The Art of Self-Love: Protecting Your Magic as a Black Woman

The Art of Self-Love: Protecting Your Magic as a Black Woman

"How you gonna win if you ain't right within?" -Lauryn Hill

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”—Audre Lorde

I’m pretty sure we can admit; black girls are the reigning queens at getting the job(s) done, hands down. We’re the nurturers day to day and we’re living busy lives, whether it be attending school, grinding at work, or taking care of others. We do these things to the best of our abilities all while dealing with life’s every day struggles, and of course societal oppression. Such women are goddesses, and quite frankly, deserve the world if you ask me. But it can seem like a daily and constant cycle of wake up, grind, take care of loved ones, sleep, repeat.

As black women, our self-care is vital. Naturally, our two sides, the nurturer in us (the gentle side that doesn’t want to let our friends and family down) and the boss in us (the fierce, get-sh*t-done-and-prevail-over-any-and-all-hurdles-towards-my-success) can prevent us from taking care of ourselves, if there isn’t a healthy balance. Where is our “middle”? I’ve talked to plenty of women who unfortunately believe that they must sacrifice their happiness in order to look out for their families, jobs, and/or education.

Now, don’t get me wrong, many fail to see that working hard is an amazing form of self love. What better way to say, “I love me”, than to put my all into getting what I deserve in the long run? However, we all know that too much of something isn’t a good thing. In fact, I am able to work hard in a more proficient manner by taking care of and loving myself. I feel like many of us fail to see that rejuvenation periods are actually major keys to success. Like Audre Lorde says, self love and care are acts of preserving who you are as an individual. Think of it as preserving your magic, like putting your skills, talents, nurturing and hardworking abilities on a charger. Just like your phone that needs charging and your car that needs fueling,

So. Do. You.

If I help myself first, I find that I actually have more energy to give into helping others and doing what I have to do, and I can do my tasks enthusiastically! We need to remember that our needs are just as important as anyone else’s. Many of us were raised to live by, “put others first” as our primary motto. There is nothing wrong with sacrifice and it is indeed necessary from time to time, but it should not involve giving up your sanity and/or happiness. If you see anything in your life taking you to a negative space, it is your duty to yourself to confront it, whether that means having a heart to heart with someone you feel is weighing you down (or distancing yourself from this person), or breaking up big tasks into smaller ones.

It is okay to say no to that party and go to sleep or have some time to yourself. There’ll be tons more parties and you’re still cool to those who matter. It’s okay to sit and have hot tea or a glass of wine with your favorite show after a long tedious day. Ma’am, it’s been a long week, and you know good and well that you are more than deserving of that candlelit bath.

So with that said, if you are reading this, remember that you are only able to give healthy love, when you love yourself. You are a queen, so treat yourself as such! I totally understand as someone who works through depression myself that it can be easier said than done, but, it is vital to remember that self love and care is a continuous practice, and is not a destination or something that you can take a day off from. Take it step by step, and make it a point to practice it each and every day. I hope the tips provided below find you well on your journey!

My Top 10 Self Love/Self Care Tips:

  • Ground yourself spiritually. My spiritual practices keep me grounded. You DO NOT have to be religious to be spiritual. Meditate, pray, do yoga, or go to church if that is for you. Create your own rituals that instill peace within you. Anything that truly resonates with your soul will do.
  • Make a vision board that embodies everything you are, that you love, and what you desire for your life. Pick out magazine clippings, photos, images, odds and ends and glue them all on to a poster board (or a cardboard box!). Hang it up where you can look at it every day.
  • When I’m feeling less than fabulous, I throw on some Erykah Badu, India Arie or Lauryn Hill. Those three always set the vibes right for me and help me vibrate higher again. And of course those are my personal faves, but just turn up some happy tunes to get you going again!

A Few Songs (of many) I’d Recommend:

