Friendship

LXXXIII: To Be A Woman...

To be a woman is to wait...  

In our teens, we wait for the moments that make us feel most like a woman. We wait for that group of friends that we believe we can’t live without. We wait for love — a deep, all-in, scary type of love. 

We wait for those little glimpses into our futures that show us what our passions will likely be. We take chances never fearing the risk. We try without the fear of failure. We leap knowing that life will catch us.

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Once we reach college age, we wait for the work that we’ve done on ourselves, thus far, to be realized.

By now, we’ve experienced friendship, betrayal, and love [for many]. We’ve had to pick ourselves up, persevere and be our own heroes. We’ve done all of this while under the lens of those around us while trying not to crack under the pressure.

Being a woman is tough. If we aren’t waiting for recognition for our hard work, then we are waiting for men to realize that many of us require that they actually treat us right. We are forever seen as the weaker sex and forever waiting for equality, civility, humanity, and appreciation.

At this point, this woman has been waiting to see a couple of things and I’ve noticed a couple of things... :

HARDWORK’S PAYOFF

There are some women out there working their buns off on a consistent basis and I think that it is worthy of so much applause.

Without getting into the things that women deal with, all too often, while working in the professional world, the way in which women still reign supreme in a number of professional arenas is astounding.

Women are simply amazing. But, sometimes it’s also the case that women are overlooked for their hard work. There are a ton of women out there who have to work behind the guise of a man just to keep their jobs; there are so many women who are the geniuses behind works that will never be known; and there are so many women out there who could do the job 10 times better than their male counterparts but will never even see anything past an interview.

I know that there are many women, including myself, who are waiting for all of their hard work to pay off, and I am just here to say to all of us:

Keep your head up. Your day is coming…

FRIENDS ACTUALLY BEING FRIENDS

I say this and will always stand by this, “it is so easy to be there for someone when they have nothing for you to be there for them about”.

I am a complicated person as it is, but in all of my arduousness, I still manage to be the friend that those around me need. As a woman, I found it necessary to pay attention to the needs of each friend (because they are always different), and work at being what each person needs and when they need it.

Again, I don’t see the point in being in someone’s life if I am not there to enhance or change it. So, as a friend, I make sure that I am exactly what that person needs: if they need an ear, then I listen; if they need a night out, then I’m going; if they need to vent, then I’m right there volunteering to beat up whoever needs it; if they need a shoulder, then I do my best, but honestly I hate contact so, you know, give and take.

All I’m saying is that, I understand what it is to be a human. I understand what it is to be a woman. I understand what it’s like to have emotions, and I understand disappointment very well. Life is not easy for everyone, and I get that it is 10 times harder if you’re doing it alone. So, I do what I can to make sure that those around me know that they are not doing it alone. I’m always here.

But, when it comes to my needs, if really take a look at my life, not many of those same people even try to be there for me, women included.

For women to see how difficult this life can be and still not be there for another woman is disturbing. And I see it as a cycle of women running into the wrong types of women throughout their lives. They reach a point where it’s impossible to trust a good one when one comes around — and so begins the cycle of selfishness that we are currently knee-deep in today.

Women loving women, genuinely, is so absent in today’s society. For two women to be friends and not talk behind each other’s back or not lie to each other’s face is near impossible to find and it’s sad. There is nothing more powerful than a woman truly supporting a woman — how could we not flock to this?

We have to do better because there is nothing more beautiful than women truly supporting and rooting for other women.

REAL LOVE

I’ve heard it time and time again. It is so easy for a boy to tell you that he loves you, but I have yet to see a man show me that he loves me (with maybe one exception years ago).

As a woman, when a pattern makes itself known, we cannot help but to internalize… “It must be me”, “Maybe I am asking for too much”, “Maybe I should lower my standards”. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is true, sometimes it is us! Sometimes we do ask for unreasonable and unrealistic things! And I’m not even touching that last one because I will never lower my standards.

