My Truth Equals Their “Victim”

(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!  Please share and comment!)

Last week I posted a blog called, “Dear Scared White People” that I felt needed to be said, written and read.  I knew that with that title alone, there were sure to be some negative comments.  I have posted that blog before and the ridiculous comments I received were from people I could tell did not read it.  This time I only received two adverse comments from people who took that time to read it (which I appreciate) before misconstruing EVERYTHING I was saying.  But I digress, that’s not what this post is about.  No, this post is about one particular from a gentleman who commented, “Race relations also aren’t nearly as bad as many people think.  The world is not out to get you, and this was painful to read simply because it seems like an attempt to play victim.”

1.) Race relations ARE THAT BAD.  If he truly looked around at what’s really going on in this world instead only focusing on HIS experience is in this world, he would see that.

2.) The reality star sitting in the White House playing, “pretend President” just tweeted that four congresswomen (who are all women of color) should go back to their home countries. Three of which were born and raised in America.

3.) RACE RELATIONS ARE THAT BAD.

But just to reiterate, that’s not what this post is about.  This post is about the last part of his comment where he said my post seemed like, “an attempt to play victim.”  Why is it that whenever anyone tells their truth in this world, the opposition always says that they are playing the victim.   According to Webster’s Dictionary, a victim is, “One that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent.  One that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment.”  Just to be clear, that blog post was not about, “playing the victim” in a big bad world full of racist bullies.  (Hope you could pick up the sarcasm in my description of the world.)  That post was about showing the facts as they are for African Americans in America.  Period.

I have heard the word “victim” thrown around in other situations, not just race relations.  Whenever a man or a woman speaks out about discrimination in all of its inglorious forms, to those who oppose, they are playing “victim.”  The opposition says they are using the word as a “way for you to absolve yourself and other protected victim groups of the left of personal responsibility” as the gentleman above continued in his comments.  Isn’t he a gem?  (Insert hard eye roll here)  By Webster’s definition above anyone who has been, “subjected to oppression, hardship and mistreatment” is a victim.  Some people because of racism, sexism, sexual orientation, or their financial class in society.  They are, by definition, victims.

The opposition (whoever is on the opposite of your position) seems to never take the time to hear what you are saying.  This is usually because they are getting their rebuttals ready in their minds.  They are digging deep in their cerebrum to compose thoughts to justify why you’re wrong and they’re right.  And to find reasons why it’s, “not nearly as bad.”  Calling someone a “victim” is a hell of a lot easier than dealing with the reality of the truth.  And the one thing most of us humans fear the most (besides public speaking and death) is the truth.  It forces us to take a deeper look at ourselves and those around us in a way that is often uncomfortable.  I know that I have struggled with learning certain truths about myself and the way I think.  But the one thing I don’t have trouble doing is hearing someone else’s truth, listening and empathizing.  I may not be able to fully relate to their situation, but I don’t disregard it by claiming they are making an, “attempt to play victim.”

Everyone in this world is going through something at some time or another.  And no one can speak to anyone else’s experience in this world because they can’t exactly walk in their shoes.  Instead of quickly labeling someone a “victim”, why not take the time to find out what the world is like for them.  Because just because you don’t see, doesn’t mean it’s not real.  I’ve never seen our planetary universe with my own eyes, but I know it’s there.

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Dear “Scared White People”

(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 and please share!)

Dear “Scared White People”,

Hi.  My name is Nyikia and I am a concerned black woman.  And just so I’m clear here from the start: This is NOT CLICK-BAIT and I’m not talking to ALL WHITE PEOPLE. Nor, and I can’t even believe I have to say this, racist.  I have the working knowledge to know that people of color have white allies out there.  Thank you for that and this letter isn’t for you.   I’m writing this letter to the “scared” or “concerned” white people out there because I’m growing quite worried (and pissed off) by your behavior toward black people.   I have listed a few examples to clarify:

1.) Calling the police when black people are waiting for their friends in the local Starbucks. (Happened in Philadelphia.)

2.) Calling the police when black people gather peacefully in the park to have a BBQ with friends and family. (Google BBQ Becky.)

3.) Calling the police 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 police 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 because a black father was cheering his son on during his soccer game. (Google Golf cart Gail)

And most recently, a man named Christopher Cukor called the police on Wesley Michel (a black man) waiting outside of an apartment building for his friend.  After asking Mr. Michel what was his friend’s name that he was waiting for (as if he’s someone’s authority figure), he proceeds to call the police to report a “trespasser.”  In a video, you can see Mr. Cukor’s son say to him, “Daddy, please don’t I agree with him, daddy.  Please don’t.  I don’t like this.  I don’t like this.  Let’s go.”  Mr. Cukor proceeds to tell the 911 dispatcher, “He appears to be African-American.”

(Side Note: Appears. Clearly, you can see since you’re standing less than ten feet away that this man is African-American.)

When Mr. Michel’s friend shows up, Mr. Cukor quickly changes his story to the dispatcher telling them that he was actually waiting for his friend.  As he had already been told by Mr. Michel before wasting the 911 dispatcher’s time with a bogus call.

