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.

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Dear “Scared White People,”

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

Dear “Scared White People”,

Hi. My name is Nyikia and I am a concerned black woman.  I’m writing this letter to you because I’m growing quite concerned (and getting pissed off) by your recent behavior toward black people.  I have listed a few examples:

1.) Calling the cops when black people are waiting for our friends in the local Starbucks. (Happened in Philadelphia.)
2.) Calling the cops when black people gather peacefully in the park to have a BBQ with friends and family. (Google BBQ Becky.)
3.) Calling the cops when black people are going to view a house that is for sale. Even though the person is a real estate agent, and had been authorized to do so.
4.) Calling the cops when black people check out of an Airbnb (with their luggage in full view) because you thought they might be burglars.
5.) Calling the police on a 9-year old that was just buying something at the local corner store because you think they “grabbed your butt.” (Google Corner store Caroline)
6.) Calling the police because a black father was cheering his son on during his soccer game. (Google Golf cart Gail)

I’ll stop here because the list goes on and on with your less than stellar behavior.  If you notice from the list, there is a consistent pattern.  That pattern is the calling of the police on people who don’t look like you.  Why is that?  I could understand if they were doing something that was suspicious.  But clearly, in the instances listed above, they were not. The suspicion you had was based merely on the color of their skin.  And also, the prejudices you have acquired over the years.  Now I understand that your prejudices could stem from a learned behavior passed down from generation to generation.  And some have come from outside sources:  literature, television, hearsay and most notorious the media.  I’m really trying to work with you “scared white people,” I really am.  But at a certain point in life, you have to take inventory of yourself.  Not everything you see and hear about people is true.  Even the cheeto in chief (aka our current realty star president) knows this.  Hence the term his administration loves to overuse, “fake news.” Although in his case most of what we hear about him turns out to be absolutely true.  But that’s a post for another day.

Let’s get back to the task at hand.  I understand having a little concern for the unknown. Dark places, stray animals, emails from strange addresses and yes our fellow humans.  I grew up in the 80’s with McGruff the Crime Dog, so I learned all about stranger danger. But the one thing McGruff never taught us was to be afraid of someone based solely on their skin color.  If you asked the average child today to describe someone that frightens them, I’m pretty sure a stranger’s skin color wouldn’t come up.  Unless of course, they were taught that type of racial bias in the home.  So why is it children are wiser in this regard than most adults?  I work with children for a living, and I notice that they have a tendency of seeing people for exactly who they are.  Race not included.  When they judge you, they judge you on your merits.  Race not included.  When they are leery of someone, it is because of the vibe they get from the person.  RACE NOT INCLUDED.  Children are usually both open and eager to get to know someone who is different than themselves. They ask questions without assuming they know the answer.  Children just see a person much like themselves with zero prejudgments.

So why haven’t adults learned to do this already?  For people who are older and intellectually smarter, we sure lack the intelligence of the average child.  I’m going to take this time to let you in on something you should have already figured out:  NOT ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE BAD PEOPLE.  That is shocking right?  I know the truth can be most times.  But I feel you really need to know and understand that fact.  Let me be clear here, there are bad people in every race, gender, and country.  Being a bad person is not relegated to a racial thing.  It’s a personality and behavioral thing.  If I went around thinking certain things about certain races, then my belief right now would be that all white people are racist.  And clearly, that is not the case.

I have a suggestion on how to help you “scared white people” in working through your prejudices.  Provided you actually want to get rid of your judgmental nature and possibly make a few new friends.  BE OPEN.  Get to know more about the black people that you encounter in your everyday life.  That sounds like a lofty task, but it can be made easy. You can simply start by saying, “Hello.”  Easy enough right?  Have a real genuine conversation with that co-worker that you see all the time.  Get to know them on a level that’s based on common ground, common interest and a humane level.  You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll have in common with the average black person.  Everyone has that one family member that they don’t like in their family.  You avoid them at all costs at family functions until another relative asked you if you said hi to them.  You can easily bond over that.  Or how you love your kids to death, but could sometimes punt them like a football when they get on your nerves.  You can’t always judge a book by its cover.  You have to pick it up, read the description on the back or inside cover in order to learn what it’s about.  And the same goes for people.  All I’m saying is get to know someone who’s different than you before you judge them.  And for the love of God:  STOP CALLING THE POLICE.

With all love and sincerity,

Nyikia

 

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.

How Are You Running Your Race?

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, oh well, I’m only human. Thanks for reading!)
A little over a month ago I was listening to one of my favorite podcast called, “The Read” hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle.  The episode is called, “Cheerleading” and in it, Crissle talks about her history of depression and negative self-talk.  She said something that her therapist told her that made her take a serious look at how she speaks to herself.  And after hearing it, it also made me take a look at how I speak to myself?  Her therapist said to her, “Picture life like a race. And one person is beaten along the path.  Like someone is whipping at their back. Chastising them and telling them all the ways that they suck.  And they’re moving forward trying to be motivated by the negativity.  And the other person has cheerleaders in the distance who are rooting for them and encouraging them to keep going.  And when they fall saying, ‘That’s fine.  You know we all stumble sometimes.  Just get back up, dust your knees off and keep going at it.’  And you can choose how you’re going to talk to yourself through life.  Are you going to beat yourself through it?  Or are you going to cheerlead yourself through it?”  Crissle said as soon as her therapist told her that, she began to change the way that she spoke to herself.

