BHM: Every Superhero has to Learn how to Fly
I had an epiphany this week: I am not Superwoman. Yes, I was surprised to discover this too. After all, I really thought I was more than human, with an S on my chest, everything under control, and ready to conquer anything. But reality hit me like a ton of bricks when my delicate balancing act came crashing down, and I found myself scrambling to pick up the pieces, keep it together, and save face.
I’ve been trying to do it all—work full time, build a business, run a blog, write amazing content, hit the gym regularly, keep house, be a good girlfriend, daughter, and friend, and stay sane. Yeah, everything was going well, except that last part. Doing too much meant my sanity was taking hit after hit and when that starts to slip, everything else is bound to follow.
So I cracked under the pressure. I got weighed down and I dropped the ball. I ended up in tears, mad at myself for being too weak to push through sleep-deprivation and stress and struggle. I ended up sobbing about screwing things up. I wanted to rest, but wouldn’t give myself the chance because I didn’t think I could afford it. And worse than all of that, I refused to ask for help. I was haunted by one overwhelming thought: I’m failing and I’m not going to make it.
I considered taking the easy way out. I considered giving up some of the things I had on my to-do list even though I felt every single one was necessary and important to me. I wanted to quit. I wanted to crawl into bed and cry about how I didn’t have it together like other women I knew. And I did, for a bit. I spent the better part of a day lying in bed feeling sorry as hell for myself.
I needed some inspiration and in light of the fact that it’s still Black History Month and I wasn’t about to give up on my promise to write about the subject all month long, I turned to the stories of the black Superwomen and Supermen who came before me to help me get my act together. Here’s what I found.
Oprah—yes, billionaire, media mogul Oprah—had a rough start too. She was fired from her first reporting job and was told she wasn’t fit for TV. When she ended up working on a low profile morning show, she met Gayle King, who became the producer and editor of O Magazine. From Oprah I learned that when you fall down, it gives you the opportunity to find the gems you’d never have noticed if you hadn’t been on the ground.
Sidney Poitier was told that he should quit acting and become a dishwasher after flubbing his lines in an audition. He went on to become well-known and loved for his role in To Sir, With Love. He’s got a Grammy, an Oscar and an Academy Award to his name, all because he didn’t quit. From Poitier I learned that other people’s definitions of your talents are inconsequential.
Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team. Now the six time NBA championship winner has gone down in history as one of the greatest to ever play the game. His shoes are on the feet of some of today’s most successful players. From Jordan, I learned that your failure doesn’t define you, your comeback does.
Jay-Z couldn’t find a label that would strike a record deal with him, so he created his own. Now he’s a multimillionaire who has signed artists like Rihanna and J. Cole, part owns the New York Nets, owns a chain of sports bars, and has a whole host of other entrepreneurial and business pursuits. From Jay-Z, I learned that sometimes you’ve got to create your own spaces for success.
Maya Angelou, an inspiration to me and so many others through her writing, didn’t have the smoothest start. She dropped out of school at 14 to work, raised her son alone after finishing her schooling, and supported her young family working as a waiter and cook. It probably wasn’t the path she envisioned for herself, but it’s the path that led her to success. From Maya I learned that it doesn’t matter how you get there or how long it takes, as long as you get there in the end.
It’s true, I’m not Superwoman—not yet. But I will be. Someday I’ll have everything I’m working for now. A day will come when the day I spent crying in bed will be just a distant memory that will make me smile at how little that failure mattered. The road to success is messy. It’s littered with roadblocks and hurdles that will throw you flat on your face, but falling down doesn’t matter if you get back up. I’ll find my balance, learn how to manage my stress, bounce back from failures, and figure out how to fly. And so will you.