He Said He Doesn't Believe in SoulMates

This past weekend was mad eventful. Like, I actually left the house more than once and I couldn’t be prouder of myself.  Let’s be real-- as much as I look forward to the end of the week, sometimes by the time it arrives, I am OVER IT and just want to stay my ass at home, braless and free, ordering food I have no business eating-- (in my mind, if you order through seamless, those calories don’t count against you) and binging my favorite shows. This time around, I was feeling unusually social, and my girls and I had already planned to see Girls Trip (which was HILARIOUS, btw—go see it if you haven’t already) on Friday, followed by dinner and drinks. The outing put me in an amazing mood and inspired me to be kinda mixy for the rest of the weekend, so the next day, me and my friends went to a  Jerk BBQ bashment on a Brooklyn rooftop. For my non- Caribbean massive, that basically means, Issa vibe--, plenty whining up of waists, BYOB, great music, great food, and great company.

Take a look.

I went with my line sister, her twin sister, and my best male friend--who also happens to be my neighbor-- ended up coming after he got off work.  We partied with our Howard University family until late in the evening, where us closer to 30 folk decided to make our way home. (We need our sleep).  Best Friend had to work in the morning anyway, so we hopped in his whip and made our way home. More often than not, when he and I go out and he drops me home, we have these deep conversations about life before we part ways.  This time was no different. Still on the edge of tipsiness, and in between bites of the most amazing slice of pizza I’ve had in a long time, we started talking about my favorite topics-- relationships. 10 minutes in, he dropped a bomb on me.

“I don’t believe in soul mates.”

Me:

SOUL MATES FOR REAL .gif

“Well, why the hell not?,” I asked as I wiped the tomato sauce off my chin.

And what he said next, blew my mind— "You can develop connections with many people throughout the course of your life. Doesn’t mean that they are “the one.” There could be multiple people that you have a deeper level relationship with.”

I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. While I comprehend the notion of meeting, engaging and loving many people in a lifetime —after all, there are BILLIONS of people on the planet—Jeez Louise,  that sounds EXHAUSTING. Who wants to do that?

Best Friend continued: If you think about it in that sense, you’ll feel less pressure. Especially after you break up with someone, even though it might not feel like it at the moment, you’ll find another one who suits you.

Also, it should be noted that BF is in a committed relationship with someone that I met and like. They complement each other, are doing well, and as far as I know have a strong and loving partnership.

But I had to unpack what he said. Y’all know that I can be a hopeless, head over heels, hand to forehead, romantic, but I also—and forgive the pretentiousness of this next statement--- don’t like a lot of people. (Very particular and sensitive to folks' energies.) And while I know that Disney isn’t real, I’ve always been enamored with the “true love conquers all, One True Love,” that we’ve been fed. Take my favorite Disney Princess for example. In 90 minutes, sis Ariel fell in love with, traded her voice to a SEA WITCH and grew a whole entire pair of legs to be with her man.

Girl.

Even with Cinderella, ol boy found his way through his entire town looking for baby girl to fit this custom shoe.  And I realize that love isn’t always that magical. Or if we’re being honest,--that one sided. In real life, Prince Charming would have absolutely found another foot to fit the shoe, and Ariel might have not been down for the long distance relationship. In real life, love is hard, frustrating, liberating, amazing, beautiful and all of the above.  But here I was, sitting in his car, in my entire feelings that Charming could dare give “Cindy’s custom footwear to some other chick!”

By Best Friend’s logic, though, I realized that, that’s not “her” shoe. It just happened to fit, and there will be others that wear the same size.

Me:

And I guess that makes sense, but I would be lying if I said the Hopeless Romantic in me struggles to accept that.

What do y’all think? Is there such a thing as a Soul Mate?

Do you think that there’s just one person that is “for you?”  

Even deeper – can you “miss” that person? We love to recite the saying that “what’s for you is for you,” but then… is that how people end up alone? Should I be concerned? 

I'm joking, obviously. 

... but, for real

Fix it, Black Jesus.

Would love to hear from y’all.

Join the conversation.

#SoulMateOrNah
#TheGracePeriod
 

The Power of Vulnerability

Pull up a chair, sis. (And fellas too) This is exactly what it sounds like.  Let’s get right into it.

