The 3 Deadly Ps: Perception, Perfection, and Productivity

Disclaimer: I think it’s important to note that I am not dead dead. Do not write a thought-provoking post about how I was an inspiration when you know I didn’t like you like that. I will block you.

You are reading my obituary. Because I am dead, I didn’t get the opportunity to write my invite list so I hope I like whoever is reading this.

There isn’t one particular event that caused my death but most things can be tracked back to childhood. To make a long story short, I was about five when I decided I didn’t want to be broke. At that time and well into adulthood, I thought I would be an artist (although I did little outside of daydreaming about being one).

Like many others, Hurricane Katrina had a major impact on me. In addition to loss, it was that experience that made me take school seriously. I needed to be able to take care of myself and possibly others. If I was going to take something seriously (that I never really wanted), it needed to benefit me. After all, I got student loans for this.

I worked hard to secure both an internship then fulltime employment once I graduated. To ensure my advancement, I enrolled in graduate school and whenever I lacked experience in something, I joined a professional organization. I was an active member in several which not only benefited me but often its baby boomer leadership.

I didn’t completely hate everything I did but ran into a pattern of excitement for something new then disappointment for the usual reasons: management, coworkers, environment, lack of resources, etc. Of course, experiences come with lessons but I needed something tangible and when I didn’t get it, I became resentful, angry, and all the other fun emotions that make life a living hell.

Getting knocked up was another event that changed me. Besides the obvious reasons, it forced me to asked questions that can be summarized into three words. Spoiler alert: They are in the title. First, why was perception so important to me? Interestingly, the more I tried to protect my reputation, the more I would experience situations that drug my name through the mud. They include but are not limited to sleeping my way into subpar positions, nepotism, incompetency, sexual harassment, etc.

Universally, I think most black women are programmed to be perfect. That’s evident and how many of us are educated, underemployed, and turning towards entrepreneurship. In addition to education, my work experience, and extracurricular activities, I had to be cognizant of what I wear, what to say, when to say it, or if I should say it. Some people would be surprised to know that I heavily filter myself.

Last but certainly not least, I have to be productive every waking minute. Fun fact: I wrote this on my lunch break. If there is any free minute between work and family, I should be working on my dissertation. Obviously, that should be sufficient but I have all these side hustles, things that I have volunteered for or things that have volunteered me, and a laundry list of stuff that roll into the next week because I didn’t complete them the previous week. The audacity of me to want to take a break, sleep, watch TV, or skip a meetup, event, or conference (that likely features the same 20 people).

And, you know what sucks? No one told me to do this. Maybe someone told you but my parents and grandparents never told me to do any of these things. Interestingly, they have always advocated for me to lighten my load. So, imagine my surprise when I realized I killed myself. And, while there is a shitload of people that have wronged me (and will be featured in my tell-all), if I lived more authentically, validated myself, and sought happiness outside of my employer, you wouldn’t be wearing my face on a t-shirt with angel wings (which I strictly prohibited).

But, what can I do? I have wasted enough time on the past and am looking forward to thriving on the other side. There is better food here.