Never did I ever think of my fragility as somewhat of a quiet superpower until recently. I’ve been sensitive my entire life, resulting in me labeling myself as an emotional wreck. Growing up, I was always chastised by adults for being so easily disturbed, and other children would use it against me because they got a kick out of hurting my feelings. I figured that as I got older, I would grow and develop, and my sensitivity would be left in the past, but I was wrong. For every issue that I encountered, I saw no way of dealing with it other than drowning myself in my own tears. It didn’t matter what the problem was; whether I failed a test, got yelled at, or lost something — I would cry about it all the same. I always thought that I wasn’t cut out for a dog-eat-dog world since I was so soft and so fragile, like a baby bird. My goal was to grow numb, and be so tough that no one could push me over the edge if I didn’t want to be moved.
As a black woman, I was raised believing that because of the oppression we’ve faced, both in the past and present, that I should be inherently strong in the face of trials and tribulations. This is a myth; we hurt too, and we get tired too, just like everyone else. Black women are so busy trying to hold everything together that we never truly take time for ourselves, and that’s why we find ourselves breaking. The world tells us that our pain is made up and by now we should be used to the way things are — I grew up believing that strength was based on how much pain one can endure until they gave up. With that mindset, I thought that someone like myself would never be able to be seen as strong, when in fact, I was actually very resilient. In the face of depression, dysfunctional family ties, and expectations, I still learned to grow, and to carry myself with love.
“Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust.” -Bell Hooks
Soon enough, I would come to realize that my fragility had blossomed into something beautiful that I could use to help others: empathy. People admired how easy it was to talk to me about whatever they were going through, whether I was prepared with advice to help them or not. It comforted them that they had a friend who would simply listen and understand what they were going through when not too many people did. One of the main issues in our society today is the lack of emotional vulnerability. People are quick to discard the number one thing that makes them human because they’re under the false notion that it’s a barrier which will only distract them. You should allow yourself to feel, and you are allowed to feel what you want, whenever you want. That includes frustration, anger, sadness, and of course, happiness. Every single emotion you’ve experienced or will experience is completely valid.
I loved myself enough to be at peace with my own nature, and to be at peace with the way I chose to react to certain situations. I chose me. Rather than worrying about what other people thought about me, I decided that it wasn’t worth the stress. No matter how you choose to display yourself, those who have nothing better to do will always find a reason to talk about you, hoping that you won’t be comfortable in your own skin. Don’t entertain their ignorance or stoop to their level. Have confidence and know that the only thoughts that matter are yours and no one else’s. You should refuse to shame yourself for letting emotions be a part of who you are. You’re a human being, not a machine.
(Featured Artwork: Recipes For Self Love)