I’ve been told that I’m not enough.
My frame is too curvy. My hair is too kinky. My teeth should be straighter. My smile should be bigger.
My stomach should be flatter. My waist should be nonexistent. My breasts should grow a cup size or two.
I should fit the mold for what society deems attractive, desirable and palatable.
I’ve been told that the way I already show up in the world is not enough.
I have to work 10 times as hard as my Caucasian counterparts to get a fraction of what they have. There isn’t a brown-colored version of white mediocrity.
Then I have to work 10 times harder to keep the crumbs I’m able to grab. The odds are often unfavorable but I’m told to suck it up, because that’s the way things are.
I can never be average. It’s overwhelming when you’re obliged to be exceptional in all that you do. I can’t screw up. I can’t make a misstep.
I can’t be too assertive or I’ll come off as intimidating. I have to paint on my poker face for each daily dose of microaggressions I’m forced to swallow.
I must constantly be grateful for what’s spitefully thrown my way. I’m not supposed to want more for myself. I’m not supposed to assign myself a set of standards to cling to, neither professionally nor personally.
And speaking of personally, I’m frequently told to play small in order to be “wifey material.” I can’t expect too much from my partner. I can’t demand to be treated and loved a certain way or I’ll be labeled “high maintenance.” I’m not supposed to love myself enough to know I deserve the best.
I have to be careful not to intimidate men so they won’t fold under pressure and flee. I have to personify tired gender stereotypes to make them comfortable, which includes walking on eggshells to protect their fragile egos. I can’t just be.
I have to be mild-mannered and meek. I shouldn’t have a voice that calls bullshit on the unjust things I experience. I’m meant to be a silent spectator to the perpetual stripping and dissecting and appropriating of my black womanhood.
But I won’t.
I won’t let the countless lies I’m told about who I’m supposed to be, continue to shape who I am.
I can’t look for validation from a world that rejects me but capitalizes on my essence. I won’t further internalize where I’m told I fall short or fail to measure up.
I will revel in the beauty, boldness and brilliance wrapped up in my existence as a black woman.
I am more than enough.