It’s been quite the year and when I reflect on all that happened, I think it’s been one of the more eventful years I’ve lived. I’ve visited family, gone to comedy shows in several different states, relocated across the country, started some new jobs and was a guest on several podcasts. I’ve learned more about myself and I’ve tried new foods (like alligator) that I never would have without some gentle prompting about getting outside of my comfort zone. I think one of the biggest things is that I’ve learned so much more about religious trauma and how problematic it can be to have a childhood where everything is fear based. It’s not ideal to be worried about hell or a lake of fire as a young child (understatement of the year). However, I’m glad that my journey has brought me to my current relationship where I have a partner that’s understanding and patient. There’s been ups and downs, breakthroughs and drawbacks. Overall, this has been a building year as well as one of transition. I’m looking forward to becoming more disciplined, learning about the world, and growing both personally and professionally. May we all take the next 365 days to intentionally grow into better versions of ourselves. Happy (Almost) New Year!
I’ve said a few times but it really is funny how quickly time goes by. I recently celebrated another year of life and I reflected on how much had changed since my last birthday. I brought in last year on a Caribbean cruise. I chilled on the beach in St. Maarten and took an excursion on St. John. This year was different. It was much more low key and consisted of great conversation, food and quality time with my boyfriend. I’m healthier than I was last year and overall I feel like I’m more balanced. My professional goals are still present but they are also better aligned with my personal goals and plan to improve my work life balance. This past year I traveled a little bit but most of my time was spent in the gym. I did a quick trip to Spain, continued doing some contract work and ultimately decided that I didn’t like the idea of a perpetual 40 hour work week. There’s been ups and downs but through it all I’m grateful for another year.
Making a lifestyle change is hard and there can be so many barriers and challenges with remaining consistent. Last summer I was challenged to change my mindset and lose the weight I had been procrastinating on addressing. Everyone has different levels of comfort with their body image and their weight but I knew that it was time for things to change. While you can be happy, self accepting, have high self esteem and be overweight, I knew that it wasn’t working for me. I was tired of taking long airplane rides to other countries and being unable to comfortably fit into the seat while being ashamed to ask for a seat belt extender. It just wasn’t what I wanted. I was over my clothes not fitting right and only being able to wear certain select items in my closet because I had “outgrown” the majority of what I had available but didn’t want to spend more money to buy more clothes. I believe in radical self acceptance but I also believe in changing your lifestyle and being healthy if that’s a goal you have for yourself. It was a long, long road that still continues but I’ve made progress. I started with a personal trainer (aka my boyfriend), made the decision to no longer be vegetarian, I got off medication (after consulting with a doctor), started weight training, and changed my diet drastically. It wasn’t an overnight change and it didn’t happen as soon as I would have liked but I lost 45lbs and I’m still working towards my goal. Last week was the first time I could pick things from my closet to wear that I haven’t been able to fit in over 5 years. It was an amazing feeling and having a supportive partner has been great. I still have some progress to make but it’s nice to finally comfortably sit in an airplane seat without being black and blue from the armrest digging into my thigh. I’m determined to remain consistent and to continue to make progress. After all, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
This past decade and this past year has definitely been one of changes. I started out the decade as a junior in college. I was recovering from a major heartbreak with someone who I thought that I had a future with. I was so excited to finally have someone in my life and it ended quite abruptly. I focused on school and had a great senior year that also had some lows with the deaths of several of my classmates. I was so excited to be at the end of my college journey. While it was a great one, I knew that my education had to continue and as I spoke to my family and friends at my graduation dinner I remember telling them that one year later I would be finishing graduate school and it happened. I moved across the country to a place where I did not know a soul. It was just me and my dog. I met some great people and had a lot of my beliefs challenged for the first time. Graduate school finished and the job search started. It was a really rough time. I applied for hundreds of jobs and while I found a few, they weren’t exactly what I was looking for. I decided that I was bored after graduate school so I made the somewhat impulsive decision to start a doctorate while I was stuck in Colorado getting hours for my professional license. So the doctorate started and I kept working. I quit several jobs that just weren’t a good fit for me and I eventually started working a night shift job. While the money was great, I quickly realized that the no sleep life was not the life for me. However, due to a series of unplanned events I found myself resigning rather quickly and relocating back across the country where I found myself in limbo as I tried to find a new job, settle into a new apartment and remain independent. But I persisted and got a cubicle job that paid the bills for a while. I decided that I wanted to make traveling a priority and I wanted to find a job that allowed me to do both while still using my degree. I found the dream job and quit my cubicle job the same day and relocated from Georgia to California within a week. After a few years on the road and moving several places I realized that it was time to settle down. The beginning of this year found me back in my home state with a resolution to stick close to home for a while. After traveling to Italy and Portugal I decided that I wasn’t quite done with being on the road so I decided to spend the summer on the East Coast. I decided during the summer that I wanted to settle outside of my home state and due to a series of fortunate events I moved across the country again and got a great boyfriend along the way. While I don’t know what this next year will bring, I’m excited for the opportunity to focus on personal development and fulfill some of my personal goals in this next decade.
