Sharmon Lebby


Occupation: Neuroscience Research Associate/ Founder - Blessed Designs President - Ethical Network of San Antonio

Website: www.blesseddesignsco.com/ethicalnetworksa.org


Instagram: blesseddesignsco

HOW DID YOU IDENTIFY YOUR PASSION AND THE WORK THAT SATISFIED YOU VERSUS WORK THAT JUST PAID THE BILLS?

This is a question I’ve always struggled with because I’ve always enjoyed what I do. At the same time, I love to do things that seemingly conflict with each other. I have always been fascinated with life and nature and studied Biology in college. I’ve worked in hospital labs and research labs and have loved all of it. I always feel more of myself when I am DOING something, and that can come in almost any form. I simply enjoy working with my hands. In my home life, that translated to sewing, painting, writing, designing,  and making jewelry. When I work with non-profits I often manage social media pages and design websites. As I get older, I’m realizing it’s simply important for me to have a positive impact on the world around me. I think ultimately, this has always been my passion. It’s just the way I’ve expressed this that has changed over the years. What I focus on more is my purpose. What I DO may change over time, but my purpose in life will always remain the same. 

WHO WILL ETERNALLY BE A WOMAN YOU ADMIRE AND RESPECT, AND WHY?
It’s somewhat cliche, but it will always be my mother. We were a military family and she handled it more than admirably. It was like she was meant for that life. She’s a fiercely independent woman who loves God and is passionately devoted to her family. Even with my Dad working crazy hours or having to leave for weeks or months at a time she never faltered and managed to raise my sister and I  to be strong , independent women as well. My parents got married after their first year in college, cutting her education path short, but she valued education and never stopped. It took her awhile, but over the years she managed to complete her degree and earn a Masters in Social Work. I love that she was able to accomplish her goals even with us moving so much. 

 Each new move was an opportunity for adventure. I’ll never forget when we’d move to a new place and she’d pack us in the car and tell us it was “time to get lost”. Immersing ourselves in each new culture was how we adapted and I will be forever grateful to her for this gift, because it’s become an indispensable life skill. 

****IN LIGHT OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF OUR HASHTAG #WHYITRIBE, WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE WHO WE ALREADY ARE TODAY?
It seems that no matter where you live there is a “norm”. The problem is that the norm is hardly ever the norm and we’re forced to change who we are in order to fit in. I’m not an expert  but I think this is the root cause of low  self-esteem. When you don’t love yourself, you struggle in every area of  life. Not to mention — hurt people, hurt people. Yeshua did say that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, showing the importance of loving yourself as well. When we celebrate who we are, we learn  to love every part of ourselves. When it becomes the norm to celebrate and love ourselves, I believe we’ll be better human beings in general. Having a supportive group of individuals that co-sign your awesomeness can help expedite that process.  

NAME A TIME RECENTLY WHEN YOU SAID SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF/HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?
I try to do affirmations, but I’m hardly consistent. I generally feel silly, which makes me laugh and puts me in a good mood at the very least. I’m not really a “words of affirmation” person so i don’t know how much it works for me in particular. I’m better at just pumping myself up with “You can do this” or “It’s ok. It will all be ok”. These methods work much better than just saying something good about myself which doesn’t always ring true for me. 

WHY DO YOU THINK WOMEN SHY AWAY FROM CELEBRATING OR PRAISING THEMSELVES SO MUCH?
I think we’re taught that it’s arrogant or in some way makes us conceited. We aren’t really taught the difference between confident and arrogant or self-care and selfishness. 

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE TENDENCY TO DISCREDIT COMPLIMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN?
I’ll let you know when it happens. As I said before, I’m not a words of affirmation person, so compliments seem disingenuous to me. Words are cheap. People say a lot of things. I prefer actions.

WHO WAS THE FIRST FEMALE TO TEACH YOU OR INSPIRE YOU TO FEEL THAT #YOUAREENOUGH?
My mom was always trying to do this, but again it never hit home. This is something that I’ve really had to learn on my own. I’m still working on it. Consider me a work in progress. 

HOW DOES SOCIETY REINFORCE THE IDEA THAT WE, AS WOMEN, ARE NOT ENOUGH AND HOW CAN WE TAKE THAT POWER BACK?
I think that message is everywhere. It’s in magazine ads, on billboards. Every bit of makeup they push our way, diets, and pieces of clothing. Every message is saying, “you are not enough and here’s how you can be.” We live in a capitalistic world where we’re told you can buy happiness and self-worth. Changing the narrative is the only way to take that power back. Demanding representation in every aspect of our lives. We can heal from the inside, but if we’re still being bombarded with these messages the healing won’t last long. It’s difficult to heal when you are still being hurt.

ARE WE TOLD ENOUGH AS YOUNG GIRLS THAT #WEAREENOUGH? IF NOT, HOW CAN WE CHANGE THIS MESSAGING FOR YOUNG GIRLS TODAY? 
There are plenty of things as young girls that we aren’t told. #weareenough is just one of many. I feel girls today are starting to get the message more as older generations are realizing it’s stuff they missed and are starting to fill those spaces. However, so many groups are still getting missed. My hope is that we’re bringing up a generation of changemakers. Girls now are coming up in an age where they are seeing more representation and that’s important. I don’t know if it’ll happen in this generation or the next, but I believe if we continue to fight for representation, the message will be out there.

WHAT WOULD YOU GO BACK AND TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF, TO ENCOURAGE SELF-ESTEEM AND SELF-LOVE?
I would point out all the amazing things I had done. I think I’ve always been in a race with myself and never feeling like I had done enough.

WHERE DO YOU THINK THE NEED TO COMPETE WITH OTHER WOMEN COMES FROM? IS IT TAUGHT?
I think that competing and striving to be better than the next person is a human trait, not a female one. The idea that only women compete with each other is a lie told to us from a patriarchal lense. It’s not just women. Everyone does it. I’m not sure if it’s been taught and  engrained over time or if it’s just human nature, but it’s definitely been exacerbated within today’s society.  It’s instilled in school by rewarding those that “perform better” or are “the best” at some prescribed set of skills.  It’s bred in sports, just by the very nature of them. We live in a “I win, you lose. You win, I lose.” society. We’ve forgotten (or perhaps never really learned) the beauty of teamwork and recognizing that there are plenty of situations where one win is a win for everyone. 

WHY IS THE TRIBE MOVEMENT IMPORTANT?
Community is important. Having support systems is important. No matter how much of a loner or introvert you consider yourself to be, humans are social creatures. We need each other. Besides, change is made when communities come together to create it.

HOW ARE YOU TRYING TO KEEP YOUR SELF-ESTEEM UP IN THE MIDST OF THIS GLOBAL PANDEMIC AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS READING THIS?
Figure out what works for you. Every person is different and is going to need something different. Don’t beat yourself up because you aren’t able to do things like others around you. You do you, and don’t let anyone tell you that what you’re doing it’s not ok. I have to unplug….often. I stay off social media (even though it’s part of my job) for a few days just to regroup. I haven’t been to any protests. While some may say I’m not doing my part,  I’m well aware that I’m an empath and thot many people with that much emotion would break me. I’m doing what I can from home by shopping Black owned businesses, sharing posts, donating where I can. Besides, I’m Black. Everyday that I wake up and do a job that people don’t think I’m qualified to do, I’m resisting.