She Will Be Loved

When I was a child, I learned not to make mistakes.

Now, perfectionism is a pretty complex concept. By no means am I saying i fully grasped it; my four-year-old brain didn’t quite understand what it was learning. All I knew was, “If I do things just right, grown-ups will be happy.”

Unfortunately, that’s a lesson I can’t quite shake.

I always thought perfectionism was a good thing, a motivator to make me bring my best self and do my best work. But perfectionism has a cost. If I make a mistake–if I don’t get it right on the first try every time–the criticism starts, and it doesn’t let up.

My therapist and I talked about inner-child work recently. (Apparently shit that happened to you as a kid can fuck you up as an adult–surprise, surprise.) Yesterday she asked me to find a picture of me as a child and imagine the picture was real, that I was talking to my four-year-old self. How would I respond to her if she told me she felt like she wasn’t good enough?

Would I reinforce her doubts, break her heart further?

Or would I wipe her tears, pull her into my arms, and tell her she’s spectacular–just as she is?

I’ve gone with the former for most of my life, mistakenly believing shame and criticism were effective motivators. Effective in the short term? Absolutely. But the long term damage isn’t worth it.

And four-year-old me deserves the support she didn’t feel she had.

I Am Not My Hair

Today I’m starting my loc journey. After almost 10 years of being natural, I’m trying something new. And I’m terrified.

Nowadays it isn’t uncommon to see Black women with various natural and protective styles. Fros, locs, twist, braids—we rock them all. For my wedding, I wore crochet braids and never felt more beautiful!

But still, I worry.

I worry my coworkers will treat me like an animal in a petting zoo when they see it. I dread the questions I’ll have to answer from my in-laws. My stomach turns when I think about showing my grandmother (who was very vocal about her dislike of my cousin’s locs).

But I can’t worry about them. I need to focus on me.

That’s part of the reason I wanted to loc my hair in the first place. Growing up, I was a “creamy crack” girl through and through. My hair was constantly in a some kind of ponytail—straight back, low with a side part, maybe some bangs if I was feeling fancy—because I didn’t know what else to do with it. I’ve been in a battle with my hair since I went natural.

For so long, I tried to force my hair into shapes I found “acceptable” and cursed how “difficult” it was to maintain my kinky coils. I called my hair texture “4Z” (‘cause 4C just didn’t seem descriptive enough) and lamented on how the lord didn’t give me the patience to deal with all this hair. I bought every natural hair product out there, thinking some magical elixir would give me the Traces Ellis Ross curls I craved.

Spoiler alert—it didn’t work.

No combination of products, techniques, or gadgets gave me the “right” natural hair. Because there is no such thing as “right” natural hair. It’s called natural for Pete’s sake—that should have clued me in right there!

But society has a lot of expectations for Black women. If we’re going to have natural hair, it needs to be the “professional” kind. Not too kinky, or coily, or wild. My natural hair is all those things, so I never felt like I could let my hair just be.

That changes today.

Today, I’m making a choice for myself. Today, I’m embracing the “4Z” and allowing my hair to transform into what it wants to be (not what I want it to be). Today, I’m taking the first step in what will *hopefully* be a long, beautiful journey.

For me.

peace

Every morning, my husband and I do about 15 minutes of yoga together. A quarantine habit that stuck, we lay our mats in the living room floor and start our day with a short practice. Our YouTube yogi, Kassandra, always encourages us to come up with an intention–a word or phrase for how we want the day to go.

It’s been 21 years since my daddy died. Today, on the anniversary of his death, Today, my intention was “peaceful.” Peaceful for him, wherever he is.

Peaceful for me as I continue to exist without him.

I’m so thankful to have a stepdad who’s exactly the kind of father you want to have–attentive, funny, supportive, always there with a word of advice when you need it. My stepdad (who I just call “Dad”) is like the dads I saw on TV growing up. He’s what I always hoped to have, and I’m grateful he stepped into that role in my life.

But my daddy is always present, even in absentia.

My daddy suffered from alcoholism; that’s ultimately what took his life. Even though I know he was sick, I can’t help but feel like he gave up on our family. He didn’t try to get better for us (at least that’s what my my 9-year-old perspective gathered). I’ll never know what he thought, or felt, or hoped for in those last few years he was alive.

I wish I could come to peace with that, the not knowing.

Would my parents have stayed married? Would my daddy and I have a close relationship? I have so many questions I’ll never know the answers to. I’ll never know how things would have been had he gotten treatment, and it tears me apart inside.

I try to comfort myself with the thought that maybe someday we’ll be reunited. Maybe my daddy will be waiting for me, ready to take my hand and lead me into wherever we go when our lives end. Maybe we’ll finally get to sit, and talk, and cry, and he’ll answer the questions that have run through my mind since he died 21 years ago today.

Until then, I’ll think of him and ask the universe to keep things peaceful…for both of us.

Dream On

Somehow, I lost my ability to dream.

I’m not talking about the dreams we have when we sleep—I still have plenty of those. (Honestly, my nighttime dreams are so active sometimes I wake up still tired.) I’m talking about dreams for myself, my life, the person I want to be.

When I was a kid, I used to dream I’d be a famous actress making movies in Hollywood.

As a young adult, I dreamed of becoming an executive at my company helping to make change for sick people around the world.

I even had dreams for this blog, that it would blow up into my own lifestyle brand where I inspired all sorts of people to be the best versions of themselves.

But somewhere along the way, I stopped dreaming. You know what?That’s actually not true at all. I didn’t stop dreaming…

…I just stopped believing my dreams could actually come true.

How do you find the courage to dream again? How do you find the hope when you’ve lost it? How do you dare imagine a better future when the present day beats you down so thoroughly?

I truly don’t know. I wake up every day and go to sleep every night and just continue through the motions. I tell myself I’m stuck, there’s nothing else than what is now. Be grateful for what I have and never wish for anything more.

I am grateful for what I have, no doubt about it. But I want to allow myself to dream of more again. I want to rediscover that version of me who was convinced she’d make an impact on the world.

So I’m back on the blog after almost a year of inactivity. Maybe this blog won’t turn into anything at all. Maybe nobody cares a rip about what I have to say.

But hey, a girl can dream.