You were supposed to be lit—a year filled with holidays on the weekends and a pivot into a new decade. You done went and got petty on us with that “lit” part. The world is on fire with a global pandemic, one of the most consequential presidential elections I’ll probably see in my lifetime, and back-to-back instances of racial injustice. (Lord, what did we do to strike this match?)
It’s overwhelming to say the least. As a reporter in Pennsylvania, I followed all of the coronavirus cases since it touched down in the state in early March. I was scared and floated aimlessly in a mindset, questioning: “Can it really get as bad as they say?”
It was daunting, tallying the deaths and the increasing amount of cases for weeks. I started worrying about whether I would get it or if I could spread it to my family, specifically my mom who has Crohn’s disease. I read in a Forbes article that a recent poll revealed that 63% of Black women felt their mental health affected by the pandemic alone. Unfortunately for me, my pandemic anxiety made friends with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and an overall sense of hopelessness for justice.
I am the only Black woman in my newsroom and even though my coworkers are great, I knew none of them could fully understand how I felt. And, as a reporter, I had to set those feelings aside and continue to muscle through journalistically. I did get to write about my experience going to a Black Lives Matter rally with my husband, which was picked up by USA TODAY.
Even with little instances of success, I knew that I wasn’t fully taking care of myself mentally. I stopped seeing my therapist. I was letting work weigh down on me. I was constantly worrying about things that were out of my control, and I stopped putting effort into my personal growth. I was frozen.
I don’t want this to be entirely about my shortcomings over the past few months, but it’s only fair to reveal the bad with the good. I’ve started positive and beneficial habits amid the chaos. I turn off my work phone when I am not on the clock, reminding myself that if it was REALLY that important, my boss or coworkers would call my personal cell. I also started looking at how I decide to spend my time and who I choose to spend time with.
I give myself more time and grace in the mornings by listening to motivational videos first-thing, journaling, and reciting my affirmations. I’m learning what does and doesn’t work every day and if there’s anything that this unexpected time has taught me, it’s that I can’t afford to underestimate myself. I also need to make myself more of a priority when it comes to my mental, physical, and emotional well-being. I’m a work in progress and that’s perfectly okay.
I work in healthcare which by default has triggered my anxiety in the midst of the pandemic. I had to go out every day, not missing a beat trying to dodge Covid. While non-essential workers were nestled in tight during quarantine, I was playing with fire. Did I choose this field? Yes, but I am still human. To add insult to injury, I watched George Floyd take his last breath on camera and I learned about Breonna Taylor’s tragic story which ended in her taking her last breath as well. I struggled maneuvering in the workplace as a Black woman in charge. Finally, I have to place the toxic cherry on the cake which is none other than forty-five and his election shenanigans. Actually, I have yet to disclose my true feelings and what I’ve been going through, until now.
It has truly been exhausting, shocking, and stressful. That’s even putting it lightly. Listening to people dismiss Covid and me hearing from people, seeing people firsthand who had it, was alarming. No, it was reckless. I was just praying that God would shield me, my family, and loved ones from the awful virus that was killing people and is still killing so many. I love helping people which is why I dived head first into this line of work. I love it, yes. People love to think that healthcare workers aren’t human, are invincible and fearless. I love my job. Covid still scares me. A little light at the end of the tunnel prevailed though.
I received a promotion at my predominately white workplace which moved me into a supervisory role. As a Black woman, it was a win for me and every other Black woman. It sounds great, right? Don’t get me wrong, I was elated. I felt accomplished and semi fulfilled. It came with more challenging tasks which I enjoyed. But it also came with heaviness, and me having to prove myself repeatedly on the frequent heels of injustices. Every time I was mistreated or misunderstood in the workplace, I was thinking about George and Breonna. Their stories were permanent fixtures in my mind along with so many others. Some days I would go home and cry. I remember thinking and asking myself “Why is my Black skin so inferior, offensive and ugly to them?” I know the answer yet it never stops me from asking the question. I was doing my best. I was the best. I am the best.
Dealing with my work struggles was one thing. The other thing was me watching CNN every hour, checking to see which circus act was up next. This election by far has been the most tumultuous, ridiculous, and historic one yet. Black Lives were on the line. Humanity, decency, equality, and a sense of normalcy was on the line. I found myself praying again to God, that he would bless the world with better leadership. Man, waiting on those results was beyond nerve-racking. I was nervous as hell hoping that my prayers, the prayers of many would be answered.
Ok I lied. There was a bigger light at the end of the tunnel. Joe and Kamala defeated the one who shall remain nameless here. My soul’s frown turned upside down and I was hopeful. Especially because Kamala’s historical win breathed new hope, life, and restoration within me and Black women alike.
Plus, my podcast business was flourishing, and all was better. I practice way more self care and take more me time nowadays. I know my worth! Meditation is really great!
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