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Top 20 Thoughts I Had The First Time My Student Loan Payment Came Out of My Account

So, I was blessed the first time around in undergrad with scholarships. But when I made the decision to go to graduate school, I said hey, I can do this. I can take out these loans. I work. I’m a good American. It will be well worth it to add a few fancy letters behind my name.

It’s soooo easy to take a loan.

However, paying them back, oh, that’s when you feel the pain.

Disposable income? What’s that? So long. Farewell.

I wanted to share with y’all my immediate thoughts when I noticed that my first major student loan payment came out of my account. Lord, it hurt. I started rocking back and forth like Miss Sophia from The Color Purple. All of the jokes and memes came to mind, and all of a sudden, they felt so real. So personal.

1. I’ve been robbed, let me call the bank.
2. Frantically looking for old emails warning me this was going to happen.
3. Profanity. Lots of profanity.
4. Panic. I will never do anything fun again until 2026.
5. Can I reduce the payment? I’m going to the site to FAQs to reduce the payment.
6. So, about that Uber thing… That’s not a bad side hustle right?
7. Short of getting married and having a two-income house, I’m never going to own a home anytime soon.
8. Profanity against my educational institution.
9. What can I cancel or stop buying?
10. The clothes I currently own will need to look good for the next 10 years.
11. Googling all of the meals I can make with beans.
12. Welp, I only have about 2.5 years left on my car payment, which seems like a blink in time, in comparison. I’ll get a few dollars back, then!
13. So, do I want to get back into school to finish, or just defer payments?
14. Current me needs a time machine to talk to old me who signed the loan papers. We didn’t exactly end up where we thought we would by now.
15. I REGRET NOTHING. I stand by my choice. I choose my choice, I choose my choice. (screaming in Charlotte York,)
16. Slow and steady wins the race.
17. Stay employed. Forever.
18. My boyfriend isn’t cheap because he occasionally vetoes splurges. He is used to paying student loans and is a responsible individual. I must absorb his ways.
19. Rethinking my stance on co-habitation. See 18.
20. Three things in life are certain, death, taxes and student loans.

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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.

Women, You’re Dating Each Other

A guy friend of mine who I very recently reconnected with after a few years blew my mind with an observation he made over drinks.

I’m still single, he’s still single. We probably met a good ten years ago, but stopped speaking after a perceived slight on my part. We didn’t discuss that.
But we did talk about the world of dating, how things have changed between our parent’s generation and how awful going to the club is, but how “Netflix and Chill” and online dating is contributing to our social downfall.

He lamented that our generation’s dating fails are connected to one thing our parents had on a regular basis, that we lack.

House parties.

He said that house parties were unpretentious. There, you got social, you danced with people, you met a few new people outside of your social network who were friends of friends, there was good food and drink. Who wouldn’t want to warm up and get friendly in that kind of environment? Anyone in attendance was already vetted by someone in the room that you know.

I agreed. I couldn’t think of the last time I went to such a party. The best ones were probably in college. The closest thing in my adult life were ones I’ve thrown on a far smaller scale, and a wine party hosted by a couple I know, that was mostly attended by other couples and was quite awkward for me in the beginning.

I digress.

He also made my ears perk up when he said, let’s face it. Most women are actually dating their friends and don’t realize it.

I blinked. I needed him to elaborate, so he did.

“Look, y’all go to the movies, out to dinner, to the theater. And y’all all look so nice too, but out with your girlfriends. Great restaurants everything. Y’all even go on vacations with each other. Y’all don’t need to date a man because you’re already doing it with your friends. At the club, you dance with each other and get mad if a man wants to break it up and ask one of you to dance.”

I had to laugh.

He was absolutely right. I’d just come off of an extraordinary trip to Belize with some girlfriends, and it’s not unusual to hit up my friends to go out for a nice meal or see a movie.

I was complaining a few weeks ago, that being a part of a support system for a crew full of single women was tough and could be emotionally draining.

It felt like I was pulling double duty, doing things for some of my friends that I think boyfriends should do, right down to helping each other move, fix things, hunt and remove rodents and insects, or helping each other shovel out our driveways in the winter.

