I have this small dry erase board in my kitchen where I write myself reminders. Sometimes they are love notes to myself. “You are home. You are safe. You are whole.” Sometimes they are quotes that I love most. e e cummings. Maya Angelou. Toni Morrison. Right now, it’s a list of reminders, of things I need or want to prioritize in a season of uncertainty and potential joblessness.
Needs & Nourishment
- Health insurance
- Defer student loans
- Pursue black female mentors
- Run, walk, stretch
That fourth one. I am always trying to commit myself to write more. No, actually, I am always saying that I will begin trying to commit myself to write more. One of the things that holds me back from following through on this desire is that I inevitably find myself in a season of sadness. I say sadness… I mean depression. But depression is hard to say. I’ve been practicing. In conversations with friends. In emails to friends. To my parents, even. Anyway, my thoughts never seem to come out right during these times. I second guess myself. This is crap. No one wants to read this. Why are you so goddamn self-centered in your sadness? Don’t you know that potential employers might Google your name, find this blog, and judge you for how you’ve expressed yourself here?
Enough of that. Just like I am practicing saying depression, I am practicing courage. And I’m improving, I think.
Additionally, in alignment with James Baldwin’s insight (“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”), my consciousness of oppression in its various forms continues to rise and rise, and with it, my rage at the world for telling me I am less-than is rising. I am outraged that I have been conditioned to defer to the men around me. I am outraged that I have been conditioned to prioritize the comfort of white women over my own, that I have learned to modulate my emotions and self-expression based on others’ willingness to witness them. I am outraged that white supremacist misogynist Christianity, as an institution, has taught me that my sexuality as a black woman is dangerous, and is only to be expressed in accordance with men’s approval. I have so much rage at my daily experiences in this world.
And I don’t yet know what to do with this rage. But I do know that I have a voice, I have always had a voice, and I have always felt afraid to speak as loudly as I am able. I have filtered and censored my thoughts based on what I believed was acceptable to other people. And in difficult seasons, when my soul was screaming, I said, “Hush up. You can’t write now. Not for people to read.” And in so doing, I perhaps lost a tool that might have helped me to feel less desperate. Less invisible. Maybe I can choose not to remain silent in my rage, and refuse to simply accept it as my burden to bear. And maybe that choice is good, maybe it’s bad, maybe it’s wise, maybe it’s not, maybe it doesn’t matter.
Depression is my unwelcome company that visits from time to time. Uninvited and unannounced. Doesn’t have the decency to let me know how long she plans to stay. Writing is welcome company, who only comes when I invite him intentionally, and he is always pushed out by this unannounced visitor. Not anymore. Y’all need to learn how to play nice together. Starting now, because I said so.