I… Am… Tired…

I’m tired of black people getting the cops called on them for no reason.

I’m tired of black people dying from scared ass police

I’m tired of innocent people, let alone kids, dying

I’m tired of school shootings

I’m tired of people not understanding why people want to change gun laws

I’m tired of hearing about this on the news

I’m tired of being looked at as a threat to White people

I’m also tired of being the “cool” black guy to other White people

I’m tired of being seen as not enough

I’m tired of bullies

I am tired of fat shamers

I’m tired of the internet

I’m tired of Facebook

I’m tired of Twitter

I’m tired of my lgbtq+ community being treated unfairly

I am tired of people not standing up for what’s right

I’m tired of you thinking everything is ok

I’m tired of racists

I’m tired of Donald Trump

I’m tired of Sarah Sanders

I’m tired of seeing my people systematically being pushed out of their neighborhoods they’ve lived in for generations

I’m tired of you not caring

I am tired of overly Christian people who refuse to live outside of their Christian beliefs.

I am tired of being judged

I am tired of people saying “no offense but…”

I’m tired of you saying “stop making this about race”

I am tired if you not realizing that this is ALL about race

I am tired of you not talking about it.

I’m tired of you not acknowledging that this is reality

I am tired of you…

I… Am… Tired…

A First-Time Home Buyer’s Confession…

house-for-sale1

Owning a home is pretty easy.  It’s down right smart, honestly.  It’s like putting an investment into yourself, you know?  Making sure that you have something to show for your hard earned money. AND, it’s relatively cheap, I mean, when you compare it to renting.  You can do anything your little HGTV inspired mind will let you.  You own it! Live it up!

So why do I feel like owning a home isn’t for me?

Being a homeowner for the past 3+ years has had it’s ups and downs.  More ups than downs honestly, but over the past year or two I’ve had this feeling that I was ready for something different (I get like this a lot).  Earlier this year, I was in the process of trying to figure out my next career move.  Along with this came the thought of if this career move would include an actual MOVE move.  It was basically because I didn’t know if I wanted to live in Charlotte anymore.  I’ve gotten into a mood that it was time for me to spread my wings and be a part of another experience.  As much as I love it here (I mean, I have a tattoo of the skyline), I felt like my time was up.  It’s a part of my personality where I tend to get bored and I start to feel complacent.  It affects my mood, and eventually starts to effect my life socially and professionally.  So as I contemplated about the next stage of my life, I could only ask myself, would I end up staying in this same area and grow my professional career in a city I’ve grown to love but essentially have outgrown, or do I make a change now.

There is also this other thing…

Over the past 3+years of owning a home, I’ve yet to feel like I was “home”.  Is this something I’ve done subconsciously to ensure that I don’t get too comfortable and keep myself constantly on the go? Who knows.  My home was OK though.  It was somewhere I slept and chilled out, but never really felt homey.  I don’t know if “homey” is even a feeling that I’ve ever really felt in my home.  My house first felt more like a home thanks to my old roommate who helped rid the extra bedroom of silence.  I mean, my house is pretty bland.  No colored paint on the walls, no pictures up anywhere that actually mean anything.  I didn’t do many projects to make the place look better.  It’s just a dwelling that I decided to buy because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do.

Not owning a home isn’t bad…

I’ve come to realize that my personality and buying a home, isn’t really a match made in heaven. For someone who tends to get a new car every 3 to 4 years,  switch jobs about that often as well (not companies, jobs).  I like to think that I’m an ambitious fellow, and that this type of ambition, shouldn’t be tied down. Or maybe I just don’t want to be in the same spot for too long, who knows?  And for the longest, living here in Charlotte, in my wonderful 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath townhome next to the nicest neighbors I’ve ever had in life, was a great experience. But I think that this experience was only for a season, because something was missing.  Maybe it’s the fact that I lived out in the surburbs of Charlotte, without a family, and that living closer to the city is probably what I really needed.  But I did live in the city right before moving to the suburbs, so maybe moving was a mistake, or maybe I just needed a change of pace at that time, and now I need a change of pace again.  Luckily, my company, that I LOVE to work for had an opportunity I could not let slide by me and I am ever grateful that I am able to start my next journey in life because of them.

