No More Downplaying: Period

I have a real issue with acknowledging my achievements and talents in my life.  Self-doubt has always been such a big problem for me.  It’s almost as if I think that I don’t deserve whatever it is I accomplished or my God-given talents.  Take my recent weight loss as a prime example.  I have lost over 30 pounds in the past 11 months.  That’s a big freaking deal by anyone’s standards.  But to me, seeing as though it took me damn near a year to do this, it wasn’t good enough.  My thinking was that I should have lost more in that time.  I belittled all the hard work, sweaty workouts, sore muscles and hours of meal planning I put into the process.  None of that shit was easy or fun to do, trust me.  So why do I continue to do this to myself?  I think it’s because no matter how far I may have come; I always see how far I still have to go.  Even though I have lost over 30 pounds, I tend to mostly focus on the weight I still have left to lose.  For me, this isn’t exclusive for just my weight loss.  This has translated to most of the things I have achieved and to my goals.

I have a tendency to downplay MOST if not all of my accomplishments and talents.  And it’s totally not a, “I’m trying to stay humble” thing. It’s more of a, “I sort of did it, but damn I still have so much farther to go” thing.  See the problem?  Often times I can’t pat myself on the back for doing something that I worked really hard to do.  Some things that even people who know me wish they could have done.  That’s the very thing I have been told a few times by several different people  They say this in regards to my recent weight loss and also about the things that I have written that they have read.  But since I’m nowhere I want to be and in my mind, “still have so far to go” it means almost nothing.  Career-wise, I’m nowhere close to where I want to be either.  My career goal is to be a full-time author.  To be more specific, I want to write fiction books for adults and children.  I have been doing the biggest step of all to achieve this goal and that is to simply write.  The more writing one does, the better they become right?  The negative side of my thinking always says this step isn’t shit if no one has read what I have written. But regardless of how small, it’s bringing me closer to my goal of being on the New York Times Best Sellers List.  I have been writing much more than I have been in the past few years, which is a bit of an achievement in itself.  I have been submitting my poetry to different publications and have gotten published.  That’s a big one because (as per usual in my mind) my work isn’t all that great.  SIDEBAR:  I received my first professional review of a poem I wrote.  The critic wrote that my poem was, “the first piece I return to after a long day of work to find my calm.”   Cool huh?!

For someone who doesn’t know anything about me to say that my poem was one of her top three favorites in the anthology, has to speak to my writing abilities.  I have to really start training my mind to believe and know that I have a talent for writing.  I must start giving myself credit for continuing to go after my dreams.  Whatever effort I’m making (big or small) it is getting me closer and closer to the finish line.  And I should celebrate every victory with an enthusiastic pat on the back.  I am starting to learn to accept the fact that I am the shit for even making a serious effort to accomplish anything.  The person I was a few years ago would never have attempted the things that I have recently. I think that the downplaying I still do sometimes is a bit of the old me that reside inside.  She always has something less than stellar to say.  Who knows, she may always live in the small relics of my mind.  But I can’t let her or anyone else put a damper on my accomplishments, talents, dreams or goals.  Last Thursday I had the pleasure of going to see an R&B band that I love called, “The Internet.”  I had the privilege of getting some sound advice from one of the members named Matt.  I told him that I was a writer and a future New York Times Bestselling author. Speak it into existence right?  I told him that most times I am filled with so much self-doubt I can’t see how I will accomplish my dreams. I also let him know that despite that, I know that I’m a damn good writer.  But that I have trouble remembering that all the time.  He told me that that sort of thing happens to most people, but that I had to keep positive thoughts always.  I have to be my biggest supporter no matter what.  And that I should always know that anything is possible no matter how impossible it may seem.  I knew all those things before he said them to me.  And I have thought them myself before.  But to hear them from someone whom I just met, and is a fellow artist like me put them into a direct perspective this time.  Thank you, Matt, for putting everything back into perspective for me with your wise words.