I know for an absolute fact that most times I am not kind to myself.  My words can be harsh, rude, mean and downright disrespectful.  Sometimes so that the things that I say to myself I wouldn’t dare allow anyone to say to me.  So why is it ok that I say those things to myself?  Ideally, I know that it’s not.  But that doesn’t stop me from constantly doing it.  At one point the negative self-talk was loud and often, it became the only self-language I knew.  I have come a long way from the constant beating myself up.  But I still have a tendency of whipping my own back instead of rooting myself on in this race called life.  My problem is I’m often living the past or worried about the future.  Neither of which is mentally healthy for me to do.  One reason is that I can’t seem to forgive or forget my past mistakes.  The second reason is that I’m not presently where I want to be in life, and I worry I’ll never get there.

My negative self-talk appears to come from my own vision of lack and comparison.  Since I don’t have the things that I want, all I see is lack.  Here’s how it usually goes:  “I’m not currently working as a full-time writer because I lack the skills needed in order to achieve that.  I’m single because I lack the beauty it takes to draw someone’s interests.  I’ll never move ahead in life because I made that awful decision five years ago.”  You get the idea.  The comparison comes from looking at what everyone else is doing instead of looking directly at my own path.  I’m watching how everyone else is performing in their race of life and that slows me down.  I get slowed down because I think I should be where they are in life.  Often times I forget the fact that everyone runs at their own pace. So where does the negative self-talk, my vision of lack and compassion get me?  The short answer is:  NOWHERE.  And who the hell wants to stay there?

After hearing Crissle give the race example that her therapist gave her, it really made me want to change my internal dialogue.  I want to cheer myself on the way I would cheer for others.  I’m a fantastic cheerleader for everyone else.  Why shouldn’t I do the same for myself?  Learning to not beat myself up will surely be an everyday struggle.  This isn’t something that will suddenly stop overnight.  I will probably have to work hard each and every day to see the good in myself.  I can do this by learning to ignore those things I don’t see as being “good enough.”  For every discouraging thought that comes across my mind, I will quickly follow it up with something I love about myself.  I will keep my eyes on my own journey and pace, and not worry so much about what others are doing.  And not comparing my speed to theirs.  Knowing that comparison only serves to injure me in my own race.  Daily, I will think of a least three things I like about myself or that I’m good at.  This will serve as the encouragement that I need to hit the finish line. I want to run a strong race, with all the strength that I can muster.  I must learn to not be my biggest adversary.  And become my biggest supporter, encourager and overall best friend.  Because after all I am the one running this race, and this race I fully intend to win.

High-Functioning Depression: It’s Real

We all know (or should know by now) to never self-diagnose using the web.  What you initially think is just a common cold, will later have you thinking you’ve got Ebola in your left lung.  Despite this knowledge, I went ahead and hit up google anyway because I was sure I could figure out what my issues were.  Or at the very least get pointed in the right direction.  And it helped me figure out what I kind of already knew.  I was depressed.  Or more specifically, I have high functional depression.  According to Talkspace.com, “High-functioning depression is a form of the (depression) illness that is not intense enough to noticeably affect the ability to perform daily responsibilities such as work and home duties.  High functioning depression can carry some of the same symptoms as any other form of the disorder.”  Some of the symptoms the site listed were: Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood, Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism, irritability, feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities, restlessness, appetite and weight changes, thoughts of death or suicide, aches or pains, digestive problems with a clear physical cause, relentless self-criticism, doubt, worry over the past and future and getting upset by small issues.  After reading the article I had to face the fact that I currently have a few of these symptoms.

I didn’t want to claim depression.  I mean who does?  But seeing as though I’ve had depression before, I know what it feels like.  This time though it felt different for me.  I was able to get out of bed and handle necessary daily activities.  But once the work day was done, I would shut down.  I didn’t feel like doing anything.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone or go anywhere.  I just wanted to be left alone, lay around and watch television. My sleep habits were all over the place.  Some days all I wanted to do was sleep (basically taking naps) and on other days I couldn’t sleep at all.  I begin to know something was different when I stopped doing the things that made me feel more positive and good.  I stopped reading self-help books (and books in general), meditating, working out, interacting with people and watching positive YouTube channels I’m subscribed too.  This change wasn’t overnight, it was a gradual change.  Maybe that’s why it took me so long to identify.  I had a temporary job during the summer that was physically and mentally draining on me.  So when I wasn’t there, I had no energy to do anything.  Since I had less energy that meant that I didn’t want to go anywhere on my days off.  Since I didn’t want to claim depression (let alone even say it) I just thought I was tired from the job I didn’t like.  I blamed outside things instead of looking inside at what the issue could be.  And the issue was me.