But many times, it’s the fact that these boys haven’t been held responsible for their actions (see To Be Man post); they haven’t been required to try or put forth effort beyond getting in a girl’s pants, they haven’t been told to be the role model or the man. It’s never required because there is always a girl in the background that he can spend his time and energy on who doesn’t require these things like the woman does.

In this regard it’s like we’re fighting ourselves because we’ll continue to be the home for his womanizing ways, lies and failure to accept or admit the things from his past that have hurt him. Things that he hasn’t even taken the time out to work through because he’s never been required to.

Being a woman is hard — being a woman in love is the hardest.

Strength and “Real Love” have to go hand in hand in this world. I’m waiting for the shift that doesn’t only call for a woman’s strength but that also includes a man showing strength, restraint, loyalty, and love… and I do mean Real love.

COMPETITION

For some reason, women always seem to be in competition with each other as if we aren’t all fighting the same evils.

That competition even becomes the very demon that destroys our relationships, our friendships and our own well-being.

I don’t compete with the women around me because I really don’t see a point and I don’t see what we would be competing for (I generally see myself on different levels across the board). The energy put into competing at things that probably won’t even matter 5 years from now could easily go into, oh I don’t know, ANYTHING.

I just see the world as insanely difficult when it comes to people because our focus gets stuck on things like competition instead of on things like working through problems, or being there for each other, or being a friend…

I mean, maybe the fact that I honestly cannot wrap my mind around why or what women are competing for is exactly why I don’t understand this concept of women competing against women — and I do refer to the negative competition and not the fruitful/sportsman-type of competition.

HUMANITY

Chivalry, compassion, dignity, love, tenderness, kindness, consideration, generosity, goodness, sincerity, honesty and loyalty — Where art thou!?

I’m waiting for the world to find it’s humanity [again]. For some reason I have this idea that we once knew how to treat each other. And I could be completely wrong, but I honestly feel like there was a time where men had manners, at least made an effort to be honest, and tried to treat women the way they deserve to be treated.

Maybe because of the way that I was brought up — you know, with common sense, common curtesy and decency, do I believe that others should exercise the same.

I think that the world is so caught up in the pretend lives that they’re living for social media and viral culture that they are completely forgetting to be human and to treat others as if they are also human.

As a Black woman, my experience is much different from many others when it comes to humanity. Many women reading this post probably do not feel that humanity has died, but being a Black woman (the most unprotected, the most attacked, the most forgotten kind of woman) only shows me in technicolor that the world is lacking in the humanity, compassion, loyalty and decency department, and I want us to get it back. I believe in us!


Women spend their lives trying to find themselves and then to not lose it to the world, trying to determine who and what is worth caring for, trying to protect what’s nearest and dearest to them, nurturing, loving, caring and being compassionate and remaining strong. All while being used and abused by damaged guys (and girls), being betrayed by lifelong friends, and being placed in insane situations in the workplace while being looked over for things and positions that they can [more likely than not] do better than the guys.

Being a woman is hard… And I think that I continue to return to this point because it is too true. But, to all of the women who are loving in this world, working in this world, caring in this world, trying in this world and who are remaining true to themselves in this world, I see you and I applaud you all.

🖤

LXVII: What I've Learned, Thus Far, From 2018?

Here we are! Another installment and another year of lessons!

I’ve changed things up this year and entered into it feeling a bit more liberated than I was in 2017. I had decided early on that I was going to do what I wanted, when I wanted and try things. But, with that, I also opened myself up to people which is something that I normally steer very clear of.

Whenever you open up your heart, mind, and ears to new people, you’ll definitely be learning new lessons, however. Trust me!

So, here are a couple of the lessons that I’ve learned, thus far, this year:

STEER CLEAR OF THOSE WHO WANT YOUR RHYTHM BUT NOT YOUR BLUES

Wanting my rhythm and not my blues simply means that someone wants to be around me when I am happy and having fun, but when stuff hits the fan of life, they want to hit the road.

I’ve had this type of person in my life plenty-a-time!

The bad thing about me, however, is that when it comes to people who I have allowed into my life, I genuinely try my best to keep them.