So what am I going to do to improve this pointless, negative behavior?  I’m going to start focusing on what I actually did to accomplish the goal.  If someone actually compliments me on an achievement I reached or even notices the effort given, I will sincerely take the compliment.  I will start looking at how far I’ve come as opposed to how far I still have to go.  With my writing, I will pay more attention to writing quality blogs people can relate too rather than obsessing about getting my views numbers up.  If I write good stuff and stay consistent, they will come.  It’s all comes down to how I look at things and what I focus on.  If I (and you) continue to look at how far we still have yet to go, then not only are we downplaying our achievements but we are slowing down our progress.  And trying to achieve anything is challenging enough, why add more unnecessary crap to that?  And above all of that, I truly have to remember this:  I AM THE SHIT.  Period.  I’m good at what I do.  Writing is my God-given talent.   And I have been blessed with the strength, drive, and hunger to get anything I want in this life.  So from this moment on, I’ll do my best to only look at how much I have progressed in my journey.  My advice is not to let a setback (or what you perceive as small steps) keep you from patting yourself on the back for a job well done.  Know that you’re doing your best and you too are the shit.  If you don’t think that you’re killing it at working toward your goals, then you won’t be.  And again, who needs that unnecessary crap on their minds?

 

Advertisements

Who’s Assuming Who?

(Disclaimer- I proofread this post a dozen times and used Grammarly to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human. And I am not perfect. Thanks for reading!)

Last week I posted a blog post called, “Dear Scared White People” that received mostly positive comments.  But three people took issue with the title… (Insert dramatic music here) without having read the post.  On the Facebook blog post, one woman said, “I am not a sensitive woman, but the title of your post turned me off.  I am just being honest. While I am sure it is all in good humor, I wouldn’t click it.”  Although she said that she wasn’t a “sensitive woman”, the fact that she felt a strong emotion to just the title tells me she is.  I promptly let her know that I wasn’t trying to be humorous.  I told her that the post wasn’t directed at ALL WHITE PEOPLE.  I have the where with all to know that not ALL WHITE PEOPLE behave in the manner in which I was speaking of in my post.  I go on to explain that the title is directed at the so-called “scared” ones.  The second person left a comment that said, “Wow racist to a T.”  (Insert the emoji with the person with their hand over their face.)  The sheer ignorance and cluelessness of that person didn’t surprise me one bit.  And the third person said it was, “terrible click bait” and “kind of offensive, too.”  He went on to say that it was a “terrible assumption to make with the title.”  He continued by saying, “The way you’re approaching, what I would assume is an important matter based on other comments here, is terrible.  You’re projecting an assumption of an entire racial class.”  To which I responded, “So from your statement, I can tell that not only didn’t you read the post to find out exactly what and whom I’m talking about.  You didn’t even read all the comments posted here by others.  You are ASSUMING you know what I’m talking about based solely on the title.  The exterior.  So don’t say I’m projecting an assumption when clearly you are doing the same.”  After addressing all three (politely I might add) what do you think happened?  Absolutely nothing.  Complete radio silence from all three, just as I expected.

By their comments, I feel, they clearly fit the narrative of people making assumptions about certain things without learning the truth.  It piggybacks a little off last week’s post about people calling the cops on people of color because they made assumptions about them.  The assumptions being who they think these people are or what they think they may do.  Let me be very clear here:  ALL HUMANS make assumptions about others at one time or another.  (Raises hand…..I’m guilty of this.)  I have a friend named Kevin that I have known for ten years now.  When I first met Kevin, I didn’t think we would have anything in common.  He listened to different music, he wore Insane Clown Posse tee shirts and he wasn’t the friendliest looking guy.  I made assumptions about him based on what I saw and nothing else.  Fast forward to now, and he’s one of my dearest friends.  I’ll be attending his wedding next summer.

I developed inaccurate and stupid opinions about people.  Most of which were truly unwarranted and unfair.  The one that I used to make was if a particular white person I encountered would be racist.  These thoughts stem from interactions I had while growing up black in America.  I’ve been followed around a store while shopping on a few occasions.  Sometimes I’m still nervous that someone thinks I may steal from a store just because I’m black.  I’ve heard things said like (insert their idea of a compliment here) for a black girl.  And the infamous, “You’re different than other black people.  You’re not like them.”  I’m still not sure how to process that last one.  The fact that I have encountered a few bad apples in the bunch is in no way an excuse for me to think all white people are racist.  But I wanted to give you some context as to where my thoughts came from.

As I stated above, we all make assumptions.  We assume that we will not like the taste of certain foods because of the way it looks or smells.  We assume that we won’t like a movie because of reviews it received from our family or friends.  We assume that the title of a post is “terrible click bait” without knowing that the person titled it that way to convey an important message.  And we assume that a whole race of people are bad because we have heard things or had an unpleasant experience with someone of that race.  Assumptions get people in a lot of unnecessary trouble.  So take the time to dig a little bit further beneath the surface before you project your own thoughts onto a situation.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll make a new friend you thought you wouldn’t have anything in common with.  Or maybe, just maybe, you learn something you didn’t know about yourself.

