29tolife

Just another WordPress.com site

Archive for the category “Personal Victories”

Job Hunting On a Deadline Is Emotionally Draining

Hey folks.

Not long ago, I found myself trying to coach and encourage my cousin visiting from the south about jumping in, getting a job and grinding like hell to achieve his goals.

I told him to be prepared for obstacles: some of which he had no control, and some of which may have been created by old choices or lack of planning and preparation.

As I enter my last month of employment in a few days, and still have bills to pay, so far, I’ve had one promising interview, and I’ve been putting in several applications all over the place.

I do believe that things are going to work out, and it’s never based on my sense of timing. And God hasn’t let me down before, even if things appeared to be down to the wire.

But my anxiety is ramping up. Especially after doing an electronic application for a job I know I was qualified for, but got a lightning quick rejection. Like immediate. LOL.

Me thinks my salary requirement got me bounced immediately. Which, probably is a good thing. There’s no point in even having a great interview if the salary they are offering is too low.

But see, everything is making me feel edgy and uncertain and in a kind of ho-hum mood.

I’ve been virtually silent at work, really just trying to get through the day and my tasks.

It’s nearly impossible for me to concentrate on the statistics class I’ve been “supposed” to be working so diligently on over the summer so I can return to my grad school program in good standing. Progress is at a standstill on that front. I get lumps in my throat thinking about it. It’s hard to move forward on a self-paced course. How sad is that?

So, per the usual, I’ve been not even looking for the silver lining, I’ve been looking for the golden lesson. The what is this preparing me for? What am I supposed to gain from feeling how I feel, and willing myself to put out just one more application?

Am I applying blindly out of fear? Or wisely out of purpose and true interest in the job?

Fear and uncertainty makes us scramble. It sounds a lot like our current presidential election.

We have a serious problem with discomfort. Fear makes us rationalize behaviors or ideas, that when we are otherwise calm and confident, we’d never consider.

It’s not limited to our votes, it extends to the partners we choose to stick with for fear of being alone, it extends to not expressing how we feel for fear of backlash or being unaccepted, it extends to every type of fear that holds us back.

So now, I have to speak myself out of the fear.

I am dwelling in the unknown. But I have family, I have friends, I have love, I have skills and talents. These are things that I know. I’ve lived in places I never thought I would and I’ve survived.

I had people tell me that I wasn’t good enough and I knew it was a lie, and I survived.

I thought the end of a relationship was the end of me ever being happy again, and six years later, I know it to be a lie.

The old church folks love to say “The Devil is a Lie.” And it’s very tempting to try to correct their grammar, and say isn’t it “The Devil is a liar?”

It’s both. Everything about the devil and all that comes with him is a lie. He works through very real things and very specific details in our lives to thwart us from our divine purpose he uses lies to get in our heads. He uses lies as agents of fear, because fear makes us move, it drives us to action.

I’m not a biblical scholar by any means, but now I get why there are so many scriptures that say things like “Fear not.” Or, “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.”

Other verses mention love casting out fear. I gravitate to the idea of the power of a sound mind the most. The challenge is to maintain a sound mind when our natural impulse would be to fear. Our bodies react to all kinds of situations: we sweat, we want to run and hide, we get weak stomachs, we pass out, we fight.

But how do we calm ourselves in the face of fear? How do we accept what is and what will be?

Having fear is a natural human flaw that attempts to protect us from pain and threats.

However pushing beyond our fears draws us closer to our supernatural, interior selves.

Even self-help folks, and motivational speakers talk over and over again about conquering fear, about drowning out voices of self-doubt.

It’s very easy to be fearful in the world we live in, and some days, staying under the covers is the solution. But there comes a time when we must act. When we must do our part, do our best in the face of fear and trust our Creator will do the rest.

 

 

Advertisements

RSVP for one. Bad-Ass Scardy Cat will go to the Gala.

I said it and I refuse to take it back. 2016 is not only the self-proclaimed year of the unexpected, it’s also the year of the bad-ass scardy cat. AKA, me.
I spent a previous post talking about what that exactly means. It may also extend into my dating life or how I attack it, without letting it attack me.
One of my biggest problems is not knowing what I want, or thinking I don’t know what I want in a relationship.
The problem is I know.
The problem is I kind of don’t believe I can have it.
So while I’m doing the match.com thing, I’m going to jump out on a limb and take a risk.
Every year, Howard alumni are sent a lovely invitation to the annual Charter Day events held each March. There’s always a super swanky gala, that basically costs $350 per plate. And hell, the amazing Debbie Allen is this year’s chairwoman.
Me and my friends have joked, that we’d attend once we’ve “made it.”
This gala attracts many of Howard’s most prestigious alumni, and supporters. It’s a collection of folks you’d be proud to say you share a legacy with.
But in the same breath, its intimidating. IT’S FUCKING INTIMIDATING. I’ve been out of practice going to things like this post my journalism career, so going to this solo is daunting to say the least.
But I keep staring at the invite. It just keeps calling me.
I’m not a baller, shot-caller by any means, but I’m a self-sufficient person who is about to add some expensive-ass letters behind her name this year (from another well-respected Washington, D.C. University) and is in need of connecting to inspiring people again, if only for one night. At any event at Howard, I am reenergized. So, I know this will be worth it.
And yes, I’m going to Rent the Runway so I can shock and awe. I may even visit the brick and mortar Georgetown location to select my ensemble.
Hmm, I guess, I’ve basically said I’m going. I guess, I made the decision now. Ha!
I was going to use this blog post to kind of give myself all the reasons I should go, and I wanted to also discuss a byproduct that I wouldn’t mind happening.
…. Me snagging the man of my dreams. This is some fanciful, storybook, meet cute, starring Sanna Lathan type shit. And just when I thought I’ve been dragged to the most cynical cellars of my soul, I meet a brown unicorn who reminds me how much I like to do what I think I can’t even if I complain or doubt myself along the way. There’s a tiny ray of hope.

