The Infamous Reputation of Forgiveness was a hit on the lets build website when I first wrote it in 2017. But talking about forgiveness was only half of the pie.

Recently, I discovered how I’ve conditioned myself to forgive in the absence of an apology; sadly, I had begun to no longer expect one. We are really bad at apologizing , let alone, asking for forgiveness when we’ve wronged someone. We Lean into the thought that the imperfections in another cancels out the need for accountability on our part. We close our connections by simply walking away and thinking “oh well“…convincing ourselves that the other person overreacted. The blind spots in our self awareness comes into play with us avoiding accountability, indulging in our pride, and yes, upholding the fear of vulnerability.

The number one answer that the builders gave to the question Why are we so bad at apologizing?

Pride and Ego.

Eighty Two percent of builders say their Apology game is STRONG.

Eighteen percent of builders say their Apology game is TRASH.

How is YOUR apology game??

If it takes perfection to activate your accountability then you will effectively escape apology often; you will also escape the ability to mature out of those imperfections.

The infamous reputation of (Apology)

Accountability is Uncomfortable

No one likes to admit when they’re wrong or when they’ve wronged. If we’re not careful we internalize apologizing in a way that tells us we’re bad people; when in fact we’re just flawed. But even admitting we’re flawed in specific ways is too much for some. While we outwardly proclaim that nobody’s perfect, we silently struggle with the lived examples of what imperfection looks like. The spectrum imperfection looks like apologizing and yet, not enough of us do it.

The spirit of pride whispers to us that whatever or whoever isn’t worth the apology. Saying “It’s not that deep,” in an attempt to diminish the situation at hand. This in turns diminishes the other person(s) whose feelings and thoughts were affected by our actions/words. The accountability of it all is a tough pill to swallow. Being face to face with the opportunity to apologize opens us up to some serious self reflection and the hard questions that surround those personal events.

Were you intentionally hurting, dismissing, disrespecting? Was it unintentional? Both questions along with your answers come with their own weight. Weight that many aren’t prepared to carry. It’s too uncomfortable when we think about the ways in which someone else has experienced us negatively. So we stuff down the thought that there’s even a need for an apology in creative ways that are not only harmful to the one(s) deserving of our apology but to our growth as well.

Imperfection Gives us an excuse

We deflect because accountability is uncomfortable; we try avoid it. Finding any excuse to dodge feelings of guilt, remorse, and regret; the easiest way to do this is to focus on the imperfection of the other person or the situation itself. Life doesn’t just cleanly happen, so we find ourselves often in situations where the other person may be wrong on some level as well. Factors surrounding the situation could also act as an influencer on the negative display of our actions/words and the need for an apology.

When we decide to take this morsel of truth and stretch it out in an elaborate excuse by saying “I mean I was wrong but they weren’t right either.” or “It’s really not on me because (insert outside factor)…We deny ourselves an opportunity to grow and yes, be the bigger person. We can acknowledge the facts of a thing and still hold ourselves accountable for the ways we participated and contributed to the final results. The results could mean hurting someone or mishandling a particular situation, person etc…If it takes perfection to activate your accountability then you will effectively escape apology often; you will also escape the ability to mature out of those imperfections. The blind spots in our self awareness may only come to light when others are negatively affected by our actions/words; if we don’t pay attention to this then we will never fully see the truth of who we are. Effectively being blind to ourselves.

Tip: When someone explains to you how they felt this is not an attack nor does it negate your apology. They could still be processing your apology and informing you on exactly what it is you’re apologizing for. You should not immediately go into defense mode.

The Naked Truth

To apologize often means we care enough about the other person’s feeling to bypass the pride, admit the imperfection, and don the accountability; this is also why I believe many don’t do it. We show we care on some level when we offer this mental and emotional work; we’re vulnerable in apologizing and sometimes not even asking for forgiveness. Ideally, we want to apologize no matter the person but some may find it easier to offer a “my bad” to a stranger than to a friend, lover, or family member. Holding back that part of us that is honest and transparent for the fear of truly being seen as anything other than what we present. If I’m always presenting myself as someone who is confident and sure of themselves then I may find it hard to admit that I’m wrong.

Others may see this simple human flaw as an opportunity to discount me in the future and deny the image I project for them to buy into. Fear drives so much of our avoidance even when we’re confident people; even when we feel self aware. I don’t want this person to know I cared that much or that I’m imperfect in that way. We’re afraid to be real although we claim to what nothing but realness. We have some work to do.

Well I messed up so bad I know she/he isn’t going to forgive me.

We’ve gotten into the habit of either expecting forgiveness upon apology or avoiding apology because we don’t expect forgiveness. It is imperative that we recognize that accountability is one of the most important reasons we should apologize and not always think this is a golden ticket back into good graces. This understanding can also be used to follow through with the act of apology too. Many factors may come into play with a personal apology. The person may still be processing your actions and their emotions. For this reason they need time to offer genuine forgiveness; they could be angry still, or may not believe forgiveness is something they can offer based on the offense.

That doesn’t give you the green light to opt out of the apology. I’m not talking to you serial apologizers who abuse the word and the action with repeated offense. For regular situations and non-maniuplative reasons, apology should be offered even when forgiveness may not be. Some hate the idea and phrase of “YOU OWE AN APOLOGY.”

As if you are in a debt that can only be paid in full by an “I’m Sorry,” but there’s truth there. You have cost that person something for those offended and affected by your wrong. It could be peace of mind, money, opportunity, trust; you name it by the offense. You are in a special kind of debt to repay what you cost them and sometimes the price of an apology is the cheaper way out than you deserve.

Sloppy Apology

Stop saying sorry for shit you’re not sorry for

Stop saying sorry for shit you’re not accountable for

And Stop giving half ass apologies then acting Fake shocked when the offended party gets more offended by your sloppiness

“My bad”

“You know I ain’t mean it.”

“It was just a joke, damn you’re sensitive but sorry then.”

Like WTF is any of that? Because I know what it’s NOT, an apology. Again, accountability is the secret ingredient in a sincere apology so if you’re not going to fully accept responsibility for your offense then don’t do it. The sloppy apology is a cheap way to continue the cycle of avoidance. Another attempt to excuse yourself by saying you tired to apologize but it didn’t work so the problem isn’t you. It’s all deflection because you’re not honest in your self reflection.

