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Archive for the category “Frenemies”

Sometimes You Just Can’t Live Up to Other’s Expectations, And It’s Perfectly Fine

I was living my life and enjoying a lovely day while hanging out with a friend. This is a similar friend who I’ve blogged about where we’ve had our ups and downs, and while this person may struggle with some issues, including mild narcissism which I came to this conclusion twice in the same day, I’ve decided to just accept this person as they are and do me.

So we’re hanging out, and all of a sudden she tells me she has to get something off her chest.

I knew where this was going. After spending a lot of emotional energy trying to help her get through some tough times last winter, which included cooking for her and staying at her home, we had an argument over something small.

It’s always something small, that sets me off. So I told her she has a short memory and comes at me for stupid things, yet she has other friends who she won’t hold accountable at all and that with the exception of one or two, I think they are all fake. And her crew goes round and round just being fake to each other and I can’t subscribe to that.

Well during this latest encounter, she wants to go back to that argument to chide me about not talking shit about her friends. I fight rolling my eyes.
Basically, this wasn’t really supposed to be a two-way conversation. And as she talked about me not being there for her, I realized I was in the presence of someone who needed more help and more attention than I’m qualified for.

I felt an overwhelming sense of peace, because I knew what I could give as a friend and what I couldn’t. All I heard was I need, I need and you didn’t and you weren’t there.

As usual, this person expected me to apologize and fall all over myself. I didn’t. I simply said, you need more support than I can give. I feel that you tend to deem your problems more severe than my own and while you may have gone through some very terrible things this year, I supported you as best I could, while navigating my own challenges. I did the very best I could. Do you have a mental health plan in place, because you need other people besides me.

I realized I was in a love languages situation. This person is most certainly a quality time person and thrives on being surrounded by family and friends all the time, while for me, I like physical touch.

At this point I knew I had to be somewhat special, because I do believe I have been doing my best, even though there are times where I get tired of people. I want to spend time alone to gather my thoughts and simply rest.

I’m used to loving a lot of people from a distance because geographically they aren’t close. I’m used to the people in my life having an understanding that I love them and will do what I can for them.

Can I improve? Yes. But I think there is a line, there are some people who expect way too much and can’t see how one person can’t handle and take on all of the other person’s problems. When I asked her what she needed from me specifically, she couldn’t say. She just felt like I wasn’t there.

Sometimes I’m awful at checking up on people. I get wrapped up in the things I’m doing, or I think of people, but I’m way too tired to have a conversation where I’m truly present. That’s why when I do finally have conversations with folks on the phone, it can go to two hours easily. I want to be present. But maybe people really only need 10 or 15 minutes of me when they need me. It’s something I wrangle with.

I don’t like feeling guilty about whether or not I’m giving enough of myself to people, because I feel like it’s in direct competition with giving myself the self-care I need. I hate to see people in pain. My mind immediately goes to thinking of ways to solve a friend’s problem or figuring out the right thing to say. But it’s exhausting.

I’m not sure what the right answer is. But there are times, emotionally where I feel like I need to put my oxygen mask on first, and friends like the one I’ve mentioned seem to feel like me doing that is disrespectful or neglectful to their needs.

I’ve decided in terms of that friendship, I have to be ok with where I am with certain friendships. I already decided a long time ago, that I accept this person and I can’t imagine them not in my life, but sometimes keeping a distance works best for me, but it doesn’t work so well for her. I told that person, that by now they should know me and that my intentions are always good, and I am always concerned, and always want the best for her, but I cannot keep vigil over them 24 hours a day and I can’t be expected to drop everything in my life, for every crisis this person may have everyday. It’s unfair to have that expectation. And this is where other support has to come in, and professional support.

I worry about the boundary lines of where her responsibility lies within herself, and where I’m supposed to come in with support. I feel no person should feel like they are alone, but there are times we all feel that way. We have to spread the responsibility of support around to those who love us. We cannot offload the lion’s share of our worries, pain and neuroses on just one person. But we do have to think of constructive ways to tackle our internal issues and do the work. We won’t grow if we get our fix of having someone just be there to distract us from what’s really eating us. And I think primarily, she likes the distraction and to feel like someone will drop everything for her to feel valued. And that’s a false sense of security, which leads her right back to where she started as soon as someone can’t keep that up. And I think that’s even true of romantic relationships. You can’t drain your human resources just as you would any other resource.

We have to figure out ways to improve our self-care techniques with outside support as a companion to a multi-pronged approach to our emotional well-being. And that may be really challenging, but I think it has to be done.

I love my friends, but I should be allowed to have the space to speak up and say I have limitations. I may disappoint you sometimes, as you may disappoint me. May we not have short memories for the times we offered our support in just the right way, may we have the strength to offer the best support possible when our friends need us most.

Space-Makers and Space-Takers, Which One Are You?

Throughout life, I’ve had experiences with other people who would frustrate me and I’d be upset that other people wouldn’t or couldn’t react to situations the same way I did or the way I thought they should. And then I realized, there are two types of people: Space-Makers and Space-Takers.

When Space-Makers find other Space-Makers and become friends, it’s usually a harmonious situation, because Space-Makers anticipate the needs of others, they are considerate, and they like to keep things peaceful around them. Space-Makers naturally help others, but it doesn’t mean they are automatically pushovers.

And that’s a serious problem when Space-Makers become friends with Space-Takers. Conflict will be lurking in every casual lunch, road trip, and seemingly innocent encounter. It’s even worse if both the Space-Maker and Space-Taker are non-confrontational and passive aggressive.

The fascinating thing about Space-Takers is that, they usually don’t notice they are Space-Takers and they over emphasize or remind you of the few times they’ve made space for others.

Space-Takers inherently make themselves comfortable first, and then ask if others need anything once their needs have been taken care of. They don’t need anyone to tell them to put on the oxygen mask first before helping others, they got that. Self-care is a given.

