* Written by Brittany Langford for YettiSays Self-Love Month | “For Black Girls” post series
I spent the majority of my twenties setting goals for myself – goals I wanted to accomplish by 30. I thought I would have a house, husband, and a child by now. Coming from a family where children were not necessarily planned and higher education was not necessarily a priority, I wanted to change that. I told myself from a young age I would finish college, establish myself, fall in love, then wed – in that order.
I met the love of my life at 24. At 26, I suffered a miscarriage and I was diagnosed with PCOS. For those of you unfamiliar with PCOS, it stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome. It’s a hormonal disorder in which women develop cysts on their ovaries. Symptoms may vary from woman to woman, but in most cases, there’s uncontrollable weight gain, breakouts, extreme fatigue, mood swings, and for some, infertility. I remember sitting in my doctor’s office numb, sad for having lost a baby, but also wondering if I was ever going to be able to have children.
Up until that point in life, I had finished my degree, relocated to Virginia, was busy climbing the corporate ladder while cohabitating with the love of my life all according to plan. This rocked my world. For the first time, I felt like I lost control of my life. I felt like I was running out of time. What happens if I can’t have children? What happens if my dreams don’t come to life? I had spent years working my ass off. I made the right choices. I stayed out of trouble growing up. I put myself through college while working. I struggled on my own when I moved out. I made a life for myself. I fell in love with a wonderful man and we made all these plans to one day have a family of our own. PCOS now stood in the way of my final puzzle piece. And even worse, I cried myself to sleep many nights worried that my infertility would be a deal-breaker.
I felt like I was running out of time. It made me depressed. I attempted to suppress all these worries until one day I had a panic attack. My anxiety developed and I knew I needed help. I started therapy at 27.
In the first session, my therapist asked me, “Brittany, what happens if your plans don’t go exactly the way you imagined? Do you just stop? Do you fail?” I remember just looking at the floor as tears rolled down my cheeks and admitted for the first time that my perfectionism was destroying my mental health. I told her I felt like I was running out of time. That I should have XYZ accomplished by now. I was fixated on this number 30. After multiple sessions, crying, and a few epiphanies later, I unpacked my sense of urgency. My father died at 30. He was diagnosed with Leukemia and died 6 months later. His time was cut short and subconsciously I carried that with me my entire life. Therapy helped me strip away the fear and self-sabotaging thoughts. It freed my mind and allowed me to be more present.
For 6 months straight, I would write out my daily accomplishments. It helped me reprogram my mind to be present and limit my worries about life. I am now 30. I got engaged 3 weeks ago today. I’m grounded. I’m happy. I’m right on time.
For the black girl who feels she is running out of time, I challenge you to write down what you’ve accomplished. I challenge you to be more present. I challenge you to let go of the expectations that are causing self-sabotage and pain. What is for you will not pass you. Patience is not our ability to wait, but our attitude while waiting. You’re right on time, sis.