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Painted Brain | It’s Okay To Grieve Potential
We're bridging communities and changing the conversation about mental illness using arts and media.
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It’s Okay to Grieve Potential

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Article written by Alexander Rolle

I recently looked at my 2020 goals that I scribbled in my Notes app in January…and I had to laugh out loud. If you’re anything like me, you came into the new year passioned with a mysterious desire to make this year your best one yet. I had plans to shake up this year and re-orient my moves to begin to come into the life that I want to build for myself.

Feeling Overwhelmed Cliparts #2830377. Obtained from http://clipart-library.com/clipart/1063366.htm

As a young, Black, success-driven person I find I must dream big and “shoot my shot” at whatever I can just hoping something, anything will stick. When the brunt of all that is 2020 began to hit in March, I was subjected to change far beyond I anticipated, but I feel like I should be used to things not working out the way I planned?

There’s something significantly different and eerie about what’s happened this year. Between COVID-19 and the social injustices brought to light these past few weeks, it feels like a Shondaland season finale gone all the way wrong. Even though the world took such a swerve earlier this year, my workload got no easier. Time didn’t slow down for me. And if I couldn’t keep up my pace it was somehow a reflection of my output and work ethic, and not the terrors happening outside my zoom calls.

It was two months into quarantine when I realized I didn’t have a chance to grieve what was supposed to be my best year yet.

There’s no established culture around mourning the loss of missed opportunities. We might be allowed part of a phone call session with a friend to mention that promotion we didn’t get, but further than that we can easily fall into “crybaby” territory. I think it’s even more complex of an issue when intersected with the experiences of many BIPOC, who are told they must work twice as hard to get to what others have (throwback to that iconic Scandal scene). When it comes to minority mental health awareness,  we have to begin acknowledging that it’s okay to take intentional time and energy toward grieving potential.

It can be daunting to think about because the society we live in hasn’t been engineered to allow people of color the space to not be okay. Instead we brush it under the rug and “make it work”. While a lot of us thrive in unfavorable situations because we must, striving to be the Oliva Pope of our workplace or our friend group can take a toll on our mental health. We can no longer wait on the world or majority culture to give us the permission to take breaks and mourn our would-be futures. We must take ownership of this task to be able to heal, reimagine, and pursue dreams with the resourcefulness that we as BIPOC are gifted with in a game that was not designed for us to win.

There is still value in the intentions you set this year, even if they didn’t come into fruition. Although I won’t be able to finish out the year the way I had originally hoped, just being able to wake up and count my blessings has shown me a new joy and success that is not tied to someone else’s validation. A lot of us have worked too hard and gotten too far to turn around now, but we are allowed to give ourselves the time to sit and process before picking it up again. Take time to mourn what you hoped for, in order to step freely into what’s going to be next for you.

It may not not on the timeline you planned, you still have time.

 

Featured image obtained from: istockphoto.com

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