I'd Rather be a Happy Black Woman over a Strong Black Woman
From an early age, I was taught to be strong.
I was told to be strong when I was physically sick because one day I would have a family to take care of, a house to keep clean, and a career to succeed in.
I was being groomed to take care of everyone else but myself since age seven when that was told to me, and it worked.
As I grew I focused on others before myself. I would take metaphorical bullet after bullet if it meant my loved ones were happy and cared for. I would put my dreams on hold if it meant that maybe I could help my family, knowing that the black women before me were sacrificing so I wouldn’t have to do that.
I was conditioned to believe that my life wasn’t my own life— it’s owned and controlled by those around me. I come last, and that was good because I was being selfless and altruistic. That’s what made me a good person, taking care of others. That’s what would make me a happy person, knowing everyone else was cared for. That's what would get me into heaven or whatever that final resting place is seeing how I'm not really a Christian to begin with.
I had no other choice but to be a strong black woman. It’s all I knew.
Being a strong black woman lead to being a depressed black woman.
Being a strong black woman lead to being an anxiety ridden black woman.
Being a strong black woman lead to being a resentful black woman.
Being a strong black woman made me into a black woman I didn’t want to be.
When you’re taught to put everyone else before yourself, reaching out becomes that much harder. Admitting you’re not okay becomes that much more taboo. Putting yourself first becomes a notion of treason amongst family and friends.
Realizing that I was strong and I wasn’t happy was a pivotal moment for me. Realizing that I couldn’t bounce back from any tragedy or issue in my life quickly without ignoring residual pain and trauma was huge. Realizing that I was strong, but I was also miserable was the turning point for me.
I don't want to be a strong black woman, I want to be a happy black woman.
I want to be a loving black woman.
I want to be an imaginative black woman.
I want to be a dream chasing black woman.
I want to be a black woman who puts herself first regardless of what people may say, and that’s something that just isn’t supported as much as we pretend it is. How could it be when historically speaking black women have held up and held strong for not only their significant other(s), but also for their entire community.
Being strong shouldn’t negate and contradict being self supportive.
Being strong shouldn’t mean taking emotional and mental beatings from those around us.
Being strong shouldn’t mean ignoring our mental health issues, or ignoring mental health as a damn whole.
I no longer care for the image of the strong black woman coming back from adversity, infidelity, or anything of the sort. It’s important to see, but I’m ready for a different narrative.
I’m ready to see the black woman who struggles and who is okay with admitting it.
I’m ready to see the black woman who honestly can’t get out of bed sometimes.
I’m ready to see a black woman who is okay with admitting that she cried herself to sleep the past four nights in a row.
I’m ready to see the black woman who is fighting for her happiness, and who is putting herself first.
I’m ready to see a happy black woman who is completely and incandescently in love with herself, her journey, and who knows when to be selfless versus when to be selfish.
I’m ready to put being happy over being strong.