Doubt, Obstacles, and Triumph
“Jasmine you can’t… do that.”
My teacher couldn’t hold back the growing smile that wrinkled her crow’s feet and she used her right hand to smooth the mountainous wrinkles in my forehead. Her thumbs did nothing to pacify the pinnacle peaks and, if it was humanly possible, my thick eyebrows would have been doing the electric slide on my face to figure out what she was talking about.
“You can’t take all those classes in college, you have to choose something you want to be.”
“I did –”
“You have to choose one, and girls don’t usually…”
Like a slingshot my ever-reaching idealistic world was flung back into the recess of my corpus callosum for editing. My hands had always been like growing weeds defying every law of physics to reach, grow, and grasp hold of every possible profession that I could think of to make me happy. Now it’s like there was a weed whacker ominously approaching, its mechanical drone sounded like, “you can’t”.
Occupation: Singer, designer, actor, novelist, therapist, astronaut, teacher, scientist, historian, and traveling taste-tester extraordinaire. It sounded farfetched, but I felt down in my stubby yellow painted toes that I couldn’t just leave a dear profession behind. Who would tell me no? I have spent years cultivating the perfect professions like little me was stopping to pick the golden dandelions in a field of interchangeable blades of green grass. That would feel like I’ve never stopped smiling at, and I was just so sure I was the candidate to be included.
Who would doubt me? And why?
So to the little girls who, like me, want to be everything: don’t let it turn into nothing.
Because I know the feeling of being out of place. How many times have I sat in a classroom, award ceremony, job profession, and have settled comfortably in my seat to feel heads rotate on their axes and look at me in unconscious uncertainty. Their eyes focused so much on my attempt at blending in that I felt no matter what I did I would stick out. This regular occurrence swayed my boat so much that I asked myself if I was doing something wrong.
Because I know the look of a sharp grimace with beady eyes clouded with hate. With a bigoted mindset and a shield of flimsy, transparent, but still existing civil rights laws and their tongue was the whip. And because I was unable to retaliate, being bigger than myself so I wouldn’t affirm a crazy ideology, these were my shackles. With my mouth constantly formed into a smile I had to be proactive so that I wouldn’t be that black girl. That mean black girl, that sassy black girl, that black girl with the attitude, but simply just that girl.
Because I know the sound and claps of celebratory praise and how, unless I was beyond exemplary, it wasn’t directed at me. I became conditioned not to even let a hair falter when my work became unrecognized. I wasn’t working for anything outside of myself.
Because I know one of the hardest obstacles is when your family doesn’t think you can do it. Their disbelief is held up in a different authority and my little black girls, you may think it’s correct. It’s not. They’re projecting their beliefs onto you to possibly mold you into the person that they see is successful. While you should tell them politely, “thank you,” because they only have the best intentions, let their words become inefficacious like warm honey and quietly become thrown into the recycling bin at the back of your brain. What some else does to make themselves happy will not necessarily make you happy.
Because I know when the hardest obstacle becomes yourself, everything seems a little scary. When you begin to be afraid to make mistakes is when you hinder your own progress to succeed. What you have to remember is that you are your own worst critic.
Though you may not have enough physical time to hold 10 different occupations, your ability to master each profession you put your mind to is of paramount importance. Let your arms grow and stretch to encompass everything you set your mind to. Change is your best friend and no one succeeds while being comfortable.