Y’know what I want less of in my life? AGING! There, I said it. Oh, I want all fifty-one years of experience I’ve accumulated and the wisdom that comes from life lessons and the power of choice. And I ain’t givin’ up this feeling of sitting in my own skin, all comfy-lomfy; living boldly and audaciously with zero f**ks given. And I’ll never retreat to my former people-pleasing self, either. I’ma continue basking in all this vulnerability and authenticity; feelin’ like Maya Angelou “phenomenal woman, that’s me.”
What I want less of, though, is…
Personally, I want more social proximity and hugs, damnit! I want more intimate gatherings in cozy spaces with good conversations. More time in dimly lit lounges with a live DJ so I can “leave it on the dance floor” and exit a hot, sweaty mess. I want more Afro-Caribbean dance classes with live drummers and to wind my hips a bit differently in pole dance classes that transport me back to my days as an aerial artist. And then I wanna sit in a crowded Brooklyn coffee shop; banging out ideas on my laptop while the energy of other people’s creativity pulses around me. I want more opportunities to travel to Spanish-speaking countries to explore, meet new people, and continue improving my Spanish-speaking abilities. I miss all these strong energy zones fueled by dreams, inspiration, connection, and self-expression.
What’s going well in my life right now is that, despite the pandemic’s chokehold on life as we knew it, I have continued to grow personally and professionally. And I am so freaking grateful for that because life has kinda felt like a crap shoot since March 2020. But, living during a pandemic has distilled my priorities; making it far more clear who and what is important in my life and why. It’s fomented my need for connection, intimacy, creativity, learning, and self-care rituals for body, mind, and spirit. And I’ve actually responded to those needs instead of putting them off because I’m “too busy”. Granted, I’ve been able to (had to) meet those needs from the comfort and convenience of my home but, hey, I’m doin’ it!
I’m leaving behind the limiting beliefs that “I am not __________ enough“. You could fill in the blank with damn near any adjective and I’ve probably said it to myself a gazillion times. Let’s just say, when you’re raised in a cult, you grow these oversized fears of making mistakes or not measuring up to ridiculous puritanical standards, lest you be shunned by your family and the only community you know. That threat is scary and real! There was this constant feeling that big brother was watching. And “he” was.
There’s this “strong Black woman” trope that hovers over me like an unmet expectation. Yes I am a strong, powerful, and resilient Black woman. I was even raised to project that image. But sometimes a sista gotta feel her feels and fall apart. I need the time and space to give into the tears, fears, and frustrations without pretending like I’ve got my sh*t together all the time. ‘Cause I don’t! I need a safe space for vulnerability, realness, and honesty. And for that, I treasure my sister-friends and my self-care rituals; deep and meaningful connections with a select few and my (higher)self. That’s where I got my support in 2021.
The best decision I made to protect my sanity was giving up the 24hr news cycle to live in a bubble of blissful ignorance. Sad but true. But I could no longer handle the onslaught of click-bait headlines and graphic imagery of violent racist attacks, repeated injustices in our criminal justice system, school shootings; Covid deaths, overwhelmed hospitals & healthcare workers, conspiracy theories; corporate greed, global warming and the global spread of political polarization. As a highly sensitive person, every headline felt like a personal attack on my soul. It tangled me into a a tight ball of chronic anxiety in ways I’ve never experienced before.