An Ode to Black Women: You Deserve to Be Selfish

Too Good for You via @pollynor on Instagram

First things first, I love us. It takes literally everything and more to be a Black woman living in this world. Despite almost everyone taking from us (our culture, our lives, our choices – just to name a few) we continue to offer what ever we may have left. We are constantly giving; our time, our love, our money, our energy, our effort, our peace, and our sanity without thought of our well-being. It’s exhausting. We are often pinned with the ‘strong Black woman’ trope. But we deserve to feel and express so much more than “being strong”. While it is true in many cases, we are strong, we didn’t ask to carry that burden. And yes, it is a burden. It will continue to be as long as we are thought of as the super-humans of the world who need little to nothing to “just keep it pushing”. The ideas of us being strong, glue for the family, go-to’s, dependable, resilient, and powerful are often true. But, when do those ideas stop and conversations around our well being begin? I’ve seen countless Black women sacrifice over and over for the benefit of others, making a dollar out of fifteen cents too many times. While it is praised as admirable, I wonder to myself  “who’s doing that for her?”.  One day the cup will be empty and there will be no more pouring.  If this is you, as it is many of us, I see you. You are appreciated. But, I want you to be selfish now. You deserve to. 

Now I know the word selfish often bears a negative connotation but it’s important we debunk that. It can* refer to being inconsiderate of others but it also suggests ‘being concerned with one’s own personal profit or pleasure’, per google. When was the last time you did something for yourself? How do you prioritize your well-being? What makes you smile? What are some of your favorite activities?  What have you done this week that only benefited you? Do you honor your feelings?  These are answers that should come to us with ease, but that is not always the case. Taking a step back to focus on ourselves can aid us in answering these questions confidently. Being selfish is self-care, period. We can’t do for others until we do for us; not healthily at least. Prioritizing self brings clarity and peace. Giving ourselves the permission to choose us first is an act of self-care. When we give ourselves the grace of taking care of us first, we heal ourselves. We alleviate or at best eliminate feelings of being overwhelmed, worry, inadequacy, shame, etc when we prioritize our needs before others. 

There’s a thing I’ve noticed that used to come over me when I would choose to be selfish, guilt. I would ask myself a million questions to justify why I wasn’t allowing myself to become burnt out. “You’ve done it before, whats the big deal now?” Me. I’m the big deal (and you are too sis). When I first learned to be selfish in a healthy way, things around me changed. People I knew became upset with my new found holy grail of boundaries. I had pushback for not returning texts/calls. I had folks look at me crazy for saying no like I had never said yes 100 times before. It’s difficult, taking care of yourself and being proud of it. Guilt will fool you into believing you should stick to what you’ve always done because “if not me then who?” However, I found the answer to that along my journey, SOMEBODY. Somebody else, that’s who! The world will not stop should every Black woman decide to prioritize herself. Butttttttt it may temporarily be in shambles (they’ll figure it out though). 

I truly believe it is in our nature, our blood, our lineage, to be so magical. If you ask me, we are the reflection of God. But that doesn’t take away from our need to check in with ourselves. We deserve safe-spaces. We deserve love in it’s purist form. We deserve to take up space. We deserve respect. We deserve to experience our full spectrum of emotions. We deserve to have our boundaries held in high regard. We must set the tone for each of these things in our lives.  

What does the start of being selfish in a beneficial way look like? Well, that’s up to you girl. Start being selfish with YOU and you’ll find the answer. 

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