Adulting is hard folks.  You never know if you’ve made the right decision for yourself until you go and do it.  Listen to your friends, take in their advice but you won’t know how to deal with life until that hurdle comes rushing towards you in that moment.  Then and only then will you realize what you have to do.

So yeah, while I have enjoyed owning a home, and having a place to call my own, I don’t think a traditional home is made for me.  Maybe a condo in a city built like a big community is what I need.  Maybe we’ll find out when I move to DC in two months.  Only time will tell, and I’m so ready for this next adventure. Maybe a little hesitant at first, but I’ll eventually get going at my own pace.

 

 

Things Not to Do When Online Dating

*** Disclaimer: There is so much wrong going on in the world and my heart aches. I debated not writing a lighter post, because with children being torn from their parents’ arms, political disaster and silliness on all sides, and people dying, it seemed trivial. However, in times like this, it is sometimes good to remember that isn’t all of life. I also think there are plenty of folks who comment on these things better than I can. What I’ve learned is that as these things happen, we still eat, laugh, have heartbreak, go to work, and continue to live. And so today, I’m writing about dating. I just want you to know, we here at “A Tale…” are not oblivious and our hearts go out to the world.***

Dating is hard. Dating is hard when you live in a rural area. Online dating is also hard. Dating is extra hard when apparently no one has given you dos and don’ts of your dating profile and responding to people (in this case hetereosexual men responding to women). But never fear – I’m here to help you. So now you can’t say you were never warned.

1. Please stop taking pictures with your money fanned out on your bed or held literally as a fan. Also, taking the picture with your daughter or son having money fanned out is equally a “no.” I thought we left that on Black Planet in 2001? I can’t believe I have to say this.

2. Stop writing a long list of things you hate. This makes you seem like a terrible person.

3. Proofread. It doesn’t have to be perfect but if I’m scratching my head trying to piece a sentence into something vaguely resembling a complete thought, it’s not slang. It’s just mumble jumble.

4. Dick imprint profile pics are a “no.” Also, yes, it was me. I reported your picture.

5. When you respond, do not talk about lips or any other part of the other’s body touching yours in the first 5 messages. Actually, not in the first few days unless we mutually agreed upon that is happening/happened. But definitely not in the first 5 messages. No, I do not want to envision myself kissing you.

6. Don’t go from “hey” directly to “when am I going to meet you?” The answer is likely never at that point.

7. You should probably not have all 50 pictures in the same pose in different shirts. It’s just weird.

8. Don’t ask someone to immediately send you more pics. You legit have a whole damn catalog of pics. You’ve only said hello, I dont owe you shit.

9. If you spend the first 5 messages describing all of a person’s physical features, they begin to wonder what are your intentions. I’m just saying. Also, creepy.

10. If it is stated someone is looking for something long term, stop pretending you didn’t know that. And if you didn’t, read the profile.

11. If someone doesn’t answer you immediately, it is not ok to go off on them and how they’re ignoring you for a pretty boy, and that they’re missing out because you have a job, car, house, and you go on vacations. You obviously also have high levels of. insecurity, a temper, and crazy. *unmatch*

12. While asking questions is a great way to get to know someone, asking someone back to back to back questions, unrelated to the previous answer, and not following up, commenting, and finding common ground with answers (aka having a conversation) is jarring and feels like I’m under interrogation until you feel you’ve done enough to ask for my number.

13. Which brings me to if you ask for my number or to continue the conversation off the site and I say I’m not yet ready, you dont have the right to angrily rant at me and that doesn’t mean to do #12 in an attempt to appease me.

14. Say “hi” and then ask me “truth or dare.” I hate this with all of my soul and it causes me anxiety. Just ask me how I’m doing, what I do for work, etc.

15. Respond to all of my questions with something about meeting me today. It gets annoying. For example, Me: what was the most exciting thing today?

You: Matching with you.

Me: So sweet of you. What are you doing this holiday?

