Escaping Social Media & Traditional Society
Modern life is difficult and full of stress, especially for a black woman in the traditionally masculine white society. Feeling content and happy, being satisfied with who you are, living a balanced life, and bringing love and harmony into the world is the purpose of every person’s existence that is extremely hard to achieve. Based on my struggles and revelations, I can offer some advice on how to follow the road to a harmonious life and escape the many challenges of today’s world.
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This essay covers some of the most essential topics that make up a woman’s life in today’s society. It is a guide that can help you structure your daily routine, set your goals and priorities, achieve harmony and balance, love, create, and enjoy your life. Within each section, you will find some tips and principles to follow and the “R rules” that make up a list of “21 Important R’s” to observe on your road to a healthy and happy existence.
Health & Fitness
Being comfortable and confident in your own body is the key to a healthy and happy existence. Making yourself better and fitter, caring for your physical self, and loving yourself the way you are is hard, but once you learn it, it is the most rewarding thing in the world. No matter where you start and where you are trying to get, it is the road that matters, and by following some simple rules, you can make it enjoyable.
- Resolve — Once you make a decision to change your life, be consistent in following it. Establish a routine and make your new lifestyle a habit, and you will learn to enjoy it.
- Replenish — Adopt a balanced diet and do your best to follow it. Good nutrition is one of the keys to a healthy life.
For me, the most important rule is the Biblical principle “cleanliness is next to godliness.” It means that being clean is a sign of spiritual purity. Cleanliness can be understood in several different ways. The first is the cleanliness of one’s the physical body and personal space. Mentioning it may seem trivial, but it is these small things that lay the ground for everything else. Keeping your house clean, taking a shower every day, and wearing clean clothes are the first things you should focus on when you feel unhappy and unsatisfied. The state of your home and your looks always reflect your emotional and mental state. If you are depressed or drowning in self-pity, your home is a mess, and you look sick and tired. No matter how miserable and meaningless your life seems, putting small efforts into washing the dishes, cleaning the floor, and making a bubble bath for yourself always makes you feel better. Reward yourself with small accomplishments every day, and you will notice how your life gradually changes for the better.
- Renew — Take a hot bath and wash your hair; it will make you feel like a whole new person even you are sick and tired.
- Resell — Do not store the things that you no longer use. Keep your home clean and clutter-free, and your mind will be clear.
- Recycle — Be conscious of how you dispose of your waste, whether you are getting rid of household items and old clothes, or old habits and relationships.
Another dimension of cleanliness is the internal cleanliness of your physical body. Eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, drinking too much coffee, or eating too much sugar are unhealthy habits that spoil the purity of our physical bodies. Just as you keep everything around you clean and tidy, think of your body as the home for your soul, and try maintaining its purity. If your home is dirty, your soul cannot be in peace. Mind-altering substances affect the mind and body alike and cause more stress than they are meant to treat. Keep away from everything excessive, teach your body to regulate yourself, and it will thank you for it by keeping your mind clear.
- Retreat — When you feel overwhelmed by stress, take some time for yourself. Go for a walk or a swim, meet your friends, go shopping, meditate, watch a movie, or take a trip to the country.
- Regenerate — Loving yourself means giving yourself time to relax and restore your strength. Meditation is a good way to free your mind of all thoughts and troubles and get in touch with your physical self.
Education & Career
I am not going to say much about career and education, although it is the second most important thing in life after physical health. For me, having a job is not about making money; it is about bringing something good to the world and making it a better place through your efforts. An ideal job should be based on three “S”: satisfaction, self-expression, and service. To be happy and content, you need to do what you love and what you are good at, invest your energy in it and know that you are of service to society. I believe that every person has a place in this world, and if one is not happy with what they do, it only means that they have not found it just yet. So do not give up, keep looking, and remember that you can never be too old to pursue your dreams.
- Reevaluate — If you are not happy with your current job, do not be afraid to acknowledge it and reevaluate your efforts. Are you doing enough, or are you just wasting your time? Is it not the right place for you, or are you simply not putting enough effort to achieve success? Honesty is the key to finding your true calling.
