Living Life Purposefully

Where Purpose Meets Passion

Tag Archives: Personal

But At Least You Tried!?

I have got to be honest with y’all; I’ve always hated that phrase. When I share with someone that I’m afraid of failing at a task and they respond, “But at least you tried,” it makes my whole soul itch. Imagine Satanic Mosquito biting your soul on your ass?

That’s how I feel when I hear that phrase.

Now would be a good time to mention that I’m slightly a perfectionist. I’m totally not “all-in” on that particular trait because I also procrastinate. To top it off, I dislike doing anything more than once (twice if everyone has to do it multiple times). Why? I don’t know but I’ve told myself since I was six that doing something right once meant I wouldn’t miss any part of Captain Planet. That combination is as scary as being in the middle of bear country with a bag full of fish while you’re smeared in honey. From what I’ve seen on CSI:Miami, bears dig that combo as much as I dig holes of self-pity.

Anyway…the other day, I was feeling stuck about life and I shared that with my friend. Now before I get to her precious response, let me say that I deeply value my friends and understand that sometimes we are at a loss for words. With that said, let me say that I was offended by her generic response. It was like her brain was on auto-pilot and I took that to mean “I’m not listening to you because your problems aren’t my problems.” Cool but not cool. So I share my issues and she says to me, “Well go for it anyway because then at least you can say you tried.” (What it?! There were several its damnit!) Here’s the thing about failure — I’m of the Michael Jordan school of thought. Sure! You’ll know I failed but only after I win some championships.

Because then I’m technically not a failure.

In this day of mediocrity disguised as ingenuity, I want us to bury this phrase right next to where the NAACP buried nxgga. PLEASE! Or at least come up with a new saying that’s as colorful as a Lisa Frank pencil and stationary combo.

Is this too much to ask?

NOTE: I basically wrote this post because I wanted people to laugh a little bit (if you didn’t laugh, thanks for the page views but you don’t count). Most importantly, I want y’all to understand that when your awesome friend shares they are in a rut do NOT encourage them to “try” so that they feel better after failing.

DOUBLE NOTE: No friends were harmed in the making of this post. Also, my (professional) self-esteem was left in bear county drenched in honey and tied to a pile of fish.


A Purpose Driven Life (#31WriteNow)

For the past year and some change, I’ve struggled with being able to identify my purpose in this life. To make things more confusing, I’ve had trouble with being the person that other folks came to for advice. To me, it would seem like these people would ask a question, I’d give my advice and then something GREAT would happen to them almost immediately after our interaction.

Yet, I was still stuck…in whatever “rut” I was in. I guess you can call it a rut.

Then yesterday, I was trying to take a nap and it suddenly hit me. It was almost as if my Spirit responded to someone who asked me, “Why is it that you do what you do?”

In a brief moment, I answered this question very matter-of-factly:

“I do what I do because I want people to see who they truly are and KNOW that they are more than capable of doing whatever they want, which is in contrast to what society has convinced them they are. I know that this understanding of one’s self only comes through self-exploration, but often we have to be pushed to that point to begin with. For us to do that, we have to get a different point of view and that comes from being exposed to new information. Ultimately, with each project, job or task I undertake, my goal is to education and share information with people so they are equipped with the tools to better their lives.”

And why?

The “Why?” is what really tripped me out but things started to make a lot more sense to me. The “Why?” do I do this is because I have struggled with feeling like this has been lacking in my life. As I’ve gotten older though, I realized that it wasn’t so much that I lacked the support necessary to understand this about myself.

That was actually a hangup due to my expectations and being quiet (more on that tomorrow).

Recently though, people have been placed in my life where this message is reaffirmed for me. As I begin to understand my greatness and live in my brilliance, I know that I’m being equipped to share this with others.

For a purpose as great as this, my challenges (while difficult) are a bit more comforting.

Cracked Mirrors and Broken Reflections (#31WriteNow)

Yesterday was hard.

There really isn’t any other way to describe it. I spent most of my day curled up in a ball and sleeping sitting up (at the same damn time). Some people know this about me and others don’t — I have an autoimmune disorder that for the better part of seven years has wrecked my life. And yesterday I was in pain.

To the point that my temperature would spike and I’d get dizzy and black out.

Yesterday was hard.

It was one of those days that I wanted to worry about ME ONLY and yet, other people’s shit still crept into my space. We had a relative that died (who told them to do that?!) and now we’re traveling out of town (do I really have to be there?). My Brother called me with his problems (say Slim…I don’t care and I can’t help you) and my Dad called me with what was bothering him (can’t you call someone else?). It got to the point that I turned my ringer off and just went to Twitter.

Yesterday was hard.

You see…Twitter is this weird coping thing for me. I don’t like my life currently (everything is bleak — but I’m having an episode so this could pass in a day or two) and I pretty much hate everything about myself (are other women losing their hair and their intestines are causing their abdomen to swell? I want to lose weight…why can’t I KEEP THIS SHIT OFF?!?!). I’m in between jobs and I run a small business (why can’t people respect ME as a business owner? They don’t barter the price of food at Whole Foods or Winn Dixie?) and I don’t know where my next meal is coming from or how the bills are going to get paid (my Life Coach tells me not to worry but other people rely on me).