Space-Takers have the philosophy that they’ll act first and ask for forgiveness later. Space-takers find ways to get what they want, and manage to convince others to do most of the heavy lifting for them. Space-Takers have no problem expressing their displeasure with services rendered, and they demand satisfaction for poor service or any inconvenience. Space-Takers will send back food, ask for discounts, ask to see a supervisor, and may say jerky things like “I pay your salary.” Space-Takers have no problem asking to borrow something from a Space-Maker, with no intention of giving it back, even if the Space-Maker needs the item, but was willing to share it temporarily. I was in a situation where a Space Taker asked to borrow a phone charger. They had the charger for an entire day, and the battery ran low again. The Space-Maker asked for it back, but the Space-Taker said, their battery had run low again, and they needed it. At that moment, I had to remind the Space-Taker that the Space-Maker had already done them a solid the previous day, and probably doesn’t have any more cell phone juice themselves, because they shared their charger. It was a cringe-worthy moment, that made everyone uncomfortable, including the Space-Maker who clearly would prefer to get their stuff back. But the Space-Taker was unbothered and didn’t even recognize how running up the battery, expecting the Space-Maker to let them use it again, was inconsiderate.

And that’s when Space-Makers get upset. I know I have.

From personal experience, I’ve learned that if I do something for a Space-taker, it’s a conscious decision that I made and that regardless if they are grateful or not, if I’m doing something to avoid drama that I anticipate by doing the action for the Space-Taker, the cost benefit of avoiding the drama was more important to me, than that person acknowledging me for it or knowing they may or may not do the same for me if the tables were reversed.

It’s often difficult to have a conversation/intervention with a Space-Taker, because they are oblivious to their ways, but only to a certain extent. Deep down, I think they know how far they can push Space-Makers and they push their luck with them until Space-Makers fight back or call them out.

I wouldn’t want to be in the middle of an argument between two Space-Takers because neither party will relent, Space-Takers naturally take up the space, Space-Makers naturally make and account for.

Let’s take a movie theater or airplane arm rest for example. Space-Makers who are in an aisle or window, will probably leave the interior arm rests alone, so the poor person in the middle has an arm rest. Space-Takers will still take the middle arm rest.

Space-Makers are the people at church who move down when more people come to sit on the pew. Space-Takers glare, stay seated firmly, with the expectation that others will simply climb over them and take their seats.

The reverse also happens, if people have gotten comfortable in a situation, and a Space-Taker needs to get up, move, go to the bathroom or take care of their own need, they will not wait for an intermission, or a time when others have gotten up. If their movement may inconvenience others, they don’t care, they have to take care of their specific need when it comes to their mind, and others must make space to accommodate.

Space-Makers are observant of their surroundings and they plan accordingly. Space-Makers are the kinds of people, who if seated on a crowded train or bus, will get up just before their stop. Space-Takers will wait until they reach their stop, then expect the crowds to part so they can exit.

Space-Makers read the body language of people around them and notice if people are tired, or upset and do whatever is easiest for the group to accomplish its general goal. Space-Takers may notice the frustration of others around them, but will choose to do the thing they want to do first and will have no trouble asking or expecting others to do what they want to do, even if they don’t want to do it.

Space-Takers may manipulate a situation, to ensure the greater group has no other choice but to go along with their option. After their needs have been satisfied first, they are able to go along with the needs of others. But the reverse doesn’t work out well for Space-Takers. If a Space-Taker puts the needs of others before themselves, you will hear about it, and they may use that one situation several times, to explain that they are not a Space-Taker and have a giving nature.

So, who are you? Are you a Space-Maker or Space-Taker? How would you feel if a friend told you that you are a Space-Taker? Would it make you think about how considerate you are to others?

I do think tendencies for both types of people are taught and nurtured by the people around them in their lives. Some people are raised to be considerate of others, while other people may be catered to. Some people may share with their family and wait their turn, while others in large families may have to fight and get their share of food, toys, the front seat of the car, and parental attention “first.” So it’s not a matter of being an only child or growing up with several brothers and sisters.

Space-Takers are the squeaky wheel. Space-Makers look for the oil.

As a Space-Maker, I’m often jealous of the Space-Takers ability to get what they want and the lack of concern about what others may have had to do or the effort expended to make that thing happen for them. So the anger is more about their rate of success and amount of yeses they actually get, then their aggressiveness, boldness and potential lack of consideration.

Space-Makers overextend themselves and quietly keep things going smoothly. Their small rewards don’t often reveal themselves immediately, meanwhile instant gratification is the carrot that Space-Takers reach for every time, even if it means taking up the space, the Space-Makers have strategically accounted for and made.

So, instead of Space-Makers resenting Space-Takers, sometimes you have to balance things out and employ Space-Taking methods. And Space-Takers can learn a thing or two from Space-Makers, and consciously attempt to make more space, for the people in their lives.

“Naturally” Supportive????

Hmmmm I feel stuck, blog family.

I really do.

My work rival/bully was in the office today, and I don’t speak to her much. But every now and then, I will pop in to check on her and ask how she’s doing.

She’s been attempting to go natural (and I’ve joked that once again she’s copied me). Some days have been more successful than others. Ok, most days haven’t been successful.

Because hair is a sticky subject for black women, especially those doing the natural thing, I haven’t commented on her hair. Because trust me, I’ve had my fair share of moments where I felt downright ugly.

The truth is I do think her natural look, while she is still trying to figure out what works for her, is probably an improvement from her relaxed hair that had no life, no movement and straw-like. But I was taught early on, if you don’t have nothing nice to say, or you don’t know what to say, shut up.

So I popped my head in the office, and I mentioned my latest product obsession. I really like it a lot. And I wanted to share it with her.

Then it happened. She said no one mentioned her hair save for a very kind, chatty, liberal white woman (who once lived in Africa with the Peace Corps). She said even me not giving her a compliment caused her to feel like her efforts were in vain. She even said she felt invisible. When she mentioned to our co-worker that no one complimented her hair, she did what most nice people try to do.

They were in the break room and two other co-workers came in. Kind, chatty, liberal oohed and awwed over homegirl’s hair and asked the other women, don’t you like it? Welp, as sister girl told me her story, she said she knew the other women didn’t like it and to avoid further embarrassment of seeing the looks on their faces, she purposely opened a cupboard to not look at them.

This broke my heart.

Keep in mind I was recently invigorated by watching an amazing discussion featuring Melissa Harris Perry and acclaimed pioneer in black feminism bell hooks. And they talked about black women, and our esteem and our bodies and shaming and fighting negative images and stereotypes of ourselves and I was cosigning and nearly in tears at how profound they were, and another sister was hoping I’d step in and lift her up.

