The thought came in the shower; the birthplace of all great ideas.
One of my bucket list dreams is to take a vow of silence for at least three months during my lifetime.
I know that this is something that will have to happen in my future as my job is ALL about talking. Still, the small voice in my head encouraged me to take advantage of the current pandemic and social distancing by trying it out for a day.
Now, I must admit that I’m not a talkative person. Most people would tell you that I am an introvert as well. As an introvert talking can sometimes feel draining. These realities of my nature made me a little cocky when it came to taking a vow of silence for 24 hours.
But here’s what I learned…
I talk a LOT…
To myself. The few times I slipped up came from talking to myself. I already knew that the best conversations I have are solo ones but DAMN sis, I didn’t know I was this much of a Chatty Kathy until I couldn’t use words.
There’s a smooth transition between my solo thoughts and words so at least twice throughout the day I found myself accidentally talking to myself. Words escaped before I…
I did notice an increase in my creative mental space.
Whether it be ideas or in depth conversations, my inner voice was louder.
Music is dangerous
Music was also a challenge. It was easy to get lost in the vibes and wanting to sing along. I didn’t slip up though, I simply turned the music down or off.
Pets are also Challenging
My cat Spirit doesn’t need to talk to show what she wants or how she feels yet I still found myself wanting to talk her little ear off. I thought about how I use words to communicate with her often, asking if she’s hungry or if she wants to go outside. Even doing baby talk “I love yous.”
In this case, I needed to learn how to be more like her and convey my emotions without words.
She’s saying she missed me here…
Made me aware that we are reactive to words
How many times have you found yourself speaking to someone in passing without even thinking about your words? When people approached me and extended words I had to stop myself from shooting back the “heys” and “how ya doings.” I tried to have my cards on hand but in formal interactions like grocery stores it was a little awkward having the clerk read my flashcard. To say the least they were not impressed…
it still was better than having them talk to me while I stood there silent.
Also, simple interactions weren’t something I thought about. Men holding the door open and not being able to say “thank you.” I hated thinking that he must’ve thought I was another uptight, bougie ***** but I had a hand full of groceries and no note card that simply said Thank you. I also had to consider neighbors in passing shooting off their greetings and me instinctively almost giving one back.
The Experience Overall
The entire experience helped me to zone in on my thoughts and emotions. I didn’t do it perfectly but it was good training for my eventual bucket list dream of not talking for three months. I did still allow myself to talk with friends via texting and Instagram but I sent messages to let them know my mouth was on lockdown for the day.
I wanna place myself in more challenging situations and interactions because I think this is a great way to build up my weak willpower. I plan to try it out again in the near future…maybe two days this time. Stay tuned.
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I didn’t raise my voice too loud or ask too many questions. I didn’t probe or pry even when my curiosity wanted just a taste of the truth. I was always nurturing. Always ready to fix the broken thing. My flat chest would swell with pride whenever I heard someone refer to me as “the good girl.” I knew it would mean that I was revered. It meant that more effort would be put into the pursuit of me. It meant I was special.
What I didn’t know was that it would be a cage, a trap, and a way for others to not see the full spectrum of me as a woman. Years ago I killed the idea of myself as a “Good Girl,”
and it has been the most freeing decision of my womanhood.
You played yourself
I played into the idea. I wasn’t particularly voluptuous or well-dressed, but I could be good. I could people please until everyone fell prey to my kindness. I tried on the label like makeup, thinking it would enhance me in some way. I found that the act of being a good girl helped to place me on a pedestal in the minds of boys whose attention I was desperate for. It also meant that I would have a longer distance to fall once they realized I wasn’t perfect. I allowed myself to be trapped in the ideas that other people had of me. This meant that cursing was not acceptable; modesty in the way I dressed was expected, and I always needed to be gracious even when wronged.
But ooooooohhh Chile, I got real tired of feeling like a couldn’t stretch the length of my personality, thoughts, dreams, and desires. And I realized that CONGRATULATIONS I had played myself all those years that I performed as the “good girl” because I was so much more than that label. I’ve allowed myself to be defined by a phrase that never captured the truth of who I am.
Peeling back the layers of the mask to reveal my truth underneath it has been shocking for many. I say FUCK now. A word that so clearly captures my mood but one that I just allowed myself to write and speak. I wear clothes many people think of as scandalous and I feel powerful in my sensuality because of it. I am not a “good girl.” I am the best contradiction you could ever hope to experience. Mellow and fierce. Shy and sensual. Soft and powerful. Trap yet contemporary. Introverted but assertive.
