I could’ve been mistaken for a divorcee soccer mom with a habit of drinking too much wine before 12 p.m. I felt as though I was completely lost in life, not knowing what purpose I was to serve, what talents I had and confused on why it was taking so long to get on my feet after years of hard work. I was barely 25 going through a mid-life crisis  quarter-life crisis.

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GIPHY:  Me. Any Monday morning two years ago

As millennials, we get called all kinds of bad names by the “grown-ups” like dramatic, lazy or self-centered but the reality is that a lot of the economic, mental, and financial stress we face has a negative impact on us getting a healthy start to adult life.

After pursuing higher education and working multiple jobs just to still break even, success whether financial or otherwise can feel like…it can feel like…Well. Like this…

 

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GIPHY: That oh shit wtf is going on moment

 

It can often feel as though if you don’t have everything figured out by the time you’re 18 then you’re behind the curve. But who the hell knows exactly what they want and how to get there at 18? (very few)

This inadvertent pressure put on us by societal expectations, competition mentality coupled with no real mentors leaves many young adults reeling from the lies they’ve been told.

“Go to school to get a good job and make good money,” THEY SAID

They didn’t tell us about the hurdles that exist in attempting to escape generational poverty/low-income households, obstacles millennials are facing in the job market due to the previous recession, or the other important things like how to network, team up or seek mentorship etc…

This leaves us feeling like failures and frustrated with ourselves in a world that doesn’t understand why we feel like we have it hard.

I use to stay in my room (I had moved back in with the parentals) drink wine, binge on Netflix and hiss at anyone who dared to knock on my door. I was a regular Scrooge in the middle of July.

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GIPHY: Me vs. EVERYONE

 

Safe to say that this was not healthy. Job hunts went from confident searches to desperate obsessions and it felt like a chore to even get out of bed most days.

For those of you who can relate, here are a few tips to getting back to being yourself so that you can ring in the new year with a better understanding of where you’ve been and how to move on from there. Kick this quarter-life crisis’ a**!

Tip #1

Put the drink (dank) or whatever down.

Some days it’s the only thing that felt like it alleviated the anxiety and depression but trust me you don’t want to become reliant on substances in dealing with difficult emotions. Find another outlet like taking a walk. Sunshine can make a world of difference as opposed to day-drinking in a dark room alone. Plus a bottle a day gets kinda pricey.

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Tip #2

Make a real plan.

When you’re lost it can feel like no plan makes sense but it’s dangerous to not have an idea of who you are and what you want. One of the things that helped me was making a list (and checking it twice hahaha).

I made a list of everything from my perceived strengths and weaknesses to what I wanted and needed out of life in order to consider myself successful. I went from not knowing what I wanted, to one day realizing that I could keep others from dealing with similar downfalls by starting a mentoring program.

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Tip #3

Don’t sell yourself short.

Don’t become so engrossed in getting a job or man or whatever that you aren’t paying attention to the quality and compatibility while in your search. Case and point? I was so shook by not having jobs lined up for me after returning home that I just started putting applications in for every job posting I saw.

The result?

I got into a job (s) that made my quarter-life crisis worst due to their incompatibility with what I wanted and was capable of providing.

Understand you’re still valuable regardless of where you are at this point in your life to avoid getting into situations that negatively affect you because you sold yourself short.

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Tip #4

It’s not just you.

I’m “a pull yourself up by the bootstraps” kinda girl or at least I was until I realized that I didn’t have any f****** boots to begin with!

When we’re down in the dumps it’s easy to be your toughest critic or downright self enemy but sometimes it’s because we had unrealistic expectations without understanding that the starting line was pushed back farther from our peers.

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In acknowledging your obstacles, you can empower yourself with knowledge and goals to overcome them. My situation was a 50/50 split. I had things I could have done differently and difficulties based on my circumstances that were never brought to my attention. It’s okay to fall but don’t let you or anything else keep you down.

Last thing.

It’s called quarter-life crisis for a reason. Apparently the feeling is not just exclusive to you or I but shared with some of our millennial kin. You will come out the other side with a new understanding of yourself and the world around you.

When I think back to the ghost of my quarter-life crises past, I do so with a respect for that moment in my life. It helped me to figure out where I went wrong and where society went wrong to have so many millennials experiencing this same thing. I needed to endure that time in my life in order to figure out myself, my life and my purpose.