We’ve had beef though. So more often than not, I don’t see her as a sister in the collective sense, because there have been times she’s stepped on me and seemed to take delight in my discomfort and set backs.

So this dysfunctional relationship that we have continues to challenge me spiritually.

She said she supported me, she complimented me, so it hurt that I said nothing.

I had no real response for her.

So I said, “well how do you feel about your hair?” “Do you like it?” “Is this journey worth it for you?”

Yup. I deflected.

I told her that there were plenty of times I woke up in the morning and thought I was ugly. I had my own parents look at me sideways with disapproval the first time I came home. But I had to keep working with and on my hair.

It became a new thing I had to study. I’m still learning what products will or won’t do.

She’s just started and she’s going through what thousands and thousands of black women are going through and in the earlier stages, after you’ve big chopped and your hair is really short, YOU GO THROUGH IT. Especially if you hadn’t worn your hair short before. It’s a shock to the system.

As for the other work people. There are only four black women in our office.

The white people at my job are smart people, and while they’ve had a number of cultural snafus in the past, they knew damn well to steer clear of our hair. They leave it alone. Honestly, the same sweet, kind, liberal lady was the one to compliment me on my hair when I changed it. No one else said anything to me either. But she understood the context, and she understood what it meant for me to do what I did, she’s quite aware.

It still broke my heart. My newly natural co-worker apparently needed my support and in my silence, I dropped the ball. There was no point in giving her a compliment now. So I didn’t.

I’m really not sure what to do at this point. She also mentioned that her boss told her she needed to be “nicer” and say “please” and “thank you” more.

The truth of the matter is, the boss was kind of on point with that. She has always had a smug kind of attitude, that didn’t sit well with most people.

So, there are self-esteem issues galore. Which I get as a fellow black woman. But at the same time, as a human being, an individual, you dish out funky you get funky. You funky on the inside, it radiates on the outside. People can’t see your true beauty if you don’t give up something and make yourself vulnerable.

I don’t agree with being fake either or overdoing it on the nice.

And sometimes I wonder what kind of vibe I put off at work and I try to be conscious about that. I do speak to people, say good morning, give compliments when it’s warranted and offer to help people out when I can. But, I know that my conversations only go so far because aside from the race, I’m a different age than most of these people, I’m single and I’m childless. I just don’t have the same interests.

So I’m stuck yall. Should I have bent over backwards to show my approval of my co-worker’s natural journey because I also went natural? Or am I right in the belief that choosing to go natural is a very personal and intimate thing, but it tends to affect the way others look at you and the way you look at yourself. It’s scary. It is raw.

But I’ve found, the more comfortable I got with my hair and the more confident, people started seeing other features of mine more clearly. I felt really, really honest and I noticed, that I felt other people and their reactions to me were really, really honest, positive or negative and I accepted those things.

I don’t suggest drastic changes to your hair if you don’t have a solid foundation of self-esteem anyway. Because it takes a long time for your hair to grow back or change color.

So, maybe my co-workers reactions and feelings of isolation reflect something deeper and reflect a truth about how she deals with the world and it doesn’t feel good. I sympathize with her. But basically saying I had a responsiblity to compliment her because she did it for me, ergo, because we are both black women in a workplace of so many white folks, it kind of had me stunned. But she said it.

He final words before heading to a meeting, she said she just didn’t even know if all the twisting and untwisting was worth it, and that she struggles because she’s raising two little girls and she wants them to feel that their hair is beautiful.

But if she’s walking around miserable, and expecting other people to say she’s pretty, hair isn’t the only thing her girls have to worry about learning from her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Friend Test

I’ve made friends all kinds of ways.

In the earliest of times, it was as easy as saying: “Hello, want some Skittles?”

Sometimes it was due to an agreement that an injustice had taken place. “She didn’t share her skip it on the playground.” “Yeah, not cool.” “Wanna play at my house after school?” “Sure, just gotta ask my mom.”

Sometimes friendships were born out of group science projects, or after standing up for someone who was being picked on, or just asking a sad person if they were ok.

Some of my friendships were forced arranged situations, like college roommates or some grew out of natural rivalries to be the best at a campus newspaper.

Sometimes if you’ve smiled enough at someone you keep running into on the way to the bathroom at work, you decide to have lunch one day and the hour turns into two. OOPS!

I’ve even made some friends through writing this blog.

But what’s the DNA of friendships? How do we really build relationships with people? And how do these relationships sometimes fall apart and stay apart?

We are told all of the time when on the carousel of friends some folks are a reason, a season and a lifetime.

But I guess the friend-making, relationship-building process always comes down to the same thing.

Attendance. I have friends who live all over the place. I may not speak to them all the time, but my closest friends have spent significant amounts of lab hours with me, practicing friendship. These things consist of hanging out, talking on the phone, traveling, etc. The best way to get to know someone is through spending time.

Some of my fondest friend memories are often me and the friend sharing a meal, laughing or doing something absolutely stupid together. We weren’t anyplace fancy, it’s usually a lazy day talking about nothing and everything.

Listening. Good friends listen. And listen, and listen some more. And listen even if they are tired and don’t feel like it. Sometimes if you have a friend who isn’t a great communicator, you have to work even harder to listen to them when they do share or have something to say.

The voluntary gesture. Actions mean a lot to me. When new friends think of me and show up to something I invited them to, or brought me a favorite candy or offer to take me to the airport, it’s like daum. You really like me and want to be my friend. You went out of your way to do this or that when you really didn’t have to.

Trying new things. Trying new things with new friends can create bonds and memories and trying new things with old friends can breathe new life into the relationship. You may expose fears and or talents that you never knew the person or you had. When you try new things sometimes, you switch personality traits. If you are loud and bossy, you may become quiet and standoffish while your quiet friend may become the leader or the teacher in the moment to pull you through and cheer you on. I’ve seen this happen and it’s a very cool thing.

Reliability. “No, for real. I need a ride to the airport. And the flight is at six a.m. on a Saturday. Yes.” That friend may cuss you the whole way to the airport, but you are at your gate by 5:15, which means they picked you up around 4. Which means they woke up at 3:30 or earlier.