Sisters are doing it for themselves, but it’s kind of worrisome.

We’re leaning on each other a lot, and there is a void of protection and security and companionship a man provides.

I was getting worn down from helping my friends recover from bad breakups, health problems and other issues.

I wanted my friends to have a man, so he can help carry the emotional load and just give my friends that dose of male stability they are yearning for. Not long ago, I even prayed a prayer, saying, “Lord, I don’t even need to be first. I can be last. But give my girls the partners they need and deserve.”

My male friend went further to explain that this is a female phenomenon.

“You don’t see groups of guys out with the same frequency of women going out together.”

I had to agree. My friends won’t ever be a substitute for a real date, but if there are nice things you want to do and you don’t want to sit around at home, you will invite your homegirls. Usually, those really cool things that would make a great date, you still want to go, whether you have a man or not. On three occasions, I’ve bought tickets to some really great concerts that I invited men on dates to, and I was either stood up, or we fell out by the time the concert came around. So, I’d invite a homegirl to join me, because I’m still going.

So by my male friend’s description, I have been going on a lot of “dates” with my friends. However, there are times I have really, really, really wanted and needed the company of a man and some flirtation. My friends can’t give me that, and I can’t give them that either. Do I tell my friends they are beautiful and awesome? All the time. But there is a difference and a tingle you get, when the right man hands you a well-timed compliment.

I’ve joked with some friends that honestly, it’s almost like we’re in a relationship anyway, the way we support and come to each other’s rescue because at the moment, there are no men to do so, or no “Steady Freddies” that have come along. But then my joke didn’t feel so funny when I really started to think about it.

I found myself getting angry. I was angry that so many women have to lean on each other when they are sick, tired, sad, mad and in-between.

I’m thankful for my village, but there needs to be more diversity. By diversity I mean penis. Penis support.

So what say you? Are you unconsciously dating your friends? Be real!!

In a land far away on another social media thread, I peeped that people said, this post made sense, but I had no solutions.

I don’t have solutions. I was sharing a really funny observation and perspective I hadn’t considered. It had some truth to it. So, Sway, on this one, I don’t have the answers.

I do think women shouldn’t sit at home and twiddle their thumbs. There’s so many great things to do and see. Waiting for a date (and sometimes your company is awful) isn’t the look. Pick who you want to spend time with and go and most importantly, have a great time, whether you’re with your homegirls, homeboys, boo, undercover lover, hotline bling…

Oooh, back to answers. I’ma go with my friend. OLD SCHOOL  HOUSEPARTY!!!

More specifically to my life, maybe for me, myself, personally, I should try to get my guy friend to take me on a date…

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.

Mixed Drinks, Mixed Emotions

In my usual fashion, I’ve put myself in quite the pickle.
I went out with the handsome bartender and we had a great time.
I felt comfortable, we were joking with one another and getting along as if we’d known each other for ages. We even shared things that were very personal and honest and real about our lives.
He actually shared quite a bit of information that would probably send a lot of people running for shelter.
Ironically, I was impressed with his openness. I think that’s the thing about being a journalist, trust of the reader, and especially trust of the person you interview is a delicate thing and you respect it and then you just absorb what people have to say. The journalist respected his candor. The woman looking for a good, stable man to be a part of her life was ready to hit the bricks.
He was complimentary but not in an annoying way, sometimes he was clumsy and it was sweet. He pulled a Darius Lovehall and knocked over my beer. Same exact way, it was funny.
I won’t share all of the red flags, but there were two that appear to be huge.

1. Very recently out of a broken engagement. I mean April, yall.
He was saying the things most people say to themselves after such a devastation. I quickly told him that he wasn’t out of the woods. It takes a very long time to heal. You may feel terrible one day and pretty ok the next. Allow yourself to feel what you feel, good, bad and ugly and ride the wave of it. Be honest with yourself.

2. Two babies mothers. I asked him about his relationship with his children and he said it wasn’t as good as he wanted it to be. Faithful readers of this blog know I’m not good with men with kids. And I gave him a full disclosure that I don’t really like to date men with kids.

