Being the Wolf
Wolves have often been depicted as scary creatures from fairy tales that might eat your grandmother for lunch. So when I was told to “be the wolf” by the owner of the modeling and talent agency I work for, Revo, I was a little taken aback. Ummm...I’m not scary or intimidating at all, so how could I be a wolf? My spirit animal is more like a soft, fuzzy panda bear, not a carnivorous hunter. I needed some clarification about this metaphor Michelle is a wolf.
You see, growing up, I was always reserved. I avoided conflicts at all costs. Being an only child made this relatively easy, but I also didn’t learn how to stand up for myself when it mattered. And while I agree that fighting isn’t beneficial, there is value to learning to defend yourself when it’s necessary. But I didn’t never really practiced that. I remember taking the blame for crimes I hadn’t committed just because I didn’t have the nerve to speak up. See, I had learned early on that if I smiled and followed rules, people liked me. I avoided conflicts at all costs, even if it meant that people might take advantage of me. I kept most of my opinions to myself so as to not disrupt the equilibrium. I valued peace, so describing me as a wolf seemed ridiculous.
As I entered the sports world, my peaceful nature followed. I played games tentatively. Physical activities always came naturally to me, but I didn’t want to be too aggressive and hurt someone and I certainly didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by being a ball hog. But my dad, a former college baseball player, PE teacher, and coach, stepped in. He realized my potential, and saw that my reserved court personality was a detriment to my game. He knew that I was capable of physical contact. He was my best buddy growing up. I may not have had siblings, but my dad served as my playmate...and we played roughly. We would wrestle until I inevitably got hurt. One of my favorite games was when he was a wild horse and I was the rodeo queen. He would throw me against the walls in the hallway until I fell off. We played basketball and football together, and with him, I was a maniac. But as soon as I stepped onto the court, I reverted to the quiet Michelle who liked tranquility so much that she wasn’t willing to take risks.
Eventually, with a lot of persuasion from my dad, other coaches, and most importantly other teammates, I learned that it was good to channel my physical aggression in a controlled way in the sports atmosphere. I could say sorry if I accidentally ran into someone and it would be okay. And I wasn’t being a ball hog if I was playing the position the coach wanted me to. And my teammates needed me to do my duties just as much as I depended on them. We each had a job and I was simply doing it. And while it took me a while, to reach this conclusion, I eventually became quite the scrapper on the playing courts and fields.
But as I allowed my physically assertive self to grow and develop, socially I continued to fall victim to my own insecurities. I would sometimes get trampled in group situations, allowing others to dominate while I watched. The risk of telling people what I really felt was more of a burden than I wanted to handle. So, I was more like a mouse than a wolf, or so I thought.
When I began modeling as a young adult, I continued to be tentative and in an industry that holds no prisoner, I was railroaded. My timid, reserved personality often didn’t fit the mold, and I took what people said to heart and I lacked the confidence to sell myself and my brand to others. Whatever wolf-like characteristics were hiding inside...if they were there at all..remained hidden.
Fast forward to about a year ago when I resumed my modeling career. This time, I had years of working as a professional and being a mom under my belt. My reserved innate personality was still intact, but I had endured situations that had forced me to be assertive. I had been taken advantage of too many times. I had begun to realize that I only have one life to live, and it’s my own. People may not agree with what I think or what I do, but I owe it to myself to take risks, even when I’m afraid of the end result.
This second time around, I looked at modeling like a sporting event. I would leave it all on the court with the intent of being the best. I wouldn’t hold back. I wouldn’t stop because I was losing. I wouldn’t go easy on someone because they didn’t have the same skill set I possessed. And I would continue to work hard and use my assets to help my team. This was my defining moment.
And like all endeavors, I’ve experienced setbacks. When people have criticized my choice to wear bikinis and fitness wear, the conflict made me want to quit. Standing up for yourself when others question your character is always a challenge. Instead, I made changes on social media so I could continue to serve both myself and my brand. Perseverance is the message I’m aiming to convey, so I persist.
Once I made the decision to propel myself with that aggressive mindset, the wolf came out. She was always inside, but was afraid of hurting the pack. You see, wolves are one of the highly social animals. They live together in packs and work collectively to bring down large prey. The pack has a social hierarchy that helps them survive and flourish. It is not just the mother wolf that raises her pups, but the pack together. And the alphas, the leaders, guess where they lead from? Not the front where you might assume, but from the back. In this way, they can see the rest of the pack. They can decide the direction of the pack based on the needs of the older, weaker wolves at the front. This is definitely something I aspire to do.
So, I’ve embraced the wolf. My ultimate goal is to help people. I have been blessed with abilities that I want to utilize in my quest to lead others. Thus, my wolf persona has blossomed. I hope that you will choose to be part of my pack...and don’t worry, I won’t eat your grandmother.