3* Reasons I Decreased My Social Media Usage

I love social media. 

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Okay, maybe not love; but, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and even Facebook have been, for as long as I can remember, ways for me to keep in touch with people from various stages of my life. Or, so I thought. Yet this summer when I completed an internship with a mentor and began to think about the things I wanted to accomplish before graduate school ends in May, something changed. My friend Qua’Aisa often colloquially refers to pre-graduation accomplishments as a “graduate school bucket list” and it has stuck with me ever since. I began to realize that I was spending a lot more time sharing and scrolling through my life and the lives of others than I was living intentionally amongst people with whom I wanted to create memories.

I often joke that I go to bed so late and wake up so early that I nearly pass myself in the hallway.

And while that’s true and I’ve been very productive for the last few years, I realize that productivity came at the expense of sleep and taking care of myself because I was using bedtime for aimless scrolling. Since summer began, I’ve been sleeping more, eating better, and working out exponentially more consistently. So what does that have to do with social media? My uptick in self-care is directly tied to my downtrend in social media scrollage (I’m a Ph.D. student, I can make up words if I want). I used to wake up at 5 or 6am to theoretically be productive and center myself only to realize an hour had passed and all I’d accomplished was failing to sleep and mindless scrolling. But the change in social media algorithms has gone on to make this increasingly visible because when I was mindlessly scrolling things started to look familiar. And then I realized: I was seeing the same. five-ish. posts. all. the. time.

So I said no more. 

No more aimless scrolling.

No more spending time in spaces that drained me emotionally.

No more being entangled on websites that would often lead to drama (ask any graduate student about groupme drama and they’ll tell you stories for days).

So what did I do? And how did I do it? I took the liberty of deciding to–

  • Remove myself from every GroupMe I was a part of and deleting* my GroupMe account.
  • Remove Facebook from my phone (I only posted there sparingly, anyway, after the Russia scandal).
  • Deleted the twitter app (but scheduled posts that align with my research agenda and identities).
  • Deleted the Instagram app.
  • Deleted the Snapchat app.

Typing that out somehow feels harder than actually doing it or having done it.

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My plan isn’t to completely run away from or stop using social media altogether. But it is to be more intentional about how much time I spend aimlessly scrolling and the messages I’m digesting and internalizing as a result of my social media usage. It’s also to allow myself a bit more room to enjoy sifting through my dissertation data and write up–no matter how messy and to finally complete some manuscripts I’ve been working on for over two yearsOkay, so maybe this isn’t simply three reasons I decreased my social media usage in a neat little bow. But I share my story to say it’s okay to decompress. And when people go on social media sabbaticals or decide to engage these platforms at arms lengths, we need not continuously question them about what’s wrong or what happened. In my case? I realized I spent much more time LIVING and enjoying my internship when I wasn’t worried about documenting every piece of it or seeing what everyone else was doing.

I’ll be back online for things that matter to me like #CiteASista chats, sharing my travels, amplifying important writings and research by Black women, and even acknowledging some of my dissertation milestones. But I won’t be online to engage spaces that drain me. I won’t be online to debate or argue points with people who are not interested in the actual exchange of information. And no, I won’t be online to see what else is going on in this government of mine and discussing it in an echo chamber.

Instead, I’ll be spending that time hosting Sunday brunches with friends and making Sunday dinner with my parents and sister. I’ll be writing up the stories of women who’ve entrusted me to shed light on the sometimes volatile field I seem to have committed myself to. I’ll be watching TV shows and movies that bring me joy like Mamma Mia, Grey’s Anatomy, and The Legends of Tomorrow.  I’ll be hiking the Seven Wonders of Georgia. I’ll be moving through multiple European countries to enjoy people, sites, sights, and foods I thought I’d never experience when I was younger (I’m not that old).

