I AM NOT A STRONG BLACK WOMAN.

I am not a strong Black woman. It feels really liberating to write that sentence down as I rarely have chances to say it in my everyday life. Yesterday I went shopping. I was carrying a bag I had from another store and immediately felt on edge as soon as I walked in. Why? As a Black person I know I am automatically being watched by security, and feel uneasy when shopping inside any store. Being followed by security is a normal experience for Black people. Normal as in it always happens to us and has been apart of our lives since childhood, which did not make me stronger, but instead gave me massive anxiety. When I walked into the store carrying a bag from another store I felt scared, and when I walked out having not bought anything I slowed my pace down because I didn’t want anyone to think I had stolen something. I am not a strong Black woman.

While my mother was dying from cancer I took care of her. I would go to work in the morning, and directly to my parents house at night to care for her, which included spending the night on her really hard days. For four months I smiled at work for the teachers, parents and kids, while simultaneously crying in my office bathroom in-between office visits. I couldn’t eat and my five-two frame became extremely frail. My emotional and mental state had gotten so bad that my size four jeans were falling off my waist. One coworker noticed. She had lost her father to cancer some years before. My coworker would bring me into her classroom and cry with me at lunch. She would bring me food and make me sit with her and eat. The front office and administrative staff knew what was going on in my life and never once showed me the care my coworker did.

After my mothers passing I became caretaker to my father who has a myriad of health issues. In 2019 his heart stopped and I watched the ICU team try several times to shock his dead body back to life; they did. He lived and I help. From doctor visits, emergency room stays, hospitalizations, grocery and medication pickup, nightly reminder calls to take meds and everything in-between…I help. My father and I have a strained relationship, but I am still there every day to take care of him. Once, while speaking to my cousin I commented about the toll all of this had been taking on me and he responded with, “Yeah, but you were built for this. You’re strong.” When I told him I was never given an option not to be strong he said, “I don’t believe that.” Unfortunately, when it comes to Black women most people don’t. They believe we were built for this…whatever “this” is but honestly, no one was built for this. I am not a strong Black woman.

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5 WAYS TO MANAGE FEELINGS OF INADEQUACY

Lately, I have been struggling with major feelings of inadequacy. While I always try to remain positive in this space, I wouldn’t be keeping it real if I didn’t put this struggle out there. Have you ever felt like no matter what you do its not enough? That everyone in life is headed into the right direction, but you are veering far from center? Maybe you are experiencing an emotional lack, or grappling with what move to make next in your life.

The onslaught of the feelings of inadequacy washed over me last year and I have yet to fully shake its effects on me. As a thirty something single woman struggling to make it as a writer and actor in a business saturated with…well…writers and actors, for months now I have felt behind on everything. As if my life is not progressing at the speed in which it should. My best friend owns a home, has a life partner, two kids and a dog. My long time male friend is married with a child and just moved into a home. I feel like everyone is moving forward and I am just barely treading water.

I moved back home to help my dad when he fell ill after my mom died, and I feel like he is progressing more than me in life! He has a girlfriend and I promise you also has a more active social life than I do! What the hell am I doing wrong, I constantly ask of myself. At times, I think my effort is pointless. Feeling as though I am screaming into a void, and no one will ever notice.

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I QUIT MY JOB: FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH & MY DREAMS

After five years of working for my former employer, I finally quit my job. It’s been a while now, and the changes to my mental and emotional health have been remarkable. I wanted to quit my job for years, but didn’t out of crippling fear. Quitting would mean I’d no longer have health benefits, my paycheck, be able to pay rent, car note, cell phone etc. Leaving jobs in the past did not hold the same amount of fear for me as this one did. For some reason I felt as though I would not be okay if I did. The anxiety kept me up at night, distracted me from my daily activities and stressed me to the brink. Fear set up shop, took over, and kept me down…for a while.

We put a lot of stock in our jobs. They mean everything to us and we will sacrifice family time, sick days, vacation hours, and our physical health just to get the job done. How many times have you headed into work sick, missed a familial moment, hospital visit, gone in limping from an injury, or not taken a vacation in years, because of your job?

On top of our mental and emotional health, there’s another important aspect of our lives we will also put on the back burner for our nine-to-five: our dreams. Don’t ever feel as though working a nine-to-five job is a negative because it is not. We have bills that must get paid, kids that need to be fed, and dreams we have to build, which require the money from said nine-to-five to become our reality. When that nine-to-five becomes a mental and emotional crippler, then we have a major problem. And for me it became a serious issue. So severe that I found myself breaking down into tears during the entire hour long drive to work and home almost daily. Something had to change, but yet, I still hadn’t found the strength to leave.  Continue reading