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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Remember those days when you would run home from school to talk to your friends (who you JUST left at school) on the phone about what happened throughout the day. I would tie up my mother’s phone line with 3-way calls chatting about who did what to whom and what we planned on doing the next day. Once, some friends and I tried an experiment, I called two people and my friend called 2 more people and tried to get as many of us on the phone at once (the experiment turned out to be an epic fail.) Back in those middle and high school days nobody was messing with yo clique. You shared secrets, stories, ideas, problems; it was a good feeling to know you had a bond. And as time progressed you grew up, things changed and so did the definition of friendship.

Let Facebook tell it, I have well over 600 friends who know and like me, they come from all backgrounds and walks of life. Let Twitter tell you more, I have 300 + friends that follow my every word, concerned with what I have to say. The best is when my birthday rolls around and I get endless amounts of notifications sending me “Happy Birthdays” and other well wishes. Although, it is a highlight of each birthday, truth be told it just isn’t true, not only for me but for many. When you sit down and reflect count all those well wishes calls that are received throughout the year and more than likely the number will drop. Your “friends” dwindle down going from plural to singular.

In a New York Times article called “Friends of a Certain Age”, writer Alex Williams expands on the trials and tribulations of finding friends in your 30’s and 40’s. Even though I am years away from 30, in my 20’s I am faced with the same friendship dilemmas. My own trials, loneliness and confusion realizing “my crew” isn’t what I hoped it would be.

Shows like “Sex and the City”, “Girlfriends”, “Living Single”, and even my all-time favorite “The Golden Girls” paint pictures of the ultimate girl power groups. These women are bonded together by friendship. Never just two, there was a group of gal pals always on-call and willing to help. Watching shows like these build our ideas of what a friendship should be and how many friends one should have, ultimate becoming what we expect and want in reality.

““When you’re younger, you define what it really means to be friends in a more serious way,” said my screenwriter friend, Brian. My ideas of friendship were built by ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Diner,’ ” he said. “Your friends were your brothers, and anything but total loyalty at all costs meant excommunication. As you get older, that model becomes unrealistic.” (“Friends of a Certain Age”)

Honestly, a lot of our ideas of a how a friendship should be are unrealistic. Everybody doesn’t have a ton of friends on call, that sisterhood. Instead many of us have those groups of “friends” who are unreliable, self-serving, only flock when in need, or call when beneficial or to get the “tea”. You aren’t really sure if they’re sincere and some of them are bite by what I call the “New York City” bug, those people who are always saying “oh, I’m so busy. I can’t call you because I’m so busy. I can’t do anything because … I’m so busy.” But then you log on to a social network and see pictures of them laughing it up, out and about. Instead of holding on with a tight grip to those friendships for the sake of having friends, you slowly realize it just isn’t healthy.

I’ll be the first to admit, in the past I haven’t been the greatest gal pal. From not responding to a text or having a late lack luster reply, to showing up late to an event, to not fully expressing my feelings and at times not being constant. I’ve done my fair share of questionable friend behavior but in the words of a wise urban prophet by the name of Chrissy Lampkin “I’m flawed but I’m solid.” and that alone at times maybe hard to find. *I’m improving too!*

There will be weekends that pass without being flooded with phone calls and weeks when no one asks “How was your day? How are you doing?” Sometimes your phone may not ring. It may feel lonely, but you’re not really a lone. There are plenty of people going through the same adversity and my friend, I am one of them. Through my “journey” I’ve picked up a few gems …

Your friends will never be determined by quantity but will be determined by the quality. You don’t have ten friends, so? Do you have two or one that you can always count on? Be happy and thankful for that. You are blessed with the beauty of a true friendship, forget the number. If you want a good friend first you have to be one. That old cliché “treat others the way you want to be treated”, will forever haunt us all, but as tiring as it may sound, it’s true. You want a friend who loves you unconditionally? Well, do you love yourself and everyone unconditionally? Are you loyal to you? Are you always there for others? Be consistent with your own actions first and you’ll receive it back. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized developing friendships is like dating. You don’t find Prince Charming on the first date (unless your extremely lucky) everything takes time. True friendships that withstand the test of time and life’s transitions happen organically and can never be forced.

Embrace those who do reach out to check up on you, it may not be often but it’s happening. And when others don’t take the time to invite you out, reach out to them but don’t over reach. If you’re constantly inviting someone out and the role is never reversed, place them where they need to be and walk away knowing you gave it your best.

What may seem never ending and discouraging now, won’t last forever …

Brief disclaimer: I am writing this directed towards black women because I myself am one, was raised by one, I am the sister to some and inspired by others.

