Updated: Nov 15, 2021
If you follow me on social media, you will see a post of me dancing with the famous Starbucks “red cup”. It’s just a red cup to most people but for me, it represents happiness and joy. It is the simplest of pleasures that I look forward to every year.
This kind of self awareness didn’t come overnight. It took a while for me to love myself and find what makes me happy despite the sucky moments life can bring. I can give credit to the years of therapy I took when I realized I needed to do something different.
I don't know who needs to hear (read) this but...
I am a personal advocate for it. I know as black folks, we don't do doctors (period), so therapy is a big hell no. If you ask (us) about mental health and going to therapy, they will probably say it's wypipo shit, but it's not (it's healthy people shit). The advice you'd get will be somewhere in the ballpark of "go to church and pray about it". I can't say that's not the answer, but in my colorful opinion, it's not a complete solution. Going therapy can help identify the problem(s) you're dealing with so you can specifically address them using religious practices (if that's your thing); it's a dual solution. I did both. I (now) love going to church (not so much as a kid). It now has meaning and I have a purpose for being there other than it being a Sunday ritual. It's extremely personal. Oh how I miss getting dressed and sitting in the church sanctuary, listening to the mass choir sing and anticipate the preacher's weekly message. Now the "new normal" has us watching from a screen in the living room in Pjs (damn you 'Rona). It's not the same...I digressed.
I can't say for sure because I was not officially diagnosed , but I feel like I suffered from a mild case of depression (during my college days and sometime after) and I worsened during this time of the year; Holiday season. It was particularly tough if I was single since most holidays parties are couples or a plus 1. Being broke, alone or both isn't the ideal way to spend the holiday months. I forced myself to be around people to keep from sitting in my room inebriated and crying from being in my feelings, but I know what it's like not to be the spirit or feeling down. It's tough place. It impairs your judgement and causes you to make unhealthy decisions. For example: Sitting and thinking about past relationships while in this headspace isn't the move (Aht aht sis). Those breakups were not a mistake, allowing them to come back and forth afterwards was. Continuing to mess around or being a sneaky link (as the kids say) isn't cool either. Letting things go and choosing to find alternate activities that make you happy isn't easy but it's sooo worth it.
Looking back, I realized I put my happiness in the hands of those people in my life who I held responsible for making me happy. I didn't know (at the time) that my happiness is/was my responsibility (hence the reason I was so unhappy for so long). Being happy is a selfish act. What I mean by that is, you have to learn to put yourself first and listen to your gut feelings. I can't pinpoint exactly when I started doing this but saying "no" to things, activities and people was the most liberating thing I learned how to do. I couldn't be bothered with how others felt, since getting back in control of my emotions was more important. I was still alone (for different reasons this time) and it wasn't always fun, but it got easier the more I did it. I took my self care seriously and I've been obsessed ever since.
Moral of the story: Evaluate your mental health, get help, take your self care serious, say "no" more often and find yourself a "red cup".
Until next week,
P.S I recommend the white chocolate mocha if you're going to Starbucks.