You: hopefully you are coming to see me

Me: Lol. Hmmm… idk I’d like to get to know you better first, plus I have plans.

You: You wouldn’t drop your plans for me?

Me: No. Hell no. Fuck no. I don’t know you!!!!

Ok, ok, I never say that. I usually unmatch, but you get my drift.

16. Similarly please don’t respond to my statements with completely unrelated statements.

Me: So, that about sums up what I do at work. I told you it was a little complicated.

You: I’m just thinking about how it would be to see those lips in person.

WTF?

17. Send me emojis over and over as responses. Especially looking eyes. 👀 THOSE. I love a good emoji but it is annoying when you use it in this way.

18. “Good morning/evening beautiful” has become synonymous with fuck boy when you barely know me. I didn’t write the rule. It just happened. Usually to follow is violation of several of the above.

To end on a positive note, I thought I’d end with a list of “do’s.”

1. Do put up a wide range of pics and look like you enjoy life. I love smiling pics. You’re still a man if you smile, I promise. And you’re sexier immediately to me.

2. Do fill in a bio area. I read every single one. Make it about you and what you like and not what you hate (see above).

3. I am definitely ok with a “hey, how are you?” I don’t need creative pick up lines. I don’t know when it became a crime to just say that.

4. Ask questions about things I wrote in my bio, follow up on common threads, and share info about you.

5. Write more than one word messages.

6. Compliment other parts of me that aren’t physical, i.e. “I can tell you’re really bright or caring.”

7. Talk about a passion of yours. Passion is the key to opening my heart.

8. Make appropriately placed references about Wakanda. I’ll love that.

9. If we have been going back and forth for awhile, we are both sharing info and it doesn’t seem antagonistic, whether for 20 min or 2 days, ask for my number then.

10. Ask me if it’s too late and should we continue in the morning.

11. Continue in the morning if I say yes.

12. Tell me you’re smiling as we’re talking about something non sexual, but interesting. That will make me think you really are into what I’m saying.

13. Use humor, not sarcasm.

What about you all? Have you encountered these things? Agree or disagree? Love to hear from you!

I Stopped Eating Meat…Kind of

Exactly 31 days ago I stopped eating meat…kind of. I must be honest. I had one meat dish a week and for the first three weeks those were some sort of fish dish. This week I had chicken for the first time. But other than that it has been 28 days without any meat at all and here are a few things I have learned/noticed and things no one tells you when I stop eating meat, just in case you were wondering.

1. It wasn’t as difficult as I expected in some ways. I figured I would have killed someone for a chicken nugget by now but I’ve been alright. There has not been any murder due to meat deprivation…yet. There have been times though that I have been really upset at vegetables.

2. A meatless diet makes you gassy. Like seriously flatulent. Not even silent but deadly just full on loud and disastrous! I had to google this to make sure I wasn’t dying. I wasn’t, I just smelt like it.

3. Probably common sense, but I did not realize how limited the non meat options are at fast food restaurants. Essentially you have French fries and salads and that’s not easy to eat driving down the highway.

4. Your family won’t immediately jump on board. I started this partially because my daughter said she wanted to but then she bailed on me until about 2 days ago. My parents are still very much judgmental carnivores.

5. Bread and cheese become the most logical substitute for meat. Which as we all know isn’t the most healthy of options. I have not seen any weight loss, which I’m not sure was actually a goal. If it was, this would definitely be the reason.

6. Family reunions are tough but under absolutely no circumstances should you bring black bean burgers or veggie dogs to a black family reunion as an alternative. Just lay low and only eat sides. Also, pretend you don’t see the ham hock in the greens.

7. Tofu is meh. It’s just a thing. It does the job. Black bean burgers are pretty good though but you can’t eat burgers every day, black bean or not.

8. I have been craving a roast beef sandwich for a few weeks. I couldn’t tell you the last time that I actually had a roast beef sandwich.

