Personal Story Contributed By: Wendy T. Talley
I am a strong believer that pain pushes you into your purpose. Change brings forth the beginning of your awakening, which in turn, brings about a new opportunity, and the transforming of a new you and a new life.
As I ponder about my life, I have many pain points, but I will say the biggest one that continues to push me into my purpose is my learning disability. When I was born, I literally had no life in my body. I was told, my mother was going through menopause causing my twin brother and me to suffer during that process; unfortunately, only one of us made it through. However, in the process of being brought back to life, my nurses and doctors said my brain was not able to get the oxygen needed at the beginning stages of my life, creating a host of problems for me. In school, I had always needed tutors, but I had never been diagnosed to the point of having to attend special education classes. In fact, my teachers and tutors suggested that I needed support and coaching in order to be successful. But all in all, they believed in me, and felt I could go through school with the mainstream kids.
Thinking back, I remember in my senior year at high school when everyone was applying to different colleges and how I was feeling doubtful, and questioned, if I should even apply. Regrettably, I had a social worker who told me I should not apply to a school because I would not succeed. To make matters worse, she stated, “Wendy, you are not that smart; however, you are really pretty, so the best thing for you to do is to get married, have babies, and have someone take care of you.” Sadly, hearing her words delivered a true blow to my heart, and I wanted deeply to not believe her, but I was afraid I would believe her. When I went home, I told my mother what the social worker said to me, and my mother told me, “Lady, you can do anything you want to do. I did not raise any dumb children, and no man or woman is going to tell my kids they are not smart.” With my mother’s encouragement, and after hearing my father’s dying request 6 months before my graduation telling me to go to school and get my education, I had no choice but to press forward.
Consequently, I went ahead and applied to Spellman College, San Diego State University, Cal State Northridge, and Long Beach State University. With this in mind, I prayed to God that I would get into a University. At the same time, while I was waiting for my college acceptance letters, I had to take the SAT test. Thinking about the test, I was very frightened because my self-esteem was really low, and I did not believe I could pass the exam. In my mind, I kept hearing the social worker’s words that I was not smart enough. Finally, I received my scores, and of course, they were very low. However, I turned them in anyway.
To my surprise, I received acceptance into Spellman College, San Diego State University, and Cal State Northridge. When I told the social worker I had gotten into those universities, she repeated her response to me, then told me, she did not believe I would finish school and I should quit now.
Les Brown says, “Other people’s opinions about you does not have to become your reality.” Remembering that quote, I did not let the social worker’s opinion of me become my reality; and I’m so glad I pushed through to fulfill the dying wishes of my father, and for myself.
Today, I have a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree and a Master’s in Social Work. In addition, I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the State of California, and currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California School of Social Work. Additionally, I have had the opportunity and the honor to teach at the University of Southern California’s graduate level program — School of Social Work for 4 years. In essence, this was a dream come true for me because I would have never imagined God had such a plan for my life.
Today, I still struggle at times with my learning challenges; however, it does not stop me from pursuing my goals and helping others reach their goals. I am so glad I had enough fight in me to push through, and that I refused to listen to the naysayers throughout my life, and in business. As a matter of fact, I continue to have faith in God, trusting he will see me through it all.
“With God all things are possible.” It is through His word and my faith that I live for God, my family, my dreams, and my goals.
Q. Tell us a little about yourself. Who is Wendy Talley?
A. I was born in a large family and raised by my mother and father in Los Angeles, California. There were eleven children, both boys and girls, and I was the youngest. Back then, I was told my oldest brother and sister were my parents, and that my mom and dad were my grandparents. As you can guess, this was quite confusing for me. When I reached 14 years old, it was revealed to me, my siblings weren’t my parents. Fortunately, I quickly got over it. As I developed into a teenager, there were all kinds of drugs and violence infused in my neighborhood, however, it was safe to play outside without supervision. Thank God, I managed to stay clear of the negative things.
With the hope of getting a better education, my parents sent me to predominately white middle and high schools because they knew the school near my home was violent, and I wasn’t street smart enough to deal with the pressure and temptations. Thankfully, I made it through school and graduated. Then, I decided to go to college after a social worker at my high school told me I was not smart enough to go. But I wanted a better life, and plus, my father wanted me to go far in school. With my dream on high and my father’s blessings, I took the leap of faith and was accepted to San Diego State University, Cal State Northridge, and Spellman College.
Q. Why should people listen to you?
A. I believe people should listen to the true desires of their heart and go for their dreams, even when it seems impossible. When that social worker in my high school told me I was not smart enough to go to college, I could have quit. I could have just walked back to my class and focused on just graduating. I could have decided to just stay home, be with my mother, and only work at non-skilled jobs. BUT GOD!!! Realizing, I was too afraid to believe a person (the social worker) who didn’t know me; and more afraid of disappointing my father before he passed away, I made the decision to go further with my education.
