That’s the word that’s been repeating in my mind after reading Dr. Uche Blackstock’s story in Essence Magazine over the weekend (Read it Here)

Dr. Uche showed great power in her ability to leave her medical career and marriage to relearn who SHE WAS. Acknowledging the loneliness and exhaustion of motherhood took an inner strength and honesty many women feel but are unable to vocalize.

Not confined to the identity of “Doctor” “Mother” or Wife” Uche reconnected to the roots of her Igbo derived name which translates to “intention” “will” or “mind”

She demonstrated great power in the way she created her own path, forming a health equity firm (Advancing Health Equity) focused on building diverse and inclusive work environments for healthcare providers and racially competent care for Black patients.

And she continues to demonstrate power as a guiding light to many black female physicians attempting to raise their (and my) voice in a field that has often minimized the underrepresented and overwhelmed.

Dr. Uche Blackstock’s story has an all too familiar undertone of getting lost in the expectations others have for your life, all the while wondering when you will start living for yourself. These external pressures can lead to feelings of unfulfillment, a sense of being trapped and even unworthiness. However there is power in self-awareness, and a great sense of achievement which arrives when we start saying No to others and Yes to our own light. I know, because that’s what I felt 7 years ago when I decided to practice medicine and enjoy life on my terms.

Thank you Dr Uche for speaking your truth and showing that it’s ok to step out of the box in order to step within yourself.

On this Valentines Day I echo Dr. Uche’s sentiments and ask this question to the person reading this:

“How will you keep yourself outside of the box of expectations others have for your life?