Yesterday was hard.

So I went on Twitter. To cope. And Twitter made me mad (people are not as funny as they think they are). So I put my phone down after turning on music (I love this song “The One” but I don’t think of anyone when I listen to it. Will I always be alone?). After listening to the music play softly, I fell asleep. For a few hours and I was grateful.

After saying out loud, “Today was hard,” I just want to go to sleep.

And get up to a better tomorrow.

My life just feels wrong. And I’m tired of looking at a broken reflection in a cracked mirror.

Disappointment When I Should Be Celebrating?

Today at work, I experienced a moment of overwhelming sadness. I’m not sure if I’ve shared it before but I recently started a blog which focuses on building wealth while I was on medical leave from my job. I’ve even shared the relief I felt when my surgery was finally over and the fibroids were removed from my body.
What I haven’t shared are the “troubles” that have come along with those two things. The issues with the blog have bought some very critical financial issues to light and at the moment, I currently feel like I’m not doing something quite right. After being off of work for six weeks, I knew that I wouldn’t return to my job under the best financial circumstances (as we speak, my bank account is overdrawn). The thing that I didn’t get, and perhaps this is what makes this piece so hard, is that by putting my stuff on display, it means that I have to live up to what I say. It’s almost like having an angel on your shoulder that “checks” you when you are doing something you have absolutely no business doing. That’s not even the big issue though. I made a pact with myself that I would use new media and be transparent about what’s going on with me financially. I share updates via Twitter with followers on that platform and lately, those updates have been about my feeling inadequate to care for myself and handle my financial responsibilities. It just reminds me that I’m a lot closer to the place I feared as a youngster (homelessness and poverty) than I “should” be. Why have all of these markers of upward social mobility but I’m still on Poverty’s front stoop?

With the medical issue, I’ve had the opportunity to share my story and connect with other young women (mostly of color) who have experienced something similar. This has been great and it has given me the courage to act on an idea that I have. What hasn’t been great is dealing with the recovery process. Although the fibroids were removed, I’m still have the painful symptoms that came along with it. I still can’t move the way I could before the surgery and I’m still at risk for injuring myself.

Facing these issues have been incredibly difficult. It’s like having this great life in front of me and I can’t touch it. It’s like I’m manifesting things that I used to only dream of as a youngster but this “gift” is going to some other recipient. Couple my very personal health and emotional issues with apprehensions and reservations with my job and you have the makings of a meltdown, right? Well, put all of what I just said together and add in things going on in my family (I’ll blog about that when I’m emotionally ready) and you can picture how much of a mess I feel. I just feel myself unraveling.

And there is never a good time to do that.

Realistic Dreams (Crossroads pt. 2)

I had a strange dream. My sleep patterns have been off in a major way and that may have something to do with the amount of time I’ve been giving to this whole idea of happiness. The question that came up in my dream was: when deciding between the lesser of two evils, which do you pick? Better yet, how do you make the decision?

One question I’ve continued to pose to myself is whether I’m less okay with waking up in the future having lived a life I didn’t want OR being a person I tried my hardest not to become? I’m recognizing that fear has been a major factor in how I made my decisions. It wasn’t which path is easiest to travel but which path seemed to be more acceptable to the people in my life.

I woke up in a state of confusion and I panicked. I had a dream that felt so real I was concerned for a moment. The dream itself wasn’t bad because the scene that played out was one that I’ve wished for pretty much my entire life. I wanted a family and I wanted that family to be loving, caring and supportive of me. Except the dream wasn’t my current family. This dream was a futuristic me and the family was one I helped to create. And I felt loved. I felt cared for. I felt supported.

And I woke up in a panic.

In that moment, I realized that my biggest fear wasn’t being alone or being forgotten like I’ve told myself so many times before. Rather it was waking up wondering if I was the person I wanted to be. Did I like myself when I looked in the mirror? Did I recognize myself? Was I proud of me? Was I happy?

Waking up in a panic let me know that I wasn’t happy with that dream. The more I thought about it, the more frustrated I became. In front of me was everything I ever wanted and yet, I didn’t want that. So I began to think of the details in the dreams. The rooms were plain and didn’t reflect anything I wanted to do for myself. There were no pictures or art from places I’d visited. There were no awards with my name on them. There wasn’t room for creativity and everything was boring. Everything was stuffy. Everything was monotonous.

It was safe.

And I was unhappy. As I thought about what was reflected in my surroundings, I began to cry. I’d been safe my whole life. I wasn’t daring and I wasn’t creative and I wasn’t confident in my dreams. There were no pieces of me there. No authentic expression of who I felt I was on the inside. I’d lived an entire life for other people. Making sure that nothing I did was uncomfortable for them or disturbing in any way. At that moment, I started to cry because the only thing I had to show for my unhappiness was the comfort level of other people. And in that moment, I started to cry harder than I had in a while. But this time…

I woke up for real.

