By Tanay Adams
As Black women, we are taught throughout our lives to live in consideration of everyone else but ourselves. We are asked not to move far away from our families, to sacrifice exploring our dreams for the sake of security, and urged to go to school and become something worthy of everyone else’s approval. These ask, along with the demands of us needing to be married by a certain age, hold several degrees, and produce children only when deemed acceptable, leaves no space for us to explore what we want and how we want to live. We often take the dreams of our families and community and try to merge them with our own to create a solution where we are fulfilled within ourselves and accepted by the ones we love, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.
I know too many Black women who obtained degrees in areas they’re not passionate about and working jobs they don’t enjoy but continue in them because they are carrying the dreams of everyone else on their back. The burden of being the first one, the smart one, or the “one that makes it” is a heavy load that paralyzes and steers us away from taking risks and making big decisions within our lives. This is because we have not made our lives our own and have reaffirmed to ourselves the dreams and wants of others are more valuable than our own. For Black women, this is especially true because we are often raised to be in service of someone or something; whether it is religion, a man, the family, or just as a principle – we are taught the art of sacrifice. We are taught the art of coming last and not being upset about it because it was taught to our mothers, mothers, and mothers. But just because this is an idea that has endured generations doesn’t mean that it’s sustainable for those who must conform to it.
Eventually, we get to a moment in our lives where we make choices and decisions that don’t bring us joy, and we simply cannot do it any longer. This is when we start exploring our true wants and needs, and we begin dreaming again. We want to flirt with the idea of risk; we begin to draw boundaries and unlearn that indulgence and luxury are sins. If you are currently in this place, I offer you five words of advice the next time you’re considering something new or something you want, “Do it for you, sis.” Make sure every decision you make from here on out is in your best interest, that it is what you want, and that it brings you joy. At the end of the day, you are in charge of your own life, so life should be something you do and not something that’s being done to you.
Here are a couple of questions I like to check in with myself about on this journey of “Doing it for me”:
“When you’re making big decisions, do you make sure your joy is centered?”
“What would your life look like if you picked yourself every time?”
“Are you an active participant in your life right now?”
“Are you happy? When was the last time you were?”
“What in your life right now is draining you of joy? Can this leak be fixed or patched? Do we need a new bucket?”
DO IT FOR YOU SIS!
Tanay Adams – Tanay M.A. is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Tanay’s passions lie in holistic education and creative/poetry writing; both are heavily influenced by her love of Black Women, and her love of creation. You can follow her on Instagram @theamazingtanayzing.