The Top 3 Lessons From My #BlackGirlSabbatical
My Sundays were filled with anxiety. All I could think about was work -- the insecurities I’d released on Saturday would climb my back like demons determined to steal my peace. A lot of my anxiety came from the fear that I was missing something or wasn't performing up to par professionally. This fear forced me to obsessively create mental to do lists for the week ahead. I suffer from a type of self-induced stress that only people who've been told (and believe) they're not good enough can understand.
“I couldn’t keep navigating constant stress this way. Not only was I fighting demons, but I was fighting myself. After a 30 day sabbatical, I believe now more than ever, that peace is mine to claim.”
I marched into my sabbatical like it had stolen something that i was ready to get back. Armed with reading material, two scheduled trips, a major event to host and two family visits, I was ready to focus on me. Or so i thought. It wasn't until we returned from Costa Rica that I realized I’d planned way too much. I had 30 days, not six months, and my type A personality had made my sabbatical a project to manage, not an experience to explore.
#BlackGirlSabbaticals Lesson One: Trust the process. Dedicating space to self care is hard. Be proud of yourself for taking the first step, but challenge your normal work habits to truly get the most from it.Growth requires us to dismantle old habits and interrogate our current paradigms.
Despite doing a lot to start, I wouldn't trade the time I spent with my family for the world. I'm known as the hard to reach family member living a crazy (and weird) life far away from home. I hadn't realized how much that somewhat true distinction separated me from the ones I love.
I've missed the jokes, lazy days, family meals, softball games and more without knowing how much I've missed them. Being around family reminded me of these moments' significance and how much I need home for comfort, healing and affirmation. #BlackGirlSabbaticals Lesson Two: Whether a person, place or thing, home feels like the safest place you'll ever know. Honor that place and turn to it often.
My sabbatical opened up suppressed feelings and gave me a sense of awareness that a daily grind can stifle. Not only did I recognize how much I've missed my family, but I also recognized how quickly time is passing.
My cousins are growing up, my grandparents are getting old, shit, I'm getting old and long-term friendships aren't as strong as I'd remembered. This realization wasn't easy to swallow -- it caused me to spend an entire day crying. Reality was just too much. In the end, my tears brought a much-needed lesson about vulnerability. #BlackGirlSabbaticals Lesson Three: Tears aren't a sign of weakness. Since birth, they've been a sign that we're alive.
After 30 days off from work, I'm a little lighter, a little wiser and vibrate a little higher. However, while I celebrate my growth, I can also recognize the professional and financial privilege that allowed me to take a sabbatical. In fact, this is the first time in my life that not working was a choice.
How can we support sisters who don't have the privilege of taking time off from work, especially those navigating parenthood, poverty and toxic relationships? One systemic support is to join the national fight for $15, a movement calling for better pay and stronger benefits for underpaid workers.
A growing network of Black women are holding space for a self-care movement. We all deserve to claim our peace.