- Rewind — Do not be afraid to start over if you are doing your best but are still dissatisfied. Getting a new profession may require starting from scratch, but once you find your path, your hard work will be rewarded.
Speaking about career and education, I have to touch upon the issue of discrimination. Black people still encounter a lot of prejudice in modern society. We are paid less, we get worse education, we are unfairly stopped by the police, and we do not get the same privileges as the white population (Nunnally, 2012). For me, it only means that we have to try extra hard. On the community level, it implies “recognizing a positive life outlook, knowing about white prejudice, and developing black agency to counter racial injustice” (Nunnally, 2012). On the personal level, it means working hard to prove that we are no worse than while people, we can do the same things even better than others, and we have the same rights to health care, high salary, and good education. This is the way it is, and the only thing we can do is accept reality as it is and do everything in our power to change it for the better.
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Art & Music
Creativity is inherent to every human being, and even if you do not think of yourself as a creative person, it does not mean that you do not have talents that just need to be awoken. To me, it does not matter what sort of creative activity I am engaged in. Blindness has opened my eyes to a wide array of possibilities that I did not realize were there. Practicing your favorite activity just for 30 minutes a day changes your life greatly. You start to think of the world not as something that you can only observe and consume, but as a space that you can change and enrich through your own creative efforts (Weiner, 2012). Every person’s vision and experience are unique, and you do not have to be a master to bring something new to the world—something that others could relate and react to.
- Reinvent — Try thinking about ordinary things from a new perspective and bring your vision into the world.
Listening to music, visiting museums, watching good movies, and exploring nature give you a finer appreciation of the universe around you. By looking at or listening to something beautiful, you start to perceive the beauty around and look at the world from an esthetic perspective. I have learned to enjoy the melody of a well-articulated voice telling a story, the harmony of classical music, traditional black rhythms, and even the sounds of daily life passing by. Art and music help you to look out of your shell, break out of the self-centered world that we all live in, and start to see yourself as a part of the greater whole.
- Read — Books are windows to the world, and reading is like traveling that fills you with emotions and helps to escape reality. Start reading for at least 15 minutes a day, and a whole new dimension of life will open to you.
- Retrain — Learn to think positively and memorize positive experiences. Fill your mind with everything that is good for you: books, movies, art, medication, scriptures, prayers, or affirmations. Share them with your family, friends, and colleagues and ask them to share their knowledge with you as well.
For black women, race and gender can be seen as barriers to self-expression in modern society that is dominated by predominantly white male culture. In her book Further to fly: Black women and the politics of empowerment, Sheila Radford-Hill explores the concept of black women’s creativity. She argues that “black women have been systematically denied access to channels for the production of intellectual discourse and creativity” (Radford-Hill, 2000, p. 70). Black women have not been able to produce creative works valued and appreciated by the general public because of the way society has perceived them. The author claims that “the real basis of black feminist creativity, whether commercial, analytical, or artistic, is its potential to explore new dimensions—a potential that I believe can be realized only when black feminist creativity is connected to real black people engaged in the necessary struggle” (Radford-Hill, 2000, p. 74). The book was written ten years ago, and, as I believe, although black women today still experience a lot of difficulties, the situation is gradually changing for good, and there are more opportunities for us to express ourselves nowadays.
Spirituality & Cleansing
Now it is time to talk about spiritual cleanliness that incorporates the purity of thoughts and intentions. Keeping your body and personal space clean is where it starts, but to live a harmonious life, you need to act accordingly. The key here is to know your flaws and virtues and make the right choice in difficult situations. If you know that you are greedy, you need to accept it and choose to be generous when given an opportunity. Remember that your emotions become your actions, your actions become your habits, and your habits become your character. To change your character, you need to change the way you act when you experience certain feelings. Learn to take time when you are angry, forgive when you are hurt, give instead of taking, and you will gradually notice how you develop into a different person. Every small step is an accomplishment, and you need to praise yourself and your Higher Power for every achievement. No one is perfect, pure, virtuous, and enlightened by nature. Becoming a better person is hard work that is open to everyone willing to take this road.