It’s freaking dangerous to go to this gala, thinking I’m going to drop my napkin and a chocolate dreamboat decked out in a tux is going to pick it up and we’ll lock eyes and the rest will be black history and we’ll be planning our nuptuals at historic Rankin Chapel on campus, but IT’S MY FANTASY. DEEP DOWN, in the places I want to deny that exist, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANT. Excuse me now for the rant. I do feel better saying it. More on this later…

I recently participated in an online relationship boot camp of sorts, and this month’s video was about “dating down.” I was practically in tears by the end, because it called out a number of things I’ve already addressed in this blog.
They basically strummed my pain by outlining the following: my need for control, my need to feel emotionally and intellectually superior and how dating down is actually taking the easy road, just to have someone in your life.
After killing me ever so softly (Roberta Flack went to Howard, btw) it made me think.

I had to get back to the basics.
Deep in my heart, I wanted a good, stable, sane Howard man, or a man who went to an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). This man would be able to totally understand why I love my alma mater so much and celebrate this love with me. I wouldn’t have to give him cliffs notes on my experience. Or what led to my decision, or why I felt everything Ta-Nahesi Coates describes in his epic colorful description of Howard in all it’s ebony-coated excellence in “Between the World and Me.” Even if he went to a rival school, it would be fun to take photos rocking alumni sweatshirts and talking crap to each other on gameday. Even if he disagreed with me about politics and pop culture, he’d understand my perspective.

Howard, much like my father, shaped for me an ideal of the kind of man I wanted and believed I deserved. But somehow over the years, I’ve deviated. I’ve acquiesced to dating and entertaining lesser beings to not give truth to the stereotype of the professional black woman too good to give folks a chance. I tried to temper my expectations, but it still didn’t feel right. I’ve dated men who didn’t attend HBCUs, but they were still missing something… or lacked some level of consciousness that never sat right with me, or they didn’t see themselves in the collective “we” in the black diaspora. And I don’t mean that in a dashiki-wearing, anti-white, afro-wearing, ankh-adorned, shea butter-scented way.

But there’s something about Howard that awakens your consciousness and how you walk in it, how you live it, is entirely up to you and shaped also by your own experience, but above all, it’s informed. It’s multifaceted.

So here it is. It’s the season of finding someone whose light reflects my own.

That’s been the biggest thing I’ve been afraid to ask for out loud, but the missing ingredient that I keep summing up and dumbing down as an intangible, when I reply two oactives higher than usual “I don’t know.”
So at this point, where are those kinds of men? Welp, my guess is they are doing all sorts of things. They are friends of friends. They volunteer. They may be in the clubs, but I’m over that. I will not do that.

However, friends, I’m consciously and to some degree defiantly making a $350 investment in myself (+ the cost of my rent the runway dress), my badassery and my future. Sometimes if you go to places you’ve never gone, you’ll have experiences you’ve never had. In the year of badassery, it’s time to not put a price tag on me living up to my potential. Besides, I’m nosey. I want to see how the other half lives… I do wonder if they’ll let a sister register as a student, using her George Washington id, tho… lol.

So that settles it. I’m good enough to be in the room. I AM GOOD ENOUGH TO BE IN THE ROOM.

I deserve to go to the gala because well, I was invited. That should end the argument there.

I’m an alumni. That should also end the argument.

And with a swipe of a credit card, I’ll be in there. And let’s face it, my credit card going through is probably the only thing Howard is thinking about anyway. LOL.

The only person who can say I don’t belong for whatever stupid reason, is me. So I’ll stop. I’ll start looking for a dress. The Golden Globes and Oscar season have me feigning to slay in my lane at  some event. And I’ll go. Bad-ass Scardycats unite!

Bad-Ass Scardy Cat

I keep telling yall. 2016 will be the year of the unexpected. I mentioned in a previous blog, in 2015, I was concentrating on balance. And it served me well. Focusing on balance brought me to a good place and I think prepared me for the coming year.

I’m getting that much closer to finishing my master’s degree (hopefully in December folks!), and I’m getting much better at just saying no to things I can’t get with and taking a time out when things get a little crazy. I’m learning to listen to my inner voice and my body (which is super important as I’m getting older. 34 next month yall… and when 29tolife started, we were talking about the possibilities of what the 30s will bring! Ha!)

