Thoughts from the Shark Tank

I’m not a big television watcher. This is largely due to the fact that I don’t really have the time and I don’t have cable. I’m not a huge fan of reality or game shows. However, the tv show, Shark Tank has really caught my eye. One thing that my parents drilled into me growing up was the importance of owning your own business. My siblings and I never got allowances because we were told that we were “allowed” to have free room and board. But I digress. Shark Tank is a great show because you get the chance to see people market themselves in order to grow their business. In fact, when you think about it, a lot of life depends on how you “market” or sell your skills to other people. One thing that is very apparent after watching the show is that that presentation is everything. Contestants on the show name their terms and how much money they need to pursue their dream and grow their business. They explain their services or products in detail and answer all the probing questions from the sharks. One thing that always amazes me is the number of people who do not know what they are talking about. It’s their business, their time to shine and they haven’t a clue. I came across a quote from Napoleon Hill this week that stated, “There is one weakness in people for which there is no remedy. It is the universal weakness of lack of ambition!” I can definitely agree with that sentiment and I think that there are many people who fit into that category. Starting your own thing takes time, dedication and ambition and I have a lot of respect for people who make that decision.


Testing Woes

I’ll be honest, I very strongly dislike standardized tests. The source of this dislike can be credited to my mother, who also strongly opposes standardized tests. Growing up, I didn’t have many tests. The homeschooled life afforded me the luxury of learning my way. High school was challenging because I literally had to teach myself subject I knew nothing about with limited internet access and textbooks. Yet, this was not as challenging as it sounds like because all my tests were open book. When I say all, I mean ALL. Because of this experience, I am quite comfortable with open book tests. Partially because I think that it’s reassuring to know that all the answers are contained somewhere in the book and you just have to find them. Piece of cake. Consequently, when it came time in my high school career to take the tests that indicate if you’re smart  and if you’ll go to a decent college, I experienced a high level of anxiety. The results of this anxiety was that I took the SAT three times (yes, three) and the ACT twice. For a grand total of…………a lot of hours spend in a cold room filling in bubbles. I prefer essay tests to filling in bubbles. Eight pages of blank paper and a one sentence question on top of each page? I’m down. I’d much rather give a speech in front of thousands of people than take a timed standardized test. Honestly, one of the things that I liked about graduate school is that I only had ONE test the entire length of my program. It was great. However, my professional goals demand that I take tests for licensure in my field. And, the time has come to start to study and prepare for this test. No, I’m not excited but I am more than ready to get this out the way so that I can move on with my life. I can’t wait.

Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy

So this song has been pretty popular the past couple of months. There’s a rumor that Pharrell tried numerous times to get this concept off the ground before the movie actually picked it up. The song is super catchy and the music video(s) involve people singing and dancing to the song at all hours of the day and night. There’s a website that plays the music video 24/7 and you can also watch it in one hour increments. While I am someone who gets easily annoyed after the first 5 minutes of a song (with the exception of classical music), I’ve actually listened to three hours of this song over and over again. We all know people who appear to be happy all the time. I don’t know anyone who actually IS happy all of the time (unless they are happily psychotic, but that really doesn’t count). While songs like this would traditionally be way too “happy” for me, it’s a song that can put you in a better mood. Despite the fact that in no way am I a poster child for being in a constant state of euphoric happiness, I’ve learned to genuinely enjoy and appreciate the moments where happiness sneaks up on me and surprises me. This song just talks about being happy without there being an apparent reason. Great concept. Good melody. Pharrell made a great song that embodies a feeling that most people want to have, and, (totally unrelated), he does NOT look 40.

No New Friends

Many of us are familiar with the lyrics to this popular song. Along with a catchy hook, the song embodies a sentiment that many people would agree with. The artist in this song repeats the three words “no new friends” over and over again. Great friendships aren’t made overnight. Have you ever met someone and within a matter of minutes they have already decided that they are your best friend? One of the most annoying experiences ever. I think that the best friendships and relationships have stood the test of time. They involve people who you have known forever–or you’ve gone through so many experiences together that it feel like forever. Many people have a “core” group of friends who they keep up with. One thing that I have learned is that many times people who have a “no new friends” mentality actually make the best friends. This is because they tend to be fiercely loyal because they don’t have many reasons not to be. People who have had good friends for long periods of time tend to be more comfortable with themselves and also more likely to refuse to be drawn into superficial and surface relationships. At least in my opinion. There’s more genuineness and authenticity when someone isn’t looking for a friend for the sheer reason that they feel they need one. Friendships have to develop and grow and sometimes people don’t want to be bothered with the process of meeting someone and building a relationship with them. In my opinion, I don’t think that having a lot of friends is necessary because quality is more important than quantity. It’s easier to be yourself and comfortable with people who know you well and who you have known for years. Having a “no new friends” mentality is somewhat of a luxury because it implies that you actually have old friends and are still close to them. Getting out of your comfort zone and doing something different often means that you have to let go of a “no new friends” mentality and just meet and get to know new people. Not the “funnest” thing ever, but definitely necessary. However, now having any new friends actually works for some people. They’re comfortable that way and they don’t want to change. I don’t blame them. If something isn’t broken, there is no reason to fix it. At least most of the time.

