I’ve always envied people who seem to stroll through life as if they are cosmic forces of light, effervescent breaths of fresh air committed to extolling positivity all the time. I am not that person, though I’m trying to be. And honestly, most people think of me as such.
But it’s hard, almost impossible, to authentically project favorable energy into the world when one is suffering inside. Expressing nothing but happiness under such circumstances is not only a lie, but it’s also exhausting.
Thankfully, my therapist taught me, “Everything in moderation, except joy.” As I looked back over my life, I began to understand that my joy, indeed my very existence, depends on me inhaling goodness unapologetically.
That’s because for me, and for many Black women, stress is ever present, a silent and stealthy killer when it is not addressed. I know. I’ve suffered my unfair share of it. Simply living while Black, as lovely and rewarding as that can be, means that worry lurks around too many corners, which often leaves us steeling ourselves for the worst. This is why embracing “good vibes only,” no matter how much of a buzz phrase that has become, is absolutely necessary to stay alive.
But what does a “good vibes only” mind-set look like? Well, it doesn’t always resemble a storybook, but it’s always real. Extending good vibes means that we as Black women acknowledge one another. It means we say, “I see you, sis. I understand your struggle. I’m right there in it with you.” The practice is, first and foremost, about offering support.
I am not ashamed to admit that it took me years to realize that the world beyond my window would never cure my anxiety. How could it, when so much of that angst has come from being a large-bodied Black woman navigating an anti-Black, anti-fat society?
Yet I thought that if I could just pretend to be happy, I would be eventually. I really believed that if I could focus solely on what felt good to me—seeing trees blow in the breeze, hearing children’s laughter, chatting with my mama and drinking dirty iced chai lattes—I could somehow conquer society’s message that I was atypical. However, faking it doesn’t always help you make it.
Instead, the approach led to strife in my personal relationships, because I was walking around trying to muster up phony feelings when I was actually running on empty, the toxins poisoning my spirit like exhaust fumes. Sisters, we can’t survive on empty for long. We’ll soon find ourselves gasping for air.
That’s why I’m taking ownership of my good vibes, and that starts with loving and being kind to myself rather than waiting for others to say I’m worth it. I’m pouring good vibes into myself so that what goes out into the world from me will be that light spirit, that effervescent breath of fresh air I’ve always longed to exhibit. Let’s take that healing breath of goodness together, sisters. We all deserve it.