Recently, I was asked a question that caused me to sit and evaluate my current life: "How has life changed for you as an adult compared to when you were a teenager?"
For a moment, it was hard to address that question. But after looking through everything I've experienced from when I was in my teens to where I am in adulthood, I've realized many unique experiences shaped me into who I am today.
But today, we need to talk about those experiences for women of color, especially since we were told that growing up meant newfound freedom and independence. However, no one mentions the unique challenges of being a BIPOC woman.
So, grab a cup of tea, cozy up, and dive into these truths that no one quite prepared us for.
The Constant Battle Against Stereotypes
As BIPOC women, we constantly fight against harmful stereotypes that society imposes upon us. From the "angry Black woman" trope to the "submissive Asian woman" stereotype, we are confined within narrow boxes that often do not reflect the complexity of our identities.
There were times when I encountered these stereotypes myself, whether someone told me I wasn't Black enough because of how I talked or labeled men as "strong" because I was able to handle difficult situations seemingly with ease. These comments only caused me to remain in a box I never knew I could escape from.
We must defy these labels and showcase our individuality. It is crucial to challenge these external and internal stereotypes and let our true selves shine, no matter what it may cost us. We deserve a chance to live authentically without labels holding us back.
The Weight of Cultural Expectations
Cultural expectations can often feel like a double-edged sword. While our rich heritage and traditions are a source of pride, they can also come with tremendous responsibility.
I know this firsthand growing up in a Black household. Growing up, I felt the weight on my shoulders to always aim for success, especially within a profitable career. That caused me to think that if I achieved this "success," I would always have the respect of my family.
Too often, we are expected to balance preserving our cultural values and traditions with pursuing our dreams and aspirations. The pressure to conform to certain societal norms can sometimes feel suffocating, but we must remember that our journeys are unique.
Finding the balance between honoring our culture and carving our own paths in life is essential. That often starts with letting go of what others want for our lives, then walking that difficult journey of unlearning habits and tapping into our true purpose.
The Invisible Glass Ceiling
Though we live in a time of progress, the invisible glass ceiling still exists for BIPOC women. And until they are broken, they will continue to appear in our careers, education, and personal lives as adults.
Despite being highly qualified and capable, we often encounter biases that hinder our advancement. It's disheartening, especially when we all want to live happily.
I've encountered these barriers plenty of times as I advanced throughout school, my growing career, and even my personal relationships. Since I always had this idea at the back of my mind that I'd have to work twice as hard to achieve success, I always believed that I wouldn't be good enough for everything that came with my life. Because of this, I would overthink and self-sabotage myself in these areas.
But in moments like this, discouragement shouldn't be our go-to move. To prevent this, we must seek out allies and mentors and advocate for ourselves and others in similar positions. By speaking up and breaking through these barriers, we can pave the way for future generations of BIPOC women.
The Burden of Intersectionality
As BIPOC women, we belong to multiple marginalized communities, which adds an extra layer of challenges to our lived experiences. Intersectionality is our reality, and it affects every aspect of our lives.
We face the compounded effects of racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination, making it even more challenging to navigate adulthood. And when we encounter these moments growing up, it reshapes how we live our lives daily.
Acknowledging and embracing our intersectional identities while seeking support from communities with shared experiences is key in these situations. Together, we can find strength and resilience in our shared stories and empower each other to overcome our unique obstacles.
Finding Beauty and Strength in Unity
While the challenges we face as BIPOC women can be overwhelming, we must remember that we are not alone. We are part of a vibrant, diverse community of strong, resilient women who have faced similar struggles.
I didn't realize that for myself until I took action to find that community in adulthood. That required me to step out of my comfort zone and open my heart to receiving new connections to see how they would impact my life.
We can do the same and build a support system that uplifts, commiserates, and celebrates our unique experiences by coming together. It's essential to seek spaces to connect with others who understand our journey and provide the support and motivation to keep pushing forward.
As we wrap up this eye-opening discussion, remember that acknowledging and addressing the scary truths of adulthood as BIPOC women is the first step towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society. By challenging stereotypes, navigating cultural expectations, breaking through invisible barriers, and embracing our intersectionality, we can carve out our paths with strength and resilience.
Let's find solace and strength in each other, supporting and uplifting our fellow sisters as we navigate adulthood together. Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Together, we can rewrite the narratives and expectations placed upon us and create a future where our voices are heard, and our dreams are limitless.
Do you want to learn more about topics like this and learn more about resources to help you navigate your next stage of life? Check out our resources and programs on our website: www.odihi.com.