The reliable folks in your life show their gargantuan capacity to love you by doing things like that. These are the people you see through tears in the church as you walk through a funeral procession. They drove all night, but they are there.

There’s a song by Jill Scott called, “Calls” it’s divine. She sings so sweetly, “You always answer my calls when I call, you come.” Let’s face it. The true homies come when you call, and they feel a tingle when you are in need and come anyway if you don’t call. Those are the keepers and those are the ones you want to keep listening to, doing voluntary gestures for and showing up for (Hey, I’ve included the other bolded topics in this bolded topic! Reliability must be huge to me). There aren’t a lot of these people. They are the special ones you treasure.

In a world full of people who do more talking than ever, the reliable people who keep their word are rare.

Admiration. If you can’t name one or two things that you admire about your friends, you ain’t friends. I have some friends where we have straight up love fests about how much we like different things about each other. You don’t have to do that, but even internally, can you look at that friend and say, I really love x quality about them. Wow. No one does this the way so and so does and I’m proud of them as a human being. Andy and Ollie always take it too far on Bob’s Burgers (love that show) but you get the point.

Vulnerability. Can you trust this person? Can you say how you feel? Can this person trust you and tell you how they feel? I’ve mentioned in this blog before that vulnerability is awesome, but it’s something that has to be protected and shared with people who have proven themselves. I’ve also said in real life and in this blog that certain friends have to have certain security clearances when it comes to your thoughts, feelings and emotions and your past. And if you know the weaknesses of your friends, you can save yourself the heartache and disappointment of not going to the wrong one for support on certain issues. Some friends are stronger with business and financial advice. Others are nurturers. Some friends are good at giving the cold splash of reality, while others may take a more optimistic approach and they are good at encouraging you to take risks.

And lastly,

Consistency.  In my world, the people who are consistently themselves and are comfortable with themselves are the ones who end up being the absolute coolest with me. Their courage to be themselves inspires me to accept myself more. And when I praise my friends for their individuality and their gifts, I think it fuels them even more. I know it boosts me when they do that for me. They may grow, they may have bad days or an attitude, but the root of who they are and what they value (core things) and what they believe in DOES NOT CHANGE. These friends may change a job, a hairstyle or city in which they live, and maybe they’ve become vegan, but their general feelings on family, friends, work ethic and respect should be non-negotiable. Consistent attendance, consistent listening, and well, being reliable contributes to being consistent. I have some friends I speak to on the phone. Some via strictly text and some friends I see. Consistent doesn’t mean you have to do these things everyday, but you and your friends have a rhythm. You know when it’s been too long since you’ve spoken and you may drop an are you alive email or text and the person responds right away, or by the end of the day. Consistency to me means understanding the patterns in your relationships with people and sticking with that.

Be a damn, good friend. Damn it.

 

Good Friend, Bad Friend?

Clearly mental health had consumed my mind so much this week that by the weekend, I was worn out.

A number of things kind of came crashing down on me and led me to not do much all weekend long. I didn’t have the energy to even study, which made me feel worse for not being productive.

In my previous blog, I discussed Miriam Carey, the woman who crashed into the gates of the White House last week and led authorities on a car chase to the Capitol. I mentioned how close to home her story felt.

But there were other things at play this weekend. I already felt some kind of way because I had to ask my father for money to hold me over until pay day, and I hadn’t done that in a very, very long time.

Then for some reason, I made matters worse by asking my dad how much of his parent loan for my schooling did he have left to pay.

The number sank my heart and to think of how much he had already paid over the last ten years knocked the wind out of me. But he was so sweet and so encouraging. And his love continues to humble me. I got of the phone feeling terrible.

I called my sister and I was emotional. I was sad that my dad seems to have always had to sacrifice so much and has such a difficult life. I took it a step further and my sister and I had a conversation about my mom and what my life was like dealing with her issues, while my sister, much older than me, was living her own life very far away.

I told her I was jealous she didn’t have to endure or see or hear the things I did at the age I had to deal with. I told her some stories and she was shocked. She said she’s always felt guilty that she couldn’t be there and that she didn’t understand the progression and when and where and why things got so bad. It just seemed like she came home once and life had completely changed.

What I appreciated most from the conversation was my sister clearly understood I wasn’t blaming her or upset with her, but that it was important for me to tell her how I felt and I think it was a conversation that was filled with love and understanding.

A few other things continued to make me emotional.

I requested my transcripts for the grad school I’m applying to and asked for a personal copy.

I’m glad I did. Sometimes your version of history doesn’t line up with what’s in black and white.

I had serious struggles while I was in school. The semesters I did well, I did really well. The semesters I tanked, I REALLY tanked.

Fortunately, I eeked out just enough to make the overall gpa requirement for admission to the program I want to get into. It’s so funny, because nearly 10 years ago, I figured just get through this, graduate. I’m not going to grad school anyway. I’ll be a journalist.

Oh life.

Then the last thing to add fuel to the fire was being stood up. I was looking forward to my date with Renaissance on Saturday. And when he blew me off to haze pledgies 20 minutes away, being annoyed was an understatement.

We had good conversations. He seemed interested in learning about me and not just surface, silly things. He asked me great questions.

But what made things go off the rails, was when a good friend, who has a tendency to often say the wrong thing, said the wrong thing.

When I shared I was having a bad day and emotional week, judgements started flying. And her preoccupation with something else and telling me she didn’t have “time for this shit tonight and to pull it together” made me nuts.

She further told me I needed therapy and that I shouldn’t date until I “got myself together.”  That was insulting because I’ve been working on myself for nearly three years, not really dating anyone seriously at all. I’m a woman and I’m allowed to be disappointed if a guy I was interested in stood me up.

She further said that I should go to therapy before I spend thousands of dollars to go back to school because it’s clear I’m searching for something.

Because I didn’t feel like fighting or justifying my feelings or actions, I simply said, I’ve been wanting to go back to school. That is not an irrational decision. It’s because I’ve hit a wall at work and all of my dream jobs basically require that degree. I’ve thought about this.

She’s already thrown shade about me going back to school, saying it’s pointless if it lands me a job that won’t make me more money than I make now.

Gee. Thanks.

