I'm Not the Strong Black Woman You Think I Am (*insert brown skinned crying emoji)
Since last Fall, I've been hyper-focused on creating the “best“ graduate school application. To me, this meant ensuring that I stood out on paper with the best GPA, extracurricular actives, and a decent CV. In doing so, I dedicated the first part of 2018 to academics. Even though the last 4 1/2 years has only been about school, my intentions for 2018 eliminated other priorities, like creating jewelry. In doing so, I’ve made sacrifices in all my relationships which has troubled me.
I’ve been plagued with guilt that I’m not doing enough in other areas of my life, specifically my relationships. Apart of my value system is nurturing relationships, and this year I’ve struggled with excelling in this area while also juggling school. I now know that I can’t be successful in all areas of my life and no matter how much I’m succeeding in one area, I’m automatically sacrificing the success in another. The quote above has been guiding me through these moments.
The general message I recieve from Oprah is that I cannot do it all. However, every year the quote takes on a different meaning, depending on what I’m going through. This year, I’ve internalized Oprah’s sentiments as a way to forgive myself when I feel like I can do more. The way I’m wired is I’m conditioned to feel like I’m not doing enough when in fact I’m doing my best. The quote has helped me to celebrate the success in one area while being content with the areas that need work. Its been difficult but I realize the reality is, there’s a season for everything and what I decide to focus on reveals my priorities, and does not say I don’t care about the other things.
While tapping into this reality, I was able to put my studies in high gear, putting my best foot forward. And if the voice in my head cheers me on for staying in to study and then criticizes me for not going out to socialize, I realize that I’m taking on the super black woman complex. I cannot do both. I cannot because it’s impossible. If I choose to be inside, I cannot also be outside. Being ok with my choices and respecting that I’m making the right one has lead me to a focused energy. There are ways that I do compromise because its imbalance to put all my energy into one thing while neglecting everything else. Sometimes, I schedule time to do extra work in order to free up time to socialize. However, this system still needs me to sacrifice something. Usually, I sacrifice me time in order to get more work done so I can spend time with loved ones.
I’m rooted in producing quality everything, however, this value coupled with my aspirations challenge me to live up to my own standards. I care about nurturing relationships but I also care about higher education which both demand quality time and attention. This is not to mention the other areas that are important to me like; entrepreneurship, wellness, and creative arts.
In addition to recognizing that I’m not super woman who can do everything, be everywhere, and for everyone I’ve shifted my frame of thinking. I’m shedding this idea that the sacrifices I make somehow means that I’m unable to manage my obligations. I thought the reason I had to sacrifice was due to my inability to do everything at once. I believed that I couldn’t do everything due to a character flaw. I have let go of this toxic mindset. This has been a huge revelation. I have spent some time trying to become a person who can do everything. My was I tight when I realized that its a myth and no such person exists. I still compare myself to “successful” people’s social media and assume that they’re doing everything. I understand that no matter what I assume based on their curated social media, I will never know what they’re sacrificing to be successful. I’m content knowing that I’ll never know. But I’m also ok with assuming that they’re sacrificing something.
I cannot do everything! And in the event that I am, I will see that I’m sacrificing the quality of my efforts somewhere. I believe anything worth doing is worth doing right. With this, quality is more important than quantity, therefore, its important to maintain the quality of my work, time, experiences, and relationships. This has been my current disposition. I’m okay with and most importantly respect what I choose to prioritize. I feel secure that its the quality I put into my relationships that matters.
What grounds me is understanding that we’re all doing our best and doing better is a journey not a destination.