  • Erykah Badu

-Didn’tcha Know

-Bag Lady

-On & On

  • Lauryn Hill

-To Zion

-Ex-Factor

-Nothing Even Matters

  • India Arie

-Beautiful

-Little Things

-There’s Hope

  • Taking your time with your day always helps, especially in the mornings. Brew/buy your favorite coffee or tea. Don’t just rush out of bed, be still and say a prayer or meditate. Take your time on your makeup. Before you leave, look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful and that you love yourself dearly.
  • Work out! Those feel-good endorphins are no joke! After a nice exercise routine, you’ll feel refreshed, motivated and ready to take on the world. This practice is healthy mind, body and spirit.
  • If you need to go to counseling, GO. I’m not playing. I don’t care what your father, mother, sister, auntie, or your cousin says. Please go. Your mental health comes first and FOREMOST. Many fail to see that inner issues can creep slowly but surely into aspects of our lives if they are not addressed or healed.
  • Pamper yourself! Take a bath complete with candles and soothing music, paint your nails, and/or a facial. Can’t take a bath or hate them? Invest in an all-natural body scrub to use in your morning or nightly routine. When you’re looking good, you’re feeling good. Also, I highly suggest that every woman invests in organic coconut oil for skin and haircare. The tropical scent and your smooth skin will have you feeling like a Nubian goddess within seconds.
  • Take yourself to bed earlier. Get everything taken care of and get some well deserved rest. Sleep lessens depression, irritability, as well as makes you feel ready to take on the day, not to mention retains memory for all you college gals. Put your phone ACROSS the room, drink a hot cup of tea, and focus on your breathing before you tap out.
  • Keep a journal. Journaling is a healthy way to release the thoughts and feelings we harbor throughout the day. For me, writing is my life. It continuously keeps me in tune of who I am and where I am in my life's journey. Even if it’s one line, make it your goal to write something every day. Don’t know what to write? Here are a few examples:
  • “Today, I will show myself love by_______”
  • “Two (or more) positive things that happened today are______”
  • “Tomorrow, I will create a better day by______”
  • Write down the top 3-5 things you love about yourself. If you can write more, WRITE MORE by all means! Now next to each quality, write down how you will you enhance these things, or how you will do you do better to remember these things when you’re feeling down.
  • Write a 10 sentence autobiography about yourself, containing a couple of sentences about your past, present and future each. This is a great way for you to see your legacy in plain sight, and to remember who you are and where you are headed. Hang it up or store it where you can see daily.
  • Drink PLENTY of water. Great with inner and outer properties. You’ll feel better and your skin will love you lots!

I hope you enjoyed these tips and that they aid you well on your self-love journey!

Peace and light always,

Maya

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The Worst Part of the Past Year

I’m stronger because I had to be. I’m smarter because of my mistakes. I’m happier because I’ve overcome the sadness I have known

  

I am going to start out and be very open and honest with you. My past may come as a shock to some people because of how open I'm willing to be about it. I have no regrets of the roads I stumbled down because they were all lessons learned in the end. We all have times in our lives that we wish never happened, we want to bury it deep, deep down so that maybe we wont remember anymore. That's not how we are wired though, we are meant to open up about our wrongdoings and we are meant to learn from them, not pretend as if they didn't happen. That's why I'm sharing what I'm sharing with you today. The worst part of the past year was deciding to move to Canada and to finish my bachelors degree at Redeemer University College. 

I get asked by every single person "Why did you choose Redeemer University when your not even Canadian?". Well, simple; "there was a boy..."is all I ever say. Immediately they fill in the rest (but that's a whole different story for another time). In a nut shell we split and I stayed back in Florida and wasted my time with useless people that were filling me up with childish distraction. During that time I had completely lost sight of who I was. To me, I was literally going insane mentally and emotionally. I wasn't stable in the least and I could hardly hold a conversation with another person. I attached myself to someone I shouldn't have the last month before I left. The things this man introduced me to made it harder for me to let go. 

I did my first line of cocaine with a hundred dollar bill. I was terrified to even do this drug so before I even snorted it I was already shaking like a leaf. I wasn't comfortable and I thought that "this Sadie" was over with years ago. J (that's what we will call him) gave me another bump about every 15 minutes or so just to keep chasing the high. I HATED IT! I could feel my brain chemistry altering with every bump I would take. I had all this energy and no where to put it so my body would just tremble. J ended up giving me a Xanax to calm down. All I remember was the faint smell of gasoline and the soundtrack to 'Suicide Squad'. I woke up in J's bed and didn't remember any of the night. That was only the beginning, from there on out things got progressively worst. 



 

I knew this wasn't me and I knew I needed to get out of this place before things went any further. I headed to the airport and tried to get on the plane. Somehow the flight got messed up and I ended having to stay an extra day in Florida. I.FLIPPED. I made a huge scene at Tampa International Airport and yelled at a few of the ticket workers. I will remind you I was not myself at all at this point in time. 

My mom and dad had to carry me to the car and drove me home to fix my car (I got a flat the day prior). I was hysterically crying on the floor in the backseat on my mom's jeep. I was ripping out my hair and grabbing at my skin to try to break myself out of this meltdown, but I just couldn't. I couldn't calm down, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't stop screaming. It was as if I suppressed all the bad down and it all came spewing out like throw up. Eventually my parents finally sent me out and I headed to Canada to rewire my mind, heart and spirit. 