- Remember — Keep a journal of your improvements, focus on small accomplishments, and encourage yourself to develop them into habits.
Love & Self Love
Love is the power that makes the world go round. Sometimes, it is the easiest and sometimes the hardest thing to practice. It is easy to enjoy the positive changes that happen in your life: getting a better job, buying a new car, moving to a new house, or finding a person who cares for you. Accepting traumatic events is harder, and it may seem that there is no room for love left when you lose your job, fall ill, or lose your loved ones. But these are the times when love can save you and give you a new hope and strength to go on with your life. By practicing spiritual principles, one can learn to perceive everything that happens in their life with love rather than resistance and treat themselves and those around them with gratitude and respect.
The first principle is the acceptance of yourself and other people with all their flaws. No one is perfect, the only thing people care about is themselves, and everyone can do terrible things when their interests are in danger. By knowing it and accepting it, it is easier to see and appreciate the good things that people are capable of: selfless acts, charity, self-sacrifice, unconditional love, help, and devotion.
The second principle is taking responsibility for yourself and those you love. The third principle is reciprocity—paying others with the same coin when they do something good to you or treat you nicely. A self-centered person always feels like others owe them something, and no matter what they do, it is not enough. The whole world circles around them, and their interests are the most important thing in the universe. If you understand that you are just a small part of the world, and the feelings and desires of other people are just as important as yours, you learn to appreciate every act of kindness and pay others back. Remember to always treat others the way you want to be treated.
Meditation & Prayer
Meditation and prayer are the two ways of communicating with your Higher Power and structuring your thoughts. Some people say that through prayer we ask questions, while through mediation we get the answers. For others, prayer is the way of communicating with God, while meditation is a way to connect to your inner self. These two religious practices can be a part of your life even if you are not religious in a traditional sense. They can be viewed as a means of achieving transcendence and raising your mind above the profanities of everyday life to get closer to spiritual awakening and harmony with your own self and the world around you.
The most common mistake that people make when praying is asking instead of thanking. If you see God as someone who has to give you what you ask for and cater to your every need, you will be disappointed. No human or supernatural power in the world can satisfy all your needs and ambitions. Try thinking instead of asking, and you will see the difference. I thank God for everything I have: for people around me, for the opportunities that I have despite my condition, for the hardships and sorrows He sent me to make me stronger. I try to focus on the things and opportunities that I possess rather than on the things that I lack or have lost. It helps me appreciate what I have and treat people with love and sympathy.
Meditation is an ancient practice that is aimed to train a person’s awareness and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. It helps to reduce anxiety, stress, pain, fear, and depression. The most common mistake that people make when practicing meditation is using this time to think about their daily life and problems. For me, meditation is not supposed to be about thinking; it is about relaxing your body and mind and freeing yourself from thoughts. Learning to meditate is not easy; it requires focus and determination, but the positive effects for the body and mind are fantastic.
- Revive — Meditation is conscious sleep that revives your body and mind. When you need to reconnect with your physical self, try to lie down, close your eyes, focus on your breath, and free your mind of all thoughts. Starts with 10 minutes a day, and you will immediately feel the effect.
- Resurge — Once you put yourself together, get back out there with a whole new attitude and a new approach.
Loss & Grief
I have lost two brothers to police violence, and I know what anger and grief are. They are the worst feelings in the world and the ones that are most hard to deal with both physically and mentally. It is said that there are no “good” or “bad” feelings; it is just that some feelings are harder to experience than others. Time is the only thing that heals, and all feelings pass as time goes by. A person can live through everything if they have something to live for, and that is the most important thing to remember.
