Ask myself “why” until I understand — This one is extremely uncomfortable. Like I said, I grew up not facing my emotions. Now, though I still don’t like to, I know that processing them is essential to growth. So, I ask myself why I’m feeling a certain way. It usually takes a while to get to the root of it, so I ask “why” and give an answer. Then I ask why to my response, and so on until I come to the revelation I need. Going through that uncomfortable conversation and realization not only shows me what I need to address, but it toughens me up and makes it a tiny bit easier to face myself and my emotions next time.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mallory.
Mallory is a rising singer-songwriter and recording artist who, in various ways, has been compared to Toni Braxton, Chris Brown, Beyoncé, and more. While she is an obviously talented vocalist, her abilities and focuses don’t stop there. She is a former dancer of 14 years, an advocate for self-love and mental health, an M.C., and she hosts an annual charity party that benefits minority young adults in need of therapy.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
I’ve been singing all my life. I used to put on shows in my living room and make my family watch. I had my first solo in the church choir when I was four, and in my head, I was already a star. I remember having visions of myself singing on a world stage in elaborate stage wear at an age when kids don’t think about what they want to be when they grow up. Somewhere along the lines, though, I lost that confidence and self-esteem. I experienced a lot that redirected my focus from my dreams to just getting by and while decades of emotional and mental turmoil should have taken me out, I chose to grow, become stronger, and truly live.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
For background, I can be very stoic, but I’m also extremely forward. However, I have significant anxiety and I get in my head a lot. So, though I may naturally want to establish a connection, I often hesitate or decide against initiating conversation at all.
One night, during the pandemic, I joined an Instagram Live talent show. As I was singing, a well-known rapper commented with positive feedback. I immediately thought “oh my God! I’m about to DM him, just to make the connection, and see what happens.” I never get starstruck but as soon as I had the thought I immediately started sweating and became short of breath. Now, some may not find that funny, but I find it hilarious because it’s such a drastic reaction to the thought of simply saying hello to someone. But that’s what anxiety will do. Anyway, I had to talk myself through telling him I was going to DM him, exiting the Live, and sending the direct message. Fast forward to today, I have no clue what I was so afraid of. We’ve gone to the studio together and we’re slowly developing a general relationship.
What I took from that is anxiety, nerves, fear, it’s all superficial and strictly in your head. If you have the tiniest bit of strength to override the skeptical thoughts situation by situation, there’s no telling how far you can get in life.
What do you think makes you stand out as an artist? Can you share a story?
Hands down, my vision and need for perfection set me apart. I release music much more slowly than a lot of artists, but the quality is always high. I turn down opportunities that don’t pay enough or don’t align with my brand and people think I’m crazy for it. But, no matter what, people associate me with a higher quality: higher quality events, higher quality videos, high quality photos, higher quality performances. It can be a struggle sometimes because I constantly have to choose between clout and my image, but I have a vision for my brand, and in order to fulfill and maintain it, I have to be particular about what I do and what I’m involved in.
I was recently offered a part in a music video, and in general, I wanted to take it so badly. I’ve been looking to take on more roles in music videos. However, I knew I was going to decline the offer as soon as I read the overview of the video and casting information. Would it have brought more money in? Yes. Would it have heightened my exposure? Most likely. But would I have had to sacrifice my brand. One hundred percent. And, because I’m so particular about my brand, I’m positive my audience would have questioned the finished product.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I’m going to be honest and say, I don’t think I’ve met that person yet. Especially when it comes to music. I know one day I’m going to meet someone who’ll believe in me even more than I do myself, and take my career to the next level, but if I’ve met them at this point I don’t know it yet.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
To me, resilience is the act of successfully bouncing back, being undefeatable. People who are resilient don’t let anything stop them and never give up. They get knocked down a lot, but they eat the shock and come out on top every time. It may take a long time to reach their goals, they may have to go through Hell, but they’re determined and they’re going to make it. Resilient people are strong: they know how to process situations and feelings, then move on. They are problem solvers: they figure ways around obstacles. They are positive: they literally have to speak lovingly and positively to themselves to get through a lot of their days. Resilience is power.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
I think you have to have courage to be resilient, but they aren’t one I the same. For example, I am extremely resilient, but I’m not always naturally courageous. I have to muster courage to fuel my resilience. That comes into play most when rare situations have me at my lowest. I don’t become resilient in that moment until I’m able to breathe and talk myself into being courageous enough to face my emotions and pick up the pieces.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
I don’t think of one person. I think of a people. To know the horrors that Black people around the world have endured over hundreds of years, and still face today, I don’t know how we thrive, except resilience.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Wow! Yes. I will never forget the time I shared my entertainment dreams with one of the closest people to me and they said, “aww, girl, you can’t sing” and laughed it off like it was a joke. To this day I think about that moment at least once a week. And it hurts, but I also backdoor and think, “look at me now.” Then I smirk and go about my day.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
Absolutely. By the time I’d graduated college, I’d somehow convinced myself that I needed to give music up (without having ever gotten serious about it) and get a “regular” job. While I began to build my “regular” career, I met my first serious boyfriend and eventually ended up simultaneously assisting him in building his. Throughout the relationship, there were red flags that I ignored, but what really shook me is that I invested three and a half years building our relationship and this potential empire with him just for him to decide I wasn’t what he wanted once he got to where he wanted to be. We broke up and over the next two and a half years I navigated through what felt like a domino effect of torture: unfair treatment in the workplace, emotional and mental disregard and manipulation, blatant and discrete disrespect, stress, job loss, financial struggle, and more.