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I’ll be living my life on my own terms without the pressures I’d previously placed on myself to do social media. And I’ll do so without feeling like I am traipsing through life on an auto scroll. I write this because I find it amusing that the very things that have saved me and propelled me thus far (#CiteASista, #SisterPhD, #FirstGenDocs, etc.) are the very things I’m still engaging but have also led me to move back and take rests from for my own health and sanity. This is not a plea for people to self-reflect, a critique of others who share nearly every piece of their day online, nor is it a call to action… It’s simply a post by a woman who has helped create online communities explaining in those same places a why I decided to step back from the performativity social media requires. It’s my way of doing something not because something is wrong, but because I needed to care for me before something became wrong.

Cheers to personal growth and self-reflection after unplugging.

Save Your Pearls: “Nice” is a Trap

From time to time, I make a trip to a Godiva store and buy myself some $15 chocolate covered cashews. They’re delicious. I appreciate their goodness. I shared my Godiva with a few people. One of them got slick at the mouth about the quality of my chocolate. Okay. Cool. The next time I bought myself some chocolate and shared them, I the person who complained about my good chocolate a Hershey’s bar since that was about their speed/what they could appreciate, and that my friends, was an act of grace, as I owed that person nothing. That person wanted to know why I wasn’t being “nice” to them (read: sharing my good chocolate). I told them that they chose to disrespect my offering and had lost access to it.You tried it

Lessons learned: no casting pearls before swine and “nice” is a trap.

I’ve embraced those ideas and have been more intentional about not casting my pearls before swine in many areas of my life. If I’m honest, I struggle a bit with this in dating and partnership, in part, or maybe mostly, because of patriarchy’s need for me (and other women) to be “nice” to them and everyone else to prove our worth. I know that niceness is a hustle. “Nice” women give of themselves to support the men who they care about or desire to partner with. “Nice” demands that women cast our pearls before men who may be wholly unable or unwilling to value our offerings. I know that nice is a lazy, thoughtless, placeholder word that is weaponized against women to demand a cordial response to indifference, disinterest, disrespect, or lack of care from people who do not have the capacity or willingness to value who we are.

image1Structurally, we don’t always have the luxury of legitimate choice. Systems are real and don’t always make it possible or easy for folks to have full say over their pearls. Systems of oppression are gonna oppress (capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism, etc.). That said, in our everyday interpersonal lives, I’d like to think that depending on our social location, we have some degree of autonomy, no matter how small. It’s at that location that I encourage us to take up the practice of not casting pearls before swine/letting go of “nice”.

praise handIn my world, not casting pearls before swine/letting go of “nice” is not about being ugly or rude to people. Choosing not to cast my pearls before swine is about honoring my worth (when I’m able to, because, like I said, I’m not always able to do that). I identify as christian and have the fruit of the Spirit as my metric for action toward others. Luckily for me, “nice” isn’t a fruit of the Spirit lol. If I’m being loving, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled, then I’m doing well. I’ll even throw in some grace, an extra measure of kindness or goodness to misunderstandings and unmet expectations but not for repeated or egregious harms toward me.

Celebrate- So dot dot dot conclusionI don’t know everything, but this I know for myself: Grown people who don’t have the capacity or desire to appreciate what we have to offer (emotional labor, kindness, grace, patience, service, creativity, time, etc.) are not entitled to the fullness of who I am/we are. I know that we do ourselves well to recognize other people’s inability and/or unwillingness to find value in who and what we are. Be it Godiva, love, labor, or time, when folks aren’t able or willing to value it, you don’t owe them “nice”. Whatever your metrics/measures for how you want to engage people, remember that swine will clamor for whatever you’re “nice” enough to offer, including the pearls that they don’t have the capacity or willingness to desire.

 

 

 

“Check Up On Your Strong Friends” & Negotiating Feelings of Failure

This school year was hard and somehow I survived!

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During the spring semester, I made the idiotic decision to take three classes, complete a teaching internship, serve in a graduate assistantship, present at a national conference (too many times), apply for dissertation fellowships (and not get them–see I lose a lot), complete and defend my dissertation proposal, and try to have a life.