Vulnerability. Man, look.

The simple mention of that word is enough to make me shift my weight and squirm in discomfort.  
Allow me to explain:  I consider myself to be, pretty much, an open book. Folks know that I share my experiences online---that I can be super transparent and often use my daily situations, accomplishments and failures to both express my humanity, and to encourage myself and others on this journey called life. Even with all the perceived negatives of social media, I’ve come to find that shared experiences make one feel less alone. To know that you’re not the only one going through life's challenges in the way that you are, can be a huge relief. At any rate, even with all of my so called “openness”, I still have the tendency to distance myself from certain situations that call for just that.  What are they? You guessed it; matters of the heart.

First, let’s look at the definition of the V word. I can barely say it without flaring up my acid reflux.

Vulnerable: adjective
susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.
 

Bruh. Who the HELL wants to be that?

It is simply basic human instinct to strive, at all times, to protect ourselves. Even the homie Sigmund Freud said, that "the deepest essence of human nature consists of self-preservation."


What a mind f**k.

How in the hell am I supposed to self-preserve and seek love at the same damn time?  And that, my friends, is the question I ask myself every day.

I have literally ruined great potential partnerships by my unwillingness to open up completely, in that regard. As caring of a person that I can be, when it comes to dealing with relationships with men, I have only allowed them to get but so far, until I feel myself falling. Then, I take a lap and trap myself behind this proverbial wall.

Now, this wall? It’s not like Cheeto Satan’s alleged wall, but it might be just as absurd. In my mind, it’s made of glass, so technically, I’m able to see bae on the other side, and he can see me. (hey boo!) We talk to each other, we send cute gifts and exchange texts and calls. Every now and again, I come out from behind it when it’s time to be intimate, but I always return to my side and he’s simply not allowed to cross the line.

Not only can that make one look emotionally unstable and partially insane, it can also be truly exhausting for the other person to think for example, that he’s getting ready to play basketball, and then I show up with a hockey stick, some cleats and a relay baton, smiling.  Girl, get your life.

The truth of the matter is, in order for me to truly love and be loved, that wall must come down. This is also not just a woman thing. I recognize that male vulnerability is a unique nuanced experience, that can be beautiful and just as difficult.

So, what does it ultimately boil down to, friends?

Fear.

Jazmine Sullivan said it best:  *sings* ‘’I’m not scared, of lions and tigers, and bears, but I’m scared of loving you.”

I feel you, sis. It be’s like that. We all know that when you lend your heart to another person, you're essentially giving them the ability to break it into a million bite sized pieces. One day, I’ll tell y’all the full story. but basically-- many moons ago-- a bright eyed and bushy tailed Grace entrusted her heart to someone. Needless to say, brotha man violated in the most horrific of ways, and I haven’t quite been the same since.

Therapy? Yes. I go. But a decade later, I realize that I am still subconsciously fearful of the possibility of being hurt to that degree ever again. That said, a more recent romantic situation has taught me how much I can lose if I don’t overcome this obstacle.

I've come to understand that you have to harness the power of the V. (no, not that V. Nasty… Although, that post may soon come) and let it work for you. Understand that:

1. Great things are on the other side.

You might get hurt, granted. That's life. But you also might flourish and find the great love that you’ve been yearning for. Discernment is key to deciding who and what to expose yourself to, but completely guarded emotions, cannot and will not work.

2. Self-Sabotage ain’t cute.

It doesn’t look good on you. Why push yourself further away from the things and people who are beneficial for you?  As ambitious women especially, I have no doubt that we will go for the jobs, apply for the promotion-- but with love, we hesitate. Emotionally blocking yourself for the sake of safety is natural, albeit. But it can also be unproductive.

3.  You’re worth it: Say it with me. Vul-ner-ability. You will literally get nowhere from behind a glass wall. In order to move forward in love and in life, you have to open yourself up. It might not always get you the answers you want, but you will have the ones you need.

Trust yourself.

If for the first time, or like me, again.  

After all, Freud also said, “out of your vulnerabilities, will come your strength.”

It’s about time for me to take his-- and my own--advice.

Diary of a CommitmentPhobe

My face when y'all was on that foolishness. 

My face when y'all was on that foolishness. 