9. Meat makes your skin break out. Not eating meat clears it up. Or at least this might be true. My mom told me it was all in my head but I don’t normally get acne except for my monthly period pimple. Throughout this process I noticed an increase in acne. I then realized I was getting one or two, painful bumps once a week. I didn’t pay that much mind until this week. On Tuesday I had wings (not even going to lie, they were good) and then on Wednesday I had two new bumps. Coincidence…I think not. I also have weird blotchy skin on my back and was mildly hopeful it might clear up. I went to the dermatologist a while back and the antibiotic cream they prescribed didn’t work. The next step was two months of daily antibiotic pills which seemed like a yeast infection and pregnancy waiting to happen so I declined. Throughout the month I started to feel like things were clearing up but didn’t want to say anything. The other day my daughter randomly said “your back is clearing up” so I’m not crazy!

10. I am actually capable of doing something that is totally internally motivated without much pomp and circumstance to encourage me. I tried to only tell people when absolutely necessary and to not make a big deal out of it. Other then my daughter, I didn’t ask anyone to join in. I only didn’t really set a goal. I figured I’d give it a go, see what happens and reassess at the 30 day mark.

So here we are, 30 days in. I thought at this point I would probably decide to go back to some meat consumption while being mindful, but honestly number 9 is a huge motivator for me to at the very least keep up what I’ve been doing if not cut it out all together. Next stop, return to meal prep. Which should be a lot easier since…well…vegetables. Who knows…that roast beef sandwich still sounds really good.

Happy Thursday beautiful people!

I am tired…and it hurts

(You asked when I was going to write another blog post. I didn’t think it would be this one. But here we are)

I apologize in advance if this post seems random and all over the place. That’s where my mind and my soul are at today and I can only write what I feel and what I know in this moment.

It’s amazing how everything you know to be true and safe in this world can be turned up side down with a simple phone call.

I’ve had an intense last 10 hours and I’m still trying to figure out where I have landed amongst it all. I can say that the blog I was prepared to write at 9:30 this morning, is drastically different than the one I am writing now. I’m glad in a way, but that still would have probably been an epic blog. Maybe another day just for fun.

But today, in an effort to ground myself, calm myself, and find some peace amongst the chaos, I will instead write what I know to be true.

A list of things I must remind myself are true about myself and this world:

1. I am a good person. I deserve love. I deserve to be loved. I deserve to not be hurt. I deserve honesty. I deserve the truth. I deserve peace. I deserve a title. I deserve someone who wants to be with me and has nothing holding them back from doing so. I deserve this even if I show up in someone’s life randomly and unexpected. I deserve for that not to matter because even if it’s not the best time I deserve for it to be known that I’m an opportunity and a chance that should not be let go of lightly. I deserve to be wanted. To be wanted fiercely.

2. Even if no one in this world ever wants to give that to me, I still deserve it. Even if every man always feels there is something better. If they don’t feel a sense of urgency. If they are tied down or tied up with someone or something else. If they don’t see it. If they don’t feel it. If they don’t want it. If they are all scared. If they are all stupid. If they are all intimidated. Even if it never happens. I still deserve number one and all the amazing things about life and love that I did not list.

3. People are inherently good. Few people are evil. Some people suck. Most people are hurting and the things that they do are because of that pain. A lot of people do not know how to handle pain. The only way they know how to deal with it is to inflict it on others. It’s not an excuse. It just is what it is. Deep down, people are good. They probably want all the things I listed in number one and they deserve them too. When they don’t get them, that is when they become cruel.

4. I am loved by family and friends. They know me, they get me, they hear me, and they remind of who I am when I start to forget. They are the absolute best and I am blessed beyond measure to have them all.

5. Even though I have number four, it does not make number one any less valid. Wanting the love of another human being who is not required to love me due to being family and who is more than a friend, this is not a weakness. This is human. I am human. I am not weak. But…

6. I am tired. I am tired of not having number one. I am tired of having to be strong and pretend like being 30 and single is not hard. I am tired of catching glimpses of it only for it to be yanked away. I am tired of feeling stupid. I am tired of not knowing how these things work. I am tired of crying. I am tired of wondering what is wrong with me. I am tired of hearing “there is nothing wrong with you.” I am tired of not being wanted. I am tired of not being enough. I am tired of being too much. I am tired of being punished for some unknown crime or sin. I am tired of being given this same lesson and apparently not learning it. I am tired of this cruel joke. I am tired and…

7. It hurts. It hurts a lot. A physical, emotional, spiritual pain. It takes its toll. It makes me not want to try anymore. It makes me want to give up and close off my heart for good. It makes me want to scream. It makes me want to be someone who I am not because apparently being me is not working. It makes me want to cry. It hurts. If you’ve never experienced this pain I pray you never do. If you have, then I pray you would not purposefully cause others to feel it. It hurts. And I’m tired of feeling it.