This is based on experience…

Let the media tell it, black women are mean, rude, cold, emotionless, judgmental and always complaining. Basically anything negative…that’s us! Not only are these words hurtful, they also have a negative connotation and don’t reflect all black women but it does speak volumes.

Truth be told, black women have it hard. First, we’re women which is a challenge. Second, we’re black and combing both means we have to work harder, think smarter and move faster. On top of that we have to be a strategist; cooking, cleaning, working, going to school, catering to a man (sometimes a woman) all while remaining motivated and hoping everything turns out successful. Now, how the heck do you expect someone to smile and bat their lashes while doing all of that? Yes, I know it’s hard and sometimes never ending but does it have to be? Do you have to walk around carrying your entire burden on your back, all the time?

Case in point, Keyshia Cole, you can’t help but to like her. Her “around the way girl” appeal, multicolor hair, ever-changing hairstyles, her relatable lyrics and that feeling she gives you when you’re going through it! “ummhmm, Keyshia! That’s how I’m feeling!” So when I saw she was coming back to BET with another show, not only was I interested but also excited. Even though, I felt betrayed, my around the way home girl had transitioned into a wife and a mother … who was going to tell me I should have cheated and to change my mind now? I was happy for her progression and comeback, so I thought…

The first episode left me a tad confused. She came off as smug, cold and often disconnected from her husband. Instead of jumping to conclusions I channeled my inner Monica and wrote it off as her having “just one of those days”, we are all human and we have them.

The following week I tuned in again and Keyshia was the same exact way, in fact she was more unreasonable, emotionless and guarded. She finally had some of what she wanted; a husband who clearly loves her to death (every word he speaks is about her and him thanking God for her), a cutie potie child and guess what… Frankie is clean. Yet, she seemed more displeased than before. I couldn’t help but to ask my television…Sister, why are you so bitter?

Yes, she had a hard life but who hasn’t had hardships? Like her, there are plenty of black women who have dealt with abandonment, a mother or a parent an addicted to drugs, a man who has treated them unfairly, not receiving the respect and appreciation she deserves. In life you are given challenges but those challenges aren’t meant to define you but instead to make you a better person – give you a lesson. But like Ms. Cole, plenty of black women wear their hurt on their sleeve, sporting it and wondering why they’re so damn miserable.

One song that should be on every woman’s iPod and listened to once a week is Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady”

Bag lady you gone miss your bus
You can’t hurry up
Cause you got too much stuff
When they see you comin
Men take off runnin
From you it’s true oh yes they do…

Girl I know sometimes it’s hard
And we can’t let go
Oh when someone hurts you oh so bad inside
You can’t deny it you can’t stop crying
So oh, oh, oh
If you start breathin
Then you won’t believe it
You’ll feel so much better…

By holding on to every hurt from your past not only does it injure you as a person, also has the potential to block blessings. Your eyes are so red with anger that you can’t see the light and positivity anywhere.

There was a scene where Keyshia and her husband went to couple’s therapy; although reluctant he agreed to go. Keyshia expressed her complaints and the therapist tried to get Keyshia and her husband to stop making generalizations about each other and to look at the bright side, Keyshia was not fazed. She sat their firm in her ways and it was even painful to watch. Everything she said about her spouse was negative, instead of coming to therapy (she suggested) with an open mind, her heart was cold and her guard was all the way up. She blocked all the love her husband was showing her but hold on to all the pain she built up and for what? Nothing came of the meeting and there was a point when her spouse suggested he would leave if this had all continued. A prime example, that when holding on to pain, we slowly begin to categorize people based on past hurt and it the long run, future relationships are damaged.

I’m not saying that I skip through meadows, holding flowers and singing happy songs every day and I’m no Iyanla Vanzant, but as I grow older I’ve been slowly understanding the importance of happiness and letting go. Your adversities don’t have to haunt, unless you want them to. The generalization of black women being mean may not be forgotten once you drop your pain and sorrow, but your own personal happiness will increase.

Keyshia’s season is far from over, I think there might be a few episodes left and who knows she may change, she may not. But one thing I can take away from her series and I hope you take this away too: Pain eats at your soul and no matter where you go it will follow and eventually you will become that bitter angry woman that no black woman wants to become…LET IT GO.

Welcome to 2012, where validation is sought-after through Instagram likes, nothing is ever personal, weed is recreational and strip clubs are the new hang out spots. Yes, if you ain’t at the strip club you just ain’t hot.