February is always my favorite month of the year.  Between Black History realness, and it being the shortest distance between my paychecks, the second month, is particularly lit. The icing on the cake? The quintessential Designated Day of Love, or as y’all call it, Valentine’s Day, which also happens to be my favorite Holiday--- falls in the middle of the month and brings about an upsurge of positive energy that makes one feel… all warm and fuzzy.  I’ll say though, that I was particularly dumbfounded, that some of y’all Bitter Betty’s, (shoutout to @karmajonez for that term) legit tried to ruin it for the rest of us. From the rants about its capitalistic roots (name a holiday that exists without capitalism) and the tired ass complaint of, ‘you don’t need one day to tell someone you love them,’ which--- duh,  I was overwhelmed by the pseudo woke-ness surrounding an otherwise charming and delightful holiday. Y’all ain’t got jobs?  I mean, with Orange Tyranny and his Minions ruling the free world, we need all the love we can get.

You’re probably thinking, “why is she talking about Valentine’s Day in March?” There’s a point—I promise.

So, last night, as my favorite month came to a close and I found myself pondering why people would spend their time and energy ridiculing those who chose to celebrate with their significant other, family’s or with their single Black self, I also thought about my Valentines of years past. My best one?  

Sophomore year in college, I had a bae. And by bae, it probably meant that we studied in each other’s rooms, dry humped till one of us got tired, and perhaps shared some waffle fries and bomb ass lemonade from the Chick Fil-A in the Campus PunchOut. Short version, Sophomore Bae saw that I had just gotten a Juicy bracelet for my birthday, (I’m aging myself), and I was consistently babbling about what I wanted my first charm to be.  Well, four months later, Valentine’s Day rolls around, and I come back to my room from a full day of classes, to a note attached to my door saying, that my ‘Secret Valentine’ was sending me on a scavenger hunt around my dorm for my gift.

He even got his boys in on it, giving them handwritten clues to give to me, while myself and my two besties at the time giggled like idiots running up and down Meridian Hill Hall.

It was cute. The hunt ended at his room but, before he gave me the gift, he sat me down and sternly told me that he wanted me to know that he wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. He wanted to, and I quote, “play the field.” Excited, I brushed it off, eagerly waiting for my present. He handed me the small box—in it held the exact charm I wanted.  I squealed in delight. 

The next day when it the excitement wore off, I found myself staring at the bracelet with its new addition, questioning why I even accepted the charm. I called him to my room, (probably on my pink Motorola Razr) and gave it back, even though I’m almost positive he bought it with part of his student loan refund check. He. Was. Pissed.

My 19-year-old reasoning? If I can’t have it the way I want it, I don’t want it. And I wanted him. The commitment.

Fast forward, almost a decade later, I'm a little wiser, and probably a little wider (ahem), and one of the many recognizable changes that I've undergone, due to the the various relationships and courtships that I've experienced, is that I've become somewhat of a CommitmentPhobe.  There, I said it. Particularly and primarily, and especially when it comes anything that I can’t control. Which means—you guessed it. The Mens and 'nem.

 This is important for a few reasons:

We’ve all been hurt. Some have been devastated, (I’ll get into that at a later date), but I  came to understand that it's the reason why I deal with men in the manner that I do. Why my sometimes stoic demeanor can be translated into apathy. How my excitement for meeting someone new, quickly fades when I begin to become annoyed by their quirks and antics. Why my (sometimes) erratic thought process surrounding male behavior leads me to the swift delete and block ministry in my contacts. Why when they lay it on thick, I RUN. 

Unlike going to the gym and eating well, for example, which pretty much guarantees that I’ll get out what I put in, (a moderately snatched waist and #GracesBodyGoals) the fear of giving and not getting, is paralyzing.

In fact, I’d surmise that many of us have this same or similar issue, based on the conversations I’ve had on the Interwebs with my fellow twenty- somethings. That the vulnerability, or lacktherof rather, makes it nearly impossible to form romantic relationships with one another. A few months ago, I was chatting with a good friend of mine and he told me something simple, but profound. “Be committed to the process, but completely unattached to the outcome.”

Some of us are so addicted to the end result— the relationship, not getting played, etc. that we don’t enjoy the process therein. As a result, it causes us to give up and walk away without giving the moment an authentic effort.  While I agree that you should cancel anything that is stealing joy or doesn’t sit right with your spirit, I’d also propose that discernment be a regular tool in your arsenal, to know what (read: who) is worth committing to, and what’s not.

