Strong Enough?

Hi everyone. Happy New Year and welcome to 2022. Blimey, 2021 was another toughie wasn’t it?!

How did everyone get on over the festive period? I hope you’re feeling well and ready for this coming year. Whatever your goals I hope you reach them.

In my last post, Self Care Survival, I shared some of my strategies for looking after ourselves. It was prompted by the challenges of the festive season, but we all know that self care is for life not just for Christmas, even if we’re not perfect at practicing it.

Today, I’m collecting my thoughts on how we might define what is is to be “strong”. It’s a follow up from Self Care Survival. By looking after ourselves, through reflection, rest and recharge, we grow stronger. It’s inspired by some of the books I’ve read (always with the books…I know, I know), the things I’ve learnt and the role models I’m surrounded by.

The world is a tough place to navigate. The Guardian reports that there have been an extra 76 million diagnoses of anxiety and 53 million diagnoses of depression since the pandemic.

You may also have read about Black Fatigue, a term that strikes loud chord, explained by the book of the same name by Mary Frances-Winters. The increased discourse about racial justice is important, and welcome, but it’s also exhausting when you’re fighting with all your might.

Physical health, economic health, grief…..we’ve all had a lot to deal with recently.

So. We’re practicing self care.

Are we feeling strong?

What does “strong” even mean?

The Strong Black Woman is a stereotype. It can be meant as a compliment (if you’re into glib remarks and not thinking things through.) It is also one of the reasons Black women are four times more likely to die in maternity and child birth. (“A strong Black woman doesn’t need medical attention. She can give birth in a cotton field, strap the baby to her back and keep picking that cotton, right?”)

It’s why I love Queenie by Candice Carty Williams.

Queenie is a strong Black woman. Not because she copes with the mysogynoir of the dating world, or the effects of child abuse, or lack of access to mental health assistance, but because she completely falls apart and starts to rebuild herself.

I am literally surrounded by strong women. That doesn’t mean I don’t see my friends cry. Or take a duvet day. Or ask for help when they need it. It means I’m surrounded by women who keep going. Who know what their goals are and reach for them. They set their own timelines, their own boundaries, their own definitions of success and their own methods of self care.

Strong women are clear about what their purpose is, and it’s rarely about themselves.

Importantly, they do not do it alone. We support each other.

That’s my definition of strength. And today I would like to congratulate everyone who is defining their goals and reaching for them. Everyone who is coping with challenge. And everyone who is supporting others.

I thank all the friends who are helping me achieve mine – to get more people talking about race. (That includes all of you reading my blog. Thank you.)

I wish you all the very, very best for 2022. Keep talking, keep learning and keep up the self-care.

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