Today, as I was walking out the door to an appointment, my mother grabbed me, hugged me and said a short prayer before I walked to my car. Now, I freely admit that my mother is a very religious woman and does even show affection to me, but I have never seen fear in my mother’s eyes. For most my thirty years, my mother has very much subscribed to the school of “pray about it”. 90% of the time I look at her, there’s a Bible nearby and a scripture at some point of a conversation with her so her saying a small prayer before I left today was nothing unusual. But when my mother gives me a hug and says a prayer over me with fear in her eyes because of the current state of the world because she is seriously concerned that something bad could happen to me in the couple of hours I was due to be gone, I can’t help but take notice. My mother was fearful for my well-being because I’m a black woman and we are in the very real situation that I am in constant danger due to living while black. It hurts that my mother who like my father, grew up and have lived in the south their whole lives and have lived during the Civil Rights Movement to being in a position fifty years later being afraid that they and their family are unsafe by virtue of their skin color. I have never been unaware of the position I was born into as a black female. I’ve experienced subtle and even blatant racism over the years, but it never sunk in to actually fear for my safety until I looked into my mother’s eyes this morning. In the year of 2016, I’m a black female in America and the fear is real.
I just had a conversation with my mother, one of many over the past couple of years. As I’ve grown older, I’ve chosen to respond with silence rather than lashing out as I have in the past. I’ve spent my whole adult life weighed down by every mistake, every failure, every seemingly lost opportunity trying to grapple my way up from the bottom of the pit of my emotions that has with every passing year come glaring to the surface. I remain honest in my silence refusing to offer lies to make it all seem okay. I become real in my expressions and in my eyes for those that choose to see beyond what they interpret and ask verbally and non-verbally for an understanding that isn’t always given willingly. We live in a society where darkness is scary and if it can’t be clearly understood or contained, we prefer to live lies turning a blind eye to anything that bleeds unhappiness. We want to help, claiming to understand exactly what another is going through, but therein lies another untruth even though meant harmless is damaging regardless. We at some point in our lives have similar troubles or at least similar responses, but it is beyond presumptuous to tell a person that they should not feel as they do because you’ve been through exactly what they have. How dare you look me in the eye and virtuously try to diminish my feelings by claiming to know what’s in my mind, my heart. Rather than seeing your own projection, see me. Really see me and show me that you do. I don’t ask or need commiseration. I ask only that you be there to listen, give comfort, encouragement, love. It only makes things worse when you make small what is large in my mind’s eye. Don’t poke, don’t pry, don’t preach. Just be, hold my hand, ask what I need to find my way back and listen. Show me it’s okay to need and to reach out when I’m ready. Just leave the candle burning so I don’t lose myself in the dark. Empower me to crawl to the surface and to the light.
Dare to be bold. Dare to be a dreamer who is also a doer. The world has enough of conformists so dare to be unquestionably you.
To gain, I must lose. Lose doubt, lose the lies, lose my excuses.
And one day it finally clicked, the approval I sought to be who I wanted to become was my own.
I am not my past. I am not my mistakes. I am not the one-dimensional view you have of me, nor the one I have of myself. I am more than my fears, am less than perfect and am finally ready to give myself permission to test my wings.
My faith is stronger than my fear. My will to thrive is hungrier than my desire to merely get by. My need to find my truth is greater than my inclination to follow the status quo.
Now, the thing about fear is that it can either motivate us or chain us. It has exactly the amount of power we give it. It makes me wonder, why would I give something the power to hold me back in a world and time where I can create my limits or smash them. I choose to soar even if I might fail because now I know I can rise and will rise again.
Imagination is the light that illuminates future paths. In childhood, it starts as a flame; and if we’re lucky, it’s cultivated to grow to a full-fledged fire burning through all the nay-sayers trying to snuff out your essence.