If Sophomore Bae taught me one thing, it's that commitment--while not all black and white, requires above all, a made up mind.  Ain’t no half steppin. You’re either in, or you’re out.
Choose wisely. Me? I'm working on it.

#ShootYourShot2017

I don’t have any New Year’s resolutions. Nah-  I cut that out many moons ago.  No shade to anyone who still does do them, but over time I recognized that even the very term, resolution was enough to make my anxiety flare up. It felt too finite. Too hard-pressed.

Instead, from year to year, I'd create very fluid and ongoing goals lists, that could be shaped and molded, if need be. That way, I relieved some of the pressure off of myself while still making a commitment to my development. As I grow, my goals—and methods to achieving said goals—change, and giving myself a break allows me to actually reach them.

For me, 2016 was a time of evolution and much self-reflection. Growing pains? That’s an understatement. It was the year that I fully grasped the concept that life really does ebb and flow. That, it is what it is, and swimming against the current isn’t always necessary and can be a huge waste of energy.

Between being a self-proclaimed adult, (I have my doubts at times) and the relationships/situations that I've had with family, friends, my coworkers, and even some of the men that I dated, I learned lessons in 2016, that I’m sure will carry me through this year and beyond. My goals for 2017? I’d like to think that they are, in part at least, a direct reflection of my experiences from last year. So on New Year’s Eve, with my Soca music playing, and my edges flourishing with coconut oil, I came up with 8 professional and 8 personal-- as to not overwhelm myself, and wrote them down in my handy, dandy, journal.  

I peered down at my final list, thrilled by how tangible I felt they were. As I read them over, I realized that all my goals had one thing in common. So much so, that I decided to create a theme for this year that would essentially be the outlook that I would maintain.

At the heading of my lists, I wrote three simple words:

Shoot. Your. Shot.

I sat back, pleased with myself, grinning-- satisfied and excited. It was so simple.

Hear me out.

Often times, we become so (irrationally) afraid of taking the chance that we’ve wanted to. The shot that could lead us to our purpose, or set us on a path in the direction of our dreams. I know it sounds super cliché, like all the fake deep memes that we see floating around the internet. I get it.  But this resonated with me because it’s so simple yet so profound.  While most of us may associate this phrase with sliding in someone’s DM’s, or trying to get the digits of someone you find attractive, I believe that it can apply to every aspect of your life. Do you want to switch careers? Do it. Want to see if you’ll be good at something else? Try it. Make it happen.
Shoot. Your. Shot.

To be clear, I still implore y’all to try it in your dating life. Ladies, too. Don’t be shy, now.

I remember one of the times that I did. It was the Year of Our Lord 2010. I was an anxious graduating college senior about to be thrust into the “real world." On top of that, I had been trying to work up the nerve to approach one of my classmates I’d been crushing on for a better part of that academic year. We spoke in passing a few times, but he had no idea that I had a Steve Urkel/Laura Winslow -like affinity towards him. Near the end of the spring semester, I saw that he had been featured in the school newspaper. I cut out the article, laminated and framed it, and gave it to him as a gift. (Pats self on back for creativity--- he was super hyped by the way) The following week, I confessed that I had a crush.

He told me that, while he was flattered, he wasn’t looking for anything.

*Shrug.*

Was it a curve? Sure. But it let me know for certain that he wasn’t into me and that was OK. To me, that was better than wondering what if for the rest of forever. I didn’t have time for what if’s then, and I definitely don’t have time for them in this good year Two Thousand and Seventeen.

The point is, that it’s important to put your best foot forward, and do so in confidence. Don’t let fear and possible rejection stand in your way. You might miss, granted. But that’s more about ego than anything else.

You also might sink the shot, all net. Then what?

I’m not saying be reckless, friends. Don’t be out here just throwing things all willy-nilly. Do the work--whatever that means to you. Whether it be researching, applying, making the call, sending the email, asking the question, hell, even sliding in the DM’s.  You have the rock.

Guage. Steady your hand. Breathe. Shoot.

Happy New Year.



 

 

 

 

 

 

Don't Block Your Blessing...Or Nah?

