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  • Writer's pictureArchuleta A. Chisolm

I'll Take A Soft Life, Please

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For Black women like myself, Taraji P. Henson struck an all too familiar nerve when she recently spoke out about unfair pay over the course of her otherwise successful acting career: “I’m just tired of working so hard. Being gracious at what I do, getting paid a fraction of the cost,” she revealed on a publicity tour for The Color Purple.

 

We’ve talked about this before, here in this space – the alluring idea of the “strong Black woman” which is only a disguise of fierceness, fearlessness and resilience. The reality is that it doesn’t stand a chance under the weight of just trying to thrive on a daily basis.  

 

While stress, trauma, depression and racism are imposed on Black women, they also do a number on how we think about ourselves. We forget that we can imagine different ways of being and avoid some of the weight of expectations pushed on us. It is true we have a great deal of work to tackle the systems that hold us back, but we also have the power to begin shifting cultural norms that make life difficult.

 

Let’s talk about the “soft life.”

 

You’ve seen this talked about on social media for a while now, and you may have even read about it. The soft life intentionally pursues an easy and peaceful life. The soft life is a lifestyle of comfort and relaxation with minimal challenges and stress. Black women rarely get to experience that and often are expected to be the backbone of their families.


The ultimate goal is to thrive and enjoy life without having to endure hardships, pain or burdens.

 

The soft life is not about extravagant expressions of materialism or wealth typically associated with a life of leisure, but instead what the day-to-day life of ease could look like. A life of simplicity benefiting peace, tenderness, vulnerability, slow living, intentionality or purpose.

 

Yes Lord, I’m here for it.

 

The soft life is how modern-day Black women are fighting against stress, trauma, depression, racism and reclaiming our livelihood. We see the value and importance in mental health and a wellness mindset or lifestyle. It’s about incorporating balance into your life, making decisions that lead to enjoyment, not being afraid to say “no,” and asking the question: What does it truly mean to live outside of the struggle of survival? In order to truly obtain a soft life, one must unlearn being identified as a “strong Black woman” but how when the most disrespected person in America is the Black woman.

 

After 10 years as an educator in higher education, I found myself unemployed as of December 2023. It was a hard pill to swallow, as I have always had a job, a steady paycheck and benefits. With that, I’ve always had control over what I do and how I do it. Everything was different.

 

I’ve always kept my resume up-to-date, because that is something I’ve always been conditioned to do for those “you-never-know” moments. But now I was literally opening the document to make my job responsibilities past tense, to close the date range, and prepare it to be sent out. Three months later, I’ve sent out hundreds of resumes, had rounds of interviews with different schools and companies, only to be rejected. It starts to mess with your head, and your confidence. I learned quickly that this job search is a game that I don’t have the current rules for. The level of ridiculousness that I have encountered is crazy. It’s mentally and physically stressful; overwhelming. It also has made me question myself and my abilities. The stress spills over into every area of my life.

 

Black women have chronic stress by just living the wear and tear of everyday life. As children, young Black girls are conditioned to believe we must show up and be better than others. We have to work twice as hard and prove ourselves in society. Growing up, we have been told and shown that being resilient and enduring pain is a personal victory and triumph. This mindset is damaging.

 

We could argue that the art of slow living is not attainable, at least for Black women. It’s questionable why this perception exists when women of other races are able to embrace and showcase it in their everyday lives. Black women deserve to experience the same level of peace, mindfulness and wellness as anyone else.

 

It’s easier said than done for a Black woman to just switch to a soft life. It’s a lot of things to unpack and resources such as therapy might not be accessible to everyone. Yes, therapy is a good place to start. Another way is by prioritizing mental and emotional health. Taking care includes getting enough sleep, eating well and working out. Soft life means taking moments to slow down and enjoy life. Time is our most precious commodity.

 

Lately, I’ve made some changes and renewed some things I had placed on the back burner such as:

  • Create a word for the year, set goals, and check in with myself monthly.

  • Start the day with prayer and journaling.

  • Get outdoors and move my body for at least 30 minutes a day.

  • Take a bubble bath.

 

A soft life for Black women provides creativity, slowness and freedom. It allows us to reclaim time and pour into our mental health with intention behind everything we do. We all deserve that.

 

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