I think that if you ask a millennial what their dealbreakers in a relationship are, the chances are high that you’ll get quite a list. The truth of the matter is that marriage isn’t what it used to be. More people are getting married and changing their minds about it afterwards. There’s also the trend of getting married later in life so marriage is not seen as the only avenue to financial stability. We see better examples of co-parenting and amicable splits. Our parents and grandparents may have stayed married because they felt that they had to but millennials don’t feel the same way. We know that life is too short to be with someone that you can’t stand and that you can’t put a price on peace. It’s one thing to be married but another thing entirely to be happily married. No relationship is worth keeping at your own detriment just to say that you “hung in there.” Lately, I’ve met quite a few middle-aged people who are staying in relationships where their partner is actively sabotaging their goals. Their sole reason for staying is because “Jesus hates divorce.” And at the end of the day they have to make a decision for themselves or for the relationship. I personally believe that being alone is better than being alone in a relationship ESPECIALLY when it’s not healthy. Regardless of age, it’s important to put yourself first because no one else ever will.
It’s funny how fast time flies but how slow it can drag by. My birthday is right around the corner and it’s always around this time of year that I take another inventory of what exactly has been accomplished. Last time this year I lived in California and was working at a rehab center. This year I’m in Georgia working as a therapist and I have no clue where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing next year. The biggest thing for me right now is trying to finish school. It’s been a long long journey and I’m ready for it to be over. I’ve learned that it can be important to pace oneself at times. I’ve accomplished a few things professionally this past year. I added two additional clinical licenses in separate states and I’ve made some progress with my degree. Personally I’m still single and while it’s not a surprise to me I still find myself thinking, “maybe next year things will be different.” But there’s no huge surprise there and I’m even more cautious since my job requires me to listen to horror stories of relationships gone wrong. Needless to say, I did have one, yes one really good date this year. And while I’m grateful for that, I’m crossing my fingers to double that to two good dates next year. Celebrate the wins right. I’ve definitely learned more about the importance of self care and as much as I want a significant other, I’m just tired of not winning in that department. I feel that eternal optimism only goes so far. I’m deciding to focus on something else for now because it’s a little too depressing. However, I’m grateful to be where I am for now but I’ll continue to constantly look for different opportunities. You only live once.
This month is Domestic Violence Awareness month and it is definitely needed and deserves attention. More recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with some women who have experienced it. While DV impacts both men and women, so far professionally I’ve primarily worked with women. People seem to be always quick to judge this population and I have to admit that women quite often catch the short end of the stick in the court of public opinion. There’s an opinion that women who stay with cheating spouses are just doing what is expected of them and in many situations men aren’t questioned when they leave a relationship if the tables are turned. The truth is that it’s not always easy to get out. Abusers often control finances and seek to isolate their victims from close family and friends. It’s even more complicated when children are involved and there are questions about next steps and potential custody battles. It’s also important to realize that abuse doesn’t always have to be physical. It can be emotional and verbal as well. In order to make a plan to leave the relationship, one has to come to the understanding that it’s an unhealthy/abusive situation. I’ve had women tell me that every marriage has ups and down and that they don’t want to be quitters by leaving when it gets tough. Many have been encouraged by pastors and faith leaders that they should just submit to their spouse and just bear their cross. It’s important to understand that most victims don’t leave their abusers on the first attempt AND that they are more at risk for increased violence when they try to leave. This is why it’s important to be a supportive friend because you don’t know what someone is going through. Many times women won’t open up to their friends or relatives because they feel ashamed and may feel like they have failed in the relationship and/or marriage. Be present, be aware, be supportive. Learn and recognize the signs of an abuser and don’t give second chances.
I hate moving but I love traveling. There’s always more to think about when you’re relocating and carrying your belongings with you. A little more than a year ago I gave up my apartment, put my stuff in storage, and moved across the country for an adventure. More recently I’ve moved back to my home state and into a new apartment. I love my own space. One thing that’s been helpful in all my moves through the years is that I have a great mother who always wants to help (take over). I’ve flown her in to help me out because I’m on a tight deadline. She’s amazing at being organized but bad at listening to instructions. She likes the moving in process and will inevitably bring in things she likes with the explanation that I don’t have to like them but she’ll use them when she visits. It’s a fair price to pay for the assistance. I don’t know where I’ll be next but maybe soon I’ll put down some roots.
One thing that helps me to relax after a long day or to mentally prepare for the day in the morning before work is music. Lately I’ve found myself listening to music I heard a lot as a child. For some strange reason it’s really calming for me. I found a classic and you can listen to it here. I don’t know why but I really like this song and it’s been on repeat all week. It’s the definition of Christian R&B and it’s a great jam.
While I’ve always known it to some degree, I think there’s some merit to doing what you want to do whether or not you have a significant other. Recently I was talking to someone older who did not look like me and she told me how much she admired black women because they’re so strong and independent and don’t need a man. Now naturally I wanted to provide the scholarly answer and educate her based on my years of research and the fact that my dissertation focuses on black women. But I didn’t and decided to keep it moving. It was still intriguing to me how that mindset is still so active and alive even outside of our own circles. Don’t get me wrong, companionship can be a great thing but being with the wrong person can be worse than being alone. I was talking to someone else this weekend who has resolved not to ever travel outside the country–or outside of the Southeast until they have a significant other. I just don’t feel like that’s a good reason to put all your goals on hold. There’s always something that can be done to have a better quality of life that doesn’t involve someone else. Regardless of whether or not someone shows up for you to spend your life with, you still need to have something to show for your life. Even if it doesn’t consist of parenthood with 2.5 kids, a dog and a picket fence. While I’m not an expert on living your best life, I can honestly say that sometimes you absolutely have to step outside of your comfort zone.
I’m wholeheartedly convinced that most people don’t understand the blood, sweat and tears that goes into getting a PhD. For some it’s an easy process and for others it’s long and exhaustive. I first started at the tender age of 22 and I am nearing the finish line 5 years later. It’s been a series of rejections one one after the other. I once went back and counted and for just one phase of my dissertation I submitted revisions 39 times. It was crazy. I even had to change my topic which set me back as well. But I feel motivated to push forward and to remember why I started. I’m ready to transition into something different and possibly more fulfilling. I want to be free and I want something that allows me the flexibility to live wherever I want. Life goals.