Defining My Own Strong Black Womanhood
I always heard that being a strong Black woman was something to be proud of, and I am proud of it; however, the way that strength had been shown to me was always through suffering in some capacity. The constant experience of trials and tribulations, wrongdoings from others, and the compromise of one’s own happiness had found its way into my subconsciousness. I internalized it in a way that led me to struggle with vulnerability, affection or connection during intimate moments, and being too stubborn (I’m a Capricorn woman, I can’t completely help it).
To me, having a tough exterior meant that I was strong. Allowing men to dissatisfy me with mediocrity and not outwardly being hyper-emotional about it meant that I was strong (we will definitely cover this and affection in another post). Being ambitious and taking jobs that deep down had nothing to do with who I wanted to be or what I wanted to do meant that I was strong because I thought I had to in order to be successful. My strength was rooted in having something to prove to other people because of what I thought I was expected to be.
What I recently realized was that all of that was pure bullshit (this is my blog. I curse). Although it is a part of life to navigate challenges, my strength as a Black woman didn’t have to be defined by it. There is power in vulnerability and setting boundaries for what I allow from others and what type of energy I want to receive. Being happy and having overall wellness didn’t have to come at my own expense or be dependent on anyone else or any job. I think sometimes we fail to realize that, and that’s okay.
Strength doesn’t have to be rooted in suffering or in pain
I learned and I am still learning that I don’t have to wear myself out in order to prove that I am strong, nor am I the sole person responsible for carrying the burdens of others. Taking a step back to focus on myself is probably one of the strongest things I could ever do. I make my rules and guidelines for being a strong Black woman because seeing myself in a positive and healthy space requires that. What I believe makes me strong is something I am discovering daily, but I am grateful to be in a space where I am open to receive the messages.
I’m happier. My hair is growing. My skin is glowing. I’m more productive than I have been in who knows how long and I am taking therapy seriously. And for once, I am actually starting to feel and believe that I am strong. I am discovering my strength everyday in different areas of my life. Career happened to be an aspect that I used to put heavy emphasis on. I push myself to embrace who I am where I am. I am realizing that strength doesn’t have “a one size fits all” note on it. Acknowledging that has helped me set myself free.
Strength doesn’t have to be rooted in suffering or in pain. Yes, sometimes those things happen, but positive things can make you strong too. Nurturing yourself can make you strong. I hope you find your strength in whatever regard… and on your own terms.
This blog post was originally posted on ashaelaine.com on July 27, 2020.