So, get fresh air, scream in your pillow and know that you’ll be alright. #LETSBUILD

P.S. stop hissing at your loved ones. SORRY MOM!

 

 

PSST! check out this article on quarter life crisis

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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

It’s Friday Night and I feel alright ( it’s more like Saturday afternoon) and I’m getting cute because I’m preparing to go out on a date. I already know what I’m going to order at my favorite restaurant and that I can choose to see either the chick flick showing at 2:30 or the action movie showing at 3:15. Excitement mixed with feminine confidence pours over me when I get to the restaurant.  “How many?” the server asks me with a smile and I reply “One.” ☝🏾

Almost once every month I find the time to take myself on a date. I wear the outfit that’s been collecting dust in my closet, begging for a day out on the town. I obsessively snap pictures of myself to confirm how beautiful I look and feel. Some I post, most I delete after oogling at how pretty I am. Sometimes I even shut my phone off so that there’s no distractions to take my personal attention away from me. I usually do this either when I’m in a euphoric mood or when I’m a little down. Eating fajitas at San Jose while reading the Color Purple without having to explain or listen to anything other than “Would you like another tea?,” is both refreshing and empowering.

 

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This topic came about when talking to a group of my female friends about how we view and appreciate ourselves. I know that I’m weird but it still came as a shock to hear that some of my most flamboyant friends don’t take themselves out; let alone show appreciation to themselves. I asked why and the main answer was that they felt weird eating by themselves or going out alone.

Maybe it’s because they never had to or maybe there’s something more going on. When dating other people we often go all out. Whatever movie they want to see is fine. Whatever they want to eat is great. They’d rather do this than that, cool. We give so much attention, time and energy to other people but what about ourselves? Especially if you’re single. If you don’t do these things for you then who will?

Obviously I’m taking this beyond the scope of taking yourself out on a date and diving right into a discussion about seeing the value in yourself even when others don’t.

I always thought of myself as beautiful though I had been rarely called that in earlier years of my life. I had also saw myself as an amazing girlfriend or companion even though I had virtually nothing to show for it for years.

No confirmation for my self esteem mixed with situationships weighed on my self image like Rick Ross on a glass bathroom scale.( Pre weight loss.) If I’m really valuable and nobody sees it then am I still valuable? If a tree falls in a forest and there’s nobody around to hear, does it make a sound?

HELL. YES!

I started doing my dates to remind myself of this. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the guy at the concession stand or the server flirts with me because he thinks I’m cute. (bonus confidence boost and free popcorn!) Dating myself became a form of therapy that allowed me to dump everything out of my mind to celebrate myself in a way no one else was willing to.

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Now that I’m happily in a relationship that doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped showing myself love. It’s my outlet for when everyone and everything is overwhelming or for when I’m just randomly feeling myself. The result is that by the end of my little soiree I feel appreciated, looked after and cared for. It doesn’t really matter that it all came from me.

Dating myself is just one way I choose to keep my spirits up. Instead of focusing on the fact that I don’t have someone with me, I celebrate the fact that I don’t have to share my kids movie box that only comes with a hand full of popcorn, one candy and a small drink. (No sip of my damn juice). Instead of being self-conscious about whose watching me eat I catch up on some reading or writing. Some girls go get their toes done, some guys take a midnight drive or zone out in 2K.

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Whatever you do, celebrating alone time with yourself as a choice and not a circumstance will help to increase your self image about what you want and deserve. I could sit at home sad that no one is in my life to watch Mean Girls with me OR I could get dolled up to go watch Fifty Shades Freed by my damn self.

I mean, because how can you expect others to value you if you don’t value you? or know what’s valuable about you because you never spent quality time with yourself? You want someone to appreciate you in the right way but how would you know if you don’t have a base line to go off of ? Now Tyrone gets points for the infamous Good Morning beautiful texts even though that’s all he does for you because you never told yourself you were beautiful.

You brought your girl, Ashley, Gucci, Louie and Chanel for Christmas and all she got you was a pack of socks. You’re unappreciated but you don’t know it because you never appreciated yourself.

OFF my high horse…

I’ve never had a problem being a loner. Socializing is harder for me than being out alone so that’s why it’s easy for me to have this particular outlet of appreciation. I get that most people would share the same concerns that my friends have but I honestly think that it’s worth a try. It’s liberating. You don’t have to go out on a Saturday with the Fast and the Furious 58 crowd. I like Sunday afternoons or Wednesdays. You don’t even have to take yourself on a date. The most important thing is finding a way to show yourself love because regardless of whether there’s a bae or not, you are definitely valuable. You just let yourself forget it. #LETSBUILD

🌯

 

 

“Girl you need to eat!”

