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Archive for the category “Friends”

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.

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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.

Relationship Status Not A Reflection of Your Individual Value

If you survived your mid- to late-twenties without going to a lot of weddings, and you are in your 30’s, you better guard your loins and brace yourself like Braveheart and his crew.

I’m starting to get a bunch of save-the-dates, as some of my dear friends (mostly male though…but that’s a whole other post) are finally making their way to the altar.

I’m very happy for my friends. Most of the folks I know getting married over the next two years are folks who have been in very long-term relationships. They’ve seen a lot of ups and downs, they’ve been able to watch each other change and grow, they’ve had serious battles and challenges, and they’ve decided to keep on choosing each other for the rest of their lives. It’s really beautiful. I’ll probably shed a tear because I know the behind-the-scenes stories. These couples haven’t always had the fairy tale, and for that reason, them making the conscious effort to choose each other over and over again, every day for the rest of their lives, is what makes these new unions magical. They put real thought into the huge life decision they are making. And for that, I applaud them and can be confident in their futures and really relish the celebrations.

But I had a thought as I was talking to a friend. It’s nothing new that a lot of women place their value on being proposed to. Simply being asked elevates them.

And I’ve even had the thought that being asked was in direct correlation to my value.

I had even said on a number of occasions, the reason I’ve kept my engagement ring is because it was physical proof that “someone loved me that much, someone wanted me to be his wife.”

Well, I’ll have to tell myself now after about four years of healing that in the illustrious and oh so truthful words of Brandy, almost doesn’t count.

I understand now that simply getting “chose” as my southern friends would call it, isn’t a reflection of your value. There are so many amazing single people who are amazing, period. If they got married tomorrow, they’d be amazing. If they were single forever, they would still be amazing. There are people who are just really great at being a human. They do it well, regardless of being involved romantically. And I do believe in my heart, because they’ve been so excellent at being a human, they will attract an equally amazing human, decide to be together and save the world by creating more awesome humans.

In my biostats class, we talk about independent and dependent factors. If an independent variable changes, the dependent variables are studied to see how much the independent variable effects them.

I think of marriage, relationships etc., as independent variables. They can change the other dependent variables about you, but those dependent variables you always had, your intellect, your ability to care for other people… you get the picture.

So for people thinking getting selected by someone makes you better than all of the other “pitiful” single people (something must be wrong with them) out there, or if single people believe married people or people in a relationship are “better” you’ve got it completely wrong.

Maybe I need to do another post about something that’s taken me a long time to figure out. I kept wondering why some people never got married or why they are still single. I’m learning it’s a bunch of things.

You know yourself too well to settle, even if it means turning down people who seem to be really amazing (on paper, or physically).

You trust how you feel first, even if it makes no sense to other people.

You know that you can be selfish sometimes and you’re just not ready to share anything, your space, your food, your time, your life…

You still have big decisions that you want to make and only want to have yourself to consider. Do you want to move to another country? Do you want to change jobs? Do you want to buy a house or sell it? Do you want to take out $60,000 in student loans to go get a degree? Do you want to take a significant pay cut for a dream job?

Do you just want to opt out sometimes? Being single gives you the space and freedom to say fuck it and it doesn’t affect anyone else but you. Want to take a few days off and go away? Book the ticket, you’re gone. Want to call in sick? You aren’t squirreling away days just in case a kid gets strep, you can take your mental health day and not slave to make it up. Wanna stay in your sweatpants all day and eat pho? No one is going to tell you no in your own house. Compromise isn’t something you have to consider in the single life. Doing you is not only allowed, but encouraged.

Entering into a relationship can make you a better person, because that person can bring out the best in you or challenge you to be your best self, but you’re relationship status alone doesn’t make you better than anyone else, especially those who aren’t attached.

Entering into a relationship is just a mutual decision between two people. Let’s be together! Ok! Whooo hoo! So is getting engaged and getting married. Let’s make this thing legal! Ok! Whoo hoo!! It’s the decision to choose each other for an undetermined amount of time, based on if you want to continue the relationship or if one of the parties expires. (Singing Fantasia’s Free Yourself, or Mahalia Jackson’s Upper Room) That’s it.

So people in love, even though you feel like it, you didn’t cure cancer, or create wrinkle-free clothing or the cronut.

You were simply able to match hearts at the right time and right place, which is quite a feat, but not one to place you on a perch.

Single people wanting to be in a relationship. Take some inventory of the luxuries and freedoms you currently have in your season of single and be that excellent human. Because it will sustain you when it’s time to really dig in, compromise, love and give freely to your future love.

Good Friends Remind You of How Super You Are When You Forget

There are times I take on a lot.

I get frustrated and overwhelmed and I may huff and puff during the process, but things seem to work out.