Most of all…I am a real ass woman, with real ass needs, wants, dreams, and feelings.
I shed the good girl label like a bad wig because there is no box that could hold the magnitude of my existence.
Take a STAB at it
The first stab came with my assertiveness. The second with my opinions. The third with my self-awareness and actualization. No one likes a mouthy “good girl” who challenges things and knows herself well enough to know that “good” and “girl” don’t come close to describing who she is.
I am a former “Good Girl” who has found power in my fullness.
To all my “Good Girls,” FREE yourself, kill that b****!
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My greatest moments were born from my greatest discomforts.
I’ve been pushed, pulled, and dragged into situations that I felt ill-prepared for and totally blindsided by; yet it’s those moments where I had to dig deep within myself that I discovered what I was made of. I am a combination of glitter, warmth, creativity, and boss shit.
Having to be uncomfortable, on my own, in situations that required me to perform has been some of the best life lessons I’ve experienced.
Many people prefer comfort. Hell, even I love a good, solid routine that doesn’t kick up the dust of my anxiety. Needing discomfort is a real thing though. It is a necessity that doesn’t feel so great in the moment but does the most good for our growth.
Growing in a hard place allows you to rely on your natural abilities unlike a comfortable place. With comfort comes resources and assistance. With discomfort comes self awareness and reliance. Being pushed to know what your capabilities are, your strengths, your skills, your weaknesses are all lessons learned through discomfort. Reflecting inward to discover your internal resources is a gift that will continue to benefit you across all environments.
There’s so much growth in your discomfort. You learn yourself more when you’re not settled into a comfortable routine that encourages stagnation.
Discomfort can be growth.
Discomfort of nonconformity
As a natural outlier, discomfort is a part of my day to day life. The same is true for many of you. This discomfort of never quite fitting in or being what others expect has led to the revelation that I often seek acceptance as a people pleaser. I want to be liked. I want to belong. The topic question:
“What have your greatest discomforts taught you about yourself?”
Allowed me to dig deep into other people’s brains and discover even more ways that discomfort has been a teacher in my own life. One response centered on nonconformity. Naturally having a personality that can seem too much or too little for the majority. You make attempts to dull yourself down to make who you are palatable. We want acceptance.
Yet, how can we form true friendships and relationships if like an iceberg we’re only revealing 20% of ourselves. I understand the need to stuff down parts of you not meant to be shared with the group but it’s a fine line to walk. Hiding who you are in advoidance of others being uncomfortable just means you aren’t accepting who you are just as they aren’t . If my laughter makes you uncomfortable, that’s a problem you have to deal with. If my independence makes you uncomfortable then I suggest you figure out why. If me just simply being me without disrespecting you makes you feel a way; then you’re just going to always be uncomfortable. I hate to say it. *in my KeKe Palmer voice* Don’t allow others to encourage being uncomfortable with yourself.
Know that acceptance starts with you. Some people will simply not be equipped to perform that level of acceptance and that’s another great lesson the discomfort of nonconformity can teach: F*** what other people think.
Seeing a direct correlation between my self-acceptance and the discomfort of others with that acceptance is no consequence. Some people will be uncomfortable with the level of freedom you showcase in your self acceptance; again not your problem. The people pleaser in me after many seasons of discomfort is now focused on pleasing only one person.
Fear of vulnerability
Now that I sit in rooms where decisions are made that effect large groups of people I realize that I’m never truly comfortable. Speaking up and out draws attention in a way I still haven’t grown completely fond of. It’s in those moments that I am pushed into the spotlight that I have to work with my discomfort to keep me humble while my assertiveness keeps me goal oriented. “I’m not ready” was my mental mantra when I thought about being placed in positions or environments I thought were too massive for me to handle. Projects that seemed enormous compared to my experience and tasks that laughed in the face of my novice approach. How many times have you let discomfort sike you out of an opportunity?
Moments when I buckled down, and pushed my fear of failure aside have sparked creativity, originality, assertiveness, and decisiveness in me in a way nothing else could.