To be continued…

Self-Reflection & Difficult Confessions (Crossroads pt. 1)

I’m at a crossroads in my life. A major point of transition that has come about because of some much-needed, albeit unexpected, downtime. On April 2, I underwent a surgery to remove two large fibroids and an ovarian cyst. Because of this procedure, I’m out of work for six weeks and I spent much of the first two weeks resting and lying down. I’ve come to realize that when your body is in this position and you are seemingly doing nothing, your natural inclination is to think.

And think is what I did. Thinking is all I’ve done since I came out of my medicated stupor on April 3rd.

I thought about everything, from the things that were bothering me to the things that weren’t bothering me. I was forced to think about the things that I knew I had to think about but hadn’t given the appropriate time for it.

Most surprising to me was that I thought about the things that I didn’t know I had to think about…and I honestly believe this is the reason I’m finding myself at this major crossroad.

For 22 years of my life, I’ve found myself doing things that made other people happy. For the most part, I stayed out of trouble and out of people’s way. I was quiet and I didn’t question directions as they were given to me. This made it easier to manage an otherwise stressful life. Growing up, my family faced many hardships and the ones that have left the biggest print upon my soul are homelessness and the custody battle that my biological parents waged on one another. It was during this time that I began to tell myself, “Just be quiet. It will make life easier.”

And for a while it did.

You see, in being quiet, I convinced myself that it would be selfish to ask to do the things that I knew made me happy. It would be crazy to ask that I be allowed to be a member of a dance troupe. It would be insane to ask that I be allowed to take dance lessons with a studio. But the most damaging message that I told myself was it would be selfish to enjoy my life, or try to figure out what would lead me to enjoy my life, when others around me were miserable.

My family dealt with a lot of grief – much of which we still deal with today. Recognizing this grief early on, I decided that life would be much more fair if I just accepted this and did only what was required of me. From the time that I was 10 years old until today, I did just that. I went to school. I made excellent grades. I did a few activities, but I made sure they were free (or as close to free as possible). Then when it was time to be an adult, I made decisions with my family in mind. I went away to school and majored in something reliable. Once I finished my undergraduate degree, I went on to earn my Master’s in a field that selfless but would also ensure that I could provide for my family when they needed me. I graduated, I moved back home and I got a job. Today I realized that I’m unhappy and it’s my fault.

With this realization and admission of truth, I now find myself at a crossroads.

To be continued…

Is This What Regret Feels Like?

Yesterday…I realized that I may regret one thing in life and that’s not having gone into the field I dreamed of going into since I was 10.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a Chemist. No bullshit. I was smart too. Top of my class. Always on the Honor Roll and I would ask for gifts that only nerdy people asked for. Think – telescopes, microscopes and encyclopedias.

Who asks for that shit…in the hood no less?

As I got older, I started to wonder why people in my neighborhood behaved the way they did. It had to be some chemical thing and I read up on Pharmacological Research in the neighborhood library. At this point, I was 13.

In that moment, I decided that I wanted to become a Pharmacological Researcher but because I knew of the neighborhood I was being reared in and the people who were around me, I kept it to myself. I kept it to myself until the day before I left for college. And I said, offhandedly might I add, that I was going to double major in Chemistry and Psychology and then go on to a Tier I research university to finish off my studies. Even at 18, I knew…it was what I wanted to do.

And for a while, I was successful.

For those of you that don’t know, I attended a PWI, or a Predominantly White Institution and that was the most shocking wake up call ever. I got to my undergraduate institution and realized I was nowhere near prepared. I was smart, true. I had taken the tough classes, true. But I still wasn’t ready. So I worked hard and for the first year, it was all good. I did well in not only my Math & (Hard) Sciences courses but also in my Psychology courses. And I was overjoyed. Then Year 2 happened. Along with year 2 came the realization that I would have to be used to being the ONLY Black face in my course section taking the hard track (I majored in Graduate Preparation studies, so think AP of college).

But what also happened, and this is something that I wasn’t prepared for, was that I had to be ready to defend every excellent mark I made. Because there was no way that I could score that high on tests when my peers didn’t. And I got tired. I dealt with racism and sexism and I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. My friends didn’t understand…they were in “simpler” majors. My professors told me that it came with the territory. And my family questioned why I wanted to “do that shit” anyway.

So I dropped Chemistry as a major and I shrunk my dream to something that made sense to everyone. I would just major in Psychology. Well, today on Twitter, I was recounting the excitement I felt when I thought of Chemistry and I thought of Pharmacology and I’ve been wondering ever since if this is what regret feels like?

Earlier, I sorta felt like, if I could do anything, I’d go back to school and pick up chemistry again. But I don’t know what I would do with it because I’m starting to feel really drawn to working with young people. I want to be  in spaces where I can affirm them and their impossible dreams. But I want to be a Chemist.

It just feels like…well, I’m not sure what it feels like. Maybe I just want to do something so I don’t feel so helpless?