Ladies, I know what you’re going through in this moment and I know your desire to break free from what you feel is holding you back. I know that you pour out into the world with power and purpose. However, no one can truly understand what you do and go through unless they are also working tirelessly on their mission work. You are even too tired to share the nuances of the day with loved ones. You hope to be fully seen; fully valued as a professional and a person. You give from a sincere place and you don’t want it to be taken for granted and you hope to live and work in a lifestyle of complete rest, confidence, and dignity.
It seem that dignity and value are elusive these days, but it`s a vital mindset to possess in order to live a rejuvenated, restored life full of substance and boundaries. These are non-negotiables that you must own and maintain to help you navigate into new territory. As a public school special education teacher, for over ten years, I understand all of this very well. In a previous time, I found myself showing up for everyone, except myself. There was a pivotal time in particular when I ended a toxic relationship, as a graduate student and leader in a community youth program where I came to the end of myself. It was a long, arduous process out of this toxic mindset and lifestyle. I realized that I chased goals more than I chased the things of God and those accomplishments were not fully satisfying for me. Teacher guilt ran rampant even on sick days. It felt as if my former lifestyle was deceitful in nature because it was good work, but I lived an exhausted lifestyle within the limitations of my mind and personal goals.
Fortunately, this toxic period resulted in a personal, spiritual and health wakeup call for me. I had a lot of wellness issues at the time. I’d had three surgeries within a two-month period, bouts with alopecia and an undiagnosed skin condition. Being so uncomfortable physically led to emotional issues too—I was curt, short tempered and generally unpleasant. I didn’t know that me or like her.
My former life as a collegiate student-athlete taught me how to dig-in and work hard, but not how to work from a rested state. I was programmed to leave it all on the track. I also learned from sports coaches, that only what you put in will come out. But, why was it so hard to apply this to my fast-paced life? Giving 120-percent to feel accomplished and in control was my mode of operations. Therapy was in order, but that did not come to pass until later in my life. There was no real coping mechanism utilized. I just pushed through to “get it done.” However, it was not until God sat me down and the consequences of maintaining this dysfunctional familiarity were clearly revealed, that I could see that the Superwomen Syndrome aka Strong Black Woman Syndrome never served me well, nor my community. It had the illusion of progression but lacked the sustaining power. God promised that His grace is sufficient, and in our weakness His strength is made perfect. Did I listen? Did I have enough courage to be vulnerable with Him? Did I have a defensive wall up not allowing a true relationship and intimacy to develop? I had to be honest with myself and understand vulnerability with God is different than any other relationship in my past. That was the beginning of how I turned it all around.
Leaning into the truth of this promise allowed me to have the courage to receive, be still, listen and rest in the love of God. It would take a restorative process for my mind to renew. How could I feel restored when my past experiences with church and church people were dull, stagnant and lifeless? My shift into releasing the superwoman cape came at a cost that most would not consider paying, but monumentally life changing. The problem is that many of us are well-oiled machines, conditioned to multitask and be selfless, not knowing how to care for ourselves. I decided it all had to stop.
I made one life changing decision—to make space to pour into myself and others. After I completed my master’s degree, I sought to learn to master myself. Therefore, I began to invest into my personal development and completed an Institute of Integrative Nutrition program in life and health coaching. The revelations were invaluable. Learning how to better care for my body, my life, and my future family have been so rewarding.
Eventually Champ Restoration®, my life coaching company, was created, starting with a series of potlucks that became so much more. What that space provided for me is what I hope to provide for other educators and women leaders – personal day dates (PDDs), encouragement, fun times and a space where you are propelled and pushed.
The joy of my life has been to serve other educators and to teach other women leaders how to not give people permission to treat their gifts, purpose, talents and skills as common. There is a transition one must undergo from expecting a career to allow us to be seen as important and respected to then knowing and treating yourself as the valuable, cherished person you are without it. I am prepared for this work. But remember that the desire to be fully respected, valued, and full of vitality starts with inner work. You must make just that one decision, just as I did. Be a full on participant in your own rescue in 2022, and beyond, because I know you can do this too. It only takes one wiser decision to get started and take a leap of faith that will improve your life and help you escape feeling overwhelmed and under-appreciated. Enough is enough, sis.
Sherry White, MSEd, INHC, is an educator, life and wellness coach, mental health first-aid responder and the founder of Champ Restoration®, a wellness coaching resource and life and wellness coaching curriculum that incorporates healthy mindset, foundations of healthy lifestyle, emotional fitness, Biblical encouragement, and applications for real life. She is also an academic advisor for athletics, and a former NCAA D1 scholar-athlete.