Celebration…Glorification, triumph, magnification. We know what the words mean, what the concepts entail, what the feelings look like. We often find it easy, routine even, to celebrate others and their accomplishments – no matter the purpose or magnitude. Why have we been so conditioned to nourish others with a hopeful and positive narrative, yet starve ourselves by withholding recognition? We are taught to give away celebration and hold tight to fear…Why? We are sure to remind others of their light, their greatness, their enviable attributes…yet we are reluctant to give ourselves the pleasure of a fleeting compliment. When will we be allowed to bask in the innate magnificence that is our own ambiance?
The depth and reality of our personal traumas push through during the moments we least often expect them to. Bred by a history that is rich, but filled with constant discrimination just the same, black women’s mental and emotional wellness is dependent upon recognizing our generational pains. Truthfully, we have been repeatedly oppressed — but this fact does not and will not define us, ever. Our power is partially rooted in our pain; we can use the realities of our histories to fuel the inner strength we need on days where the world just doesn’t quite feel like enough. Our power, that innate, fiery, melaninated magic, can only be fully recognized when we first take the steps to become brave enough to recognize our need to find healing.
We must work to heal ourselves through mindful practices and new narratives.
These new, necessary narratives cannot take place without special time dedicated to intentional celebrations of self.
Putting celebration into practice is far too rare but extremely necessary. In the midst of climates that want us to believe the lies about the attributes we lack, we — black and brown women — must push back with the truths about the magic we manifest simply by being us. No matter what “norms” society has attempted to construct, no matter how marginalized we are because of intersections of race and gender, black women have proven time and time again that we are fabulous and we matter. Our stories matter, our hurt matters, our happiness and self-awareness matters.
We deserve the triumph, the memorialization, the glorification, every day, big or small. In striving to celebrate ourselves, we decide to identify that we are fully whole despite any observable or imagined shortcomings. New celebratory practices can often be overwhelming. Sometimes so overwhelming that we are reluctant to begin them at all. Start with something simple and tangible. What makes you, you? Is it your radiant smile or the way your whole body shakes when you laugh? Is it the softness of your skin or your ability to see the good in other beings? We can start with anything positive, any quality that makes us stop and say “wow,” even if only for a moment. Nothing about your light is insignificant or unworthy of praise.
Celebrate that you are here, any moves you make, and any steps that you take to breathe just a little easier. Celebrate your uniqueness, your passion and the strength in your vulnerability.
Celebrate that you are continually striving to be the best YOU that you are capable of being, always. And during times when you feel you’ve fallen short, forgive yourself with the same vigor and authenticity that you would any other person you truly loved.
Here are a few ways that we can create intentional spaces for celebration in our daily lives:
PAY HOMAGE TO YOUR PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
You are here. You’ve made it this far, no matter what anyone else said you could or could not do. You’ve made it this far, no matter what limitations society placed on you. You are still a work in progress and the very act of you evolving through past, present, and future is cause for celebration.
SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
With so much happening on our external and internal forefronts every single day, it can be easy to discount the little miracles that are ever present. What small miracle can you find gratitude in today? Was it getting off of work in time to catch the sunset on the train? How about snagging that last parking space just as you thought you were going to be late? Finding joy in the smallest, most “insignificant” occurrences keeps joy on its toes and helps us create a permanent air of celebration and gratitude.
BE PRESENT, NAME YOUR CURRENT EXPERIENCES, AND GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT FOR IT ALL
How do you feel? Why? What is the emotion you’re experiencing, just this second? Naming what we’re going through can be essential in recognizing it – which then leads to magnifying it if it’s positive or beginning to let it go if it’s anything but. Making an experience tangible subsequently makes it real and gives us the permission we sometimes need to feel through it. You are a feeling, living, healing soul; you deserve credit for that. Celebrate your emotional and mental awareness as you strive to cultivate your highest self.
CONSCIOUSLY REPLACE THOUGHTS THAT DO NOT SERVE, INSPIRE OR UPLIFT YOUR SENSE OF SELF
“I am not worthy” must become “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” “I don’t feel beautiful” changes to “My inner beauty shines through and will never cease.” Replace any negative or defeating thoughts immediately as they enter your precious mind. It takes time and practice, and you will have harder days than others because you are human. Celebrate the fact that you are making a conscious effort to love yourself from the inside out simply because you deserve it.