I just read my old bio for the first time in a long time…
...And I’m not a fan.
I took one look at the old way of thinking represented and thought, “f**k this.”
I’ll tell you why below.
Here is the old bio:
“Expertly trained in the language of conversation and an award-winning linguist, Lisa Young, MA has lived much of her life as a cultural chameleon, learning the languages of and fitting herself into cultures around the world. (After one month in a place, she was often mistaken for a native!) She is a polyglot, one of the first Masters in Forensic Linguistics in the United States as a linguistic profiler, and was trained by America's top forensic linguists and the FBI linguist who broke the Unabomber case of the 1990s.
In her over 12 years working with relationship dynamics, Lisa has represented fortune 500 clients like Intel, IBM, and Philips, and has traveled the world speaking to global audiences about culture and connection. Lisa supports conscious, driven, and successful women to create abundant powerhouse relationship where they are supported in their visionary goals, accepted for 100% of who they are, and loved without limitation. Lisa and her partner also perform as Loveangelists, a folk pop/rock duo singing uplifting songs of empowerment, love, and creating your best life.”
Before I rip this to shreds, some context:
I recognize the dedication and drive it took to achieve each of these things...including those things that I realize now hold me back rather than help me progress. I acknowledge that I was doing what I believed was the best thing for me at the time. I looked at what I was passionate about and took action toward it.
And as I grow wiser, accept myself more, and embrace who I am, I find it difficult to look at my interpretation many of these pieces of “credibility.” I also am baffled at some of the things I found notable about myself.
Now onto the shredding:
1. “Cultural chameleon.” At one point, I thought this was the absolute greatest skill I had. In fact, there was a time I’d penned five chapters of a book with this title so that everyone would be able to learn the skill of completely transforming themselves and blending into the background of another city or country’s social constructs. In one way it was great, because it meant I could learn a language to proficiency in a short period of time.
The real problem here was that my craving to deeply connect with others in their mother tongues led me to completely abandon myself in order to do it. Unlike the chameleon who changes color to intentionally camouflage itself, for me it was so much more than just language. I was unconsciously tractable. I would return from a self-guided research immersion in a different country having unknowingly brought with me the accent of its people while walking, dressing, and interacting like them.
2. “...fitting herself into…” Lisa in 2019: I don’t need to fit myself into anything, anywhere, with anyone. How dare I ever take pride in diminishing myself to hope to belong.
3. “...Often mistaken for a native.” Now why in the world was I so proud that I could contort myself so well that I could be mistaken for someone I’m not? I’m not an actress (well, no current plans anyway, haha), and I don’t work undercover for the CIA (nor would I want to, though I was asked). This skill does not help me live the life I want to live--it holds me back from what I’m here to do. I am here to live a life where I am truly me, without conforming to be what others would call “normal.” Why the **** (insert your fave there) would I want normal when I can be extraordinary? And why would I ever want to “fit in” in order for others to accept me when I can simply accept myself and really start living?
NB: I do recognize the skill of “fitting in” to another culture/place is a worthy skill for some professions and lifestyles (examples listed above). As someone who places paramount value on being myself in every moment, I am appalled to have ever been so amped that I’d gained the skill of fairly unconsciously disconnecting from myself to be like another.
4. “Forensic Linguistics.” Forensic Linguistics is COOL. Hella cool (yeah I say hella now; I like this word.) The ability to profile someone based on their language use for the purposes of serving justice is in my opinion the most useful form of profiling there is. And, as someone who spent time working on Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI), I also see how profiling is a problem. For now, I stand by linguistic profiling as one of the most effective ways to quickly understand the most information possible about a person’s lived experience when processing evidence and seeking justice in legal cases & the court of law. (If this one is flying over your head that’s okay, very few have ever heard of Forensic Linguistics. It’s worth a Google/Bing search, along with “authorship attribution” and “speaker identification.”)
5. Only referencing “fortune 500s.” Why did I find it more valuable to have worked with them than the small businesses, non-profit organizations, community colleges, universities, etc I’ve partnered with and shared my expertise with? I’d rather revel in that not only did I work for money from the elite, but that I also easily connect with and support all kinds of people from of all walks of life.
6. My mission. Where was my driving force, my WHY? What was I doing all that for? Why did I care, and why should have anyone else? Perhaps at the time I wrote the old bio I actually didn’t know.
The one most important piece of credibility that I believe I’ll ever need is 100% missing from this old bio.
After all these years of trying to--and with great success--fit in, disconnecting from myself in order to shallowly connect with others, and pretending that temporal experience equals mastery (hint: it doesn’t!), I finally have decided that I accept myself in my entirety.
I know my strengths. I know my shadows. I know what I do and don’t like. I know what I need and I own those needs and speak up for them. I know my worth. I can say when I don’t know. I have the courage to meet fear and grab it by the hand as I run (or walk, crawl, fly, hike, paddle, snorkel, jump, or dive) toward what awaits just beyond my comfort zone.
I learned to trust myself, and I help others do the same for themselves in the moments it matters most.
So after all that, I’ve decided on a new bio.
Here it is (with the name update! I just got married woohoo!):
Lisa Dennen-Young, M.A. is on a mission to show people what true love and healthy relationship is while helping them create it for themselves. An intuitive polyglot and one of the first Masters in Forensic Linguistics in the United States, Lisa trained with America's top forensic linguists and the FBI linguist who broke the Unabomber case of the 1990s.
Over the last 12+ years, Lisa has generated millions of dollars of revenue for fortune 500 clients and spoken to global audiences of business owners, educators, corporate & nonprofit professionals, students, and entrepreneurs about cross-cultural connection and relationship dynamics. Lisa also coaches high-achieving women to find their inner voice and bring it out into world for better relationships of all kinds.
Through sharing her music, mentorship, speaking, writing, and upcoming podcast, Lisa imparts inspiration of what’s possible when we choose ourselves, live beyond fear, and open ourselves to what true love has to offer.
Is it 100% “there” yet?
I don’t think so. I expect my bio will always evolve as I do. And I’m still discovering how to work in my one most important piece of credibility.
It is a step in the right direction?
Here's to all of us embracing the truth of who we are -- that's where both love and compassion truly begin.
With you on your journey in love,