Can We Talk: A Selfish Post.

(Hi everyone! I wrote this piece a few weeks ago when life was just a little much. I almost didn’t share it, but I felt that it was important to be vulnerable in hopes that it would help someone else. So hopefully this is helpful. Like, Comment, and Share!)

One of my favorite books is Whistling Vivaldi by Claude Steele. It talks about stereotypes and how dealing with stereotypes effects people. I think this is my favorite quote from the book:

“the problem is that the pressure to disprove a stereotype changes what you are about in a situation. It gives you an additional task…You are multitasking, and because the stakes involved are high–survival and success versus failure in an area that is important to you–this multitasking is stressful and distracting [emphasis added].”

To be completely candid, I am in a dichotomous season of my life where things are crashing down and being built up at the same time. I am the water pipe wrapped up in duct tape. And I am not coping well with it either. But instead of figuring out how to healthily cope with life’s challenges, I don’t take the time I need to heal because I am not really able to. I am obsessed with being twice as good. And it is not because I have an ego problem – it’s a matter of necessity. I am black and female. My blackness stereotypes me as lazy and prone to not excelling in school and my femininity stereotypes me as overly emotional and not worthy of being in the room where it happens. Thankfully, impostor syndrome doesn’t drag on me like it used to. But there is a constant need to perform and perform well. So I overwork myself because I don’t want to fall into a stereotype and beat myself up when overworking doesn’t work – trapping me in a vicious cycle. I have to constantly anticipate being underestimated and consistently have to explain myself. And fun fact – My health is suffering. I am lethargic, unable to concentrate, and my immune system is shot. This is not surprising, because no one can train like an Olympian forever. The difference an Olympian and myself is that, I will probably have to live this way for the rest of my life and so will my children.

This is not a blog post that is for complaining about the plight of being a minority in this country. I’m writing this for the people who know how distracting it is to have to navigate stereotypes and coping in crisis. I’m speaking to the people whose health has suffered because they could not balance the stereotype and internal crisis. I’m selfishly writing for me. And unselfishly telling you that you aren’t alone. There are very few of us that can navigate a life crisis with no other distractions. And I’ll be the first to say that trying to emotionally rest while overworking myself because I can’t risk not being twice as good, doesn’t make sense. So in a world where the conditions for optimal health in crisis are pretty much unattainable for people who are typically stereotyped, what should we do?

I could write on CRISP-R and sickle cell or on African-American perspectives on hospice. I could also write a long blog post with sources and citations and links. But I’m not going to do it this week. Part of growing up means knowing when to scale back and ask for help. It’s learning that you owe it to yourself to be vulnerable in front of those you respect the most. However, this display of vulnerability is not a need for sympathy or pity. This is my lot while living in this country and I have been fortunate to thrive in spite of it all. But, when you’re fighting against stereotypes and the stress starts to effect your health, what do you do? How do you cope? Leave your comments below!


The Neighborhood Bioethicist



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2 thoughts on “Can We Talk: A Selfish Post.

  1. My Nia,

    This may be my favorite post yet!!! It was sad, realistic, enlightening, deeply moving and empowering ALL at the same time. I felt myself saying in my spirit “Yes, My Sister Say IT!” I especially LOVED –

    “no one can train like an Olympian forever”

    Thank you for being vulnerable. I’m proud of you It helped me exhaled today.😊

    Love you very much,


    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Glad to see this post. For one reason, my daughter is going through a life-change kind of crisis, too, and I have gone through many myself. The main reason, though, is that I really would like to know what black people have to deal with that is unique to them, and it helps to see someone share rather than scream and call names. All people struggle at times and color is not the only factor that adds to that, but it’s frustrating if you’d really like to listen and learn if you only get anger but no explanation.


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