Here we are at the end of the year. Whew! For many of us, 2016 was a doozy, honey

it took Prince and damn Willy Wonka smooth out. Mercury seemed to always be in retrograde,  there was apparently a New Member Intake into Petty Phi Petty Inc., and The Angry Cheeto was unfortunately elected the next Commander In Chief.  On a more personal level, three friends of mine passed away and it hit me harder than I could have ever expected. 2016 was akin to that drunk uncle that shows up to family events, talking reckless and starting drama-- making everyone super uncomfortable. You’ve been told repeatedly to just ignore him, while Granny threatens to hold the good part of the cornbread hostage if he keeps acting like a damn idiot.  

To top it all off, my love life was super, sucky. By July, I had had enough of the Series of Unfortunate Dates, and took it upon myself to go into seclusion. To give myself a Date Break-- so to speak, and redirect my focus to my personal growth among other things.

It was such a liberating decision and one that I desperately needed to make.  I had begun to hit the gym harder, bypassing jars of Talenti in exchange for carrots, (a big deal, by the way) my hair was growing, #locnation, my skin was glowing, #melanin, #coconutoilandtings, and I truly felt like things were finally on the upswing. Overall, I found myself happier and in a much better space.

They say that you attract what you put out, right?
.
Right.

So, less than three weeks into my #GracePeriod (see what I did there?) I met someone who shot his shot in my DM’s after we’d both made comments on a mutual friend’s post. We began chit chatting, and getting to know each other. I thought he was handsome, had a great personality and was overall an extremely interesting person. We clicked.
Be that as it may, something in me just didn’t feel ready to take the plunge.

*Enter, well-meaning girlfriends.* Also known as the Don’t Block Your Blessing Crew.

DBYB Crew: God done sent you a good man, who puts your needs first, is super sweet to you, and seems like he wants to commit. Girl, you better not block your blessing.

Me:

mgid_ao_image_mtv.com_72800.jpg

Now, I love my girlfriends. I do. But I was terribly confused. Granted-- I did tell them how great of a guy he was. But I also placed just as much emphasis, if not more, on the fact that my Date Break had just started and I wasn’t necessarily willing to sell myself short by jumping into something before I was ready, just because I presented with a viable enough option.

Their responses/suggestions though, seemed to sidestep my thought process, dismissing it only as self-sabotage and putting it second to the idea that I could have possibly found my “happily ever after.” *Insert deep eye roll*

 Against my better judgement, I decided to date him, and at first it was going well, but my greater sense eventually kicked in and it ended up being only something slightly short of a disaster. He was amazing, but I was hesitant. Needless to say, it didn’t work.

Thankfully we were able to salvage our friendship by having that, “this is where I am in life,” conversation that I should have had in the first place, but it surprised me how many of my good and dear well-meaning friends seem to ignore my need to be with myself, almost filing it under some kind of life crisis instead of a true feeling.

I’m all for a great romance and partnership when the time is right, but women are routinely questioned when they make a decision that seems to be against the norm, while men never get that push-back. It’s accepted as law that a man has to be “ready” first.  Have we become that socialized in this endless search for male companionship that we’d be willing to sacrifice a personal journey for the sake of a good man coming along? Why do we continue to perpetuate the narrative that our identities are almost completely rooted in finding a partner?

As if a few months of two-stepping to Drake in my underwear with glasses of Prosecco, and not worrying about anyone else isn’t a thing that I needed.  Tuh.

Will Great Guy be there when I’m ready to try again? Who knows. When I come out of this, will I even want to date him again?  It could go either way.

If the, DBYB Crew had it their way, I’d be with child and planning a wedding.

Be clear: A good thing at the wrong time, is still the wrong thing, and that is something that I firmly stand by.  Who’s to say that a blessing won’t end up being a curse if you’re not in a position to receive it?

As we head into the Year of Our Lord 2017, I learned to respect my greatest know it all well-meaning girlfriend I have—my intuition (Hey girl, hey!) To be fair, she’ll also tell me when I’m trippin—but she knows me better than anyone else and I have to honor that.

Ultimately, I am looking forward to what love (both external and internal) and life have to bring in the New Year, and I am optimistic.

Oh, and, 2017-- don't you come in here with that bullshit. We're gon' have a good year, ya hear?

