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“I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shame in black beauty.”Lupita Nyongo

Women battle with self-esteem, body and beauty issues every day.  The above quote by the Oscar-winning beauty and talented Lupita Nyongo, was in response to a fan who was considering bleaching her skin until the image of Lupita convinced her otherwise.

Self-improvement from the inside and outside requires a lifetime of work.   I’m reminded of my girlfriend Lanette who is a very beautiful woman. People tell her everyday how wonderful she looks. She’s one of those women we love to hate because she never has to work-out to lose weight. Actually, she gets upset because she can’t gain weight.

And still, during a heart-to-heart discussion, she confessed that, now in her early forties, she’s finally come to realize and accept that she hasn’t truly learned to love herself.  All of her outward glory is really masking the pain, self-doubt, and low self-esteem that she feels. As a result, she’s settled for relationships that don’t fulfill or honor the best within her.  She’s stayed in relationships because she didn’t want to be alone; she didn’t want to face herself.

Facing self is living in your truth instead of ignoring it or covering it up. Whatever you feel, stay in that moment long enough to acknowledge it,  examine it, and deal with it. We’ve all gone the easy route of turning on the TV, browsing Facebook, getting on the phone, doing anything to distract ourselves from what’s going on with us. We hide our insecurities; mask our issues by seeking pleasure in other things: shopping, sex, food, partying, alcohol, work, relationships, or children. In Lanette’s case, she’s a caretaker – taking care of others so she won’t have to deal with the pain she feels inside.

We all wear the mask on some level. When we meet people for the first time they are often introduced to our representative: the front or façade that we want them to see. We present the person we think will impress others, be it on a date, a job interview or at a social event. We exaggerate our credentials and tell the stories we want others to know, not necessarily the one that is true.

Sometimes we wear the mask because of fear of rejection – fear of not being good enough. Can you relate?

Considering how you started out in life and the missteps you made along the way; you may say to yourself as I did when meeting new people, “If they only knew…” That nagging negative voice inside questions if you deserve to be there, should good things happen for you? Well the short answer is, of course you deserve to be there. God put you there to teach others, to grow you and for you to take advantage of every opportunity. As mega pastor and best-selling author Joel Osteen says, “You are not defined by your past, you are prepared by it.”

Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: All of our experiences make us the women we are today and prepares us for who we will be and what we will do tomorrow – and that’s a good thing. Every phase of life can be a set-up for a step-up. Today, I embrace all of me all the time. I’ve finally realized that my hood-self and my professional self, my spiritual self and my carnal self, my serious self and my silly self, my single self, my married self, my divorced self, make me completely me.

All of who you are counts. Each element makes you exquisitely unique. Each part works together to create a wonderful outcome. The total self helps us get to where we are going. It is our true self and experiences that give us the strength, savvy, smarts and the survival sense needed to win in the game of life.

Relationships, positions, money and possessions come and go, but who you become on the inside as a result of the path you take is lasting. Interestingly, what you will notice along the way of discovering and embracing your whole, authentic self is that you can make the most of your fusion of personality, intellect, spirit and proficiencies to engage with a wide range of people at different times and in different places.

The fact is who you are today is not who you were yesterday, nor should who you are today (or yesterday) proscribe who you will be tomorrow – not if you’re committed to growth. We evolve and change as our lives do. In order to be the best you that you can be, you must be willing to look deep inside, and yes, even at the painful and uncomfortable parts. They will teach you, guide you and heal you – that is, if that is your desire. Remember, you can’t change or improve what you don’t first acknowledge. The work is yours to do. Otherwise, you will live feeling like a counterfeit. And, it is very possible that you’ll be perceived as one also.

DEYA DIRECTIVE: Take off the mask. It is an honor meet the real you. It is time to come out of pretension. Be honest. When you wake up, start your day by telling the truth – to yourself and to everyone else. You will discover that the world won’t end, and that the more honest you are, the more honest you will want to be – because you will feel the freedom!

Who you are is really good enough if you believe it. The façade that your possessions create is not the gift; you are the gift – custom-made and valuable by your Creator!

Deya “Direct” Smith is a lead producer on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and host of Girlfriend FM & Beyond the Studio celebrity interviews. She is also the best-selling author of “Touch Yourself, 30 Ways to Live, Love and Let Go!” ( Deya is a life-changing coach, writer and speaker. If you have a question about life, love or relationships, email

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