Self-Love

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! 🎊🎊🎊

LXIV: Situational Self Worth?

I learned my self-worth long ago. No, it didn’t come from loving someone else. It didn’t come from being hurt by anyone. It came from being alone with myself.

I learned myself best while I was at my favorite park, running up and down my favorite trail that is a measly 2.1 miles coming and going.

I learned my self-worth around the year 2014. I learned that what I bring to other people’s lives is something that they don’t too often get. I learned that I am a type of loyal that many people cannot muster up the honesty to be. I’ve learned that my heart is huge if you’re ever lucky enough to get past the part of me that probably doesn’t even want to talk to you.

Honestly, I know that I’m flawed, but also know that I’m poppin’. I know that I am super impatient, but also worth whatever the wait is. I know that when I come into someone’s life, my goal is always to leave them better than when I found them.

SO THEN WHAT IS THIS POST ABOUT?

With each situation (whether it be a friendship or a relationship), you have to measure what that person gives against what you deserve to receive from them.

Situational self-worth is exactly that — making sure that, in each situation you’re pushed into, fall into, stumble into or put yourself into, the other person involved is giving you what you know you deserve and vice versa.

 If you both are empty cups trying to feed each other’s souls, you’ll both stay at the bottom where you’ve been. But if you have worked, over time, to fill your cup spiritually, emotionally, and mentally, then when you cross paths with that person who has as well it’ll be the perfect balance.

Where you lack, they’ll fill in. Where they lack, you’ll fill in.  

So this post is just a short note-to-self: in every situation you must measure; you must ensure that your cup is not empty; and, you must make sure that this new person is worth sharing the contents of your overfilled cup.  

Situational self worth is real. Check yours…

Know yourself, know your worth...
— Drake

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).

XXXVII: Have You No Shame?

Before I start this rant, I want it to be crystal clear why it’s happening. This is happening because I am sick and tired of seeing people smile to my face only to talk behind my back; I’m tired of people telling me how much they appreciate my honest nature and then crying about it when it’s a truth that they don’t like; and, I’m so tired of seeing you guys whose lives I’ve seen in person, live completely different lives on social media. So I guess this is for all of you insecure jealous types that have nothing better to do with your time other than TRY to tear other people down. I can assure you that if your life already sucks enough for you to be acting this way, then there are plenty of other things that should be occupying your time right now, no? 

Now, Lets Start Here:

I know who I am. 

It took me years to become comfortable with the fact that I'd rather tell the truth at all times, than lie and sugarcoat; I'd rather have my own style than follow what I see on television; and I'd rather 'be' as opposed to talking about being. 

A lot of people are still lacking in these lessons, and this results in them projecting their own insecurities about their many shortfalls onto those of us who know who we are. Now, for some reason, people nearest me have gotten me confused, lately, with someone who is willing to put up with their side-eyes because they settled (well, were settled for), and their snark comments because they'd rather lie and gossip about everyone and everything than just live happy freaking lives.

My advice to you guys is to learn yourselves... Cherish yourselves... Love yourselves... THEN, you won't spend your time trying to tear other people down. You won't spend your time giving your altered side of the story to your 'friends' who are too afraid to tell you the realities of your situation but instead just sit and nod in agreement with your bad decisions and lies. You all need help, you're all toxic and you should stay far away from me until you get the help that you so desperately need. 

Lets Follow That Up With: 

I know my worth. 

I watch a lot of you insecure types settle for way less than what you (possibly) deserve. You clearly don't know your worth! You're okay with being lied to time after time, you're okay with being the liar! You lack morals. You lack values. You lack substance and yet you want to squint your eyes in my direction as if you could honestly step to me on the same level. You simply cannot.

You want #relationshipgoals and #friendgoals with people that treat you like you're disposable. You're selling the perfect picture to all who will buy. News flash, I'm not! I get it when a situation breaks you down and you want a friend or a lover to change, so you put up with a little bit more than you should while that person, "does better for you". We all know that they will not change. You're not worth the change to them and that's why they did this to you in the first place! The quicker you can get that through your head, the better. Also, the sooner you'll realize that there are so many people in this world that you should NEVER settle for the one who cannot figure out how to treat you right the first time. 

I've been there and I know that taking care of me is much more important than that little piece of my brain that says that 'I don't want to be alone'. I'm sorry that you all listen to that little voice and choose to settle for the trash covered in flowers that you do, but that's not the case over here. I know what I want. I know what I deserve. And, I don't settle -- not with friends, not with lovers, and not with your side eyes. So, save those, and use that energy to learn your worth so that you can elevate your circle and quit lying about "#FriendGoals" that nobody should ever actually strive for. 

DO BETTER.

And, Let’s Finish With: 

I am not taking your crap. At all! 

Don't let the professional fool you. I’m definitely not taking any crap from people who don’t demand respect from everyone in their circle, who don’t respect themselves, and who don’t even know who they are, so if you fit into any of these categories, whether you admit it to yourself or not, stay out of my way.

I do not have the time, at this age, for toxic and enabling people like the above-mentioned. Y'all literally drain my energy. I'm mellow as it is, but you guys take me (the cynic) down. If that happens, then you should know that you're wrong!

