Category Archives: What I’ve Learned

Be the Light

It’s been a while since my last post so let me start by apologizing for my procrastination and general fear of sharing, but I also want to thank my loyal readers (all ten of y’all) and first time readers for reading. 

Now that that’s squared away. Hey y’all!

I created this blog for many reasons, two of them being to uplift people and let them know that they are not alone. In the last few months, I lost sight of that.  I wanted everything to be perfect and of course, nothing was perfect meaning nothing was published. I also felt that what I was writing wasn’t worth sharing. I’ve been writing, Lord knows I’ve been writing. Notebooks, napkins, the “Notes” app in my iPhone, my bathroom mirror. There are plenty of words, but do they matter? Does my blog actually help anyone? More than that, do I make a difference? A conversation with my favorite person made me remember why I must keep writing and sharing this journey.

We were sitting in her living room and she said something along the lines of “I just feel like my life has no purpose. What’s the point?” Loving her as much as I do, hearing those words made my heart hurt. How could she be as beautifully made as she is, and be blind to her own perfection? Does she not realize how important she is? Have I made her feel unappreciated? My mind was flooding with questions, but none of them came out. Before I could think of a reassuring response, I heard myself say:

“Maybe you’re not here for you right now.Just think of what our lives would be without you”

I wasn’t speaking only of myself, but also my sister, boyfriend, cousins, and everyone else whose life she plays a pivotal role in. I call her every day after work even though I’ve texted her throughout the day. She’s undeniably my best friend, but she’s a friend, mother, and counselor to so many others and I knew one day she would realize that.

A few days later, we were in her living room and she said, “You know, you were right about what you said the other day.” She helped someone with an issue they were working through and they expressed their gratitude and appreciation for her.

That conversation was just as eye opening for me as it was for her. I found that the purpose of a moment in life isn’t always spelled out. There will be times in life when it seems like nothing is going on or you aren’t accomplishing anything but those moments are so important. Share your love, wisdom and knowledge and be open to receive the same from others. Smile when you don’t feel like it. Be kind to others and yourself. In those moments when you’re feeling useless, push through and continue to be the light for others because it’s in that same light that you will find yourself.

 

“Even if you are a small forest surviving off of moon alone, your light is extraordinary.”
― Nayyirah Waheed

 

Quiet Moment

Whether you give up on all your goals or pursue them with everything you have, the world around you keeps going. It seems like everyone is doing everything everywhere. It seems like everywhere I turn someone is getting married, having children, or reaching their career goals. It’s so easy to get lost in what everyone else is doing because it looks so…nice. In March, I fell off track. I wasn’t getting the results that I wanted from exercise, writing or anything else so I dropped everything. I just completely stopped.

After a mediocre work day, I was scrolling through Instagram when my friend’s post came up. The photo and caption are both so simple, but they hit so hard. Though his post focused more on perseverance and growth, it made me consider the importance of being quiet. I’m a talker. I hate small talk because I’m awkward, but I love to talk. Regardless of whether it’s about stars, food, or cracks in the concrete, I love to talk. When I’m having a hard time with certain things I prefer to talk through them regardless of whether I’m talking to someone else or seeking expert advice from myself, I talk. The day I saw that photo I received a rejection email from a job I’d recently interviewed for. I wanted to cry and talk but I was at work so I opted out of the convo and crying session. Instead, I blinked a billion times and turned up my “Dreamville” playlist until I couldn’t hear myself think about the sting of another rejection. In that moment with J. Cole’s Friday Night Lights mixtape intro playing in my ears, I was quiet. Aside from the few words coming through my earbuds, my mind was completely quiet for about thirty seconds. It was like I’d pressed a reset button and was allowing myself to process more than just that moment.