The first week was BRUTAL! I got to stay with one of my dearest friends (which was great) but during the time I was coming off of a binge. I hadn't had a natural sleep in about a month and I didn't have much of an appetite either. I felt so hypersensitive to everything. When I would try to sleep I could hear a constant buzzing for hours on end that drove me insane. I opened up to friends to seek help and I even went to go see a few counselors and they even referred me. Nothing was helping with my pain though. Not until I turned my life over to God. 

I think sometimes God doesn’t just take our pain away when we ask Him. I think we have to push through the pain, walk through the pain, heal through the pain and pray through the pain. instead of praying it away, maybe sometimes He just wants us to pray through it. healing doesn’t come easy and rebuilding doesn’t happen overnight. It took months to recover and become who I was again and I was only able to do it through Lord, our savior. I’ve had my heart broken, my hope destroyed, my mind distorted, my worth questioned, and my soul stained. In all of these, Jesus was able to restore. He was able to redeem. He was able to bring to life what was once dead. He was able to make all things new. He is still able. He never changes. If He has done it once, He will continue to do so. The only thing we must do is to allow Him to take control. Jesus reigns in us, He is now in charge, not us. He makes His kingdom alive in us no matter what we have been through, all things are made new when He comes to dwell in us. Allow Him to live in you and you will witness a beautiful come alive.

I’m stronger because I had to be. I’m smarter because of my mistakes. I’m happier because I’ve overcome the sadness I have known and I’m wiser because I’ve learned from my life.

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Pessimists Aren't Negative, They're Realistic

Pessimism amounts to accepting the inexplicable contingencies of life.

Is the glass half empty or half full?

I’m sure most of us have heard this question and know what each answer implies: half empty means your pessimistic; half full means your optimistic.

Okay, sure, let’s roll with this analogy. Let’s also assume it’s a glass of water, which will serve as metaphor for growth, life, or any other trite symbol associated with water. Now, half-full implies it could be fuller, but more importantly ignores the inevitable emptiness of the glass.

On the other hand, replying half-empty acknowledges that the glass isn’t getting any fuller but is in fact propelling towards that undesirable state of emptiness, or keeping align with our metaphor, the glass will have no water, symbolizing the end of life i.e. death (sorry for the half-ass figurative language, but you get the idea).

This may sound depressing to some, but it really doesn’t have to be; death is ineluctable and is a truth of life and is something we all have to accept. In a sense, acknowledging life ends in death is the most realistic way to view life. And this, to me, is a defining characteristic of pessimists: being realistic.

This doesn’t mean optimists can’t be realistic, but being optimistic about the future isn’t exactly being realistic, because, like I said, the only future guarantee is death.

For example, when optimistic people tell someone in distress things will get better is pure bullshit because they can’t possibly know that things will get better. It’s possible things will get better, and this is why pessimists in this situation would say something like “Things could get better, or they could get worse.”

Once again, this may sound depressing, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that no one can predict the future. I understand that the traditional idea of pessimism is having a negative view of the future, but I don’t think this applies to modern day pessimists. Rather, a pessimistic outlook on the future implies that anything could happen, even the worst.

Therefore, admitting your lack of knowledge of the future is a big part of being a pessimist, but I also think pessimism implies admitting a lack of knowledge of anything, or a better way of putting it, you don’t understand anything.

I know this sounds stupid, but let me try to explain. By not understanding, I mean not understanding how things came to be. For example, some religions (I think) believe that everything happens for a reason; by doing so, these people are attempting to explain or justify certain events, and usually, these events are harmful and can’t be expressed as positive unless there is some “greater good” involved.

Now, a pessimist is the exact opposite, for they believe everything happens for no reason at all; they don’t try to justify horrible events because they understand that’s part of life. And while they understand that’s part of life, they know it’s impossible to understand why bad things are part of life.

Therefore, if it’s impossible to understand why things happen, then it’s impossible to understand, well, anything. In a sense, pessimists adhere to the idea that the only thing you know is that you know nothing. However, if this is the case, how can one know they know nothing?

Well, you can’t, but this is something we must accept. People find comfort in understanding how the world works, it gives them a sense of purpose and control. But once you accept the idea that nothing makes sense and everything is pointless, life becomes one giant joke.

And this is why pessimists have a terribly dark sense of humor, because in an absurd world where the only guarantee in life is the end of life, where irrationality trumps reason, and where all action amounts to nothing, the only appropriate response is to laugh.

Cover Image Credit: unsplash

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