BUT, sometimes in life you go through things, not to learn to work through them, but to learn to walk away from bad situations

This year has been one big lesson on walking away for me. It gets so lonely sometimes, but walking away from people who want to be around when all is well but leave when things get difficult is a very necessary reality. 

PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING

The way you view a situation says a lot about the way you view the world and the way you view yourself.

Now, I generally look at situations from a very realistic standpoint. I also use facts from the past that have created a pattern to assist with the way in which I view those situations. So, in short, when a situation presents itself, I’m an absolute realist through and through.

Now, this year has been filled with ups and downs, and I’ve worked at keeping my outlook on things upbeat enough to allow myself the ability to continue on in whatever direction I am attempting to go in life without letting things get me too down.

Changing my perspective on a lot of the things that have happened to me lately has seriously helped. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been so necessary. A lot of times, perspective comes through in the form of a glass being half empty or a glass being half full. 2018 has taught me to look at things with the glass half full which has allowed me the opportunity to fill it the rest of the way on my own.

WHEN SOMETHING IS FOR YOU, IT WILL ALWAYS BECOME YOURS

This is super important for me to remember! 

I oftentimes work overtime to keep friendships and relationships with people who have never even deserved my time in the first place. It’s in my nature, however, to nurture those relationships...

BUT, when a relationship is for you, it will be yours without all of the tug-of-war! I forget this so much and it results in me making people feel way more needed than they actually are by trying to keep them in my life.

This is a habit, in me, that needs to be left in 2018. Because, trust me, you won’t be forcing the friendships and relationships that are meant to happen!  

BE REAL WITH EVERYONE AT ALL TIMES 

Now, first and foremost, you have to be real with yourself! But after that, you have to be real with everyone else.

I met someone this year who was such a gem! A beautiful soul inside and out. But, if you asked me, now, whether or not I still know this person, then my answer would honestly have to be ‘no’.

This person was so good at pretending to be the great person that I grew to very fondly enjoy, but [as you’ll read below] people can only pretend for so long (and sometimes for too long) before their true colors show.

It turns out that this person was a complete stranger to me when they showed me who they really were. What a shock!

I can see from that situation that it is, a lot of times, hard for some people to just be themselves which, to me, seems like it would be more work to pretend to be someone or something else. But, I digress, …

People usually teach me the biggest lessons and from this person, I’ve learned that you have to be super mindful of who and what you are. Remain true to yourself no matter the situation.

Real will attract real, but you have to weed through a lot of fake to get to it.

PEOPLE ARE GOOD AT PRETENDING — WATCH FOR SIGNS

I have made the mistake of underestimating the amount of time that people can live while being fake and, trust me, they can go the distance. 

But, I’ve learned that, eventually the real will always come out. 

I’ve had two friends while in school that people have completely warned me about but I ignored it and instead defended them because I wanted to base my reactions to them solely on my experiences. In hindsight, I completely wish that I would’ve listened to those people, but I didn’t, so I had to eat that loss.

I didn’t believe these things because people are so good at pretending to be things that they are not. They immitate the things that they see being attracted by others. They become so good at the facade that it’s undetectable to eyes that want to believe what they see.

But, I’ve seen that faking it gets exhaustive and they will eventually show their true colors. Some people don’t last a week, others take months, and one took years!  

 My advice to myself and others would simply be to jump ship as soon as the first sign becomes apparent. We’re so inclined to ignore the little signs because we’re enjoying the bigger moments, but trust me, cutting these people off early on is always best. 


So, there you have it! 2018 has taught me A LOT about people and how I should approach the next batch that I meet in life.

But, most of all, 2018 has taught me to look at situations from multiple angles: yes, losing a job will hurt, but there are so many benefits to it; yes, losing a ‘friend’ will hurt, but I’ve gained so many more who actually seem good; and, yes, loving someone is difficult, especially when you’re on completely different wavelengths as far as life is concerned, but opening your heart to someone has the never-ending benefit of showing you so much about yourself!

So for that, 2018, I thank you! 🎊🎊🎊

L: ... Too Fly To Be Depressed?

