“Image is based on perception; it is not reality.”
- Kimberley Baker Guillemet
Since my book, Black Prep, was published, I’ve received wonderful feedback and expressions of gratitude from readers who say that the book helped them or a loved one on their journey as they navigated elite spaces. In addition to the positive feedback, I’ve also gotten the question, “Why?” “Why would you write a book where you would expose yourself?” “Why were you so honest?” “Why would you disclose your vulnerabilities to the world?”
My answer is this: I believe with all my heart that when we are able to navigate difficult terrain successfully, we owe it to others to share with them the wisdom that we learned along the way. We must pay it forward. When we are blessed, we should be willing to be a blessing to others.
Despite the truth that no one walking this planet is perfect, we often see that people who are in positions of authority and power in our society are lauded as if they are. Their flaws are ignored. Their missteps are glossed over. Their mistakes are recast as victories. The world seeks to somehow justify the harm they cause and turn a blind eye to the pain that others have suffered at their hands.
As a person who has been able to achieve some measure of success in this world, I have to be honest that I did not get here by being perfect. In fact, I am nowhere near it. And I would be remiss if I pretended that I was because I would be perpetuating a lie that would only go to discourage other people who may see themselves in me and who may want to set out to achieve or surpass goals similar to mine. Who am I to masquerade as though I’ve made no missteps? What good would that do? If anything, it would promulgate the lie that people who have made mistakes are excluded from opportunity because of their imperfection.
Another reason why I choose to be so authentic is because I know that if I am not honest and forthcoming about the challenges I have had to face along my journey, I would place people under the false impression that I had not encountered any; that I had an unobstructed path to achievement. Who am I not to tell them the truth? And the truth is that everything won’t be easy. There will be hard days. Sometimes the hurdles will be enough to make you want to quit. All of those feelings are real and valid and should be acknowledged, but any person who experiences them should not take those feelings as a sign that they are incapable of achieving the goals they have set out to achieve. Being fully human does not mean one is not fully capable.
Image is based on perception; it is not reality.
The reality of my life is that I have chinks in my armor, scars from deep wounds, insecurities and flaws, but that all of that notwithstanding, I have been able to have a fruitful life. If by not concealing my flaws and mistakes, I can inspire some other imperfectly unique and textured human being to reach for their destiny, then I have accomplished something far greater than my own finite achievements ever could. I have planted a seed that will grow and live on after me.