I was recently on an introductory consultation call with a prospective client. We were discussing her financial future and how I might be able to best support her right now.
We had reached the portion of the call where I typically ask what their goals and vision for their future life is. In this instance, however, I was met with a lot of responses a la “I don’t know” and “I haven’t really thought about it.”
It seemed that most of my tools for teasing out a client’s individual dreams and goals were not working. I felt a bit stumped as if I was spinning my wheels in deep, deep mud. After I asked the same questions 3-4 different ways, she said ” I need to do some thinking on this. Like so many women of color, I’ve been socialized to practicality. I don’t know what I want.”
When I tell you that my head exploded for several minutes afterward? My brain sounded like Funk Flex’s sound effects on repeat.
It was the most eloquent way to describe something I see every day— women of color who are so often unable to articulate something so simple as “what do I want to achieve?”
I’ve done quite a bit of thinking on this, and I think we as Americans are taught that the American dream is real. We are told stories about the exponential come up of people like Rockefeller, Carnegie, Michael Jordan, and Oprah.
“If they can do it, then you can!”
“America is the land of opportunity! See what they’ve accomplished?”
“Aim for the stars!”
This broader messaging is what inspires so many to come to America to create a “better” life. However, I think the message is different for little black and brown girls regardless of location.
“Don’t dream too big”.”
“Keep your head out of the sky!”
I won’t even try to get into the theories about where this comes from., but I will talk about what the result is as I see it day in and day out in my practice.
Women of color who get a “practical” degree and a “steady” job(as if COVID-19 hasn’t blown right through this concept). They come to me saying things like “I’ll be lucky if I can achieve insert basic life goal here.” The reality is often that they have the assets and/or income to achieve exactly what they want with a little modification.
It makes me want to cry and scream every time a woman is living someone else’s blueprint for her life and not actually going after her dream life. It also motivates me to keep pushing my message that financial empowerment, especially for women of color, is exactly the path forward for women of color.
If you are reading this and it resonates, I want to invite you to think through what you would do without keeping society’s, your family’s or cultural messaging in mind. Then figure out a plan and go do it. If you need help figuring out just how to make it happen, then please reach out to see if I can help.
Either way, go live boldly.