Dimensions of Black Womanhood: The Powerhouse

 

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Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

By: Jamé Jackson

6 a.m.: I’m up, reading the eight plus news outlets I’m subscribed to, catching up on what’s been going on in the world. I eventually fall back asleep.

9:30 a.m. I’m back up, this time looking to make sure all is well on TheBlondeMisfit, checking for the one millionth time on grammar, punctuation, and social media handles.

1:30 a.m. The day has passed, and amidst busy schedules, many posts, and countless time spent on various projects, I’m forcing myself to go to sleep.

Somewhere in between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. the next day, I am an artist, spoken word poet, lyricist, singer, dancer, actress, musician, journalist, blogger, stylist, and social commentator. The friend who blurts out a creative idea while drunk and realizes the next morning it might actually be brilliant. The hard working student who everybody tries to get on their group project, because they know no matter how much or little they do, it’s going to be a great project. I am the Type A friend you have whose anal, not in the extremely annoying way, but in the If-It-Has-My-Name-On-It-It-Needs-To-Look-Amazing type of way. The nicer version of Miranda Priestly and the passionate one who will cry every time she makes any step in the right direction because she remembers the hard work she’s put in. I am the girl who loves Pinterest for ideas but hates posting on Instagram because of lighting.

Powerhouses are not just CEOs from the corporate business sector. We are the women who somehow do a million and one things without breaking a sweat. We seamlessly blend all of our gifts, talents, and necessities together and manage to work hard to get what we need and want. We look fabulous doing it. Yet, behind the cool images, awesome clothes, and seeming facade, let me tell you this: It is literally crippling.

Looking back, I don’t think I ever had a choice of not being a woman who wanted to tackle the world. As a child, I saw my mom somehow work for the government, go to grad school, and support me in literally EVERY SINGLE THING I was in at school. She was a strong Black woman. As are her sisters. As is her mother. As is her grandmother. I didn’t have the option to be anything BUT strong.

Photo credit: @jazzthenoise
Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

Life, however, can quickly remind you that you still need help. You still need to cry, and you still need to step back from trying to tackle the world before it tackles you. While everything appeared fantastic, I found the things that used to bring me joy were only bringing me pain as my stress levels continued to escalate. I tried to hold the entire world up on my shoulders. Be the perfect student, friend, daughter, girlfriend, Black woman who doesn’t cry (according to society), activist, and still be the life of the party. Pretty much, I was suffering from the ‘Superwoman’ complex, the blessing and curse bestowed on us Powerhouse women. Us Black women.

For years, I always felt I had to over perform to excel. That projects had to touch the sky or everything that I did had to go over and above. While people were patting me on the back, I was dying inside trying to remain the strong and perfect ‘Powerhouse’ image, not allowing anyone to see I was literally bursting at my own seams. Until one day, when amidst shooting pains in my chest and migraine headaches that would last days, I was diagnosed with depression. WHAT? Powerhouses don’t break; Powerhouses can stand up against anything. It was in that moment that I had to step back and realize that I was good enough. I had to make lifestyle changes to avoid a life of pain and self-sabotage from my constant need to perform and do well.

So today? I am still the Powerhouse, A-1 player you want on any team. However, I use down time to rest. I practice yoga and meditation. I learned how to say ‘no’ when things either didn’t appease me or they felt like an inconvenience to my life and what I wanted. I learned and am learning every day that things don’t have to be perfect to be perfect, and that making mistakes sometimes is the only indication to remind yourself you are still simply human. Do I still have my days I find myself pushing myself too hard? Of course. But I have so many Netflix & Chill nights alone, where I can just unwind and enjoy the time I have to myself.

Realize that a Powerhouse is only a Powerhouse when she learns that before she saves the world, she must save herself. She must treat her life like the greatest project she will ever tackle and understand that she is no good to anyone else if she is not first good to herself. Realize it takes a lot to look this good, and if sometimes you have to rip the layer off and expose the wounds to breathe a little, do it. Powerhouses are not impenetrable. We are transparent in our journeys of how we get to where we want to go- and no matter how easy or painful- proud of the process that makes us more beautiful every day.

Jamé Jackson is a native Washingtonian and recent graduate of Howard University, where she received two Bachelor of Arts’ degrees in English and Classics with an emphasis in Greek literature.In July 2015, Jame’ officially pioneered TheBlondeMisfit.com, an online, inspiring destination for young, Misfit-thinking women. A self-taught fashion photojournalist, Jamé has been published in Elite Daily, Gritstyle and several other publications. 

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