Sleepwalking and Donuts

How conscious are you? Are you aware of the world around you, or are you sleepwalking through life, with your eyes wide shut?

We all come to different realizations at different times. What usually happens is: you have an intellectually stimulating conversation, you stumble upon an illuminating blog post, or a friend lends you a must-read book. Suddenly your concept of the world, of yourself, of how life works shifts into something new. Lately I’ve been frustrated to look around and see that alot of people are still unaware and unconscious of the way life works and how people and things around them work.

When I got on the train on Friday, I sat behind these two girls. By girls, they could be anywhere from 15 to 22. They were admiring each other’s nails and hair, and another girl asked one of them who her stylist was and for the stylist’s phone number. When they got up to leave though, one thing I noticed was all 3 girls were significantly overweight.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not pointing fingers. I can stand to lose a few pounds myself. And who knows if these girls aren’t gym buddies or encourage each other to make healthy food choices. I pondered, not for the first time, how black women spend so much time and effort being concerned with periphery matters – our hair, nails, clothes and accessories, tv shows, celebrity trivia – but we neglect the two things in our lives that have the most value and we have the most control over — our minds and bodies.

Stop Making The Donuts

I remember these Dunkin’ Donuts commercials when I was growing up, where the Dunkin’ Donuts guy got up so early he shuffled around like a zombie on his way to make the donuts. Then he came home late, exhausted from his day, only to get up early and do it all over again. So many of us are traveling through life in this unaware state with our brains on autopilot. To compensate for our lack of feeling – not feeling satisfied in our careers, in our love lives, in our financial lives – we mask feelings of inadequacy by overconsuming.

Instead of feeding our brains with knowledge, challenging and utilizing it and consuming stimulating material, we ‘zone out’ with hours and hours of TV, romance novels, games, etc. We allow our bored minds to drive us crazy with worry and self-doubt, avoiding the difficult task of controlling our thoughts, because we ignore that our minds are bored and need something constructive to do. Instead of feeding our bodies with nutritious food and large amounts of water, we overeat and drink sugary juices and sodas, hoping to get that same enjoyment that we don’t know we’re missing. We consume too much sugar, too much salt and too much fat, when our bodies really crave fresh fruits and veggies and water. But we ignore the sluggishness, the fatigue, the illness, and medicate those symptoms with drugs instead of self-care.

I’m so tired of living this way; aren’t you tired too?

Or are you asleep at the wheel and disconnected from the truth that’s before you?

11 thoughts on “Sleepwalking and Donuts

  1. I’m definitely with you on both of these issues…we only get one body and should do our best to care for it and a mind is “a terrible thing to waste”. I get laughs everytime I say this, but over the last two years I have gained a few pounds…not many, but enough for me to notice. So, thank you for keeping this subject in the forefront. We need to hear it as many times a possible in order for us to wake up!!!

    1. you get laughs when you say “a mind is a terrible thing to waste” or that you’ve gained a few pounds?

      And don’t you hate when you say that, and someone minimizes and says “you don’t need to lose any weight” and “you’re fine just the way you are”. Its nice that people don’t want you to feel bad, but at the same time a little frustrating because you’re not how you want to be and the person is not acknowledging that…

      1. I get laughs about the weight gain. I’m 5’10” and the few pounds are not as noticeable, but before you know it it’s a problem that’s out of control. Isn’t that how it all starts anyway? Noticing that there is a problem, but ignoring the signs. We have to wake up!!!

        p.s. This afternoon I will be taking a walk around the block. Enough is enough!!! :-)

        1. yep! Definitely how it starts! And black people are quick to say stuff like “nobody wants a stick” and “that just gives more to hold on to”. Yeah, ok. Its little stuff like my jeans fitting tighter, the sting in my thighs when walking up the stairs, or being winded when I run for the bus that really annoy me. Enough is enough, just as you said and if me feeling good means I’m not attractive to some, then so be it.