Thanks.

Love, Peace and Grace.

 


 

What I Learned Through Online Dating

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Like the MTA and big ass sewer rats, dating in New York City can be pretty awful. Back in early 2014, I was having terrible luck meeting and dating quality guys, due primarily to a very intense schedule that comprised mostly of going to work, the gym and then home to catch up on my shows. Like most of us, I had an Olivia Pope obsession and felt the need to focus my energy being annoyed at her and Fitz more than trying to find a real life relationship.

On the off chance that I would drag my ass out to be social and attempt to mix and mingle, I’d run into dudes who felt like they were God’s gift to Brooklyn and Harlem, USA-- more interested in sipping overpriced Jack and gingers and holding up the wall than engaging in real conversation.  Perhaps they were also trying to concentrate on their breathing as to not bust a seam on their ‘could that be any tighter’ button down.  I was, as best as I can put it, not with the shits and quickly became over it.

One evening, I was bitching to my cousin about how I was ready to become the proud parent of several kittens or puppies in the near future, and he suggested that I “join Tinder and thank him later”—his words, not mine. Later I almost ripped him a new one because it didn’t take long to understand what a good number of people join Tinder to do--- hint- it ain’t to start a knitting circle.   Anyway, over the last two years, I’ve joined and deleted Tinder, OkCupid, and Soul Swipe (aka, Black Tinder) multiple times. Outside of the fact that Soul Swipe sounds like a pact that’s made with Satan himself versus an actual dating app, I had a very interesting time on all three. Before you ask--- no I was NOT paying my good American coin to join a Match.com, BlackPeopleMeet.com, eHarmony, hell, Christian Mingle— All of the apps I joined were free.99.  Here’s the 5 things that I learned during that time.

1. No one is different online than they are in real life- even if they’re presenting an amazing Internet version of themselves, once that materializes into a series of dates, you’ll eventually learn things about them that you may or may not like. Online dating doesn’t instantly create a vacuum for the creeps or, on the flipside, well dressed, well-spoken professionals. Disclaimer— the most well put together, multiple degree toting folk can be creeps too. Trust me on that one.

2. Some people are actually looking for love- While dating apps usually get bad reps for being hookup sites only, many men and women have looked to technology to find real love. *cue Mary J. Blige*. A 2012 eHarmony marriage and satisfaction study revealed that of almost 20,000 people who tied the knot between 2005 and 2012, 35% had met their spouses online.
Considering all the other places you can meet potential baes, —bars, through mutual friends, religious centers, that’s a large percentage, which I’m sure has only increased since then.  Quite frankly, it’s becoming a more convenient way to filter through folk and save time.  No one can tell me that swiping left or right based on pics, mutual friends, grammar (major key, judge if you want) and a snapshot of credentials from the comfort of your onesie, sipping boxed wine at your leisure is not the ultimate come up.

3. I learned what I liked-  Like Black lives, dates matter. And variety is indeed the spice of life. If nothing else, online dating gives you options, honey. And you’ll quickly begin to understand, what works for you and what doesn’t.  For example, I thought I wanted a traditional man, when what I really wanted was a gentleman. Yes, they can be two different things.  I learned that when I found myself defending a woman’s right to wear what she chooses, and it not warrant any kind of inappropriate behavior towards her, to a ‘I wear a bow tie everywhere I go’ head ass, self-proclaimed traditionalist Negro. As you can probably tell, he wasn’t for me. He also happened to be a butthole. So there’s that. 

4. I get overwhelmed…quickly--If you are remotely attractive or, to be fair, even if you’re not, you’re likely to get inundated with requests and messages—OKCupid’s model allows anyone whose demographic you fit (female, within 30 miles for example) to pop up in your inbox like “aye girl, *insert cheesy pick up line*. It can get to be too much. At some point, my anxiety would kick in and I’d stop responding altogether or just delete the app. Not only that, but the idea of having to respond to that many messages, even of people I found interesting, made this seem like a daunting task. While Tinder and Soul Swipe make it so that you have to match in order to make contact, when that finger getsta swiping, child? Lord knows what will happen. Thank goodness for the un-match option.

