Crossing 25

Yesterday, August 1st, I turned 26 years old. (Happy Birthday To Me!!) This was the first birthday that I had in a while where I didn’t have any anxiety, I wasn’t stressed, and I was thinking about a five-year plan. When I turned twenty-five, I was worried about so many things, a lot of them had absolutely nothing to do with me. I remember twenty-five being this thing, as if, a shift was supposed to happen that I had no control over. However, I learned that it was the opposite. I had the utmost control and the potential to make it work to my advantage. Everyone told me that the mid-20s were about finally building; you had to find the right job, the right mate, the right everything. Being the over-thinker that I am, I was worried sick about this. I had one part time job, I had absolutely no love interest, and I felt as if I was behind. Life has this amazing way of humbling you. Life on that 25th hill, taught me three very important things.

 

  1. Patience

I learned that there were things I had to sit out. I couldn’t be everywhere, all the time, whenever. There were events that I would have to miss and opportunities would arise when the time was right. Divine timing is not a joke. There would be people and situations that would enter your life for a reason. A lesson must be taught and you must have the patience to sit through the class. Sometimes, we want to skip over a few steps and it doesn’t work that way. Learning to have patience meant using this time to research, strategize, and practice before I could go to the next step. I had to master some things before I could get there, and having patience helped because I didn’t miss anything that may be beneficial for the future.

  1. Honesty

This doesn’t mean that I was not always an honest person, I tend to be too honest at times, but what I learned about honesty at twenty-five was that it did not apply only to everyone else; it meant honesty with myself as well.  I learned to put the mirror up and truly see myself for who I was; what were my strengths? What were my weaknesses? What was I truly interested in? How did I behave when no one was looking? When I started taking time to assess and understand who I was fully as a person, changes were made. If I didn’t want to do something, I didn’t force myself to do so. If I didn’t like something, I spoke up about it. I stopped hiding myself in fear of how I was perceived, instead I showed up and showed out, this is me. You have the option to take it or leave it. Those who were meant to stay did and those who weren’t, well, I don’t what they’re doing #blockanddelete

  1. Work Ethic

Opportunities may be few and far between, but whether they are there or not, I learned to be on the job anyway. I learned that my work ethic determined how opportunities would present themselves. If I was doing mediocre work, I was getting mediocre rewards. If I was putting in 150%, I was getting 150% in rewards. It didn’t matter if I wasn’t where I wanted to be, how did I behave where I was presently? What made me special? What was I doing that made me different than every other worker? Once I figured that out, I began to apply myself more; I thought different. I planned more efficiently because I had to do my best no matter where I was; if I was a terrible worker in the entry level, I would be terrible on the next level and I didn’t want that.

 

Everyone’s twenties are different; foundations we start out on will be different, how we handle situations will be different, that’s why it is okay if you’re not doing what everyone else is. Sure, I don’t have the ‘right’ job, mate, or a plan set in stone for the next few years, but I have other things. I have the ability to build myself to be prepared for when those things arise. I have the work ethic for the ‘right’ job when the opportunity presents itself (and the ability to create it if it doesn’t). I know who I am with or without anyone else, so I am solid in what I want and/or need from the ‘right’ mate. And I have patience. I used my time of solitude to brainstorm and strategize what I want and/or need years from now.  Comparing how shook I was last year to now, I can’t stop laughing at myself. Twenty-five was not all that scary, don’t believe the hype.

Rose-Colored Glasses: Retrospective Lessons

 

Lesson 1: Be Yourself

When I was a kid, I wanted to be alot like my youngest aunt. She had her own business, she had the fun friends, she threw the best parties, she went on the best vacations, she cooked so damn good, she started a family, she had the cars, the house, the whole nine; in my young eyes, my aunt was living the dream. To me she had merged the life of traditional Caribbean woman with traditional 1990s New York woman and I wanted that. Whereas my parents were heading for a divorce (and constantly going through things like affairs, money issues, and heartbreak) my aunt’s life was my escape; she was fun. She would go to parties in the city, she had friends with beach houses, and she went to almost every carnival that happened. She lived a life I could only dream about. I grew up wanting to be a lot of things but I wanted to have what my aunt had. No matter how many times my mother would say; “never wish for what others have because you don’t know what they have to go through to get it,” I wanted auntie’s life, it was too good.  She represented carefree living and she did things my mom definitely was not doing. And she made it look so easy and of course, she represented the lifestyle that I loved witnessing instead of being at home. I thought hell, if she could do it, I most certainly can.

