Praise to the Introverts

For the longest time, I was convinced I had a low self-esteem. I wasn’t the girl that

commanded attention upon entrance into a room, I had stage fright and the thought of approaching a guy gave me butterflies. I was the quirky shy girl who’d rather have a movie night at home than be dancing at the club. I wasn’t the most outgoing, outspoken or bold, I was an introvert. And because I shied away from attention, rather be in the background than in the spotlight…I must lack confidence, right?

Because confidence meant always putting yourself out there and commanding attention, right?

 

Not necessarily…

 

After having a conversation with a friend, I realized that might not be always be the case. We assume that confidence equates being bold and extroverted, because thats what we read and see in movies and books. But confidence is defined as self-assurance. Confidence doesn’t only have to do with how we act towards others. Real confidence translates into how we treat ourselves. Appreciating ourselves, recognizing and utilizing our gifts, acknowledging what we bring to the table and not accepting anything less than what we deserve. To me, that is true self-confidence.

In our society, we prize extroverts: celebrities who adore the spotlight, politicians who know how to work a room, etc. They’re the popular kids in schools and the heroes in movies. Introverts are conditioned to envy extroverts, because who wouldn’t want to be the life of the party? But you can be understated and reserved and have as much confidence as the person who loves being the center of attention. And who’s to say that super, outgoing personality isn’t a front? You never know…

I always criticized myself, why don’t I do this?…or why can’t I be like her? I was so focused on what I wasn’t doing that I overlooked everything I brought. I was a good listener, I was the person all my friends turned to when they needed help or advice, I was the rock…and above all, I had a really strong sense of self. I just always downplayed my assets because no one could see them in a crowded room, but doesn’t make them any less valuable.

This post isn’t about bashing extroverts, its just to say that us introverts don’t have to beat ourselves up over the fact that we’re not extroverts 🙂

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The Myth of the “Strong Black Woman”

How many times have you heard about the “Strong Black Woman?” What do you

know about her?

She doesn’t take any mess. She’s independent. She sacrifices. She often puts the  needs of her loved ones before herself. She doesn’t always do what she wants to do,

For many of us, when we think of that title, we think of our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, friends and ourselves. We claim that title with pride.

But is there ever a time when that title can cause more harm than good? When many of us see a ‘strong black woman’ we assume she is bulletproof, an impenetrable force that never falters. However, this also leads us to assume that strong black women are unemotional, that they are too busy and responsible to hurt or feel pain. And oftentimes, in an attempt to fulfill this image, many of us ignore our own feelings. Pushing away feelings and people instead of addressing them. Tell ourselves to “suck it up” and “move on.” Never let them see you cry. But strength is not the absence of emotion and showing a vulnerable side does not necessarily make you weak.

In fact, to me, those who can show their pain, speak on whatever flaws they have and express what upsets them but still have the perseverance to keep moving, are the strongest of all. For the many of us who strive to be a “strong black woman” and unfortunately put our needs and feelings on the wayside in the process, we are only selling ourselves short. Internalizing emotions causes unnecessary stress that takes a toll on our relationships and ourselves. Black women suffer the most from undiagnosed diseases, both mental and physical. Often because we have learned to suppress rather than to express and cope. You’d be surprised at what relief you’d feel when you allow yourself to release whatever tensions you’ve pent up inside of yourself.

There is nothing wrong with being strong, but not at the expense of emotional health. So, when you’re feeling depressed, angry, annoyed, frustrated, whatever; don’t bury it. Find an outlet, whether it be writing, running, cooking, drawing, dancing, a girls night or just a day to yourself; make the time and take care of yourself. Emotions are not a bad or irrational thing. Owning them, addressing them and learning to control them takes strength and time, but can be so beneficial and rewarding. Don’t fall for the myth of the strong black woman.