Maybe It’s You

I am sure we are all acquainted with the Golden Rule: “Treat people the way you want to be treated.” Our good friend Jesus spoke often on doing unto others as you want them to do unto you. Whether you are spiritual, religious, or neither, no one wants to be treated badly. You could be the guy who cuts people off on the highway, fails to use turn signals and drives recklessly, but as soon as someone rides your bumper, you’re furious. Humans have a tendency to be hypocritical when it comes to how we expect to be treated vs. how we treat others. For years now, I have been watching Kirk do Rasheeda wrong on Love and Hip Hop Atlanta (one of my guilty pleasures, don’t judge me), yet now he wants to fix his lips to be butthurt at the thought of her even considering entertaining another man. Why is it that we can never stomach the taste of our own medicine? So many of us subject others to pain that we would go to great lengths to avoid experiencing. To put it lightly, people suck. We use, abuse and manipulate those we claim to love and care for. This world would be all rainbows and butterflies if we could just abide by the simple logic of not being an a**hole. I remember in elementary we did a lengthy lesson on the Golden Rule, but if I could go back in time, I would have my teacher revise the lesson: “People are not going to treat you the way you would treat them.” It is unrealistic to expect everyone to have the same heart and moral compass as you. After all, we can’t control others; we are only in control of ourselves. When you allow yourself to be continually stepped on by trash people, you become at fault. Eventually, you have to stop complaining about people being mean to you and doing you wrong if you are going to keep giving them a free pass to do so. You’re not killing them with kindness, you’re just killing yourself.

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How About Some Accountability?

One of the easiest things to do is point the finger at other people when we need to be holding a mirror up to ourselves. We have already established that people are trash, but once you figure out that a new person in your life did not enter with good intentions, why do you keep them around? Are you waiting to see what lengths they will go to to make you miserable? Most people aren’t sadistic. They don’t purposely seek out weaklings to enact their evil plan upon. After all, most of the hurtful things people do to you do not have anything to do with you. People are selfish, and they do things that will bring them pleasure; you being hurt in the mix of it all is just emotional collateral damage. That doesn’t make the wound they’ve inflicted upon you hurt any less, that’s just the way it is. When people show you who they are, you have to believe tumblr_mqi3bjhmeb1qezwmho1_500them the first time. Sayings like that become cliche because they prove themselves to be true time and time again. If you choose to be Helen Keller to the b.s., you can’t get mad when your “best friend” keeps throwing shade at you behind your back or the new guy you’ve been dating pokes fun at your insecurities under the guise of a joke. Character flaws like that aren’t isolated incidents. They will only get worse, but your “good heart” always wants to see the best in people. When I was in college, I dated a guy who had two children. Much to my dislike, he brought them over to my apartment with him one evening and left them there while he went on a “food run.” I was 19; spending my night with two young kids was not my idea of a good time. He stayed gone a good 3-4 hours. What did I say upon his return? Nothing! I’m sure you can guess what followed: this happened again and again until I put my foot down. We eventually broke up due to other reasons, but this is just an example of how if you let somebody slide once, they’ll start figure skating. I was getting mad at him when I should have been mentally slapping myself. Nothing will continue unless YOU allow it to. He took advantage of me because I would often just ignore things that would bother me or make empty threats. He knew I was all bark and no bite. Was it right for him to use me as a babysitter while he was running through the 206 with his woes? Absolutely not, but it was my responsibility to advocate for myself. You can’t hope for the best with people, then just shrug your shoulders when they don’t act how you had envisaged. If you remove yourself from the situations that cause you strife, guess what will happen? Life will improve! It isn’t magic, it’s common sense.