Depression is the result of a chemical imbalance which, in me, manifested itself in the form of: staring at blank walls for hours; filling my hot showers with tears; struggling to get out of bed; dreading human interaction (more so than usual); and an overall disconnect from everything and everyone.

My depression was a culmination of everything that I let build up over the years, and it hit me at the worst time (because when is the right time for it to hit?)

Let’s Address The Perception:

When I initially decided to reveal to a select few how I was feeling, the reactions were either very supportive or very expected.

The way that people would receive this information is one of the reasons that I kept this information quiet for so long. The supportive reactions were just that: very soft spoken words of encouragement. The very expected reactions were those of selfishness: the ‘but you’re still alive, why are you complaining’; the ‘let me send you links to streamed church sessions’; and the ‘well, we all got problems [insert their problems]’.

I know that the movies and the extreme cases on the news have hardened our hearts to the idea that those surrounding you may be capable of suffering such an ailment, but please remember that it is very possible. And, whether or not you believe in it, if someone else is going through it and chooses to open up to you about it (1) feel honored that they thought that you were human enough to understand that they are not feeling “okay”, (2) try to tear yourself away from YOU for at least 20 minutes and hear that person out, and (3) do not assume that you know what is going on or what it is like. Everyone’s experiences are different and someone else’s depression is not yours.

The Feels:

Let’s talk about what a depression felt like for me:

The Loneliness:

Even though I wasn’t always alone, I always felt alone. I felt like I did not have anyone and could not go to anyone. This is the fault of no one, it’s just an effect that I suffered.

The Sadness:

There was a build-up that lead to my depressed state and it had to do with: my level of activity, the amount of people who rely on me financially, the way that I treat those that I am close to and the fact that I expect similar treatment in return (a bad habit that I am trying to break), the uncertainty about my future, and the negative feelings associated with opening yourself up to others.

This resulted in a bunch of me blaming myself for this continuing pattern in my life where I give my best (and worst) self to people only for them to take it, give nothing in return, and reap the benefit with one foot out the door. These types of things happened to me with past boyfriends, friends, family, and then when it happened again on top of everything else that I was feeling, it was just too much…

This sadness doesn’t easily go away. Mix this with the loneliness that you’re already experiencing and you’ve got one sad drink!

I still haven’t figured out how to deal with or get past this sadness just yet, but I am working on it.

The Denial:

Let’s not forget the fact that we don’t want to be going through this in the first place, so my initial thought was to just deny it.

I did not want to believe that I could experience something like this. But, once I got to the point where I really did not want to have to experience this anymore and that I wanted to get out of it, I was more willing to accept that this was happening. Once I accept it, I can start working towards getting better, was my mindset and it worked. I am now working through this ugly battle.

The Fatigue:

When you are depressed, you literally wake up feeling tired (if you get sleep at all). You often need a nap or a break in your day.

Little things tire you out, your days seem impossibly long (but also not long enough), and your feet weigh a ton anytime you have to get up and move.

So much weighs you down when you are “down”, and the fatigue is just another thing that you have to combat on the road to recovery.  

The Sleepless Nights:

Now, I experienced a complete lack of sleep when I was experiencing my “down time”. I just couldn’t fall asleep. I would lay awake and think, or stare at the walls, or watch “It’s Complicated” or “Living Single” over and over and over. As if those things would “heal” me.

The part that I dreaded the most was that, when the sun would start to set, I would just get sad because I’d know that I would spend another night laying awake and wishing that I could just go to some other subconscious world. I never have dreams but you have no idea how much I prayed for any type of dream to take my mind off of whatever else it was on.

Add to that the fact that I literally could not sleep in my own bed! I would begin my night in my cozy king bed but lay awake for hours. Once I finally got tired of tossing and turning, I would finally give in and move to the couch — the only place that I even have a chance at falling asleep. Hence, the sleeplessness. 

The Loss of Appetite:

As hungry of a state that I constantly live in, it shocked me that I could not eat!

I would find it being 1p.m. or 2p.m. before realizing that I hadn’t eaten a thing. Not because I didn’t have things to eat, but because I literally could not eat. Food would make me sick, but, I guess, to add to the drama of it all, my stomach would growl. 