L. O. L.

Every graduate student in America who reads that is laughing to keep from crying at the idiocy. It was a bad decision, and one I’ve certainly learned from… And now I know the word NO is a complete sentence and I will use it as often as I am able pushing forward.

I don’t write any of this to brag… Seriously, if you’re a student: DO NOT BE LIKE ME, BE  BETTER THAN ME. But in the process of all of this, I have also managed to support several friends with job applications, reading things they’ve written from grant applications to dissertations and book chapters, donating money/time, and generally being a support system for people around me because that’s what I’m supposed to do. Not only that, these are things I love to do. Since latching on to the moniker childfree, I think some people may have inadvertently assumed I’m not nurturing, supportive, etc.,but the labor I’ve (tried) to put into my friendships would certainly suggest otherwise and I am happy with that. Shoot, I even recently provided resume assistance to a young woman who has disrespected me in an online space because I thought it more important to help a Black woman get a job than to worry about my feelings and ego.

But as of late, I have found myself wondering what support means and looks like for me.

I saw a tweet the other day that said something to the effect of “Check On Your Strong Friends” and I felt both seen and invisible when I read it. I believe the tweet is circulating due to a Royce Da 5’9 album, but this concept isn’t new. I grew up knowing my mother was a strong woman (strong friend to others). In our lives, this often meant she carried on even when things hurt, even when she needed a break, and even when she didn’t have it to give, she’d still try and offer.

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In thinking about this tweet and why it has been weighing so heavily on me, I’ve wondered how many people in my life consider me to be a strong friend. I have listened as people praised me for pressing through my degree despite heartbreak, as people assume I have it together because they saw my name on some sort of conference material, and even as people unintentionally downplay my concerns around dating as a Black woman with a (soon to come) Ph.D.

Being a strong “friend” means I never want to actually talk about the roots of my problems and what’s really going on because I don’t want to bother people. But receiving a text, phone call, email, something showing a modicum of thought beyond “can you help me with” can be seriously affirming.

I write all of this to say–do heed to the advice of checking up on your strong friends.

Sometimes we suffer in silence because we wrongly believe no one cares about what we’re going through. Sometimes we fail to tell the whole story out of fear or frustration because we believe we “should have seen it coming”. And sometimes, we don’t know when we’ve internalized something and only our friends can force us to confront it by looking in the mirror.

Where people have seen strong, I’ve felt failure. Every good thing I’ve done over the last few months (and school year more broadly) has been overshadowed by things I’ve failed to do or have done–

  • I accidentally hurt someone I was getting to know and have come to like
  • I got my feelings hurt trying to date and nearly internalized that I should have seen it coming
  • I never heard back from a pre/postdoc I should have been competitive for (don’t worry, I’m reassessing and thinking about ways to improve myself/ my work)
  • I’ve only lost 15 pounds despite feeling like I obsess over every. single. thing. I put into my mouth
  • I failed to submit some writings for publications that should have gone out a long time ago
  • I didn’t get to take my mother on a birthday trip
  • I didn’t get to take my sister on a birthday trip
  • A former friend stole money from me and I couldn’t bring myself to have them charged, but I’m still harboring anger about it
  • Someone I trusted used me/ information about me to get ahead
  • I never sent thank you cards to people who deserved them although they’ve been sitting on my desk forever
  • I’ve been walking around as a shell of myself

Some of this is my fault. Some of it is directly tied to my relationships with other people, but in the midst of all of this, I would have preferred to feel like someone was there to check up on me (aside from Laila) and make sure I was okay. I know that I made a decision to go to graduate school and that I asked for this life, but the school things I can manage. It has been the personal moments of failure and frustration that I’ve found most difficult to navigate and simultaneously felt like there was no one there to listen. Let your strong friends know you’re willing to be an ear or lend a helping hand. Being a strong friend doesn’t make us invincible.