 

Those memories/aspirations of my aunt lasted until I was probably going into junior high. She didn’t die or anything, my perspective just changed drastically by that time. At that time, I was at the age where I actually paid attention to kitchen table talk and understood what was happening around me. My parents were divorce and the pressure of being a “good kid” was constantly on my back. I no longer aimed to have that carefree living, instead I aimed to finish school and live the life of a working Black woman like a character from Girlfriends or Living Single. Then came high school, secretly having a boyfriend, and seeing most of my teenage friends become adults overnight. Next, I started college and then I became an adult. By this time, my only aspiration was simple: survive. Finish school, have a job, and hopefully have a good boyfriend. I accomplished everything but the good boyfriend and this is when I realized I would never be like my aunt. I would never be like Joan or Khadijah. Life happened and the lessons that came with it let me know that the only life I would get would be the one I created. My aunt, Joan, and Khadijah were all able to have those lives due to the work and time they put into creating it.

 

From the outside looking in, especially as a child, it all seems so simple. Adults get to do all the fun stuff, I used to think. I laugh at that now every time T-Mobile texts me with a reminder to pay my phone bill. If I could talk to my eight-old self I would tell her to dream her own dreams and don’t let them be small. If I could tell my 16-year old self anything, I would tell her to focus more on her work and talents than relationships, and that when people tell you something can’t be done, they’re just projecting their own fears on you, so don’t be discouraged. If I could tell my most recent self, anything, I would tell her, work harder, smarter, and more meticulous than anyone she’s ever aspired to be. Also, if she was going to invest time, energy, and love into any relationship, make sure it’s with herself. I used to really want to be like my auntie, now, there is absolutely nothing in this world like being myself.

So… Grad School

 

I was terrified to go to Grad School. Scared shitless. Undergrad was scary but bearable, because age (young) and perspective, of course. But when you’re getting older, parents are not kicking out textbook money, and you are already paying loans from undergrad with your shitty part time job? Grad school was a different type of fear. I didn’t know where the coins were going to come from but I knew I was going back to school for another two years.

 

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I knew I had to go back for a few reasons. One, I needed to work on my craft. Two, I needed to network. That’s really it. Being an introvert, networking meant coming out of my shell. Being an introvert, meant I would actually have to show people my work. So, grad school right, with all the fear and what if’s, was really the best decision I made. Sure, I may be in debt after (well not ‘may’, I will be lol) but who isn’t? Debt? That’s all of America basically. That’s the perspective I went with. It was either be in debt but get my foot into my career or be in lesser debt and literally keep working part time jobs and hearing my family tell me go work in an office (that’s another post).  I knew that I wanted to be better writer, I wanted to learn the ins and outs of being a serious writer and working in the world as such. Blogs are cool but I didn’t want to simply be a blogger. I wanted to work. I wanted to really write and interview creatives;  I wanted to inspire someone like writers inspired me.  I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in the 6th grade, but I kept doing everything but following my dream, yet, here we are.

The first few weeks of my first semester, I was overwhelmed, stressed, and questioning if this was the right choice. All of that led to hormonal acne and lots of anxiety still, push through. As time progressed, I met a lot of new people, a lot of them in my major, and I had been challenged in designing and writing. Midway through the semester, I was confident in my decision to come back.

 

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I learned about taking risks, removing fear, and being ambitious. If you want something, there’s probably 20 people who want it more than you, what makes you special? Even though this was my first semester and I have three more to go, I can honestly say, grad school is hard work yes, but it really comes down to time management and how much you want this degree. If you manage your time and workload properly, maybe the anxiety and stress will subside. If you know having a degree is necessary to doing what you want, then you have to want it more than anybody else does. Money is on the line. Career is on the line. Grad school was a good step for me because it challenged me and sparked a different kind of fire in me. I was unsure what was the next step in life overall, but now, I actually feel like I’m going in the right direction. This semester was good, the school is good, the professors actually care, I mean… this was not as bad as I thought. If you have dreams, go after them, chase them down, and make them come true. It sounds cliché but you won’t get to see it come to life if all you do is dream about it.

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All The Ships Have Sailed

One thing 2016 revealed to me, that I am most certainly grateful for, is that I am over all the ships. I no longer have any problems jumping off of any ship I have no business being on; this includes, intimate relationships, family relationships, and friendships. The time has come and gone when it comes to bending over backwards and jumping through hoops for people and situations that do not deserve that energy or effort.

Family is overrated. How can you say that? Family is everything. For who? How many times are you going to forgive that aunt, cousin, or sibling for putting their own best interest before everyone else’s? How many times do we allow disrespect and betrayal because ‘that’s how he/she is’? Welp, that ship has sunk. Of course, self-care is very important, but how can we be like that all time? Family has this way of doing and saying whatever it is that they want to and expect you to sit idly by and approve of their selfish and careless behavior without considering you in the slightest because to be completely honest, you don’t matter. They matter. They are important. You? You come last because a lot of families are loyal to fleeting things such as money, clothes, and status. It’s all a competition. Instead of us building together, we’re in competition with each other trying to prove how much better we are than the next of kin. Nope, don’t have time for it. You go against once, that’s it. Pick a side and stay there.