Car Wash

Like millions of people everywhere, I own a car. I know people who have names for their main mode of transportation. They baby their cars and have them washed and detailed on a weekly basis. I’m not one of those people. Ever since I can remember, I’ve hated car washes. I can remember my parents singing to me to keep me from crying when I was little. While I don’t cry hysterically as my car is being doused in soap in water, I do sing at the top of my lungs to distract myself from the fact that I am trapped in a moving vehicle in less than ideal conditions. And just in case you’re wondering, this post does not end with some profound thoughts or wisdom related to car washes and daily life. No, I have not figured out why I don’t like car washes. It’s probably attached to some bad experience hidden in my subconscious. I endure them when I must and consequently my car is currently in need of a good washing. Basically my point in saying all that is to say this: being comfortable and being safe are two different things. As a therapist, I’m pushing people out of their comfort zones and challenging them to change their behaviors and thought patterns. That’s uncomfortable. But simultaneously, I’m also creating a safe space for them to be themselves and to not be judged for their weaknesses while they are figuring out the next step. That’s safety. While I am extremely uncomfortable being trapped in a car with water and soap splashing everywhere, I’m still (relatively) safe. Plus, the end product is a cleaner looking car. Similar to the way that being emotionally vulnerable ( a.k.a. uncomfortable) can have good results.

Black History and Buck

First off, I need to keep this post brief. Procrastination is a silent killer. Enough said.  One of the things that I like to do in the month of February is to go to an event for Black History Month. Definitely easier said than done. At least out here where I live. Finding quality events that fit my schedule but also are interesting and don’t waste my time is something that I try to do. Last year, I went to a spoken word event and it was pretty decent. The best part was that it was only ten minutes away from my house. But I digress. While by no means am I someone who is qualified to give “the black perspective,” as I was often called upon in graduate school to do, I do think that there are certain challenges that come with being black in America. I’m going to make a quick detour and say that I really strongly dislike the term “African American.” It’s annoying. And quite frankly, I’m not from Africa and neither are my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. I have some theories about how this term is used as a social construct but that’s totally not the topic at hand. There are certain rare occasions where I get the opportunity to listen to a speaker that is genuine, engaging, young, ambitious, articulate, and has exceptional communication skills. MK Asante is one of those people. He’s one of the best speakers I’ve heard because he has the ability to paint exquisite skillful pictures with words. And he does it in a way that has the right combination of his education and life experiences that give him the ability to relate to his audience. The fact that he became a college professor at age 23 and is now tenured is amazing.  Needless to say, it was great listening to him today. I bought his book, “Buck” and read it cover to cover in about two hours. I’m not easily impressed with books but after reading it I can honestly say that it’s one of the best memoirs that I’ve read. An honest depiction of the good, bad and ugly with moments of vulnerability and raw emotion is what makes this book so good. This book draws you in and keeps your attention because Asante walks you through his life in such a way that makes you feel as if you’re not only a silent observer, but that you have an invested interest in his success. Definitely a great read that was made even better by hearing the writer before I read the book.

Love is a choice

To love is to be vulnerable. So we’re back in February which is also known as the month of love. Not too long ago, I watched a movie (can’t remember the name) where one of the characters told the other that the first person to say “I love you” to their significant other loses. I also watched the episode of New Girl (love that show) where Nick finally blurts out to Jess that he loves her and she totally freaks out. In no way am I anti-love, but I can understand the vulnerability that comes with being the first one to use the word “love” directed towards a significant other. Scary stuff. One thing that grinds my gears is when couples say that they aren’t in love anymore and that their feelings have changed toward each other. True love isn’t based on how we feel at the moment. It’s more complicated than that. So many people are under the false assumption that you have to be with the person that you love. Loving from a distance can take more guts than being with the person that you love. Sometimes loving someone means that you respect their choices–even if you don’t agree with it or know that they would be better off with you. It involves putting your feelings to the side because at the end of the day, feelings can come and go. A genuine interest, respect for someone, and a desire to do anything necessary to ensure their success are some of the many aspects of true love. So what if your feelings change? Love has to go deeper than that. One of my Facebook friends posted that when you love someone you don’t ever actually stop loving them, you just learn how to move on. You can still love someone after letting go of them because your love shouldn’t be dependent on their actions. Love is a choice. It’s a choice that should be made wisely because if you really love someone you don’t stop loving them. Even if you don’t agree with their decisions. This, by default, puts you in a position of vulnerability and you had better hope that the other person is in a similar spot of vulnerability because it’s never fun being in love alone. Ever. Because to love is to be vulnerable.

Changes and Challenges

So today I started a new job. Not a hustle or on a “as needed” basis, but a real job. It’s something that I’ve (halfway) actively pursuing since early last year. While I’m excited about new opportunities, I’m also hesitant. I love flexibility but it’s time to have something resembling security with health insurance and a 401K. I’ve met so many people who settle for a “regular” job, they put in their hours, go home, raise a family, take a vacation once a year, retire, and die. Not a bad plan, but definitely not for me. This job is not where I want to be for the rest of my life. It’s a means to an end. And if I have to sacrifice by waking up early EVERY morning in order to get stuff done and to meet my goals, so be it. I’m not a morning person but I’ll be one because what I want to be as a professional is bigger than pushing the snooze button on my alarm clock. There’s a saying that says one has to be willing to do what others won’t do in order to get what others won’t get. In my case, getting a regular job is doing what others are doing. However, my special twist is that I’m also pairing it with three additional jobs and an increasingly challenging doctoral program. With the end goal of being in a very very good professional place by the time I’m 25. The biggest challenge will definitely be balance and making sure that I don’t get in my own way. I’ve made some hard choices and there are plenty more to come. But, as I tell my clients, settling feels good for the moment but you never get any lasting results. Being deliberate and planning takes time, effort, and sacrifice but it sure beats waking up one morning and realizing that you’ve wasted your life. At least in my opinion.