“Naw, Imma put some more on your plate.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that comment from family and friends and how many times they’ve been thoroughly cursed out in my mind while I forced myself to smile sweetly. Now that I’m older and have actually developed confidence that’s not dependent on others I can laugh at the ignorance in those earlier years of my life.

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Ever hear of fast metabolism? or genetics?

Seeing the fixation with curves today leaves me wondering about how the skinny, dark-skinned girl in the back of the class is handling it all. I WRITE THIS ONE FOR YOU GIRL!

Growing up black is hard. Growing up a girl and black is harder; but there’s nothing to describe growing up skinny, black while female. Torture. Torture would probably come the closest. This topic is meant to be funny but it does shed light on a truth that many teenagers and young adults face daily.

Almost everything about our culture today supports the idea of a voluptuous woman, who’s 5’3, “light skinned” with loose curls. Emphasis on the voluptuous part.

Hell, I love looking at curves too in a non-homo, kinda, slightly homo way. But the truth is not every female is gonna be thicker than a PB&J with peanut butter on both sides of the bread. Some of us have the comparison of peanut butter you had to scrape the bottom of the jar for and there’s not enough to completely cover the bread.

There’s a hint of peanut butter when you bite into your sandwich enough that you can faintly taste it. The same is true for being petite. Enough of a curve that you know it’s there. So cut the skinny girl some slack. She knows she’s small and doesn’t need reminding every time you see her. Stop wishing she’ll gain weight when she has kids just because you did and NO! she doesn’t need a damn cheeseburger!

 

 

“That natural hair ain’t for everybody.”

This comment was probably made by some unmoisturized  young man with a crooked hairline but even if it comes from someone decent it’s never okay. I love the natural hair appreciation movement that has swept black communities across the nation. What I don’t like is the division of praises among different hair textures and skin tones. That queen with the coarse fro and dark skin should be just as proud as the one with the loose coils.

Look, some people don’t like the natural wave. That’s totally cool but understand the power of your negative comments. One negative comment can take a young woman starting her natural journey from excitement to embarrassment. I’ve seen it.

Surprisingly, I see a lot of middle aged people singing similar tunes. “What’s going on with your head?” “That doesn’t look professional.”

Just because you love the way a good relaxer and press looks doesn’t give you the right to discourage the pride that a naptural woman has. Fix your hairline first and then your heart.

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“Why your mama didn’t just get you the Iphone?

My 13 year old niece was asked this by one of her friends.

First of all we’re broke, second of all mind your business. It’s easy to question why someone doesn’t have this or that as a teenager because you’re all about the now. Keeping up with the Kardashians (literally) is your life. But outside of that self-centeredness is real life in which some kids don’t get everything, or some of the things they ask for. They probably knew not to ask in the first place. So try a little empathy (or teach your kids) because you’re only one wrong drop away from a shattered screen and not having an Iphone X either.

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“You’re kinda tall for a girl.”

Well damn. I thought girls came in an assortment of shapes, sizes and colors like Valentine’s candy. I didn’t realize that being 65′ or barely 5’6 would be considered too tall or masculine. Let me just shrink myself for you and while I’m at it let me help you find the balls you lost while feeling threatened by my height. Oh, there they are. My kitten thought they were raisins.

 

“Females should keep their hair, feet and nails on point. No excuse.”

This is low AND high key expensive. Depending on where you go, getting your hair and nails done every two weeks can run you a couple hundred. And even though I have a thousand bottles of polish, sometimes I don’t feel like painting my nails just to have it chip and fade two days later.

Sometimes I don’t feel like twisting my hair or shaving my legs. My eyebrows are currently caterpillars because I have to carve out time to go get them waxed and that is perfectly fine.

Meanwhile, the male who said this has on his favorite pair of Spongebob underwear that’s 10 years old with holes in it. The female who said it has a sugar daddy and bad credit. Stop letting Instagram tell you how to be a woman or a man people. 😂

Let’s just all try to accept the many differences among us because no one is perfect, not everyone is balling and preferences are relative.

 

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What are some annoying statements you hear others say?