At any rate, I’m the kind of person who, I believe exudes a certain self-confidence (that I fight for daily). People in my life and strangers even compliment me on how I carry myself, and how I can motivate other people or make others feel good too. But at the root of it all, like I said, I fight for it. I have to pump myself up, and I’m elated when people tell me that I am beautiful or I did something well. It really helps. I think on twitter, I mentioned being what I call a “bad-ass scardy cat.”

I may try new things or things that scare the hell out of me, or make a life change that scares me, but once I’ve made up my mind, no matter how scared I am I do it. There you go, a bad-ass scardy cat.

Well on Jan 2, 2016, I may have outdone myself.

I got a tattoo. At 33 years old, I was eating breakfast with my cousin and I said I’m doing it today. She asked if I was sure, and with a piece of bacon in my mouth, I said yes. It was clear as a bell.

I knew I wanted a tattoo right then, that day, just as I knew my name. I just knew I had to do it. So after thinking about local places my friends have gone to, looking at the websites and recalling strong reputations for cleanliness, experience, ability and friendliness to newbies, I set out for the tattoo shop.

The place was pretty busy with folks also determined to get tatted or pierced, most folks adding to their collections.

I have to say my tattoo artist Jen, was the PERFECT person to do my tattoo. She was warm, kind, and had a bunch of bad-ass tattoos of her own. She made me feel completely at ease, even though my heart was beating out of my chest as the needle touched my skin for the very first time.

I asked her to please just keep talking to me, as she worked. I couldn’t bear to just let the buzzing hum of the needle and background noise of other conversations suffice.

Keep in mind, this act of badassery was going against everything my religious family believed was proper, especially for a woman. To my family, it probably would have even made more sense for me to do such a thing during college. But to be an established “professional” woman rolling into her mid-thirties, why now?

Now was the perfect time, because I am grown. I have lived enough to get a really good idea of who I am and who I’m not. I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve changed careers slightly, I’m expanding my education, I’ve changed my hair, I’ve lost weight, I’ve visited other countries. Whatever I choose to put on my body at this point wouldn’t be a whim, but a conscious decision.

That choice, was a lovely quill pen. The feather represents truth. The truth sets us free and makes us light as a feather. Birds are free and fly, they have feathers. I love the connection of it all. Whether I work in journalism or not, I’ll always be a writer. That will never change.

My truth will be ever-evolving as I continue to learn things, experience things and grow.

I think when Jen asked me why I wanted a quill, I wasn’t as eloquent as I was just now, but I mentioned being a journalist, the feather representing truth and how I really wanted this particular tattoo for YEARS, but never had the guts to do it.

By not being in a relationship, it was even easier not to be influenced by or wonder whether or not my partner thought it was a good idea or not, sexy or not, etc.

I truly believe the Belize trip was a catalyst for this. Ziplining through the jungle, getting a mud bath and being butt naked and painted and adorned in flowers and having myself photographed, it was liberating. It was an acceptance of myself that I wasn’t familiar with, but it fit. I saw myself in those pictures being adventurous and happy and comfortable with my body and my hair and just living. I loved that. This is me. This is who I am. This is who I’ve been all along.

Was it painful? Well, it wasn’t a massage, but it wasn’t waterboarding either. The best way I can describe it was a deep scratching, that became more sensitive depending on where the needle went. But it wasn’t that bad. Jen was quick and focused, while making me feel comfortable.

I went into journalist mode asking her about what it was like to do her very first tattoo, what was her own personal first tattoo, and if she doodled as a child. She went to college for fine arts, and found that tattoo artistry would be a reasonable and profitable way to make good on that education and how she enjoyed meeting so many different kinds of people. She admitted to giving a side-eye or two for people’s choices, and told me about how celebrities often send people in in droves to have identical ink.

She also mentioned how an audience can make people more dramatic while getting ink, and that women tend to appear to be in more pain if a boyfriend or group of girlfriends are around.

I thanked Jen and walked out with my cousin kind of new.

I felt a bit more edgy, but then I unpacked that confidence later as I proudly rubbed the After Ink ointment on my brand new tat. I kept looking at it and admiring it. It just felt like I was myself. I was always myself, and this was an outward manifestation of just how bad-ass I could really be, according to my own standards and there’s nothing more bad-ass or revolutionary than that.

 

 

Counting the Mile Markers

If you’ve ever done a lot of road tripping, as I have– especially alone– you constantly find yourself establishing mini goals along your trip to just get through it.
Sometimes you do it by exit numbers because they’ll either go up or down, depending on the direction. Sometimes your landmarks of where you are going to stop are based on places your parents or other people like to stop when you travel with them and it’s just a habit. It’s familiar.
Either way, throughout a trip, especially when we are tired or hungry or have to pee, we say, let’s go just a little bit further down the road.
I’m feeling like that as of late.
I’m just shy of about three weeks left of this module for school and of course I feel like I’m hungry, running out of gas and about to pee on myself, but I have to keep driving because we haven’t gotten to my favorite Waffle House yet.
Maybe I’ll pass two other Waffle Houses on the way, but getting to that specific landmark means something in my head. From that landmark, I can establish that I only have but so much further to go. When you stop sooner than you’re supposed to, you’re still further behind than you wanted to be.
That’s what this journey through school as been feeling like. To others where you stop and take a break may not matter at all, as long as you take a break before you end up in a wreck.
But for real specific-minded people the break isn’t just a break. It’s a marker, it’s a goal. It allows you to calculate if you’ll make your destination ahead of schedule, right on time, or a little late.
Markers give you an emotional boost the closer you get to them. Mile-by-mile. Inch-by-inch. We need markers not only to guide us, but to show us we are making incremental progress. I love seeing the distance between me and a destination get smaller and smaller.
I love the relief and excitement of getting there even if you’ve driven all through the night and made very few stops.

