All Articles Tagged "Resolutions Every Black Girl Should Make"
While watching an episode of my addiction, Girls, a change in the story line reminded me of a time in my own life that to this day, I regret.
The character of Hannah, played so effortlessly well by Lena Dunham, is an aspiring author with a ton of ideas for a book, but no direction to figure out where to start. When she reunites with an old writing professor, she’s coaxed into attending a creative writing reading, where she will share a story of her choice to a room full of strangers. Going into the reading, Hannah is very sure and very confident about the topic she wants to discuss: a college boyfriend who was a hoarder and her experience sleeping on a stack of empty Chinese food boxes in the attempt to relate to him. To you and I, I’m sure that sounds crazy as hell, but it could have made for a very interesting story to share–had she gone through with it. However, her boss got to her first. Said boss, the comical character Ray, wasn’t feeling it. She told him about her idea and he told her that it pretty much lacked all depth. Instead, he encouraged her (note: he doesn’t write himself) to write about something real, his recommendations included racial profiling, acid rain or death.
Feeling discouraged, Hannah completely changed her story on the train on the way to the reading, and made up one about an Internet boyfriend who died for shock value (a parody of a story by an old classmate whose recent published book about a real-life boyfriend who killed himself sent Hannah into a quarter-life crisis). No one liked it, and she wound up doubting herself and her capabilities even more. When her former professor asked her why she didn’t stick to her original hilarious story idea, she said she bailed on it because it didn’t have depth…her reasoning clearly influenced by the opinion of her boss at the coffee shop. Taking his advice and doubting herself had wound up making Hannah look like a complete a** in front of a room full of strangers.
As random as that story sounds, I’ve been in a similar situation. A situation where I let other people put doubts about my abilities in my head, enough to make me leave behind a past dream of mine. At the age of 12, while vacationing with family in Nigeria, I was spending a hot day in the house drawing. Doing illustrations and sketches as a teen was my passion, or so I thought it was at that time. But on that same day, while minding my business and letting my surroundings inspire me, the man doing laundry for my father, who I wasn’t too fond of, saw what I was doodling and asked me what it was. When I told him, he said my sketch didn’t look good, and proceeded to draw a picture of me that he lauded as much better than my own. Feeling like an absolute failure, and being that I was only 12 at the time, an impressionable age, I put my pencil and my drawing pad down–and literally never picked it up again.
I can now admit that honestly, drawing wasn’t what I was meant to do for a living. However, at 12, I had years and years ahead of me to get better, to train, to improve and to grow. But because I was young and embarrassed at that moment, I let someone else make me feel like I would never be a good enough artist, and I didn’t even allow myself the opportunity to get better, so I just gave up. This dude, when I think back on it, was washing my dad’s drawls for a living and I gave him the power to judge my work. He was clearly no trained artist his damn self. It’s something that I definitely wish I hadn’t let happen, but at 12, I wasn’t too good at defending myself or my dreams just yet.
As a grown woman I can now see the error in my thinking, and I encourage you, on this day and moving forward to never let people push you away from your dreams because they want to be negative. With every great dream, there will often be a hopeful dream killer looking to stop you dead in your tracks. And every once in a while you might realize that a path you were enthusiastic about is not necessarily the route you want to go in the end, but make that decision on your own. Please don’t let ambition-less people with too much time on their hands and shade to pass out who don’t want to see you succeed talk you out of your destiny. Because when you do, you walk around with a boatload of shouldas, couldas and wouldas to sulk about when you give up on yourself. Don’t give your haters that much power over your life. You have more talent and greatness to offer the world than people give you credit for, and as long as you know this, remember this greatness, and are confident in it, BABY, you can’t be stopped.
As black women, I think we’re internationally known for taking care of everything and everybody to the max. And while it’s not a bad thing to be reliable and strong, sometimes we’re so busy worrying about everybody else that we forget to look out for ourselves. As crazy as Katt Williams seems to be acting now, he once said in a stand-up performance that in the new year, you need to look out for your star player–you. Why? Because nobody else is going to go out of their way to take care of you, so why neglect yourself trying to run up behind somebody else?
I know sometimes I’m so busy trying not to disappoint people that I’m ripping and running around the city trying to meet up for brunch, dinner, drinks and everything else, and if that’s not enough, I’m trying to make time for my boyfriend, my God (which I have no problem going to classes and service for), and to reconnect with my parents every couple of days. I’m doing the absolute most the minute my feet hit the ground out of bed that by the time my weekend comes to an end, I’ve not really had the chance to relax before the hectic work week begins. Because of such neglect to myself, by the time it’s Monday morning, I’m wishing, hoping and praying for Friday, struggling to keep my eyes open and my spirits high. After having numerous times during this last year where my immune system gave up on me because I wasn’t getting enough rest, and after waking up with my face was covered in pimples because of stress, I realized I wasn’t really taking care of myself like I should.
For someone like me, all I need is time to lay around in bed until I can’t stand to anymore, and after that, I should be good to go. But for others, making time to pamper and care for yourself might mean relaxing and getting your nails done, going to a movie by yourself, cooking and catching up on your shows, or cuddling up to a book you’ve been meaning to read for a really long time. Whatever you decide to do to reboot, just make sure it makes you happy. We spend so much time trying to please other people in this life that when folks ask us how we’re really feeling, “happy” is the last thing on our minds. Your time is more precious than you think, and while it’s fun to grab mimosas and pancakes with friends and run from train to train to meet up with folks, it never hurts to say, “No thanks, I think I’m going to chill for once.” Your body and your mind (if you’re still in your right one) will thank you for it.