Time is also NOT an apology. Time can be a buffer and needed space to process through the emotions but it does not serve as a way to apologize simply because you’re choosing not to actually deal with the situation. How can you process through something you refuse to even acknowledge. This is the same reason why speaking on your part in the fuck up is important. You’re letting the person know you understand what your actions were and attempting to understand how they impacted another; accountability isn’t just for your personal growth but is the truest way to move forward.

Apologizing just to shut someone up is also not effective especially if the person can sniff out the bullshit. FYI.

Let’s Get Better at apologizing as we build up the skills of adulthood that makes us the best versions of ourselves.

Sis; (n) A person that needs to hear some real shit.

There’s an old country saying that lies deep within the black community.

“Sweep ’round yo door first, before you try to sweep ’round mine.”

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I can still smell grandma’s fire engine red nail polish as this statement rolled off her tongue like lightning. It took some growing for me to understand what she meant as I eased dropped on “grown folk bidness.”

She was simply saying this, fix your shit first before you try and fix others around you.

Gangsta shit granny. I knew I got it from somewhere.

It is easy to point out the flaws of other people and the damage that those flaws create but when was the last time you inventoried your own toxic traits?

I don’t mean to snatch edges but…..

Are you checking yourself? Are you truly holding yourself accountable for your actions; taking the steps needed to be emotionally and mentally mature?

 

Toxic Unaccountability

For months I’ve been stewing in the reality that my professional career, which was much like a family, took little to no notice of all the hardships and tragedies I faced during the past year under their gaze. I mean damn could I get a little compassion maybe. It became increasingly easy for me to call out a lack of leadership, organization and all other toxic traits that feed into a work environment so undesirable everyone’s face looks like this on a typical day…

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But once I added up everyone else’s faults, it still didn’t equal our professional downfall. It wasn’t until I could admit that I hadn’t been the best employee that I was able to forgive, move forward and grow.

Admitting that because of how grief and trauma affect the brain, I found it hard to focus on tasks for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Admitting that I had failed those under me in many of the same ways my superiors had failed me. Admitting that though I had understandable reasons for my dull performance, it still added to the very problems I complained too frequently about.

I started to wonder what toxic traits I possessed that feed into my displeasure with life.

 

Toxic Trait #1 Unrealistic Communication Expectations

Owning up to my flaws opened up a whole new understanding of many of the situations that left me slightly frayed. I began reviewing how I completely end communication once I feel as though I’ve said all that I have to say (that has backfired on me several times). Often, I usually only say what is comfortable for me to talk about and for the other person to hear. I don’t live up to the full honesty that I preach; instead, I leave the conversation with things unsaid. Expecting the very person/people who were bad at communicating in the first place to pick up the slack or suddenly become experts in deep conversation. How Sway?

So now I remind myself that while I’m great in communication in most areas, I need work in others. Allowing room for growth and making sure that I’m fully honest when I speak. In that way, I’m leaving nothing for the other person to pick up so if I chose to leave the conversation, I’m leaving it having done the very things I asked of them. I will no longer be a hypocrite.

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Toxic Trait #2 Mistaking my anxiety for a “temper problem”

Me: “My temper is getting worse and I’m not holding back anything, anymore.”

No baby girl, your anxiety has gotten worst  and you need to address that shit before you miss out on life.

For years I’ve struggled with what I can now identify as anxiety. Anxiety is nothing but fear of future events with another name. When I was 11 it was fear of going to school with hand-me-down clothes and dark-skin; knowing I’d be either bullied or overlooked. When I was 14 it was fear of not measuring up to societal ideas of beauty. When I was 23 it was fear of never breaking the wheel of generational poverty due to financial uncertainty and limited career options. Some days I’m 11 again. Some days I’m 14 or 23. Now at 28, I fear to lose those closest to me, I fear not being seen or valued. I fear the worse in people or situations before I give them a chance but I call it being cautious.

Yes, I’m snatching my own edges in this too!

I didn’t allow myself to admit that I was afraid because growing up there was no room for fear, you were either strong enough or you’d be eaten by the wolves in the classroom, in the workplace or in the dating world, even at home.

Becoming a Soldier only solidified my thirst for strength and denial of anything that wouldn’t make me seem brave. But admitting that I am afraid, ALL THE TIME, yet I still persevere  and reach for my dreams, is the bravest thing I can do. Letting go of the celebration of intrigue that surrounds female anger and instead, doing the work to address my anxieties has allowed me to accomplish goals at an alarming rate. I now do this…

ME: Why are you angry

me: Because things are so unorganized

ME: Why does un-organization make you angry

me: Because I’m afraid we won’t succeed

ME: So you’re afraid?…

me: Yes, I guess so

ME: How can we fix that?

Yes, having lengthy conversations with yourself can help you understand your personality in so many different areas including your flaws and strengths.

 

Are you checking yourself? Are you truly holding yourself accountable for your actions; taking the steps needed to be emotionally and mentally mature?

 

When you point one finger, you got three…

It’s always going to be easier to place the blame somewhere else because it frees you from the responsibility of having to fix it. It’s scary to throw your own self under the bus. I get it. Still, it is necessary for you to mature as a person. Of course, special cases don’t apply; there will be those who are so oblivious to their faults and reluctant to change even with all the knowledge and resources available.

I chose not to fight that battle so much anymore. I communicate my thoughts completely, honestly and leave them for consumption. I have bigger concerns at the moment because the more I do the work on myself, the more I realize that my hands are too full to even have a finger available to point at others.

 

Do the work, Fix Yo Shit

Today there are too many avenues that you can take in order to fix your shit. Researching your good and not-so-great traits help to give you a better understanding of them. Going to counseling is also another method I advocate heavily for because there are some things you need to talk about with someone who isn’t biased based on knowing you. Counselors can give professional insights and actively listen to you. Just doing something as simple as writing a mental or physical list of the improvements you should make will ensure that you stay on the path to becoming a well-rounded, mature adult.

Let’s build better personalities, mental health, and personal inventories!

Hey Builders! What are some of your toxic traits and how are you working on them?

 

Definition:

Sis; (n) A person that needs to hear some real shit.

It’s 7:05 am and my alarm sounds. Every morning I fight the urge to throw it, I knew it was coming. I knew because I became conscious 20 minutes earlier but kept my eyes closed. I knew that opening them meant starting a new day at a job I had begun to dislike and another day in a life I had no energy for. I am BURNT OUT and this is my journey; let’s talk about it.

