“You know,” I was telling a friend one day, “I love that my life is full of adventure, I’m full of passion, and am trying to dedicate my life to serving others, but sometimes, it gets lonely.”
And it does. Not everyday or even most days, and then there are times that it stretches for weeks, and then for months, you’re fulfilled and content.
I have moved to three different cities in the past 5 years. I’m chasing my dreams. I’m doing my best to make my life about service to others. I work in a field that although emotionally taxing, is also so incredibly emotionally rewarding. I don’t know if I’d consider myself a flat out “boss” yet, but I’m certainly a boss in training. I’m capable of hard things, and have done hard things. But this journey is often lonely for so many reasons. I’m going to attempt to explain how an often physically displaced, very quirky, somewhat Afrocentric, and most definitely Highly Sensitive (HSP), Black girl, feels loneliness on the worst days.
9 a.m. You come into your mostly white, but progressive office, everyday, smile on your face, colorful outfit, and feeling perky, despite or in spite of reading about another brown or black person killed, ridiculed, shamed, scared, or written off, and ready to joke and connect (#blackjoy). You live alone. You get in your head a lot. You are an introvert, most of the time, but an outgoing one, and you crave genuine, authentic connection. People seem to laugh, but you also get the feeling that they are somewhat tolerating you. They have work to do, and you’re a bit over the top. It’s probably nothing, and most certainly nothing to take personally, but you have known connection even at the worst jobs, and so your spirits are a little crushed.
9:30 a.m. You read about another incident. You wonder why no one cares to comment on the offenses of black and brown bodies, particularly women bodies. You wonder why no one asks if you are ok, how are you seeing this, do you ever get scared? You know that isn’t normal, so you share. It is your personal duty you feel to share and bring others to awareness. You’re disappointed in lackluster responses. But you know that it matters, and you have to make it matter, because you need to feel as though you matter. You cry a little on the inside, but pour yourself into some work, framing your work in a way that can help make them matter. And you’re reminded painfully, like all good work likely, it isn’t done all altruistically, it is done to prove that you deserve to be here. You bring value. And others can see that. You’re not sure if you’re achieving any of these goals. You wish you could process with someone. You’re not sure if you can any time soon. You feel a little more alone, as you do what you have always done, been the brown/black body that shares injustices against other brown/black bodies.
12 p.m. Lunch! If you didn’t bring your lunch, maybe you can go with someone else. It’s lighthearted, it’s fun; you’re that weird girl who enjoys eating lunch with others at work and gabbing. Once you know them of course. Otherwise, it is awkward and you evade it. But once you’re over the fear everyone will hate you and your own awkwardness, you really enjoy it. If not, you realize that most people in this big lonely city, eat lunch on weekdays alone or at their desk.
2 p.m. You are sent the funniest meme about black culture, or something very upsetting about oppression. You want to share with others and they laugh or cry too. Wait, they won’t get it. You keep it to yourself. Or you share and are met with blank stares and little giggles.
2:15 Someone shares a meme or joke or song or actor that you literally have never heard of. Everyone laughs or gets excited. You feel very out of the loop and a bit ostracized, as everyone stares at you like, “You’ve NEVER heard of that? Like how? Where have you been living???” “Well, in African American neighborhoods and in low income areas for most of my child hood, with parents who primarily exposed me to Black culture, and now in Harlem, where I can go into a bar and they only play Black music, sooooo…” is what you want to say. But you don’t, so others feels comfortable. Sometimes you say, “well, I’m Black” and people nervously laugh. Which you hate making people uncomfortable as you also feel uncomfortable, so you try to save that for when you passionately debating why we don’t know enough for marginalized communities. You also don’t want to make a joke of a very sacred identity of yours with people who may not fully appreciate it.
5:00 pm: Time to go home. You love the safety of those exposed brick walls and laminate wooden floors. And then those are those days, when you wish you were going home to a human. Someone who can talk to you and rub your feet. Go out to dinner or have dinner with. Have minor fights over who did the dishes. Laugh. Try online dating they say. And you do, and it fails. Or you do other things to date. And people tell you to keep trying, but does everyone ever think about how dating is profoundly different for the Black woman? Especially the Black womanist or feminist. Darling. It is. You decide between going out to dinner and happy hour or going home. Going out means conversation in this big, lonely island and chatting with bartenders, drunk girls at the bars, cute guys, or married men and women, having a tiny break before heading into their family role. It also represents the transient and temporary moments of false connections. You could go home and watch tv, read and escape, cook a great meal, and then go to bed super early, because who could you talk to? Meet ups are also an option. Exhausting but sometimes worth it for those moments of laughter.
7:00 p.m. Ignore all phone calls from friends and family. You have zero energy to be ok and supportive for everyone else. You’re tired, emotionally. Everyone seems to want a piece of the “you” pie. That pie has been eaten up or gone bad. Feel incredibly guilty and awful for doing it. Do it anyway.
9:30 Bedtime. You reflect, maybe ruminate on each moment that day. You read about more hurt and pain the world. You feel calm for a moment. You reflect on what you are grateful for. You swipe and pin. You fall asleep and if you’re lucky, dream of fantastic days ahead; if you’re not so lucky your nightmares of health scares, rejection, exes, trauma, and failure creep in.
This is what it sometimes feels like to be displaced – a wanderer, adventure seeker, always wanting more and looking for meaning with a willingness to follow it wherever it is, in any city or land (almost), quirky – a little offbeat, generally positive, and zesty, Afrocentric – caring deeply about my people, wanting justice and equity for all, feeling a sense of deep connection to those around the world, highly sensitive – taking on the emotions of others, unable to sometimes filter my feelings from others, taking things personally, and hypersensitive to those around me. Don’t pity me. Trust me, this isn’t my every day state of being. My posts can be dark at times, but overall, I love my life and am happy. But this is the vulnerable part of me, reaching out to my sisters and brothers who have ever felt that it is a tough job to balance these roles.
Photo by Eloise Ambursley on Unsplash