It’s Women’s History Month, and I, like many people, understand the importance of championing women, specifically Black women, especially Black women, who continue to persevere despite the many challenges that make giving up seem way more practical than pushing forward. Black women continue to make “it” happen against all odds and often without fair, or any, support. We know the story. It’s hard to be the only. It’s hard to always have to find a way. It’s hard to stay anchored in your “magic” to make what is norm for many happen in your life. And it’s hard to face all of the no’s that get to a yes.
Every Black woman won’t make history, but many are likely to suffer, in some way, during this period of history due to constant pervasive stressors and trauma such as systemic racism, racial violence, sexism, collective poverty, healthcare neglect and abuse—and those are just a few of the major concerns. Let’s not forget that the world is still in the midst of a pandemic. And then there’s typical stressors, such as regular life phase or circumstantial problems, that can be overwhelming. It’s a lot.
How do you maintain? You don’t.
You give yourself permission to tap into all of your humanity. That means sometimes Black women will be tired. That means sometimes there is no magic. That means sometimes Black women will need to break down.
Free Black women have to give themselves permission to simply be. To be more than just a fierce powerhouse, but to tap into all identities and needs, including those that make us vulnerable. What does giving yourself permission to be sad look like?
Be Okay Crying
Crying isn’t just an emotional release, it’s a physical one as well. Ever feel better after a good cry? Studies show emotional tears release stress hormones and toxins in the body. Allow yourself to cry—even the uncomfortably snot-filled, sobbing, wet kind—when you need it.
Ask for Help
This is underrated. Many people don’t ask for help because they’ve been disappointed, don’t want to be perceived as incapable or loathe feeling judged—so they suffer instead. While it’s hard to push past the anxiety of being let down it’s important to allow others to support you in a meaningful way.
Admit You’re Overwhelmed
Even if you don’t want assistance there is relief in simply sharing that you have a lot on your plate. This disclosure makes space for emotional support as you rally, allows others to offer more grace as you multi-task and is reminder to those around you that you don’t have the capacity for more.
Say No or...Quit
Sometimes quitters do win. Success isn’t always about doing the most, it’s about understanding what your perceived versus actual wins are during varied seasons in your life. You cannot do it all and remain happy, healthy and sane. Some seasons you may have to say no to extra work or a new job, other time periods may require limiting social time with friends or family. Figure out your no’s to maximize the value of what you say yes to.
S.Tia Brown is a journalist and licensed therapist. Follow her at @tiabrowntalks.