I’ll stop here because, with the list and story above, I could go on and on with examples of your less than stellar behavior.   here is a consistent pattern of all the things that I wrote about.  This pattern of calling the police on people who don’t look like you.  Or who you feel are in the wrong place for their color.  Why is that?  I could understand if they were doing something that warrantied your suspicion.  But clearly, in the instances listed above, they were not.  The suspicion you had was based merely on the color of their skin.  What you THINK you know of how African-Americans behave.  And also, the prejudices you have acquired over the years due to what you THINK.  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 America’s current reality 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 ‘80s with McGruff the Crime Dog, so I learned all about stranger danger. Whose lessons on safety I still use today.  But the one thing McGruff never taught 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 the child was taught that type of racial bias in the home by their family members.  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.  The other day I was in a library waiting in line and this small Caucasian little boy kept looking at me.  I smiled at him and he gave me a really big cute smile back and then hid his face.  This went on and on for a few minutes until it was my time to go to the counter.  Was he afraid of me because I looked different than him?  No.  Was he afraid of me because my skin is brown?  No.  He just saw a friendly person who smiled at him, so he smiled back.  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 supposed to be 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 by now: 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.  Out to get me, want to see me dead and think I’m lower than the dirt on the bottom of their shoes.  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.  Learn different things involving black culture and ask questions.  Take a genuine interest in getting to know a person that just so happens to have pigment darker than yours.  Those sounds like lofty goals, but it can be made easy. You can simply start by saying, “Hello.”  Easy enough right?  Have a friendly conversation with your black 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 ON BLACK PEOPLE FOR NO GOOD REASON.

With all love and sincerity,

Nyikia

Support System of One

(Disclaimer- I proofread this post a dozen times and used Grammarly to help. If you see any mistakes, forgive me I’m only human. And I am not perfect. Thanks for reading!)
Someone I know has been dealing with a recent traumatic event in their life.  This person has been in therapy to seek help on how to deal with what happened.  And they also told me that they have been talking to friends for support as well.  Even though they have reached out to different people, they told me that they don’t feel fully supported. The therapist told them that she didn’t think they would ever be able to have a relationship again because of what happened.  And slowly, one by one, the friends have sort of drifted off in reaching out.  Let’s start with the therapist……If you ever have a licensed therapist tell you some negative bullshit as above:  GET A NEW THERAPIST.  As for the friends…..Sometimes that happens.  People go on with their day to day lives and forget to reach out.  That or they are busy dealing with drama in their own lives.  To put it simply, those around you may not always be there for you.

That’s when you have to learn to be your own support system.  Now, this is by no stretch of the measure an easy feat. It took me years to learn this lesson for myself.  Yes, I had a few family members and friends who were there to lend a helping hand.  And other times to give words of encouragement or a listening ear.  But when they weren’t readily available, I had to learn to be there and do those things for myself.  I grew up in a single parent home with a parent that was really never emotionally available.  I was super close with my grandma growing up, so there was someone giving me that emotional love and support I needed.  And that was fine for the time.  But as I grew up (and started seeing examples of my friend’s relationship with their parents) I realized that wasn’t enough.  I wanted, needed and craved that sort of attention from just one person.  And they just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give me that.  So what was I left to do?

I learned that if I was going to make it in this life, not only did I have to learn to trust others in their support, but I had to be MY BIGGEST SUPPORT SYSTEM.  What that meant for me was if I wanted to do or try something, I had to learn to talk myself up.  If I was feeling down about something in my life, I had to find a way to work through it.  I started writing.  I have kept a diary (I call it a journal now that I’m adult, Lol) since the age of about 14.  In there, I can be whoever I want. I can say whatever I want about whatever I wanted.  It’s a judgment-free zone.  It’s a place for my eyes, emotions, thoughts, and opinions only.  It’s a place where I can work out my issues in a healthy way.  It’s also the place where I can let go of negative energy and replace with more positive energy.  When I feel like someone is putting me down (like my parent used to do a lot) I would write in the journal how I felt about that.  And I would write how what they said was completely wrong and inaccurate.  Doing this over time allowed me to build my self-confidence and support muscles.  I learned to stand on my own two feet because I wouldn’t always have someone there to hold my hand.  I found my inner strength and more importantly my inner peace.  If that meant that I didn’t talk to certain people anymore, then so be it.  If that meant that I had to spend more time alone to work through my own shit, then so be it.  If that meant that I would limit the number of interactions with my parent, then so be it.  And let me tell you the last one is a doozy when you live in the same house, but it can be done.

Becoming your biggest support system won’t happen overnight.  It takes a bit of time and that time varies from person to person.  Step by step, little by little.  You just have to figure out how that would work best for you.  Even though I’ve learned to become my biggest support system, it’s still a practice I work on daily.  Some days I still struggle and may need to lean on those around me who care.  And other times they are not around, so I have to lift myself up.  Sometimes you may not have access to a support system, so learning to be your own is even more important.  If you find others that give you the support you need, that’s great! But let them be your back up.  You have to be your own cheerleader, shoulder to cry on, positive person, and most importantly your own best friend.  Because no one is going to look out for you and love you as much as you would do for yourself.

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.

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.