“There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will”
A Change is Gonna Come ~ Sam Cooke
We made it! It’s a brand new year. I like to think that with a new year comes new energy and therefore new possibilities. A new year can serve as a rebirth. And when reborn, we meet life with a renewed sense of potential, hopefully armed with information about what we really want and what doesn’t work anymore. I’ve definitely experienced this clarity. I’ve decided that 2018 will not look like 2017.
Though last year had some bright moments like getting accepted into an entrepreneur program that resulted in the creation of Carbon, it carried what felt like more lows than highs. 2017 was rife with disappointments, betrayals, workplace trauma, feelings of loss and an overall sensation of dissatisfaction. I often felt trapped beneath feelings of immobility and not knowing what to do or where to turn to create beneficial change in my life, emotionally, socially and financially. I felt like I was running around, doing what I knew how to do and trying a few new things but with no results. It was as if I was going up the down escalator, exhausted, winded and never reaching the top. But in the last week of 2017 something happened. I got pretty sick. And when you’re bedridden for nearly a week, you have a lot of time to think.
I decided that the next year would be different and I had to take a hard look at what I needed to change.
I first realized that historically, traditional corporate structures haven’t welcomed me. I’ve never felt valued in my jobs. I’ve never gotten the opportunities or credit I worked for and deserved. So I decided to change the types of positions and companies I apply to. I also decided to find a way to work to create opportunities for myself that will not leave me solely reliant on traditional jobs to hire me. I also decided I need to change my surroundings.
Being in St. Louis is hard for many reasons, particularly as a black woman. First of all this isn’t a city where finding black love comes easy. Also, St. Louis isn’t the most welcoming city. It’s very segregated and segmented. It’s also extremely cliquish, so building social circles can feel impossible. And there’s also the race thing. There are good people here but there is also a LOT of bias, unconscious and not so unconscious. And I’m tired. I’m tired of being evaluated by my blackness. And I’m tired of talking about it.
The racial dynamics in St. Louis are difficult to navigate. And it is a place where one is reminded of one’s blackness almost daily, but life is bigger than the struggle. It has to be. I want to be around people and in spaces where the struggle doesn’t dominate the experience. I know the issues are real, deep and nationwide, but I want some balance. I’m proud to be in the fight, I just don’t want to feel like I’m fighting all the time. I’m tired of not only dealing with perpetual microaggressions, but also tired of having constant conversations that devolve into complaining about the status quo. If you want to DO something I’m down. But I’m mitigating those experiences that are draining, unproductive and exacerbate negative and burdensome feelings of “us and them”. We all need to vent, but that energy needs to result in some kind of action and/or support.
So I’ve decided that I need to change up my surroundings when I can. Whether that means going to a different part of town to hang out or getting out of town all together. I need to expand my experiences, meet new people and be reminded that St. Louis is just where I live right now, it’s not my whole life.
With these changes I need to continue my inner work and find a way to feel better, lighter. This will entail shedding past hurts and opening myself up to the new experiences and connections I want. None of this is easy. It will take trusting. (shudders) But I will try. Other changes may entail reconsidering medication to address my challenges with depression, or meditation and other lifestyle changes, or all of the above. These are the types of things my former amazing therapist called adding legs to the table (something like that) to reinforce stability. But I’m determined to reclaim the joy that is mine. And I hope in 2018 you claim the joy that is yours.
Change isn’t easy but it’s possible. I’m focused on positive change in my life and feel good about my plan. Everything starts with a decision. What decisions have you made about how your life will be different and even better in 2018? Let us know. We support you!
Wishing you a happy, healthy and fulfilled new year.