Then and Now: On Writing Stuff Down

A very long time ago I wrote a post about the power of writing things down.

This blog, in itself has been therapy for me, it’s been a motivator and it’s held me accountable. You folks who take the time to read it and offer comments and encouragement have also helped me along the way.

As I’m cleaning out my desk at work, and my final week at my job is coming to a close, I found a memo pad. Of course I found memo pads, I’m a journalist. We have way too many.

But as I looked in the pad, I found that I wrote a lot of random thoughts, tee-shirt designs, scriptures and drawings or simple things on my mind along with work stuff and research and reminders.

I’m going to share with you one series of thoughts I wrote down and I wrote down the date too, but not the year, after digging through the rest of my notebook, I may have written this in March of 2013.

I want to be happy.

I do not want to be upset or miserable.

I do not want to push people away.

I do want to take risks.

I do want to trust my feelings/gut.

I want a new job.

I either want to buy a house or rent a great place I love.

I want to travel.

I don’t want to be uncertain.

I want to be loved.

I want someone to understand me.

I don’t want to complicate things.

I want to be courted.

I want to feel secure.

I want to be healthy.

I want to be in shape.

So, this morning, I smiled at the person who wrote those desires and next to each point, I wrote back.

I want to be happy. I feel pretty good. June 18, 2014.

I do not want to be upset or miserable. I’m not!

I do not want to push people away. I feel even closer to my family and friends and God. No man though. LOL

I do want to take risks. I held a stingray two weeks ago. I went snorkeling in the ocean. THE OCEAN! I’m leaving my job after 7 years. I’m currently in grad school. No scholarships this time baby. LOAN.

I want a new job. I repeat. I’m leaving my job this week, after 7 years for a new, amazing opportunity. And girl, we about to get paid… and girl we about to craft national/global messages on mental health. Ya heard me?

I either want to buy a house or rent a great place I love. My place is cool just the way it is and it suits me for this period in my life. The rent to damn high though, but I bet you’ll be outta there in the next two to three years. Bet.

I want to travel. Boo, we’ve been to Curacao, Durham, the Cayman Islands, and Kansas City in the last nine months. International twice! You were just in the Caymans two weeks ago and Kansas City three days ago. Holla.

I don’t want to be uncertain. That’s going to happen sometimes. Know God will keep you in the safe space so you can get it together.

I want to be loved. Girl bye. Bye Felicia. You on some self-pity type stuff right now. God loves us, the fam loves us, we got us some great friends. And we are getting a hang of this loving ourselves thing more and more. You’ll be aight, pumpkin.

I want someone to understand me. We are of the aquarius kind. We are aloof and mysterious and always thinking high, lofty, deep, far-reaching thoughts. Folks don’t have to understand you all the time, but they should respect you, they should listen to you when you speak. They don’t have to understand you all the time, just stand in your truth daily. That’s it. That needs to be enough for you. Do everything from a place of truth, do everything from your heart. Don’t do stuff that doesn’t feel right to please other people. You have a right to opt out.

I don’t want to complicate things. Then don’t. We are way too busy right now for extracurricular foolishness. But do remember closed mouths don’t get fed. Your definition of complicated ain’t like everyone else’s. There are times you over use your right to remain silent. Speaking up for yourself may rock the boat or complicate things, but sometimes you have to do it. Don’t be afraid of that. If you do things from your heart, if you take care of yourself without belittling or tearing down others, that is not making things more complicated.

I want to be courted. I concur. You ain’t never lie.

I want to feel secure. Nothing wrong with that either.

I want to be healthy. We’re doing okay in that department, but we need to work out wayy more, more sleep and a better diet.

I want to be in shape. We still want that, but we seriously got to get it together. We’re traveling now, but we were way too winded running to catch that flight last week. Just saying.

 

 

 

Let It Go, Keep It Gone

When I graduated from college (gasp) 10 years ago, I basically said as a journalist, I wouldn’t need graduate school. It would be a waste of my money and frankly anyone who was doing it who didn’t want to teach journalism was down right crazy.

10 years ago, I thought I’d be a journalist forever, working into old age and migrating to the editorials, sharing my wisdom until I finally died. And the world would mourn the loss of my great voice that led them through their days, that analyzed the issues and the moments we’d hardly forget.

I would be one of the great contemporary American voices.

Eh, that didn’t happen, or it just may happen. But not in the way I thought it would.

I thought that I’d never go to graduate school or even need it. The life I planned for myself seemed to suggest that, and for that life, coming to that conclusion just made a whole lot of sense.

It amazes me how life shifts. If you’re smart, you’ll take a step back, and look at the broader picture and how what you were doing ten years ago, or six years ago was leading you to right now, whether you are in a good place in your life or a bad one.