Recently, I had about three friends suck their teeth at me when I started doubting myself. A beloved professor and mentor of mine was retiring from the university, so as a joke I told a friend I’d design a funny tee-shirt in his honor. (Some of you lifers remember when I was heavy on my t-shirt business and kind of gave up on it.)

My friend loved the idea and then I shared it with a few others and they all wanted shirts in time for the retirement celebration. I told my friends the money we’d collect from our shirts would go toward a scholarship fund being created in our professor’s honor. Everyone thought it was a fantastic idea.

My friend reminded me that just as they loved the idea, other people at the party were going to love it too, and to be prepared for an onslaught of orders. Another friend who was so tickled by the idea offered to build me a webstore prior to the event.

But the idea of my shirt being such a success scared the crap out of me.

How would I organize this? How would I handle the orders? Would people be willing to pay the price? How would I ship it? Is it the right quality? Is it good enough?

The thought of the business management side of it paralyzed me.

So I said, I’d just buy a couple extra shirts on top of the ones I promised to a few friends attending and would see how things went.

My friends were right.

As soon as we hit the building, people wanted shirts. We sold every single “extra” shirt (and by extra I only had three extra because I was worried about putting out so much money for extra shirts out of my own pocket because I told my friends all of their money would go to the scholarship. I was willing to take the financial hit.)

The man of the hour put on his free shirt immediately! (If that’s not affirmation, I don’t know what is.)

Illustrious alumni with highly impressive careers sought me out and quipped that they could afford a $20 shirt, so gimme!

I felt silly and embarrased and unprepared by only having such a scant amount of merchandise in a place with such enthusiastic demand.

So immediately, my website builder friend made me, in the middle of the party buy a domain name, via a smart phone and my other friends offered to help me pack and ship orders and work on a Facebook page. Then they all got together and said, “I told you so.” Even named themselves the, “I told you so crew” and did an “I told you so” dance.

I mentioned this situation to another friend completely unrelated to the ones at the party and when I told her how things went and how scared I was to really promote the shirts, she gave me the “you idiot” glare, then she offered to assist me too.

Photos of the shirts from the party circulating on Facebook have total strangers asking about them in the comments and saying things like, “Take my money!” “Want one!” “Need one!”

I got business cards and slips of paper with phone numbers and email addresses of people who wanted to know when more shirts were being made.

I was overwhelmed. But in a positive way.

I say all of this to say, it pays to have friends who believe in you when you’re scared. It’s downright funny when they get annoyed that you aren’t seeing what they see in you too. What’s the best about these kinds of friends is, they don’t just believe in your dream and say you can do it, they’ll give you a push and offer up their time, skills and talents and even money to invest in you so you can feel even more confident and less alone in the process.

The original friend who I shared the idea with me told me that it was bothersome that somewhere along the way I lost my confidence. That the old me would have not been so fearful about making the shirts and selling them.

And she was right. I’m not sure exactly of what happened or why. And maybe all of that doesn’t matter.

I’m just glad to know that I have amazing people in my life who will remind me, and force me if necessary to get it back and fly.

Thank you!!!

Downsizing

Today was the final straw.

Every year, you all know I complain about my rent increasing and how I get really upset about it. Every. Year.

Well, my lease isn’t up until late April, however a recent email from the new management had me livid. Parking is a serious issue in my complex, but now they’ve made matters even worse by offering “premium parking” for an additional $35 per month that gives you an assigned space in front of your building.

One more way to squeeze more money out of us and force me to think of other living situations. Pay for a space? It’s not covered for the winter. Like are you really kidding? I’m over it.

And maybe I’ve jumped to conclusions, but now I really want out. It’s not just the parking space, but it’s the rising rent in a place where I haven’t seen any new and improved amenities and with ever-changing parking rules that really discourage my friends from wanting to visit or hang out all night for being towed.

So in my anger, I started looking for new apartments, all of which are ridiculous and it hurts my soul to pay more than what I’m paying to move. I can afford to pay a bit more, but I honestly don’t want to. It’s wrong.

A good friend of mine owns her townhouse and has had a steady stream of tenants over the years. We’ve made jokes about me moving in with her before and this time, I’m actually serious about it.

The other times I could have moved in with her, I was proud and I felt like it was a reflection of my independence and where I was in life to have my own place. I’ve realized that common sense trumps pride. I make enough to still live on my own and even pay more money for rent and not go hungry. But I simply don’t want to.

At this point, I don’t care anymore. I’m not dating, I don’t have a man who will come over, and my life is filled with school. I hardly cook, so I don’t use my kitchen very often, I actually need to go through everything in my house that I’ve accumulated and do a super cleanse, so this may be a very good idea.

My furniture and art and books would go into storage. I’d give away a lot of shoes and clothes.