Being burnt out in a job is something I am familiar with. I had written about it and even lived through it in smaller jobs that I had no real intention of staying at but this is a job I’ve been with for years. All I knew was love and passion in this organization that has seen me transition from a girl to a woman. It’s now seeing me transition from a star efficient employee to a burnt out husk that’s ready to quit at any irrational moment. We’ve all probably been there and back at this point in our lives.

Hearing someone is burnt out in their job is not at all out the norm, in fact, you can google articles about how most employees working outside their passion will experience it. What you don’t hear is that you can be burnt out in life. This includes every aspect like jobs, relationships, dreams etc…why does it happen?

 

Dig through the ashes and find the understanding you need. Reexamine the necessity of the things in your life that require your energy and give an honest answer on if you think those things are worthy.

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Where There’s  Smoke

Balance. Everything I read and what I innately know is that having a healthy work/life balance is important to maintaining in life but what happens when the life part of the work/life balance is unbalanced itself? Ideally, retreating from a stressful environment at work to a peaceful home life would counteract some of the inevitable damage from insatiable work needs. Ideally. What I found when I glared deep into my burnout was that it wasn’t just one area that had drained my energy but every area of my life. I felt like that meme of Oprah throwing out free shit; only I was throwing out my energy and time and the shit wasn’t free.

oprah

I paid the cost out of an already depleted reserve. I had missed something important in the process of healing and grinding. I had missed that balance is the key to staying sane. Despite all my self-care techniques used to uplift and restore my spirit; I was missing important people on the opposite side of the scale needed to properly balance it all out. I couldn’t restore myself alone. I can’t restore myself alone.

I take responsibility for my part in creating a world where I’m dominate and hell-bent on exceeding the expectations that come with that. But now, in a world where I’m expected to be Superman I need to ask for more time to be a regular ol’ Clark Kent? Hell I’d even settle for Lois Lane.

 

Fire Detectors

There comes a time when the debt has to be paid; I’ve been expending energy and fake interest/happy  for every area of my life on credit and now the bill is due. I’m bankrupt. See it’s not enough to acknowledge your issues with stress or emotional detachment but you have to find ways to release and uplift. I knew my problem but never found a solution; now I’m having no choice but to start from the bottom of my issues in order to fix them.

If I say I’m lonely then I need to figure out why and find creative ways to connect or have the uncomfortable talks with those I love. Just recently I told my mom that I didn’t come home anymore because it felt like a ghost town as soon I as entered the city limit of our small hometown. I’ve lost so many men inside those city limits that memories flood my car and drown me before I even make it to the top steps of my mother’s house.

That honesty brought understanding from her and new solutions that help to share the energy in our relationship. She came to see me the next day with flowers and just like that I felt a small surge charge through the husk I had become. Other conversations I’ve had didn’t necessarily “fix” the issue but shed light on a decision having to be made on whether to accept a drain on my being without help to replenish it or whether to walk away. Such decisions are sometimes necessary in order to fully restore you to the bright being you are meant to be.

 I couldn’t restore myself alone. I can’t restore myself alone.

phonenix

 

Phoenix

If you’re looking for a direct way to address your burnt out energy I don’t have the answer. Of course there are plenty of ways to give yourself peace and begin healing but restoring true energy, positive energy, to your life takes time. It will require a re-working of all the things the made you burn out in the first place. Dig through the ashes and find the understanding you need. Reexamine the necessity of the things in your life that require your energy and give an honest answer on if you think those things are worthy. Take care in knowing that we all get a little burned out sometimes but rehydrating our lives with the things that truly give back to us is how we sustain, endure and triumph.

 

MILLENNIAL LESSON: “You can’t Pour from an Empty cup.” -unknown

LET’S TALK BUILDERS! Tell me about your experiences with burnout and how you triumphed through it. 

 

Do you find yourself bent over your desk, struggling to keep your eyes open the Monday morning after a few days off from work? If you’re like me then I’m guessing your jobs have jobs. Days off feel like they’re strategically placed just so you have enough time to wash that pile of dirty, mildew-y clothes in the corner of your closet and prepare for the next days of work.

So getting an extended break from the job is like finding water in a desert.

But if you’re not careful you could end up feeling more tired and anxious the Monday morning after your hiatus, as if you spent the whole break paying homage to your college days by throwing back Jell-O shots until 4:00 a.m. Yet, the truth is far more geriatric than that because often we just scan our foggy brains trying to figure out why we’re so exhausted on the Monday morning after several days off.

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(True Story!)

Here are some ways you can maximize your God given time off and return to work replenished and rejuvenated as intended.

Sleep In

There are tons of articles that advise against sleeping in because it could mess up your sleep pattern for when you actually do return to work.

F*** it! IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL DAMNIT!

At least stay in bed an extra hour or two to lounge around with Hulu or a good book. Your natural alarm clock may wake you like a regularly scheduled program as soon as 7:00 a.m. rolls around; but don’t let that keep you from resting in bed for a while.

(For those without kids who have that option of course!)

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Because personally, once I’m up and out of bed it seems like time flies into a flurry of me doing shit that could’ve waited. Next thing I know I’ve spent a whole day NOT resting and can’t even remember what I did.

If you don’t train your mind and body to relax, be still and pace itself then you’re going to Energizer Bunny your way through all of your time off only to find yourself yawning in your boss’ face come Monday morning.

Ditch the Plan

Whether it’s going out of town to visit the boyfriend, spending time with family or trying to optimize alone time, I’ve found that over-planning the time off only leads to me feeling rushed. Days off are hard to come by and sometimes few and far-in-between but the truth is if you become anxious in keeping on schedule, off the clock, you will find yourself “working” to stick to a schedule on days that are supposed to give you rest.

It’s okay to want to optimize time off with doing some of the things you never get to partake in because of work. Going to a movie, comedy club, camping…you just can’t do it ALL.  Narrow your activities to the top two things you really want to do. Ditching a traditional or mental schedule can relieve stress and free up space for other fun activities like sleep! Free ball your weekend, vacay or holiday time off, you won’t be sorry.

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You Time

Whenever blessed with a few consecutive days off I often feel obligated to split my time into equal parts Responsibilities(doctor’s appointments, blogging, laundry), Family(babysitting, or a day with “Auntie” for my nieces/nephews) and Lazy Song Days(Netflix-ing and chilling until I eat every snack I own). What usually happens are the first two categories with little to no time left over for the actual “ME TIME” I was fantasying about all week.