Resting Bitch Face: It’s Real

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help.  If you see any mistakes, I’m only human and not perfect.  Thanks for reading!)

According to Urban Dictionary.com, the formal definition for Resting Bitch Face is:  “A phenomenon in which the resting face lacks animation and appears to look bitchy at all times, thus leading people to believe a person must be upset, a snob or a bitch.”

I am a sufferer of this misunderstood facial phenomenon.  Thinking back on it for the majority of my life, I had absolutely no idea!  I would get the usual questions like, “What’s wrong with you?” or “Who pissed you off today?”  Or worse I would hear later that comments were made about me to others basically saying that I looked bitchy and “unapproachable.”  I wanted to say to them, “This is just my face.”  Who knows how many dates or hangouts I missed out on because someone was afraid to talk to me.  Who knows how many times someone may have looked at me and thought I was an angry person that would kick their ass in a minute.  Now to be completed honest and fair, back in the day I was not always the nicest person in the world.  I had what some would describe as a “bad attitude” and I was a bit of a “Debbie Downer.”  And I take full responsibility for that.  But I’m a totally different person from who I used to be.  I worked really hard to be a happier person for myself and toward others around me.  But do you know for all that work I did, I STILL have Resting Bitch Face?  Smh….

On a brighter note though, having Resting Bitch Face probably kept me from having a lot of unpleasant experiences.  So that’s good!  I feel like I shouldn’t be solely judged because I’m not walking around smiling 24/7.  Who the hell does that?  You know damn well if I did, people would think that I was either high or crazy.  Before when I saw someone sitting alone minding their own business smiling for seemingly no reason, I would have definitely been leery of them.  I would have more than likely thought to myself, “Is that person up to something?  They are smiling way too hard over there and they’re sitting alone.  I better get out of here.”  I know it isn’t right, but that’s what I would have been thinking.  Deep down in my mind, everyone is the potential killer/ rapist.  Weird thinking I know, but hey it has kept me alive and well so far.  I attribute this to watching and listening to far too many true crime shows and podcast.  But seriously though, it’s perfectly ok to be cautious.  But I was judging someone in the way that others judged me. And that isn’t right.

I currently work as a Teacher’s Assistant for a living until my successfully (and very profitable) writing career takes off.  I have to say children never think I have Resting Bitch Face.  Not that they would know exactly what that is, but they don’t judge me on my lack of a happy facial expression.  They usually just see another person that they can talk too about whatever is on their minds.  Children are extremely comfortable around me. I even have children in public places start talking to me without any motivation from me to do so.  I once had cute little girl start a conversation with me in a ladies line bathroom.  I’m sure to the adults around;  I may not have looked like I was interested in talking.  But she didn’t see that.  She saw a person that she wanted to talk to about her Little Mermaid shoes her mother bought her.  And that was the best.

Since I’ve discovered that I suffer from RBF, I do my best to be mindful of it.  Sometimes though, I can’t help it.  I get lost in my own thoughts of things I have to do or want to do. And my facial expressions (or lack thereof) get away from me.  That doesn’t make me not a nice person or unapproachable.  It just means I have a lot of things on my mind at that given time.  So next time you see someone who may suffer from Rest Bitch Face, don’t judge them too quickly.  There may be nothing at wrong with them at all.  For all you know, they could be thinking about how much they really want a taco.

Clean up the milk and move on…

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human and not perfect. Thanks for reading!)

