Lifestyle The Word Travel 3 minute read

Shutting Others Out So I Can Tune In: My First Solo Trip


You say she gone on a trip to find herself?  I knows I’m old; but seems to me like I just talked to her last Sunday.  When she get lost?  And how do you find yo own damn self?  You think she out there in California smokin’ that mary-joo-anna I heard about?  I love my Grandbaby, but I think the only thing she done lost is her mind.  Bless her little heart.

I imagine that’s what my Granny would say to one of my aunts were she alive to hear about my current adventure in Aruba; my first solo trip.  In her time, the only time a woman left the house without her family was to go to the grocery store, the fabric store, or to a church meeting.  And they certainly didn’t spend time on such “foolishness” as finding oneself.  I bet my Granny didn’t spend much time ever thinking about herself outside of her relationship to anyone else: she was Granny, Momma, Sister Bryant.  That was it.  She seemed firmly planted; certainly, not lost.

In fact, I wouldn’t say I’m lost either.  Quite to the contrary, I feel more in touch with me than I ever have, which scares the shit out of me, quite frankly.  Who is this person?  Can I trust her?  She seems too free and too unbothered. Where are all the practical voices whom have always guided my decisions?

Where is my mother’s voice?  Even after she died; I still heard her instructing me.  Every decision, every turn was to ensure that I was strong and successful academically and professionally.  Then my husband’s and kid’s needs have directed almost every decision I have made for two decades.  Additionally, throughout my life, friend’s and society’s voices have influenced everything from purchasing unflattering, yet trendy outfits; getting bad haircuts; having a wedding four times larger than I wanted and buying my kids five times the things they ever needed to joining clubs (when I’m not a joiner), attending events in which I had no interest, and staying in relationships and in jobs that no longer fulfilled me.

And now I hear my voice.  It’s shaky, but getting increasingly steadier, increasingly stronger; and I am listening to her.  You don’t want to go to that boring event (says the voice).  But everyone is going!. And you really like so-and-so.  And how will it look? (asks my trained mind).  But my voice shouts back: “Those who love you won’t care.  Screw those who do.  And time is so precious.  Why spend one minute—much less four hours doing something you don’t want to do if you do not have to do it? When you say “yes” to doing something you don’t want to do; you are saying “no” to something that you do want to do.

I can’t say I fully trust her yet.  She, this voice, thinks that I can do things that I never thought I could do and will be fine–great even.  She doesn’t care what others think and believes that worthy relationships will last even if I make a mistake – or 20.  She’s fearless and sees immense possibilities in life and in me.

So, I travelled to be alone in order to shut out as many other voices as I could.  I think that I need to listen to her–this shaky voice–who keeps telling me to live my purpose, as my soul directs.  She just may be on to something.

My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more


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