YES…ditch the plan but if you MUST plan…include some “you time.” There’s nothing worse than sitting at your desk, with a hot cup of coffee you’re too sleepy to enjoy on Monday morning, wondering what the hell happen to all your days off.

So as you read this from your phone or computer screen at work after taking another five-hour energy shot just to make it through the day, remember that days off should leave you feeling replenished and ready for a week of Mondays. It shouldn’t feel like a week of Mondays fell on top of you once that morning alarm clock sounds.

Go From this…

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to this!

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Your turn Builders, how do you spend your precious days off so that you go back to work well rested? Comment below and Let’s Talk!

Sometimes the problem isn’t that you don’t set priorities, because you do. The problem could be that you don’t have enough of them to address the things you want in life or the ones you have are simply outdated and fit your current situation like a pair of too tight jeans.

 

Priorities can lose their effectiveness if done in haste and ignored once the ink is dry on that New Year’s list. Three months into 2018 and my priority list is all but null and void because sh*t happens and my priorities weren’t aligned with my realities, optimized in opportunities or adjusted for when life happens. By taking a look at our priorities we can make sure they’re working FOR us as hard as we’re working ON them. Instead of working hard over lackluster priorities, work smarter and be a boss when it comes to setting them effectively with these three things.

-Tailor Priorities to fit Realities

-Make the most of Unexpected Opportunities

-Readjust/Reorder Priorities Often

 

Tailoring Priorities to fit Realities

Just because you scribbled out a list of things you’re working to accomplish on an old piece of notebook paper, doesn’t mean that your priorities are reflecting your realities. They could just simply be reflecting your wants while ignoring your needs. If you place a priority like #1 Retire at age 40 at the top of your list while #25 Is pay off debts, then your priorities are out of wack. Stacking your priorities in the right order can help you accomplish goals faster as they account for your actual situation instead of your ideal one.

 

Making the most of Unexpected Opportunities

I love a good surprise opportunity.

What I don’t love is looking back on them and realizing I didn’t optimize the time and experience of the opportunity because I didn’t include my existing priorities within them. Or I didn’t adjust the priorities to fit the newfound reality of my situation. The opportunity has come and gone while my priority list is still the same sad list written on stale paper. COME ON…we can do better!

When you get an unexpected opportunity like a promotion, trip, raise or network connection; reassess how the opportunity affects your immediate reality so that you can prioritize accordingly. You may just find that one of your priorities has been completed so you can use your freed-up resources for the others on your list. Also, your new opportunity most likely comes with additional resources like time/money/networks that can help you check the boxes on the list of some of your other top priorities.

 

Readjusting Often

It’s important to make sure that your priorities are reflecting what you want and need; you can ensure this by readjusting your priorities often. Just because you put something as your #1 doesn’t mean you can’t drop it down to #3 once something else becomes more imperative to get done. The world is ever-changing and so are we humans, making your priorities a reflection of what’s most important to you is then expected to change often. Grab those priorities by the…uh, Never mind…just tailor, optimize and adjust to take control of those priorities like the BOSS you are.

 

How do you tackle your list of priorities? Comment below and Let’s Talk about it! #LetsBUILD

In the past 10 days I have been hit where it truly hurts…my pockets and my family. This one-two combo punch not only knocked me out in the first round but it sent me crying to every one who would listen. As a millennial there are few things worse than thinking you’ve outgrown your naive, ill-informed mistakes of yesteryear only to have it sneak punch you in the teeth when you’re smiling.

I was completely out of my element and subsequently completely out of character. This wasn’t just another millennial mistake. And this didn’t just feel like a set back but like life was telling me to GET BACK in my place because who did I think I was trying to be successful with good credit and goals.

Life VERSUS Me. I’m still standing damnit!

I was so emotionally and mentally drained to the point where writing felt like a chore as I wondered, how the hell can I ever write on the level of some of the more popular blogs when my life is a hot ass mess. I lost my mind by attempting to take on this mountain of hot ass mess on my own, while bottling up my emotions with no release or contact with the outside world.

My mind was reeling from the blow that life perfected just for that moment. The world lost all the magical luster that it had just a week before and sounds were nothing but dull annoyances. It took me a week and some change to begin feeling like myself again. But Alas! Here are some tried and true ways that I have found works for when the “It’ll all work outs” and “Just pray about its” offer little to no comfort.

 

GET OUT!

When we get hit with an unexpected blow to our ego, pockets, family or whatever it is we hold dear, the first thing we want to do is run for cover under the covers (literally). I don’t know about you but I want to shut myself in a room with blackout curtains, slip on my gray sweatpants and not shower for a week because what’s the point, right? WRONG.

…while it’s easy to shut ourselves off from the world after getting bitch slapped by life, it’s counterproductive to all the progress you’ve made when you attempt to bury your sorrows under the covers.

I was put in a situation where I was forced to be outside and interacting with others. At first the butterflies I felt in my stomach and chest were persistent but the more I faked laughed with my friends the more I realized that I wasn’t faking after a while and that, hey!… maybe life hadn’t ended on Thursday despite my incident.

Fresh air seemed to clear all the debris from my imploded mind and after a few days I was able to see myself out of a situation I had been sure was the nail in the coffin of my hopes and dreams. Point blank, take a walk, grab onto some sunshine, go to your favorite coffee shop. Go to places that remind you that life is still moving forward despite your setback.

 

Cry Yourself a River

I prided myself on only crying at sappy movies, during that time of the month or when something died and especially never in front of any man. But boy did I throw that notion into the wind when shit hit the fan. I cried on Thursday, twice on Friday, and late Saturday night into early Sunday.

We tell ourselves (or listen to other people tell us) that being upset and expressing those feelings is childish, ungrateful and annoying.

Yet, having a good ole cry session, I’m talking about the one with snot dripping down your face and you huffing so hard that you don’t even give a damn, yea that kind of cry, is needed. Say it with me, Cathartic. Crying releases a lot of the pint up pressure that you feel from your stressful situation and is honestly a healthy first step in you processing how to recover from your incident. So I cry…You cry…and WE cry Together.

 

Be Aggressive…B…E…AGGRESSIVE!

