My 1st Goal for 2015: I Am Going to Own Myself
I am a Black woman in the United States. I have spent a great deal of time in my first quarter of my doctoral program examining the citizenship and self-making processes of Black women in this country. As such, I have come to the conclusion that not enough Black women are in full ownership of ourselves. We belong to jobs. We belong to friends. We belong to family. We belong to society. Some would say, the Black woman is “de mule uh de world.” But, I’m not here for that anymore. In 2015, I’m going to own myself for the first time in my life.
Yes, this is a lofty goal but, I believe, it is totally attainable. Not only is it attainable, it’s imperative.
First, I am no longer going to allow the actions and/or expectations of others (especially those outside of my social circles) dictate my behavior, appearance, and comfort in my own skin. I have started some of this already by calling out folks when they treat me differently than others or undermine my contributions or intelligence in ways meant to silence me. I have stopped caring about what others think about my chosen hairstyles or clothing. And, I have increasingly moved away from social groups which require me to change in order to be a member. I am subscribing to the belief that me just being me is good enough.
Second, I am going to continue to remove unhealthy relationships from my life whether they are friends or family. As Alice Walker says, “No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” This goes for family as well. After losing my father this year, I have come to terms with the fact that not everyone who is kinfolk is kinfolk. I can’t expect sorority sisters, sister-in-laws, cousins, or best friends to treat me in ways that I expect or deserve. All I can do is be watchful of those who I allow around me and my family, show gratitude and kindness to others, and let people go when they show they are ready to leave. I won’t be bound by titles anymore. People who love me and want to best for me will stick around. Those who don’t aren’t really my friends anyway. And, by losing them, I’m not really losing anything at all.
Third, I will stop apologizing for my brilliance. Yes, I said that. I said I am brilliant. I have never said it before and that’s a damn shame. I never really acknowledge it but I have a lot to be proud of. I have overcome (and am still overcoming) a lot. And, I should be publicly proud of myself for doing so. I have spent too much of my life ashamed of my interests and intelligence. I spent more time trying to get others to like how “cool” I was than showing them that I was really a nerd in trendy clothing. I am just not doing that anymore. Folks who are intimidated by my degrees or vocational endeavors can kick rocks. I won’t be making anymore space for them or their psychological passive aggression going forward.
Fourth, I am going to continue (and get better at) pouring positivity into into my loved ones. After so many recent issues with suicide inside and outside of my community, I am keenly attuned to the fact that this intrepid world is acting as a centrifugal force pulling us away from one another. Not only that, there are droves of people who thrive on our division and dissension. I am just not for that. It’s unhealthy. It’s destructive.
Lastly, I am going to work on self-care. This week has taught me how important that is. I am going to take moments to step away and unplug myself from social media. I receive some of the ugliest hatred from trolls on Twitter and elsewhere everyday. While I have developed a thick skin, there is something unsettling every time the comments appear. One of my bosses once told me that social media dependency was a form of mental control. We laughed about it. But he was totally right. I am learning that now. So, I am going to do something about it.
I can’t keep letting other people, their opinions, or expectations control me. I can’t take sick days just to sit huddled over my laptop for 10 hours. I can’t live my life as a loose string of obligations held together by broken desires and hopelessness.
I am going to own myself by excluding things and people who seek to control me. I have already started working on it. And, honestly, it feels pretty damn good.
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