Limitation and Expectations
When Covid swept through the country and the world in 2020, we all thought life would be back to normal by that spring. We are now in June of 2022 and life isn’t the way it was. Death causes me to think and reflect. Another death, causes me to really stop and reflect.
What limitations have I placed on myself as a woman, as a writer, as a future scientist?
Future scientist? Check out my prior blog post.
It’s taken me some time to realize my limitations are based on expectations. And how that can be a very flawed way of thinking and living. Family identity and values, tied in with cultural beliefs placed expectations upon me that were never my own. As a woman we are taught to be submissive to the point that we disappear. Our wants, needs, desires are second to others. Love is something that’s okay to dream about but be happy with whatever you get. Your dreams don’t really matter. As a black woman, take all of that and increase it one hundred fold.
I never wanted to be a medical doctor. I pass out at the sight of blood, yet I was a pre-med major for two years of undergrad because it was expected of me.
I wanted to be a scientist for NASA. Okay, I wanted to be an astronaut, but NASA had this whole 20/20 vision thing and those are not the eyes God gave me. Though He did give me gorgeous eyes. Thank you Lord. And I love wearing my funky glamour-girl glasses.
As a child I found joy, peace, and comfort in the pages of a book and then in writing my own plays and books and short stories. Those genres I wrote in were: sci-fi, fantasy, horror. Now the horror I know was an add-on as a way for my mind to process trauma. The fantasy was fueled by my daily expedition into the forest around my home. The sci-fi—that was fueled by my nightly star gazing and my science classes.
Girls in STEM was not a thing in my generation. The most we got was: Nurse, Doctor, or Teacher. I wanted to be a scientist. Yet I was constantly steered away from that path, including math teachers that purposefully left me ignorant on the math I would have needed to succeed as a college science major.
Girls as writers was not a thing in my generation. The most we got was: Teacher, or Social Worker.
2012 I had a conversation with a writing teacher about how I write novels and screenplays. This person told me I was wrong to do both and that I had to pick one. That I could only write novels or write screenplays. I pointed out to her people like Neil Gamon, Neil Shusterman, Suzanne Collins, Stephen King who write in both formats. Why is it okay for them to write in multiple formats but not me? Is it because none of them are female writers of color? Expectations of otherness.
2020 I was doing research for a non-fiction book and came across so many people of color that went against the limitations and expectations placed upon them by their own families and by society. I marveled at the people who triumphed during slavery and even during Jim Crow years. They refused to be less than who they were. Limitations were shattered.
2022 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. The ratio of peanut butter to chocolate is perfect. My life is a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. A harmonious blend of Writer and future Scientist. It defies all limitations and expectations for someone like me.
You don’t have to live a life of limitations and expectations either.
Start that business.
Move to Italy and open a B&B.
Take that culinary class in Paris in the summer.
Move across country.
Be your full, true self. Give 100% of yourself every day. Don’t be limited anymore. Don’t settle for anyone else’s expectations of you.
And if you don’t know what you truly want to do in life, or how to achieve it. Take a day. Grab a notebook and pen, or use the notepad feature on your phone. Pray. Mediate. Take a deep breath. Dive in.