Guest Written by Olivia Chisholm
For a long time I’ve challenged the thought, “Who am I?” For a long time, I’ve allowed others to challenge that thought. I think we all have. Particularly women; more particularly, black women. It’s a struggle and a beautiful one. I’ve always hated the thought of being put in a box. Labeled. Confined on what my capabilities “should” be or “are not.” It’s limiting and its an ongoing fight that many women identify with in the workplace from our male counterparts and from centuries of oppression spilled into a system. It’s frustrating; on top of having your own individual struggle as a woman; to be a single one still on this journey.
When Styling Soul suggested I write about “Sex and the Single Woman”, I automatically thought gender (sex) and being a single woman. That’s my story and that’s my TRUTH. The past few months have been trying. Being the only African American in my cohort, hearing toxic opinions on the Charleston Shooting and the removal of the Confederate flag, a romantic failure; I was tested and I broke. I thought I knew who I was and when my being was shook, I no longer did. I fell into a really dark place. A place I once leaned on my male counterpart to help me out of, but people leave. That’s life. And that’s ok. And sometimes it’s selfish to expect them to stay; for they are on their own journey too.
Through my struggles it’s never been more clear that it’s my own responsibility to get out of that space. It’s my own choice. Control is a terrible thing to waste time on when the only things you can control are the choices you make, your actions, and the people you allow in your space. That’s my own choice and part of getting out of my dark hole was to take ownership of my own mistakes, my own flaws, and how I can better apply them to shape my being. That’s all I could do and it took time (Lord knows it’s taking time) not only to realize that but to apply that to my life; to my happiness. I still have moments. It’s not easy, but damn, the light at the end of this tunnel is brighter than it has ever been before. I’ve never felt a stronger sense that I’m “coming”. So, when I say “I hate to be put in a box,” that’s knowing that the greatest force that can do that is myself.
I’m not proud of the way I handled things; how I allowed it to distract me from what’s real, how foolish and how afraid I was — but the final act of love is forgiveness. My biggest challenge has been forgiving myself. I’ve always been a bit insecure about my ability to be vulnerable; to be sensitive, but I can only move forward and use it to evolve. Bitterness, regret, or anger are all emotions that reflect how we feel about ourselves. I had to let it go and allow myself that room to evolve.
“Life is a lesson; it’s a series of adjustments and you have to start to recognize the signs.” – Pharrell
I am grateful for my recent happenings that I once viewed as losses. All these happenings transpired for me to be more in sync with my purpose; to be the woman I am today, and even more so becoming. These were all tools. I can either allow them to keep throwing me off balance or use them to grant me clarity. I started to desire to use them to grant me clarity and liberation and it sparked a fire in me beyond what I can explain.
I got to a point where I could no longer drown in my own emotions; it was time to stand up, so I did. I stood on my own two feet and started running on my own path; realizing that before I was simply walking, being distracted by things that only slowed me down. I was convinced that this was the chapter I had to write on my own after losing someone I felt wrote it with me. I knew this was the typical “single girl, I can be bad all by myself” phase that I had to go through. Once again, I thought I knew myself, but I was wrong. There is a higher power above me that didn’t allow me to go through alone. A blessing!
So, when I think of word single; how single am I? Maybe by definition of relationship status, but I am not alone. I couldn’t ignore the signs, the timing, or the people that directly or indirectly sincerely nurtured me through this. I love them deeply. It’s mind blowing how things lined up once I opened my eyes to that light at the end of the tunnel. I also had to be open up to getting help. I don’t know why it’s such a taboo thing in our community to seek therapy or counseling, but it has it’s place.
I thought I knew myself, but part of knowing yourself is knowing that you don’t. Leave room for growth or stay stagnant. This whole ‘loving yourself’ thing is a continuing process and re-learning how to do so. We change. Relationships end. New things begin. We fall apart. Our career path changes. We have children. We build ourselves back up. Part of being a woman is re-learning your needs, how to communicate them well, and what aspects of yourself you need to work on. It’s an ongoing search and I’m steady learning; learning how to feed myself so my soul can feed others. Through it all, I’ll always choose to love harder; deeper. This is my truth. It’s not always pretty, but it’s mine. I own it and that’s what’s real.
In our brokenness, we find our peace. I found just that. Who am I? I am anything I want to be.
Olivia Chisholm of LivInColor.org
Guest Blogger | Styling Soul
Guest Blogger | Styling Soul