Growing up, if you asked who my idol was, I'd die on the hill that was my mother. But as I came into my teen years, I found that there was a distinction to be made as there were only parts of my mother that I idolized. It was her ability to survive trauma (not to be confused with overcoming it), her drive, her business savvy, and overall cut throat nature in a capitalistic game that has been rigged. I admire these parts of her and I arguably wouldn't have any of that if it weren't for the parts of her that I find less palpable. Maternal love is not her forte and although it has been difficult for me to accept, I'm starting to realize that it's fine. That I will be fine!
Her maternal love is wrought with survival--it's half-assed love, muddled with fear and anticipation of abandonment from those she loves the most. It's tough love and the breeding of what the folk are now referring to as hyper-independence. It's baggage so abundant it would make a bellhop wince, packed up with trauma and mystified beliefs about the logistics of parenting.
Despite all that I described, I've realized that there is no one idol. In the same way that I feel we shouldn't hold celebrities to a paradigm of perfection, I'm beginning to see this paradigm is unrealistic for any one of us. And a constant setup for failure. There's community in our growth and wellness. No one person can be everything and therefore, no one person can teach us all the things. Especially if they have yet to experience it for themselves. After years of concern that I might never be able to fill the void of the types of love and affection I missed out on in the ladder stages of my life, I realized that it really is a village effort.
There are so many beautiful, strong, loving brilliant women in my life (including my mother) that have taught me the value in loving all sorts of things in abundance and what that looks like. I have woven together with the best of the many women who make up my community and strived to mirror them and their influence. May it be their belief in sisterhood, pursuing passion, or family values.
Here are 20 lessons I learned from the mothers, aunties, sisters, friends, and mentors throughout my life.
- Figure out what you can live with and which quirks you absolutely cannot live with...find a partner based on that.
- You can't change anyone but yourself.
- Your partner should add and multiply from you, not divide and subtract. And vice versa.
- Forgive, but don't forget. Both are imperative checks and balances so that we don't make the same mistakes with future romances but also so we don't take our past grievances out in those new romantic partnerships. And even when we choose to move forward in current relationships after mistakes have been made.
- Get to know yourself first. Use tools like journaling and meditation in order to bring more introspection.
- Men/Women are not necessary, they are accessories. We live in a world where women can be anything including happily single. Gain better understanding of your "why" if you're seeking out the love of a companion because it seems natural, it's likely a response to socialization. So figure out what it really is that you want, you might be surprised.
Platonic and Familial Love
- Whenever possible you help family…especially your children. This seems like common sense but in the Black community we see it all too often where we're brought up on "tough" love. Parents require children to struggle simply because they struggled to get to where they are and that's not necessary. Nor is it how we achieve generational wealth.
- When friendship is authentic, it is healing.
- Family are those who you choose.
- Coparenting harmoniously and prioritizing the child's happiness is important. Even on the heels of a nasty relationship ending.
- Parents are just people with seemingly important titles. Doesn't mean they're good at the job, doesn't mean they're bad at it...they're just doing the best they can with what they have. Which leads me to this…
- Family is not exonerated from boundaries simply because you know their history with trauma. You can be understanding without being a martyr. We have our own work to do in this lifetime, so saddling ourselves with the job of unpacking and carrying the trauma of our mamas, sisters, uncles...it's not our job.
Self-Love and Image
- Set, establish, and maintain boundaries within all of your relationships. You cannot do one without doing the other three. But this is the only way to create healthy relationship dynamics with yourself and within your friendships.
- Sometimes it's cheaper to just pay for it. Cheaper for your well-being, peace of mind, etc.
- Dream big, dream hard. Your career doesn't have to be practical to everyone. Just you!
- Survival and healing are sold seperate. Persevering through trauma doesn't simply mean surviving it.
- Black people do luxury. Black people are deserving of luxury. Hell, we are luxury.
- We are too blessed to be stressed. As much as people hoot and holler about manifestation being ungodly, this popularized phrase says otherwise. Have faith that even in moments of difficulty, things will work out in the end. All you can do is try your absolute best and know that the Universe/God will meet you the rest of the way.
- Take pride in your appearance.
- Invest in your wardrobe. As great as fast fashion can be in a pinch, you should start building a collection of clothes that are timeless and can actually withstand time.
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