See, I don’t want people to listen to me; I want them to listen to my story. My story is what gives life to those who think nothing is possible. With an Expressive Learning Disorder and a slight form of Dyslexia, I could have given up on my dream of leaving the neighborhood. But I didn’t, and all I knew is that I did not want to turn out like the neighborhood kids or some of my siblings who used drugs. Further, I did not want to have children by boys who didn’t love them. I knew I wanted more, and I was destined for more.
Q. Is self-love important? Why or why not?
A. Yes, I believe self-love is important, but I also believe “liking” yourself is even better. See, you can have love for yourself and still do wrong by you, but when you “like” yourself, you have the tendency to not put yourself in positions that would harm you. Self-love is the action to give the right thing to you, and liking yourself is the behavior to being the best you.
Q. If a woman is lacking self-love, what would you say to her?
A. I would say: Beautiful, when you were a child, all you wanted and needed was love from those around you. Yet, you had to wait for others to give you the love “they thought” you deserved. Also, I would say, as a woman, you have the power to create, design, and provide the love you deserve. Now, open your arms and give yourself a big hug.
Q. Give a few examples of some times in your life when you lacked the love of self? How did you overcome your doubts and move on?
- There was a time as a teenager and in my twenties when I was very sexually active. I thought giving my body was an expression of love. I wanted to please the crowd I followed, which meant doing things I was not mature enough to handle. So many traumas came from those experiences, but through my pain, I learned who I was.
- Another example, my father died when I was 17 years old, only 6 months from graduating high school, and I became severely depressed. So much so that when I went off to college, I was immediately sucked into the party life and started drinking. For 4 years, I drank and put myself in positions where I was vulnerable to violence. To make matter worse, this behavior continued into graduate school, and until I became pregnant with my child. In an attempt to turn my life around, I went through 9 months of sobriety, which led to me getting to know myself. A very important lesson I learned was that not only did I have to get well for me, I had someone else who needed and was counting on me, my son. So, I had to get well for him, too.
I overcame many of my issues through a strong support system of friends and the church. My church, Faithful Central Bible Church, was the driving force of my healing. The service, reading of the Bible, and connecting with other members was truly helpful. Additionally, I started my own therapy and never looked back. Once my confidence kicked in, I became fearless in who I was and set new boundaries. I realized I deserved the best, and I was not going to settle anymore.
Q. Is a women’s strength determined by her degree of self-love? How?
A. That is a great question. I believe a women’s strength is in direct relation to how much she loves and values herself. As a result, her strength propels her into a better position in life as she is driven to pursue her goals and dreams helping to increase her strength and her love of “self.”
Q. Give some examples of what you learned about yourself and strength to help you become the women you are today. How did you overcome naysayers?
A. Today, I can say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God has truly shown up in my life, and I can say nothing is done without HIM. First, I have learned, “It is ok to not be ok, so you can be ok.” In addition, I have learned to accept my flaws, failures, missteps, disappointments, and short comings because it has made me who I am. Further, I believe that pain is my driving force to being successful and for helping me to learn through the storms. Truthfully, after the experiences from my first marriage and divorce, I learned a lot. And thankfully, I married an amazing husband the second time who taught me to fight for what is good and right for my son and me. With my husband’s support and my faith in God, I walked away from a six-figure salary with benefits to start my own business, and I had no money. But, like back in high school, I realized I was smart enough to take the challenge; and being older, I knew I was capable of being successful. So, I went for it. But although I cried and had pain, I realized that each day I was allowed to get up and tackle my challenges, I had a fighting chance.
How did I overcome the naysayers? I just dropped them like a bad habit. When I realized I was growing and my so-called friends were not encouraging or supporting me, I had to leave them alone. However, it was painful and I grieved their loss for 7 years. The weight of not having support and love from my friends truly kept me down. Now, I don’t believe it was intentional, but, I realized I could not grow if my circle remained small. Under those circumstances, I knew I needed people in my space who would support, push and grind with me. I also needed people who would tolerate me, and not disregard or talk about me or hurt my feelings; nor, did I want people who could not stand my shine. Even though, I didn’t believe anyone was jealous of me. But what I know is people only like you when you don’t grow pass the perception of their own lives. In view of this, what I know is when you grow out of a person’s perception, your flashlight shines on their life causing them to realize all the things they passed up and failed to do.
Q. How important is it to build self-love in order to maintain success in your relationships and in life?
A. It is very important to have self-love throughout all aspects of your life. Actually, we all should have a stable way of recharging and coping with life’s stressors as a way to endure. But understand, success doesn’t come without challenges. It will not always be “roses and daisies.” With success, comes great responsibility to the people you help, serve and love. In the roles I play as a successful woman, I find it hard, at times, to keep motivation as I climb the ladder. You know, there is a myth that when you become successful your life becomes easier. Not true! The opposite is the truth, it becomes harder. So, it is imperative you have belief in yourself, and believe anything is possible for you to achieve, as you trust your instincts.