So, please, help a strong friend out when you can by checking up on us…

“I Expect You to do Well”: Diary of a High-Achieving Black Girl

After writing extensively for three weeks, waiting off and on for written results for another three weeks, and then anxiously counting down the days until the oral defense of my preliminary exams…it happened. I was FINALLY a Doctoral Candidate! It was by far the happiest moment that I have experienced since getting the call with my acceptance into my PhD program two years ago.

The process was generally nerve-wrecking and anxiety-producing, but I was determined to conquer my nerves and reach this next major milestone in my doctoral journey. I had been #ChasingCandidacy for what seemed like forever. I had set a strict schedule since January, accounting for 10 hour+ writing days, a full-time academic load, anxiety-induced heart palpitations with every submission to my committee, the mounting frustrations when I couldn’t get my words just right, and the day-to-day reminders to myself that this process wouldn’t last forever.

However, after standing in the hallway while my committee deliberated, I finally heard the words, “Congratulations, you PASSED!”. My advisor took pictures of me signing my official documentation for the graduate school, I thanked and hugged my committee, and then we took a group selfie in celebration. And I was over-the-moon. And grateful. And humbled. And relieved. And proud. Proud because I was exhausted and nervous and stressed and anxious…but I was finally a Doctoral Candidate! I persisted and endured and achieved; I could have lived in that moment forever.

Once I gathered my thoughts, I could only think of a few people whom I wanted to call and share my exciting news with, so I made my way down my contact list. I made FaceTime calls that weren’t answered, but I told myself that it was the middle of the day and adults were at work. Though disappointed, I continued calling those closest to me until I finally got an answer: “Good job! I expected you to do well”.

Just because you expect excellence from me, that doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard. I know that Queen Beyonce’ changed the game with, I woke up like this, but I worked hard for this. I am inherently brilliant, yes. I am more than capable, yes. AND I worked really, really, hard to accomplish this milestone.

As a high-achieving Black girl, I expect myself to do well. I hold myself to higher standards so that others don’t have to. And because of this, I have to work twice as hard to celebrate myself when something incredible happens. I have to intentionally and consciously remind myself that every accomplishment, whether big or small (to me), belongs to me and is worthy of celebration. The (my) truth is, when the world expects greatness from you, you have to work overtime to appreciate your struggle.

To all those who know and love #highachieving Black girls and women, be mindful of how you respond to our sharing of accomplishments with you. Stop qualifying your well-wishes with your (undue) expectations for our successes. Be proud. Be happy. Be enthusiastic. But please, don’t be dismissive. We EARNED this. Acknowledge that or don’t say anything at all.

Are you a high-achieving Black woman with a similar story? I’d love to chat with you in the comments!

I Get Tired Too, Sis.

So, here’s the thing…I mean well. We all do (well, most of us). And I still mess up. Despite being a perfectionist in just about every area of my life, I am a flawed friend. And I am painfully aware of that.  Through unrelenting processes of critical self-awareness, I have learned to admit my flaws in friendship; however, I still struggle to let folks know when I have been affected by theirs.

Most of this struggle comes from my upbringing in a very Southern, Black, Christian family. “Be polite and only show kindness to others. That’s what Jesus would do”.

And for most of my life, I have done just that. I never talked back or became unruly or let anyone (particularly folks that I considered to be my friends) know that my feelings were hurt. However, this self-silencing has never actually stopped anyone from hurting my feelings, whether they intended to do so or not. And until only recently, I have just taken it. Be it misplaced anger, undue frustrations, or just the residual “I don’t care” attitude jabs, I have taken it all in friendship.

However, I have grown sick and tired of being the take it all friend. Yes, I am a counselor by education and training. Yes, my very nature is empathic and I feel everything. Yes, I want to be more like Jesus and understanding of your journey.

But I get tired too, sis.