No clue what the loss of appetite was about, but I didn’t like it when I experienced it. 

The Healing:

I don’t know what other people’s healing is like, but I know that mine is a long process that involves me getting back to my very routine lifestyle.

It is the fact that I decided to leave my very routine bubble that led me to this depressed state, so I am literally backtracking in order to get back on track (which means going back to a completely closed off state, as bad as that sounds). Unfortunately, this is harder to do than it seems like it should be, so I find myself constantly straddling the line between “okay” and “back in”.

My circle is not big, at all, there are probably 3 people that genuinely care about me and my wellbeing apart from family, but there are also people around my campus that make it a point to check on me.

I have so much love for those of you who saw me around campus, noticed I was down and talked to me (Josh and Ron); and those of you who randomly check on me (Corina, Em, Jason and Alicia); and NATHAN thanks for just being there to hug me. You guys have no idea how much those things have meant. You have no idea how far those simple acts go.

In short, the healing is harder than actually going through the depression itself. It’s a process that requires patience. And, it’s not easy, but believe me when I say, IT HAPPENS TO THE BEST OF US. So, if this is happening to you, embrace it, because this too shall pass, and I promise you ain’t too fly to feel it (because I surely thought I was).

XLIII: Washington D.C. - Can We Eat A Little?

One of my absolute favorite places in the world (so far), is Washington D.C. I love this place so much so that I make it a point to go there each year (time and money permitting). 

On this year's wonderful trip, I decided to invite my mom, who never travels, and my sister, who always travels. My main goal was to eat as much food as I could and to celebrate my 27th birthday. This was the perfect plan because everyone on the trip knew that I literally only went there to eat and see the city (two very easy things to do in D.C.).

So, when we finally got there, my first stop was:


Bojangles | Famous chicken n' Biscuits

This was our first stop, mainly because I was hyping this place up for about a month before we actually got to D.C. and secondly because of it's close proximity to our hotel. We were staying in the heart of Capitol Hill (literally a 5 minute walk to the Capitol) which was conveniently placed by Union Station. Union Station is a beautiful metro station filled with food (BOJANGLES!) and stores for shopping. 

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We ordered about $40.00 worth of food which came in a huge box (with a sweet tea). You literally cannot go wrong with either spicy chicken wings, or spicy chicken strips from Bojangles! Add a side of their perfectly seasoned fries, and red beans and rice and you've got a satisfying food coma. 

If you can't resist something sweet, then I highly recommend that you get one of their BoBiscuits (even though I missed out on this gem) or one of their delicious pies. 

Something else that we missed out on was requesting that they throw some Mumbo Sauce in with our order. My friend mentioned, over and over, that we find Mumbo Sauce while we were in Washington D.C. (the home of Mumbo Sauce), but it just kept slipping our minds due to all of the other excitement around us. 

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The next morning, we all got up, got dressed and asked for food recommendations! One place that everyone at our hotel (Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill - horrible service and you'll always get overcharged) couldn't stop raving about was Art & Soul. 

Luckily for us, this restaurant was located right across the street and all we had to do was take one hot and humid stroll over. 

Art and Soul

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This was basically a fancy twist on soul food. Now, normally, anytime someone attempts to "fancify" soul food, it's disgusting and offensive, but, Art & Soul was a pleasant surprise that I did not see coming. 

The ambiance inside of this restaurant was everything that you imagine for a swanky, upscale, D.C., socialite-type of restaurant. It had a clear and open floor plan, low hanging lights, a chic color scheme, and it was well furnished.

We were seated at a high table near the bar (so my friend could watch sports, I mean, enjoy being in my presence), and one thing that stuck out to me was the fact that there was a huge, beautiful floor-to-ceiling mirror with silver sparkly trim to our right. In the reflection was nothing but us four and the beautiful restaurant behind us. It was a beautiful sight to eat brunch to...

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Now let’s get to the food. 

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I ordered cheesy grits with ham and bacon. This was a perfectly savory breakfast that was surely to stick to the arteries!

