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

 

It’s almost time to wrap up this year (Ha! see what I did there) but I didn’t want to let  you go without passing on the gift of a good read. This blog isn’t by any means a book review source but I am an advent reader who happens to work in a library. I’ve re-discovered some classics and found new treasures. If you’re looking for something to cuddle up with by your YouTube TV fire (because who has a real fireplace nowadays, am I right?!) just check out this list of great books that will give you all the feels this season.

This year I was all about supporting my fellow melanin drenched “brothas” and “sistas” but this first book was actually written by a beautiful young, Caucasian female and it has been my favorite for the year.

 

#1  Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado

Re: Golf Alltrack for Wheels On 2014-11-26, at 1:22 PM, gary grant  wrote: 2016 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Manufacturer supplied image Gary Grant   The Garage Guy  Automotive and Food media specialist  Co-Chair Canadi

This book is a narrative straight from the life and experiences of Linda Tirado who identified as a working wife and mother struggling with poverty and all the details that it encompasses. She touches on working in the American capitalistic system, having little to no access to important resources like healthcare and public assistance, poor wages and working conditions; all while giving the inside scoop of why people dealing with poverty make certain choices. I read this book within three days and it would’ve been faster but I had this thing called a job. Needless to say, the book was glued to my hand every chance I got. I could relate to her experiences in many ways and felt as though someone was telling my side, my mother’s side, my sister’s side of the story being from a low-income background myself. It was a refreshing insight and response to many of the snarky comments made about those struggling with poverty to those well above it. MUST READ!

 

 

#2  The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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I heard you guys sigh and saw you roll your eyes once you got to this book title but hear me out! THE BOOK IS SOOOOO MUST BETTER!!! Look, I know Oprah shows this movie damn near every other day on the OWN channel but just like with any movie adaptation, it only captures the essence of the book, not the details that change the way you relate and see characters. I had only ever seen the movie but I was curious as to how beautifully the book was written since it was powerful enough to move Oprah in the earlier years of her career. Now I understand the obsession. Do yourself a favor and read this book at least once in your life.

 

#3 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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Ok, you got me! It’s pretty obvious that I’ve been hooked on African American literary classics this year but I couldn’t help it. Unlike most people, I wasn’t made to read this in school so upon seeking legendary mentors I easily stumbled onto this breathtaking autobiography by the beautiful Maya Angelou. THIS BOOK made me laugh out loud so hard (at work when I was sneaking to read AWKWARD), cry, cringe, and find myself in every page. Even if you’ve read this in high school you should read it again because you have newer, world submerged eyes that will give the book’s words more meaning to you; especially as a black woman even if you aren’t technically a black woman. That’s how powerful this book is!

 

#4 and #5  Jump by Steve Harvey and Black Privilege by Charlamagne AudioBooks

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I’ve discovered audio books guys! Where have they been all my life?! I love, love, love hearing a great, original narrative in the voice of someone who is already a personality or celebrity. Steve Harvey’s JUMP has all the elements of a good self help book with just enough relatbility so that you feel it’s possible to go after your dreams too. I love how he walks his readers through all the ups and downs of going after your dreams.

Black Privilege is my favorite of the two; however, because I listened to this book at a critical turning point in my professional life. I literally was working a crappy job as a security guard and sat to listen to the Breakfast Club morning show personality tell me about how to turn your disadvantages into advantages. How to turn your flawed beginnings into favor. I listened as an eight hour shift felt like a personal conversation with “Uncle Charla” who made me laugh, shake my head and believe in myself.                  ( BTW I got an amazing job a week later) For entrepreneurs afraid to take that next step these two books are a great place to start.

 

#6 Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington

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This book does an amazing job of chronologically exposing all of the insidious undersides to medical practices, research and treatment that has plagued Black Americans from slavery even into the present. While the book is a bit of a difficult read due to medical terms; Washington makes it worth while through her explanation of  how Black Americans have been treated in the medical industry through all aspects. This was one of my favorites this year.

 

#7 How White Folks Got so Rich

how white

Don’t let the title of the book fool you. It is not a bashing session that aims to divide; instead, I found the book to be eye opening in explaining the dormant feats that many black Americans are expected to undergo while our Caucasian counterparts take advantage of their privilege (most of which they don’t even realize they or you have). Even for the “We all have it the same” skeptics it’s worth a read to incorporate an opposing narrative into your space…only then should you form an opinion.

 

There are at least 10 books that I’ve read that didn’t make the list. I didn’t want to make it too long. This year I was fascinated by non-fiction and self help as opposed to my usual dystopia YA novels. Don’t get it twisted. I’m a lover of books written by an array of people who come in all shapes and flavors. Maybe next year I’ll have another genre obsession.

Hopefully, these personal explanations will serve as a small taste for you until you make the decision to dive in completely.

Cold sweats usually begin right under my arm pits and flow like a rapid waterfall just below my underdeveloped chest whenever I have to address a crowd or someone in a higher position than myself.

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At least that use to be the case.

Years ago, public speaking was something that had become extremely uncomfortable for me as my mouth often forgot the words I was attempting to speak and my mind fixated on trivial things like was my voice too pitchy or were my lips ashy?

It was mental agony in preparation for something that would probably only last 10 minutes. I loathed anything that brought extra attention. Yet, here I am attempting to develop a platform in high schools where I hope to mentor and speak publicly.

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Despite my earlier sweat fests, I would surprise myself with elegant addresses and handshakes that contradicted the fact that I was having hot flashes just moments before my speaking engagement. Having to speak to higher ranking military personnel, bosses, or in meetings, interviews, even asking for extra buffalo sauce in front of a crowd at Chick-Fil-A all flared my anxiety to unreasonable levels.

