WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?...
...six simple little words that can cause ANYONE to enter into a tailspin of curiosity, self-doubt, JOY or anxiety.
The last time I was asked this question, I was sitting in Union Square- a cute little destination in lower Manhattan for those of you not familiar. It was July 2014. The heat rising off of the concrete, as Al Roker predicted, was almost as hot and uncomfortable as my conversation with my ex. He could go from “Amore” to “Assassin” as fast as the Formula 1 cars he loved to watch fight for pole position week after week.
His hand tapped the bistro table at a rapid pace; a nervous tick. I never knew what would happen next. We were in the middle of an argument, about what I have no clue (…..never did to be honest). Then the WORST thing possible happened. My confidence reared its ugly head. He hated when that happened. Especially since he felt like this bald-headed, chubby, smart-ass woman sitting across from him had no reason to be confident.
He looked at me and said those six words: “Who do you think you are?” His eyes were black and cold.
Little does he know, but my spirit walked away from that unhealthy relationship in that moment. Little did I know that my body would follow just two short months later after he lost his mind outside of my apartment in a semi-drunk state.
In the moment he asked me those six words, Dana went into survivor/defense mode. I immediately thought: I was/I am Dana. Three degrees coupled with three years (plus) of successful entrepreneurship living in the frame of a Southern Girl who was 1400 miles from her ENTIRE family chasing a dream in the biggest, baddest city in the world…and WINNING. What the fuck did he mean who do I think I am?
I am the woman who can run down a subway train in rush hour in 5+ inch heels; make a mean gumbo; rap A Tribe Called Quest in one breath while singing Otis Redding in another (“….I have dreams to remember”…); two-step and swing out with the best of them; go hunting with the boys; STOMP with the GIRLS; reset my own broken bones (…those two toes are still crooked) and lick my own wounds ALL with a SMILE on my lips and pure JOY in my heart.
Because the UNIVERSE always takes care of its children.
His question reminded me of pivotal moments in my adolescence growing up in Alexandria, Louisiana. Many a times I was asked why I dressed the way I did; laughed all of the time; thought I could move away to New York ( too far, bad things happen there)…..and WTF was I thinking wanting to be a professional dancer??? I would hear, “WHO do you think you are? Girls like you from where we are from don’t do stuff like that."
But I would.
Fast forward to the past year of my “adult” life. I am living my dream as an on-air host/correspondent, and women of all ages, all ethnicities, all over the world are using the email address that I strategically positioned on my social media profile to connect with Dana Blair. They ask me: “Who do YOU think I am?” “Can YOU help ME figure it out?”
I have never been the girl to not explore the answer to this question at each stage of my journey, and I want to help other women uncover their answer(s) too. It is my purpose.
That day at the bistro table, that entire situationship, was one of the greatest lessons of my lifetime thus far. I am SO grateful for the bullshit. I wear it proudly- like the dozen or so tattoos scattered across my body that mark the tragedies, triumphs and testimonies of my story. (My mom just had a heart attack reading that sentence). No Spring Break Tweety Birds here. My ink signifies my “Wins”.
I don’t lose. I LEARN.
I want to share the stories of real women, the “gals next door”, that I have encountered or admired from near and afar, who have NEVER BEEN THAT GIRL to sit within discomfort or unhappiness in order to please others. I want to acknowledge the women who have bared arms to protect the joy, laughter and dreams of the little girl that still lives within. I want to celebrate the women who have refused to exist inside the box placed on their lives by lovers, loved ones, or colleagues, and have dared to live within the castle built by their OWN blood, sweat, and tears (….ok….and perhaps fueled by a good whiskey or wine). May their stories give you hope, peace and courage on your journey.
Here we go…
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Photo: Kadi Lee