3. I get the impression that he may not ever have had his own place, but was living with some woman or a female relative. And that makes me have some kind of pause. Male or female, everyone needs to know what it’s like to live independently and make certain choices and have certain responsibilities. (Okay, that’s three. So, yes. Flags.)

His story isn’t unusual though.  The harsh reality of the black dating pool once again dumped cold water on my still optimistic head. I noticed that for some reason, I attract men of struggle, with very sad family histories often involving abandonment, single mom’s or grandparents or aunties and uncles who step in intermittently.

Am I attracted? Most certainly. I had an opportunity to feel his chest and stomach and I was impressed, I was physically attracted.

But I think of the two babies mothers, and one live-in ex who proactively handled the paperwork to their home, conveniently leaving him out of the essential paperwork legally entitling him to the home. His naiveté was startling, considering he’s eleven years my senior. I played along that he simply trusted her… And he may have, which scared me further, that as a man building a life with someone, he didn’t think it necessary or push the issue to be involved of the very serious business of home ownership.

I thought about his kids, with whom he readily admits the relationship is not where he’d like it to be because of the moms (two sides to every story).

While he has big dreams, I’m not sure if he’s truly executing his plans, or not. And this early in the game, I’m in no place to judge.

I’ve convinced myself to just hang out with him and hope I don’t get pulled in.

The very simple, considerate things I’ve wanted from men who made way more money and had way more education, who had no desire or capacity to do what came so naturally to him– really paying attention to me,  listening,  engaging, thinking about larger life issues and discussing them openly,  having a sense of humor and joking and playing and making references to all sorts of music and movies and TV.

I feel like I’m in a tough spot, but at this point, is dissecting this man worth it? His red flags are real, but I like him as a person.

I just don’t think he’d make a good boyfriend…

Lifers, am I wrong? Am I being judgy? All I could think about was the babies mothers lined up on “Iyanla Fix My Life.” I’d like to think I’m smarter. But does lonliness and a sorry dating life lead women down this road?

I do think he is also earnest in just wanting to spend time with someone he enjoys and is attracted to but only after about a scant six months after a broken engagement, I personally know he needs time to heal. Dating shouldn’t be his objective. Sigh.

While on paper, and in a practical sense I should be able to exit without second thought.

But don’t I deserve to let someone make me feel how I want to feel? When you get a taste of that, being practical ain’t always the obvious choice. But right here and now, I can’t say that I don’t know better. I am in control of me.

This just couldn’t be easy, now could it?

A New List of Things You Need To Know As A Woman In Your 30s

I feel like I make this list like once a year. Normally, I’m inspired by a conversation I’ve had or an experience.

I’m just avoiding studying. But please add these things you need to know as a woman in your 30s. I may repeat some I’ve said before.

1. If you like it buy it in every color.

I was in NY and Company the other day and I found pants and tops that fit well, and I straight up bought multiples. You’ll see how important this is. You need ONLY things in your closet that make you feel good about yourself and like you are the finest person walking the earth. Facts.

2. Own at least one freakum dress. It doesn’t have to be scandalous if scandalous is not your thing, but going back to number one, it needs to fit and flatter your body and your favorite assets and make you feel sexy when you wear it.

3. Embrace your shape, understand it and find things that work with it.

Sometimes this means you can’t go with the crowd. Or the latest trends. If there’s something that looks awesome on you, stick to it and don’t let go, you will be timeless and polished.

4. Accessorize. I’ve always noticed that older women had tons of jewelry, real, costume, hats, scarves, brooches. They adorn themselves. Lately, I’ve noticed the power of adding a statement necklace to a simple outfit and it takes my ensemble to another more mature and unique level. It helps bring out my personality so I can stand out from the crowd. And shopping for accessories is just fun.

5. Never underestimate the power of the T. Whether you get cheap tees or more expensive ones, plain black or white tees make you look like you woke up like dis. Keep it simple, rock it with a blazer for work, and amp it up with a great necklace and boom. You look all effortless.

