Gratitude For Black Girls
I am so sick of people telling me that I should be grateful. Like, what does that even mean? I should be grateful despite my constant struggle? I should be grateful for not being able to have the things that I worked my tail off for? I should be grateful when I am being told to crawl before I walk? Well, when I think about it, I’ve been crawling for a looooong time and I’m ready stand up tall and walk in my truth. Being told to be grateful feels like a sting to my essence, a sting to my work ethic, a sting to what I rightfully deserve. Being told to be grateful as a black woman can be dismissive, teetering on the line of being condensing. Sometimes, I wait in the wings for my vindication, a level of appreciation for my true value, a recognition of my worth, some affirmation. I am waiting to be acknowledged of my melanin power.
With confidence, I can say that black women fight incredibly hard to make our mark in the world, but struggle against the pressures of mainstream society. We are told to be strong, but not too strong so that we don’t emasculate our brothers. Be independent, but not too independent thus becoming a undatable black woman. Be educated, but we better not act like we know everything. So, when I think of this whole “just be grateful” thing, I don’t know how to feel. What am I actually being grateful for? Am I being grateful for my struggle to just shine in my authenticity? Maybe, I’m supposed to be grateful for the forever mixed messages society gives me about my black woman-ness. So, what is gratitude for a black woman supposed to be?
As a millennial therapist specializing in all things girl, millennial and melanin power, I truly believe gratitude for us black girls is being self-compassionate in our authenticity. We must accept our true essence without seeking affirmation of others. By seeking affirmation, we give them power to prevent us from life satisfaction and true happiness. We are such a rare, dynamic creation of awesomeness that we do not need to seek out validation of our existence or allow others to dictate our boundaries. We are trailblazers, supreme queens, capable of everything.
Gratefulness is freeing ourselves from the bondage society places within our lives by making a conscious decision to enjoy and appreciate through our giving and receiving. Give yourself permission to appreciate the people you meet with a smile, say “thank you” to the stranger giving you a compliment, leave a job undeserving of your greatness, explore untapped nations solo, and support your girlfriends on their goals. Having a spirit of gratitude is also holding your tongue when someone deserves a good read, not be forced to mirror mainstream culture, and choosing to love deeply regardless of your past scars. Acknowledge your strengths, gifts and talents non-judgmentally, and use them in a positive way for the goodness of someone else.
In return, accept the help of others, their compliments and support without questioning their intent, being defensive, or feeling unworthy. Why should we short change ourselves, and carry this black girl burden forever? We too are deserving of living a full, thriving life. Commit to making a conscious decision to be in the present, and focus on all the great things going on within your life. Give yourself permission to be weightless, boundless and carefree. I don’t care who tells me to crawl before I walk because hunty, I’m running, skipping, or jogging as I see fit!