Check Your Energy

There is no harder pill to swallow than admitting you are the problem when it comes to the negative experiences that plague your life. It does not mean there is something wrong with you or that you need to change who you are. Everyone has flaws and we are all damaged in some way. Childhood traumas, adult traumas and unhealthy coping skills have an insidious way of clouding our positive energy. If you are not aware of your thinking, these traumatic experiences manifest into negative self-talk and negative views of ourselves. It is incredibly easy to put yourself down without even realizing you are doing it. A couple of years ago, I downloaded a book called “The Untethered Soul” (I highly recommend this piece of work). Until I picked up this godsend of a book, I did not realize how often I put myself down. I would call myself names, judge myself and dwell on negative thoughts. If I would go against my instincts and suffer the consequences because of it, I would think to myself “duh dummy” or “well that’s what you get for being stupid.” We truly are our own toughest critics. I finally realized I kept attracting and entertaining toxic people because I was marinating in my own toxic thoughts. giphy3
Science teaches us that like attracts like. If you are vibrating at a low frequency, you are going to attract others who are on a similar level. Everything is energy. It is not a coincidence that when you are happy, everyone else seems happier as well. It’s simple, really. Why would a man who is happy, secure and confident be attracted to someone who emits bad vibes? I didn’t understand why I couldn’t find anyone of quality. I was independent, college educated, attractive and doing quite well for my age. I looked good on paper, but inside I was a mess. Too much time was spent going into my outward appearance but I was neglecting my insides. Awareness is the only way out of a miserable mindset. The interesting thing was at the time, I did not feel totally miserable, but looking back, I was full of self-doubt. It is now in hindsight that I realize I was not all that happy. Like most people, I have had an array of bad experiences steal my joy. I am naturally a private person, so I just kept all my feelings to myself and went on with life. Avoidance is definitely not a healthy coping technique Pretending a problem does not exist will not make it go away, and not dealing with your issues jut causes them to fester, not diminish. Happiness is out there for you, but you can’t claim to want a joyous life yet spend all day ruminating in your self-inflicted sunken place. You’re confusing the universe. If you want to grow as a person, it is so important to take the time to become aware of how you view yourself.

Level Up

When people think of self-care, they think of massages, solo vacations and treating themselves to new clothes or other things to decorate the outer self. The harder part of self-care that people don’t often mention is having the discipline to do what’s best for yourself, even when it’s hard. You are specially made, and only those who appreciate your value deserve a place in your life. Once you tap into your reserve of inner power, it will become second nature to toss people to the curb who don’t live up to your expectations. What is most important is believing you are worthy. Whenever you catch yourself putting yourself down, pretend you have a little Viola Davis from The Help on your shoulder reminding you that you are kind, smart and important. Tell yourself this everyday. Look in the mirror and repeat that you love yourself 15x a day if that’s what you need to do. You will eventually start to believe it and you will begin to wonder why you allowed people to A-Town Stomp all over you for so long. Don’t be afraid to say no. giphy4Don’t be afraid to tell people to Beat It. Why are you scared to be without people you have only known for a small fraction of your life? In the wise words of Drake, you gotta be nice for what? I promise you the sun will rise tomorrow and you will continue to breathe. There have been men I really liked and I hated to show them the door, but I knew it was for the best. Those yellow flags would have quickly turned red, and it is much harder to cut ties from people once you’ve allowed dick and time to have you more invested than you should have ever been. People are going to be mean. They are going to be inconsiderate and a multitude of other undesirable things, but it is your responsibility to keep yourself safe from their nastiness. You can’t protect yourself if you are not solid in who you are. If you keep getting mixed up in bad friendships and relationships, take some time alone to figure out who is the common denominator in all of the chaos. You can’t grow if you are never taking time to be with you and only you. Growth comes from self-reflection and taking accountability for your decisions, good and bad. Treating other people well is great, but don’t let it come at such a price that you fail to treat yourself how you deserve to be treated, and a large part of self-care is being selective with who you grant a seat at your table.

What’s In a Title?

