In 2018, on the eve of my 40th birthday, I asked a sistafriend who’s a few years older than me for advice for my 40’s; her advice was to stand in my truth. Today my truth is that I am a different woman—personally and professionally—than I was pre-pandemic. The pandemic propelled me into another healing and unlearning journey, which was intense. The isolation of the pandemic created time for reflection, introspection, and doing the work in therapy and between my sessions with few distractions. Currently I am in a phase of my life that I am naming, “The Journey to Next.”
The journey to next is a time of transition in which I am waiting for the things that I have made space for in my most recent healing and unlearning journey to arrive. During this time in my life, I am experiencing a myriad of emotions as well as acknowledging that multiple things can be true. This transition commenced last summer as my time with my amazing Black woman therapist was ending. Last July, a facilitator of a healing retreat that I attended asked me, “What will it look like when you are healed?” Answering this question has given me a new perspective on my life as a Black woman.
Black women are stereotyped as either strong or broken, and our humanity and multi-dimensionality are not often recognized. Yet the healed version of myself honors my humanity. Just because I can do things well, does not mean that I am always strong and do not need support. Just because I allow myself to identify my emotions and to be vulnerable when I experience disappointment, hurt, or pain, does not mean that I am broken. Just because I am aware of the things that I need and desire from my relationships and expect those needs and desires to be met, does not mean that I am clingy or needy. The healed version of me is not trying to be superwoman; I believe in self-care and community care.
In my journey to next, I am acknowledging periods of mourning. In making space for what is to come, I had to let go of things, and letting go—despite knowing that it was best for who I am becoming and what I want to accomplish—is why I mourn.
My relationships are important to me, and although I am aware that not everyone will be part of my life forever, I still grieve relationships that shift or end. Losing them causes a void in my life that can only be filled by deepening existing relationships or establishing new ones. I also experience fear and sorrow during moments of uncertainty because of unknowns that appear with the shifting of my behavior and mindset to attract what I need and want in my current and next phase.
In my journey to next, I experience moments of celebration and gratitude also. I celebrate the accomplishments and milestones of my family, friends, and colleagues. I celebrate my achievements thus far as well as my accomplishments during this time of transition. In the words of “Private Party” by India Arie, “I celebrate the woman I’ve become.”
I express gratitude for life. I express gratitude for moments of clarity, joy, fun and laughter. I am grateful for relationships with people that are good for and to me. I am also grateful for the relationships that contribute to me being and doing all that I desire personally and professionally. Although I have experienced challenges, I can say overall that life is good.
Right now, in the journey to next, I am excited about what is to come in my life. There are things I have prayed and worked for that are making their way to me. My future contains more moments of joy, fun, and laughter. There are lessons to learn and people who will enter my life and facilitate my growth and evolution. God/the Universe is moving on my behalf to bestow upon me unexpected blessings and pleasant surprises.