That thirty seconds and this photo made me realize how powerful silence can be. It helped me bring my focus back to what truly matters to me and not what looks good on other people. The fact is, I needed to be honest with myself. What was I doing to make me see the results of my exercise? (Side note: I was overeating during meals and rewarding myself with snack cakes/candy bars when I’d complete a mediocre workout so there’s that…) Why was I being so critical of everything I wrote, instead of enjoying the therapeutic feeling of clearing my mind of things that I couldn’t talk about? What made me ready for the job that I wanted so bad? Did I even truly want the job or did I just want the job because of how it would look? If it wasn’t for silence, I would probably still be pouting over the fact that things aren’t going the way that I expected them to go.

I’m finally out of that slump! The first step was honesty; the second step was action. Don’t make the action more difficult than it has to be by telling yourself that you can’t do it or focusing on your previous failures. When it came time for me to act, I allowed all types of negative thoughts to keep me from doing what I knew I needed to do for months! Ultimately, I learned that I had to take a moment to be quiet every once in a while. In my quiet moment, I brag to myself about my accomplishments, forgive myself for the mistakes that I’ve made that I can’t seem to let go of, write down two things that I’m grateful for, and take a final moment to breathe because the best is yet to come.

“Real, sustainable change doesn’t happen in a moment. It’s a process.”

-John C. Maxwell,  Today Matters

Be Hungry

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” “What’s your five-year plan?” “What is your ideal career?”

*Insert blankest of all blank stares here*

I remember when those questions used to excite me. I could easily answer with “I’ll be in college” or “I’ll be graduating from college and moving out of Alabama to work for a large corporation”, but now those same questions result in anxiety and a slight panic. Five years?! I’m still in Alabama, that Financial Analyst career still hasn’t started, and I no longer feel like a large corporation is a must (it’d be nice, though).  It’s easy to get caught up in the fact that I’m not exactly where I want or expect to be. Yes, I graduated and have started a career in my field. Yes, I have time to dedicate to myself that I may not have had if I went straight from college to a more demanding, large corporation. I’m still not where I expected to be.

I know I’m not the only one in this position. I’m not the only one who wakes up most mornings and gets distracted by the difference between what’s real and what was expected. I’m not the only one who feels the need to push harder and be better. That hunger can be so intense and consuming that we forget how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished. We are in the same boat. A bunch of hardworking people who’ve accomplished so much but because we aren’t exactly where we want to be, we live in a constant struggle between what is and what “should be”. We are all hoping and praying we reach our idea of success, happiness, and/or greatness without getting lost along the way.

I got lost. I lost focus of where I was trying to go and I was still waking up feeling the overwhelming disconnect between where I was and where I wanted to be.  Instead of pushing forward, I stopped trying. I knew that I didn’t want to settle with where I was in life, but I also didn’t want to try anymore because I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. Then I had a conversation with my mentor. We were speaking about my career goals when he basically said “You’re still young. You can definitely reach your goals; you just have to keep trying to find a way in.” Mind. Blown.

Seriously, my mind was blown. It may not seem like he said much, but he said exactly what I needed at the time. I’m 23. I turn 24 this year. 24 is a year away from 25 which is five years away from 30 which is too close to 40 and if I’m going to have my yacht by 35, I’ve got to get on it! Our conversation made me realize that while my thinking in fast forward works sometimes, I never actually considered that I have time!

For those in the boat with me, consider this: that hunger that drives you forward can also distract you. Take a moment to look back at what you’ve accomplished. Not just the big accomplishments but the small victories-you graduated, lost two pounds, skipped the snack cake and had carrots instead, wrote a poem, got positive feedback on your craft, etc. Every time you slip or get overwhelmed take the time to remember the accomplishments you reached on the way to your ultimate achievement. The journey is just as important as the achievement so be patient with yourself. Don’t let your hunger make you neglect the present because if you sabotage yourself with negativity and fear now, you don’t get the luxury of achieving your greatest dreams. Keep calm and stay focused.

 

Lesson in Love

I got my last relaxer in January of 2013. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t last without relaxers because my hair’s too thick and the extent of my hairdressing skills ended at flat ironing. I couldn’t handle a big chop-I love my hair and couldn’t imagine life without it so for over a year I kept my hair in braids as much as possible.