I do give props to the friends who have checked on me and just listened.

The friend who shades me dating and going back to school, decides after the event she was too preoccupied to deal with my shit for, she’d stop by the house and bring me food. Which was nice.

The tension in the air was thick. I did my best to be pleasant. She hugged me and jokingly shared bible passages of encouragement and on her way out said, “see, you need friends who can knock on your door!”

I waved goodbye, thanked her and went back to watching t.v.

Then an hour later, I got a bunch of text messages about how “we’ll get through this.” And how my parents would never forgive her if something happened to me.

I didn’t realize I had become suicidal.

I texted back. “I’m not suicidal.”

She returned with, “You better not be.” And then she went on about dragging me across a finish line.

At that point, I was unable yall.

I guess she felt guilty about her response to me the night before, but now she was laying it on too thick, and it was actually annoying me more. I felt that she did mean well. But it was frustrating.

She went from one extreme to another.

If anyone has advice on this, I’ll be glad to hear it.

I’ve complained about this person before and I’ve made excuses for them. All of my close friends know this and they are always prepared for our semi-annual falling outs. I decided that I’m not going to end the friendship, but always taking one for the team gets tiring.

Personal Bill of Rights: My Feelings Deserve Respect

So after thinking about a bunch of things this weekend including how I want and need to be loved, I also thought about my feelings and how people should and should not speak to me even if it is in the name of honesty.

So I thought to myself, I need to write down in my blog, a personal Bill of Rights to remind myself and reference it to others when folks start getting out of order when it comes to respecting me and my feelings.

It’s like raising a flag or hitting that buzzer from the board game Taboo when someone says a word on the card.

I have the right to digest what people say to me about me and interpret it how I interpret it because it’s about me. My initial reaction to what is said for better or worse is very real. Now if I’m upset by it, I have the right to be upset about it. If you know it’s going to upset me, be ready for me to be upset. If I say I don’t like what you said or I no longer want to talk about what you said, I have that right.

Why? Because even though I can be stubborn, I do need time to process what’s been said to me and I can either see where you are coming from or decide what you said was complete bullshit.

And once again, I’m allowed to do that. I’m allowed to feel what I feel. And I offer that to any of my friends and family. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO FEEL HOW YOU FEEL. DON’T LET OTHER PEOPLE CHEAT YOU OUT OF THAT. YOU ARE FEELING WHAT YOU FEEL FOR A REASON AND IT MAY NOT EVEN BE ABOUT THEM, BUT YOU FEEL THE WAY YOU DO AND IT’S OK.

One of the things I detest is when people blame me for my feelings or say I’m too sensitive.

As a person who often chooses to suck it up, when I do express my feelings of discomfort, I am being brave, I am standing up for myself, I am standing in my truth. Respect that. Honor that.

Most of my good friends, during the rare times they offend me and the even rarer times when I speak up on it, they back up, they even apologize and they drop it. They don’t blame me, they don’t accuse me of being too sensitive or being all up in my feelings. They stop. Why? Because I established the boundary, I was clear and they respected it. I don’t have to yell. I don’t have to be nasty. But I am firm, there is a change in my voice that suggests this is serious. Stop.

I have one person in my life who defends their harsh words and turns it around on me claiming, that they can’t offer me any kind of criticism, because I always take it the wrong way when it comes from them.

I explained that they often come off judgemental and downright mean and while deep down I know they don’t mean anything nasty, they can be nasty and it’s off putting.

That person simply said, they have an opinion.

I believe that having an opinion does not give one carte blanche to be reckless. Period.

The thing that bothers me the most about this person is this discussion didn’t even stem from my recent relationship issues, which could be open to a lot of criticism and emotional finger wagging.

This was about my physical appearance.

It took me aback. But it wasn’t the first time this particular person said something about my hair, clothes or weight.

So this whole mini argument started from her hinting at her dislike for a certain article of clothing I wore a few years ago and I already shut her down and told her I saw where she was going and not to be nasty. And then it all began.

I decided when it came to this person, instead of sucking it up, I was going to have to retrain her on how I wanted to be treated. So I started speaking up more when she hurt my feelings. But she was always resistant to my speaking up and would minimize my feelings or dismiss them as me being sensitive.

I don’t know if some people have a problem with me asserting myself. I know who I am. I know what I look like and after gaining a few pounds and wearing my hair natural, I feel like I’m living my life with another level of honesty and challenging myself to be and live honestly. When someone compliments me now, I really relish it because I believe them because they are seeing me and it may not be popular or beautiful to you, but it’s me.

When certain friends don’t compliment me it makes me wonder. Does how I look make them feel uncomfortable? And why?

I’ve been on this kick. I’ve been praying about God helping me see first people’s light or lack thereof.

Everyone is a human being with faults and they are special and wonderful. But there are certain people who have a light in them, even when life is difficult or not going the way they’d hoped. I want to recognize those people and encourage them more regularly. I want to share kind words with them and I hope they do the same for me.

I particularly want to see this in my circle, which really isn’t hard and I want to see it in the man who is going to become my husband. I’ve decided I can’t compromise on that. And I think describing it as a light is more accurate than what I’ve been calling it before, “that thing” “that it factor” the “za za zoo.”

It’s simple. From my man, family and friends I want to feel loved, protected, nurtured and safe. I want to feel like the people in my life will allow me rest when I am weary and they got it. They got it until I get more strength and return to the game, so I can in turn help them when they are tired.

I need the people in my life to give me kind words and compliment me. It isn’t vain. I want people in my life to compliment me physically. Who doesn’t? I have no problem telling the people in my life they look beautiful or handsome. Because people need that. I don’t care what anyone says.

My feelings have value. So do yours.

Lessons In Cattiness, Real Friends, No New Friends? IDK…

Oh that Facebook.

You know my love and hate relationship with it. Probably last year or so, I wrote about the painful end to a friendship that really made no sense but actually did make sense because I blindly stumbled into it anyway. I think it was convenience for both parties and when the party was over, it was over.

I don’t think this ex-friend is a bad person at all, but we just didn’t need to be in each other’s circles anymore. So it’s ok.

We are Facebook friends and because I just got tired of her documenting every moment and poop and I was a little jealous of her weight loss, I had to hide her posts. But I do wish her and her family well. They’ve been through a lot.