Once I really gave how I was feeling some serious thought, I had to realize that I was depressed.  Saying that I was depressed goes against everything you learn when studying the law of attraction.  According to the law of attraction, you should only think and speak positivity into your life.  Because if you think and speak negative, the universe will give you more things to be negative about.  My thinking was, “If I actually say I’m depressed, then I’ll bring more things into my life that will make me depressed.”  And that could very well be true.  I came to understand that the way I was feeling didn’t go against the law of attraction.  Just like the law of attraction has become a part of who I am, unfortunately, feelings of sadness from time to time are too.  At some point, the way I feel has to hold just as much weight as my efforts to live my life according to the law of attraction.  So how do I work through this to get back to a more positive, happier me?

The first thing I did was to accept that I was depressed.  Step one completed, check.  I had to leave all the stigma I felt about having to admit to depression behind.  My next step was to find a professional to sit and talk with.  That may take more time seeing as though health insurances are usually full of shit when you actually need to use it.  But that’s a post for another day.  But I’m hopeful that they will help me financially.  Until I’m able to see a professional, I decided to work on the following:

1.) Start reading again.  Even if it’s only 15 minutes a day to start.  I do enjoy reading and the type of books I read usually do help me to be more positive and hopeful.
2.) Do some physical activity. I actually enjoy lifting weights, so I’ll start again with three days a week.  Over time, hopefully, I can build from there.
3.) Journal more.  In the past, journaling has seemed to help me work through problems. And it also helps to clear my mind of worries I may have.  That, in turn, helps me fall asleep easier and sleep better.
4.) Mediating. You would think this one would be a no-brainer for me, but it isn’t.  I’ll start with just 10 minutes and build up from there.  Again I do this before bed so that I can relax and fall asleep.  I’m going to try to implement mediation into different parts of my day as well.

As I continue the healing process, I will work to not beat myself up for how or even why I may have feelings of sadness from time to time.  I know that I’m not a lost cause.  I am human with emotions that go up and down.  But as long as I don’t stay down for long, I’ll be ok.  Deep down I know that too shall pass.

Who am I?

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help.  If you see mistakes, oh well, I’m only human.  Thanks.)

Last week I found out that I’m going to have to have surgery.  It’s the kind of surgery that women pray they never have to go through.  Especially if they wanted children.  To hear the news from the doctor was devastating at first.  But not for the reason it would be for a woman my age who is childless.  See, having a child was never really in my life’s plan.  I always said I never wanted children because I didn’t like them.  But as the years went on, I came to find out that that was not true.  After working as a Teacher Assistant (a job I fell into) I had a vivid realization.  I freaking love kids!  Ages 3 to 5 is my favorite group to work with.  But I also find enjoyment in working with older kids as well.  I say all this to say:  Getting pregnant was never on my to-do list.  When I found out where babies came from as a young child, the appeal or desire died that day.  (Insert laughing emoji here)  Seriously though, I thought I would never be a mother.  And honestly, I’m ok with that.  I figured that if the universe wanted me to be a mom, then a child would be sent via adoption.  So to find out that this surgery might possibly remove any chance for me to become a mother biologically, made me feel weird.  Even though as I stated I had no plans for this.  Several questions I never had to think about before popped into my mind as well.  What would I feel like afterward?  How big will the scar be?  Will this completely kill my sex drive?  And most importantly:  Will I feel less like a woman?

The last question really got me to thinking about how I truly viewed myself.  Why have I tied up my womanhood in my reproductive system?  Just because my body can hold life within it, am I not less than because mine may not be able too anymore?  After pondering this, I came to a resounding answer.  Hell no!  Regardless of the outcome of my situation, I will still be who I have always been.  Me.  Yes, this will be a big change. Yes, this will take some adjustment on my part to get used too.  And yes, my mind and body will need time to heal.  But this change is necessary for my well-being and health.

Why do we sometimes began to feel less than ourselves when a sudden change occurs in life?  I’m sure there are people who have worked in a certain field for years and then lost that position.  Now they don’t know who they are if they can’t be that (fill in the blank) they were for 20 years.  There are people who have been in relationships for so long that when it ended, they didn’t recognize themselves anymore.  They have questioned who they were without this person in their life.  Often times when life comes to shake things up, sometimes we start questioning who we are.  I say all this to say, that sometimes we hold onto the idea of who and what we are based on exterior things.  Or even worse, what society dictates what we should be.  Both are destructive behaviors that we must diminish from our lives.  Knowing that I have to have this surgery made me look at myself in a different light.  Which definitely was not healthy for me mentally.  This is a change I that I never actually thought I would have to go through.  But this is happening so I must accept it.  I finally remembered that who I am isn’t wrapped up in my body and what it can and cannot do.  That actualization gave me a sense of freedom.  Freedom in knowing that I’m still the same woman I’ve always been.  If not stronger for actually having to go through this.  And with any other future dramatic life change, I will always remember who I am.  Strong, brave, smart, funny, kind, big-hearted, loyal and a positive thinker.  And truly that’s all that matters.