I recently realized how much my circle has changed. I’m not in close contact with many of the people I grew up with and over the years I’ve also grown apart from some friends I met during my college years. One thing I like about my current circle is the fact that everyone wants to do better. There’s intentionality around improving personally and professionally. One great quality of a good friendship is that you feel accepted as a person. You aren’t judged or made to feel like your friend is trying to change you. However, I’ve come to realize that the mark of a good friend is one that challenges you to grow—even if it’s an uncomfortable process. They aren’t trying to change you but they also realize opportunities for growth that you may not see so they challenge you to be better. Constructive criticism feels different when it comes from someone you know who genuinely has the best intentions for you. Instead of becoming more defensive, it’s easier to internalize what they’re saying. This type of a friend is rare to have and if you find one be grateful and keep them around.
I can across an interesting article that coincides with what I’ve been thinking hard about these past few days. It’s about black people and wealth disparities. You can read it here . As the product of two generations of a middle class family (grandparents and parents), I don’t have anything to show for all their hard work. No property, no trust fund, no assets. Just a crippling amount of student loan debt. And I know that I’m not the only one in this predicament. Growing up, my father worked and my mother stayed home to care for us. She decided that she wanted to raise her children and homeschool us so she did. As a result, we lived in a single income household. A phenomenon that I’m experiencing now with my household of one. There are so many things that I want to do now but I won’t be able to because of my financial obligations. Transitioning to teaching or a post-doctoral position would require a pay cut of about 20k to 40k per year and I can’t afford that. This year one of my goals is to become more financially literate and I’m working on it. However, I wish that I didn’t have to start from the bottom and if I ever make enough money to afford kids I want them to have a different experience. It’s like I’m starting off at a disadvantage and don’t have the opportunity to at least start at baseline. Definitely tough.
I admit that I struggle with the general idea that one has to “qualify” in order to get married. There’s this list of things that single women are given and expected to accomplish before they are ready to get married. We tell our girls that boys will always be there and to get their education first. You’re expected to work on yourself, do fun things, finish school, pay off debt, and get a decent job among other things before you qualify for marriage. Now granted, my story is different in that while I’ve always wanted to get married, I had a feeling that I would be on the road less traveled for a long time. I just didn’t anticipate how long it would be. I was hoping for 25 but now I’m pushing 30 without any actual potential mate on the horizon. I find it frustrating when I’m told that there’s something that I’m doing wrong or just haven’t done yet that makes me unqualified to be married. I see people all day, I’m a good listener, I can hold an emotionally safe place and challenge the perspectives of others in a way that is non-threatening and supportive. I’m the sole provider of my household of one and while I’m not rich, bills do get paid and I travel once in a while. I recently completed the highest educational level one can achieve (PhD) and yet the Universe still apparently sees me as unqualified for a mate. I’m all about doing the work but shit, being alone gets old after a while. I’ve learned how to self soothe and what to do to calm myself down but there are times that I’d sell my soul for a hug and the knowledge that someone has my back. Yes, I’m approached by guys but so far they aren’t ready for anything serious or want me to finance their lives and take care of them. Neither is an option I want to live with. It sounds corny but I want to matter to someone. Really matter. I haven’t found that yet and the older I get the less optimistic I am. It’s just exhausting and tiring doing it alone all the time and while I’ll always do what I have to do, I wish things were different.
Not too long ago I saw a post from a friend that said that there is no such thing as having new friends of the opposite sex. If you haven’t been friends with them for at least two or three years then you’re just out of luck. The first thing I thought about after reading that post was that there may be some truth to that. Depending on the situation, most people of the opposite sex don’t meet people just to be friends. There are ulterior motives that include networking or additional “benefits” that motivate people. I’m not saying that no one meets new friends of the opposite sex but I doubt that is always the primary motivation. People meet other people for personal gain as adults. Things aren’t as simple as it is when you have friends as a kid. I’ve met a lot of people in the last few years. However, the process of making someone of the opposite sex a “true” platonic friend is much more complicated than it used to be. There’s always something that one person wants from the other and very rarely does this include “true friendship.” It’s just the way of the world. Friendship is often given as a consolation prize or a compromise because both people aren’t on the same page. The point of all this is to say that it’s rare as an adult to be absolutely 100% friends with someone of the opposite sex from the very moment you meet them without thinking of what they can do for you, who they know that they can connect you to, or if there’s a chance for some additional personal gain in some way.
It’s funny how fast time really flies despite the fact that it often seems that it is just creeping by. With all the graduations that go on in the month of May, I must admit that I felt a bit nostalgic as I thought about the few times that I’ve graduated from some program. However, today is semi-different as it marks four years since I graduated from college. The funny thing is that May 28th wasn’t the original date that was supposed to happen. Living in Alabama, severe weather usually occurred during tornado season. That year, there was a tornado that came through parts of North Alabama with some disastrous results. I remember my last class in undergrad (didn’t know it at the time) and how somehow it just felt so final. Around the time of finals a huge storm came through and left thousands (including me) without power. I must admit that living without electricity isn’t something that I particularly enjoy doing. A phone call made with my rapidly dying cell phone to my parents confirmed that they were enjoying 21st century living with hot water and electricity as the storm had missed them. Gas pumps weren’t working but thankfully I had a full tank of gas and slowly made my way to my parents house around downed power lines and hundreds of non-working stoplights. But I digress. Needless to say graduation was canceled (postponed) for two weeks. I remember the anticipation that led up to the day. It was the culmination of a LOT of hours of hard work, sweat, and tears. One thing that was reassuring was that I had a plan of what I was doing afterwards. I remember how hot the robe was and trying to concentrate as I marched so that I didn’t trip and fall. It was a very very long day that started around 6 in the morning and ended at 3am the next morning, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I saw so many family members and celebrated with them. I had my name announced all over the arena and got the diploma holder that represented almost $100,000 in money spent for education and the hope that this degree would ensure that I didn’t live in poverty for the next 5 decades. Reminiscing is great, but the real question is what has been accomplished since then? That’s a sobering thought.
So I’ve posted about a few Jazmine Sullivan songs and I must say that this entire album (Reality Show) seems to get better every time I listen to it. Jazmine has a knack for making a song for every situation and this song is no different. In it, she admonishes women to be careful of men who try to play them and who see them as meaningless playthings. Jazmine alludes to the fact that she has had this experience and wants others to be warned an not to be “stupid girls.”Great song. Just a tad bit bitter though.
There should be a mandatory recovery time after a vacation that has lasted a week or longer. I use the word “vacation” loosely because the entire time I was away was not a vacation. One thing I deliberately did was to leave my computer at home during one of my two trips. The point of this was to take a break to enjoy the scenery and the experience of being in a different country. Other than the quality time spent with cousins I rarely see, the BEST part of the trip going to the beach. I’ve never been to the Pacific Ocean before and while it’s not as breathtakingly beautiful as the Mediterranean Ocean, it was still nice. I don’t know why, but for some reason sitting on a beach and thinking gives me the most clarity. I can process my thoughts and feelings and then make appropriate decisions without the distraction of familiar surroundings. It sounds weird but it works for me. That’s one of the reasons why I love the beach–I can actually think. I don’t have my laptop with me and my phone is typically turned off. No one is calling me asking for something and the sound of the waves crashing on the sand relaxes me. This time I had the opportunity to make a plan for the new year and to finalize some goals I want to accomplish this year. It was quite a productive hour or so. Definitely a reminder that I need to focus so that my efforts won’t be in vain and I won’t be working harder than I need to.