I'm guilty. I still haven't mastered how to set stronger boundaries in my life. No one is really given instructions on how to set boundaries but without them, you are so much more susceptible to self-sabotage and unhealthy relationships. So, what are boundaries and why are they so important to have?
"Boundaries are the limits and rules we set for ourself within relationships" (Marvin Knittel). I think many people would like to believe they are limitless, boundless or even indestructible, including myself sometimes. But that is not always the case. I struggle the most with saying no. I hesitate to say "stop" or "that's enough", with tasks, jobs, even with people. I didn't realize that I had poor boundaries established and as a result, I was crossing my own boundaries and allowing people in my life to also cross the line. I tend to push myself beyond my limits and not pay attention to my body and its needs. However, learning to identify my needs and what I want in my life, then asking myself if those things are being met is helping me set better boundaries. I am not invincible but setting clear boundaries will protect me. If the people or certain habits I have in my life do not reflect what I need, then it's time to reevaluate those people and my habits. But it's hard. Growing up I always felt like I had to be limitless. Many Black women are expected to be strong, fearless and able to take on anything. These expectations are harmful because we end up not being able to say no and being okay with our limits constantly pushed and our boundaries violated. My toxic trait is wanting to be everything for everyone, but I just can't. I often expect others to uphold my boundaries, forgetting that it's my responsibility to. It is my responsibility to say no, to take a break, to balance a healthy work schedule and to simply let go of people who are not treating me the way I want to be treated. I'm still unlearning that. And until I put my wellbeing before my fear of disappointing others, I will self-sabotage and cross my own boundaries over and over again. I never really recognized that I had a right to my own boundaries but now I do. I have the power and full control to make rules in my life that align with my needs and filter out what I don't need. Identifying my limits and accepting them has created a much more positive space that's easier for me to breathe in. Whether those boundaries indicate what time you turn off your phone at night, what days you are not answering calls or emails, how much space you need, how long you can work a day or the amount of money you are willing to lend, it is so important to get clear about what those boundaries are and communicate them. I am still figuring it all out, but ultimately I recognize setting personal boundaries will foster a healthier relationship with myself and clarify what is acceptable in my life and what isn't. I hope others can also take the time to know their own limits and that we can normalize setting boundaries in all relationships. Don't forget you are in full control, set personal boundaries and make it clear about what you will and will not accept in your life.
Learning How to Fly is a visual and written diary series dedicated to all things women and wellness. Through digital storytelling, Keosha shares her personal life experiences and how she navigates her own world and the people around her through the lens of a Black woman. Learning How to Fly reflects on identity, hardships, emotions, love and the lessons they unfold.