Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cliche Cliche

It was just yesterday I was heading into my junior year of college. I had it all planned out. I had it all planned out. My 5 year plan and here I am 5 years later still searching for it. Why is it that society tells us we have to know or to plan? I used to be one of those who thought, everything must be written down on paper. All your plans and goals must be spoken into existence. You are what you do.  Your career defines you. Your goals and aspirations define you. You have the capacity to do whatever you put your mind to.

But lately. Well maybe since I entered law school, I have been having 2nd, 3rd, 4th, guesses about what it means to live. What is it about society that forces us to know what we want to do at age 5?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Hmm. I want to be a an orthopedic surgeon, actress, and model. A 6 year old Black girl said at a recent Blackgirlscode event. How can a 6 year old who barely knows addition know what she wants to be when she grow up? Why do we push people into boxes when they are young? We claim to be a country founded on individual thought, creativity, and imagination; ( along with our many hypocrisies) yet there is absolutely no room for people to grow, adapt, or change.

I had a 5 year plan. It listed all the classes I needed to take to graduate. It had a list of all law schools I wanted to go to. It had the type of career I wanted to pursue and the income associated with each position. It ranked the different cities I would want to be in. I had it all planned out.

At 24 years old, I am about to receive my JD/MBA and I struggle with saying that I don't know specifically what I want to do. Or maybe society hasn't given me the space to be comfortable with what I want to do. Because I do know what I want to do. I want to do everything. I want to be everything. I want to be everywhere. I hate structure. I hate rules. I hate boxes. I have always known this about myself and yet I am still afraid to say it.

I love Black women. I want to use my legal and business degrees to create a more equitable and just society for women of the African diaspora. I want to empower other Black women and be empowered by other Black women. I want to learn something new everyday. I want to do something different everyday. I am not cut out for cubicles and billable hours. That is just not me. And yet I am still afraid to say that.

Everyone wants me to be what they think I should be. Nobody actually takes the time to look at me, listen to me, and give me actual tangible advice.

You are a sharp, intelligent women. We need people like you in the corporate world. I can see you as partner of a big law firm. You are very outspoken and care about racial justice issue. We need people like you in the district attorney's office. We need people like you within the system to effect change.

What does it mean to be a person like me? I struggle with that everyday and yet people who don't know me project what they feel is best for me.

If you knew me, you would know that none of those thing entice me. You would know that those are not environments I thrive in. You would know that I am with the people, for the people and as my journey continues my ideas about the world and my idea of change will continue to be radicalized. I have no interest in conforming. I have no interest in being the only one and being subjected to micro-aggressions daily by people who I am smarter than yet have little or no expectations of me. I have no interest in being around people who are enamored by my brilliance as though a person like me Black girl like me couldn't possibly be this smart and this good at what she does.

Everyday I am surrounded by mediocre White people who can do whatever they want and feel whatever they want. I resent that. I hate that I have to be 100 times better than someone to get a position that I don't even want just to say I have made it.

To many people that is success. To me that is an everyday nightmare. I went to law school and business school because I thought that having these degrees and education would open me up to endless possibilities. I thought that I would be able to adapt yet thrive in any environment I put myself in. But ever since I got here, I've been put in a box.

My favorite phrase is : It is okay not to be okay. I want young Black girls to know that. I want my peers to know that. Because some days I am not okay. Some days I don't have it figured out. Some days I do. Some days I have the energy to be outspoken. Some days I don't. Some days I feel like going to law school was the right decision. Some days I don't. Some days I feel like I have the capacity to effect real world change. Some days I don't.

This would be normal dilemma if Black women were actually considered full human beings. But we are not.

I am expected to be everything and nothing all at once. 

In a world where everyone and everything is trying to confine you to a box or a stereotype (professional, academic, hoe, good girl, bad girl, sexual, virgin, stripper, gold digger, angry/single/crazy/lonely/bitter bitch who cant get a man because shes a feminist and doesnt know her place), it is extremely difficult to find comfort in what is a basic human state: intentional uncertainty.

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