Psychologists distinguish between five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them. However, they are universal to people from any background, race, and culture. In their book On grief and grieving, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler argue that the road to acceptance is a struggle that not everyone will or can fully embrace, but “little by little, we withdraw our energy from the loss and begin to invest it in life; we put the loss into perspective, learning how to remember our loved ones and commemorate the loss” (Kubler-Ross & Kessler, 2005, p. 24). Praying, meditating, finding something to care about, caring about your physical self, and slowly recovering your energy are the ways to gradually overcome the feelings that initially seem insufferable.
- Rethink — Make an appointment with a therapist if you cannot get over hard feelings yourself. A specialist can provide you with new insights into the situation and offer you counseling and support.
- Release — As the time passes, you will be able to forgive, forget, and let go. It can be hard, but if we do not let go of our past, we cannot embrace the future.
The world around us is full of injustice: political, social, domestic, economic, and religious. Black people experience most of it in their everyday life. We are judged by stereotypes, we face prejudice at the workspace, in schools and universities, and even on the streets. Black women are the most vulnerable group in society because we find themselves at the intersection of race and gender stereotypes. For her article for Harvard Business Review, Maura Cheeks interviewed ten women of color to understand the challenges they face at the workplace and learn how they cope with these challenges. All women mentioned the pressure of trying to live up to a professional ideal when feeling like they are constantly being watched and judged. They described different techniques that they use to cope with this tension.
Most of them talked a lot about having to dampen some aspects of their personalities to feel like they could fit into the culture of their workplace. Some women said that they code-switch, meaning that they try to embrace the dominant culture among their coworkers and employers and switch to a more authentic self when around family and friends (Cheeks, 2018). This strategy is about adapting, which seems natural; however, the issue of being required to adapt is a serious problem for our society. We are a talented minority, but we are a minority, and having to deviate from our authentic selves in order to be able to “fit” is a serious issue. Authenticity is integral to well-being, and I think that we should continue to fight our road towards acceptance.
- Reset — When you get involved in a conflict, take a pause and distance yourself from it both physically and mentally. Instead of feeding and nurturing the problem, use this energy to take care of yourself. Focus only on problems that can be solved, and do not waste your time on something you cannot change.
- Refrain — When a conflict escalates, sometimes it is better to say nothing and step aside.
It’s hard to imagine modern life without social media. Through social networks, we communicate with our friends, learn what is going on in the world around us, look for jobs and love interests, express ourselves, and share details of our lives. It is the richest means of communication that provides the widest range of opportunities and is available to anyone who has access to the internet.
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Social media has transformed our lives, bringing in endless possibilities and new challenges. In a world where we have all means to express ourselves, being yourself has become surprisingly difficult. Being able to learn everything about everyone, we start to compare, judge, envy, and build our lives by what we see on the web. Open your Instagram feed, and in a glimpse, you will see where your more successful colleague has spent his weekend, what awesome makeup your pretty girlfriend has, and what a great time pretty much everyone seems to have. When you start comparing yourself to others, your life seems boring and miserable, and you stop enjoying what you have.
Well, there are some simple rules you can follow to use social networks to your advantage without turning them into a source of self-hatred and insecurity. First, stop aimlessly wasting your time on social media. Know your purpose, and do not allow yourself to submerge into the depths of other people’s lives. It’s OK to want to know what is going on in the world, but in the end, it is only your life that matters. You can never substitute real emotions, the joy of meeting people, or the feeling of accomplishment with aimless net surfing full of envy and regrets. Start doing instead of observing, and you will not need to judge or compare.
Second, remember that social media pages work as a representation of something that people want the world to know about them. We post the most beautiful pictures of ourselves, share only good things that happen to us, and use all available means to make ourselves look better, happier, and more interesting than we are in real life. There is a huge difference between a social persona and a real one, and there is no way that other people are always happy while you sometimes feel lonely and miserable. We all just want to make it seem like we are.
- Reserve — Say less, do more; people are defined by actions, not words. Do not try to make an impression; your actions will speak for themselves without even your knowledge.