From Maliah Michel to Draya Michele to Blac Chyna to Amber Rose, strippers haven’t only become the hot commodity for rappers but they also have taken over music. You can’t listen to one song without mention of a stripper dropping it, popping it, slaying it, tossing it up and down, throwing it (…you get the point). It seems as if you don’t mention a strip club or a stripper your song just isn’t hot. Now, I don’t mind hearing about strippers in every single rap song I listen too. (I’m lying) If she wants to dance for Bands, go ahead, but I do have a problem when it pours into my everyday life.

For an associates birthday she wanted us all go to a strip club and I agreed, it was her birthday and she had always been kind to me, so I thought ok. I didn’t know what to expect, I had never been to one and never really had a desire too. Don’t get me wrong, I love women and I think it takes a certain confidence to get in front of hundreds of people and flaunt what your mother gave you, clap and applaud to that courage, but I just didn’t want to see and pay to see it at that. I went and before made sure I had a drink to loosen my mood, walking in we were double and triple checked by security after waiting on a long line, we proceeded in. With music blasting in the background, I scanned the crowded expecting to see your typical rapper-esque men but no oh no oh no…it was 80% women! All types of women, a few were even dressed as if they were the strippers.

The night continued on, my drink had worn off and I was over it. After hearing Meek Mill’s “House Party” 202043874737 times, I knew my time was up, I tapped one of the girls I was with and said “Hey, I’m leaving, have a great night. Talk to you later.” And instead of receiving a “Bye, girl get home safe.” I got a “Why, are you being like that and leaving?” followed by a “catty” stare. Granted, I didn’t participate like the rest of the crew I was with (by participate I mean, throwing some money on a girl, slapping a couple of butts and getting my very own personal lap dance, complimentary head stand in my lap of course.) there was no reason to judge. Instead of a side eye response, I left.

I can’t count how many times, I’ve been asked to go to a strip club after that. Literally, it has become the hang out spot for most of the people I know and a large group of them are women. (Well, recently a guy I was dating asked “for my birthday can we go to a strip club? Throwing money of a few girls together.” and when I responded with a “huh?” he dropped the subject.) Usually, before I’masked I get a “I know you’re not into women touching you…” or “I know how you feel about strippers…” or a “Nah, you act to stuck up for strip clubs…” WRONG! It has nothing to do with the club itself, but why should I be forced to go, even if it’s what’s popular, if I don’t like it. Yes! I am not afraid to stand up and say… I don’t like going to strip clubs! *sigh of relief*

When I was younger, a strip club or strippers were something reserved. Going was your personal business and kept personal. Men that did go were stereotyped as horny and extremely creepy, who couldn’t get a woman so he would frequent strip clubs to get a peek of what he didn’t have. And in some other cases, strippers would attend a guy’s bachelor party as his last hurrah and glimpse of the single world. But now, you even have children with aspirations of becoming a stripper and going to clubs. With all the glitz and glamor glorified in music and videos, it’s hard not to think the life is dazzling and imagining weekends at the strip club, but I just don’t get it.

Truth be told, a lot of the females that do frequent these clubs, do it because it’s what’s in, seems appealing to men, and want to meet men. Really think, what man would take any woman serious who he sees every week at the strip club? What woman would want a man who spends every week at the strip club? Why would you spend money you barely have, every week at the strip club? Personally, it saddens me that women have been belittled so much to the point that we join in on the belittling. (but that’s another topic…)

So excuse me if I don’t want a Big Booty Whore for my birthday, and I don’t jump for joy when it’s ladies night at the strip club…it just isn’t my thing. And Bandz won’t make this brown girl dance, but paying back my student loans and investing in my career would.

Twiddling my thumbs at work, I was suffering from a serious case of boredom.

It was a Friday and like most New York City offices, Fridays are dead days; co-workers have already placed their “I’m sick and won’t be in today.” calls  (actually it means “screw work, I’m starting my weekend early!”) or everyone has rushed out for an extended lunch break.

Searching for things to do, I couldn’t help but to think of the younger me and how I was in such a rush to be older.  Eager to reach adult life, many days were spent dreaming of the fancy exciting job I would have, all the extreme things I would have done and the rebellious life I would live. No one could ever tell me anything! And now, older me, I spend a good deal of my time volunteering with and mentoring young girls, each day drilling into their heads decent amounts of advice, often receiving reluctant “thank you’s” followed by eye rolls.

(18 year old rebellious me…)

I recalled all the things I wish I knew, the things I would love to tell myself if I could travel back to give the 18-year old me advice. So after some free hours of thinking and deliberating, here are 18 things I wish someone told me when I was 18:

1. Ask Questions – Ask! Ask! Ask! One of the greatest things about life is having the ability to learn and how can you learn if you don’t ask? With every answer comes knowledge – no question is too big or small. So open that little mouth up and speak! “Closed mouths never get fed!”