And I get annoyed. And irritated. And at my wit’s end with all sorts of chaos. Just. Like. You. Life is hard and unfair (especially for Black women who are rarely given their just due), but I am out here trying to make it, just like you. And in my journey towards making it, I am also a firm believer that, in spite of our very human flaws, we CAN be there in sister-ship for each other, without either of us feeling like our presence or gifts or talents are being taken for granted.

I am grateful that I have a spirit that draws folks to me for support in one way or another. I believe that this drawing power (as my granny would call it) is one of the many reasons that God created me. With this awareness, I support you in your frustrations and want to help you heal. I do not, however, want to be your verbal punching bag or your emotional target practice. I will take accountability for my actions and my actions only. I will admit when I am wrong and when I could have done better.

I will not, however, allow folks to treat me any kind of way because I have just taken it in the past. I’m not taking that anymore and neither should you, sis. Tell your folks when enough is enough before it goes too far. You deserve a break, too.

Not you too, sis?: Taking Advantage of Fellow #BlackGirlMagic

As a co-founder of #CiteASista and one of five founding members of #SisterPhD I am no stranger to spending a lot of my time working towards (and on) supporting Black women.

My research is about Black women.

My life’s work is on centering and supporting Black women.

I work, every day, so fewer Black women have to suffer the ways that I have…

W.O.R.K.

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It’s in everything that I say about myself. And while so many of us have no idea who we are outside of work (and that’s another post entirely) for those of us who love the grind, need the hustle, and appreciate everything that comes with it, work is an integral part of who we are… But In watching last week’s Grey’s Anatomy episode and looking at just how much the Dr. Miranda Bailey’s and Maggie Pierce’s work, I realized I and many of my girlfriends do the same… Sometimes to a fault… And I’ve found it difficult to have real conversations about what it means when we take advantage of each other. Afterall, it’s easy to tell a classmate or coworker you dislike to stop messing around or that you’re #ReclaimingYourTime, it may not be the same for a friend, though and especially another Black woman as we try to coalesce and support each other in the name of sisterhood.

 But what about times we need to?

The other day,  a friend and I vented to one another about our frustrations with co-writing, working, and doing projects with other Black women because it was starting to feel like people were taking advantage of our labor and work. I was crushed when a friend and sister of mine thought it okay to “let me work my magic” on a joint project as if the skills I’d be employing at that moment weren’t things I had to learn. I texted her back, “additional labor, sis” as a means of pointing this out. And while this particular friend was receptive and I was able to push her to see she could do more of the heavy lifting WITH me, some friends simply are not as amenable.

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So what do we do when we feel like fellow Black women are asking us to join forces on school and work projects only for them to slack off every time? What does it mean to trade being bamboozled and used for your knowledge by non-Black women, for Black women who do the same and offer little in return? eh… QTNA, amirite? Let me admit right now that I don’t have all the answers to these questions and certainly not any definitive ones. When I tweeted to ask about how you tell friends you feel you’re being taken advantaged of, most people said something along the lines of address it directly. But not everyone, friend or not, can take this kind of feedback.

I will spend my last breath, dollar, and give the clothing off my back for my fellow Black women. Period. Full stop. End of story.

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But I also want us to be able to hold each other accountable and to have difficult conversations so that we can become better, stronger, and more prosperous friends for having done so. And while I won’t pretend to have all the answers, I want to be a part of the solutions. I want my friends to call me in, love on me hard, and help me be better even if I am initially combative or resistive to it because while my brain may not want to hear it, my heart will know I need to feel it.

So, here are three ways we can start to protect our Black Girl Magic together:

1. Name It/ Point it Out

Although we often have a sixth sense and can say pretty much anything without talking to each other in meetings when ridiculousness is at play, this is not always the case within our own friendships. Sometimes we have to name and make plain the fact that we are feeling taken advantage of to our sisters– this means creating space for one another to talk it out in meaningful ways. Taking a moment to name it can prevent any issues with holding one another accountable for things we do not realize we’re doing and enable us to move forward in manners productive for everyone involved.