I happened to look on her page again because there was a rare post that made it through my filters and got on my homepage.

She’s back to the same old same old, but it looks like her boyfriend actually stuck around this time. She was notorious for having a good run for three months and it all falling apart.

So of course there’s so much irony. I can’t seem to find and keep someone around, but I thought about the loss of that friendship and what I ended up gaining.

After losing that friendship, I’ve solidified old ones, I’ve become close friends with one of my cousins (who I have admired forever and looked up to) and our relationship is stronger and deeper than ever. We even travel together now. I no longer see her as this ideal person, but as I told her recently, I’m so honored that we’ve become friends as women and that she’s allowed herself to see me not as a little cousin, but as another woman too. I told her that I love her even more because she’s let me see her flaws and be vulnerable and it makes me even more proud of how strong and amazing she really is.

I’ve made new friends who are hardworking, beautiful, funny and genuine and intelligent. Did I mention genuine? It’s mighty difficult to hit your 30s and meet genuine women and decide to become friends. It takes a lot of faith on the part of all parties to A) be themselves B) be secure enough in themselves not to make assumptions and then start the comparisons which leads to jealousy and mistrust. One of the young ladies I met through this very blog, the other, a friend of the friend I met through this very blog! I can sit in a restaurant with them and laugh for hours or have scandal parties in sweatpants, or go have ice cream with them on a Tuesday night and just be myself. (Take that Drake, I do want new friends especially if they are going to turn into great old friends).

There’s nothing fake, phony or pretentious, they aren’t clamoring to be in VIP sections or be seen, and they don’t have to run the streets. They are just as happy hanging out at the mall as they are at a party. But they can get jazzed up too. I think we are often the best dressed people in the room at most places we go, and that’s even when we are “casual.”

So I’m very thankful. I had to learn some lessons about friendship and about how people’s prominence in your life does shift. While some people take a seat or take a break because of their life changes, other people step up in unexpected, necessary ways.

And that is beautiful.

Accepting the shift isn’t easy.

Sometimes when old friends fade out, you are upset, you feel like they walked away with all of the things you gave them, but what did you get in return?

I got so caught up in how I helped that one friend get a job, that increased her salary and led her to getting a new job with an even bigger salary.

But I didn’t give my ex-friend credit for showing me how to expand my skill set by teaching me how to do her job on websites while she was on sick leave, setting me up to do it full-time and two years or so later getting a raise and leading the department and getting a new title.

I saw her as getting more than me and moving on to better. But all the while, things were slowly coming into place for me. If I didn’t learn something new, I could have easily been laid off when the company went in a new direction. So looking back, being more mature about it, she helped me immensely too.

Old friends may surprise you by how selfish they can be, new friends can surprise you with how giving and caring they can be already.

Regardless, prepare yourself to be surprised.

Then there are friends who are steady, steady, steady and tried and true that will not change, will always be dependable and God, you need those folks in your crew too, they are the foundation and I’m beyond blessed to have folks like that. No matter how moody, how silly, how frustrated, or man-obsessed they will give you your space, they will check on you right on time and say exactly what you need to hear whether you felt like it, or wanted them to or not.

Me and one of my dearest friends who makes me nuts like no other, I’ve written about our epic battles, we’ve come to another level of maturity. I’m better at expressing my feelings and calling her out without being harsh and blurting it all out at once when she’s completely upset me. She’s better at listening to me and trying to consider my feelings before hitting our danger zones.

Even though I don’t get to see my sister often, I love our phone conversations. We were on the phone for about two hours on Sunday. Me, talking about the difficult single life, she talking about the difficult married and mom life. We exhaled and laughed a lot.

I saw that old friend’s Facebook page and it made me think of all of these things. That’s awesome.

But I’m still not unleashing her regular posts on my timeline.

No thanks.

 

Be You In the Face Of Intimidating People Anyway

This post is inspired by a quick little message I got the other day, via LinkedIn.

An old boss who always seemed to terrorize me, and was never satisfied with my work and who never praised me, came out of nowhere to congratulate me on my latest promotion.

I asked a friend (who was in the trenches with me at the time and knew this person well) if I was terminally ill, or if he was terminally ill. She laughed. Then we made jokes about the old jokes about he and I having sexual tension.

I thanked the ex-boss for the compliment and noted that it meant a lot to hear it from him that he was proud of me.

He quickly responded that he has always loved my grit and determination and advised me to never lose it.

I really thought my days on the Earth were numbered and that the Rapture would commence once I closed the email. But I smiled. I felt validated and was left thankful, the Good Lord gave me a little more time.

Some folks would say I shouldn’t care, and what this old boss thinks of me shouldn’t matter. But he finally stepped up, and damn it, I do care. It felt nice. I told you I was awesome, mean boss! Now you see me! Ha! I still became somebody anyway!! I’m still in the industry! Ok, that was immature.

Moving on.

I’ve had a couple of bosses who were terribly hard on me early in my career. I mean, I really felt like it was bordering on abuse or hazing and I’m not exaggerating or complaining like today’s young folks who are really wack (for a prime example of our über entitled next generation, read this http://doanie.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/mean-professor-tells-student/).

But from time to time, when I just couldn’t take it anymore, I would have moments where I’d face off, toe-to-toe with those folks, job security be damned. When I had those moments, I secretly dared them to fire me, because I knew I was right.

There was even one instance with the boss that I mentioned, who told me to my face he felt I was too green and that my well-connected and highly respected recommendations were “overembellished.”

So I went off. And I even went as far as saying that despite all of that, I wasn’t going to quit, or be pushed into quitting. So if you are going to fire me, you call security and have me escorted out. I didn’t come all this way, and move my life to a vastly different part of the country, not to do what I came to do.

When I took another job, this editor and another difficult editor did say I reminded them of themselves as a young reporter and that they were so hard on me, because, well it was a hard business. They congratulated me and wished me well. While I disagree with how far they took the tough love without balancing it with necessary praise and acknowledgement of improvement, hey, it was a life lesson. I did get a tougher skin.

A second boss, who was at the job I landed in after the first mean boss, may have been even rougher than the first.

