I shut down, I turned inward, and I closed myself off to the world to try and disappear. I let the world silence who I was and dismantle the protective wall that I worked so hard to build. I lost myself. I did not recognize who I was anymore. I wanted to be someone else, anyone else. This vulnerability made me question my decisions, my worth, and what I was doing with my life.
Am I good enough?
I have to leave.
Do I belong?
I am not safe.
What am I doing here?
These thoughts were constant as I moved through my daily routines. I had to put on my shell of armor, everyday, that gave off the illusion of positivity happiness, and strength. Deep down, I was struggling to find ways to move through the world as an African American woman. I was preparing for battle everyday, preparing the armor that would hold me together, that would hide my fear. I was preparing to be the strong black woman. That's who I am supposed to be...right?
But I didn't want to be strong anymore. I wanted to ugly cry, hide under the covers, and mentally escape through any outlet possible. I didn't want to be seen as the black woman, as the token, or as the "well spoken" black girl. I wanted to be seen as a human being void of prejudice, race, and hate. But this is not the reality of the world that we live in. This is not my reality, here and now. I had to come to terms with my identity, mentally, emotionally, and physically.
These last few months have slowly reminded me of the urgency to write, that what I have to say is important, and the need to let you all know that you are not alone. From the political climate, personal struggles, or to feeling at a loss, I have pushed past my need to exclude myself from the conversation and remain silent to rejoin you all again here.
During my absence, all I wanted to do was hide. From complete strangers, from acquaintances, and even from those closest to me. I isolate myself when going through a challenging time, only to reach out to others after. I am never one to burden friends or family with my own struggles. I need time to process through what's going on with me, figure out next steps, and then plan accordingly. Like every other time, I needed to go at this alone.
The detrimental shift in the political climate sent me into a spiral. One where fear, uncertainty, and self-doubt reigned supreme. I wanted nothing more than to be invisible while the country painted a target on me for being "different." Continuing to show African American people as dangerous, incompetent, and less than throughout the media. Giving people permission to spew racist rhetoric and engage in micro-aggressions towards anyone who doesn't look or act like them. These conversations forced me into the spotlight to be judged without second thought, hated with ease, and attacked without any repercussions. Society began to believe everything they heard, read, and saw about African Americans.
We all have baggage that we carry into our adult life. We all have baggage that we know we need to unpack. No matter how hard we try to suppress and pretend that our feelings do not exist. We have to lay out our emotions, be able to unpack those emotions, reflect on them, and respond accordingly. No matter how long it may take to resolve issues from our past experiences.
If we do not allow ourselves to start facing our fears and stop hiding behind them, we will remain stagnant. We will remain in a constant cycle of self-doubt and uncertainty. We will stand in our own way stifling all of our growth.
For my self-care and mental health, I had a choice to make: either live my life in fear and anxiety or face these fears head on, openly and unapologetically. I chose the latter. I did not want to be defined by those in power.
This decision was a very difficult one. It came with mental gymnastics and it came with having to address my own baggage from childhood and from high school. I had to sit my little girl down and tell her that she was no longer in control. I had to put her in the back seat and let my adult self drive again.
When we make ourselves numb to our feelings and to world events it is detrimental to our health. There comes a time where we have to
decide whether we will be consumed by our fears or begin to face
them head on. We all expect there to be this "aha" moment that
inspires us to make this major life change. When in reality, it is a
decision that we do or that we do not choose to make.