My Dirty Little Secret: Discover Your Inner Strength

focus on your strengthThis past week-end, I had the pleasure of hosting Life Makeover Workshop to a group of amazing people. I learned so much from their valuable comments, stories and questions. Yes, I will share with you in upcoming posts!

When I first had the idea of doing workshops, although I was excited about it, the thought of speaking in front of group freaked me out! So, I joined Toastmasters International to get the guidance I needed.

After I gave my first speech, both my evaluator and mentor pointed out that my biggest strengths were the use of my hand gestures and body language. I was asked if I had already taken public speaking training in the past.

Truth is that I had no experience whatsoever, zip zero, nada experience in public speaking.

I was shocked!!! Never did I ever imagine that my natural use of body language and hand gestures would actually come in handy one day.

Today, I will share my dirty little secret as to why I already possessed this strength. Something that dates back to as early as my childhood. I will share why at that time it was my worst nightmare and the freedom I gained, once I embraced it.

My dirty little secret:

My mom. My Italian mom. Growing up with my Italian mom.

As far back as I can remember, my mom has never, I mean ever held one single conversation in her life without the use of hand gestures.

For five years of my childhood life, we lived in a neighborhood where the majority of the neighbors were French Canadians. Our house was at a corner of a street, so our backyard had a view of a small field where I played with the other kids. In the summer, my mom’s favorite pastime was talking on the phone while seated on the patio. From the field, we could hear and see her. She would pace around the balcony, swinging her hands in the air, smacking herself from time to time. Slapping her head when in disbelief over something that was said to her, hitting her chest when displaying understanding. Of course, she would raise her voice whenever she wanted to get a point across. For some reason, she believed that people understood better if she yelled. From across the field, my friends would turn their heads to look in the direction of her voice.

They would stop and stare with mouths wide opened and say things like, “Is your mom having a fight with someone?”

I wanted to bury myself in the ground!!

It was worse when a friend came over. It was like she was in the opera. She always wanted to make them feel welcomed, but poor kids, were overwhelmed. In a high pitched excited voice she would say, “Come in, Come in. Here sit down and eat with us.” Now, they were only coming to get me to go play, so, they would reply, “No thank you. I wanted to see if Antonia can come play.” BIG MISTAKE! My mom didn’t take no for an answer. She would start, “What did you say? No. You need to eat and get energy before playing. I make the most delicious spaghetti. My sauce is number #1. Sit down and eat and then you go play.” This whole time she is practically dancing around the kitchen floor, gesturing with her hands just how delicious her spaghetti is. My friends couldn’t say no. Meanwhile, I swallowed my food and wanted this embarrassing moment done with. Of course, it wouldn’t stop here. My friends would all talk about it with the others kids and LAUGH!!

Because of this, I tried so hard not to be as expressive as my mom when I was around friends. I didn’t want to be laughed at or considered weird. Every now and then, especially when I was excited about something, I would turn into my mom! My hands and body would automatically be all over the place. They would all say things like, “Why are you getting so excited? Ok, just calm down, the whole world doesn’t have to know about it.” It was so exhausting trying to fit in and be like them.

It wasn’t until we moved to an Italian community and went to Italy for the first time, that I realized my mom wasn’t the only one. This was part of the Italian culture.

My dirty little secret was a part of who I am! When I embraced it and accepted it, I enjoyed and had fun with it. Today, seeing it at as strength, I’ve developed a whole new sense of appreciation for myself.

When we try to hide our differences to be accepted and avoid judgment, we end up burying our strengths deep inside. If you have a dirty little secret of your own, if you’re still keeping it hidden, get it out in the open. When you embrace your differences and allow yourself to be who you are, you’re free to discover your strengths and what you love to do.

Do you have a dirty little secret? Would you be willing to get it out in the open? If you’ve already done so, let me know what change it brought in your life.

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