Last night I watched Jada Pinkett Smith's Red Table Talk with Alicia Keys. I'm normally not a fan of Alicia Keys, but I clicked on the video nonetheless. I've never needed a video more than I needed that one. In less than 30 minutes (the time it took to watch the video) I went through a whirlwind of emotions. The honesty in the video and Alica's openness stopped me dead in my tracks, and sent my brain into overload. As if I don't already think too much. Many things she said resonated with me, but there was one line in particular that hit too close to home.
Gammy asked Alicia: "What is the biggest misconception you think people have of you?"
To which Alicia replied: "Probably that I'm very happy, or that I'm very strong."
All I could think was... Wow, me too.
I spent the majority of my shower thinking about that one sentence. Who doesn't spend shower time thinking about life, making major life decisions, and having deep conversations with yourself? Just me?
This season of life has been challenging to say the least. I've felt feelings I've never felt before. My anxiety has been at an all time high. And most days I just don't feel like myself. I think back and there hasn't been a single incident that's caused this. (That I can recall) But that's where I am.
Here are 3 things I've learned in undoubtedly the most trying season of my life.
1. Even the strong need someone to lean on
I spend so much time being "strong", that I forget I'm allowed to need someone. The "I don't need nobody" movement is so toxic. The other day while talking to one of my best friends, I told her I was sad. I explained that I had no clue why, but some days I just feel sad. She began listing off things that could possibly be causing the sadness, and none of them were the reason. I was just "sad". & that's when it hit me. I can talk to "my people" about my feelings & I can be vulnerable. Vulnerability is not weakness. For the longest I was caught up in the act of "faking it till I make it" because people "expect" me to have it together. But now I understand that I don't have to be strong all the time. Being the strong friend isn't fun when you don't have someone to be strong for you too.
2. Learn to say no and mean it
No is a complete sentence. I'm sure I've said that before, but this season made it even more real for me. I have to stop doing the things I have no desire to do. I have to stop accepting people's toxic ways "as that's just who they are". When something isn't right, "nah, fam" is and will always be an appropriate and acceptable response. No explanation necessary.
3. It's okay to not be okay
As I mentioned, Alicia Keys said the biggest misconception was that people think she's happy and strong all the time. Now, I'm sure she wasn't saying that she's not strong or happy, but that she isn't all the time. People will put you in a box and create their own idea of you whether you're famous or not. It's hard to be "who people think you are" all the time. It's exhausting playing the role of happy, when sometimes you just aren't. My takeaway from this is I've got to do my work. I've got to do the things necessary for me, and while I'm doing this "work" it is okay for me to not be happy, or strong, or whatever it is people associate me with. It is okay to not be okay.
Life may be hard now, but there is beauty in the struggle.
When you hit a rough patch just keep on going.
What have your learned while going through a rough season? I'd love to hear from you.