We all deserve to practice what Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles modeled for us!
How you choose to prioritize yourself may look different from Naomi Osaka or Simone Biles because for many of us saying no or taking a break may mean our livelihoods.
However, one thing they both did that we can all can practice taping into is, as Dominique Dawes
put it, listening to our inner voice. On the news this morning, Ms. Dawes discussed the ways that gymnasts are trained to ignore their inner voice which in turn causes you to disconnect from it. I think about the ways that athletes, black people, people of other marginalized identities, and trauma survivors all have the potential to disconnect from the inner voice. The intersectionality between those identities and/or many others can heighten the intensity of disconnection because of the many pressures, traumas, societal discriminations, and labor expectations that can combine.
For example, a Black woman's mental health concerns and the emotional needs of her inner voice are more times than not influenced by racism, sexism, family concerns, trauma, and societal pressures among other factors. Even star athletes still endure a myriad of concerns that can impact their internal experiences. I think about the struggle in saying no on a national stage and to put themselves first, in a world where individuals overestimate the amount of pain and labor Black people can and should take on. They stood in their truths and listened to their inner voices with minimal explanation for the world.
I am considering what ways I can more often prioritize myself and to listen to my inner voice’s needs more richly. Not only that, I am using these examples to entertain what ways I as a Black woman have the right to prioritize myself over the expectations and goals of the world I live in. A world where labor and production are seen as more valuable than the human body.
Here are some potential ways to act on your own resistance and to prioritize yourself.
1. Take those 20 mins to nap instead of trying to do one more thing before your next obligation.
2. When you are not needed for an event, and you notice some alone time is what you are needing, opt out of attending.
3. Adding your voice to the conversation when the decisions being made impact your labor disproportionately than it does for others.
4. Add your own to this list!
My wish for us all is that we can listen to our inner voice and find fitting practices in the moment that can address the needs of our internal experiences. Now remember that we can only control ourselves and not others. Also remember that going against the labor mindset can be a challenge and will not always be well received. We may not always get our wishes granted, we not always listen to ourselves, and we may not always get supportive responses to our self-prioritized practice. However, in the words of Zora, "If you are silent about your pain, they'll kill you and say you enjoyed it."
Hang in there Melanated Queens and let's support each other in this.