Nowadays, everyone hates labels. I guess it’s some Millennial thing. Labels have a tendency to box people into categories, and sometimes it can be impossible to rid yourself of a label that has basically become a part of your reputation. A label can minimize a person to a one-dimensional being, robbing him/her of all complexity. My peers from school and I are fully grown adults, yet some of us still bare the labels that were bestowed upon us in high school, particularly the more unsavory ones (hoe, slut, player, weirdo, etc). The negative perceptions of a person always tend to overshadow the positive ones. Science has shown that our brains have a way of planting the bad things in our brains more firmly than the pleasant ones because processing negative experiences requires more mental effort. We use stronger language to describe our negative 6e23daa7794130a4e612bd2bac7525bc-mean-girls-bulliesencounters and tend to stew over them for longer periods of time. Like with everything, though, there is always another side to consider. Humans need labels. Pointing to things and naming them are one of the first stages of language development. It is how we categorize and reference things, how we can separate what’s good for us from what isn’t. Language is our most powerful tool, and by labeling people, we give them a role in our lives. Mother, sister, husband, friend, co-worker and so on and so forth are just a few titles most of us are familiar with, and if you have any of these people in your life, you have certain expectations of them. Where it tends to get murky is when it comes to romantic relationships. A situation in which two people have a romantic interest in one another and are not entertaining others is typically labeled a relationship. For the price of that title you are usually compensated with commitment, monogamy and companionship, and for someone who is not 100% invested in you, giving up the thrill of the single life to sleep with the same person every night is too high of a price to pay. So what do some people *cough cough* (men), tend to do? They hit you with a bunch of semantics to tip toe around committing to you in an effort to have their cake and eat it too. Before you know it, you’re knee deep in a Situationship.

“You Ain’t Even My Girl”

Being an adult is tiring. I feel like adulthood is a scam. As a child, all I longed for was the freedom that came with being “grown.” The ability to make my own decisions seemed like heaven. The beauty of childhood is the naivete. My inexperienced mind did not realize the amount of responsibility that came along with the freedom to do trivial things like stay out as late as I wanted or eat ice cream for dinner. As I became an older teenager, I was able to get a taste of the adult life without having to purchase the whole entree. Back when I was a young and dumb 19/20 year old, I was allowing my love interest at the time to get all the benefits of a relationship from me without requiring him to complete the package. I was brainwashed with all the “we don’t need a title” rhetoric and just went along with it because in my mind we were practically in a relationship, anyway. He was in my apartment majority of the time, didn’t want me dating others, and led me to believe he wasn’t seeing anyone else either. To put it simply, I was an idiot. During that time in my life, I didn’t know how to put my foot down and require more. I knew that I ultimately was not going to get the commitment I wanted, so tumblr_ntxt9tjvuq1uab7s4o1_1280I just decided to leave things alone. After all, he was around consistently, so that must be a sign that he was really into me, right? WRONG. I was dead wrong, because every time I would complain I would get the reminder that we are not even a relationship so I have no right to air any grievances towards him. No matter how close you may think you two are, if there is no verbal agreement that you two are exclusive, you are single. I allowed this man to have all of the benefits of a boyfriend, without him taking on any of the responsibilities that come along with that title. I was nothing more than a temp-agency girlfriend. At a temp agency, they send you to a company to work there for a varied length of time and while you give that company the benefits of your employment, when all is said and done, you gotta get up outta there. They may like you, but you’re not what they’re looking for long term. You work there, but they offer you no benefits and you ultimately leave with nothing until you’re sent somewhere else. The old me would ask him why aren’t we together, or when are we going to make it official, and I would get those cliche responses typical of someone who isn’t interested in you long term. “I’m just not ready for a relationship right now.” “You know I have feelings for you, why complicate things with a title?” “I’m not good enough financially right now to have a girlfriend.” Deep down I knew this was a crock of b.s., yet I continued on anyway like the poor fool I was. If a man is truly enamored with you, you will know because he will tell you and take you off the market. If at any time during the early stages of dating you have to ask yourself “what are we doing?” just know he’s doing him, beloved. You should go do you, too.