The experience of performing while uncomfortable forced me to get to know myself internally so that I could focus my energy in the right direction externally. Discomfort has been my greatest teacher. I was uncomfortable when I decided to leave home and go to college; first generation 4-year student in my family. I earned friends, knowledge, and a degree from that experience. I was uncomfortable when I got off the bus at basic training knowing that I had to rely on my mental strength to keep me resilient for the next 5 months. That experience showed me my own strength, independence, and it was one of the first true glances I saw of my quiet leadership style. There’s a job right now that you’re afraid to take because the change of routine would be uncomfortable for you. There’s someone right now wanting to spend time but the thought of getting close to anyone make you squirm a little, it makes you uncomfortable.
See, discomfort doesn’t just happen on the job or workforce. It happens in our homes, in our beds, in our hearts.
Our disdain for discomfortspans into the relationships of our lives even intimate ones. Allowing others to come as close and dig as deep as we’re “comfortable” with. This surface level love is the reason why we don’t feel fulfilled in our engagements with others because how could someone truly know us if we don’t show them? How can we expect others to love us as deeply as we desire when we’ve locked certain places off to them because the thought of sharing those hidden skeletons is too uncomfortable. Noticing that discomfort and allowing it to make you aware is necessary; pushing pass it to reveal what lies underneath is also necessary.
Discomfort throughout my life has propelled my ambition to get to a comfortable place whether that happens through acceptance, hard work, or a change of scenery. Discomfort usually means I’m in a transitional period of life. If I successfully make it through I will find the comfort I’ve been longing for on the other side but if I allow the discomfort to distract or deter me; I’ll never get the lesson and growth meant for me.
Discomfort is the teacher that calls on you even when your hand wasn’t raised. It’s the friend that tells you to pay attention. Discomfort can be a red flag or caution light. My greatest moments were born from my greatest discomforts. Progressing through my moments of discomfort has allowed me to get to greener grass. The start of a new job, the conversation you were afraid to have, the boundaries that were uncomfortable to set. Think about it.
Discomfort is not only the feeling but the spotlight being drawn to a place that requires your focus. Why are you uncomfortable? Where does that discomfort lead? Asking ourselves these questions can help us to build the best lessons even from our discomforts. Isn’t that what life is all about?
Hey Builders! What have your discomforts taught you most about yourself?
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Your job demands 100 percent, your bae, your kids, your friend that keeps calling and crying about the same guy she said she was gonna leave three calls ago.
They want your undivided attention, your time, your unconditional love. And you oblige. You slice yourself up like a pie and divide yourself into equal portions until there’s nothing left.
Now you’re hungry.
Now you’re drained and burnt out left wondering whose gonna help replenish you.
You take days off in the name of self-care but still end the day restless, anxious and unfulfilled. But here’s a secret I’ll let you in on…
Self-care is more than bubble baths and mimosas. Self-care is an attitude. It’s knowing that giving 100 percent to everyone and thing else, 24/7, 365 is not only impossible but a destructive goal. It’s having the courage to tell your boss no to coming in for overtime because you know your personal time is more important. It’s setting boundaries even with the people you love. Self-care is what you tell yourself when no one’s listening; the words that you use to mentally talk to yourself. It’s the ultimate relationship you have with who should be the most important person in your life…YOU.
It’s what you value and celebrate about yourself even when no one around you does. Self-care is self-love. How you care for yourself is a direct reflection of what you think you deserve. It is a parallel between how you allow others to treat you. At this point in my life, I treat myself well enough to accept nothing less than adoration from others hoping to engage with me on a personal level.
Self-care is self-review in caring enough about who you are to fix the flaws that promote your self-hate. Doing what you need in the emotional and mental areas to feel your best. To BE your best.
Self-care is about surrounding yourself with people who share your values, celebrate your wins and encourage you in your losses. It’s allowing only those in your space whose intentions align with yours and knowing when to let go when they don’t.
The Little Moments
Self-care is the pep talk you give yourself before entering work. It’s the time you give yourself to cry when you’re feeling overwhelmed as a single mother. It’s the moments that you decide not to delay your gratification this time to buy the purse you’ve been eyeing.
It’s choosing yourself every day, 24/7, 365.
Giving 100 percent of your love, time and attention to yourself too.
As we embark on this self-care week let us understand that it’s more than an Instagram post; Self-care is a way of life, a constant goal to strive for.
Hey Builders! Tell me how you self care, like, share and Let’s Build up Ourselves.
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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.”
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?
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…
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.
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?
Sis; (n)A person that needs to hear some real shit.
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