To all the black girls who aren’t outgoing…
I get you.
I get you because I know you. Sh*t, girl, I AM you.
Okay, so I’m not you in an actual, inhabiting-your-brain-like-an-alien sense, but I am someone very similar to you.
If you have anxiety, I fight the same daily battles. That embarrassing thing that happened last year? I still think about what would’ve happened if I had said something else. When I get old, I fully expect to be that Sophia Petrillo-ass b*tch remembering some wack sh*t I did back in the day. “Picture it: New Jersey, 2018…”
In a group, I am never comfortable because I always feel out of place. But like a lot of you who deal with that feeling, I, too, know how to fake it. (We’ll talk later about the “making it” part of that.)
If you have depression, I struggle against those same thoughts. Girl, you know the ones. The thoughts of worthlessness. The thoughts of hopelessness. The thoughts of self-hatred that creep up on you whenever something goes wrong.
If you’re an introvert, I painted my mask with the same socially-acceptable brush. I wear it every time I force myself to leave the house. I polish it every time I meet a new person.
And it’s a great fit because most people can’t even tell that I’m wearing it. After all, years spent practicing the fine art of Normalcy should produce results, right? The School of Life didn’t give this BA in BS to just anyone.
I worked hard for that sh*t. It’s not easy to deal with any of that stuff on the regular, and certainly not with people’s stereotypes and misconceptions forcing us into a tiny, One-Personality-Fits-All box. Let society tell it and it’d be “Black girls: Loud, extroverts.”
Sure, a lot of us are loud and extroverted. And that’s okay. But then there’s the black girls like us who aren’t and that’s the thing that people seem to have a hard time wrapping their heads around.
Everyone else is allowed to have differences in personalities, mental health, and behavior except black folks. Unfortunately for us, that mentality comes with a heavy price for black folks like me. We don’t get the luxury of “Oh, she’s just quirky~!” or “Eh, he’s just a little shy.”
Even our own outgoing friends don’t understand the difficulties. To them, we’re overreacting and need to relax. I can’t tell you how many times a friend has listened to me explain myself, my anxiety, and how that affects my social life and said, “It’s not that serious.”
For an outgoing person, it’s not. Many of them just don’t understand that introversion, anxiety, and depression are factors that affect the way people like myself think. They don’t understand that those things make it extremely hard to “just relax” and be nothing but “good vibes” and sunshine.
And for us, it’s draining to constantly have to explain a million and one “whys.” At some point, donning that Normal Black Girl™ mask becomes the easy way out.
Even when we know that in the long run, when we’re away from society’s eyes, the weight of that f*cking mask has always been more than we can bear.
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Danielle is a superhero nerd with a love of anime and all things Hello Kitty. You can find her playing retro video games, trying out new fashion styles, or changing wigs. Online, you can find her on strange (non)fiction.