Over the past few days, there’s been a LOT of discussions about #girlstrip, #squadcare, and overall #BlackGirlMagic. If you haven’t made it to the theaters yet, don’t worry. This post won’t provide any spoilers for you about #GirlsTrip, the movie. It will, however, get you thinking about what a #girlstrip may mean for you and for Black women in general.
For centuries, Black women have relied on our #squad (Black women teachers, preachers, grandmas, auntie-nems, etc.) to get us through good times, bad times, and everything in between… And that’s exactly what we get in #girlstrip. From the previews, we know that the story involves a group of 4 dynamic Black women, who became besties in college but for a variety of reasons, haven’t seen each other in 5 years.
We are taken on a wild ride as we learn each character’s back story. The sacrificing mother, the public figure with a chaotic marriage, the wild, care-free spirit and the entrepreneurial dreamer. They are 4 Black women that we know, that we love, and that many of us may be.
While I definitely laughed during the film and LOVED seeing beautiful, talented Black women on the BIG SCREEN without needing a tragic or racist back story, #girlstrip left me feeling… isolated.
So, here’s the thing: I didn’t go see the movie with one, two, or three of my good girlfriends. I went alone. Truthfully, going to the movies solo is one of my favorite forms of #selfcare. Further, as an #IntrovertedBlackGirl, group trips don’t happen often (if at all) for me. And to be honest, I prefer it that way.
However, there’s this notion of #squadcare that’s been circulating on social media recently that challenges how introverts (and just people in general) may choose to care for themselves. Melissa Harris-Perry shared an article on elle.com that literally said, “I refuse to believe that self-care is necessary for health and well-being”.
You can read that direct quote for yourself, here: http://www.elle.com/culture/career-politics/news/a46797/squad-care-melissa-harris-perry/.
Now, in all fairness to MHP, she was talking about how her own bestie-ship saved her life when she was at a low point, and what this friendship has meant to her over time. However, her disregard for how some of us have to be intentional about loving and learning ourselves seems harmful and lacks nuance.
We can, as beautiful, ever-changing, well-connected Black women, practice both #selfcare and #squadcare. After all, aren’t both practices part of why we love #citeasista so much? We don’t have to abandon one for the other. BOTH matter and they are both important to our survival. For me, as an #IntrovertedBlackGirl, #squadcare ALONE doesn’t help me. It doesn’t sustain me. In fact, it does the exact opposite. I can count on one hand how many good girlfriends that I have. My friendships are intentional, individual, deeply personal and require a lot of time to develop. So, the notion of #squadcare kind of left me feeling like, “well, this clearly isn’t for me”.
I can attend brunches, movies, sleepovers, and birthday dinners all day (well, not really, but you get the point). Truthfully, there’s nothing that I want more for my next birthday celebration than to have a slumber party with the few Black women that truly know me. I’m talking onesie pjs, junk food, classic Black films, karaoke… all of that simple, fun, #carefreeBlackgirl stuff. But at some point, I have to reconnect with me. I have to spend intentional time by myself, with myself and for myself.
Practicing #squadcare without a balance of #selfcare can be dangerous for a lot of us. We are already over-committed, over-depended upon and under-appreciated. Adding the extra duty of caring for others without caring for ourselves FIRST can be a disservice.
Now, please don’t take this as me saying that #selfcare cannot be practiced in community and within kinship bonds. Because it absolutely can. For my extroverted friends, it’s how they keep their energy going and I respect and understand that. But for some of us #introverted and #sociallyanxious Black girls, #squadcare can be exhausting.
We can engage in #squadcare and love being in community with other Black women (like #citeasista), but we shouldn’t have to choose between the two.
Take your #girlstrip. Travel with your #squad. Enjoy your community in whatever way YOU choose. Love on your crew and allow them to show love to you, too.
But remember that it IS okay to practice good, intentional self-care. It’s okay to focus intently on who you are, what you need, and what you want. Whether you choose to do it in community with your #squad or at home alone with your journal (or both), take care of yourself, sis.