6. Keep mints, lip gloss, tampons and at least $20 in your purse at all times. The last part is most difficult for me as I’m always reaching for plastic. But the times that I actually do carry cash, it just feels like a safety net juuuuust in case!

7. Read stuff.

Read anything, read the newspaper, read the magazines, read books, join a book club. Grown women are informed and keep growing and have interesting things to talk about and an opinion. Books are easy ways to develop opinions and provide good party chatter.

8. Vitamins.

I had to learn about this one the hard way, but for real for real, B complex has changed my life this week. I can press on just a little bit further thanks to these energy boosting vitamins recommended by my doctor.

9. High/Low As a grown woman, you have every right to indulge in an expensive handbag, pair of shoes, suit or fantastic coat or pair of jeans. So for big items that you’ll use forever, I say go for it if you can afford to or save for it and then buy your cheaper items to go with them. When you’re grown, you want to stay polished. That’s the goal.

10. Have a signature drink you like to order, signature fragrance, and signature dish you can cook and cook well EVERY time. It just makes you feel good about yourself.

11. Take dance breaks. Throw on your favorite jam and just dance.

12. If you are wrong, beat folks to the punch and own up to it.

13. If you know you are wrong before you do something and you’ve made the decision to do it anyway, then George Bush that shit. Don’t hide. Bask in your wrongness and if anyone has something to say about it, say you did it for America and keep it pushing.

14. Truth over everything. When you know better you do better.

15. Try something new. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, fail, or look silly. Just try. Trying shouldn’t be for kids or folks screwing up in their 20s. As long as you are breathing you better find the sweetness of life and the feeling of accomplishment when you do something you’ve never done.

16. Travel. That’s it.

17. Be cool with going out alone. Start with the movies or a play. Something that doesn’t require anything but your attention and everyone shutting up. Then elevate and take yourself to dinner, but don’t get a table for one… have dinner at the bar. You’ll meet interesting people and bartenders like to give you free drinks or discounts for bringing more boys to the yard who’ll pay full price.

18. Be kind, be giving, be gracious.

20. Smile at yourself, laugh at yourself out loud when you do ridiculous things or look silly or fall down. Like, there are times I got so into it, I couldn’t stop laughing and that felt good. I’m serious though take a moment to smile at yourself in the mirror at work in the bathroom. Don’t give yourself a fake smile either, smile at yourself like yo, I like you. You’re cool people. And after you say that, if you’re me, you’ll start laughing at yourself for even saying something like that. But to see yourself naturally smile at yourself or laugh at yourself, it’s kind of nice.

21. When you have a tingle to check on someone or just ask them, how are you today? Or are you alright? DO IT! IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Even if you text some one and say “I’m thinking of you.” Or tell them something you like about them, it makes all the difference in the world.

22. Say you’re not ok, when you’re not ok. Some folks ain’t gonna know how to react to this. Expect their inability to react because they are used to folks lying, so this is going to throw them off. Tell them it’s ok that you know they have absolutely nothing perfect to say to fix it, but you are just satisfied with them caring.

23. Ask for help. If you don’t know, ask for help and be bold about it. I don’t know, I don’t understand, but I’m smart at other things, so my ego isn’t bruised. Help me so I can be good at this too. Most people will appreciate that you kept it so real and be very eager to help you understand. This is truth.

24. Be proactive. If you see things about to take a twist or a turn and you know you can prevent it or lessen the blow, then do so.

25. This is linked with 24. DON’T WAIT ON NOBODY ELSE TO FILL IN THE BLANK. If there’s something you want to do and folks keep making excuses or blowing it off go back to number 17. If you need courage go back to number 20 and remember number 15.

26. You are in charge of your narrative. Don’t let anyone else write it or define it. You do that. You represent you. If folks have it wrong, you have every right to correct their uninformed asses.

27. Stop cussin. LOL. Only do so for emphasis and impact to let fools know you ain’t playing and that this is not a drill.

28. If you did it right, the walk of shame is a strut of satisfaction.

29. If you really regretted it and didn’t have a child from the situation, you can subtract that bad situation from your “number” I’ll allow it.. like twice. But don’t get carried away.

