What Exactly is Superwoman Syndrome?

 I’m doing a better job of introducing myself as a writer who is blogging on Superwoman Syndrome.

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned how I didn’t have the “perfect” elevator speech when I met Congressman Elijah Cummings.

Now, since I had that experience, I’m more prepared to talk about what I’m doing during my break from work. (Although just because I’m not getting paid doesn’t mean I’m not working! These blog posts count for something in my opinion.)

Anyway, in one such introduction, I was speaking with a woman who is an engineer by day and a personal stylist by night. (How awesome is that?!) In fact, she’s the stylist for the woman whose event I was attending that particular evening.

I mentioned my blog to her and she asked me a good question. She asked if I specifically defined what “Superwoman Syndrome” is to my audience.
“I think I did,” I replied.

“The fact that you even have to think about it makes me wonder if your audience is clear on what you mean. You don’t want there to be any confusion on what you’re talking about,” she said.

So, I whipped out my phone and pulled up the “About Me” section of my blog to have her read through it. In that brief introduction, I give reference to an article describing the “Black Superwoman Syndrome,” a term coined by psychologist Jazz Keyes, and the ramifications it tends to have on us who identify with these personality traits, mindsets, and world view.

Here’s a snippet from the article:

Black women have been projected to be the backbone of the culture but, who helps them when they’re supporting everyone else? “Damsel in distress” never really fit the black women of today. Instead, they are the decision makers, trailblazing through our community as a beacon of fortitude.

So even when these foundations of the family start to crack and crumble, the establishment that [they’re] holding up refuses to allow them to deal with their own emotional trauma because everyone’s selfishly relying on them while she “suffers in silence.”
“[They’re] needed all the time,” Keyes says, “whether it be to make decisions, whether it be to clean up messes, they’re always the people coming in, being the savior.”

Does it feel personal yet?

These aren’t necessarily negative traits to have, but, it’s a gateway to the real problem that’s severely deteriorating the lives of Black women; depression, anxiety, and stress.
Amani Nuru-Jeter, associate professor of epidemiology, community health and human development of the School of Public Health at the University of California-Berkeley, expresses how the caretaker ideology does more harm to the mental health of the Black woman than the praise of their resilience boost their mental self-confidence.

I also told the woman that in my first blog post, I explained how it affected my work and why I decided to leave my job, start this blog, etc.

After she read it, she gave me some constructive feedback/ another perspective to add to the discussion.

Something that stuck out to her was how I’m battling with this whole notion of perfectionism.

She said that we already are perfect. It’s in our DNA. But maybe I’m trying to be someone else’s version of “perfect.” My parents’, perhaps.

My version of perfect has worked for me. It’s gotten me all of the success I’ve achieved thus far in my life. It’s my superpower, in essence, according to her.

She suggested that maybe we don’t need to throw our capes off completely. Maybe we just need to change the size, the shape, the color. (That was the stylist in her speaking, I’m sure!)

Very interesting perspective, wouldn’t you say?!

I totally understand where she’s coming from. Because even in my current introduction (About Me page), I describe it as a syndrome. I describe it as something having a negative connotation.

My whole view towards this subject matter is one of “slaying,” “destroying,” “tearing down” this mindset that affects so many women.

 

But what if I redeemed Superwoman Syndrome?

What if I redefined it in a way that made it more empowering? That shed a more positive light on it, like she did?

What if it’s not an issue to “slay,” but to paint in a more holistic way?

Because that’s ultimately what I want to do. I want us to embrace our humanity.

I guess what I want us to “throw off” is really other people’s expectations of how we should be doing x,y,z.

It all goes back to a person’s heart posture. If they’re doing all of these things—like filling up their schedules to the point of exhaustion—to please people, then that is something that needs to be looked at.

However, if they are naturally a people-lover and they need help setting boundaries, then that is something that can be reframed and redeemed! There’s no need to shame them for lacking boundaries.

We all need to learn at some point.

 

My whole approach to Superwoman Syndrome was just the overarching sense that I had to do everything in my own strength, all at once. Yet, when I realized that this mindset wasn’t working for me, I made some shifts.

I had to teach myself how to take breaks. I had to teach myself how to speak up for what I needed, like an adjusted work schedule, for instance.

The more that I’m growing in my walk with Christ, I’m leaning on Him to fill the gaps that I can’t fill in my own strength. And learning that He already provided the groundwork for me to complete every single thing assigned to me in this lifetime. So I don’t need to strive for my blessings! They’re given to me freely.

That’s what it means to me. To understand the reality that there is only ONE Savior. And it sure isn’t me!

Look at this beautiful verse:

And God is able to make all grace abound, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

All grace. Abounding. All sufficiency. All things. All times. Every good work.

Abundant grace, ya’ll!

That’s what it’s all about.

 

How much freer would we be if we knew that we could rest in God’s grace?

That this grace will take us to the highest of heights because it’s handcrafted for us!

Wow!

What a thought.

So, all of that to say, maybe I’m still grappling with exactly how I want to approach the topic of Superwoman Syndrome. Or superwomanhood in general. Because we are incredible women, yes. But it isn’t our job to save everyone.

Yet, I’m certainly glad that I’m having these enlightening conversations in the beginning as I’m building my following, so I’m better able to communicate exactly what I mean to my audience.

 

If you’re new to the blog, please go back and read a few earlier posts to get a better idea of my mission.

This is a post that I would LOVE feedback on. These are great journaling prompts, too!

Do you define yourself as someone dealing with “superwoman syndrome?”

How does your superpower show up in your life?

Have you tapped into your superpower yet?

What are ways you can redeem your “syndrome” and see it from a more empowering perspective?

 

I’ll report back if I have any new revelations or conversations that add to this perspective!

Until Next Time,

Jess

4 thoughts on “What Exactly is Superwoman Syndrome?

    1. Thank you so much for those kind words, Andrea! I consider you my #1 reader!! As of right now, I don’t have a Facebook page for the blog, but please share these posts with your Facebook network as you see fit!

      Like

  1. Yaaaay!! So happy you are furnther cultivating what Superwoman Syndrome means for you and your journey! Being open to different perspectives and always asking yourself the tough questions is how we heal and learn! Everyday you may find a different way to define what being a superwoman is to you and it will help your readers self identify and be able to grow with you. You are awesome!! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this feedback! Thank you for being the “spark” behind this post!!
      And thank you for that encouragement. I think I am finding that it does indeed show up in different ways each day!

      Like

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