  2. Thank you for taking this issue up. It is a very important one but on one hand I think, young people will be young people. As a guardian of a 14-year old girl, I have come to realise that at this age, self-image is what most kids think about, girls and boys. They want to have the best and the latest so they can fit in with the rest and at the same time express their individuality – whether they are fat or thin. It is my job, though, to set the boundaries.

    On the other hand, like you, I think these issues are just symptoms of other deep-seated problems. Black people have a lot of pressure to prove that they measure up and because of the constant hinders a long the road, we have to work multiple times harder than people of other races to get anywhere. This also includes how we you look. The difference here is that fixing the nails, hair and face is quicker and makes you feel good in an instant – despite your skin colour (black has never been a norm of beauty and sadly enough lighter shades are always assumed to be better).

    Weight issues can also be cultural. For example a big behind is an attractive behind in many black societies. The bigger the better and many times you have to eat to get bigger and become attractive. The cooking, that is also another item.

    However, no matter what category they are, I believe that health and self-esteem issues begin at home. As parents our values largely determine what kind of individuals our kids are going to be regardless of which race we belong to. We should live by setting good examples.

    If you take your behind for a stroll or a run a number of times a week, the kids will follow suit. They will only eat what you feed them but if it is not healthy then you are sabotaging them. With regular exercise comes better self-esteem and thus better judgment; a healthy body breeds a health mind.

    It may sound simple but it is a lot of hard work and well worth it in the long run.

    1. So-Run, thanks for your excellent comment. This is exactly what I’m talking about in this post. I get what you’re saying about youngsters… I think these girls are adults though. Maybe on the young side of that but adults. Which doesn’t mean that they’ve evolved past wanting to fit in and be accepted, I recognize that fitting in just has different criteria.

      You’re probably gonna hate that I say this – but if black people are feeling the pressure of living up, we’re not doing a good job of meeting that standard. We are quick to separate ourselves from anything that is not black so I kinda don’t buy that rationale. We do have to work harder in the marketplace, but outside of that I don’t see (and it could be due to my limited vision on this aspect) the effort to even try to be on par with other races. Its cool to be ‘hood’ and shun education; cool to have big butts (and the accompanying big guts and health problems get glossed over); cool to sleep around and be baby mamas and daddies running around without regard to the effects on the children of these relationships; and heaven forbid if you want something else, b/c if you value education, healthy diets, or marriage, then you’re acting white. And if you act white, you’re a sellout and not keeping it real. [I know this statement is a huge generalization, but some of these points hold true with the people I’ve interacted with.]

      Now I used to fall into the instant gratification thing too, until I woke up. Having banging nails, or the latest bag and shoes doesn’t matter nearly as much as how I feel and my health. If I can barely walk in my shoes because I’m overweight, or my hair is falling out from hormonal issues, or I can’t legitimately afford these accessories b/c my financial health is in a shambles, the instant gratification of having these things is just digging me into a deeper hole. Thats what I mean when I say that people are not aware of the way the world around them works. That ‘acting white’ – that different cultural standards of health, wealth and relationships exist for a reason – ain’t all that bad if you take the time to even notice and analyze what these different standards even mean.

      Another part of the awakening process is not blaming where you are in life on your upbringing or cultural standards. In my mind, once you’re an adult and free to make your own decisions, its up to you to set your own life standards and access if the ways in which you currently think will garner the results that you really want. Like you said, attaining a healthy body brings you a healthy mind, and its only hard work at first. Once those habits and new standards are installed in your mindset, its just as much effort as your bad habits used to be.

      1. Anilia, I see where you are coming from; as adults we should take responsibility of our actions and OWN our lives. I do commend all those that are brave and hardworking enough to break free of the stereotypes or beliefs that stand in their way.

        However, that group of people is so small. The majority tend to lead their lives as their parents and all those before them have done. I am not making excuses but traditional and cultural norms have a pretty strong hold on people. We need them to have a sense of belonging and if someone has never experienced anything else, it is not easy for them to even imagine a different life.