5. There’s nothing to be ashamed of—I used to tell myself that I wanted a better story to tell my grandkids about how I met their granddaddy, then, “and baaaaabbby, the way your pop-pop slid up in my DM’s, was so smooth, the rest was history.” I was annoyed. I wanted a cute story—like, I was running to catch my train on a stormy day and he put his umbrella over me because mine broke in the wind, flashed me a set of pearly whites and we talked on our way to work. I got over that, because fairy tales only occur in Disney movies and movies starring Idris El-bae.  Online dating isn’t as taboo as it was when it first arrived on the scene, and hell, since we do everything else on the internet, dating isn’t something to be all uptight about. How else are you supposed to meet folk if you stay in the house?

I’ve had my fair share of Internet romantic experiences-- some great that didn’t work out for one reason or another, some… weird, some straight up bad, and yes I’m still single. To be honest, I’m unsure if the good Lord has blessed me with the emotional bandwidth and patience that it takes engage in a courtship at this point in my life.  But I’d recommend anyone looking for a new romance to at least try online dating-- don't worry--there's less of a catfish thing happening than you would think. Do it with an open mind.  You might be surprised.

 

I Turned 28 and Nothing Happened...and then Something Did.

Allow me to explain.

The thing that I’ve been lowkey dreading all year inevitably happened.

Last week, I turned 28. Yup, on October 5th, 2016.

#Libragang #OctobersVeryOwn and all that good stuff. 

Breh.

To be fair, if I didn’t make it to this point, that would mean that I was dead, so this alternative isn’t that bad when put in context.  

But there’s levels to this shit.
Depending on who you ask (or who’s reading) some may think that it’s not a big deal.

Twenty-Eight-- #2yearsfrom30.

I see my peers doing amazing things, and I think, 'man we’re just getting started.' 

Allow me to generalize for a moment, though. Some of my fellas may start to see their hairlines begin to talk to the back of their necks and some of my ladies may be secretly plotting to freeze their eggs.

Tell me where the lie is. I'll wait. 

We’re getting up there and my knees are consistently remind me of that.

At any rate, I can now say that I am officially late twenties. Gah!

At 27, I could possibly get away with mid. Like, I could answer a survey vaguely-- when they’d ask my age group, I’d do a quick Birdman hand rub and select “mid” like a villain. But, now?

Now, I’m late twenties. LegitAs in, I’m hoping my manager doesn’t need anything from me within the first 30 minutes of work because I won’t actually be there, late.

As in, this research paper was due at noon, It’s 1:30pm and I've tried to see how much bigger I can make this font, late. 

I’m sure you get the picture.

Here’s the thing though— A week into this, it’s not all that bad. It’s been dope, actually. Extremely enlightening and refreshing. Twenty-seven was a doozy. I had another quarter life crisis--something like the David Ruffin, ‘no one comes to see you, Otis!’ meltdown. Life was yoking my little ass up like Melvin did Jody, and then asked me if I wanted anything from the store. It met me in the alley like Harlem Nights, threatening to shoot me in my pinky toe. It was uh-gu-ly.

My love life was equally as amusing, frustrating, devastating and hilarious. A cross between Waiting to Exhale, and “Two Can Play That Game,” with a touch of “Hitch”.  Half the time, I didn’t know if I was living in real time or trapped in an alternate universe full of dudes who think it’s appropriate to send a passive aggressive Venmo request for your half of the date, or text after midnight talkin' bout, ‘wyd’.

What am I doing? Dreaming about all the ways I’m going to block you when I wake up.  (For clarity, the Venmo story didn’t happen to me, because y’all would have heard about it but, come on!)

The bottom line is, I survived 27, and although there are some events and milestones I thought I would have reached by now--like marriage, a brownstone, having a dog named Brooklyn and becoming a millionaire, (let’s all laugh together) I’m still in a great space.  It took a while to get here—to accept myself fully and completely. I am still figuring myself out, one day at a time and loving the woman I have become and am becoming.  I’m still learning, growing, crying (those who know me, know that I’m a cry baby) and moving forward at a pace that I am comfortable with. I'm running my own race and staying in my lane--which is a major key---recognizing both my shortcomings and my strengths, and reaching out for support where I find myself lacking.

Forget 25—THIS is my prime.

