I’ve had a newfound obsession with Elizabeth Gilbert, the heralded author of the memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, since I saw her last year on Oprah’s Your Best Life Tour in New Jersey. I just adore her messages about dancing gracefully with fear, owing your creativity, and, the one I love the most, becoming a heroine of your own story. Since last year, I have re-read parts of Eat, Pray, Love and am currently reading her new book, Big Magic, watched her Super Soul Sunday interview several times, and have listened to her podcasts with Rob Bell at least once a week.
The Gospel of Gilbert came flowing out of my mouth Tuesday night during a networking event near my home in Brooklyn. I was talking about travel and adventure with a group of Black women, and before I could finish my thoughts, one of the women in the group noted, “I read an article a little while ago that said that black women could never have an Eat, Pray, Love experience like Elizabeth Gilbert. We could never afford to do something like that.” I was quick to reply, “Who said you couldn’t do that? I feel like I’ve been living my own chocolate version of Eat, Pray, Love since I moved to New York. Your journey doesn’t have to look like hers—you have to find the one that works for YOU.” There was a contemplative pause in the conversation and I was glad that I was able to add that viewpoint to the discussion.
I believe that we do ourselves a serious disservice as Black women when we say things like, “Black people don’t do…” or “I’ve never heard of a Black person going…” The only person between you and that never-done-before experience is YOU. In the same way that I relocated to New York, just within the past year, I’ve had other courageous and adventurous Black women around me move to San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, and Hawaii. One of my nail shop buddies is completing her journey in New York next week and taking on a new job in Haiti. We as Black women have to stop diminishing our experiences and being afraid to take on something new because it is deemed as something that “Black people don’t do.”
Most people I know, Black or otherwise, don’t quit their job, wrap up their entire life and move to New York, open their own business, fall in love twice, become a godmother, write a best-selling book, and travel to Jamaica and Trinidad in less than two years. It’s not Eat, Pray, Love, but I’m proud to call it my life. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it Eat, Pray, Love—it would be more like “Faith, Fear, and Wonder” or “Whose Life Is This Again, God?”
Granted, right now, I’m writing this blog as I sit on my couch as a fabulous single auntie and godmother with lots of flexibility in my schedule. But wherever you are, my beautiful and amazing Black women, make it your business to carve out your own piece of adventure and wonder. Enlist one of your single girlfriends to be with your little humans while you go take on something you’ve never done before. Nobody says that your adventure means taking off a year of your life and traveling around the globe. Maybe your version of bold and courageous means getting started on your book or blog or training for your first 5K or jumping from an airplane. Who knows? But never, EVER say the words, “I can’t do [insert your fearless adventure here] because Black people have never done that.” It will only never be done if YOU never take the steps to do it. Don’t be afraid to create your own chocolate version of Eat, Pray, Love. You, my sisters, are worth it.