Mercedes Lambey

Occupation: Creative Director for Kabod International, Speaker, and Blogger

Website: www.mercedeslambey.com

Instagram: cedelady22

HOW DID YOU IDENTIFY YOUR PASSION AND THE WORK THAT SATISFIED YOU VERSUS WORK THAT JUST PAID THE BILLS?
A simple answer to this would be that I followed the fun. I’ve had a lot of jobs that had nothing to do with my passion. It wasn’t till I began to follow that voice inside to projects that were fun and fed a hunger in my soul. I discovered a real talent and joy with my work that I didn’t know was possible.

WHO WILL ETERNALLY BE A WOMAN YOU ADMIRE AND RESPECT, AND WHY?
I have great respect for Wilma Rudolph. She is quoted as saying: “My doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.” Her story taught me that you don’t have to give your belief to every voice that speaks. She heard the hopeful voice of her mother and grew up to become an olympic gold medalist for track.

IN LIGHT OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF OUR HASHTAG #WHYITRIBE, WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE WHO WE ALREADY ARE TODAY?

I think the beauty of being in the process is a lost art form. The reality is that as a person, I am always in process. I may accomplish goals as I grow, however, there is always another lesson to learn or area to grow in. We rob ourselves of the joy of the process if we only put value on the end result. I am joyfully embracing the beauty of being a work in progress. I also know that with this discovery I have the responsibility to encourage others into this freedom.

NAME A TIME RECENTLY WHEN YOU SAID SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF/HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?
In a recent staff meeting I was confidently declaring that emotional health is something I value and that I have gotten really good at sustaining that within myself. I can look at that with a bit of pride because I used to never compliment myself. I am proud of my ability to own my strengths just as easily as I own my weaknesses.

WHY DO YOU THINK WOMEN SHY AWAY FROM CELEBRATING OR PRAISING THEMSELVES SO MUCH?
I know for me, I always have this fear that someone will prove me wrong. The standards have always been so high and double sided that I think women have a hard time figuring out if they do in fact have something they can celebrate.

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE TENDENCY TO DISCREDIT COMPLIMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN?
I had to start by just practicing saying a meaningful “thank you.” I had to break the habit of responding with a denial or the obligation to reply with a complement. The thank you practice helped me open the door to receive the love. Now, I can genuinely receive the recognition and offer encouragement from a pure place in response.

WHO WAS THE FIRST FEMALE TO TEACH YOU OR INSPIRE YOU TO FEEL THAT #YOUAREENOUGH?
I used to always be teased for being shy. I am an introvert in a family of extroverts, I’ve definitely been the odd one out. It has always been a sort of talking point for others who always liked to point out how quiet I was. This “joke” always made me feel like there was something wrong with me, that I wasn’t good at having conversations, that I needed to be something different. I was telling a friend these concerns when she responded with; “ you’re not shy! You are an introvert.” She went on to explain how great I was at conversations and that I was just a deep thinker and there was nothing wrong with that. She was the first person who didn’t have a problem with my being quiet or different. I had never even heard the word introvert before. That conversation shifted something within me and brought so much clarity. I had a new perspective on myself and it began a journey to self-discovery and acceptance.

HOW DOES SOCIETY REINFORCE THE IDEA THAT WE, AS WOMEN, ARE NOT ENOUGH AND HOW CAN WE TAKE THAT POWER BACK?
The loudest voices in society are telling women that they need something. You need to buy this, have this, or do this in order to be celebrated. Society only celebrates ageless, rich, skinny, women. The focus of worth is on the external things that can be purchased. There is always a new procedure or experience. Women cannot keep up.

If I use society or social media as a compass then I will remain lost. Standards are always changing. Messages are always morphing based on what’s trending. I will never be able to find satisfaction if I value voices that tell me I have to have this, this, and that in order to be worthy.

Taking power back begins with the realization that we have the power in the first place. We do not have to submit to societies’ standards. We have to start with the choice to believe that we are, in fact, worthy. From there, we need to realize that as women, our most powerful weapon is our voice. Women are teachers. We are unconsciously teaching the people within our spheres of influence what we believe. It’s time to be intentional with our voices and with the hearts that listen to what we are saying and doing. That is how we create change.

ARE WE TOLD ENOUGH AS YOUNG GIRLS THAT #WEAREENOUGH? IF NOT, HOW CAN WE CHANGE THIS MESSAGING FOR YOUNG GIRLS TODAY?
I don’t believe that young girls are told they are enough. I am raising a daughter, I teach her worth and acceptance. However, my husband and I can’t be the only voice speaking that worth. She needs to hear it from multiple sources, especially when the opposing argument is spoken from major media and platforms supported by algorithms and popular opinion. When we are young its hard to believe one message when another is spoken over and over by more that one source. We fall into the belief that because that voice is louder and more repetitive, it must be true. I think it is so important to surround myself with strong women for my daughter, because if they are in my life then they have influence over my daughter. At the same time, I need to recognize the power of my voice for other young women that I have influence over. Every moment matters and every word has power. Intentionality is key.

WHAT WOULD YOU GO BACK AND TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF, TO ENCOURAGE SELF-ESTEEM AND SELF-LOVE?
Be kind to yourself. There is so much power and goodness inside you, just cultivate it! Give yourself room and permission to grow. Don’t believe everything you are going to hear about yourself. You matter and the world needs you. Be glad that you are different, embrace it. Enjoy the journey, don’t try to skip a moment. Lean into the hurts in your heart so you can heal. Don’t hide. It’s ok to shine!

WHERE DO YOU THINK THE NEED TO COMPETE WITH OTHER WOMEN COMES FROM? IS IT TAUGHT?
I grew up in the church, and I remember someone saying that Satan divides women because he knows how powerful women can be when they are united. I believe there is a force working to divide women because when we work together we are unstoppable. Comparison kills. It kills our inner beings and our relationships. I believe it is taught because it is societal. Everything in society is a comparison or a competition. When only certain types of women are widely celebrated we are left asking the question: “how do I measure up?”

WHY IS THE TRIBE MOVEMENT IMPORTANT?
We need each other. This movement is powerful and important because it is reshaping the narrative for women everywhere. Instead of fighting for a seat at someone else’s table we are building our own and inviting others to have a seat. This movement creates a big enough space where all are welcome, all are championed. We are building communities of women who are free to be in process, to be different, to be known.

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?

Take it one day at a time. Celebrate everything. Give yourself permission to feel the emotions and process them. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for growth, don’t avoid it. I am taking the good days with the bad and learning to adapt. The last few months have been heavy. It’s ok to be tired. I think the biggest lesson I have learned is being ok with not being ok. Simple as that, embrace it. All you can do is give yourself the grace to know that you will figure it out and it’s ok not have it figured out at the moment.