If you read last week’s post, then you know that I love listening to a podcast called, “The Read” hosted by Crissle and Kid Fury.  In the episode called, “Cheerleader”, Crissle spoke on her depression, seeing her therapist and the advice given by the therapist.  The therapist compared negative self-talk to running a race. (See last week’s post for full description.)  Crissle’s therapist went on to give an example about forgiving your past mistakes.  Her therapist said, “Let’s say a child spilled a cup of milk.  Are you going to every time you see that child, every day for the rest of their life be like, remember the time when you were 5 and 38 days and you spilled milk?  And I had to use three of my good Bounty’s to clean it up?  And replace my eight ounces of milk.  Are you going to drag that baby for that?  Or are we going to clean up the milk and move on with our fucking lives?”  From that moment on, Crissle decided that she had to clean up the milk in her life.  She would stop blaming herself non-stop and start looking forward again. Bam!  It hit me like a ton of bricks!  Is that what I have been doing the majority of my adult life?  Bitching over milk I spilled when I was young, naive and didn’t know any better.  Constantly berating myself over and over for situations that no longer exist and couldn’t be changed anyway.  Being my own biggest critic/ hater has always been a real hotbed issue for me.  After hearing the example that Crissle’s therapist gave her, I fully comprehend what my problem has been.  I have a lack of compassion for myself.  Isn’t that a fucked up thing to find out about yourself.

My understanding and heart is always so large for others.  I am able to fully support others with mistakes they have made in the past with my encouraging words.  But when it comes to having those same words for myself, there’s been little to none.  It is as if I don’t allow myself space to make mistakes or bad decisions.  For some reason, that is not allowed in my world.  For me, it’s not so much that I’m trying to be perfect.  I know this will never happen.  And that is completely all right with me.  Trying to be perfect, looks like a lot of work that I simply wouldn’t be dedicated to doing.  So where does my lack of self-compassion stem from?  Why is it that I can be so kind and uplifting for others, but not myself?  I am very skilled at stopping someone from beating themselves up.  I’m also very good at telling someone to have more patience with themselves and quick to say, “Everyone makes mistakes.”  Sometimes I can see the potential in others way more than I can see it in myself.  I have given myself far too much cruel kindness.  That is clearly something I would never do to another person.  Maybe I thought I was helping myself by giving cruel kindness.  By reminding myself of unpleasant situations I have been through, this would somehow help me to never to make those mistakes again.  By constantly replaying situations and poor choices, I would somehow learn to never do it again.  I found that this is unacceptable behavior and an oxymoron that simply makes no sense.  So what are the steps I plan on doing to change this behavior?

Step 1- Acknowledge that I am not compassion with myself.  Seems easy enough right?  But until one can admit to themselves that they have a problem, the situation can’t be fixed.

Step 2- Accept that mistakes have been made.  I’m human and humans make mistakes.  Some of the mistakes I made were necessary in order for me to learn and grow.  They taught me to make better choices and to listen to my gut.  Without making certain mistakes, I wouldn’t have become the person I am today.  And right now, I think I’m pretty awesome.  🙂

Step 3- Change the thought.  When NENE just won’t seem to shut her negative pie hole, I have to quickly remind myself of how awesome I am.  I begin to think of all the accomplishments that I have made over the years.  I will speak positive affirmations that prompt my brain to go down a more optimistic path.

Step 4- Forgive myself. This one will truly be the hardest to do of all the steps. I’ll have to learn that I’m still a good, smart person, who has flaws. No more or less than anyone else, just flaws. My past choices or decisions do not dictate how much I have grown. They also don’t determine my future. I will give myself a pep talk when I think of a mistake and move on. I will not dwell on choices and things in the past that can’t be changed.

As long as I’m walking the Earth, I will make mistakes.  It’s an important fact of life that I must remember.  I will acknowledge when I have done so, learn from said mistake, forgive myself and move on.  Because I’m tired of beating myself up over old, spilled milk.

I Chose Me…..

Recently I was seeing someone that I had grown very fond of.  We seem to hit it off really well from the beginning.  At least from my perspective, we did.  I really, really liked this person a lot.  They were funny, passionate about pursuing their career, driven, kind and positive.  I really enjoyed spending time with them and couldn’t wait to receive a call or text from them.  That…..was in the beginning.  Toward the end of our “situation”, I use the word situation because this person was uncomfortable with the word relationship. That should have been a red flag for me right there, but I digress.  Toward the end, this person’s whole demeanor begin to change from the person that I met in the beginning.  I believe I met their representative and not the real, honest them.  They became more down on a daily basis when I would speak to them.  There were things going on in this person’s life that I knew about and I’m sure a lot that I didn’t.  But I would always try my best to let them know that I was there to listen if they needed an ear.  With their mood becoming more and more down, this made them more irritable.  And I became the lucky recipient of this.  The conversations (and face to face interactions) would usually start off good.  Then seemly out of nowhere, their tone would change because of something I said. And at times, something I DID’T say.  Figure that one out because I never could.  They couldn’t always explain to me what I did (or didn’t do) that would piss them off.  This person did acknowledge the fact that they knew they were the problem.  They told me numerous times that they believed they had a problem communicating with others.  And that I wasn’t my fault. I was a good person.  Here’s where my confusion lies.  In one breath they say that they are the problem and in the next, they are yelling at me that I’m pissed them off again.  Huh?