The idea would be to live with the friend for six months to possibly a year. Besides, after school, I have no clue where my life will lead and I’m actually open to completely leaving the DC area if that’s what it takes. If I’m saving money on rent, I could travel more or just save period and not scramble for deposits when I am ready to move back into my own place.

The other positive that makes this decision work out better this time is with my new job the commute from her house wouldn’t be as bad as my old commute.

I’m open to it. I complain that I’m often lonely and having another person in the house does help with that.

At this point I’m almost ready to move immediately, thinking about the money I’d save and decluttering my life and forcing myself to make it work with one room.

It may be the most liberating thing I’ve done yet. It’s not a move backwards as I used to think having a roommate at this stage of my life was. It may be jumpstart to the new phase in my life I’ve needed.

A Different Kind Of Party

Hey hey folks,

It’s me again, and I’m back.

I’m still on a high from a great week of doing all of the things I want to do. I kicked off 32 last Wednesday, at a local venue called the Strathmore after I treated myself to a great meal. At the Strathmore Mansion (a mansion next door to the large performance complex), I treated my ears to the lovely vocal stylings of Christie Dashiell. You may remember her as one of the lead singers of The Sing Off Season three stand out vocal group “Afro Blue.”

Watching her sing flanked by her very talented brothers on stand up bass and drums, I was witnessing something. And I knew that sooner or later she’s going to be ridiculously famous and well-respected in the jazz world for years to come.

By Friday, I had a “date” with a guy who I consider to be a friend, who I’m figuring wants more. I don’t mind him being around, but I’m not feeling him like that.

Saturday was the big night. About 12 friends joined me for a five-course Indian feast, made complete with a belly dancer. And I joined her and the crowd hooted and hollered, cheering me and my fabulous self on!

After the marathon meal, we sang and danced at a Karaoke spot where you can rent private karaoke rooms by the hour. We had a blast. All week, folks have asked did I party hard? Well, I wasn’t sloppy drunk, or even drunk at all.

I quickly had a glass of wine and maybe one drink, but was too busy mingling and swapping fun stories with some of the most fantastic people I know, drinking wasn’t the main thing on my mind.

I kept saying, as I mature, “It’s a different kind of party.” I like to have drinks, but I don’t surround my weekend around it. The people in my life made my weekend and my entire week. Folks showed up with gifts and love and smiles and warm hugs and I couldn’t have been happier.

I wasn’t even expecting gifts. I was being real when I said that none of those things mattered. I just wanted people to have a good time. Folks were expected to pay for their own meals, and I provided two hours of karaoke. Whatever drinks or extras they purchased there, they’d have to take care of individually.

Sunday, I enjoyed a great brunch with my cousin went to check out American Hustle which is an awesome movie and enjoyed the sorry football game with another good friend and her family. I was serenaded and presented with red velvet cupcakes.

Monday was my actual birthday and it was super low-key, which I didn’t mind. Before my cousin returned to New York, we had lunch after my 90 minute hot stone appointment. I think I like hour massages better. 90 minutes may be too long, but it was still heavenly anyway. Good times.

I was most excited when a gentleman caller who I am very interested in asked me if I had plans for the evening. It was a simple outing to a local steakhouse, but I enjoyed every minute. We cuddled by the fire at his home after and enjoyed an even hotter kiss. I was golden.

Being 32 is fantastic. I didn’t need to be in a club. I didn’t need a whole lot of alcohol, or not to remember what happened the night before to signal I had an epic night. Because it was just the opposite. And I was happy to remember it all and I will cherish the memories from my week for a very long time.

Oh, and to put the icing on the birthday cake, I was fourth row center witnessing the breath stealing Alvin Ailey Dance Company last night. They never disappoint. I love that their annual engagement at the Kennedy Center always falls on or around my birthday. It makes the time feel even more special as if they are celebrating me!!!

I just told a friend of mine, it’s an excellent feeling to have the people you love the most tell you all at the same time that you mean so much to them and that they love you and that they are glad you are a part of their life. It doesn’t make you conceited. It doesn’t make you a jerk to take those moments in and accept their gifts, and favors or when they reach to take the bill and shoo you away. I’m so glad to have these beautiful people to walk through life with.

And so far it’s been a great life at that. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead.

32.

Trying This Again

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I did. It was great to spend time with family and friends and eat, and take in the sights and sounds of NYC.

I checked out “After Midnight” which was an excellent and highly energetic homage to jazz with some of the most talented people you ever did see. Fantasia was stellar and her voice was pristine. A lot of people who say why go see Fantasia sing on Broadway, are the people who need to go see her on Broadway. She has crazy control over her voice and can be just as powerful singing “Stormy Weather” as she would yelling and going nuts on “Free Yourself.”

Fantasia kills jazz standards and gives them the respect the artistry deserves. She knows what time it is and for that, I was digging her more.