Sweat it out, punch it out, drive it out, find something to take out your frustrations on (just not a loved one). During my 10 days of hell I was able to drive huge, diesel up-armored military vehicles on the highway  and on winding paths in the back woods for miles. Commanding something so powerful allowed me to feel powerful and capable of dealing with the difficult things going on in my life. It did this without me actually having to think about the situation as the monotony of driving soothed my mind; while successfully distracting me. So find a boxing gym, go for a run, break some dishes…do something to express your anger and frustration in a way that won’t further harm you or anyone else.

 

Keep Talking

I bottle stuff up better than the coca-cola bottling company and I eventually explode like I was shakened up just before being opened at the wrong moment.

It’s taken a lot from me to talk about any issues I have because I don’t trust people to actively listen and care. It is, however, worth while to discuss your difficult issues with at least one person you trust; no matter how many times it takes. I cried and talked through my problem with someone I trusted every time I was hit with another blow from the Muhammad Ali sized issue.

 

My poor, sweet boyfriend only heard “Sniff, Cry, Cry IDON’TKNOWHOWIWILLEVERBOUNCEBACKFROMTHIS…Sniff, Cry, cry…HOWCOULDIBESOSTUPID…OMGMYLIFEISOVER...the drama was on level 10,000 and he handled it all like a champ. Sometimes all we need to do is give people the opportunity to be there for us in order to curve the feeling of having the weight of the world squarely, solely on our shoulders.

 

Functional yet Certifiably Insane

Congratulations! After you,

-Get out of your head and into the world

-Have a good cry

-Find an aggressive activity

-Talk it out

You won’t find yourself cured and your situation disappeared but you will feel better. Life can be overwhelming with its twists, turns, dips and sometimes, like a roller-coaster, you have your steepest fall just after your highest peak. So grab your tissues and head out to the park with a friend. Afterwards you won’t hear “Awww, it’ll all work out.” and try to convince yourself it’s true. At the end of doing these things you’ll KNOW.

 

What are some ways you cope with difficulties? Comment below and Let’s Talk!

#LetsBuild

 

OK. So BOOM! There I was in the middle of my crappy job having started a mutiny amongst my co-workers to the big bosses; all because I had a conversation about the amount I was being paid with another co-worker. I assumed they were making more.

All I heard over the roar of power tools and radio chatter was “KRYSTAL! Come here for a second!” The way my name had been called made me feel like an 8-year-old walking to my doom as my mother confronted me about her delicious candy bar I had eaten. Only this time my mother wasn’t around and I was a grown ass woman confused on why I felt like I was in trouble.

Boss: “Did you discuss how much you’re getting paid with anyone here?”

Me: “Yes.”

Boss: “Why would you do that?!”

Manager Bystander: *scoffs and twists up their nose at me*

Me: “I didn’t know it was a secret. They asked and I told. Was I not supposed to?”

Boss: “No, you’re never supposed to discuss money.”

Manager Bystander: “Yea you’ve never been told that?! Never discuss money or politics!”

Me: Naw.

Boss: “You’ve started a mutiny because you make more than them.”

Me: *stares unimpressed* “Oh.”

Exits stage left

 

Apparently there’s this unspoken rule that you NEVER, EVER discuss money. At that moment all I could think about is the random conversation that I’d had with the bystander about politics in which he was hell-bent on hating Hilary at the time but somehow talking about money was an issue…?

The sad part is I was only being paid $10/hr and my first thought was “SO WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU PAYING THEM?!” My co-workers had been there longer and were more experienced than I was. If they were starting to complain about how much they were being paid then it was long overdue.

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My Coworkers went to the boss like…

I was unimpressed with the hourly rate I had so anything lower than that would have been a deal-breaker for me. I inadvertently get people to demand more of themselves and their jobs but that’s a post for a later time.

Right now let’s discuss why the world sees money talk as a profane language.

 

What’s Done in the Dark

Not on the job. Not in the living room of your rich Uncle’s mansion. Not even while living in the cardboard box in the alley. The message we’re being sent is simply don’t discuss it. It’s uncomfortable, unprofessional. It’s none of your business.

YET, it’s by keeping the numbers in the dark that inequality is able to thrive in almost every aspect of business as it relates to money. Regardless of if it’s women being paid less than men. Brown people being paid less than Vanilla people. Brown women being paid less than EVERYBODY

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…it’s able to thrive because no one talks about what’s in their wallet.

I’ve always been open with how broke I am and not afraid to discuss it with others. Or so I thought. Until I found myself actively avoiding money related questions like “how much did that cost?” or “You must be making pretty good money.” Then a light bulb went off because I realize now that what steers us clear from discussions of money is fear of judgement.

We don’t want to be held accountable based of our $$$.

We don’t want to be pitied based on our lack thereof.

We don’t want you to price check every purchase based off the understanding of our financial situation.

We don’t want that negative judgement that comes with having money or not having money.

The crazy part is by keeping our money issues, anxieties or celebrations on the hush, hush we often miss out on deep conversations that could be a milestone in our lives and in paving the way for others.

Case-in-point? What’s one of the top reasons that couples get divorced?

Money.

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Balance, No Balance…Balance

If you’re making a little more money than people around you are used to then you are familiar with hearing “Boy let me hold sumthin’, you big money now!” OR “Everybody ain’t got it like you do.” This could lead to a feeling of disconnect and unwillingness to share in money-related discussions as people assume you have it and life is good.

The truth is usually that you are making just enough to not be wholly considered broke but not enough to “Let them hold sumthin.” So you don’t discuss money because having a little extra is often expected to be shared in your circle and not for personal enjoyment in the form of a nice dinner or trip out-of-town.

Growing up around those who only express money issues and go radio silent around tax season has led many of you to distrust discussions of money with family and close loved ones. Also, the fear of being judged for enjoying your new-found money causes you to *Exit Stage Right* whenever your Great Aunt Cheryl starts loudly complaining about her bills for the month at the family gathering.

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Great Aunt Cheryl: “Lord, I don’t how imma pay that light bill and you know Walter ain’t get his disability check. We just got a letter in the mail saying our insurance going up and I need to get my medicine for this gout on my right toe but I’m sure glad to be ’round family. Some of y’all doing so good for yourself…”

 

Broke Back Money

Truly being broke comes with its share of embarrassment. You don’t want anyone to know your struggle so you act like money is no issue.

“You’re blessed to even have a job” you tell yourself as you stave off the itch to ask for a raise or require a family member to pay for work you’ve done for them.