Bonds > Title

I think my favorite excuse people use to sidestep a relationship is the notion that a “bond is better than a title.” This is just silly, to put it mildly. It saddens me that women are buying into this propaganda. A bond is cute, but how many others does he have a “bond” with? A title is not a bulletproof vest for your relationship against cheating and other detrimental actions, but there needs to be some type of foundation there. When you neglect to specify what type of bond you have, the doors to a world of ambiguity burst wide open. Are we bonded as friends? Temporary companions? F*ck buddies? Which is it? An old friend of mine was navigating the foggy waters of Bond-land when she texted me crushed one day. The man she thought she was so connected to introduced her to his best friend as “this is my friend…”. This was after months of dates, humpin’, Netflix & chillin, learning all about each others’ pasts and him telling her how close he felt to her. giphy1They spent so much time together, she was sure he saw her as much more than a friend. Sis didn’t know that a bond without a title to go along with it is just a Situationship. So much time and energy was invested into this bond, yet it was worthless when it was time to cash it in. It is so important to be honest with yourself and your potential bae when you begin to communicate what it is you are looking for. If you are 100% sure that you just want companionship without the strings and stress that can accompany commitment, open your mouth and say that. If you realize down the road that you were misguided about your wants and now you want something more serious, be clear about your needs. If you’re dealing with a man, you have to be upfront. It’s key. They don’t pick up on hints and passive aggressive moves to try and signal what you want will end with your texts saying Read 9:57PM. At the end of the day, you have to be prepared for rejection. He may not want what you want, and that’s fine. He’s not the only man left with a sausage dangling between his legs. Nurse your ego back to health and keep it pushing, but don’t become a thirstbucket who is content with being a half-ass girlfriend. Life is too short.

He Just Doesn’t Like You Sis

There are levels to liking someone. I’ve liked a lot of guys who I didn’t want a relationship with. Frank Ocean said it best “No, I don’t like you I just thought you were cool enough to kick it.” Lust easily blinds us to the real ins and outs of someone’s personality because we are led on a string by physical attraction. Liking someone physically and/or sexually does not equate to liking who they are as a person. When you’re just riding around having a jolly good time and neglect to learn anything about his habits, goals, dark past or 325 credit score, you can’t say you like him because you don’t know him. Knowing that he taught his little brother how to throw a football does not mean he would be good with kids. His conspiracy theory about Earth being flat does not mean he’s deep and doesn’t conform. Now think a little harder about this; if you barely know him, you can guarantee he knows beans about you. If the sex is good and the stress is low, a man who isn’t already captivated by your dazzling personality isn’t going out of his way to learn more about you than what you’re offering up as free information. During the dark days of me selling myself short, I thirstily asked Situationship Boo what he thought of me. He said, “you’re cool.” I was flabbergasted. tenorCompletely bewildered. My ego took about 27 hits at once. I’m COOL?!? Just cool? Where was all that sweet talk in the beginning where I was told I wasn’t like other girls and I was so great to be around? I thought because I was going to a major university, didn’t live at home with my parents, received my Associate’s Degree and high school diploma at the same time, read a bunch of books and didn’t have a baby daddy that I was wifey material through and through. All that education I had and I couldn’t see past my own ego. He just didn’t like me like that. It doesn’t matter how good you look on paper or in person, if you two aren’t vibing on more that a physical level, you will remain just someone who is convenient for the moment. Instead of being basic AF and asking him what he thought of me months down the road, I should have spent those early days seeing if our connection was something worth building on instead of going with the flow that ended up flowing absolutely nowhere. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you have the personality of Tiffany Haddish, talent of Beyonce and sex appeal of Rihanna, if he doesn’t like you, he just doesn’t like you, beloved. Someone being present in the moment and giving you a few hours of their time here and there does not mean he wants a relationship with you. He can shower you with compliments, take you out for your birthday and snatch your soul every night, but if he hasn’t told you he wants you just for him, move on. Him beating around the bush when you mention a relationship isn’t because Mercury in Retrograde is putting a damper on his communication skills. You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but you’ll be someone’s. Remember that when you see him on Snapchat a few months later with a girlfriend.