Have you ever had someone in your life like this?  Unfortunately, this wasn’t my first encounter with someone like this.  That’s why it was so easy for me to recognize this behavior so quickly.  But despite that, I didn’t want to stop seeing this person.  I genuinely like them and I knew (and still know) that they are a genuinely good person.  I began to care about their well-being, their day and them as a whole.  I tried to let them know that I was there to listen to them whenever they needed to talk.  There were romantic feelings for this person, but above all that I was trying to be their friend.  But despite all of that of my efforts, I was still the bad guy.  Still the problem.  This person told me that they felt I wasn’t listening to them.  That’s all I ever did, but they couldn’t see that.  This “situation” ended with both parties yelling at one another.  And with me saying something out of sheer frustration that took me out of my character.  I was quite saddened that this “situation” ended because as I said I had grown really fond of them. But more importantly, I was upset with myself for allowing this person to pull me down to a negative level.  I work too hard on a daily basis to stay positive and see the light.  In hindsight, maybe this should have ended way before it did.  But I gave it time because this was very new and we were still getting to know each other.  And I stated before, I liked them.

When you care about a person, you’re willing to put up with a lot of shit in the hopes that they will change.  You hope that things will change for the better.  And that the person will realize how much you care about them and how their words hurt.  At some point, one has to ask themselves a serious question.  Do I like the way this person treats me more than I like myself?  For me the answer was simple:  HELL NO.  It got to a point with this person (and others I found myself in a similar situation with) that I had to make a choice.  Continue this “situation” that sometimes leaves me drained and feeling bad or bounce?  I chose the latter.  Instead of focusing on the good times, I had to focus on the bad ones.  The reasons that it couldn’t work out the way I wanted.  Their yelling, my hurt feelings, the miscommunications.  The time they called me a jerk for making what I thought was a cute comment.  And their constant pulling me close then pushing me away.  Those things outweighed the good and the strong feelings that I had developed for this person.  So despite my not really wanting it to, it had to end.  I will say that meeting this person wasn’t all bad for me.  They helped me to learn more about myself.  I learned more about my likes and dislikes, what I’ll put up with, what kind of relationship I want to have and how I’ve become a more positive person.  So for those reasons, I can say I am grateful.

If you find yourself in a similar situation with someone (friend, family member or spouse), remember that they don’t have the right to make you feel that their mood is your problem.  It’s a personal problem that they themselves need to work through.  If you know that whatever is going on with them has zero to do with you, do your best not to take their behavior personally.  Don’t allow yourself to be a person’s emotional punching bag.  Now I understand in some circumstances it isn’t always so easy to walk away. In those instances, have a conversation with the person.  Communication is key.  Be clear about what you want, how you feel and why.  This process will take some time. Especially if the person in question isn’t good at letting you know exactly how and why they feel the way they do.  Listen and let them know that you are listening.  Let them know that you do see them.  Most times people just want to feel that they are being heard and that someone cares.  In my case, I was listening and I cared, but I didn’t feel the same from them.  But if it gets to the point where talking it out and giving it time changes nothing…..Bounce.  Choose your happiness.  Choose your positivity.  Choose your well-being.  And most importantly, choose yourself.

Late To The Game or Early To A Breakthrough?

I always thought that by the time I made it to the age I currently am, I would be a lot further along in my life’s journey than I am.  I also thought that I would have all my shit together by now as well.  Fun fact:  I have been proven wrong on both points.  The fact that neither of those things is true, bruises my ego a little on a daily basis.  So much so that I’m actually a little embarrassed to even admit it.  But I never hold back the truth on this blog, so there it is for the world to read.  I thought that I would be further along because I thought I knew what I wanted at a young age.  At 18, I wanted to move to New York City, go to the Fashion Institute of Technology, graduate and become a world-famous designer.  By the time I turned 25, the only thing that I still wanted was still to move to New York City.  Now I really don’t want any of the things I did at 18 or 25.  I decided to go back to college in 2010 to study Journalism under the guise that I would become a Fashion Journalist.  Since I know longer wanted to make clothes, I wanted to write about other making them.  A little more than halfway through my studies, I took a creative writing class as a filler for a semester.  After two months in the class, I had made a big career change.  I no longer wanted to be a Fashion Journalist, I wanted to be a writer.  But not just a writer, oh no that’s too small of a dream for me.  I wanted to be a New York Times Bestselling author.  Hell, why not?  The thing that gets me (aka pisses me off a bit) is why couldn’t I have figured all of this out at 18, 25 or hell even 30 years old?!  And now instead of NYC calling my heart, California seems to be calling my name more and more. But I digress.

