For all of June, I’ve been telling my husband that we are “living a lot of life right now.”
Well, in his book, Life In Transition: Mastering Change At Any Age, author Bruce Feiler states that, on average, people will experience 3-5 major life changes, or lifequakes, in their lifetime. Lifequakes are life-changing events that happen every couple of years and punctuate your experience. For my husband and I, those lifequakes all seem to be happening this summer.
Everything is changing. We lost a parent on June 3rd and are still grieving as the dynamics of our family continue to change. My husband left his beloved job of 14 years for a new one in a new field. That job will move us across the country this summer. So we will be packing up a house on one coast and moving into another on a different coast. (We don’t have that new house yet btw). This move will be the farthest that I’ve lived from my family, especially my twin sister, nieces, and nephews, ever. And all of this is happening while I’m running one coaching business, Legally Bold, and launching and promoting another, Woke Up Worthy.
Like I said we are living a lot of life right now.
And as we celebrated Juneteenth in the middle of these lifequakes, I started thinking about all that needed to get done and my relationship to my labor. It was actually a question posed to me by one of my coaches. I was trying to figure out how I could fit in all that I wanted to do in business with all that my current life transitions are requiring of me. After a bit of back and forth, she asked, “how can you use your decision here to live out the mission of Woke Up Worthy?”
Meaning how could I confront my internalized oppression so that I could live this moment according to my values and priorities, not from the fear of not being enough and having to hustle through overwork and exhaustion to prove my worth.
After talking things through, I realized that if I wanted to practice what I preached, if I wanted to live the ideal that I am worthy even if I’m not superwoman, can’t get everything done, and decided to prioritize myself, I would have to drop some major tasks and self-imposed deadlines off the list.
Almost immediately after having this realization, I felt guilty and afraid. The truth is that I don’t know what success and excellence look like if it doesn’t include total exhaustion, extreme anxiety that I’ll miss something or mess something up, and a frenzied pace that makes me feel like I don’t have enough time for anything or anyone else. What does success look like if I’m not struggling and fighting for it? Is it possible to work hard with ease, boundaries, and grace and still make it?
Years ago I believe you couldn’t achieve success as a woman of color unless you were hustling for every inch. Nothing would come easy or without a cost, and there simply isn’t room for mistakes. Either you are the epitome of perfection the first time or you might as well pack it in.
Today I see things differently. I know that if I am to believe in my inherent worth I have to believe that I, too, can be human and still garner the success I desire. I do not need to be the poster child for the strong, excellent, exceptional, superhuman women of color who never stops, fails, or rests. Instead trusting my inherent worthiness means trusting that I can make a mistake and recover from that setback. It means that I can prioritize my rest and health and still be successful down the road. It means I can drop things off my to-do list today, decide whether I want to pick them up later, and still be a woman who woke up worthy.
I recognize that it is because of the women who came before me, the women who were still enslaved in Galveston Texas on June 19, 1865 (Juneteenth) when Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived to inform them of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended 2 months prior, the women who endured lynching, Jim Crow laws, police brutality, and all that comes with our racist past, that I have the privilege of choice when it comes to my labor. My ancestors didn’t have that choice.
So today when I think about my relationship to labor and my worth, my most radical act is to choose me. My hope is that you make the choice to choose you first too.