All in all, intimate, business and personal relationships require a person to have a sense of self and wholeness when engaging and maintaining connections. Also, important to note, any type of relationship will have challenges and high points, so being grounded in who you are is key. Furthermore, the Laws of Attraction state when you become a better person, you attract better. With that said, the new person you become on the inside will reflect on the outside. In conclusion, when you practice self-love, and believe in your abilities and skills, it will create better physical and mental health for you in your relationships and life.
Q. How important is it to find and seek out the life you want to live? To find your purpose? To find happiness?
A. Seeking out the life you desire is crucial to mental wellness and living abundantly. As a faith-based woman, I truly believe what it says in the Word: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. Old things have passed away and new things have come.” And Jesus calls that life “abundant.” John 10:10. As we grow, we develop wisdom from our experiences, and in turn, we should bless others with that wisdom. In fact, living the life you desire is about having confidence in your abilities to be happy and fulfilled, while thriving.
Also worth knowing, life is a journey you walk through every day in order to discover your purpose. The truth be told, finding out what your purpose is can be challenging, frustrating and even disheartening, but you have to keep going. Understand, not everyone knows their purpose or even cares to know. However, when you are seeking to be the best version of yourself, in effect, you are seeking your purpose. Actually, it’s important to note, your life will take you through pit stops along the way; therefore, knowing “why” you are seeking your purpose will give you the drive to push through when you want to give up. But just know that giving up, and possibly failing, is apart of the process. Failing along the way is when you learn what you didn’t know, and can use it to grow. However, if you stop, then the question will always remain in your mind, “What would my life be like if I would have finished the journey?”
Thinking about seeking happiness in life, I truly believe happiness is about your experiences, events, and moments in time where you find immediate gratification, and that dwells in your heart, mind, and spirit. In fact, happiness is a state of being and it allows us to enjoy our lives, ourselves and the moments that God gives to us.
Q. Name some ways a woman can increase her self-love and confidence to live the life she wants to live?
- Remove energy drainers and spiritual vampires from your life. Not everyone is designed to support and cheer you on in every situation.
- Be INTENTIONAL in everything you do. Don’t waste time doing things that do not give you a return. Your time is valuable, spend it wisely.
- Be NON-NEGOTIABLE about your goals and dreams. There will always be naysayers among you. You must identify and block them from your blessings. Also, protect your mind and the information it absorbs.
- Your circle of friends should be valuable, worthy of your time, and meaningful. Friendships are about depositing great things in your life, not withdrawing from you, and you in turn, reciprocate the same.
- Take time alone to reflect and treat yourself special. Learn to praise and reward yourself for the little things you do in life. Remember,each new step is worth more than the last.
Q. Once a woman masters the love of self, gain confidence, and seek out the life she wants to live, why should she live her life unapologetically?
A. Who else will live her life for her? Undoubtedly, your life is a gift that should be handled with care. You should allow yourself to make mistakes and rejoice when you get up. Keep in mind, everyone has a choice about what they do, don’t do, say or don’t say, wear, drive, and on and on. Without question, pleasing people is a battle you can’t win, and there’s no need to go to war. So, the key is to live the life you worked hard and struggled for, and the life you designed and created for yourself on the way to your purpose. Never forget, you are the only one who has been through your trials, test and heartaches; and you are the only one who bears your scars. So, it is without a doubt that you should, unapologetically, walk tall in all your “fearlessness.” You earned it!
Q. Are you living your life unapologetically?
A. I am totally living my life unapologetically each day. As I write for this blog, all the anxiety about my learning disorder is coming up, but I’m continuing to write anyway. Despite the disability, I have learned to love myself when I can write a complete sentence, and when I cannot. Thinking about my life, I have no doubt in my mind that God carried me from the labor room when I was born into the world “dead” to being a doctoral student at the University of Southern California School of Social Work program. In addition, I run two businesses, speak nationally, and I’m an Author, mother, wife, and a mentor to many. Reminiscing, I have plenty to be thankful for because God is my only source. I walk asking for permission, and I enter with style and grace. I am a WOMAN! I am living my life Unapologetically in my womanness! My motto is: “Live Your Destiny on Purpose.” And I am!
Q. If someone wanted to get in touch with you, how could they contact you?
You can reach me at: KWEssentialServices@gmail.com
Instagram: @wendy_talley_lcsw and @thelesespeaks
Facebook: KW Essential Services and Black Speakers Rock
Wendy T. Talley, LCSW
Thelese Consulting Group, LLC
USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
Author of: SMART Goal….Time Management Work Book
Suicide Prevention Event: Wake Up Your City
Business Summit: Working a 9 to 5 and using SMART Goals to become an Entrepreneur
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