Three years ago I was miserable. I saw nothing but darkness. I was broken, I was sleep walking through my life and my job, collecting a check and just getting out of the bed each day was a major accomplishment. I was heartbroken and angry. I felt the rug was swept from under me when my relationship ended and my engagement was suddenly over.

Once again, I had made plans for my life. I thought I knew what it was supposed to look like and that’s what I was going for. That’s what I knew to do.

Out of one of the most lengthy painful experiences in my life, I had to be broken all the way down, to be rebuilt. I had to learn about humility, and the amount of control I truly had over MY life. No one else’s. I could only be in control of me. I could only be in charge of my emotions and how I reacted to a situation.

I had to learn that there is no dishonor in failure, but in truth there is strength. In my truth, in my self-discovery and in my self-correction, there was strength.

When you are broken down and in the pit, you have no one but you to look at, because let’s face it, your loved ones love you, but they don’t want to be in the pit with you. They can’t be in the pit with you. You gotta be like Batman and figure out how to fight fear and get out on your own; you have to want freedom beyond your fear of death or injury or discomfort or inconvenience in order to be free.

So I think about where I am now and what it took to get me here.
It took everything I had at each stage. The hope is that my arsenal of everything is continuing to grow, so each time I have more to give. But up until now, I had just enough “everything” to propel me to the next stage. I’ve said this before. “Love the emotion is effortless but the execution of love requires all of the effort you’ve got.” And that same, exhaustive execution of love has to be applied to yourself, first. I had to learn that and I’m still learning that. Love yourself to exhaustion.

There’s a saying that when you know better, you do better. At least you are supposed to do better. You will not grow without pain or discomfort. You have to stretch, you have to fall, you have to take a bump or bruise. If you do not grow, if you don’t produce new cells, you atrophy and die, you are more susceptible to injury and illness. We have to live up to the responsibility that comes with the knowledge our mistakes and bad choices give us. It’s on us to self-correct. It’s an ugly, lonely, exhausting work. No one is patting you on the back or holding your hand because this kind of work is not designed that way. It’s on you. And it’s brutal. It’s God saying, you have to grow up, baby. Live up to who you are supposed to be, I’m not going to magically do it for you. As Iyanla said, “Do the work.” We gotta do it. I’m still doing it and I get grateful for every bit of insight I pick up along the way. When it clicks, even when I realized I handled something the wrong way, I’m grateful I can see it. I’m grateful I’ve tapped into something that opens me up and allows me to see MORE, to see beyond what my little feeble mind couldn’t before. I’m grateful I can acknowledge when it happens.

The other night, I was in prayer and I was crying and thanking God for the people he had to forcefully remove from my life because I wouldn’t let them go otherwise. Then I thanked him for the people who have stayed and who he allowed me to grow with and the people who showed up when they were supposed to and made their exit when the season ended. It was a release. It was a moment. It was like that saying you can’t receive with a balled up fist. You can’t get something greater holding on to something you are so scared to lose. Some stuff, some people, you got to let it go and keep it gone.

You have to keep evolving to survive.
So that brings me back to grad school. Going back to school was something I thought for years I just couldn’t do, and had no desire to do.

But I had to keep living. Then I saw the necessity, then I saw the purpose. Then I saw myself on the other side, being way more than I originally imagined. On the other side, this new vision of myself, I’m really strong. I’m strong enough to be a better friend and mentor and leader, but not the kind of person who isn’t accessible. This better, faster, stronger version of me is frightening because of her transparency, her confidence and her rock solid belief in truth. The new vision of myself is scary, because it requires more from me and it may take more bumps and bruises to prepare me to ultimately be that person and be strong enough to help others. It’s growth, it’s evolution, it’s being proactive in my destiny. It’s listening to the inner voice and trusting it. It’s being shamed out of laziness and into action. It’s being shamed out of future regret. It’s knowing life is precious and we better do something with it. Studying biology and the environment in an odd way is making me even more in awe of God. You’d think it would be the other way around. How complicated the science of life is, but how perfect it is too. The systems put in place to regenerate and repair; the things always set in motion in an attempt to maintain balance– to keep things clean, to fight off negative forces.

I digress.

I’m not who I was 10 years ago. I’m certainly not who I was three years ago. I’m proud of who I was in all stages because I had to be that person to be who I am now. There were lessons those times taught me that inform my choices today, that shape my new voice that can help others to grow.

I had to go through the things I went through, I had to get mature, I had to change. Were some of my experiences drastic? Yes. My situations got more drastic when I wanted to hold on to something bad for me the most. God had to force me to let them go in painful, grueling ways until not only did I realize I had to let them go, I had to keep them gone.

Silencing the Noise

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have already heard that I quit Plenty Of Fish.

Like, I quit for real, for real. I didn’t just hide my profile and take a little break from it, I took myself out of the game completely.

There were a few times before where I thought about deleting the profile, but I’d get pulled in by another message from a new guy showing interest. Even if I wasn’t interested in them, it still made me feel wanted. So for that reason alone, even though I was getting pinged all day and all night because I had the app on my phone, it was a form of validation that I had been wanting that I, was indeed desirable.

