Name: Kortnie Parks⠀
Born: Laurel, MD
Lives: Silver Spring, MD
The woman I am today shakes me to my core, because I know I’m still blossoming into better versions of myself. But my goodness, I have come a long way and I can honor that!
I wish I could say that I always had this confidence in myself, but that is not true. For those who might not know, I’m pretty good at faking it most of the time.
Everything was always “cool.” But somehow, transitioning from going to a predominantly black high school to a predominantly white institution for undergraduate and graduate school, really did something to me. I never quite knew how to “fit.” & because of this, I learned to shrink the parts of me that highlighted my obvious differences, even with other black students. I was always worried about something: if I was smart enough, how long I could go about being noticed, or if the one time I chose to truly express myself I was going to be that one black girl. It was overwhelming, truthfully.
I did not realize how much I had internalized this narrative. It was when my graduate professor (another woman of color) directly asked me, “What was it like for you to share these spaces with majority peers who do not look like you?”
That was the first time I thought about it.
It was hard to speak to at first but it was so needed. I spoke truthfully, and I noticed it made some of my peers uncomfortable. I’m still not sure all of what happened for me at that moment, but for the first time in my academic career, I felt seen, and a little less scared to show up as myself, and not a watered-down version. That semester had a series of experiences, that truly shaped me into the person and professional I am today.
It not only empowered me but ignited something in me that I hadn’t felt before. I am allowed to show up as myself, and take up space unapologetically.
As I continue to choose to show up as my authentic self, I know it encourages others to do the same!