A list of things that I’m not sure if they are true or not but that I hope they aren’t but with every day like this I struggle not to see it as proof that they are:

1. I am flawed, or broken, or inherently incapable of being loved or wanted or even liked in a way that leads to lasting commitment.

2. It’s just not meant for me. I’m not sure how people do it. I’m not sure how they date and get people to want them and want to be with them. I’m not sure how they get people to fall in love with them and want to treat them right. I’m not sure how they get someone, who may not be in a place where they were looking for a relationship, to see them or spend time with them and be like you know what forget that. This is what I want. So maybe it’s not meant for me. Maybe I will never be that for someone. Maybe letting go of that dream will cause these things to be less painful.

A list of things that I have learned:

1. To be a little more selfish. Not in a cruel and evil way but in a way that allows my happiness to be important as well. To say what I want without fear and to speak up when I am not pleased.

2. To say no without fear. That not wanting to do something will not always result in a massive argument. That it’s okay to be too tired or just not want to do something.

3. To be unapologetically myself. That everyone is not going to hate that. That everyone is not going to want to change that. That it’s ok.

4. That it is possible to know peace, and security in a potential relationship. That things don’t need to be rushed. To enjoy time spent with people for what it is and not always worry about why it is not something else. My only fear here is that it felt so good to feel this way and it was taken away so quickly that I will struggle if there is a next time. I hope there is a next time. I pray I won’t struggle.

5. That I am the skip bo queen.

And that’s what’s going on in my head and my heart. I am still tired and it still hurts, but, honestly, I don’t know. I was hoping something would come to me after I typed but, but it didn’t. Clearly.

Pinterest, however, didn’t fail me when my brain did. So I’ll leave you with this because despite it all…this is what I will continue to do…even if for now I need to rest.

A Break Up Letter to NYC

Dear New York City,

The time has come for us to say our good byes. I think we both knew we were never destined to be long term lovers, but we gave it our best shot, and year is nothing to frown upon. You have taught me so much and I wanted to make sure you understood the value you had in my life. So many times we do not get to properly have closure to the most important relationships in our life. Moving gives us that gift. I want to share it with you .

1) You taught me how to be tough. You taught me how to not give into men and their advances, put on a hard shell when necessary, and be strong. You taught me that nothing is too scary for me. That subways at night are absolutely conquerable, streets are meant for crossing at all times, and gave me a bit of NYC sass and arrogance to go along with it. I like that part of me you’ve helped me develop. I feel tough.

2) You taught me the value of a dollar and resilience. You took me back to my roots and reminded how easily you can lose it all, struggle, and be back at the bottom. This was not a fun lesson, but necessary for humility.

3) You taught me Black and Brown comes in 500 different shades and languages and reinforced my sense of pride of belonging to a diverse group of people across the African diaspora. I desperately needed to see that after many years without that validation. When people ask me about my favorite thing about NYC, Harlem, and the Black and Brown people are always my top answer. I can feel the spirits of my ancestors here and see the seeds of their labor.

4) You reminded me that I can ride a bike. I got on my first bike in years when I moved here and it reminded me to always play and that some things are as easy and simple as remembering. Those were some of my favorite moments.

5) You taught me all that glimmers isn’t gold and isn’t for me. NYC glitters and glimmers; NYC is far from gold. It is a hard place to live and be yourself. You showed me that although I may aspire or think something is wonderful, I must really look carefully and consider all parts. I’m so appreciative of this lesson.

6) You allowed me to live a childhood dream of living in the Big Apple. It felt nice to say I’ve done it. My inner child appreciates the adventure.

