometimes kids would yell names at me when I passed them in the halls, or my friends would ask me why I talked like a girl; however, on this particular day, the snickers and name-calling were amplified.
We all have our own version of this story, or #PinkSockMoment—that moment the first seeds of self-doubt are planted. My fourth-grade self had no way to process these adverse reactions to me. The only thing that made sense was “something is wrong with me,” and if something is wrong with me, then I must not be good enough.
From then on, I internalized these feelings of unworthiness and began second-guessing myself and overanalyzing every thought I had and choice I made. Will this blend in? How can I fly under the radar? If I wear a certain color or style, will kids call me names in the cafeteria lunch line?
This programming was downloaded, installed in me so early that years later I had no idea it was operating within me at all. I only knew that something was blocking me and leaving me feeling stuck in my life.
To overcome this mysterious block, I spent years exploring numerous healing practices and self-help teachers’ philosophies. I attended retreats and workshops and read spiritual books with fervor. You name it, I explored it. However, it wasn’t until I started exploring shadow work that I really began to find my voice or progress forward.
Shadow work is the process of going back and retrieving those hidden aspects of our personalities that we do our best to dismiss and bury because we so deeply associate them with shame.
The journey into the hidden recesses of myself uncovered these old, buried emotions, and outdated stories that I had told myself—those internalized feelings of shame and unworthiness that were downloaded so long ago. I was able to start identifying these subconscious emotional blocks, and it was only then that something unlocked within me.
Each discovery I made and memory I unearthed not only provided me the space to honor the grief that had been trapped inside me, but it allowed me to integrate these fragmented parts into my being. And this has been so instrumental in healing my body, mind, and spirit.
It is the integration of the shadow self—bringing these parts of ourselves to the light—that allow us to truly shine bright like a diamond (insert Rhianna song here). The clarity and compassion that resulted from doing this deep work led me back to a more authentic expression of myself and allowed me to love myself a little more.
In Return to Love, Marianne Williamson says, “We don’t get to the light through endless investigation of the darkness, we get to the light by going to the light.” What I’ve learned though, is that you cannot fully appreciate the magnificence of the light without a willingness to explore the dark.
There is a gift and so much healing to be found in the shadows. Embracing the darkness was the piece of the puzzle that I needed to love myself more wholeheartedly, and the full impact of this is one that continues to unfold in my life in the most positive of ways.
If you think back to your childhood, what was your #PinkSockMoment? Can you remember a situation where you internalized that you were not good enough just the way you were?
While I can’t go back in time, I now consciously make sure I connect with that 10-year-old version of myself and care for him in ways that I couldn’t in the past. There are kids out there today just living their pink sock moments, and I would tell them the same thing I tell my 10-year-old self:
Your pink socks are brilliant, so expressive, so creative, and so colorful, just like you, and that is a glorious thing! Keep being free to try new things and express yourself in different ways—that is how you will explore all aspects of your being and who you are intended to be.
I celebrate you today and every day! Keep shining your light even if others can’t handle your brightness.