I suspect that many women feel that they must take on the world and never set it down. That we can’t give up, must take care of everyone, be impeccably groomed, and the rock of literally everyone. As a Black woman, I feel this even more, because there is this extra burden that you’re taught, and is reinforced by others forever, that you must work twice as hard for the same thing. That if you complain without perfection, then your complaints are unworthy (and trust me, people will throw this in your face), that you must put on a brave face everyday, and be the epitome of Black Girl Magic. You work extra hard to be “passionate” without an attitude, (even when anger is warranted), code switching and checking yourself along the way and being “strong” like every matriarchal figure in your life has ever told you. You fight relentlessly. And you’re supposed to do this effortlessly and with grace.
And then when you find yourself like me today, going to the wrong airport because you’re exhausted from all of the above, recovering from flipping through your exes happy ass pictures with a beautiful woman not because you want him back, but because you’re wanting your happy, and feeling defeated wondering if your work really challenges the wrongs of the world and uplifts those who need it, feeling defeated from trying to help others see that, missing the empathy and caring from people that makes you whole and feeling weak for needing it, and you doubt your magic and queendom, and you want to curl in a ball crying.
But you can’t. You gotta push on. Or so you tell yourself. But maybe you don’t? Maybe it’s time to chill TF out. Maybe your magic needs to be replenished. And since no one else is going to say, “hey girl, maybe you should take a break, maybe, that’s what you need to do for you.”
And so with that, here are my top telltale signs that you need to chill the fuck out, written from my own experiences:
1) you’re forgetting things, small things but important things. Like your keys, the correct airport, passwords. Your brain is working on overload. It can’t keep up with your work plans, figures, and facts AND your keys when it is exhausted.
2) You are forgetting to eat or in my case, eating the least amount necessary to exist and not have low blood sugars. Because even though you love to cook, the energy to heat up a stove will lose to a pre cut salad kit (the best invention since sliced bread) or a bowl of granola every time.
3) Speaking of things you loved to do. You haven’t done them, cause yeah sleep. You’re too exhausted. Not to be confused with depression where you don’t want to do them, but simply feel overwhelmed by the amount of energy needed to complete the task of doing that thing you like. Plus, you can’t find the things to do it.
4) And you can’t find the things to do because cleaning your house is non existent because you’re out saving the world. And you come home and sleep so as to not deal with it and feel like a failure.
5) You are lacking empathy in your life, perceived or otherwise. You’re not giving it to yourself and it feels like others can’t give it to you either. You’re likely either spending too much time with people who can’t fill your love tank (strangers on buses and planes, associates – nice people like coworkers or staff at a favorite bar – but not your tribe), not engaging enough with your tribe, or trapped in a cycle of perfectionism that doesn’t exist (lacking self compassion). If you’re anything like me, that will empty your emotional bank account quickly.
6) You’re skipping mascara. Or moisturizer, or your brows done or glitter. Whatever is that thing for you that makes you feel like yourself and is a musthave to feel ready, you’re not doing it. Because you probably slept an extra 5 min.
7) You’re having stress dreams. You are dreaming about work and trying to do the work, and conflicts at work; you’re dreaming about saving Wakanda (no lie I had this dream), you’re running for your life but you’re running in slow motion or keep falling (one of my favorites), you’re dreaming about missing flights… all signs of time to chill the fuck out.
8) You have no patience to hold others ‘ pain. Time to pump the breaks for sure. You are not the sole provider of hope and care to people you know (I’m looking at you, Self!!). It is insane to think you could be. Time to practice “no.” Here are some suggestions “no, nope, not at the time, hell no, fuck no, *chuckle and walk away*, ignore the call or text, not today, satan, I really wish I could, but I can’t, I really wish I could, but I don’t want to, that’s a naw for me, I’ll pass, good bye/good night.” Maybe I should do a post on saying no?
9) You want to cry in the middle of an airport. Or in the middle of any neutral place. You’re tired and deserve a sick day or 5.
10) You are wearing a too big, white wool coat because your coat that fits lost all its buttons because you kept meaning to replace or fix them or something like that, and now here we are, looking crazy as hell. This metaphor is easily transferable to *insert anything here you need to do but didn’t and now you regret it but you’re gonna live your life either way*
11) You haven’t said “yes” to yourself and what you want to do. Wanting to go on a date with that hot guy from OKC, but can’t fathom giving up your only night to sleep, clean, do laundry, wash your hair, call your mom, you bff, respond to personal emails, enjoy a cup of tea, and pretend you will sew your buttons? You’re doing too much if you have to fit 3 weeks of activities in 12 hours. Also, you’re going to hate your life.
12) You want to curse people out for peopling. You know like walking too slow, stopping in the middle of an aisle or walkway (I’m sorry by this is rude AF even when I’m recharged) and taking in the sunshine, for talking about stupid things behind you, for having on a dumb hat, for breathing… you know peopling.
13) Cake starts sounding like a viable option for all meals. But then you eat it and you throw it away because all food tastes nasty to you. This is a new stress induced response I got after getting…
14) You get gastritis. Now it flairs up at any sign of trouble. Gastritis is a nice little friend that gives you significant pain if you eat, don’t eat, eat too much, too little, anything spicy or coffee. It’s like the little demon friend you never wanted.
15)You feel unhappy and unfulfilled. Yes, you’re busy, but you’re not happy or fulfilled. Your purpose may feel a little muddled. It’s time to chill the fuck out. Why? Because you need some time to reflect, so you can make the next right move. And then you need time to act on it. Because being tired is lot more tolerable when you’re doing what you love and are called to serve the universe.
So my dear beautiful Black women, I want you to know we deserve to chill the fuck out. And it’s soooo hard. I’m struggling right now. I know it can make us feel like we failed, that everyone is going to see how unworthy or what an imposter we are, that we will let down our families and communities, that we will be the wenches that history has written us as, or the nobodies that our traumas want us to believe. None of that is true. I write this on a train with tears welling up and heaviness in my chest. We gotta believe that being human doesn’t diminish our light, our worth, or our black girl magic. Instead we have to know when to say, enough is enough. And extend that magic to ourselves and chill the fuck out.