Third, give up comparing yourself to others and try comparing yourself with your past self instead. Yeah, your friend is skinny, and you are not, but you work out, and you have set a goal, and you are working hard to achieve it. The general principle here is that we envy only the things that we could actually have. If we are jealous of a person who can sing beautifully, it simply means that we want to learn to sing. Well, what stands in our way? Nothing except our own laziness. If you start practicing today, in a few months you will be surprised with your progress. So, stop envying, start doing something with your life, and you will be able to share something awesome with your friends as well.
Forth, social media are a really powerful means of setting social agenda. The ongoing Black Lives Matter movement has received wide coverage on all social networks, raising public awareness of the issue and uniting people from all over the world. Instead of using social media to represent ourselves, we can bring up topics that are important to our race, gender, social group, or society in general. Next time, when you feel the urge to post something, try making it not about yourself but the things that matter, and you will see the difference.
- Resist — Resist the temptation to respond or post something toxic. No matter how angry you are with something, do not let your negative feelings take hold of you. Take a deep breath, relax, and focus on the positive.
Dating & Relationships
Every woman dreams of meeting a man that would love her, cherish her, marry her, and be there for her forever. From childhood, we were raised to believe that we need someone to live happily ever after with. And we feel incomplete when we have nobody around to take care of us and to share our lives with. Love makes the world go around, and we all need both the comfort and the emotional attachment inherent to a happy relationship.
However, our lives are now different from those of our ancestors who married a person and lived with them their whole life not because it was their choice but because divorce was not approved of by society. Now we can date a person, break up with them after a couple of months, and find another one who makes us happier. For some, polygamy is a choice, while others see it as a search for the right person. In modern society, dating is a game, and a happy relationship is a prize.
Regardless of where you are in the dating arena — whether you are in a stable, long-lasting relationship, or in search of a partner, there are some rules that can make your love life happier. The first and most important thing is the principle of self-sufficiency. Being self-sufficient means relying only on yourself. Regardless of whether you have a partner or not, you are essentially alone in this universe. You should accept responsibility for your own life and always remember that your ability to survive and achieve your goals lies only in your own hands. No partner, however loving, caring, and devoted, will not live your life for you; and people are attracted to individuals who do not need anyone to be happy. Learn to love yourself, take care of yourself, and rely only on your own abilities and resources, are people will respect you and be attracted to you.
The second principle which is often neglected in a relationship is respect towards your partner. With cases of abuse and domestic violence being revealed on social media, the more trivial side of the matter is really touched upon. You will be surprised to know how many people do not respect their partners as separate human beings with their own goals, wishes, and feelings. When we love a person, we strive to own them. We think of our partners as a part of ourselves that is supposed to have the same views and aspirations that we have. We think that a person should make us happy and care for us, especially if we care about them. But pursuing our egoistic desires has nothing to do with respect. Realizing that your partner is a separate human being is the most important thing in any relationship. We expect the guy to call us after a first date because we liked him, and we believe that our husbands must bring us flowers every week after five years of marriage. In our heads, the world centers around us, and other human beings must live up to our expectations of them. The knowledge that other people may not like us, and our partners may have other life goals apart from being at our side is the key to being content and grateful for what we have. A relationship is not about getting as much love and attention as you can, it is about two people going through life hand in hand, helping and supporting each other.
Next time when going on a date or spending a romantic weekend with your partner, try thinking not about what you want and how another person can satisfy your needs, but of what you can do for them. If you are happy with yourself and do not expect anyone to carry the burdens of your life for you, you will be able to build a strong, long-lasting relationship based on love and respect. If you are self-sufficient, you have that power and light within you that people admire and are attracted to; you can be happy on your own and grateful towards the people that you share your life with.
Being a single parent is hard because kids are a responsibility that is meant for two. A child needs a mother and a father who share the care and play complementing roles in their lives. However, nowadays, when people are not committed to one partner for their whole life, more and more people raise their kids alone, either out of necessity or by conscious choice.