I was on assignment with this boss out of the country, and when he said something out of line, I looked at him dead in the eye and said, “You are impossible. Your expectations for this situation are completely unreasonable.”

He looked back at me and said that no one has ever said that to him. He actually smiled. The next day, we were having dinner at the top of the CN tower in Toronto, on him.

He was angry when I quit that job, but I told him I was underpaid and the conditions of the workplace were not conducive to my growth and things that I was promised upon taking the job never happened. I have to make the right business decision for myself.

In turn, he held my last check, citing that according to my contract, I had to pay back my relocation expenses and upon receipt, I could then have my last check.

I negotiated a signing bonus with my new job, to get me out of that wack deal. A mentor loaned me money to pay my rent until the whole thing was resolved.

Sometime after that madness, a person I deeply respect said that boss actually spoke highly of me and said he respected me.

To hear that from such a complicated person, who had ego that rivals that of Kanye West, I was shocked. Especially since he was so emotional about me quitting and was heard saying that I had no integrity for breaking my contract.

So what’s the point of all of this?

I often hold back. Sometimes it seems like I back down. But every now and then there are the moments where I stand up, put the fear aside and stand up for myself and for what I really believed was right, no matter how intimidating the person was/is/ or pretends to be.

And in both situations, I may have found out way after the fact, but I eventually found out that through those moments, I gained their respect.

That said, I didn’t cuss anyone out, or say something disrespectful, but I firmly stood my ground and spoke my truth. I’m sure God was looking out for me, because maybe other people have gotten fired for doing such things, but I still stand by it. Sometimes you have to show people that you demand respect no matter what level of the game you are in.

The sweet little LinkedIn message was a reminder to, as that ex-boss said, never lose my grit and determination.

In some cosmic way, he might have been right on time with that…

Holiday Crashers and Holiday Haters

Oh folks. It’s that time of year once again.

If you are blessed to have a gig, many of you are about to go to your office holiday shin dig.

The big willies will come down from their ivory towers to kick it with the worker Whos, who will try to imbibe as much free alcohol and eat as much free grub as they possibly can handle. After all, we deserve it. It’s the least they can do right?

Then the super ambitious folks, will take turns trying to find something of substance to say to the important folks, who will forget who they are on the ride home back to the Emerald City office.

LOL. I know I’m mixing so many stories and references. I’m amused, aren’t you?

Anyway, I’m no different. My company shelled out a decent amount of dough to ring in the holiday season at a local nice hotel/conference center.

There were a number of things I peeped at the party that was just fascinating to me.

One person in management had a super come up this year, while basically everyone else suffered.

And he showed it. And we all noticed it.

Homeboy strolled in fresh out of the Joseph A. Banks winter collection. I swear I heard Outkast’s “So Fresh and So Clean” when he hit the room.

With a large glass of cab in my hand, I said what everyone was thinking, “Oooh somebody’s brand new…”

So he gets the 2012 NeNe Leaks come up award. Congrats.

I’d like to give the Psy International Infiltration award to the Asian lady who just randomly crashed our holiday party and did not give a good gosh darn and made herself a plate, sat down, smiled a lot and pretended to be lost and unable to understand English.

She was from another event down the hall, and the organization holding it is quite international and quite medical. She knew some damn English. She came during the mingle wine and beer hour, and returned yet again when the buffet was on and then helped herself to some dessert and coffee.

I fell out. She was so gangsta, I could not be mad at her. I mean she really acted like she was supposed to be there. Man, I need her level of guts. I enjoyed her immensely. I strive to be like her in 2013. That level of don’tgiveadamnness is legendary.

Really.

Ok, so finally, let’s get to the more grinchly matters.

There’s a girl at work who is friends with a former friend. I’ve written about this former friend before and I think I’ve written about how this co-worker obviously hates me now due towhatever this former friend has said about me.

And this is how this chick was looking at me the whole party. Photo credit: MTV.com

And this is how this chick was looking at me the whole party. Photo credit: MTV.com

Like, I think this woman thinks I am personally responsible for H1N1, athlete’s foot, cramps, and death. We ended up sitting at the same large table at the party. She ignored me, which takes skill and concentration only sitting one person away. And hey, I’m not going to go out of my way to hate you equally when you are working so hard to dislike me. So I left her alone. She wouldn’t even get involved in general table conversation if I was speaking. The looks, just everything was too much.

The good news is, she’s relocating to another state and I’ve been working from home, so we don’t see each other that much anyway. But from the eye darts this woman has been throwing me, you’d think I’d slept with her husband and played a video with director’s commentary, sitting on his lap, playing with his hair at the holiday party.

So it leads me to wonder, what the hell did my ex friend tell this woman I did to her?

It doesn’t matter. God don’t like ugly. In fact, my homie God made it so that I won a $100 gift card to Best Buy!


See more on Know Your Meme

The whole table cheered and congratulated. The disgruntled co-worker, not so much.

Can’t steal my joy, I’m about to put $100 on a new laptop!!! Whoo hoo! Praise sweet baby Jesus!

I’ve decided not to give it any more energy, but it cracks me up how folks can decide to dislike someone who they were generally cool with and pleasant to and then suddenly act like this person was the first person to introduce rappers to skinny jeans. I’d hate them too, but that person deserves the kind of venom ol girl was serving up more than me. So once again this ex friend is a jerk, and has solidified that my life is loads better without her being in it. That kind of foolishness is annoying. Lord I’m glad I have mature, awesome friends in my life who don’t have that kind of time. Thank you again, sweet baby and grown Jesus.

It was like just the sound of my voice was grating on her last nerve. Once again, immature to hate someone by proxy, especially if they’ve done nothing to you and was always nice and polite to you.

So there you have it…

Speaking of office holiday parties, New Guy invited me to his… Yes, I’m blushing and smiling. Looks like things are moving along nicely… stay tuned.

There was a really funny do’s and don’ts list for holiday office parties that I saw earlier this week and now I can’t remember where to look. I wanted to share! I’ll have to add it later.

Have a great time this season, don’t lose your job!

Motivation Is the By Product of Healthy Jealousy

Many moons ago, before any of you even heard of my blog or started reading it, I did an early post about how high-achieving friends can either make you feel absolutely crappy about yourself, and you can secretly hate them and let that hate and jealousy fester inside you, or you can sail on their tailwinds, watch and learn how they navigate life and get you some of that too.