        It is not easy to change your ways or your thinking when the (unfavourable) environment you are in stays the same. I think a lot of people are tired of living the way you describe but they don’t know how to make the change so the carry on as usual. They just accept their “destiny”.

        I know the cultural aspect doesn’t explain it all but it can’t be ignored. All those negative things you mentioned are learned and passed on why education is vital (and of course shouldn’t be shunned).

        I have also met people who would rather hide behind “you are selling out” instead of recognising their own shortcomings. And these are people who have the opportunities to become somebody. I have also met people who have become somebody but who look upon others with contempt. Hell I’d cry “sell-out” myself.

        I understand the frustration of seeing things like you mention happen to one’s people over and over again. However, it doesn’t help when we judge or condemn too hard. Change is a slow process.

        1. How do we own our lives if we don’t rely on our own standards for living them? If we rely on the standards that our parents have set, without examining if they’re the right ones for us, then aren’t our parents and society the owners of our lives, and not us?

          I’m not discounting the difficulty of breaking free from cultural and traditional habits. But not even understanding that you have a choice, and ignoring the opportunity to make that choice, is a form of sleepwalking through life. Because making NO choice is still a choice – to let life own you, and not the other way around.

          Its definitely not easy, but the rewards of living in a state of awareness and conscious choice are worth it. A good example would be your own journey to become a runner. You could’ve continued to say “I don’t like running, my family doesn’t run, x kind of people [cultural group you belong to] traditionally aren’t runners” and ignored the desire that you had to conquer the negative connotation in your mind for running. But that’s not what you did. You got off the couch, laced up your shoes and started training. You developed a training plan and followed it with perserverance, dedication and focus. After you’ve completed your first 10K, then you’ll bask in the satisfaction of your achievement and the associated benefits that come from being a runner.

          Anita I agree that change is a slow process that one must be determined to see to the end. But after so much sacrifice has been made in the past, and people continue to sacrifice so that others may live their best lives possible – how long do we stand on the sidelines and watch people continue to sleep through life? You may see my words as condemning those around me; I am simply attempting to wake folks up. You shake someone to wake them up, you don’t patiently tap someone on the shoulder and hope they eventually get the message.

  3. It so saddens me to see black women overweight so young. All this ‘black men like their women big’ is so 80s. No black man under 30 worth anything is trying to get with a fat sister, and probably not a man of any other color either. Thick is one thing, but fat is a whole ‘nother. I see sisters 300 or 400lbs who say they have “curves”. That is not curvy or cute, it’s just fat, and it’s disingenuous to suggest otherwise. All the weaves, nails and clothes in the world is not going to make you attract a quality man if you are obese. Join a gym and forgo the $100 hair appt. each Saturday. Duh! Way too many of us have diabetes and other ailments. Quit the KFC (always in black neighborhoods, and it’s gross), eat some vegetables and try yoga or jogging.

    It’s another one of those politically incorrect things we are not supposed to say. If you are a fat black woman you are limiting yourself to a small, small pool of men who are probably not middle class or college-educated.

    I don’t want to hear any “my friend is obese and dating a Harvard Law professor/astronaut” mess. Those situations are rare. Look at MoNique, An Oscar-winning actress, who has to settle for an open marriage with a piece of man…

    I saw a recent video of Jennifer Holliday, she is now a normal size, not by any means skeletal, and she is simply gorgeous. No one, man or woman, looks their best at 5’5 or 5’6 and 250lbs or more.

    1. OMG…*gasping for breath* I’m cracking up over here… your comment was hilarious! And you know what, its quite insulting for a woman to alter her appearance based on what men find attractive. Some men keep themselves in shape to be more attractive, and some don’t. They just get in where they fit in.

      “That is not curvy or cute, it’s just fat, and it’s disingenuous to suggest otherwise. All the weaves, nails and clothes in the world is not going to make you attract a quality man if you are obese. ”
      Yep, I’m with you. That’s a sign of being asleep. And when you point out these things, people get offended and willingly ignore how the rest of the world works. Hair, nails and accessories are nice, but men like bodies more IMO.

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