A few weeks ago, many reggae fans took a moment of silence as ‘Night Nurse’ legend, Gregory Isaacs passed away. His voice was one of the regulars heard throughout my childhood. Like any West Indian bunch, my family loves to sit back and play good music from the islands. And while I grew up surrounded by music about harmony and peace, being care-free is one thing I don’t do well.
Truth is, I can be a pretty high strung Jamaican.
Given the depictions of most of us in American culture (insert my ‘Cool Runnings’ rant here), I understand how that description could seem a bit antithetical, but for the folks who know me, the description is spot on. I am the rare West-Indian with OCD-like symptoms, quite neurotic about personal space and anxious about many things, seen and unseen. I think fast, speak fast and walk fast. I’m not down with the whole ‘throw your lighters up’ movement; I am, as my mother aptly puts it, “a busy body.”
While I am on the general Oprah quest to be one with my surroundings, I speed read self-help books because I believe self-discovery, like driving, should be done quickly. On my latest skim through the self-help section, I found a book that asked me the question:
“What do you wish you had stopped trying to fix about yourself years ago?”
Though the question was written for a woman in her 40s or 50s, the answer is one that every woman can point out in her life right now. We all wrestle with ourselves, fighting battles that can seem never-ending. And while there are definitely lessons to come from our internal thrashing- are there some battles we fight for too long?
In a culture that focuses on self-improvement, many women have adapted a “purge me” mentality. We learn from everything around us that our habits need to be re-learned, that our methods are the problem and for all its good intentions the advice we receive is not always the remedy. As Bob Marley said best, “You have to be someone.”
Instead of purging, I think we need to embrace the way we work inside. In my case, it means embracing my restlessness and making it work for me. My ability to keep things moving is a great professional trait. In my personal life though, my need to get up and go can be more problematic. Instead of trying to kill that trait, I’m learning to distinguish where it works and where it won’t.
There’s no doubt that we should work to reverse our bad habits, but maybe we could try lifting up the ones we’ve never quite called good – the ones that make us who we are. Every woman is made from different fibers, has different talents and different strengths. We are the women we’re created to be no matter how much we try to fit into a different mold.