However, while relevant, what tore me down is not the point of the story. For a long time, I had to take it day by day, but I continually chose me. I chose to live, I chose to love myself for the first time ever, I chose to fight for myself. I already believed heavily in therapy, but I leaned on my therapist to listen and help me when I didn’t know how to get through the days. Then I did the work to get stronger. I learned how to think more highly of myself. I learned how to encourage and speak lovingly to myself. I learned how to get out of my head an recognize who I am and what I’m capable of. I’ve realized that self-love and growth is an everlasting journey, but I’ve reached an amazing place. I’m so proud of who I’ve become. I look back and wish I was this person much earlier in my life. I hustle for my goals, I started making money off my dream, I smile and mean it, I no longer live and act in fear. I hate that it took so much heartache and stress to get me here, but I thank God every day that He brought me out stronger and helped me blossom into the woman I always wanted to be.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
I don’t know that my experience comes down to any particular story. I’ve always been tough because I’ve had to be. I grew up in a household where feelings weren’t talked about, much less handled properly. There was a lot of fighting as far back as I can remember. On top of that, I grew up in a weird space in which I wasn’t an outcast, but I wasn’t embraced either. That really lowered my self-esteem over the years. I dealt with so much and never learned how to process any of it, so I just shoved it down and kept pushing. Though that’s not healthy, I definitely think it contributes to my ability to keep getting back up and tackling life. The difference is that now, I know how to allow myself to feel whatever I’m going through, then work on moving past it.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
Keeping in mind that I’m no mental health/wellness expert or professional, these are steps I take to work my resilience and other mental muscles.
- Breathe — My anxiety is extremely sensitive. Anything can trigger it, and sometimes, I don’t even know what the trigger is. So, as you can imagine, when in a significantly tough situation, I have to remind myself to breathe, like my therapist taught me. Otherwise, I won’t have the capacity to do anything besides panic.
- Remind myself that nothing is as bad as it seems — emotions and anxiety often magnify whatever’s going on. When I force myself to calm down and look at the situation through a more realistic lens, it becomes more manageable.
- Talk positively to myself — I learned how to talk positively to myself through therapy as well. My therapist told me on a weekly basis that I need to intentionally counter every negative thought until it becomes automatic. Now that it is, I proactively tell myself what I need to hear to deal with life before I go any further. For example, in any situation that may cause me to doubt my ability, I tell myself that I’m smart and capable. I remind myself of how far I’ve come and what I’ve accomplished. I reflect on what obstacles I’ve moved past and remind myself that I’ve been through Hell. What can’t I do? Then I tell myself that even if it gets hard, I’m able to do anything I set out to. I tell myself whatever I need to however many times I need to believe it.
- Ask myself “why” until I understand — This one is extremely uncomfortable. Like I said, I grew up not facing my emotions. Now, though I still don’t like to, I know that processing them is essential to growth. So, I ask myself why I’m feeling a certain way. It usually takes a while to get to the root of it, so I ask “why” and give an answer. Then I ask why to my response, and so on until I come to the revelation I need. Going through that uncomfortable conversation and realization not only shows me what I need to address, but it toughens me up and makes it a tiny bit easier to face myself and my emotions next time.
- Solve the problem or accept the circumstance, it is what it is — In every situation, there’s either a solution or nothing you can do about it. I’m a problem solver so the hardest part is accepting the fact that I can’t affect some circumstances. If there’s something I can do about the situation, I do it. If not, it pains me to say, but I say out loud, “It is what it is.” Because really, it is what it is.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Everybody on this planet would be in therapy. I’ve always been extremely insightful and after struggling with depression, anxiety, body image issues, low self-esteem, low confidence, etc., I’m so much more aware of what’s possibly below the surface. I see so much hurt and struggle in people. It’s sad. What most identify as hate, anger, laziness, sadness is often so much deeper than that, and often has nothing to do with the outside world. I want everyone to heal. I think that would make our relationships and the world so much better. Therapy helped me do that for myself and I’m a huge advocate for it. If I could pay everybody’s way to therapy, I most definitely would. I actually host an annual charity birthday party that benefits minority young adults who want to go to therapy. I would love for that party to get funding and grow to help people nation-wide.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I don’t even know where to start. There are so many people I’d love to learn from, work with, or just talk to. I’ll start with Carl Crawford, former pro athlete and founder of 1501 Certified Entertainment.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!