30. If you are a woman in your 30s, you already know that you’ve never felt this alright with yourself and secretly looking forward to how bad ass you’ll be at 40.

How do you get to the breakthrough?

My eyes are about to fall out of my head.

I can’t do much more of this homework for tomorrow.

But I really needed to blog.

I met with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and she congratulated me on my new job and all of that fabulous good stuff.

Oh yeah. I finished my first module of grad school with one A-, B and a B+. I think that’s darn good for full-time employment and not being in school for ten years! Patting myself on the back.

But getting back to the point. The friend sighed and said, “What did you do to get to the breakthrough?”

Her question totally threw me off.

While great things are happening to me right now, I still feel overwhelmed a lot of times, nervous and anxious that I don’t want to screw it all up or disappoint myself or not excel to the point where I come short of the blessing of it all. So I’m busting my hump, and I’m not doing a whole lot of sleeping and I’m waking up early.

But her question also gave me great perspective on what I put out there.

I’ve been vocal that my life ain’t been no crystal stair, but it hasn’t been just some long, difficult traumatic experience. I’ve never been abused, I’ve never really gone without and I know successful people who have been in those situations. And they blow me away.

So I sat and thought about it. And I gave her this list.

I made a conscious decision after not getting another really awesome job that fine, God if I’m supposed to stay at my job, you have a reason why I’m supposed to stay here and I accepted that.

Now that did not mean I thought I didn’t deserve better or I should just stay there forever. But I decided to pick out the 16 things that I was thankful for and decided there were advantages to being where I was at the time.

Which led to the decision to get a master’s degree.

Which led to getting the information and having really aggressive admissions officers strong-arm me into taking the GRE and making admission deadlines.

Before I knew it, I was putting my energy into something real instead of coming home every day and vegging out. Man, I miss free time!! I have a deeper appreciation even for my Target runs or times I can go out with my friends.

So once I accepted my situation and started being conscious about telling God thank you, it opened me up to do new things.

Then at work, new opportunities happened where I could try new things and impress folks and that was awesome. It boosted my confidence. I got a chance to lead and I decided to use those opportunities as practice for whenever the next phase of my fabulous life was going to begin and require that level of confidence and aptitude.

Giving up online dating and stressing over finding a man, and even giving into urges to have meaningless flings and being honest with myself that I deserved more and deserved and really desired intimacy, it was easier to ignore the late night “are you up?” texts from men I normally couldn’t resist.

Sometimes you got to give some stuff up.

I was praying more.

But not those formal prayers with all the extras. I started talking to God like anyone else and I was talking to him when I studied, when I was driving to and from work and saying what was really on my mind. What I was afraid of, how grateful I was for everything I had, opportunities, comforts. I told Him about things that upset me, things I didn’t think were very fair or people who pissed me off. I was getting way more real.

I was working on being more transparent, getting more comfortable with who I am and giving myself more credit.

I was constantly writing down things goals, dreams. I daydreamed again about things I’m interested in, the things that make me happy and things I’m passionate about and I wanted to place myself in close proximity to those things. I wanted to keep my thoughts on those things.

I shared with people how much I valued and appreciated them. I agree that an attitude of gratitude can change things. Opening yourself up to people, finding ways to help other people and do nice things for people just from your heart can do wonders.

Appreciating the small things and being happy for other people when good things happen to them and being that way for real. Not in a phony way.

There’s no one way to have the “breakthrough.” You have to break through and that requires work. It requires a bit of risk-taking and stepping out to really examine what’s in your heart, what’s important to you, what your values are and what you believe in and doing things that bring you closer to that. It seems like the rest follows from there.

Being grateful for what you have right now and realizing that you’ve already got a lot and have what you need puts things into perspective. If you are never satisfied, you will never be satisfied. There’s nothing wrong with setting new goals and wanting more, but you should take time to take inventory of what’s good right now and how far you’ve come.

