The Boss

I’ve been thinking about gratitude and this idea that, as a woman, I’m supposed to be grateful for every little thing. I think that can be dangerous, actually. Having gratitude is a wonderful mindfulness practice. Feeling like I have to just take what I can get in life is not so great.

As I have been reflecting lately on what I want to do, adjusting to this new place and exploring what I want to create and manifest, I realize how long I have struggled with being at the center of my own life. I am becoming more aware of how much this was affecting me when I lived in New York. Living in a city where everyone was scrambling for the same job, the same apartment, the same men, I often felt like I had to just take what presented itself and not expect too much. I’m not sure if that was fatigue or a deeper issue about my worth and what I believed I deserve. I think as women we are often discouraged from dreaming – not just in the hoping sense, but really imagining and creating with our minds what it is we want in life. In a city where it seems like everyone is an artist, an entrepreneur, and has a master’s degree, I often felt small, minimized, like I shouldn’t expand and try to reach for something beyond what was available. It surprises me because I was raised to be smart, to speak up, to believe that I could be whatever I wanted to be. But I wonder if, just under the surface, there was also a message about my limitations as a woman, about when it is best to just get by and not want or ask for too much.

For years I avoided being in charge, saying I didn’t want to run anyone’s organization. In my twenties I had fantasies of one day running my own, but somewhere along the way – between graduate school, trying to earn a living, and trying to figure out what my higher purpose was – that fell by the wayside and I found myself shying away from professional opportunities which would put me in a position of leadership. That also impacted me as an artist and creative person; with the exception of my one-woman show, I avoided doing my own thing more often than not, gravitating toward collaboration. I think on some level I have avoided being a leader because of the responsibility and commitment required to sustain that position.

At the same time, I’m not very good at submitting or doing what I’m told. I talk back. I resist when I am feeling forced in any way. I prefer to work and live at my own pace, and this is also true of my relationships. As a black woman, I am likely to assert myself when entering a professional space especially because I am expected to defer. For as long as I can remember, people have sought my counsel and advice, and have looked to me for guidance. Often, I have been the designated leader in group situations, whether professionally or socially. And yet, it has been difficult to embrace this role as part of my identity.

I left New York and moved to Belize because I want to live a more expansive life. I grew tired of feeling boxed in, literally and figuratively – always being faced with what I couldn’t afford or didn’t have, feeling like I wasn’t working hard enough, the constant striving. As I approach 40, it is becoming more important to be completely empowered in every way possible – from how I look, to how I earn, to what I consume. Moving to Belize was a dream for many years, and actually following through and doing it is showing me what I am capable of, that I am bolder than I think. That I am more powerful than I believed. That I am taking charge of my life and doing what I want and need to thrive. Even with all the wonderful things about being here, that has been the biggest reward so far.

As I settle into living here and navigate the transition of figuring out what kind of work I want to do and which opportunities to respond to, I am aware of how empowered I feel and how it only makes sense that I put my needs and wants first. I feel a definite shift in my perceptions of myself and what is possible. I am choosing every day how I want to live, in spite of things not always working out as planned. Moving to Belize is one of the gutsiest things I have ever done. And I’m The Boss.

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2 thoughts on “The Boss

  1. Thanks, Kyana for so beautifully expressing what I had not been able to articulate about living in NYC. Now living in California, in a small town in the Sierra Nevada mountains, I actually feel more of a sense of possibility and expansion for my life than I did in that world-focused city. Maybe its because there is a reasonable balance between work and rest and play for me here, so I’m able to conceive of doing more because I’m not so dang exhausted all the time! You’re very inspirational. Great to hear you are doing so well.

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