BLACK HISTORY MONTH Identity

You ARE The Bag

In a letter written to her younger self, Sistem Contributor Blessing writes about her hopes, lessons and experiences as a young, Black, disabled woman in a world that doesn't always consider you.

“There is a thin line between being grateful and compromising…”

Dear You,
The one who’s spent countless hours keeping that business going, the one who’s trying to get that degree, the one who’s job hunting. Dear you, who managed to get out of bed this morning. I’m here to tell you, that you are enough and you’re doing enough.

For as long as I could remember. I’ve done my best to just get on with things. Keep my head down and my mouth shut, viewing every opportunity as something I should be grateful for rather than something I deserved. Now don’t get me wrong! Gratitude is always important, but there is a thin line between being grateful and compromising to the point of suffering, which is what I did.

As a disabled woman, I understood very early on that accessibility was a common after thought or not thought of at all. Being physically lifted up flights of stairs? Venues with no disabled bathroom? Those are experiences I was used to, even come to expect. But nothing and I mean nothing could have prepared me for the working world, where I was asked, by quite a large company, to use a port-a-loo because there was no disabled toilet. I don’t know about you but it was in this moment I started listing off all the names my mother had blessed me with , a whole me ???? Use a port-a-loo when you have chosen to employ me knowing my requirements? Everyone must be mad!

As barbaric as the whole situation was, it taught one of the most important things to date:

“As long as you are in the room, you deserve to be there”

So often we negotiate our worth because we are trying to “get our foot in the door.” Listen I’m not trying to leave the door ajar, I’m trying to break the whole door down for the next person to comfortably walk though. I deserve to walk into the room as my whole self and leave my whole self in that room, if someone doesn’t like it, which undoubtably someone won’t, that is their problem.

This applies to all areas of life. You know what you like and what you don’t. It’s okay to say yes and it’s also absolutely okay to say no. Set those boundaries where necessary. Although I don’t like doing it because it’s 2020 and I don’t feel like I should have to, before accepting any kind of job I state what my needs are, and I am very specific with them. Indeed it’s disheartening when they’re not met, but my sanity depends on it.

So I implore you to heed what I am telling you, because you’re doing amazing. Gas yourself and always remember:

As long as you are in the room, whatever room that may be, you deserve to be there. But even before then, know you are enough. You are the whole bag treat yourself as such.

Blessing x

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