7) You tested my patience, which I suppose begets patience. From lines, to delayed trains, to spending hours searching for a parking space, to jobs not for me, and a terrible dating scene, you really tried me. I hope I learned patience and not irritation. 🙂

8) Bodegas make the best sandwiches. There is nothing else to say.

9) You rescued me. I have so many mixed feelings as I leave here. This wasn’t a place of warmth, love, or friendship for me, which was foreign. But I cannot forget that you rescued me from despair and a low place. You were a wonderful oasis at a time that I needed it. I’m sorry that I dont always thank you for it, but I’m grateful.

10) You made me remember what is important to me. That I don’t need a fancy city, expensive apartment, or hectic lifestyle. That family, friendship, passion, and a career that lights me on fire are what I value most. We weren’t good matches because of these things, but thank you for showing me what I really need.

11) That in spite of everything, I can do anything. BUT that doesn’t mean I should. Thank you for that valuable lesson.

I think today, as I walked my last walk home from the one place I could feel comfort, I felt you offering peace as our relationship closes tomorrow. You gave me a gift of a breezy evening, a lovely sunset, children laughing, no slow people in front of me, and the ability to help one last lost tourist find their way to Central Park. This was certainly not a lot of our evenings spent together, but I’m sure you wanted to end this on high note. I wanted that as well, and gave a gift of kindness to a stranger in the subway. I hope you take that as an offering of my gratitude.

I want to thank you. Thank you for making me a tough, bodega loving, fast walking, and incredibly humble woman one year later. I’ll be back as a familiar and indebted visitor, but the depth of our relationship ends here. I’m not sorry to say good bye. It’s the right thing to do. Instead, I’m glad we got the time to influence one another. Thank you for letting me call you home for this short time.

With all the love in my heart,

LeAnna

When You Feel Anxious, You are Also Feeling Excited; They are Two Sides of the Same Coin.

Yesterday, I broke down in tears as I considered my newest part of my journey- moving upstate on Wednesday and starting a new position as a director of a cultural center. I thought about my past failures, the past attempts to break my spirit, the heaviness of the weight of being a Black woman in position such as this in the current climate, and how I even ended up in this position to begin with. I cried.

Do not misunderstand me. I am beyond the moon to be starting this role. It is a honor. This position speaks to my calling – to serve my black and brown sisters and brothers, to educate, to be an activist, and give voices to the voiceless. It also represents a major promotion for me. It is much more exciting and challenging than my current job. But I am afraid and anxious.

The past two years have been rough on a sister. I spent a year in a job that was not healthy for me. I spent that year listening to others tell me I wasnt good enough, I shined too brightly, I was too joyful, I didn’t belong, and dismantling all of the good things I once believed in myself. I spent that same year battling racial battle fatigue, fighting invisible, yet omnipresent, systems of oppression which often left me thinking, “am I the crazy one?”

After some intense therapy sessions and 9 months, I began to realize that I could not stay, nor did I need to. My trauma past (personal and racial) had led me to believe, albeit erroneously, that enduring pain and fighting through it is how I prove my worth, and that I must do that. It leads to staying in painful situations way too long as I think to myself, “I must prove to everyone that I dont give up and that I am good enough.” It also reinforces to myself that I am not good enough, because it sends a message that “I will not protect you through pain because you must be better. Your trauma is your fault. You aren’t good enough and/or this is how you earn worth. And everyone’s needs are far more important than yours.” I told myself we could not do this anymore. I job searched and took the first job that I landed.

It was a smart move to leave. I don’t regret it. But the next year, I spent my time trying to fit into a puzzle they wasn’t even my box. And you know what they say – a fish will think it’s stupid if its measure of intelligence is climbing a tree. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why it wasn’t working, even though in my head it seemed easy enough (I’m sure the fish felt this way looking at monkeys climbing a tree). I felt utterly useless and incompetent as I watched others soar. I was already a bit wounded from my past year, not fully healed (nor did I recognize my need for healing as legitimate) and this was salt to injury. And I did what I always do – I overworked to prove my worth. And once again, it did not help. Jamming a puzzle piece into a wrong puzzle does not make a puzzle come together. It creates a very ugly, mismatched picture.