2. Set Boundaries

Sometimes, sistas need to know what you can and can’t do. I despise group work because I always end up doing most of the work. These days, I simply do not have the time to control every single detail imaginable for a smaller project. By setting boundaries, we can make clear our expectations for engagement before we get to a point of having to have the difficult conversation, and be sure the collaboration we’re envisioning is one that can take place, to begin with.

3. Set a plan for Reevaluation

If you’ve done one and two but still find yourself struggling, you may need to reevaluate what you have in place. Letting those close to us/ we work closest with know that there have been shifts in our priorities and that we need to adjust can help lessen the tension and ultimately the load. By reevaluating our priorities, we can choose to move forward or stop the things we are doing. Not every project has to have us (control freaks/ overachievers) at the helm. Sometimes we have to let go of control and trust that others will see things through. Besides, if it all falls apart because of someone else, that’s on THEM– not you.

Protect your energies, time, and space at all cost– even if this means having to sit another sister down. It’s okay to say no and hold one another accountable– it’s not okay to make someone feel as though people are taking advantage of them.

What do you all think? What ideas and plans do you have for holding yourself and your sista friends accountable? What strategies might you suggest I employ? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think!

Is It Too Late To Say…Sorry?

It’s the beginning of a new year and most folks have been repeating their, “New Year, New Me” mantras on social media for the past few weeks. New perspectives, new opportunities, new….friends?

Maybe. But does a new year mean it’s too late to address old hurt in your friendships?

If there’s one MAJOR lesson that I learned in 2017, it’s that it’s not too late to say, I’m sorry”. *insert Adele singing Hello*

Personally, those two words are some of the hardest for me to say. I never learned how to apologize as a child and it’s been ROUGH teaching myself how to do so as an adult. However, I know that not learning isn’t an excuse and I have to be more proactive about how I respond when I (un)intentionally hurt someone I care about.

So, with this in mind, I want to encourage you to right any wrongs that you may have carried over with you from 2017. Make amends and set yourself free. Lingering hurt only holds you (and others) back.

I wish you love, peace, and forgiveness in 2018!

Raven K.

Stop Dismissing Fear of Failure in High Achieving Black Women

My mother raised me not to say anything if I’m not sure what to say. She also taught me to never dismiss the feelings of people around me, even if I do not understand them… And yet, as a high-achieving Black woman (as described by others, this isn’t a narcissism thing), I find myself time and time again hearing things from people when shutting up and being empathetic are better solutions.

Over the last few months, I’ve been stressed: I’ve been to more funerals and loss more people than I want to admit; mourned and buried a broken engagement; faced rejection of things I didn’t want to begin with after being forced encouraged to apply for them; dealt with a comps debacle; and, stressed myself beyond belief to build a CV that can only be stopped by white supremacy and institutional oppression.

Though I am now officially a doctoral candidate and the stress of comps is behind me, I’m relieved but only to a degree. The reality is, I’ve merely made it over a hump but not the hump… I have no idea what my ultimate hump will be but grad school is just one of many things I’m trying to juggle right now. As I look out at my life’s trajectory there are so many markers and milestones I must meet to hold the title and job I endeavor to have (Professor of X). So alas, my life is a never-ending cycle of continuous deadlines and expected accomplishments—a conundrum that most people would and should run away from.

But this is what I love… And I’m not the only sista feeling this. I can’t be.

People always say take care of yourself but when that care means having someone to listen to you and feeling supported, I feel as a high-achieving Black woman that such a thing is nearly out of the question.  I have shed a lot of tears. I have released a lot of frustration. I have found myself trying to reach out for help and find support in people around me… only to be dismissed. I asked a few girlfriends, people I consider to be rockstars and they, too, have reported feeling the same. For instance, In the last few months, I have heard all of the following (and these are just a select few examples):

“I’ve never seen you get a task and not complete it”

“Oh, you’ll get a job at Harvard”

“Might not look good right now, but it always works itself out…”

“You never haven’t landed on your feet”

“You’ll catch up”

“You’ll get it done”

Sure. Fine. Okay.