Now, I don’t mean be a leech. But I do mean really take a look at how they approach life, the things they want and their motivation behind the things that they want. What do they care about? Are they happy? How do they maintain the happy? How do other people respond to them?

The people I know who are doing well at life, are a) just living it.

They are, in my mind fearless. But I’m sure they have their own insecurities and struggles, but they make things happen. They take a deep breath, swallow hard, and just go.

b) they are good people and everyone can feel it.

No one is a stranger. I get baffled at how there are some friends of mine, where I could be in any city with them anywhere and either they know people or the new people they meet fall in love with them, or they know some mutual friend like six degrees of Kevin Bacon.

c) they have a moral compass that guides them and they stick to it.

There are certain things that they just won’t do. Or if something ain’t workin, they let it the hell go and figure out a new plan, but they won’t sell their soul. And if they sold their soul, they are going to admit it. Then when they do, I tell them it’s ok, it was only a lease, you’ll get it back.

d) they are actually playing it by ear. I guess that’s a lot like the first item on my list.

e) they refuse to limit themselves.

The friends who decide they want to leave the country for a while and travel internationally, the friends who go back to school, go back again, start a business, fail start another, decide to join the circus or fix babies in foreign countries with cleft lip. They just say screw it, I’ma follow my heart.

f) they have a past and usually it’s juicy or very weird and totally interesting.

g) they tend to be the least judgemental out of everyone else you know. Hmmm. That makes me think. The most judgemental people I know tend to be the ones who haven’t gone anywhere, haven’t tried anything, don’t have different kinds of friends. I guess that makes sense.

So, in my long-winded intro, the inspiration from this post comes from what I call a tennis match between two friends I know, who I introduced at a concert last night. Both are serious world travelers and are actually a lot a like in terms of just having magnetic personalities. Naturally, they hit it off.

Others would think it was a pissing match of who’s seen what all over France, but oddly, a gal who’s only been to Canada and Mexico, did not see it that way.

I saw people bonding over a shared experience, and fueling my appetite to go, so I can have an awesome time and swap a story or two also. I didn’t feel left out, I didn’t feel like they were elitist. Their excitement wasn’t bragging to me because my spirit didn’t allow it. They were my friends, and it makes me happy that my friends can even do things like that. It was a nudge, saying, “Girl, you better get you some too. We did it, so can you, or better yet, what are you waiting for, let’s go!”

One of the friends, was actually cool with the artist and afterwards, we got to chill and chat!!! I was proud of myself for keeping my cool, even though to even be in the presence of super-talented, super cool people, it makes you wonder if everything you said is corny once it comes out of your mouth. It did make me feel better when he laughed at my jokes while sucking the marrow out of a chicken wing (just like a normal person). I even got a hug at the end of the night. I also love when celebrities introduce themselves and use their first name, like dude, I just paid $40 to see you. I know who you are, but it was still cool, and nice, and polite nonetheless. I guess I’d be pissed if he shook my hand and said, “You paid $40 to see me, you know my name already.”

Even in that moment, I thought I was totally blessed. I know great people who share their gifts and talents and even their celebrity friends. Yes, I walked back to a now 12-year-old car with tape holding up a window that is off track (next on my list to fix), but damn it. It was all good.

You all know I’d been feeling crappy about my lot in life recently.

And hearing my good friends talk about their travels in Paris, and their jobs, and their disillusionment with D.C. and how they do want to make a difference in the lives of others, then flip it back to hip hop and street slang, then talk about how it was such a shame we missed the Vice Presidential debates, I was back in my element. I felt life rushing back into my spirit.

You need at least one super awesome talented friend who leads an amazing life.

And you probably have one.

There’s a fellow blogger who is a friend in my head. She writes a blog called, “The Usual Bliss.”

I kind of lust for her life. It seems the complete opposite of mine and that’s what makes my attraction to her blog so fascinating to me. It’s filled with travel, love, her man and her faithful wonderdog. She’s always either whipping up awesome food, and traipsing through nature’s beauty mostly in Utah and other parts of America, that I really never thought I’d want to visit. (I’m no nature girl. At all. Think the little black girl from Troop Beverly Hills.)

But she’s really got this black chick from Long Island itching to get a ticket to Park City. I’m so serious. I told one of my adventurous homegirls that we got to go.

She usually takes a bunch of snapshots from her life and she just shares them. She’ll write about some of her adventures or recipes, and her pending nuptials (so awesome happy for her). Whether it’s a glass of wine sitting on a table, or her dog chasing something across a calm stream, or a photo of her hanging with her very best people, her words and photos really make you feel like you’re spending time with a friend. She’s made me think of  going to places like West Virgina to see the leaves change one weekend. I totally dig and get her point. You’ve got to stop and find the bliss in the little things.

I don’t even know her personally, but I can bet she lives by the list of things I mentioned the friends I’m jealous of in a healthy way live by.

I just thank God, I didn’t have a spirit of, “wow, my life sucks compared to yours, “but instead, “wow, I need to figure out a way to travel internationally, like now,” or, “maybe instead of killing myself to find a job in this area, maybe I should widen my net.” I’ve moved before, and it’s opened me up to so much.

Instead of comparing and sulking and assuming their lives are better, I used that moment to be opened up to more possibilities.

That’s a huge gift my über awesome, successful, smart, connected, caring friends gave and continue to me. I’ll always love them for that.

I smiled all the way home, listening to the C.D. of the wing-sucking, light-hearted, nerd at heart (we discussed number 2 pencils, mechanical pencils and how they suck and made up periodic elements and whether or not he makes fun of people in the audience in his head while performing) musician I’d just met, who thought my “black nerds unite” shirt was awesome.

Then I thought, “Shit. I should have worn a shirt I DESIGNED!”

P.S. Aside from the Sister Act 2 Fundraiser featuring Whoopi singing “Get Up Off That Thang.” “Cookie Time” from Troop Beverly Hills (featuring the sassy little girl I mentioned earlier) is one of the best fundraising scenes in a motion picture film.

It’s Friday. I’m feeling generous! I’ma give yall a bonus. “Get Up Offa That Thang/Dancin In the Street.”

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