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Unpacking The Impact Of 'Resilience Resentment' On Black Women's Mental
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Unpacking The Impact Of 'Resilience Resentment' On Black Women's Mental

There have been times in my life when being strong wasn’t a choice, it was a responsibility. In the face of exhaustion and mental fatigue, still remained a looming pressure to “show up” and “just keep going.” But when you’ve gone so long on a low battery with no time to recharge, how do you have enough to give yourself, let alone the friends, family, and obligations that vie for your attention?


Resilience resentment is the resistance to the pressures of perpetually overcoming hardship. Often portrayed through tropes of “bouncing back” and the admiration of strength, the mental strain of this psychological concept is one that has emotional ramifications that go beyond the surface.

When we observe the grit and determination within a person’s journey, we can often overlook the grievances and weariness that they may experience behind closed doors.

For those who have public personas that embody their lifestyle, highlights, and achievements online, it may be difficult for outsiders to see their situations for more than what’s presented within touched-up and highly curated social profiles.

But when we pull back the layers, we soon realize that this outward portrayal of resilience is a by-product of skewed conditions within their environment.

Author Melissa Harris-Perry put it best in her book Sister Citizen through a concept called “the crooked room.” This analogy of the "crooked room" illustrate the experiences of Black women as they navigate through a society that wasn’t built for them. In this case, imagine walking into a room where the floor, walls, and ceiling are not leveled or straightened but instead crooked and slanted.

In this room, everyday tasks that would be simple in a normal space become challenging and disorienting, causing you to struggle to maintain balance and constantly feel off-kilter.

In this context, the crooked room symbolizes the societal difficulties that Black women encounter in their lives, leading to unique challenges that they are then expected to rise and excel from. Black women must navigate this crooked room, through stress, anxiety, and burnout, in spite of the structural conditions that tilted the room to begin with. All while remaining poise and not letting others see her sweat.

When we consider these nuances in their relation to the resilience of Black women in the face of these distortions, you can imagine the fatigue and frustration one might feel when they are expected to “still rise” and “boss up” in the face of obscure adversity.

When we think about how we view Black women’s resilience as a collective, there should be space to consider whether their strength is born out of default in their survival or out of the necessity to survive.

Acknowledging these complexities, we should create spaces of understanding and empathy and give Black women the space to live a life where joy and resilience coexist without bearing the burden of having to be strong at all times.

Presenting like we’re okay is a lot different from actually being okay.

But in order to shed the mask of resilience, we need judgment-free spaces and support systems to confide in when we don’t feel strong enough to be strong.

When we feel safe enough to not have to uphold perfectionism or continuous excellence, we’re then able to give our resilience a place to rest.

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Featured image by Getty Images

 

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