Constantly hearing you’ll be okay or you always overcome things is not only dismissive but downright frustrating. I do believe that things tend to have a way of working themselves out, but right now and especially in those low moments, I find myself wondering if the people who send me these messages see my humanity. Do they see my health? Do they see the balancing acts I employ to minimize avoid mental health strain? Do they know that until last week I hadn’t slept more than 4 hours per night on the regular since July and that sleep deprivation has both long and short-term implications? Do they care that Black women, like myself, who are often positioned as heroines and rockstars need love and support too?

Do they see, ME? Do they see us?

Why yes, we will find a way to rise to the occasion, ask for extensions, or in an extreme case walk away… But the million dollar question is this: Are high-achieving Black women being seen for more than the work we produce? Are we valuable to people around us beyond the ways we are of service to them? Do they view us as a person–someone fully, wholly, and unequivocally deserving of love, respect, attention, and care? A lot of this has been about my experience, but this raises a larger question:

Are there other Black women feeling this too? Other Black women rising to the occasion, making things happen and sacrificing self for others only to get back advice that “it’ll be okay.” 

My friends can attest to the fact that I routinely offer solution-oriented advice and support, often appear to make the impossible happen, and have even been referred to as a superwoman—but none of this is without faults. When I need my cup filled, when Black women, in general, need our cups filled, it can be silencing to hear “you’ll be okay”. This leads me to often question if empathy and support are for those among us who consistently fail… That for some it doesn’t make sense to stop and even try to realize how important something is to a high achieving and/or high performing Black woman because our production and achievement have become akin to a machine.  

There is already documented evidence that we treat Black women like crap as a culture and society, but I would argue when that Black woman is someone we’ve come to see greatness within, it is compounded by minimizing struggle and dismissing pain.

If you’re reading this and feeling guilty, good. You probably should. If this doesn’t sound like you, great—keep doing what you’re doing. If you have no idea, check in with the high-performing and achieving Black women you call friends to make sure you’re not exhausting them—as Black women we can do this to each other, too!

So, what can you say Here goes that solutions thing again…:

  1. Nothing—just listen.
  2. How can I support you and help you?
  3. What are some ways we can prioritize everything on your plate?
  4. I’m sorry, this really sucks and I wish X was going the way you wanted…
  5.         <– That, better known as nothing.
  6. Admit you’re not sure what to say.

I write all of this to say sometimes we, the high-achieving/ high performing Black women’s delegation, don’t need to be reminded of our track record. Instead, we need to be reminded that this feeling of exhaustion, frustration, or whatever, no matter how painful in the moment is fleeting rather than permanent. Sometimes we need to be reminded it’s okay to just feel it, and that someone else will be there to feel it with us, too.

So be a good friend—stop saying foolishness!

*This post was updated to reflect changes submitted by the author.*

#ReclaimingMyFriendship

Congresswoman Auntie Maxine Waters (that’s her official title by the way), really gave us a lifelong mantra with her edict, #ReclaimingMyTime. There really is power in taking back things (feelings, goals, dreams, etc.) that have been stolen from you. In that regard, we can also think about reclaiming our friendship, energy, and love in the same way.

I really started to explore what #ReclaimingMyFriendship meant when my friend Sierra posted that she was no longer giving herself to relationships that felt one-sided. I loved the hashtag so much, that I decided to #CiteASista and share my own thoughts on the proclamation.

Relationships are major cornerstones in my life. As an introvert, the time that I spend developing and nurturing any friendship is intentional, thorough, and handled with care. As a result, I cannot (emotionally) afford to give to friendships that aren’t mutually beneficial.

To me, #ReclaimingMyFriendship means that I am no longer forcing friendships with folks who’ve made it clear that they’re not committed to nor interested in having an intentional, fruitful friendship with me.

