On Action Anxiety / Exercise 2: Unfocus
Dreams are our jam. Sidebar: It's why the I Have a Dream speech is so comforting to people who are otherwise really racist and regressive when it comes to black people. Do we really think Dr. King would be so popular if it was the "I Have a Policy Reform" speech?
Doing things feels a lot different from dreaming them, and it can get sca-ry.
I call it action anxiety.
Action challenges what is, and suggests that the way things were, isn't good enough. If that's true, western culture teaches us to place blame, either on ourselves for needing to change at all, or on the change maker for upsetting what we know to be true.
We (*cough* I) take our ideas very personally. So naturally, the thought that follows in this train to hell is "If I try something different, does this mean I was going the wrong way the entire time?! And if that's true, does this mean I was wrong?! Or worse, that I have to learn something new and risk being really bad at it?! Lies!
--the struggle is real and snotty.
Sometimes, to cope with action anxiety, we do things around what we really mean to do, like going to networking events instead of building a business and running it properly, for example.
But why was I scared at all, I ask, to do any of the things on my mind? Like making music or writing, or...
Coming in at #1 for me is probably the "2-strikes" black girl rule--you know the one (and the voice and tone used to recite it): "You already got two strikes against you: one for being black and another one for being a woman!"
Love you, Mom and Dad.
Black Girl Respectability Politics tells us that we can't afford to make mistakes; just for being who we are, we're made to feel apologetic. So while black women are the most educated demographic in the country, for instance, I suspect it's largely just another way of asking to be accepted into white and masculine-gendered spaces. Like "psssh, don't believe your lying eyes: I'm not black and female--i'm educated."
Are we supposed to keep striving for excellence, aka acceptance and access to spaces that weren't built for us in the first place, at the expense of actually being socially visible, self-valued, and heard?
Get all the way the fuck out.
The only way to achieve these human rights is to live because that's what human beings do. We take action, much of which will not be without its lessons, unexpectancies, and yes, failures.
And that's more than ok. I wish someone had told me that as a black girl, now a woman, I can do more than dream; that I can not know exactly what I'm looking for, and still know that I'm worthy of it, whatever it is; and that I can actively make choices over my life, without knowing for sure if they're the right ones. Or maybe I'm only just now listening...
I'm still pretty scared of being judged here, but that's why I created this safe space. To answer fear with some form of creation. So, here's to trumping action anxiety.
That's it for now. Today's meditation: "Unfocus," to Swell's I'm Sorry, ft. Shiloh.