My friend got delicious lemon pancakes with mixed berries cooked into them. Now, the lemon flavored pancakes were good enough alone but with the mixed berries... it was simply amazing! If I get the chance to go back to Art & Soul, that will be my next meal. 


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Shake Shack

Next up, well after a nail shop, a farmers market and a very pleasant visit to Loc Luv, we went looking for a quick bite. What better place to grab a quick bite than Shake Shack?!

If you have ever been to the East Coast and haven't tried Shake Shack then you're totally missing out. It would have to be the best burger and fries combo that you can get. I ate it a total of 2 times in about 3 total days while in the food hub (Washington D.C.), so trust me when I say that this food is good. 


RPM Italian

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This was probably the best meal I've ever had.

No, I am not over-exaggerating! If you've ever been to Washington D.C. and had RPM Italian, then you'll agree, it's some of the best food you've eaten. Even a dish as simple as spaghetti is delicious! 

This location is definitely a more upscale one, but they are still willing to serve you as you are. Trust me, I rolled up to this restaurant on my long board with my friend, dying from the humidity of D.C. and they were perfectly fine with treating us as if we were dressed in our finest. 

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The atmosphere was absolutely marvelous. We saw everything from: casual long-boarders on a mission for good food and a romantic evening to couples celebrating anniversaries, to co-workers in desperate need of a drink after work. 

I more than enjoyed myself throughout this whole dinner. I enjoyed the company that I kept and I especially enjoyed the food. RPM provided me with a dining experience that I will, surely, never forget.

Here's what we ordered:

Truffled Garlic Bread circa 1963

Spaghetti & Meatball

Sautéed Broccolini

&

The Seafood Pasta Special

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And, for dessert, we had:

Vanilla Gelato

Delicious Beignets

Together forever  - Tati | Terry | Brianna J. 

Together forever - Tati | Terry | Brianna J. 

*Stock Images Used Throughout This Post*

XLI: But, Who Comes First?

We all have some type of hierarchy to our lives whether we notice it or not. There are inherent levels of importance that we place on the groups of people and individuals in our lives. 

Ideally, we would put our family first, right? I mean we came into this world knowing no one but them! We've grown up with them. We've been around them for years, maybe even decades depending on how old we are. Long story short, they've been there. They've seen us at our best, they've seen us at our worst. They were there when we won our first doubles tennis match, and our first varsity wrestling match! So, to me, family is first.

But, we may also have that one faithful, fun and loyal friend. This is a friend that is so close that they feel like family. So, where does this person fall in our hierarchy? 

And what about those cool people that we met at church who tell us that we are all family -- collectively, children of God? Where do they fall? 


All of this inquisition is basically a call for introspection. Sometimes we forget that family is family. We put people who were complete strangers before people that we've known our whole lives! We make plans with a family member and then completely cancel to, instead, be there for someone who was a stranger just a month ago!

Yes, we are supposed to treat others with respect and be kind, but, I do not think that translates to us putting them before people who put us first for years. 

Now, I too am a person who has become friends with someone, gotten accustomed to being around them constantly, talking to them daily, and, in being wrapped up in my exciting and new friendship, forgotten to call my parents daily like I had before, or canceled on a cousin or sibling because it had become easier to just meet up with this friend instead. But, because I've been on the receiving end of this before, I've become hyper-aware of the effect that this has on you when your family member completely forgets about you or flakes on you.

I say all of this to say that, I don't have the answers for those family members who don't deserve to be placed first in our lives, but I do know that, just becoming more aware of the simple fact that there are levels to our relationships with people will serve to keep us on our toes when dealing with those closest to us. This will help to keep us in check when deciding to visit that cousin who we haven't seen in months instead of spending the day lounging with a friend. It will also show your family members that they are loved and valued. 

You never know what could go wrong and when. Don't continue to put off your family thinking that they'll always be there. Pay more attention to the hierarchy of people within your life, and even take some time to re-evaluate it. This will help us further on our missions to treat others the ways that we want to be treated, and it will improve your overall relationship with your family members. Because, to me, family is  E V E R Y T H I N G.

Happy Monday!