Eventually, I had to step back, do some serious inventory and think about it.  Why exactly aren’t I where I thought I would be?  And why aren’t I where I think I should be?  For me, the answer wasn’t crystal clear at first.  After a few years of reading different self-help books and listening to positive podcast, it finally hit me.  My mindset wasn’t right for the goals and dreams I had for myself.  How can I expect to be somewhere more positive than I am if my mindset isn’t on the same page?  Impossible.  It took years of growing pains, long conversations with people, late nights of reading, prayer, and meditation to finally get it.  I also think part of the reason why I’m not where I thought (or would like) to be is that what I want has changed.  And more importantly than that, I have changed. My self-confidence is stronger than it has ever been at any point in my life.  And I work daily to strengthen it more than the day before.  My career goals are truer to who I am now.  My focus, drive, and desire for what I want are on warp speed.  Now if I could only stop wasting time and energy beating myself up about the slow start. (Insert emoji with the lady with the hand over her face here)

Now I’ll be candid here, my mindset isn’t always 100% completely aligned with my goals. When I say this I mean that there are days when the New York Times Bestsellers List seems like nothing more than a pipe dream.  And then there are days when I think something I’ve written is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.  Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch, but you see where I’m going with this.  If my mindset isn’t completely aligned with my goals, then my goals won’t come to flourishing.  Since what I want hasn’t appeared in my life, then I would beat myself up about not achieving that goal.  Never.  Ending.  Cycle.  Good news: I finally figured this out.  Bad news (sort of):  Trying to figure out how change this destructive, non-productive pattern of behavior.  I have learned that when I try to do too much at one time, I freak out and then fail miserably.  So I take baby steps, my friend.  Baby steps.  It started by acknowledging that there was a change that needed to happen within me first.  That’s usually the hardest thing to do.  Honestly, it sucked that my change had to take so long to manifest, but it was necessary in order to grow strong enough to go after my goals.  Once I knew that I had to change, then I figured out the how.

Instead of the constant complaining to anyone who would listen to my whining, I started having actual conversations.  Meaning I would talk about what I wasn’t happy about, but I would actually listen to the feedback I was given in return.  Not only would I listen, I would give a significant amount of time to what the person said.  And then from there, I would apply the advice to help improve myself and my life.  As I stated earlier, I started reading books about mindset and positive thinking. I started with a book called, “The Secret.”  I know some people have issues with this book, but it helped me tremendously.  It helped me learn to see the glass as half full instead of half empty like how I was raised to see it.  It always taught me to be more grateful for all the things I have in my life.  With gratitude comes a better attitude. So corny, but so true.  I listened (and still do) to positive, motivating podcast as well.  Some of my favorites are The Marie Forleo Podcast, The Lavendaire Lifestyle, and The GaryVee Audio Experience.  Really love Gary Vee because it keeps it real, tells the truth and doesn’t sugar coat shit.  And someone like me appreciates that.  I surround myself with as many positive people as I can.  And the funny thing is, I have met some great amazing people online who have helped me to be more positive as well.  I try to avoid as many negative people as possible.  But sometimes that’s hard when it’s a family member, a friend or maybe even a co-worker.  I just keep my conversations with them to a minimum.  It’s the only way I can survive.  And I think the most important that I’m learning to do (and working on daily) is forgiving myself.  Forgiving myself for past mistakes, ideas, attitudes, actions, and non-actions.  I have this terrible tendency of living in the past and replaying mistakes in my mind.  I am learning to work through that, and let it go.  Nothing I can do about it now, it’s over.  The only thing I can do is learn and grow from it.  So even though I may not be exactly where I thought I would be.  Or even have my shit together, I’m still here fighting the good fight.  I’m not giving up on my dreams or myself.  Clearly, I’m still here for a reason.  And I’ll do everything I can to make sure that that reason is fulfilled.

