When to Be Fearless

As June is upon us, I was panicking because I hadn’t picked a theme for the month yet (keeping up with a blog consistently is hard!) And with June being not only my birthday month, but also with my recent graduation from college: a new beginning; I decided to stop and reflect this month. To think about different lessons and realizations that I’ve come across so far and share them with you 🙂 So, this month on the blog will be Personal Reflections!

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So recently I made the decision to do the big chop. Not necessarily because I wanted to go natural or because of any other emotional reasons tied to cutting off your hair…but simply because I wanted to know what I would look like. I’ve always admired women who could rock an ultra low cut, it’s a one of a kind look that not everyone can pull off. And I’ve always been curious but of course hesitated because of the omnipresent “they” that plagues so many of us. Worried about what “they” will think…so whenever I had almost worked up the nerve to seriously contemplate the move, I talked myself out of it: There would be no turning back…what about the versatility of longer hair?…what if I hate it?? So, I just pushed the idea out of my mind.

But, for anyone who knows me, they know my hair changes with the seasons. I’ve gone from pixie cut, to weave, to bob, to bangs, to braids, to natural and back to pixie cut with reckless abandon. So why should this hair cut be any different? It’s just hair right? It will grow back…and it’s pretty much the only style I haven’t tried yet. So, without overthinking it, I just made the hair appointment, showed the stylist a picture and let her and her clippers have at it. And gratefully, I love it!

Besides the excitement that comes with a new hairstyle, I’ve gained a new found confidence and assurance about myself: I feel unique, I feel beautiful and besides the ultimate perk of it taking all of 10 minutes to wash, deep condition, dry and style my hair, I’m simply proud of the fact that I did something I’ve always wanted to do. And, in the few days since I’ve cut it, I’ve gotten more compliments on my look than any other hairstyle I’ve had!

So, with this small but glorious victory with my hair, I’ve gained a rather important lesson about life. All of your thoughts and desires occur for a reason, those small seeds of ideas were planted in your head specifically because they were meant for you to carry them out. Whether its to start a business, drop everything and travel, reach out to someone or to just get a haircut…act on it! When it comes to making those decisions you’re a little iffy about, when its time to gamble a little, when that one thought keeps finding its way back in your head, be fearless! Because if you don’t, who will?? And at the end of the day, in the big picture of life, no one decision is the end, you can always bounce back. And I believe a “mistake” is only an indication that you tried, which is better than not doing anything at all and just wondering.

 

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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.

The Most Important Relationship…

For many of us, ever since we were little girls we’ve fantasized about love: planning our wedding dress, getting Barbie ready for her date with Ken, reading magazines about the do’s and don’ts of dating. Even our favorite Disney heroine has to find her Prince Charming. For women, it seems like the pinnacle of life is to find that significant other…

But what we don’t learn about is how to fall in love with ourselves. It seems to be an assumption that we all just have it together, that we’re born with confidence, self-respect and love. But that can’t be farther from the truth, we have to be taught it and practice it. Today, women are constantly in the middle of a whirlwind of opinions:

What makes a woman beautiful? What makes a woman sexy?

How does a lady act? What is a turn off?

How to get a significant other? How to make your significant other stay?

The list goes on and on…But no one seems to be asking the important questions:

What makes you happy? Do you find yourself beautiful? How would you define yourself?

Do you even like who you are?

So many of us are concerned with fitting into society’s preconceived (and often narrow) categories of what it means to be a woman and a spouse in the hopes of being accepted, that we forget to assess our own needs and desires. Being in a relationship does not prove anything. Being single does not mean you’re lonely and being in a relationship doesn’t always make you happy. Before you can give love to anyone in any kind of relationship, you need to have love to give.

It begins with you; once you recognize and own the power and regalness you were blessed with, no one can take it from you. Acknowledge and accept your flaws, they are what make you unique. Don’t compare yourself to others or try to meet others’ expectations, there are too many to satisfy. At the end of the day, the only opinion that matters concerning you is yours. Don’t depend on others for love, because if they go, so does their validation. Self-love is a journey that is never complete; some days you’ll feel like a queen and others…you might not. But despite the ups and downs of life, know that the most important relationship you have to maintain, is the one with yourself.