Strong Women

I do not know how it is already almost half way through the year! The first half of the year has been a bit of a blur. After moving back to Texas and taking some time to just do nothing for once (this was very hard), I started making lists. Lists of things I want to accomplish, people I want to work with, places I want to explore, the list goes on and on. So, I have a tendency to set incredibly lofty goals, then stress myself out while trying to reach said goals and when it doesn’t happen exactly how I imagined I get angry. Some may call this perfectionism; I call this being a Capricorn. 

The other day I was talking to a good girlfriend and I said, “I really think I need a year of no.” I went on to tweet this same sentiment, to which a few other friends cosigned. I thought well I am not alone in this thinking. I took one glance at the lists I created for the year and realized a few of these items need to be shifted to 2018 or I am going to be burned out. This sounds all well and good until you hear stories about how this person worked 20 hours a day to get their business off the ground and oh look a friend's friend's sister had two jobs and ate nothing but ramen for years until she could afford to open that storefront. Then you start to think, well I am obviously not doing enough, let me add those items back to the 2017 list, because...

The problem/struggle is this…

I love to work hard, I love to help others, but sometimes I get too invested, too ingrained in helping other people get their ideas/visions off the ground because I believe in them that I end up pushing myself to the bottom of my own list as a result. The other day, I was up very late one night for the third night in a row making items to sell at a craft fair. My precise scheduling had gotten out of hand due to work blowups causing me to work later hours + a long commute + personal obligations and before I knew it, I was at the bottom of my list. Internally I was MAD, but I also knew this is no ones fault but my own.

I have to learn how to balance, to balance my no’s and my yes’s. To be a supportive friend and colleague, while allowing space for myself. This is something I have been thinking about for quite sometime now. How to be present without losing myself? How to not always offer help, but be the person that receives help sometimes too?

The other day at work, my boss told me, “its ok to ask for additional help, I know often times no one is available, but your project is a priority and if you need the help, I will get you the help.” I was reminded of a similar conversation I had with my design director while at Parsons. After having a near breakdown one day in her office followed by a mini impromptu counseling sesh, she sent me a poem by feminist writer, Marge Piercy titled “For Strong Women”   

 A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,     
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch     
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,     
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t     
you soft, why aren’t you quiet, why     
aren’t you dead?     

A strong woman is a woman determined     
to do something others are determined      
not to be done. She is pushing up on the bottom of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise     
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying     
to butt her way through a steel wall.     
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole     
to be made say, hurry, you’re so strong.

Entire poem can be found here.

Being a woman, especially a woman of color we often unknowingly slip into a role of constant support. We begin to neglect ourselves and not take time out to be a little selfish. It’s a constant internal battle between asking for help and accepting help. When all we want is to be viewed as strong women without the implication of being a “bitch” or “intimidating.” When given the chance to receive help, that acceptance should not be viewed as being fragile. 

As I prepare for the second half of the year, I am choosing to embrace being a strong woman. To asking for what I want and taking the necessary steps needed to get there. To being cognizant of the fact that I will need to accept help as well as give help. I plan to be more intentional about the things I agree to, the people I support and really take stock of how these things are adding to the overall balance I hope to achieve for the year.  

Chardae Adams