Another friend this week mentioned that I tend to have a positive outlook on life. Once again, it threw me off, because I know the times I felt like I was swirling around the toilet of life. But I take it all as a compliment and a blessing and if people can see a positive light in me, I’m blessed.

The original friend who asked me about the breakthrough, I asked her about what she was passionate about and I encouraged her to pick up the phone and volunteer for an organization that supports what she loves. She may not be getting paid for it now, but an opportunity could come later. We all got to pay bills and that’s real, but I keep learning when there’s something burning in your heart, if you take a step in that direction and do some of the inconvenient, uncomfortable work, you will get to where you want to be.

Breakthrough.

Be Yourself, Demand Love Unconditionally

Folks have said all the time to “be yourself.”

For a large part of your life, you swear they are lying.

You do what you deem is necessary to fit in at work, or to make friends, or to be in a relationship.

But those words are the truest words you’ll hear.

You just have to be brave enough to actually do it.

Why is it that something that should be as natural as being yourself so damn hard to do?

Well, it’s because we are acutely aware of our faults more than everyone else is, hence we have the power to alter it, mask it and pretend. But that only works but for so long. Folks who truly know you, know when you are genuine and when you are not and thank God.

The lies we tell ourselves are the worst and most potent and hardest to break and reverse.

The reason I’m on this kick today is because this morning I woke up with about 30 epiphanies. I had to text them to myself so I wouldn’t forget.

I went to a beautiful wedding this week of a fantastic college friend who I hadn’t seen in years.

She was absolutely stunning, but what made her glow all the more enchanting was she was truly happy. She loved that man and he clearly loved her. It was in the little things, the way she picked an eyelash off his face, and the way she still made silly faces with exaggerated eyes and smirks even in her formal photos. Every inch of that venue had her mark– from the songs she selected to the party favors. Individual, unique, simple, understated but not buttoned up.

The moment of the wedding that stopped my heart and hit me like a freight train was during her written vows.

She thanked her husband profusely for loving her for who she is. And I believed her. Those weren’t empty words. Even as she said it, she began to cry, and my eyes began to well. Because I know the impact of those words. And yet, I can’t think of a relationship where I completely felt like was loved exactly for who I was. I didn’t feel like I was enough in every last one and it was frustrating because I truly did my best in all. But it wasn’t on me, that was the thing I couldn’t control, even though I tried to. Either someone is going to love you for you completely, or they just won’t.

They will love you when your house is dirty or when it’s clean. They will love you if you gained some weight or if you stayed the same weight. They will love you and your child if that’s what you came to the table with. They will love you when you are sick and take care of you, as they will love you when you are healthy. They will think you are amazing if you are at the top of your career, and encourage you if you got laid off and can’t find work for a year.

I guess I’m afraid of that kind of love.

Because it’s actually real.

Because I can’t make excuses for it or why it didn’t work. To lose that kind of love would seem devastating, worse than the devastation I felt when the person didn’t love me that much, but I loved them that much.

I’ve said before that love is negotiable. And we have to keep coming to the table and reminding our loved ones what the terms are if they are slipping, and they should require that of us too.

I recently accepted a job. Go me!

I did something different this time.

I asked for what I wanted, what I felt I deserved in compensation and I was willing to keep it moving if they didn’t offer me the job or the salary I asked for. I had already made up my mind what I was willing to accept, and my friends asked well what if it’s this number but not that number? And I said, no. Something in my spirit said, no. This time you won’t take less than what you deserve, you’ve been doing it you’re whole professional life. You can get what you deserve even if it’s not this particular opportunity, this time around.

So it made me think, if I can have the courage to say no to a job if they aren’t coming correct with money, why am I so flexible when it comes to my most valuable possession? Me. My heart.

I had to laugh at myself.

I started thinking about all of the relationships where I broke my neck to be the perfect girlfriend, the cool girlfriend, the compassionate and understanding girlfriend who accepted men as they were, as broken and complicated… but I had to be the one that was whole, for the both of us.

I was broken and complicated too, in many ways. I needed just as much nurturing and care and occasional eggshell two stepping for my feelings too. I didn’t stand in my truth, I pretended that I was so strong that I could live without that, but still provide it.

