The Man Dilemma

The Man Dilemma

Some people say that a picture is worth a thousand words and I think that this one is no exception to that rule. I’ve seen it posted on a few social media sites with some very thought provoking comments made by different individuals. In a world where millions of children are growing up in homes without a consistent male presence, I think that this picture rings true. I have so much respect for single mothers who are working hard and raising their children. I think that family situations like these require a woman to take on additional roles and responsibilities that may traditionally be given to the “man of the house.” When you’re working hard, taking care of business, and raising kids, an ” I don’t need a man” mindset is fairly easy to require. When it’s just you and there is no one else, you begin to become more self-reliant and creative in order to ensure that things run smoothly. A life like this sometimes comes about because of necessity as opposed to a conscious choice. You do what you have to do in order to survive. Period. The lady on the left is right. She doesn’t need a man because she is doing everything on her own. There’s such a delicate balance between an “I don’t need a man” and a “My life isn’t dependent on the presence of a significant other in my life but I’d love to have one” mindset. It’s going to be hard for any man to adjust into a familial environment like the one depicted in the picture because the odds are already stacked against him. His contributions to the family won’t be as appreciated because he isn’t “needed.” Bitterness sometimes comes as a result of these situations and unfortunately, it affects children in one way or another and can perpetuate the cycle as the picture suggests. Folks, we’ve got to do better.

Money, money, money

Growing up, I was taught the verse that admonished me to not love money because it was the beginning of evil. No truer words have even been spoken. Human greed is a powerful thing and millions have died as the result of the selfish decisions of a few. With millions of people chasing the “American Dream” with hopes of one day becoming independently wealthy, one has to ask, does money buy happiness? Depending on who you are (and how much money you have) your answer to this question will vary. I’ve always been told that money doesn’t buy happiness, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve grown to disagree with that statement. I humbly submit that money actually does buy happiness. In the world today there so much emphasis on doing what makes you happy and being happy in life. I for one, don’t particularly subscribe to that perspective. Over the course of my life, I’ve bought things that have inadvertently brought me happiness. With money. I’m not a genius but I know that the having more money in my particular situation would increase my quality of life and also allow me to travel more which would translate to happiness. Happiness is fleeting and doesn’t last for an extended period of time. It’s not necessarily something that you can hoard and save for a special occasion. While money may buy happiness, it doesn’t bring lasting peace or joy, it won’t buy you good health, it won’t solve your family problems and it won’t save you from dying. But it comes in handy in times of stress, can improve your quality of life if used wisely, and consequently, can buy you things and experiences that bring you happiness. Not peace of mind. But definitely happiness.

Exclusivity…

Recently I was talking to a friend of mine who has a fairly successful consulting business and we were discussing marketing strategies. I asked him about doing more mainstream advertising in order to gain more visibility in the local area—an idea that he quickly shut down. I asked him his reason and he told me that he wanted to be able to control who he works with. Hence, he wanted to be able to be picky with the clients he chooses to help. And then, in typical friend fashion, he proceeded to tell me about how I was exclusive as well. I think that part of human nature is to surround ourselves with people who share common interests with us. We belong to groups of people who look the same way as us, do the same things as us, and think the same way that we do. Doing this isolates us with our own kind and tends to make us exclusive in our little groups. You can’t really get more exclusive than growing up homeschooled. Your peers are your siblings and the only clique that exists is the one that you make. My entire high school experience consisted of doing homework on my bed with my dog beside me. To top it off, after high school I went to a small private school for college which was a small subculture in itself. The majority of the students, faculty, and administrators adhered (or at least claimed) to a certain set of beliefs that were very unique and also very distinguishable when compared to the mainstream typical college culture. The uniqueness of this environment lent itself to an attitude of exclusiveness because of the beliefs and practices that set the whole school apart from thousands of others. We have tons of inside jokes that would make absolutely no sense to anyone who has not been exposed to the school, its beliefs, or the accompanying subculture. All this being said, exclusiveness exists everywhere. Life consists of socialization and relationships with various people in groups. Point blank. But it’s also important to take time out to get out of our own little bubble and meet people who aren’t like us. Instead of hanging with people who we identify with, we need to take the time to talk to people who we want to identify with one day. A wise person once said to hang with people who have your solution and not your problems. Being exclusive may work for a while and it may even be to your benefit at times, but at the end of the day you separate yourself from people and experiences that could be opportunities to grow.

What a Scandal!

What a Scandal!