I can’t (and won’t) be the only one sending “thinking of you” texts or asking to spend time with someone that I consider to be a friend. I refuse to be the only one offering support and encouragement. I will no longer wait for anyone to determine if they want to be in community with me in that way.

You can only give so much before the “giving well” runs dry. No one deserves to be depleted of ALL of their time, energy, love, and resources without receiving the same effort in return. We can’t be expected to pour all of our support into friendships that no longer edify or nurture us. Friendship should be intentional, reciprocal, affirming and substantial.

Don’t be afraid to #ReclaimYourFriendship, sis. Enough is enough. 

In Solidarity,

Raven K.

 

 

It’s Easy To Root For Your Girl When She’s Winning… But What Happens When She Stumbles?

It can be really fun and exciting to root for your girlfriend(s) when things are looking up. She just landed her dream job, launched her blog, was accepted into grad school or maybe even just defended her dissertation. These are all times of celebration where it (should) feel natural to love on those in your circle. You know, the way that Taraji P. Henson CELEBRATES her friends?

But what happens when your girl interviews for that dream job and doesn’t get it? Or when she launches that blog that no one reads (this one HURTS)? Or when she gets wait listed from ALL THREE of the grad schools that she’s applied to, thus pushing her goal of ever defending that dissertation even farther away? (I’m the friend who was waitlisted THREE times, by the way. I recently shared a post about my unexpected gap year which eventually lead to my grad school journey on my own blog).

During my unexpected gap year, the “congratulations” from my friends seemed to cease. They eventually returned once I was accepted to my current doctoral program, which was expected. However, what if I had been wait-listed, again? Would my friends still find me worthy of celebrating? Would they still be proud of me if I wasn’t on this doctoral journey? I share this post in hopes of starting some conversation about how to support and uplift your friends when they’re experiencing personal failures. Sometimes we don’t even understand what they’re experiencing as a failure, but the situation feels personally dire and difficult and we’re just outsiders looking in.

Here are a few suggestions for encouraging your friends during difficult times:

  1. Just listen. This is an essential skill to have in any friendship, but it’s imperative when your friend is going through a rough time. Sometimes, as sista-friends, we just want to fix whatever is wrong so that our girl feels better. When our friend calls with upsetting or disappointing news, we feel that our job as a good friend is to show up and make it better, right?  Well, sometimes we can’t make things better for our friends. Further, ADVICE GIVING can backfire if it’s unwarranted after a friend’s disappointment. Simply listening and providing a safe place for your friend to land may be the best cure.

2. Avoid the “just look at the bright side” trope. Can I be honest? This is infuriating to hear as a friend. As someone who doesn’t like to (feel like a) burden to others, it’s already extremely difficult for me to share my struggles and challenges with my friends. The last thing that I want to hear when I have shared something difficult is, “just look at the bright side!”. What if I don’t want to look at the bright side? Right now, I’m upset, disappointed (usually in myself), devastated and whatever else. People often provide the “bright side” when they don’t know what else to say. Hence, suggestion #1 is always useful. Allow your friend to be in that space if that’s what she needs right now. Providing the bright side without being asked is insensitive and invalidating.

3. Ask them what they need. One of the worst things that you can do for a friend who has been recently disappointed or let down is to assume that you know what they need or assuming that things will just get better with time. While the latter may be true, taking a moment to ask your friend what she needs at the time can make all of the difference. Give your friend the space to ask for a girls night in or time to cry at home, alone. Choosing how we heal is an important part of the process.

4. Remind them of who you know them to be. As much as you can, be a reflecting mirror for your friend during her down moments. The world can be really cruel and isolating, especially to Black women. Remind your friend of who you know her to be. Remind her of her strength, brilliance, bravery, resistance, resourcefulness and every other thing that makes her amazing in your life and the lives of others. If she’s a perfectionist like me, it may be excruciatingly painful for her to remind herself of what makes her a champion during times when she feels like a failure.

These are just a few tips to help you better support and uplift your friends in their times of need. Let me know others that you practice in the comments!

In solidarity,

Raven