 

 

You’re a Loyal Fool

Women are nurturers. Many of us love to fix broken things and heal what has been hurt and/or damaged. Whether it be by nature or nurture, we have the propensity to see past any trespasses made against us and see the good in people and to also help it manifest. Perhaps it’s due to the maternal qualities that reside in a lot of us and is further strengthened by how young girls are socialized to be caretakers. These are redeeming qualities, however, this mindset becomes toxic when some women interpret it as an obligation to tolerate disrespect, inconsistency, infidelity and a myriad of other problematic actions. Have women really become so thirsty for a man that any man will do? In some instances, I believe that is the case. For a lot of us, however, I believe it has been ingrained in our psyches that as long as he is providing some semblance of care, shut up and “let a man be a man.” Throughout countless generations and still in some cultures today, women have been forced to depend on men for survival. Women in Saudi Arabia were just given the right to drive, for goodness’ sake. American women did not begin working consistently until the 1940’s, so it was essential to secure a husband swiftly, otherwise end up destitute. Being an unmarried woman was not a good look, and many women were forced to marry ain’t sh*t men just to have a roof over their heads and some food on the table. Divorce was frowned upon just until relatively recently, so a lot of women just had to endure a bad situation. This created some “stand by your man” mentality that has trapped women in bad relationships for eons. giphy A lot of us watched our mothers and other women in our family tolerate treatment they did not deserve, masked under “he’s a good man, he just blah blah blah.” We love to make excuses in an attempt to justify the bad behavior from people we love, absolving them of any responsibility for their actions and sweeping all the issues under the rug. No matter your reason for staying with a man who doesn’t value you, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It will never be worth it. You’re holding yourself hostage for what? Hope that he will change? Have you given up hope that there are any decent men out there, so you’re just going to settle for the best of the worst? Is there some sort of trophy for being loyal to someone who couldn’t care less if you cry yourself to sleep every night? I don’t think so. The return on your investment for supposedly helping a man become a better person will be zero. 10x out of 9 people don’t change, and if they do, it will because they want to, not because of anything you’ve done. I don’t have the energy to take on projects, and if I wanted to raise someone, I would get pregnant. Do not make yourself responsible for the growth of other people.

Your Man is Not Gucci Mane

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From the outside looking in, it appears that Gucci Mane has made a miraculous transformation since being released from prison. The man is literally glowing. He and his new wife Keyshia look like they’re on cloud nine, and they had a breathtaking wedding. We do not know the details of their relationship, but they appear to be madly in love. Keyshia was Gucci’s ride or die, supporting him through prison, years of alleged drug use and a career that comes with copious amounts of glamour and temptation. They have become relationship goals for many, proving that if you stay loyal, you will be rewarded with a ring and a lavish lifestyle. Apparently women these days do not know how to hold a man down properly and leave as soon as a problem arises. We should all be more like Keyshia, right? That’s what I have been seeing so much of. Your man deserves for you to be a loyal doormat while he runs wild through the streets, and you are a bad partner if you require more of him. How dare a woman expect loyalty from her significant other?! How preposterous! That logic irks me beyond belief. Sure, there are men who put up with women who do not treat them right, but the difference lies in that this is not an expectation of men.22490034_1532633586780060_8010361249584378024_n No man is raised to “stand by your woman” no matter what she does. Have you ever watched a movie or show where a man’s peers were telling him how good of a woman his significant other is despite her constant cheating and troublesome behavior, and that he should give her a chance to change her ways? We aren’t talking about one mistake or slip up during the relationship, but an overall toxic and emotionally draining environment. Everyone is going to make mistakes, it’s human nature, but your whole relationship should not be a merry-go-round of screw ups and empty apologies. If Gucci Mane truly made a turnaround, that’s great. Apparently Keyshia saw something in him that I would not have stayed around to uncover, and we have to stop preaching this twisted rhetoric that if you allow a man to drag you through the mud long enough, you will come out clean on the other side. A relationship is not supposed to be in a perpetual state of turmoil. Romantic love is not supposed to hurt, and while it requires work like any other relationship, it should not be a constant uphill battle. This all goes back to the sect of gender roles that require women to be submissive and subservient. Many say that women will put up with anything for money, and many say that taking care of someone financially entitles them to do whatever they’d like. This is not 1888, and you don’t have to put up with anyone’s foolery in order to prevent homelessness and despair. I didn’t know that the only thing a man was supposed to do was provide financial support. It may be better to cry in a mansion, but who wants to be hurt at all? If you allow a man to disturb your inner peace just for a designer bag and some jewelry, you don’t love him, you just love the fancy lifestyle, and you certainly don’t love yourself. 