The trouble with Plenty Of Fish is I’m not the only one.

If I don’t respond, the person on the other end really isn’t going to be heartbroken, he’s just going to click on another profile and try again. A catchy profile and some cute pics didn’t make me special. Inboxes full of faux admiration didn’t either.

I actually hated when dudes off the bat would call me sweetie, or love or gorgeous. It felt so… ugh. It felt so phony.

This weekend, I had a bunch of crazy revelations.

Somehow my good ex hit me up again on Friday night when I was doing absolutely nothing. So I started talking about dating and how difficult it’s become. I complained that it’s at a point where everyone is dating like robots, following a script.

Simply he just said, “You ain’t gotta. Do you.”

I don’t know why what he said seemed to just shoot through me like lightning, but it was so simple. It made so much sense. I don’t have to keep going on date after date. Introducing and reintroducing myself to men I’m really not that interested in, but trying to be “open-minded” too.

That message kept ringing true at not one, but two church services this weekend. The focus was on women in both. Both talked about loving yourself and giving things up so you can receive God’s blessings which may or may not include a man.

I had a thought today about Idols. I posted on twitter that “One way or the other, God will remove your idols. You determine how drastic He has to be in order to get your attention.”

Plenty Of Fish was becoming an idol. It was consuming a lot of my brain space. It was causing me to either be excited about people I knew nothing about or completely aggravated with people I knew nothing about. I was expecting people to be accountable and ready-made after one date. I’d be surprised if I didn’t hear anything from certain guys with whom I had great conversations. I’d replay what I’d done or if I wasn’t attractive enough.

But it all boils down to this, we are all out here doing the same thing. We are evaluating people on highly superficial levels and not taking the time to build. The possibility of the next, better person that you may be missing out on always seemed on the horizon and one click away. But that’s not real life.

I’m about to devote two years of my life to a master’s degree. I devoted four to college and 10+ to being a writer and reporter and editor. Cultivating anything takes time and effort. I have friends of 20 years. I know everything about them and they know me. It’s scary, but look at all the time it took to get to that level of mastery in my friendships, and I’m still working on them and giving to them and nurturing them.

One year of online dating and the revolving door of men wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to be. It was a great social experiment in what’s out there, but I realize right now, it’s not where I need to place my focus or my energy.

So I deleted my page.

My mind instantly got quiet again. I wasn’t turning over in the middle of my sleep when my phone started to buzz, or checking messages at a stop light. I wasn’t spending time “man shopping” when I was bored, looking at profiles hoping that there was some coded language my Mr. Right used so he could find me.

I didn’t have to be disappointed anymore.

I could focus.

Even today, I’m realizing the dating site was taking a lot of my good energy and brain space.

My good ex did remind me of how confident I used to be. He told me things like putting on weight or how I wear hair was not going to matter. And I was confident. I just have to get back to that again. I knew the first place to start was silencing the POF noise.

I’m not knocking the site at all. I think it does open the door to help you meet people you may have never otherwise met. But as I review the last year of online dating, people are either not quite serious at all, or they are so serious, they come of desperate and scary. Online dating pushes you to the extremes of non-committal or super clingy. You can’t even truly be you. You are always on, you are always auditioning for someone’s affections.

And nope. I don’t want to do that. Not anymore.

So I said a prayer. I said I wanted to give this up and not look back and whoever is for me, he’s already out there. It’s time to stop worrying about it and it’s time to let it go. It’s time to let go of my insecurities and shut up the NOISE, most of which I’ve created in my own head that has been limiting me.

Noise was making me settle and noise convinced me I was widening my net and not being picky or stuck up. But noise was causing me to entertain folks I really didn’t see any kind of future with at all. I tricked myself into thinking it was a numbers game and that it was science. The right guy would have to come around if I kept putting myself out there.

Well, putting myself out there made me lose valuable energy. Putting myself out there led me to making rash decisions.

I need my head space. I need it for things like work, and school and my family and friends. So right now, I honestly don’t feel like I took a loss, deleting my profile. I reclaimed space in my mind and soul.

I decided that if there were men in my phone who managed to have my number and we still keep in touch, I will be nice. I won’t press them to ask me out, I’ll let them ask me. If I feel like sending a text or saying hello, I’ll send one.

Sometimes you have to lose to win, as Fantasia said in one of her songs. I’ve never found myself leaning so much on God and my faith, or praying as often or looking at the little things to help me see other things more clearly. God is in the details.

When I was at EssenceFest and heard Iyanla Van Zant speak, she kept saying, “Do the work.” “You’ve got to do the work, beloveds.”

She is right. God didn’t let me marry the wrong person for a reason.

I’m single right now for a reason, not just to work on myself or take on bigger goals I would have never considered if I was someone’s wife right now. I’m made for a purpose and I’m working all of that out. The pain I’ve felt makes me more compassionate to others and it makes me qualified to love folks in a more real, mature, honest and even non-judgemental way. In the way a grown woman has to decide to love HER man. The one.

I used to pride myself on loving people through stuff even if it took all of my energy.

I was doing it wrong.

