Identity

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).

XLII: Blindspotting | BlacKKKlansman

Now, initially this was going to be a rave review of the movie Blindspotting, but then, my law school's Black Law Student Association went to see the BlacKKKlansman, and I decided that there was no way that I could NOT write about it. 

In my opinion, the BlacKKKlansman did everything wrong and Blindspotting did everything right. They might as well have taken the last 5-7 minutes of the BlacKKKlansman and made that the entire movie because, I promise, that would be better than the crap that I spent two hours of my life watching.

Now, there were some high points, and good lines to this movie, but the rest of the movie was filled with horrible awkward silence, bad "movement music" and characters that didn't quite curl over. I know that people are raving about this movie because it is controversial, but I cannot get with that as being the reason that we should rally behind it. Being Black these days is controversial, so give me a good movie if you want me to watch it just because its "controversial". 

Yes, it depicts the way things were, and, honestly, the way that things still are. Yes, it addresses racism on the home front. Yes, it shows the lengths that people will go just to hate the African American race. But, a lot more of what is does, is add fuel to the racist's fire. We are shown scenes that are supposed to open our eyes to injustices, but, we knew these things! They aren't a surprise, so all that they are when we see them on screen the way that they were put up is nothing but a trigger. It's fine to be triggered, but don't make a movie like this and say that it's for the movement unless you're referring to the racist's movement because, in my opinion, this movie is just a rule book on how to better HATE us (what names to call us, what ways to disrespect us, how to kill us, etc.).

These may just be my thoughts but: the message was amazing, and the delivery was whack. I am not a fan of the BlacKKKlansman at all. Maybe others who have seen it feel differently! Either way, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.


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Blindspotting

Written By: Daveed Diggs & Rafael Casal

Directed By: Carlos Lopez Estrada

Now, Blindspotting is a movie that follows two main characters, Collin (played by Daveed Diggs) and Miles (played by Rafael Casal). We watch as Collin tries to survive his last three days of probation alongside his eccentric and unorthodox best friend, Miles. 

The movie is centered around life in West Oakland in today's world. It addresses issues that many African American males face today. And, although this movie did not set out to cover as much as what the BlacKKKlansman attempted to cover, what Blindspotting did cover, was brilliantly done. 

Throughout the movie, we see a mix of the struggle of being an African American male in today's society; with trying not to further feed the stereotypes and stigmas that follow having darker skin; the struggle within an interracial relationship to keep your racial identity; police-involved shootings; and, post traumatic stress disorder. 

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The movie walks us through the day-to-day routines of Collin and Miles. We see Collin leave his apartment (if you can call it that), go for his morning run, pick up his best friend Miles, head to the corner store for a Green Juice, and then go to work. He lives out each day just trying to be as good as possible to avoid ruining his last days of probation (which keep in the county where he currently resides). After a long day out, however, Collin finds himself rushing back to his apartment to make it back before his curfew when he is stopped at a red light that seems to last an eternity.

As he sits and waits, he sings to himself, which was one of my absolute favorite parts of this movie (the random singing and rapping), and then, just as the light turns green and he begins to accelerate, an African American male runs into the front of his truck. He stops the truck and looks in shock at this man before noticing that the man is running from a police officer who is pointing a gun at him as he runs for his life. The officer stops running right next to the drivers window of Collin's truck and shoots the unarmed man 3-4 times in his back. He then looks at the frightened face of Collin for what feels like an eternity before running over to address what he had just done. Collin then rushes home and is visibly confused and angrered by what he just witnessed. 

We get a lot of laughs from this movie, but we also gain a lot of insight from it. There are so many one-liners that are so relevant, so necessary and so on point with everything going on today. This movie strikes the perfect balance of comedy and much needed information. 

Something that we see a number of times in this movie is Collin working hard to keep the trauma of what he witnessed, by no fault of his own, from controlling his thoughts, fears and emotions. It all comes to a head in three pivotal points in this movie: (1) once when Mile's son finds and begins to play with a gun on their living room floor, (2) again when Collin is finally fed up with Mile's antics resulting in an argument between the two after running from the scene of a fight (started by Miles), and (3) when Collin is finally in the face of the officer who shot the unarmed Black man, afraid, angry, raw, and ready. 

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MY FAVORITE PART(S):

When Collin and Miles are arguing about Mile's dumb decisions and it dawns on Collin that Miles is actually the "evil" that the cops these days are trying to combat...

The cops seem to be searching the streets and profiling men that look just like many African American men these days -- jeans, hoodies, sneakers, dreads/braids (... a fro or any type of hair with a kink to it). It made Daveed's character approach many instances by overcompensating and trying to be overly "normal" to avoid getting in trouble.

We watch him live a perfectly normal life, be a respectful man, work a job where he is belittled while watching the city that he loves being gentrified before his eyes and yet, he still does not get to feel as though he is good enough to be safe in his city. 

This scene is powerful because all of the work that he has to do to get a fraction of the respect that his best friend, who is white, gets is finally realized. He states that Miles "... is the N*gga that they're looking for..." and that it's not him, and I like that! 

We watch people of other races acting out and being excused over and over. We see it when we turn on the news, we see it when we go outside, we see it on our social networking sites and yet, when a Black man or woman does something wrong, the first things mentioned are what they've done wrong and everything they've done wrong in their lives. In addition to that, the number of Black men and women that actually get to see the light of day after a police encounter is few and far between, while we watch white men, for example, shoot schools and churches and walk out with a full police escort. The consequences for actions and treatment differences are insane and this movie shows it in many brilliant ways. 

A final favorite is definitely the one that goes along with this picture!  Miles, in another 'get money quick' scheme attempts to sell Collin's mom's old flat irons at a local beauty shop (shoutout to Tisha Campbell Martin), but has to prove that they actually work before being able to get the sell.  This was just another testament to the friendship shared between the two main characters. And, as big on friendship as I am, I appreciated their bond the most!

A final favorite is definitely the one that goes along with this picture!

Miles, in another 'get money quick' scheme attempts to sell Collin's mom's old flat irons at a local beauty shop (shoutout to Tisha Campbell Martin), but has to prove that they actually work before being able to get the sell.

This was just another testament to the friendship shared between the two main characters. And, as big on friendship as I am, I appreciated their bond the most!


Really I can't say much else except, GO WATCH THIS MOVIE! Get into the storyline, and more importantly, give this gem of a film more airtime. 

Many of us probably haven't even seen one ad for this movie! But, that doesn't mean that it is any less important. I beg and highly recommend that you get to the nearest theater still showing this film and show some support! The more you support, the more it will be offered on the big screen.

The brilliant minds behind the film, Daveed Diggs & Rafael Casal.

The brilliant minds behind the film, Daveed Diggs & Rafael Casal.