Raising a child alone means having responsibility for all aspects of care. It can be hard, stressful, and financially and emotionally challenging. However, with single-parent families becoming more and more common nowadays, you do not need to feel alone in raising the child all by yourself. If you manage to achieve balance, you can turn your parenting experience into an exciting journey rather than a heavy burden.
First, try to find a group of people who can support you. While your child is only your responsibility, there are people who can help: your parents, the father of the child, your friends, fellow single mothers, and professional caregivers. Hire a babysitter whom you can trust if you can afford it. Join a support group for single mothers for additional help and advice. Be sure not to overestimate your abilities and overburden yourself with the daily routine that can be shared. Do not think that someone owes you something but be grateful to people you can rely on.
Second, stay positive and do not let the hardships break you down. Yes, you are a single mom, and your life is hard, but your child is the most important thing in the world, and they should be raised without feeling deprived of anything just because you raise them alone. Your kid should always have your unconditional life and support. And if you need to sacrifice some aspects of your life to become a better parent, you should probably do it. The time will come when you will have all the time in the world for yourself, but right now you have a small human being to take care of.
Third, regardless of how stressed you are, do not forget about yourself. Include physical activities in your daily routine, eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep when you get the chance, and take time to relax. Sure, it is impossible to always be healthy and glowing, but investing all your strengths and powers into one thing has never done anyone any good. Give yourself a timeout by arranging for childcare at least for a few hours a week, and it will help you reboot even if you are really tired. First, put an oxygen mask on yourself and then on your child to be sure that you have enough mental and physical strength to take care of them. It is OK to be honest with your kids if you are having a difficult time. You are not a robot, and you can get tired and overwhelmed. However, try to stay positive and always keep your sense of humor when dealing with everyday challenges.
Single parenting is all about finding a balance. Establishing a routine makes things easier, and as your child grows up, things gradually change for the better. All your efforts and struggles pay up when you see how your kids turn into good people. If you treat them with love and teach them to love themselves and the world around them, they see a good example and grow up happy and strong. Parenting is the greatest thing in the world, and you should enjoy every moment of it.
In conclusion, I would like to sum up some of the principles covered in this essay.
- “Cleanliness is next to godliness”—keeping your house and your body clean is the foundation for the purity of mind.
- An ideal job is based on three “S”: satisfaction, self-expression, and service.
- Creativity is inherent to every human being and helps to appreciate the world around you.
- The road to spiritual purity lies in knowing your flaws and virtues and making the right choice in difficult situations. To change your character, you need to change the way you react to situations.
- Learn to be grateful for the things you have rather than focus on the things you lack.
- Treat others as you want to be treated.
- Pray and meditate to connect with your Higher Power and structure your thoughts.
- Some feelings, particularly grief, are harder to experience than others, but they too pass.
- The world is full of injustice, and the only thing we can do is accept it the way it is and try to change what we can to make it a better place.
- Do not waste your time on social media. Start doing something instead of keeping track of other people’s lives.
- Learn to rely on yourself, and people will be attracted to you. Remember that you cannot be anything to anyone until you are something to yourself.
- Treat your partner with respect and remember that they are separate human beings with their own feelings, desires, and aspirations.
- Raise your child as you would have liked yourself to be raised. Try to find a balance between unconditional love and keeping your strength.
- 21 Important R’s: resolve, replenish, renew, resell, recycle, retreat, regenerate, reevaluate, rewind, reinvent, read, retrain, remember, revive, resurge, rethink, release, reset, refrain, reserve, resist.
Cheeks, M. (2018). How black women describe navigating race and gender in the workplace. Harvard Business Review. Web.
Kubler-Ross, E., & Kessler, D. (2005). On grief and grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss. Simon and Schuster.
Nunnally, S. (2012). Trust in Black America: Race, discrimination, and politics. NYU Press.
Radford-Hill, S. (2000). Further to fly: Black women and the politics and empowerment. U of Minnesota Press.
Weiner, R. (2012). Creativity and beyond: Cultures, values, and change. SUNY Press.