Us women do this a lot.

We don’t want to be seen as problematic, desperate or dependent.

With less than $20 in the checking account, no direct deposit in sight and bills just over the horizon the last thing you want is the judgmental, pity face from those who look up to you or depend on you.

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You shower your friends with excuses on why you can’t attend brunch or tell your family you don’t feel well enough to attend that birthday party instead of admitting to them that you simply don’t have it. Bending over backwards to cover up your money issues only ends up breaking your back and your wallet.

 

Know Your worth

Us millennial are familiar with the endless sea of articles that tell us how worthless we are. No…literally. At the rate we are going most of us will likely die with a negative net worth. The culprit? 1.4 Trillion dollars of student loan debt. Here’s where I’ll make it personal and be transparent in an attempt to connect with you. Right now I make a decent living; working two jobs (looking for a third) and braving the road of entrepreneurship is no easy feat.

I pay my bills on time (most of them) and I try to do something big for myself at least once a year in the form a trip so that I don’t go crazy. I fight the urge to leave it all behind to go live in Tuscany like that lady in that movie because even when life is unicorns and rainbows I still feel the weight of my $40,000+ student loan debt.

I’m constantly having to choose between quality of life and financial responsibilities all because I started off into adulthood coming from a low-income background and had the audacity to want to further my education.

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“I put myself through school and worked a full-time job” Yea, well Grandpa Ricky-Bobby, I’d have to work 200+ hours a week to keep up with tuition and to graduate without debt; I don’t think my boss would go for that.

 

But instead of telling my partner why I am such a stickler for saving and money handling in general; I let him suffer thinking that I was a crazy person. The truth is that every dollar I make feels unreal because I know that I am working myself out of a hole big enough to fit a mortgage and new vehicle in. But because we don’t discuss money our debates would seem like I was bitchin’ about a Wendy’s 4 for $4 over a $7 baconator combo when what I really was saying is “I GOT MONEY BUT I’M BROKE N****, I’M BROKE!”

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I couldn’t talk to my family about it because I was their beacon of light. I was “The one they didn’t have to worry about.” I was the one that made it out. And I couldn’t talk to my friends because in some financial form they were or had been getting help with their debt. I was on my own I told myself. I would die having worked all my life only to leave my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren with nothing.

How depressing is that?! I finally got over myself and opened up to my boyfriend about my anxieties. We had the “MONEY TALK” and got a better understanding of how our personalities, realities and experiences play a part in how we handle the green. Better yet it took a weight off my shoulders and allowed me to see possibilities of getting out of debt within this actual lifetime.

 

Bank of Knowledge

Imagine if we openly discussed money…

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No, No, No…that wouldn’t happen but a lot of people seem to focus so much on all the reasons you shouldn’t discuss money and none of the reasons of why you should.

Imagine young adults having a better understanding of how to open a checking/savings account in a bank or taking on student loans because they discussed it with parents or received a money management course in school.

Imagine that inequality in pay among women and men were seriously addressed once people start chattin’ about their paychecks in the break room over coffee and doughnuts. Dave from accounting is making $4.00/hr more than Jessica but she will never know this because money is never to be discussed; especially in the workplace.

Imagine couples having a serious discussion about money management and debt before the I dos.

Don’t shout your account balance from the rooftop…that’s not at all what I’m trying to say. My point is simply this…

Having the Money Talk with those who you trust and will likely be actively managing money with in the future is important. It is also important to encourage others you’re around to actively seek rightful pay from their contributions and performance.

Money doesn’t have to be vilified but the way we approach it should.

 

Does talking about the green make you uncomfortable? Have you had the “Money Talk” with a loved one? Let’s Talk about it, Comment below or Share. 

#LETSBUILD

 

 

 

 

 

Birthdays are celebrations that bring out the best in you regardless of if the previous 364 days of the year in your life have been lackluster.

But is it me or am I aging a bit too fast?

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The 28th of January is approaching, and I have all the details of my special day planned out. Get cute. Get Drunk. Eat buffalo wings.

What I’m not prepared for, however, is the infamous birthday question from bystanders and waiters “It’s your birthday??!! Happy Birthday! How old are you?” My answer will be 25. I’ll let you be the judge of this seeing as how I was born in 1991.

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Here’s why transitioning from my early twenties to mid-upper twenties is a bit painful…

 

I just started to enjoy this party!

Realizing that you’re getting older in the not so monumental way is a real buzz kill and I really was just starting to enjoy this party! Throughout my relatively young life I have stressed and worked my a** off just to have a chance to dance with the cute guy by the dj booth, so to speak. My self-esteem was poor, and my personal outlook on life was poor. Hell, I was poor.

And after all the hard work that I put in so that I could be successful in my life, I look back now and realize I wasn’t really present. You could stick a blowup doll in place of me from age 10 up until age 26 and no one would know the difference. I was so focused on planning and preparing for a better future that I wasn’t really living in the moments that made up my twenties.  I checked out of my life after feeling unworthy and unsatisfied only to recently check back in and realize “Holy Sh*t where have all my twenties gone?!”

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In short, I really just started to enjoy life as fully embracing myself, and feeling as though it’s okay that I don’t have everything figured out. I just became self-assured and another birthday is just a reminder of all the time I wasted of my twenties chasing after guys, stressing over finances, and being anti-social. So, for right now I’m like the drunk, messy girl at the party who’s begging the dj to play another song even though it’s 4:15 a.m. I don’t want to go home and face reality.  I’ve been holding onto 25 with this same zeal since two birthdays ago.

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That Plan Sucks

Another birthday approaching is like the New years eve count down to my thirties. That is the age range in which much is expected of you in terms of financial stability, professional career and a balanced home life. 33 is the age that I want to settle down and have kids (at least that’s what I told myself at age 18).  Young me came up with that mental plan because 33 seemed so far away. Now the shit is practically knocking on my door like a Jehovah witness at 8 a.m. on a Friday.

I’m not saying that things will work out that way, which would suck if they didn’t but it still would kinda suck if they did. If my plan to be married with kids by age 33 is accurate then that gives me only 6 more years of freedom. I’m not sure it would even be legal for me to take care of another human being seeing as how I am barely taking care of myself properly. I overfed myself yesterday and forgot to feed myself today. A husband has no chance, let alone, a kid.