In the meantime, I was suffering in other ways – socially, financially, and health wise. I had no friends within a close, “I am stopping by and having a meal” or “let’s go shopping” kind of way for a year. And building those friendships was near impossible in a place like NYC. I struggled to maintain a decent lifestyle in the city, and my health suffered. I developed illnesses, blood pressure would not lower, and I have developed all kinds of gastrointestinal issues alongside chronic hives (these are the worst). All of these things aren’t from my job alone, but I had a moment where I had to stop and think, “what is really going on, LeAnna?” I realized that I wasn’t fulfilled. And I realized how much I was allowing the past two years, along with a complicated trauma history, dictate my worth.

I remember being told by a friend that I wasn’t being fulfilled professionally, because I was playing it too small and safe. I kept taking positions that were easy and I knew I could do, only to find myself in those roles bored, unchallenged, or not using my greatest skills. I told myself in a stern “talking to” that I knew what my skills were and that I needed to use my strengths to feel like I was giving my talents to the world. And so I started a much more targeted, selective, and intentional job search. And within a matter of two months (and many rejection letters), I landed my newly anticipated role.

And I am so afraid and anxious.

I am afraid I will fail, that they made a mistake, that I am inherently unlikable, that I will bear the burden of representing all people of color, that I will be too loud, that I will have to job search again in a year, that all those things people said about me are true, that I can’t be authentic, that I will again become a shell of who I am.

The anxiety is real y’all.

So yesterday, at a conference, I took all that into a Black Woman healing sister circle. The divine energy in that room was powerful. I cried within 2 min of being in there, and although I planned to remain silent, within 10 minutes was sharing my load with 55 sisters I’ve never met. I was a bit ashamed, but also relieved. I was met with love, celebration, and understanding. And wisdom, so much wisdom.

I think as Black women we understand the heavy weight we pick up and rarely set down. We do not take our lives lightly. We understand what it means when we take on new roles – mother, sister, daughter, lover, friend, wife, even director. I think what we must understand more, is that we can lay that weight down in order to rejuvenate every once in awhile, and we can ask our sisters to help us carry it when they are stronger. I leaned into that yesterday. I felt some shame, not going to lie, but it was necessary.

“When you feel anxious, you also feel excitement. It’s two sides of the same coin. It’s all mixed in there,” the facilitator softly, but affirmatively, said into the mic. This was after my wise older sister pulled out an article about change and showed me that change, no matter how good, isn’t easy or without weight or some not so good feelings. “It’s all normal. Everything you’re feeling is normal,” she said.

This is something I know. But it was a timely and gracious reminder for me. I am anxious because I understand the magnitude of this accomplishment and its ability to transform my life. That I have an opportunity to impact lives, use my strengths, and be fulfilled. And because of very real reasons, I’m afraid and scared. I’m also overwhelmed and so maybe I can’t always feel the excitment, not because I’m not aware, but because I am rightfully so experiencing everything I should be experiencing (and trust me, telling me to think positive or be grateful is not helpful – just please don’t. It is very frustrating and I am aware of the other side of the coin). I am allowed to feel both positive and negative emotions about ultimately, a wonderful thing. It’s the same coin. Those two statements were gifts for me. They were the gift of me being ok and permission to feel what I felt.

My last note is this. My life hasn’t been easy for all kinds of reasons. And the past two years have been tough. And it’s so easy to say, “don’t let you past define you.” But as a therapist, I call bullshit. Of course, it will define you. You are constantly shaped by your past. I think for me, I’d offer to myself, allow your past to teach you, shape you, but never bound you. For myself, this is more doable. I can apply and do well in a director position in spite of that, because I can be afraid and do things anyway. I can love myself in spite of messages saying I shouldn’t, even if it is harder than if that wasn’t my past. I can feel everything and still find joy and peace. Things can define who I am today without being the sole person that I am. I can make lemons out of lemonade. And that makes life a little easier for me, at least today.