I had to learn that I had to put on my life-preserver first before I started helping others and that it is perfectly ok to do so. You aren’t supposed to deplete your entire energy loving somebody. Giving and receiving love in itself should energize you. The person you’re loving should love you enough not to allow you to do that. And they won’t allow you to do it. People who love themselves for real can recognize love in a number of forms. And they can recognize when and if they aren’t pulling their load and they want to pull their load. People who love themselves want to pull their load because that means they are living up to their own expectations of themselves and how they want to treat important people in their lives.

Maturity. Self love. Wisdom. Discernment. I want all of these. I continue to pray that the man I’m supposed to be with, God give me the vision to see him clearly and not get bogged down in the noise. I want to hear God in my choices. This is no exception.

 

 

 

 

Stop Hiding

So there has been a recurring theme that’s been popping up lately.

I came to an epiphany while talking to a good ex. He was wishing me a belated happy birthday and we started talking about a lot of random things. And he said to me some very positive things about me to me.

I asked him if I had changed and to him, he said not one bit, but he was very worried when I was going through my rough patch. He told me he didn’t like it when I would be down on myself because I could do anything.

He said it so simply and with so much love and admiration it made me miss our relationship so much. And it reminded me that whoever I choose needs to shower me with that kind of support. It didn’t feel syrupy at all, because as soon as he said something sweet, he said something absurd and silly as he often does to break the moment. And I enjoy that about him.

I disclosed to my good ex, that for the last several years I had been hiding in a sense.

After what I thought was a failure at a newspaper I worked at, I went to another job for security and got satisfied with consistent raises and well-deserved promotions. When I fell in love, and was preparing to get married, I saw my impending move as a way out to something else; a convenient excuse for a fresh start that I was all too ready for. At that time my comfy job was making me miserable with a tyrant of a co-worker trying to ruin my life.

And finally, the feeling that the last time I had to choose between career and love, I chose a career. So to show I was all in, I went all in and chose the man. But, that still didn’t work out, I said laughing. I was existing and hiding after the split, just trying to survive. I was too unhappy to think about purpose, I used all of my energy to simply get out of bed and make it to work.

To that, the good ex said, no way. And that I was awesome for holding it down everyday and paying my bills and staying employed which a lot of people in our industry were having a very tough time doing. I was glad we were texting because I was blushing.

I told him about grad school and how it scared me a bit, but how in some ways, I had no other choice. It was time for me to take control and live up to my best self. And I can’t keep doing that being satisfied where I am.

Which brings me to work and a certain project my big boss personally selected me for.

I thought I could hide.

But for some reason, my big boss chose me. So, I was given a task and I did it, I represented. I was prepared, confident and cool. After a conference call today when I asked her a few questions about the direction of the project and preparation for a larger presentation. She basically said aside from her I was one of the best people on the team. And this was in an area I knew nothing about and had to study in the span of a week. But I brought my ideas. And people were receptive and enthusiastic. It made me feel good. She also basically told me to take the ball and run with it and I will be a presenter in a major out-of-town meeting.

Whether I liked it or not, I could not hide.

God gave me a whole lot of time to sit on the sidelines and occasionally step forward at work with moments of brilliance and leadership even when I didn’t want to, or when I just wanted to lay low. He gave me time to rest and heal and deal with my own confidence issues and insecurities.

But I’m noticing more and more, God presenting certain opportunities that say, it’s time for you to shine. Do the work, don’t fear, if I’m telling you to go and you do it, you will not fail. You will have favor.

So I started being thankful for this season, even if it means if I do something impressive today, folks are looking at me to do something even more impressive tomorrow. That’s a good thing and like my ex said, its beyond high time to start seriously believing in myself the way I used to.

When I was busy questioning why my big boss chose me to do something way different from what I do everyday, I had to stop and say why not me?

Take this challenge and impress the heck out of everyone in the room. You belong at the table. You can lead. And with the full endorsement of the big boss, I am very much empowered to do so.

Then it made me think about the bigger picture and how God gives us tasks of varying degree of difficulty to prepare us for greater things and higher things. So I started thinking about what I’m studying and the kinds of things I want to do, like be a guest on Melissa Harris Perry or be a thought leader in public health or in public health communications, and what’s going on right now with work is practice.

God is letting me practice on a smaller scale so I’ll be ready to work at the CDC or NIH or even the White House. All things are possible.

But I can’t accomplish any of those things if I’m hiding. Or if I’m doubting myself. He sent me a bunch of signs in unexpected places that I cannot ignore.

So join me and come out of hiding. If you have a gift and a skill and a sincere desire to do something, then come out of hiding, put aside your fear and do it, even if it feels like it’s on a small-scale. When you are honest, when you do things from the heart and you are trying your best, the right people notice and you find yourself rising. When you show gratitude to people who give you chances, you get more chances. When you give other people chances, you get bigger chances. You notice you aren’t where you were a few years ago and you are in places you’d never thought you’d be.

Don’t hide anymore.

There Are Times You Just Gotta Jump

I’ve said it numerous times that as we get older, we really get comfortable with fear.

So much so, that we decide not to try things, not to get hurt, not to fail, not to endure some kind of loss that may or may not come with whatever it is we are deciding NOT to do.

It’s sad. It’s a terrible place to be and I’ve been there.

Fear can paralyze us.