First of all, I’m not a huge TV watcher. I don’t have cable or satellite but I must admit that this particular television show has caught my attention. Scandal is a television show that is based on the life of Olivia Pope who fixes scandals that arise with many of the leading people in Washington. Ironically, Olivia has a scandal of her own and a closet full of skeletons. Olivia is also in an on-again, off-again relationship with the (married) President. This show has numerous twists and turns that you would never expect and there seems to be a new development in every episode. One of the reasons why I think that Scandal is so popular is because people can identify with one of more of the characters in some way. I think that the show depicts true human nature and life in general. On the show, individuals do things that you might not expect. While the characters on the show present themselves in a certain light, as the show continues, you discover that these people have done things in their past that have been either illegal, ethically wrong, or put other people in danger. Some of the questions that Scandal forces us to ask ourselves are: Where is the limit to human greed and selfishness? If you love the “right” person and marry them, is it then acceptable to fall out of love with them and pursue another relationship because the “right” person has now become the “wrong” person for who you have become? Is cheating really cheating when it is done fairly openly and the other partner knows about it and may even encourage it? The truth is that Scandal makes us take a look at ourselves. What lengths would we go to in order to protect the people that we love from harm? How would we say no to someone who is like a drug to use and makes promise after promise but is still married to someone else? As a therapist, one thing that fascinates me about the show is the effect that Olivia’s childhood has had on her significant relationships. There’s so much to say about her experience growing up and her lack of a secure attachment as she was going through her teenage years. But I digress. I say all that to say the answers to the above questions will vary based on your beliefs, background, culture, and a myriad of other factors. The question remains; If you were in a similar position as the characters in the show, would your decisions be different?

The Beauty of Optimism

I’m a halfway believer in the power of optimism. Thinking positively can change your outlook on life and help you be a happier person. However, I’ve met people who have taken this positive outlook stuff to another level. As someone who works with depressed people almost daily, I know what a difference having a positive perspective can have on one’s mental state. However, as someone who is more of a realist, one thing that I’ve noticed is how often life doesn’t go the way we want it to. We live in a world where we are told that if we do something specific we’ll get specific results. If you go to college, you’ll get a decent job. If you study hard, you’ll make good grades. If you help enough people get what they want, one day you’ll get what you want. If you act like you have some sense, you’ll marry well. But none of these things are necessarily guaranteed. I’m often reminded of how often life doesn’t always go my way. There’s a saying that says we should hope for the best while planning for the worst. I like this perspective because it’s balanced. I think that optimism can be a source of false hope for some people and while that can be very comforting, I prefer a more straightforward approach that may not be as rosy, but depicts reality. I would rather experience a harsh truth than a comforting lie because at the end of the day, I want to be able to be prepared. Hope can be such a powerful emotion but I’d rather focus my energies on whats going on in the here and now instead of being disappointed at the outcome of my hope. I love optimists; they make the best friends.

It’s been HOW long?

I’m going to keep this pretty short and sweet but this song has been running through my head a lot in the past few hours. I was exposed to all types of music growing up but quality R&B is something of a lost art form. This is why I like Brian McKnight’s music. Granted, I may have more of a vested interest than most people because I’ve seen him numerous times and he went to my alma mater. But that’s neither here nor there. I’ve always admired artists who can convey a message of such deep human emotion through an equally moving set of chords and progressions that just fit. Brian has that gift. Recently I had the opportunity to see him perform live and it was an incredible experience. “6,8, 12” is one of my favorite songs ( I have many) because Brian does such an amazing job (as always) of capturing an experience that many people have felt at one point or another in their lives. The song talks about the process of letting go after being close to an individual but realizing that it won’t work out in the long run. Logic and experience both say that this situation should have been resolved a long time ago, but emotions and feelings say the opposite. So as a result, you’re stuck in a place of missing this person for an indefinite period of time. Or rather, 6 months, 8 days, and 12 hours. That place of limbo between being over someone and actually being with them. Definitely not the most comfortable place to be, but sometimes that’s just where we end up…

Crushing Hard

Recently one of my college colleagues posted something on a social media site that caught my attention. She said that having a crush on someone and liking them are two different things. I totally and complete agree with her assertion because it just makes sense to me. The idea of having a crush on someone usually brings of memories of elementary or middle school where you liked someone and you were convinced that the two of y’all were meant to be. I think that as we grow up, many times our crushes morph into some sort of attraction toward different celebrities. The actors, entertainers, and musicians that you know you’ll never meet in person but are convinced that they would immediately propose on the spot if they ever had the good fortune to spend time in your presence. Crushes are unattainable. They’re based in fantasy but yet the romantic side of us is ever optimistic that they’ll come to fruition. Liking someone, on the other hand, is similar yet different. I honestly think that in order to actually like someone you have to be in their physical presence. Unlike a crush, where you feel a connection through a TV screen. Liking someone involves having interactions with them. I honestly do not understand people who talk about how much they like someone but yet the person doesn’t even know that they exist. While I understand the concept of pining from afar, I just don’t think that it makes a lot of sense. You waste so much time and energy you can never get back because you haven’t even taken the first step of introducing yourself. It’s hard to like someone you don’t know but it’s easy to have a crush on them.