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Friends? Don’t need them if they’re toxic to be honest. Consider friendship in a biblical context. Jesus, broke bread with the 12 disciples, he traveled all over with them, dropped gems on them, and changed their lives; what did Judas do? Sell Him out for some coins. What did Peter do? Deny Him when shit hit the fan. Man listen, if Jesus’ friends could do HIM like that who are you? You could know someone your whole life and not know them at all because people change. People grow. And people secretly hate. Be real. If you don’t have friends that wish for you the good that they would wish for themselves, drop them. Let them row by their damn self.

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Speaking of rowing, when it comes to  relationships, learn the difference between compromising and being an ass. Some people just need stepping stones and hiding places, don’t be either. Sometimes we are and don’t even know it but when you realize that you are? Goodnight. Goodbye. Best wishes hun.  I say this all the time, life is a simple thing, we make it complicated. I want to live my best life in the most peaceful and positive way that I can, therefore, I’m not giving people a chance to treat me however they feel like. No relationship is perfect but, I’m not here for enabling bad behavior and awful behavior, miss me with that. Sometimes, we have to be like Rose and choose to let Jack’s ass freeze while we float.

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Be good to those who are good to you.

Gabby Dropped A Gem

You can learn a million things from hearing about someone else’s journey, but the most important part is not how long the journey was or the obstacles faced, it’s about what you take away from the experience. It took a little longer than expected, but I finally finished Gabourey Sidibe’s new book, This Is Just My Face, Try Not To Stare, and when I closed it, I sat down and let my thoughts about it marinate.

I remember the day I went to Barnes & Noble to buy a new book, I had no idea she even had one published. I went there looking for another book that was out of stock, but when I saw her cover, I was intrigued. I haven’t seen Gabby in anything other than Precious; of course I knew the other shows and films she was in but I only saw Precious. I’ve seen the jokes online about her and I always thought about how I wish I could know more about her other than the silly things online so when I saw her beautifully posing in her metallic Converses and that gorgeous dress, I didn’t even read the inside flap, I walked straight to the checkout line. Something told me finally I would get to learn about the woman outside of the memes and gifs, and I did.

Reading Gabby’s journey in her own words felt like listening to my best friend on a train ride coming home. I had no clue she was from New York! I had no idea that she wasn’t really trained actor like most stars, and I had no idea she was so damn funny! She even went to a CUNY institution and had to deal with losing financial aid, if that isn’t the most New York thing ever, I don’t know what is. The things she said to how she wrote it, was typical New Yorker banter. Her Conway references, her living situations, her train rides, all resonated with me deeply because it was a vivid detailing of being a young Black girl coming up in this city. When she wrote to her boyfriend in junior high school by sending a note with her friend by saying “It’s dead”, I almost fell out. This was a real thing. I’ve been the note carrier and the sender at some point or the other and it literally made me lol.

What I loved most about the book was her telling every part of her upbringing and journey, all unapologetically. Reading about her dealing with family issues, weight issues, and fame, really gives readers a chance to see Gabourey and not Precious, which I wanted to see for so long. This was not an interview or an Instagram post, no, it was a full book about a girl finding herself in the world that almost wouldn’t see her outside of a role and her weight. Just as I thought, there was so much more to her than those things which I loved.

One part that I found inspiring, was her getting the role of Precious and how she passed on it, only for it to come back to her five years later. There’s a gem in there. As she’s waiting to do her final audition, the one in Lee Daniel’s office, she writes: “I didn’t pray that I would get the role.  I prayed, that whatever my life was supposed to be, whatever my path was, I would finally be on it. I was only twenty-four years old, but I was tired of fear. I was tired of running away from something I could see into something I couldn’t. (Chapter 14)”. It’s inspiring because it shows that after she fought against the universe for so long, when she finally accepted things for what they were and how they were happening, it changed her life. She was afraid throughout the book of being put out there and of accepting the things that others saw in her that she couldn’t see herself, that when she stopped swimming against the current and swam with it, things picked up. That’s a lesson a lot of people can learn from. We may want to do something but we’re afraid of it but once we let go of that fear, there’s so many possibilities. I think that was the greatest take away from the book, besides seeing Gabby’s true self, that lesson she learned about timing and fear closed the book out nicely. There are other gems in there such as lessons of acceptance, self- worth, and authenticity that I think will be helpful for anyone. I think it’s in the running for a spot on my top 10 Summer’s Best List. #AGoodRead

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Why?

This is the post excerpt.

Sometimes I read a good book and I want to talk about it. Sometimes I listen to an album for two weeks straight before I can actually tell if I love it or not. All the time, I’m living life and figuring it out. I wanted to create a space where I can talk about what I want. I’ll have a million thoughts in my head and sometimes I don’t want to just journal about it, I might want to hear a different perspective or put someone onto something new. That’s how this world works now anyway. Either we’re arguing or agreeing (I don’t argue though). Anyway, Said By Simone is my place. It’s my views, my feelings, and possibly a rant. Nonetheless, it’s things that I want to say and I’m saying it. Cheers to that!