Self Confidence: Work That Muscle

I was recently watching a movie called, “House Party 2” which is about one of the main characters nicknamed Kid going off to college. At one point in the film Kid, while studying, reads a quote from Marcus Garvey. The quote goes as follows: “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started.”
Now I have seen this film on numerous occasions, which means I have heard this quote before. But this time it stood out to me more than it ever had before. I had to rewind that scene in order to write down the quote the second I heard it. Then I had to really give some serious thought to what Mr. Garvey was saying. You have no confidence, you’re basically already losing. Damn…… That kind of hurt a little when I really meditated on that.
I can readily admit that since I was a teenager, having self-confidence has been a constant struggle. Whether I was struggling to believe I could learn a new skill or the ones I already had were good, or that my physical appearance would attract the person I liked, it has been an ongoing thing. Here I am 20 years later and many of those thoughts still linger within my mind. It’s an ongoing battle between who I “think” I am versus who I want to ultimately become. Sometimes the distance between the two can be as far as from Earth to Pluto. And my self-confidence spaceship doesn’t have enough fuel or power to get me to the distance dwarf planet.  I have learned after reading many self-help books, listening to self-help podcast and watching motivational speakers on YouTube that self-confidence is, in fact, a muscle.  And that muscle must be worked out daily in order to get stronger and grow.  Did you hear me, people?  I said:  DAILY.  Unlike every other muscle in our body, which need a resting period, the self-confidence muscle can’t be afforded that luxury.

What I have noticed about mine is if I don’t do some form of positive thinking about myself every day, it tends to get weaker over time.  The longer I go without a good thought, the longer it takes me to build my self-confidence back up to where I last left it.  And as I’ve stated in a previous blog post called, “Working out: That Helpful Bitch”, I hate working out.  So who has time to keep working the same muscle all the time and seeing no major results?  Surely not me.  And I’m sure you don’t have the time either.  I’m sure this happens too many of us more than we would like to admit to ourselves let alone the rest of the world.  I think that even the most self-confident person has to experience this from time to time.  The only difference is their bounce back game is probably a lot stronger than yours or mine.   And that’s unfortunate.  I have recently met someone whose self-confidence muscle is the level of strong that I want to get mine too. It seems that no matter what she can’t be brought down.  Whether it be from negative comments from others or even negative thoughts she may have in her mind from time to time.  She knows without a doubt that she will accomplish her goals and that she is the shit.  Period.  She focuses on her strengths, taking daily steps to reach her goals, her spirituality and her overall badassness.  So one is faced with the question:  how do we build our self-confidence muscles during times when we just aren’t feeling it?  The answer to that will undoubtedly be different for different people for sure.  So I’ll just tell you a few things I have been doing to build my muscle up to Hulk status.

1.) If on a particular day I feel down, I don’t stay there long.  We are humans who have ups and downs.  One minute I love my life and everything in it.  And the next I could be questioning why I was put here in the first place.  And that’s cool.  I feel what I need to feel and then MOVE ON.  I work hard to not stay in the dark for too long or it will be harder to light the match that I need to see in order to get out.

2.) I write all my feelings and emotions down on paper.  It may sound stupid or cliché, but I have found that it works for me.  When I’m having a particularly shitty day, I need to write about it.  I write exactly how I’m feeling at that moment.  Whatever crappy feeling I have about myself, others around me or my surroundings get written about.  No hold barred.  And once I have let it all out, I close my journal and leave it there.  Now I’m not saying that once I’ve written it out, I feel 100% better.  Hell no.  But it helps me to get those thoughts out of my mind so I can refocus my thoughts on more productive matters.

3.) I find something that inspires me or makes me feel good.  That could be a book, a motivational speaker, a bible verse, a baby’s smile or a funny meme.  For me, I’ll go on Instagram and look at funny memes to make me laugh.  Or I’ll listen to one of my favorite podcast to help me feel inspired again.  I find “Style Your Mind” and “The Lavendaire Lifestyle” to be among the most helpful for me.  Both podcasts speak to me in a way that is relatable, helpful and kind.

This self-confidence muscle will not be built overnight.  And it damn sure won’t build itself, you gotta put in the work to make it happen.  And as lazy as I am and yes I can admit this about myself.  I’m willing and able to do the work.  And if I can, I know you can.