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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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.

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.