As a woman who happens to be Black, I know all to well that women of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds put their needs and wants behind those they love and care for. When Black women do this, an additional consequence to ignoring one's owns needs that all woman experience is also a negative and unhealthy self image. I believe this is directly related to the responsibility of dealing with prejudice from outsiders, our families, our lovers/spouses/significant others, our friends and even our places of worship. To clarify for purposes of context here, I'm speaking specifically of racial, gender and economic discrimination that affects all Black women regardless of class or status. Now many of us have learned and perfected the art of "shifting", a phrase coined by Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden and survival skill explored and docimented in their book "Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America". Shifting is the ways non-Whites or others that don't "fit the mold" find ways to adapt in today's society. For Black women, that may be by modifying the way we wear our hair, changing our way of dress, the way we speak, etc. My point is after dealing with all of that, we still go home each day having to deal with our other issue nurtured during our first years of life, that unrealistic obligation to maintain the role of caregiver. And I'll go further to say there are many of us that not only feel we have to maintain this role but to master it. And when you're a mom and/or wife, the feelings of obligation can be extremely tricky to manage. So when I think about my accomplishments this Summer, I can't help but be bothered by the fact that I haven't gone out dancing at all, haven't had a dinner with my girls for most of the summer, and that when I do see them, I feel like a stranger amongst my friends. It has me wondering if all that I'm doing is truly worth it.
The answer is of course yes, but I'm struggling right now on maintaining the die hard focus I've had for the past quarter. All work and no play makes Jane miserable after all! That misery and the sciatica that I've been dealing with since the end of June, has me on the brink of exasperation. My thoughts lately seem to focus mostly on what I need right now: a true market wage and health benefits, specifically. With those two things, most of my worry would be wiped away. I'd have the means to afford the quality care for my daughter I desire and I wouldn't see my current health situation as a financial burden. I would also be able to make true plans for getting my own place. I know what I can't afford; it would be nice to know what I can.
So today, the first day of the final quarter of 2010, I'm proud of what I've accomplished but recognize I have a long way to go. I don't have all the "me time" I'd like, however, I do have the strength and resolve to make the sacrifices I'll need to in order to get what I envision. It's going to take more energy and determination to have it all. I realize that "having it all" comes with a high price tag. And I may lose friends along the way, piss off family and lose coveted time with my daughter. But I'm ready to look those possibilities in the face and deal with each as they occur. At the end of the day, I know where my finish line is. Others talk about doing, about following their dreams, about making it happen. But they don't understand what that truly entails until they actually walk the path.
So I'm in the beginnings of the home stretch and anyone who's ever run a race knows this is when your mental stamina is more important than your physical. So I've got some working out to do, both figuratively and literally to keep my current pace and increase it to keep true to my deadlines. As I've said before in other posts, failure is not an option (it's actually an impossibility) so I'm doing nothing but working all day everyday. I'm at a point of peace about what's next.
After a couple weeks of uncertainty, I walk into work everyday knowing what I'm capable of and learning ways to master the tasks I'm not familiar or comfortable with. I'm really enjoying the opportunity and am firm in my resolve that I'm at the very least gaining the experience I need to move on with a career in HR. I'm spending more time with my daughter than at the beginning of the summer. Fragmented time yes, but thoroughly enjoyed, taken advantage of and needed as well. Unfortunately, the last few weeks her dad has been inconsistent with his involvement but I'm praying that is not the new norm. If it is, however, I'm already establishing a support system that will allow me to be a great mom and still accomplish all I desire at work and with my business. Which brings me back to the beginning, having personal time for myself. I pause now, take a deep breath, look up to the heavens with hopeful eyes and wait. Success is right around the corner...I can feel it! And with success will come all the time I need!
As I continue on this leg of my journey, I'm excited about the possibilities and look forward to sharing the ups and downs with you. I hope that you will share in my experience and come follow me.
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