I am an introvert: an introvert groomed from an early age into the pros and cons of becoming visible. I was very familiar with stage presence and public exposure through the work of my parents as stage actors and, years later, through my beloved dad Iuhito, as I called him, and his role in the Cuban ballet.
Yet, I just wanted to hide, whether at a school piano recital, at an interaction with my parents cultivated colleges, at a public speech as a student leader, at my own stage performance, at a recognition as a vanguard student (the Cuban way), at the looks of those scrutinizing me when I became ‘the daughter of’ someone famous, or at any other instance in which the limelight was over my head.
I was allergic to public exposure, pushed into places and circumstances in which I had to painfully grow out of my shell and greet the day. For the most part, I did not stop to think about it; I just did it. I answered in embarrassment, pushing the limits of my ability to stand straight in front of what to me was a great person or even more challenging, a multitude of people.
I was the slouchy, skinny girl wearing glasses; the girl with the impossibly big smile (thank God for that!). I felt unworthy of any kind of acknowledgement and utterly surprised when someone called me beautiful, deeply embarrassed when teachers introduced me as a role model to other students, wanting to walk away from the very telling of my name, anywhere, by anyone.
Between then and now there are many people to whom I feel forever grateful. Those who believed in me when I could not. Those who encouraged me from a place of honesty and integrity. Those who protected me. Those who taught me patiently and tenderly. Those who challenged me, in their confusion, knowingly and unknowingly, to grow into compassion and acceptance. Those who looked at me and saw the best of themselves in the mirror I had become, at that divine moment, for them. Those who trusted me and, in doing so, taught me by example the meaning of wisdom, intuition and kindness.
I learned rivers from those beautiful people: friends, family, partners, teachers, students, chance encounters, mentors, colleagues ... I learned about the meaning of love. And isn't love the most transforming power there is? Here's to those paving the way to my becoming.
Today, I toast with all of you to my stepping into a new form of visibility.