The musicians from the Jazz ensemble of Lincoln Center were just amazing. Fantastic!

So this weekend totally ushered in a feeling of family and holiday and I’m really looking forward to Christmas. I generally like Christmas anyway, especially giving gifts and seeing people’s reaction to them. I love the food, I love wearing sweaters and leggings and just the mood people are in and gathering with friends.

I didn’t get to see everyone this trip, which felt like a blur, but it was great to even watch a movie at my aunt and uncle’s house, and sip sweet tea and catch up.

Hanging with my bestie to see Hunger Games was also a highlight. She’s a die-hard fan of the books and to see her get surprised at the end was soooo funny. I love hanging with her and seeing her parents and talking to them.

It was great to have everyone in my family love my sweet potato pie, including my mother– who had her second slice within minutes of her first. It seemed to be a running joke that everyone was surprised at my skills.

Another highlight of my holiday was taking my mentee and her twin sister out for lunch. It’s interesting to pick the brain of 15-year-old girls, and it was a cool moment to see one try creme brulee for the first time.

Throughout my holiday, Wild Card hit me up quite a few times.

Even as I was heading back, he was checking in, wanting to know when I’d be back.

Even though I was interested in seeing him again. I just had to know if he was really genuinely interested or if he wanted me to be the call and come over girl.

So I asked him straight up. And he said that he really was interested. That the only reason he was asking me to his home at night was because we both had crazy schedules. He asked. “Did you really think I was just trying to get into your pants?”

“Well, that’s every man’s long- and short-term goal. I just wanted to be clear. I like sex, but I’m at a point where I want more. And I didn’t want to read the situation wrong. If we keep hanging out, I will want something to go down, but I really want to get to know you.”

So he said that he felt the same way.

And so at the same time we sent the following text messages:

Him: “So what’s the verdict on this evening?”

Me: “Now that we’ve cleared that up. I’d like to see you this evening.”

So here we go.

I’m trying this again.

Breaking the Study Wall

I hit a wall of walls yesterday, trying to study for the GRE.
The panic and anxiety were setting in that at this point it was a week away.
As the days inch closer, I ain’t gonna know, what I ain’t gonna know and the reality of that is settling in.
So I’m trying my best to get really good at what I do know and ride that till the wheels fall off.
It’s so much information.
It’s so overwhelming.
So after staring at the study books, and staring. I decided, I’ll go to the gym.
And that helped. Then I went to the grocery store and got some veggies and a cookies and cream candy bar and ate the joker in my car on the way home.
Did I negate my hard work at the gym?
Possibly. But that wasn’t the point. I needed motivation I needed to physically do something to get my juices flowing.
And they began to flow.
I took out some poster board that I use for my vision boards and I began to write.
I wrote the school I was going to attend. I wrote my March 2014 start date for my program.
And in very large letters I wrote my graduation date and new fancy title. Masters of Public Health.
I wrote things like, “Change the game.”
“Shape Policy” “Create Access”
“If you do your best, let God do the rest.”
Then things changed in my spirit. I wrote things like calm.
Redefine success.
Then I started writing the names of women who inspired me. And they started out as celebrities, singers, artists, dancers, great thinkers and writers, and women in politics, educators.
Then it started to get personal. I listed mentors, and old women from church, women who passed on, and then I wrote the names of my contemporaries, my friends, my sister friends.
I found myself praying for them, praying for their strength to keep on doing what they are doing. I was proud of them.
I found myself thanking God for the women who were no longer with us on Earth and their influence on my life. Just the writing of the names, the speaking of the names was giving me an unexpected strength. I even thought of my ancestors. Women who didn’t have very many choices. My great, great, great-grandmother, who according to some records had no name but negro woman, who bore my great great-grandfather. What a world.
To know what I’ve come from.
I realized I had no choice.
I couldn’t sit and get upset because I’m not great at math. I just had to pick myself up and keep working.
I spoke to the only person I knew who would get it. And not think I was crazy for writing down the names of all these women and feeling some spiritual connection and feeling overwhelmed and humbled and blessed, just by taking time to acknowledge.
The friend told me it was a wonderful experience I had.
She reminded me that I wasn’t like everyone else and that I was far too talented and creative and gifted to just sit down and claim mediocrity as part and parcel of becoming an adult in this world.
She told me, this is my time.
This is my time to study and research and be at the table in terms of helping people with mental illness. The world needs someone like me, who looks like me, who has experienced what I’ve experienced, who knows what I know to go forth and take my place at the table.
These were powerful, yet true words.
My wise friend told me to shut out the noise. To not live in the bubble and to fully and truly follow the path I feel deep down inside of me and not abandon that.
I managed to study for a little more before going to bed. I didn’t log several hours, like the previous day.
But the spiritual boost I had from her, from my prayer and from going to the gym, proved to be just as essential.

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.

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