Just know that I've been very nice for a long time, and I've let people disrespect me in an attempt to keep the peace and remain professional, but trust and believe, there are ways for me to demand respect and remain an adult about it. I'm definitely not keeping quiet anymore, so beware. 

Now, I feel sorry for every boy and girl that fits into the categories listed above but that empathy wanes when y'all start disrespecting people that have done nothing to you but are openly loving on and forgiving those who have done you wrong. 

Have some shame. Learn to value yourselves, and maybe your life will become the light that you already pretend it is.

In short, do better... to each other and to yourself.

VIII: What I've Learned, Thus Far, From 2017? (Part Two)

As we near the end of the year I find it benefits us all to reflect and more importantly, self-evaluate. What did I learn? What are the areas that I need growth? How can I better handle unexpected situations going forward? These were just a few questions I ponder before deciding to create this post.

For me, 2017 has but nothing short of a rollercoaster ride and throughout all the pain and joy I’ve experienced, I’ve learned a lot about myself and even adjusted my perspective on life. Here are just a few of the things that I chose to focus on:

Parenting 101

I’ve accepted the fact that there is no way to learn how to be a parent. There’s no rulebook or self-help guide that can mentally and emotionally prepare you to tackle the task of parenthood. As delicate as the lives of our children are, unfortunately, parenting is trial and error. You learn as you go. I think back to my potty training stages. I read several blogs, joined support groups and purchased books that were supposed to help me successfully potty-train my daughter. That was a mistake! All it did was stress me out. The authors were basically putting deadlines on when your child should have grasped the concept of using the bathroom on their own. There were schedules and intricate techniques on ways to get your child to use the bathroom. Luckily, I had my mother to guide in the better direction which was to let my daughter get it on her own. “Stop trying to force her and get yourself frustrated when she doesn’t perform like everyone else says she should. Society establishes these timeframes but you don’t have to ensure she follows suit. She’s a baby.” That’s what my mother would tell me. I was so overwhelmed with trying to train her, I finally decided to just let go. Let her get it on her own. She’s perceptive, she’s articulate, she will get it eventually and sure enough, she did. Slowly but surely, she would tell me she wanted to use her own potty and that she no longer wanted her “diappy.” So, I’m encouraging the parents out there to accomplish the child-rearing milestones in your own time. Be patient. Enjoy the journey with your child. Don’t be so hard on them, they’re children. I know there’s a lot of frustration that comes along with the job, but I’ve also learned to release the stress in the form of laughter. It takes less energy out of you in comparison to disciplining.

Sometimes, It’s just Over

“Stop trying to breathe new life into dead things”, a quote that resonated with me from Bishop T.D. Jakes. I am so guilty of trying to bring back things from the past, trying to relive them again, or trying making it work. You know, ‘make things how they used to be.’ Unfortunately, some situations and some relationships are just dead and over with. I’ve learned that, as hard of pill as that is to swallow, I have to let go. People and opportunities will continuously enter and exit our lives, and I’ve come to accept that as a necessary occurrence of life.

As it pertains to people, most come for a reason and a season – after that, they’re gone. Same with opportunities, they come and they go. The key is learning to adjust. Learn from that relationship or that opportunity, grow and continue to move forward. I have truly struggled with letting people go and trying to make things right or to make them okay, but I learned that it won’t be. That relationship/opportunity served its purpose and now I need to move forward. So, if you feel you’re continuing to entertain a relationship – be that a platonic or romantic, if it’s lingered a little longer than it should have, let it go. Move on and look forward to new possibilities.

Love Yourself

I believe that we are all out here in search of someone to love who will love us in return. I did discover however, that it’s impossible to love another properly if you don’t fully and unconditionally love yourself. I know I can be extremely hard and critical of myself. Not liking certain aspects of my appearance because someone else decided they didn’t, or feeling like a failure because I didn’t accomplish all I should have based on society’s rules. Or even, not liking like my own character or things that make me me, because someone else has continually condemned those things. I have also succumbed to allowing other people to use me as their punching bag because they don’t like themselves either. All that has done is tear down my self-esteem and self-worth. I wasn’t loving myself when I continued to tolerate emotional and verbal abuse. I literally had to check myself I had to learn to love myself enough to say ‘no’ and walk away from those situations. It was hard. We, as humans, get comfortable and we romanticize certain situations in the hopes of creating a better outcome than what we’re really experiencing. I had to literally tell myself, “No.” “No Nicole, you will not settle and you will not tolerate mistreatment. You’re going to love yourself.” I had to tell myself, “I love me” out loud, throughout the day. As crazy as it sounds, the more I said it the more I believed it. For the things that I didn’t like, it became a matter of accepting them or doing what it takes to change them. Under no circumstances was I ever going to neglect myself the way I had ever again. If you’re experiencing or have experienced similar situations, I don’t care who it was from – whether it be from a spouse, friend, family member, or whoever, just tell them “no.” Walk away and learn to love you.

As the New Year approaches, hopefully you all will take time to reflect and focus on those areas that we know require improvement. If nothing else, here are a few things I encourage all of you to do. Learn to be gentle. Be kind. Be patient – with not just others but also yourself. Run your own race. Love freely.  Experience new things. Learn to let go. Laugh often. Set your own timeframes for accomplishments. Most importantly, enjoy the journey!