Because you should be, sometimes.
Question for you…
Have you ever been super excited about something—maybe you’re finally going to get that dog you always wanted, you’re catching your first international flight, or you’re taking the plunge and dying your hair blue? You were so excited that you decided to share with a friend or a family member, but instead of being happy for you, they make comments like “Dogs are terrible. They’ll pee on your floors. You really want to deal with that?” or “If you dye your hair blue you’ll be fired from your job. Don’t do it.”
Can you relate? We all come at life with different sensibilities, but because someone can come up with 567 reasons why something is a bad idea, then it must be, right?
I was chatting with a friend yesterday and she casually dropped this word:
“Your fear doesn’t belong to me.”
I was like hol’ up, sis, run that back! She’s right; what other people fear, their restraints, hang-ups, preconceived notions, and judgments have nothing to do with you. You don’t have to hold it. It’s easy to get caught up in what other people think, and next thing we know, their fears become our own. But creating the life you want means feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Other people will always have something to say whether you do what you want or not, so might as well do what you want. Let them deal with whatever hangups they have. It has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you.
On that note, on to this week’s story. In partnership with Namaste By Jay, a Black woman’s wellness collective.
by Anonymous. In partnership with Namaste by Jay
Selfish. Selfish is such an icky word. It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when you say it aloud. We grow up learning lessons of altruism. Don’t eat the last cookie because someone else might want it. Always share your toys because that is what nice girls do. Try not to brag because it is off-putting to others. Soften your strength to be more palatable for the people around you. We come into the world by ourselves, but we are quickly conditioned to be community-minded and family-focused. And don’t get me wrong, those are great values to uphold; just not at the expense of our joy and authenticity.
As women, we are conditioned to provide for others in our household. Little girls receive Easy-Bake ovens, crafting stations, sewing kits, baby dolls, miniature kitchens, dollhouses, and much more for Christmases and birthdays. So many of our girl-oriented toys taught us to be resourceful, and they quietly instilled the need to be useful for everybody else. As we age, we continue to put others above ourselves. We constantly strive to fit molds to please everyone around us.
But what do we do for ourselves? There’s a continual conversation about self-love, but the message doesn’t penetrate our communal psyche. Our society stigmatizes women who put themselves before others. We uplift the narrative of the self-sacrificing matriarch, even at the expense of our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, friends, neighbors, and daughters.
Generations of women never had an opportunity to experience their own happiness. Their endless work provided us with the foundations for our current lives. As we look to honor their efforts, we must recognize that they deserved rest. They deserved new clothing, home-cooked meals (that they didn’t make themselves), walks on the beach, cocktails with friends, and love that did not require pain. How can we make it easier for the women in our lives currently? How can we water our gardens to better support our communities and families? We must learn to love and focus on ourselves in order to radiate that love onto those around us.
Earlier today, I googled journal prompts to help pass time during this indefinite quarantine. As I was casually scrolling through the list of questions from a Christian women’s blog, a random blurb in the middle of the list caught my eye, “list your greatest accomplishments in life.” I decided to do it and, I’m not going to lie, listing my greatest achievements made me really happy. A smile crept across my face, and for a second, I felt like a mini-Michelle Obama. The exercise gave me a moment to brag about myself to myself, and I needed that sort of self-love right now.
For about 15 minutes, I rattled off a list of important life events: becoming a big sister at two years old, being honored as Line Leader in kindergarten, passing my typing test in elementary school, getting my driver’s license, joining my Sorority, graduating from college, moving across the country by myself, moving back across the country by myself when I realized that was not God’s calling for my life, being admitted to law school, getting a scholarship to law school. Every single blessing in my life came from God. He has shown me abundant grace and prosperity, and I am eternally grateful. But upon further reflection, I realized that I was not striving for excellence—I was striving for approval. Those hard nights taught me discipline, but I never stopped to question the “why” behind them. I never asked myself if my hard work was making ME happy.
This time in quarantine has provided me with unlimited and unfiltered access to myself. There are no distractions other than YouTube workouts and planning nightly dinners. God put us on pause. I am spending my time wrestling myself to see how He wants me to grow.
These conversations with God are especially difficult due to my discomfort with uncertain transitions. One glaringly obvious point of growth is to learn to appreciate myself in the between moments. What am I supposed to do with myself during the seconds that pass between “congratulations” and “good jobs?” What have I done that I am proud of that no one else can see? All of a sudden, I cannot think of anything. I realize that I still feel a sense of accomplishment from my achievements, but I am hungry for self-fulfillment when looking at my future goals.
Instead of being healthy to lose weight and mold into an Instagram Model body, I am learning to look at my body as a symbol of resilience, strength, and love.
Instead of focusing on how to make my hair “pretty,” I want to learn what makes my hair “happy” so it can thrive.
Instead of softening myself for others, I want to establish boundaries that will provide deeper and more textured relationships with my family and friends.
Life is going to look a lot different post-pandemic, and I’m not sure exactly how. What I do know is that God is in control, and He never gives us more than we can handle. That includes ourselves. God blessed us to be whole people, and we must respect that. As I move from my Gap Year to my first year of law school, I want to be intentional with my time and energy. He placed a calling over my life to advocate for Black and Brown women and girls around the world. I cannot do that if I am constantly burned out and waiting for approval from other people.
God loves me, and He set forth a path for my life. I need to trust His plans and go forward lovingly in order to properly honor the women who came before me and create a better life for my future daughters, nieces, and granddaughters.
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