It’s true that I am what others call an introvert but I have learned the art of how to successfully navigate the world like an extrovert on their best day. Stick with me, I’ll explain.

 

Feisty Lil’ Thing

My mom has a host of memories about me as a child that she gushes on about sporadically.

Typical Mommy behavior.

Anyway, they include me walking the halls of the high school where she worked like I owned the place; I was 4. Apparently I had networking down to a science as I developed close working relationships with the big kids who would buy me cookies in exchange for my adorable presence.

I wasn’t afraid to ask questions, explore and venture off into the principle’s office just to see what he was up to. I was a boss. Around this same age period is when I strong armed my way into my favorite speaking part in a school play. I had gotten a small part in which I felt was dull while one of my classmates had gotten the part I really wanted.

Up on the stage the microphone was passed from student to student as each said their part. It was now my turn and I said my one line elegantly and uneventful then passed the microphone to the classmate beside me with the “good” part. I willed her (telepathically) to say the part with enthusiasm and spirit. Instead, she mumbled what she knew and stood near tears having forgotten the rest.

No worries! (plays superhero theme music) I was right beside her to save the day. I swooped in on the microphone and said the part line for line in the best character voice possible. Once I was done I heard laughter and applause from the audience and a loud “THAT’S MY BABY!” I could only assume it came from my dad lost in the sea of parents. My mom’s face was completely red even though she was smiling. I was 4.

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GIPHY: “ALL I HAVE TO SAY IS…”

 

 

Two Sides, Same Coin

She reminds me of this because it’s one of her favorite memories. Mine too. I was an extrovert who took command in places public and private. I was sure of myself. So what the hell happened to make me an introvert in the later years of my life? It is possible that bullying, financial disparities compared to my peers and dealing with death at an early age caused me to close up inside myself like a clam.

It is also equally possible that I have two distinct aspects of myself that I have only recently learned to unveil in the proper contexts. In my youth I could command an audience, in contrast, I could also spend hours silent to the point of pure creepiness. I have mastered being an introvert with extrovert tendencies. In doing so, I’ve embraced a natural gift in speaking to others individually or in addressing large sums of people. I only reveal this pearl of a talent whenever necessary.

It is now easier to hold meetings for business partnerships, network and interview whenever I remember the bravery of 4 year old me under the eyes of strangers. Most introverts I know would rather curl up with a book or take a quiet walk in the park compared to networking or speaking publicly. Yet, these things are a necessity in the workforce and even in education (public speaking 101 anyone?). Here’s some tried and true ways I’ve learned to harness my inner extrovert power while remaining very much an introvert.

 

 

Practice your speech, interview, elevator pitch, meeting topic etc…Honestly, I find myself giving random speeches about (whatever) in my car or at home while I’m cleaning. As weird as it sounds I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. Flashback to being 8 years old in my room giving an acceptance speech for a nonexistent award to a nonexistent audience. Using voice projection, natural pauses, and witty examples have all developed from me giving phantom speeches in which no is present for.

I got accustomed to hearing how my voice sounds when I’m passionate and calm. This has created a baseline for me to refer back to whenever I’m in front of strangers feeling completely naked. The mental muscle memory has acted as a antidote for my anxiety in public speaking and allows me to deliver in meetings, speeches, and networking regardless of the sweat war happening inside my blouse. Some people say I’m talking to myself; I say that I’m preparing for my future award.

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Remember they’re just people. This is so important to keep in the back of your mind because sometimes we have a tendency to place people on an extended pedestal simply because they hold a certain position. Similarly, we see a crowd of people and immediately become self conscious about everything.

The problem with this is it creates a mental barrier for you in which you aren’t allowing yourself to approach them with the same passionate thoughts, issues or questions you would in other situations where you aren’t nervous. Take the time to calm yourself before you give a speech or try to network with an individual/ business. Anticipate questions so that you’re not thrown into an “uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” moment where you mind goes blank and your stomach goes sour.

By reminding yourself that those you are engaging with are people it helps you to find a link in which you can speak to them on a level they can relate to and understand. Trust me, no one wants to speak with or hear someone who talks stiffly or rehearsed. They’d much rather feel your own interests through the passionate presentation of yourself or your venture. Remind yourself that people are more or less just, people and nobody likes a sweaty hand.

Research saves lives. I recently had a business meeting with an organization I was unfamiliar with. I had made the rookie mistake of reaching out to this organization based on an assumption that I knew what they were about without actually researching the facts. The title “The Women’s League” sounded pretty straightforward to me but 40 minutes before the meeting it dawned on me that I had ample material to talk about my business without knowing much of theirs.

Needless to say I spent those 40 minutes finding out everything I could about the history of The Women’s League and what this particular group had done in our town.

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The meeting went a lot more smoothly having already prepared myself to speak from a place of knowledge on what they had done and could provide.

Researching is just a sub-section of preparation. Just as you practice those acceptance speeches you should prepare yourself by researching your audience. It could be one person or 200 people. Regardless, knowing your audience whether its an interview or public speaking platform will help to tailor your words to the expectations of those who are listening.

 

I have mastered being an introvert with extrovert tendencies.

 

Discovering these little speech hacks has helped me to blossom from an introvert into a commanding force right in front of my very eyes. I hate the way anxiety and anticipation makes me feel so I do these things to keep me sharp and ahead of the game. Being an introvert is lovely, we like to take our time with the small things in life. We prefer quality time with our favorite things which tends to be ourselves.

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GIPHY: “Fajitas for one please!”

However, for us to be successful we must embrace the 4 year old in us who was never afraid to ask questions or talk about our passions. In unleashing that part of ourselves we can do great things and conquer the art of public speaking and networking.