I kept choosing men I felt I could make better and in some cases I helped in their progression. But I didn’t get the benefit. They’d go on to marry other women and blatantly give them the things they said they couldn’t give me. But I didn’t demand more of them, I didn’t threaten to leave if they didn’t. I don’t believe in holding anyone hostage in love, but I’m learning not expressing clearly what you need and what you want in a relationship is the worst thing you can do. Because if that person really wants to love you, you aren’t giving them the tools to do so properly. And if they don’t want to love you, and you don’t tell them, you can’t be mad that they disagree with the way you desire to be loved.

I was too afraid to say what I wanted. I thought that love was sacrifice and if they saw how much I gave, then clearly they’d return my love in a tangible, fulfilling way.

They didn’t.

And those words the bride said tearfully have rattled around my head since I’ve returned home.

By George, that was it, stupid. Be who you are completely and let him love you completely. Let him decide and if he doesn’t choose you, it’s not your fault, it’s not something you necessarily did wrong. Be strong enough and be fearless enough to be you. Say what you don’t like. Say what you want and what makes you happy. Say when you are upset and hurt.

I’ve often turned my nose up at the women who lash out and raise all kinds of hell when they are mad at their men, but the men do react. And of course they do, those women made it very clear that they were upset, and if the man really loved them, they were going to be about the business of correction.

I confused my silence for class, while being complicit in the demise of my own relationships and my own self esteem. I won’t let air out of tires, or burn clothes, but I have a mouth. My fear of rocking the boat should not be placed above my own happiness. There’s a balance. You don’t have to be a jerk, but you don’t have to be a pushover either. And I always had difficulty balancing that. I hated arguments because I had a fear that there would forever be a strike against me that I couldn’t come back from. But that’s not love.

I wrote in Facebook yesterday, that my father loves me unconditionally and has been ridiculously patient with me over the years. I was a curious, head-strong child who preferred learning the hard way. And he let me. But I always knew he was proud of me and that he thinks the world of me. In that post, I said my dad taught me that I deserve a man willing to fight for me, one who won’t take a day off or who will think the task of loving me is so daunting and intimidating and overwhelming, that he’d prefer to not even take a stab at it.

And these are the men I picked. They always went out with a whimper. And that always upset me. Why didn’t they fight for me? Why didn’t they try harder? But maybe I was the one who set the tone, don’t argue, don’t fight, be classy, move on.

But I got that wrong. Life is indeed a fight in itself, messy and tangled. There are tears and ugly cries, there are yells and screams that are not the end of the world, and that don’t mean you aren’t classy. Life leaves you with far more bruises and scars that fade with time, but don’t necessarily disappear, but it doesn’t subtract from the overall beauty of life. Those scars don’t negate our inner beauty, our true selves.

I was classy and crying alone in the dark. I was classy and falling apart on the inside or filling with rage on the inside.

There is catharsis is speaking your mind and your truth be it loudly or quietly. There is a time and place for everything.

I don’t place the blame entirely on me, because that’s what I would tend to do. But I did pick men who I allowed to have red flags and flaws up the wazoo and think it was healthy to love them despite of, but not give myself the same privilege.

And now, I know to do things differently.

He will love all of me, because I’m a rare and wonderful being to love. Even on my worst days.

Star Search Loser Moments

People love to talk about the 80s talent show, “Star Search” and how today’s biggest stars often lost the contest when they were much younger. I loved and wanted to be on so bad besides “Showtime At the Apollo.”

Even if you aren’t an entertainer, you have Star Search Loser Moments, the moment where you worked really hard for something and you felt you should have won/succeeded and you came up short. The stars didn’t align, and maybe your talent didn’t come up short, but the person judging you are serving as the referee thought your performance was good, but just not as good as the person who won…AT THAT MOMENT.

It’s a super tough pill to swallow. It’s the stuff parent and coach pep talks are made of. You go to the porch Laura Winslow and let grandma drop knowledge so you can live to over achieve another day. ABC shows did a fantastic job of showing these moments set to really sappy background music.

