"I really just need to cry to someone," I texted my friend on a Friday night. That text was followed by a series of tweets regarding a social media hiatus, two weeks later. Because I’m distraught. Torn down. Worn out. And the pain I’ve been struggling to carry each day is slowly seeping into the life of everything else I’ve created. I needed a break; not from this – I love this platform, and I love the release I get from writing - but from everything else. From every bit of noise making my situation worse.
For a long time, I expected my leaders to be perfect. I expected the people I admired to be as magnificent as they appeared in my sight. I expected them to follow all their own teachings. To know all the answers. To not experience any hardships. I needed them to be more whole than me. I needed them to be not broken, like I was.
Then somewhere along this journey of life I became a ‘leader’. I began spitting out sound advice and sharing my cents. I began pouring into people. I became a posterchild, in somebody’s eyes, for how someone’s life was expected to be. And amidst that I realized I became the source of a desire for perfection. I (humbly) became the life and servitude that someone wanted to mimic.
“Sometimes I forget that you’re not really superwoman, no matter how much I think you are,” a close friend of mine said to me. The fact that she thought I was superwoman, was flattering at first. Then left me with a burden that I wasn’t fit to carry. I am human. All of us are human, and we have human lives that are filled with struggles. And while, for a long time I held other people to the standard that my friend (and maybe even others) have held me, I quickly recognized how unrealistic that was. And how the pressure I put on myself because of this, was unfair to me.
I realized that no matter how stern we – as leaders – are with ourselves to handle battles in ways that promote a perfect life in Christ, we will never be perfect. We will forever grow weary trying to prove to others that we’re magical beyond our ability. That the more we deny ourselves of our humanity, the heavier our burden to serve becomes. Because we do hurt. We do experience pain. And while we work to help others navigate theirs, we too, am trying to find ways to navigate ours.
We won’t always have the answers. We will be a mess too. We will have issues too. And we will need help, guidance, and a good night’s cry, too. And we can no longer deprive ourselves of that reality. Because self-care is always necessary, in whatever ways you see fit. Whether it’s a hiatus from everything outward, or a quick cry during a bathtub soak. Regardless of how you choose to heal, how you choose to mend, or how you choose to shift your spirit back to the place it ought to be, you deserve to preserve yourself in the ways you need.
It’s interesting how those tables turned. How people expected of me what I had, for so long, expected of others. See, people aren’t superheroes. They’re not supernatural. Though Black Girl Magic is Real, we’re not sprinkling fairy dust over ourselves to become invincible to the troubles life throws at us. And for any of us, myself included, to expect that of our counterpart is insensitive to the plights they encounter. Because we are humans too. So, despite how uplifting our words may be, how encouraging our advice is, how insightful our counsel can be – we are not perfect. We are not superhumans (though a flattering thought). And sometimes, just sometimes, we too need to be replenished.
So, if you’re a leader, take time for yourself. Learn that it’s okay to take a break. Be honest with yourself about the pain you’re in, and the struggles you’re enduring. Take time to heal. Be gentle with yourself. Regroup when you need. Know that you don’t always have to be superwoman – being you is enough. And don’t ever feel like you cannot be transparent with the audience who has always been transparent with you.
If you’re a follower seeking counsel from the leaders pouring their lives out to you each day, give them time to replenish. Ask them if they’re okay. Take time to care for them, as they’ve invested so much to care for you. Give them space when they need. Encouragement when they need. And an unwavering love they so desperately deserve.