2. What’s the Worst Someone Can Tell You? ….No? – You never know a outcome unless you go head first for it. Want that internship? Ask. Want to go on that trip? Ask.  And you will hear no at times, but sooooo. A no means nothing unless you give it meaning. So keep on keeping on…those yes’s are coming.

3. Live Below Your Means – Trends go out of style, every last one! (Some may come back…) but not all! Instead of investing in what’s hot now think about the future. You can be comfortable but not wasteful, there is no one to impress. Manage your money wisely…don’t let your money manage you.

4. Smile. – even when there’s nothing to smile about…fake it until you make it! 😀

5. Listen More, Talk Less – A hard head makes for a soft behind. Listen when older folks give you gems of knowledge, they’ve been there and done it ALL before. It may seem annoying at the moment, but hush and listen closely. TRUST, it will all help in the long run.

6. Say NO to Gossip – Gossip eats at the soul and eventually KILLS IT! Talking about someone maybe all giggles in the moment but remember everything comes full circle. Beware of those who gossip with you because trust they will gossip about you. Phrases like, “you didn’t hear this from me…” or “…I’m not suppose to tell you but…” will get you caught in the web, avoid it! *Also, protect your own business…*

7. Everyone isn’t your friend – or doesn’t have to be. Your time is valuable and should be spent with people of value; those who uplift, motivate and believe in you. Girl, just because both of you wear your hair in the same style, like the same song or food…doesn’t mean you are friends! Learn people, it is ok to be associates, a “hey” here or there. Everybody isn’t worthy to be let in.

8. When a person shows you who they are, believe them… –  said by Mama Angelou, “A person will always show you who they are, so pay close attention.” Everyone has a bad day but everyday can’t be bad, take notes. Don’t write a persons cruel behavior off, don’t make excuses for them. If you believe the behavior is unacceptable and the bad treatment is consistent, believe them…they aren’t worth being around.

9. Pray – Praying really does help. Don’t just pray when everything is going downhill, pray all the time. Have discussions with God and be honest. Trust that everything will be ok, put all your doubts, fears, and accomplishments in prayers, everything will and is working in your favor. Let go and let God.

10. Change is Constant, Accept It – One thing in life you can always count on is change. Whether good or bad change always happens and can never be avoided so embrace it. It won’t be easy but change happens for a reason and that reason will always work.

11. Be Disloyal – being disloyal doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it means you’re looking out for your best interest. Loyalty is an act of being faithful, devoted and dedicated. Not everyone deserves that, hold back a little, don’t give your all right away.

12. Boys will Always be There, Pay them NO Attention – Focus on yourself and your betterment. Guys will tell you whatever you want to hear to get whatever they want. (…usually whatever they want involves sex) Guard yourself; guard your body with your life! It is something precious and extremely valuable. Allow yourself time to grow, become a woman and when the time is right … everything will fall into place and Prince Charming will arrive. Until then, do you!

13. Don’t be Afraid…Live A Lot – “…well behaved women seldom make history.” Live a little because people die a lot! (in my best Drake voice) Laugh! Enjoy! You have only one life to live! Don’t go out and lose all your morals but do something you always wanted to do; no one wants to be 50+ saying “I wish I would have…” Life is a gift…open it up.

14. No One Owes you ANYTHING! – Hard to believe it, I know! But in order to get what you want you have to work hard. You have to work as hard as you possibly can. Your dedication and hard work will be rewarded not your feeling of entitlement.

15. Practice Healthy Habits – the older you get the slower your metabolism becomes, which means…the harder it will be for you to be fit inside and out. Control your sweet intake, exercise more and make it fun. Prepare your body for the future now, that way it will be easier later. Your body is a temple, treat it as such.

16. Invest In Your Dreams – What do you want? Like, realllllyyyyy want. Take the time each day and build, build up to those dreams. No dream is too small or big, no matter what a “hater” says. No one will ever be as passionate about your dreams as you are, nurture them.

17. Network – it’s not what you know (…not all the time), its who you know. Get to know people! Professors, Classmates, other students outside your class, join social circles, Deans, Friends of Friends, the man/woman who owns the store across the street…EVERYONE. Be sincere, be yourself. Overtime, you will see that the new people you meet will change your life.

18. Don’t Worry – It is impossible to predict the future so why spend time trying to predict it? Using precious moments of each day worrying about things you can’t control is useless. Learn to go with the flow, nothing can be changed.