For the longest time I considered myself to be terminally single. Nothing and I do mean nothing actually worked out. There were a whole lot of frogs, the most recent being an older retired guy who didn’t want to talk about anything other than the cars that he was restoring. While I like old school cars, I felt my brain cells dying after the first half hour lecture about the kind of parts that he was ordering. Needless to say, it was great motivation to proceed with the plan to relocate out of the area. I knew that I needed to do something different and so I did. An opportunity to explore relationship possibilities just randomly landed in my lap and I took the chance. The end results have been that I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process and it’s given me the opportunity to finally see what it’s like to have a significant other. It’s been a major learning curve and also outside of my comfort zone but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’m settling down and the idea of finally putting down some roots doesn’t feel as paralyzing and confining as it used to.
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 don’t rant very often. I make an intentional effort to not do my ranting on social media because I’ve seen personally how things posted in the heat of the moment can impact your future. Lately I’ve been doing some reminiscing. I wrote yesterday about the month of May and how it always makes me think. I’ve gone on some great trips and have some good staycations in the month of May. But that’s not what my post is about. I decided to once again try my hand at online dating because if I end up old and alone and I want to at least know that I tried. I’m hoping that it will be some small consolation to me in some way. Now that I’m a little more seasoned in the game (because it is a game), I can say that my optimism is still present but skepticism still reigns supreme. It’s literally the equivalent of going through a landfill in hopes of finding something (or someone) that you can dust off, take home, and live with. With this method you’re guaranteed to find some duds or shiny tokens that look like the real thing but aren’t. It’s annoying, frustrating, and hopeless at times. I’ve posted some of my dating stories and while they are hilarious, they all actually happened. I have to say that the most frustrating thing is getting ghosted. For those who aren’t aware of the concept, it means that someone just decides to stop returning messages and calls for no apparent reason and moves on with their life without you and without warning. You meet someone and realize that you have a lot in common with them. You make plans to meet up and then they completely flake without any explanation. This current dating culture absolutely sucks. There’s really no other way to categorize it. Funny how everyone wants to be different than the last person you met but without any knowledge of what the last person did, they do the EXACT same thing. Communication is a lost art. Ugh.
I remember sitting in a chair in my therapist’s office in college. As a part of my academic program we were required to go to a mandated number of sessions. I remember telling her that I wanted my future husband to be able to sing and that it would be a deal breaker for me if he couldn’t. Today I think of that day and chuckle to myself. While I absolutely believe that music talent is wonderful, there are so many more important qualities that need to be present. Having all his teeth would be nice for starters. Qualities like faithfulness, respect, ambition, attractiveness, honesty, and compassion. Life has definitely changed in the almost decade since then. I’ll have to admit that my dating experience up to this point hasn’t been successful; But I guess it’s been successful in the regard that I’m not stuck in a relationship with someone who isn’t suited for me. I still love music but it’s harder to find a guy that will call me than a guy that can sing. While there are a lot of fish in the sea, a lot of them are hiding behind the coral reef. Apparently.
I ran across this gem written by Mindy Kaling. She describes in detail what she wants in a significant other and it’s accurately hilarious. I could absolutely relate to her wishlist. You can read it here.
@BYONELOVEShe wants your reassurance without you perceiving her as ‘needy’. She wants to hear you say you love her and that you’re not going anywhere. She wants your arms around her as you say it, showing her with your affection how much you care. She wants you to understand and not be annoyed when she…
Without adding any snarky comments and making a generalization about “all” men out there, I will say that this sounds nice. It’s interesting how people who appear so self assured in other areas of their life can feel so unsettled and anxious within a relationship. I think that it’s because there’s something that is out of their control. It feels weird and different and naturally some anxiety ensues because you find yourself really self-doubting for the first time in a while. Great article