 

Pull My Finger

 

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I’m still childish. At some point all the quirky, child-like things that make me, ME will stop being adorable and I will promptly be told to “Grow TF up Krystal” when I pout over not being able to watch Spongebob instead of Law & Order. I think I have about a year and 1/2 left of the “puppy dog eyes” effect that I use to get my way and then it’s all over. I will go from being the “cool girl” in the club to the “older chick” in the club. Never mind that I don’t even go to clubs or was ever considered cool.

 

Mother’s Annoying yet, accurate Advice

“Getting older is a blessing” BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.  (See told you I was childish) but she’s right as moms usually are. Despite all the anxious feelings and thoughts floating around me this week, I do realize how amazing it is to be able to not only turn another year older but to celebrate it with people I love in a big, extra way. Don’t sign me up for AARP just yet! This plum is still ripe.

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Getting to the point where you can honestly say that you are actively enjoying life can bring up the fact that you’ve been passive in life years before; but don’t allow that to deter you from celebrating in the now. Don’t waste anymore time crying over birthdays; instead, go do ratchet sh*t with your friends until you hear the judgmental tone from the young 20-year-old in the corner tell her friend “Oh my God, I hope I’m not a hot mess like that when I’m older.”

Just Kidding.

Push her down and continue partying.

 

What are your anxieties about aging? Comment and Let’s Talk

#LetsBuild

 

My favorite part of when people come over is when they leave. (Ha) I’m only half serious.

There’s something soothing about having a place in this world where you can escape the questions, expectations, pleasantries and clothing (nudist apartment anyone?) But it took me a while to really understand the value of physical space for the welfare of my mental and emotional health.

Not every situation is the same; so I fully understand people who have pleasant experiences staying with parents to save for the future but let’s give a voice to another side to living with the folks to save a buck, shall we?

Here’s some advice about not taking advice.

Golden Shower Advice

The mounting financial hardships we young adults face today, due to choices stemming from financial background or plain ignorance comes with a host of advice that is showered upon us from all directions. While some of the advice is rooted in sincerity, sometimes it doesn’t quite fix the situation of the individual listening to it. Sometimes those golden showers of advice just stink up the place like, well…like a golden shower.

Is that asparagus I smell?

 

Why did the chicken cross the road

Moving back in with parents after getting slapped in the face by the financial world is one of the more popular pieces of advice.

This of course is the logical choice for those who have it. Moving in with parents can definitely help you save money and give you time to get on your feet when done correctly.

However; I find that the logical choice often negates the mental and emotional one. As a society we value logic over all other personality functions and this leaves out a big chuck of what an individual may actually need. Could it be that the answer to “Why did the chicken cross the road” isn’t as simple as “because it needed to move back in with it’s parents to save $$.”

Is it possible that moving into an environment that no longer stimulates you is more harmful than not?

 

Money is the least of your issues

I’ve stated before that my relationship with money is toxic in nature. It doesn’t want me the way I want it and yet I still dress up nice, put on perfume, and try to be obnoxiously nice in my pursuit of it.

Usually I just find myself outside the window looking in.

So when I got a little money I was afraid to spend virtually any of it outside of food and buying my car once I returned home. In my mind it was better to save money staying in my parents house than to dip into my beloved, scared savings. No matter how long my unemployment spell lasted.

It wouldn’t be that long of a wait anyway with a degree and being a Soldier recently back from deployment; there was a wonderful job waiting around the corner, ready to pay me the big bucks right…RIGHT?!

Wrong

I had made a logical choice knowing damn well I’m an emotional person. Living in a rent free household, waking up to Saturday breakfast and being around people who truly loved me was a blessing. Wasn’t?…Yes, it was.

Until it wasn’t. Or was but no longer felt like it.

Having to deal with my own complex emotions on top of those of family members; having to deal with my own financial anxiety and troubles along with the ones of those I loved.

Having no quiet environment I could escape to

(as an introvert, can you imagine)

no privacy

(Dad can you knock HELLOOO)

Being dubbed the babysitter and transportation provider only added to the stress level I had no idea how to handle. What is the price for a peace of mind and having your own space in a world that crowds your every thought with uncertainties.

What is the price of your own mental wellness and sanity?

Just something to think about.

 

This can’t be life

I started having fits of incredible insomnia.

I was going through a quarter-life crisis like mentioned in an earlier post The Ghost of Crisis Past but also dealing with issues, deaths, and arguments within my family. I had become known as the confidant, the protector, and escape hatch from years earlier to my family. But this was different.

Back at those points I had space, and distance that helped me replenish myself and then pour good things back into my family. This was not possible while living home so I became resentful and withdrawn. I thought, this couldn’t be life and it didn’t have to be…I had just convinced myself that the logical financial choice trumped my mental/emotional wellbeing.

 

Do the Insane to Stay Sane

Slowly, I started changing the way I saw my options. That maybe it wasn’t enough for me to make logical choices like most other people because my logical choice landed me in an environment that drained me.

It made more sense for me to take into account my personality instead of removing it from the equation. The truth is mental health and emotional stability are discarded as if they’re not important when older individuals call themselves giving advice to younger adults. Being convinced of this advice was like trying to squeeze my size 9 problem into a size 5.

 

My feet needed more room so I moved the f*** out. (I have big feet) No roommate to split the bill or anything. I finally had enough quiet to listen to my loud ass thoughts without having to listen to others. Selfish?…maybe. And maybe selfish works. Space and peace were worth the money in rent because it all allowed me to figure out the next steps in my life. Which in turn led to more money.

 

Giving yourself physical space can lead you to creative, mental and emotional milestones. Don’t be afraid to say “F*** that advice, imma do what’s best for me.” I said it before and I’ll mention it again; sometimes financial stability happens once you stabilize other areas of your life.

Whether it’s living with your parents, roommate or weird Craig’s list roomie; make sure the mental/emotional truths don’t counter the financial gain. The same is true for all other supposed advice millennials receive for our host of issues; take that shit with a grain of salt because ultimately, you know what works best for you.   

Now when I get unwarranted advice I just escape to my lair, kick off my pants seconds inside the door…

and pretend the outside world can’t come in unless it knocks (You will learn TODAY Dad!)

 

#LetsBuild

 

 

Saying Naw, Nope, Uh uh.

Saying No.

Is Hard AF for me.