It can prevent us from loving who we want to love, fighting for what we want.

It can keep us under the illusion that we are safe.

But while we are merely surviving in safety and sucking up air, eating from time to time and using the bathroom. It’s kind of like we are just waiting around to die.

Sometimes life forces us to action, whether we like it or not.

So there are some schools of thought that we should be active and proactive in our actions so we can at least have a real say in our decisions instead of life forcing us to do so at the last-minute.

There is a give and take of energy in this universe. And what we do put out there, it does come back.

I won’t lie.

I was scared of letting go of my relationship for real, but even though I was calling myself dating, I wasn’t fully open to the prospect of going all in for some other man who entered my life. I won’t say the men I’ve dated recently were the one anyway, but it wasn’t until after my last interaction with my ex, I coined the phrase, “He is unable, therefore I can’t.”

He was unable to truly love me in the way I needed most. And if he can’t do it, he can’t do it.

The realization was something that actually gave me comfort in letting go.

I opened myself up to the possibility of rebuilding our relationship, but because he was so consumed with life happening to him, and a recent job loss, he did not have room to give me what I needed, and I had decided I no longer had the time or energy to wait.

My vacation allowed me time to step away from my life that was suffocating.

I was just working everyday, but not living.
I was constantly online looking for men, secretly hoping one of them had the answers to my happiness.

I took a chance, and overspent some money, but I went to a different country. I tried new foods, I snorkeled for the first time, and jumping off of a boat into the ocean was probably one of the top things I was most scared of, despite having on a life vest and travel mates who were excellent nurses assuring me nothing would happen to me.

There was fear, the vest and the team of nurses weren’t going to be enough. If I jump off this boat, I may go all the way down. Would this be my last day because I was being reckless? I’m not the strongest swimmer.

But even with all of the coaxing, I knew deep down, I had just enough to keep me afloat. I was more comfortable with water than I had ever been in my life and that I’d regret it if I didn’t at least try.

When you do something like that and over come a fear like that, and you finally learn how to breathe through the snorkel and finally look down, the world opens up to you in a crazy way. I opened my eyes and I just looked down, I breathed easier and I found myself excited like a child seeing the circus for the first time or the ocean.

I saw fishes of all shapes and sizes and colors, I saw the coral and I was amazed that I could have such a moment.

After spending most of my mornings in deep prayer and journaling, I came home refreshed.

I ate new food and met new people. I was blessed.

So what was going to change when I got home?

Was I going to go back to the gym again after work? Was I going to go back to my tee shirts?

Was I going to really go ahead and go to school?

I found myself looking up online programs, and thanks to the pushy nature of the admissions offices and their knack for intense follow-up, I was meeting deadlines.

I was purchasing books to help me study for the GRE.

I was studying for the GRE.

And today, I paid for and scheduled my test. Nov. 17. EEEKKK Hitting the panic button.

Am I still scared, yes. But I have a renewed sense of purpose I haven’t had in a very long time.

I was telling a friend that it felt natural to make peace with the end of my career in journalism and that I was allowed to have a new calling and a new dream and it doesn’t diminish what the old career and old dream meant to me.

In fact, it is a foundation. It’s still a career that was originally rooted in service and informing the public and making a difference and improving people’s quality of life through education and knowledge. So the transition to public health isn’t a wild leap. It’s an extension of where I am in my life.

I’m not looking forward to the test, but I am looking forward to starting the study and the research and the new challenge.

An urgency for my life sprang up in me.

I was no longer a child. But I am of the age where most people get married and have children and buy houses and I’m not in that group either.

I could take two years to do this for me.

I can jump off of the boat and see my new life spread before me and I can be proud that I went ahead and tried.

My Graduate Degree May Just Cost Less Than Starting A Family In Two Years

The decision to pursue a master’s degree in 2014 wasn’t an easy one.

All I could keep thinking about was the debt.

My father told me when I graduated from college nearly 10 years ago, that “the next one’s on you, kid.”

And I appreciate the sacrifices he and my mother made to give me an opportunity to have a fantastic education and experience that shaped my career and the rest of my life and how I was to see the world.

So this one’s on me.

I mainly decided to go back to school because it felt like this was the right time. I am so single it’s not funny, so I can’t blame a man for being a distraction, and I have no children to take all of my time, energy, youth and money.

Things at work have settled out, and if I can just hang on for two years, it’s all to the good. I can have my degree and get the professional change and new challenge I’ve been wanting, but just stopping short of getting with my current skill set and knowledge and experience.

Cool.

But you know how you sometimes have to talk yourself into an expensive trip or purchase and justify reasons you should do it?

Welp, I basically thought to myself, if I got married in the next two years, there are some numbers floating around the Web that report the average wedding these days would cost about $25,000.

That translates into about a year of grad school. Cool.

I’ve found other numbers that over the course of your child’s life you’ll spend about $241,000. The first two years, you’ll spend about $26,000 on your bundle of joy. Some sources like WebMd.com says, you may spend up to $15,000 just in hospital costs alone when you give birth.

So, now that I think about it. If I got married and pregnant and had a baby in the next two years, my degree (especially if I’m blessed with scholarships and grants) might actually turn out to be a bargain! Ha!

Post Navigation