It’s SO easy to get caught up in the business of going to work, paying bills, taking care of children, social capital, etc. We spend all day censoring, filtering, and repressing how we feel and express ourselves-- this cannot be healthy! Not to mention being submerged in PWIs (predominantly white institutions), code switching, and dealing with the endless microaggressions of
colleagues and strangers. Whew! That can take a lot out of us and knock us out of sync with our body, mind and spirit.
It is so important, especially as women (people) of color, that we make time for ourselves to remove all the masks and be true, authentic, and undiluted. We deserve it! To be authentic means to tune into what your heart and spirit really needs, and tending to it- unapologetically.
There are numerous ways to honor spirit and submerge in your true self that aren’t grandiose, extensive, or expensive.
Play More (even if for a tiny moment)
When we play, we give ourselves a brief moment to become immersed in an activity that challenges us, captivates us, and brings us joy through creativity. Playing is one of the few activities that align mind, heart, and body while also allowing the mind to filter whatever challenges we are faced with in our daily lives. Dr. Stuart Brown’s book, Play, talks about the psychological and historical concepts of play and why it is also a survival trait. We grow up placing work or school as top priority, but play is just as important...if not more. Not everyone always has time to gather the girls for trivia night or spend an evening playing board games; however, incorporating a bit of “playtime” can also start off small and simple. This idea of play takes many forms as long as you find true joy in what you are doing. Relish those moments you get to play, whether it is Sudoku on your work break, reading an exciting book in the waiting room, or even... doodling hearts or stick figures on your meeting agenda. Your brain craves a break every now and then! Upon realizing how important it is to play, I started encouraging myself to carry a tennis ball in my work bag or purse. Not only do I use it to work out some kinks when I am stressed, but - if I find myself with a few minutes of free time - it is great to toss around and escape the “real world” for a bit.
Move from the Heart
One of the easiest ways to start figuring out and embracing our authenticity is moving from the heart. There have been countless moments when I have been faced with a decision and I choose the one that seems most efficient, but soooo boring. I realized that it wouldn’t hurt to find a nice balance between choosing to do what my mind needs to get done and what my heart needs. Yes, there are going to be some sacrifices (hopefully they stay minimal) but in return we feed our hearts and spirits by listening to what would make us happy. Once I started choosing my heart over what societal pressures I was faced with, my life felt much more rich. I look forward to those moments because I know they feed my well-being. So no matter how quirky or minuscule it seems, if you know in your heart it will make you happy, follow it because only you have control over your happiness! Go to that weird event (even if it means going alone), have that lunch outside in the sun, take that extra 5 minutes in the bath, and wear that outfit that brings you all the joy!
Reclaim your youthful joy
As we grow older, we have been conditioned and told how to view the world and our place in it. We walk around with these biases and assumptions about “the way things are”. What we often forget is the brilliance of inquisition and “wonder” that we once had as children. Now, especially with how the world is, we can stop accepting and start asking and being curious. Why are things the way they are? What would happen if we held a different reality? Who deemed this acceptable? And let’s explore taking a different route in our thoughts and actions that take us outside of the box. Once we tap into that inner, youthful curiosity we can open ourselves to finding more answers about who we are and how we can change our perspectives towards the world we live in. By seeing the world with new eyes, we not only bring more excitement to our own lives but we also work to disrupt the status quo, which keeps us oppressed.
Allow for Unstructured activity
In a world of post-it note reminders, Google Calendars, and planners in all forms, we have access to tones of tools to organize, compartmentalize, and schedule our lives down to the second. Something that I forget (and am working on) is to add “free time” for unstructured, spontaneous activity into my weekly to-do lists. This concept of free time can be as short as an hour, but in that hour I listen to my heart, mind and body and ask myself “ What do I really want to do right now? What have I wanted to do but have put off?” This allows me to tune into myself AND actualize it. To incorporate more authenticity and youthful perspectives in your life, make sure that whatever you decide to do is not an obligation. No work. No chores. Trust that allowing time for spontaneity is just as important as doing what you need to do.
Accountability for the sake of Self Love
Changing our perspectives and paradigm through authenticity will take time and consistency. As we embark on this journey, we need to cultivate ways of holding ourselves accountable for dedicating time for our essence. Treat this time like you would a business meeting or doctor appointment. Do not treat it lightly because being authentic in a world that isn't is serious and deep work. Put yourself as a priority, whether you literally make an appointment for yourself in your planner or find an accountability partner to check in on you, either way, make it work!
We are amazing beings! Let’s continue this journey of life in celebration of who we are, how far we have came, and magic the future holds for us!