30th Times’ a Charm

“Maybe he will finally get it this time!” This is the battle cry of someone fighting to hold on to a relationship with a person who doesn’t act right and who likely never will. You lie awake at night wondering what you can try next to show him how good of a catch you are and how foolish of him it would be to let you walk out the door. You’ve seen the potential in him, and you just know that you are the one to turn this pauper into a prince. He’s shown you who he is a multitude of times, but you know that’s not the real him. He’s just been hurt by these no-good women out here. If you are taking the time to truly get to know someone, you wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place. People are unable to hide their true colors for long, and time reveals all, but of course, women love to fall in love with potential. I’m not sure why so many of us think we have the supreme power to manifest change in people, but no one is that powerful. We do not have this level of control over anyone, and trying to control things you have no power over will lead to disappointment every time. When some people realize that actively trying to change a person doesn’t work, they try the wait and pray approach. They walk all over you again and again, but you have the patience of Job; you tell yourself this time that God is working on their heart, and if you just be still, you will come out on the other side stronger than ever. Get a grip. Your efforts are futile and you are letting the best years of your life pass you by waiting on a loser to see the light. Being in a bad relationship just for the sake of being in one is selling yourself short.

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We all know those “at least I got a man” type of women, even though their man is unemployed, unfaithful, ugly and God only knows what else. But hey, any man is better than no man, right? Internalized misogyny is a real killer. Some women are so brainwashed they feel it is better to allow emotional and sometimes physical abuse from a boyfriend or spouse than be single and date until a suitable partner is found. To make matters worse, a lot of women are allowing men they aren’t even in relationships with dog them out. They hope if they prove their loyalty to him, he will bestow the honor of being his girlfriend upon them. Countless women give their unwavering loyalty to men who would be gone at the first dose of disrespect. It is time that we become equally intolerant. Instead of building up a hopeless charity case, find someone who matches or even exceeds where you are in life. If you find that all you attract are men who have nothing to offer besides penis and a headache, it’s time you go inside and examine yourself. You clearly don’t think you deserve anything better. The universe gives us back what we put out, and it is impossible to attract something that is not present within yourself. I do not find it impressive to be the woman who finally made the most wild man of them all act right.  All that means is you were the one foolish enough to stick around long enough for him to either get tired of his current lifestyle or all his other options showed him the door and you were the only one dumb enough to still be there. You are not Cesar Milan, but instead of teaching dogs how to behave, you have a knack for training problematic men. I have yet to read any type of content regarding a man helping build a woman into the person she is meant to be, stand by your queen while she’s down, or anything pertaining to men tolerating disrespect while a woman grows and matures. This does not have to be a double standard that withstands the rest of humanity, but it will be as long as women keep buying into the notion that you should be loyal to a fault while you do not receive the same treatment in return. Love is conditional, and not everyone should be entitled to your heart.