At any rate, when we lose, we get mad, we think about how hard we’ve worked and we do the mental debate of what we deserved, and if the winner was really that much better than us.

And you know what? Most of the time, especially when it comes to going out for a job or being selected for a program or a scholarship, you don’t even get to see who your competition was so you can dissect all of those things. You just didn’t win.

I think about missed opportunities and wondered what was the difference that kept me from it. The further away I am from those losses, I see that they weren’t losses after all and that I still ended up where I needed to be. Everything depends on the moment, but will that one moment bring you to where you are supposed to be at the right time?

I have noticed one thing about opportunities I didn’t get. The next opportunity that came along was always bigger, better and frighteningly close to what my heart really wanted.

So if you tried really hard at something and you didn’t get picked and it was something that was really, really awesome, keep trying hard. Keep getting better because the next thing, that thing that was made just for you and your purpose will top anything else you originally hoped for.

Just ask Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguillera. Just ask Michael Jordan who was cut from his middle school high school team. You may not be on top right now, but you can’t stop working at it because once you get there, you won’t just be great, you’ll be setting a new bar for greatness.

Watch Beyonce discuss the Star Search Loss here. I hope the Beygency doesn’t block it. Eek! But she really breaks it down in the first two minutes, so nicely!!

PDA In Church Is Just Too Much…

I was sitting in church yesterday after a long hiatus. I didn’t want to go, but I felt really compelled to be there. All in all, I’m glad I went. I needed it. But back to the initial thought of this post.

Sitting in a row ahead of me was an attractive young woman. She was into the service, it was all to the good. Maybe about 15 minutes later a male companion arrives and sits next to her.

For the duration of the service, she is rubbing his back, laying her head on his shoulder, holding his hand and in my opinion, just being extra. It wasn’t a packed service, so I kind of had the feeling she was putting on this show just for me.

Actually sister, I’m happy you have a man. I’m super happy for you that he joins you and is just as enthusiastic about worship and the word as you are, because this brother was taking notes and everything. He was all in.

But, your holy equivalent of peeing on your territory was too much, and in fact it was distracting.

I won’t front. If you are really into church, going to God’s house together is a really awesome feeling. And when your loved one actually wants to be there and is getting something out of it, you do feel mighty good about it. I knew I’d wave my hands a little more when I had my rock on my finger, but I was never to the point where I was PePe Le Pewing with my man throughout the entire service.

I have to say, she had him trained. When they do the obligatory say hi to five people thing, one, she didn’t even speak to me. Two, this brother gave me a high-five. I guess a handshake is just too much and a hug is certainly out of the question.

Whenever they do the greeting thing at church, I never hug men who are clearly with women. I don’t know them like that. And I honestly barely hug other men. Some of the older cat daddies seem to love this portion of the service and they will climb over about six rows to get to you, but hey, get in where you fit in.

The whole exercise in insecurity was comical to me. I get the competition is horribly stiff for finding a man in church especially if there are single men in your church.

I even understand how women can get super territorial of a man, when entering into a space where there is usually more women than men, and women looking for men. But I think this kind of paranoia in church is really, really scary.

Really scary.

A dear friend of mine was talking about getting a friend request from a high school rival of mine.

“Didn’t so and so hate us, you especially?” she asked.

“Yup.”

As we talked, I told her she did happen to manage to get married and have a pretty cute kid. Which made me launch into the, how the heck are these mean ass women getting married? To which my awesome friend responded,

“Oh well. That just means they have a longer life sentence.”

I fell out. That perspective made me think again about the *dare I say it again* gift of the season of being single.

So, basically if you are a church chick, and you have a man and your man loves going to church like you do, I congratulate you. I’m happy for you, because if I believe in God, which I do, I already know your man is NOT my man, but that the Good Lord has someone just for me. But please, please, please have a little faith. You don’t have to spend the entire service proving to people outside of your relationship that you’re in one. We get it. That’s your man.

We ain’t here for you, boo. I’m just trying to get my mind and spirit right before I walk into another crazy week.

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