In May of 2014, I got the remaining relaxed hair cut off and saw my ‘fro for the first time. There are pictures of me as a child with this huge, thick ‘fro, but I don’t remember that. However, I do remember looking in the mirror on May 13th after the trim and thinking “Oh shit, what am I gonna do with this?!” Funny. The hairdresser looked me dead in my face and said “Oh, hell no. I’m going to braid this up a little because you’re gonna get out of my chair and go somewhere messing in your hair. No.” Clearly, we were on the same wave. She was right. I had no idea what I was doing with my hair but I quickly learned that I had to show my love for my hair. I had to take my time and really try. I developed a whole new love for my hair but most importantly, I developed a new love for myself and others.

I LOVE crowns. My ‘fro is my crown. God blessed me with the most beautiful crown that I’ve ever seen. I look in the mirror on bad days and I shake my hair until I laugh. When I’m washing it, I take my time and put my full attention and effort into getting my crown clean. I rub my scalp with coconut oil. I brush it out until it’s full and huge like a lion’s mane. I smile. I’ve learned to truly love my hair (on dry, scraggly days as well as beautiful lion’s mane days) which taught me to love myself. I take the time to put my full attention and effort into myself.

Here’s what happened:

The lessons that I learned when I was learning to love my hair taught me to love and appreciate others. You’re probably thinking, “How did being self-absorbed teach you to appreciate others?”I feel you. Hear me out, though.

To me, one of the most important facets of self-love is accepting your own imperfections and missteps. The moment you acknowledge your imperfections are a necessary evil that you shouldn’t dwell upon but learn from, is the moment you truly open the door for self-love. When you acknowledge that, you see others differently. Things that used to be unattractive or irritating become vehicles to a deeper understanding. The frustration you used to feel dissipates as you remember that people have bad days, make mistakes, and travel their own paths through a journey that you’ll never experience. They deserve love and compassion-the same love and compassion that we all want as we stumble through life and the challenges that come with it. Love yourself-truly and purely.

 

Photo Credit: Beautaplin IG

It’s Just You

Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. Snapchat.
We log onto social media and see other people’s lives. We follow celebrities and people we don’t know and get caught up in what their lives look like. Society tells us how we should dress or live so unconsciously, we live lives of comparison. “I want that body”, “I need to make that much money so that I can buy that car”, “I need my significant other to look like that, say those things, buy me these things to show me love”, etc. Let’s take a second to think about it, though.

Before you post on Facebook, you think (you should, anyway). You carefully curate that 140 character tweet. You slap a filter on that Instagram photo or you crop it and make sure the caption is perfect! And the snaps! Oh, the snaps MUST BE LIT! You’re painting a picture and dammit, it better be a masterpiece!

Meanwhile, life’s not perfect. The imperfection of life is what makes it a masterpiece.
Though I’ve always been too lazy to try and emulate the lives of others  I did compare myself to people that I don’t even know. Recently, I realized something SO important!

I turned my focus to ME. I decided to be the best me possible for myself and those around me. I do everything with a purpose. I practice yoga because it challenges me physically which then challenges me mentally. I stay positive (realistic, but positive) because I believe that the energy you release is the energy that you will receive. I’m eating better because I hate being addicted to food and junk. I slip and eat snack cakes and fried foods, but I’m working on consistently eating well. I place an emphasis on learning everything I can about myself because I don’t believe that I can be the best me if I don’t know who I am. All that.

I’m surrounded by supportive, honest individuals but we all encounter plenty of people who won’t believe in us. Here’s what I’ve found:

It’s just you.

When you come into this world, it’s just you. Of course, you’re birthed by your mother and for that she should forever be loved, but it’s just you. When you leave this world, it’s just you. That being said, why get caught up in what people say? Those people who put you down probably can’t fathom what you’re trying to accomplish. They can’t imagine going against society or stepping away from generational and cultural norms. It takes a different type of person to TRULY be different, to truly be themselves. Be you, just you. You’re more than enough. You’re amazing and your path to being the greatest version of you will lead you straight to happiness. That’s what’s important. Not likes, followers, and shares, but you and your happiness. Be you.