Weary: My Ode To Employed Sistas.
I wake up every morning with an inherent notion to be great. Additionally, I used to wake up with the desire to dispel any preconceptions of the women that look like me in workplaces. Whether in leadership or support to push the mission along, I want to make women of color proud. To represent us with grace and poise. Heavy task to wake up with and sleep on. But I get the sense most of us feel the weight of this ideal. One day it clicked and I took off the cloak of pressure and stopped apologizing for achieving professional progress. My presence is intentional. My voice is unwavering. My presentation is authentically mine. I belong here. But today I am a little tired.
When I recognized my fatigue, I began reaching out to my other sisterfriends working in places that try to make us invisible. The places that act nervous to look at your hair or don’t share information that may help you on your job. I reached out to my girls and stopped feeling defeated. I stopped resenting this feeling and I invite any of you to do the same. We are enough. Of course, anytime we turn around there are stats and data pointing in every which direction telling us why we should not go for leading teams. There are narratives that paint us as least desirable in any industry and setting. This has indirectly caused a lot of us to carry the weight and pressure to be something we are not. I took these narratives and tried to make I thought would be more digestible to the masses. The more I shrunk my authentic self the more despondent I felt. Ridiculous, right? I know I am not the only one that went through a period of second guessing career choices and feeling like a fraud. I was buying into the negative landscape and making it my own. I remember speaking with my Grandmother and listening to her story. She chose career paths that were commonly given to men. She took on opportunities where she may be the only black person and probably the only woman. However, she never changed the octave in her tone. My grandmother wore her hair how she wanted and her presentation was hers.
I listened to her challenges in the workplace and some of the professional decisions she was forced to make. She was innately strong and authentic. Even in a time that wanted her to shrink and dim- she choose to be bright and shine. She is me. Her story is mine. I had to throw away the words from people who do not know my existence and cannot relate to my experience. Sisters, we all need this. We need each other.
Intentional. Unwavering. Authentic. We can all hold ourselves in ways that don’t feel over burdened with trying to combat negative narratives. We can be light and free and ourselves. The very fact that we are alive and thriving is a revolutionary act itself. I learned the beauty of being myself through the story of my Grandmother. Through the stories of other women I recognized the pressure we create to be perfect and to fit in. Don’t. Diversity is beautiful. All the experiences you bring are needed and the world needs to hear your story. The world needs to see your face and hear your authentic voice. I need you to embrace it, sis. Our workplaces and everything in between need to see the real you. It is freeing and the beauty that is each of us can’t be dimmed. We can’t stop the sun from shining, just like you can’t hide your innate glory to display. Just be you.
It is hard at first. Still on days like today I feel fatigued. But whatever. I address whatever is making me feel like I am in a 'sunken place' (Get Out was the bomb) and work through it. You should too. Remember your talent and magic. Remember that you are qualified and challenges don't last. You come from the very essence of resilience. You my dear are the shit. Walk in that. I love that you are doing what you are doing wherever you are doing it. Keep it up... for you, me and all of us coming behind each other.
With love. xo- Jas