Instead I’ll say: “Uhhhh, well….maybe…I think I could. Possibly…” Knowing damn well I don’t want to because I effectively have all my money and time planned out weeks in advance. And because people usually solicit from those categories; I always find myself in a bind. With my mouth saying Yes but my mind screaming…

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The problem is there were no sacrifices that went unmade when it came to my mother and sisters giving me everything they could.

How could I justify saying no to them or anyone just because I didn’t want to do it or give it when they never said no unless they didn’t have it to give.

The women in my life are the epitome of selflessness so I naturally thought that this is what I should be like in all things. Because isn’t that what they teach you in the bible after all?

So what was wrong with me to have the itch to say no that I couldn’t scratch without feeling like a dirty person.

No one ever showed me a healthy balance of self-care and selflessness so I wandered through life saying Yes or giving bogus excuses because I desperately wanted to say no.

The message I was given was that you shared everything you had (except my mom’s chocolate World’s famous candy bar with the nuts in it that I ate that one time; it was NOT meant to be shared apparently, SORRY MOM!)

Time, money, attention, clothes, food… you name it, you share it.

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Boss: Would you mind switching days off because of blah, blah, blah

Me: Sure! (even though I had planned to see my boyfriend out-of-town that weekend)

The message that I’ve uncomfortably stumbled upon after years of pulling my teeth to always say yes is that sometimes always saying yes or giving is not practical.

It certainly was not practical for me to give valuable resources like time and money while trying to get on my feet in my young adult life, to things I didn’t benefit from. It especially wasn’t practical in giving when I barely had or giving before I could enjoy it myself.

One thing I’ve realized is that in order to propel the next generation of my family forward I must break the cycle of saying yes without thought.

Saying yes or I’ll see (that turned into every best effort to provide it for each other) is the natural order of my family. I LOVE it. AND…I HATE it. I’m the oddball that felt compelled to say no in certain areas.

But here’s why I do it now without feeling like a shitty person…

 

Reason #1

My plate runneth over.

My schedule is actually more planned out than I get credit for. This includes working two jobs, blogging, grocery shopping, laundry, taking care of my kitten, remembering to feed myself and yes, down time.

Aka Adulting which is hard AF

I have no room to do X,Y and Z for LMNOP without cutting myself short in one of the above areas.

People assume because I don’t have kids or a husband that I have free time.

While I have more free time outside of others in this situation that doesn’t mean that it’s not importantly planned. Even if that plan includes catching up on sleep or writing my blog post. Often times it includes both of those things because I need to revive myself with some TLC before I can continue to conquer the world.

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So yes, I may choose to spend a day or two with myself instead of driving home and spending my entire day off running after my adorable nieces and nephews.

I use to feel like an awful person, Auntie, and Sister for this until Christmas came around and I was able to get them what they really wanted due to my savings I worked hard for and thanks to time I spent rejuvenating between jobs.

Don’t misunderstand me, quality time has no price tag but I don’t have to feel bad for not spending all my free time like I use to.

Plus, one day I will have a family of my own  so I want all the maximum ME time I can get before it’s stolen from me and replaced with the title of mother and wife.

Sis: Are you coming to visit on Friday? You’re off right?

Me: Naw. Imma just chill at home.

 

Reason #2

I don’t want to.

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My friends (and boyfriend) tell me no all the time and I’m fascinated with the ease of how it rolls off their tongue.

No, Krystal I am not going camping with you.”

“No Krystal I’m not showing you that.”

“No Krystal, I’m not eating that, it smells bad; what’s wrong with you?”

So now I think twice before just saying yes just to say it. I first ask myself, Do I really care or does this interest me?

Then, is this worth time/money? Do I have something I’d enjoy more? How will this effect the other things I need to do?

After asking myself these questions in the span of 2 seconds from the time my friend asked me to drive 2 hours to party with her; I can then say “No, but thanks for asking me.”

Without feeling like she or I are losing out on anything important.

Simply put, saying No frees up valuable space for a possible Yes to something better.

It’s all a balancing act.

 

Reason #3

The”Yes” constantly requires more work on my part

If I have to give up time, money or energy constantly by saying Yes to situations (or persons) in which I don’t benefit from at all; then I will reconsider that Yes and turn it into a firm NO from that point on.

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Reason #4

I need a chance to grow and say Yes to my own life.

Years ago, months ago; I use to feel ashamed at how much stuff I felt compelled to say no to. It got to the point where me attempting to say no only resulted in a reluctant yes filled with animosity, anxiety, and self-hatred because I felt like I was a selfish person who didn’t deserve my loved ones.

Now that I’m months more mature (Ha) I realize that it is necessary for me to say no to certain things in order to place myself in a position to say Yes when it can be truly effective.

Right Now…

Niece: Will you buy me an Iphone?

Me: You got Iphone money? (Black mother/aunties way of saying no)

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Future…

Niece: Will you help me get a car

Me: Yea, I got you. I’ve been saving up for this moment.

 

The hardest people to say no to is family. Personally, I often feel as though I owe them for any success I get due to their constant love and support. This is true. But in allowing myself to grow and climb before I “yes” them to death; I can actually build up something in which the Yes will change the course of our lives.

Financial liberation often comes once an individual learns how to care for themselves emotionally and mentally. Taking the time to do this for myself will benefit not only me but my loved ones as well.

 

ALWAYS saying Yes is not the equivalent of I LOVE YOU.

I have a small suspicion that most women say yes because they want to be viewed as kind, nurturing, and selfless. Most importantly, we use it as a way to show our love to others. So we give yeses away without regard to how we’re going to sustain ourselves. I’ve struggled with this mentality and I’m sure the woman in my life have too.

Self Care versus Selflessness.

Saying yes to please someone you love or make them happy is often necessary. In life you’re not going to just go through it only doing what benefits you; however, you should understand that saying no doesn’t mean you love them less.

Sometimes it just means that you love yourself enough to say yes to the things that you want and need even if it translates as a “No” to the spin class your sister signed you up for on Monday night. Your mental health prefers that you stay in bed watching Supernatural and eating a bowl of rocky road.

No judgement.

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I want to leave you with a quote:

When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself

-Paulo Coelho

or at least not too often.

Just as we budget our money in the New Year after a realization that we can only make that dollar stretch so far; we should also budget ourselves. You’re a limited, beautiful, hot commodity. Treat yourself as such.

 

*I want to give you free stuff! Don’t forget to enter my gift giveaway by commenting on or sharing your favorite Let’s Build post*