Twenty-eight also means, that It’s officially been 10 years since I’ve become a legal adult.  (Which they definitely should reconsider because I STILL find myself on the struggle bus to adulthood, so ain’t no way my 18-year-old self was ready to be one). I can honestly say that in the last 10 years, the amount of growth, change, peaks and lows, and life altering experiences, have all been worth it.

To commemorate this, instead of doing the traditional dinner last week, (don’t get me wrong—I went to brunch this past Sunday because, let’s be real, brunch is life)—I decided to approach this new season in my life, and closing/opening chapters as it pertains to my personal and professional growth with a symbolic gesture.

I released balloons off of a Brooklyn rooftop with words of affirmation, dreams and wishes for myself for this new year on earth and moving forward.  My friends also put their dreams and wishes for me on the balloons and released them, and we toasted with champagne. It was a perfect.

As the prophet and my emotional future husband Drake says, what a time to be alive. The thing I was afraid of, ended up being just fine, and I am embracing all that this new age has to offer.  I am indeed, just getting started.

#WelcomeToTwentyEight


 

He Said Black Women Don't Submit

This past weekend, I had to have yet ANOTHER conversation/debate regarding the tired ass notion that (some) Black men still seem to have about Black (specifically American born) women... The idea is that, they do want to date/marry us, but are less likely to, because we don’t know how to, “submit.”

*deep sigh*

Furthermore, the general perception is that our counterparts-- women of a different cultural/ethnic background, would be more willing/likely to do so.

The line of reasoning is that women of other cultures, both U.S. born and foreign, tend to stick more closely to traditional roles, while mostly only Black women born and raised outside of this country Ie; Africa and the Caribbean, possess these qualities.

*Angela Rye eye roll*

Now,

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. First things first-- If a particular man doesn't have shit to submit to, why on earth would a woman make the effort to do so? No, I’m not just talking about money or individual finances.  If he hasn’t proven his leadership and ability to make sound decisions, her ‘submissiveness’ would actually be plain old, home grown stupidity.

Additionally, since most of these discussions center around a religious and social ideology, let’s take it a step further. Submission, according to the Good Book that some of y’all ain’t read since it came out, says that this practice is for none other than WIVES to their HUSBANDS. (And for spouses to submit to each other, but no one wants to talk about that part-- I digress.) 

Not her male acquaintance. Not a man she’s dating or the father of her child(ren). Not her cut buddy. Not Tee-Tee from down the street. Not the gentleman who purchased all of her Cîroc Coconut and cranberries last week at the day party, and certainly not her boyfriend, or fiancée.

Not na’n one of them.

Even if a woman is not the religious type, or doesn’t closely align herself with “traditional’ gender roles, she may still recognize or even value the idea of having her man be the proverbial head of household. There's a dynamic in it-- a balance if you will.

“How will I know if she can submit if she doesn’t while we’re dating?”, asks Black Boyfriend.

Thank you for your question. 

Put it like this: You’d like to illustrate your ability to be her husband so you do certain things—court her, be consistent and act like you have sense. You’re NOT her husband so you don’t do everything that a husband does. If she wants to be a wife, she can illustrate that same thing in different ways—preparing some meals, ( I prefer the idea of cooking together) and keeping HER home presentable, (not cleaning yours like she lives there or she's The Help) for example. 

But until she is actually married, performing wife duties is asinine. It’s akin to doing the work of the President but receiving the job title and salary of the Secretary. Some ladies are really falling for the okie doke.  Ever wondered what happened to the cow that gave away all her milk during binge watching weekends of Power? She still might be waiting to be bought.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

The same goes with the submission concept. As my significant other, I will absolutely take your opinion into consideration, and show you the utmost respect, but when will I start to think about deferring to you?

*cues ups music, warms up glutes, in preparation for entire choreography routine for Exhibit A* ---> 

Oh, you don’t need me to do that?

Dammit.

*puts away leotard*

My point is, the idea that Black, American women don’t know how to, or refuse to allow their men to take some form of leadership (in the traditional or non traditional sense), is a broad and somewhat insulting generalization that is rooted in harmful stereotypes.  In the conversations I’ve had with some black men,  historical context is often ignored, Ie; Angry Black Woman, Mammy, Matriarch and Jezebel, and dismissed under the guise of “preference." When in reality what it sometimes seems like is that when a non-Black woman argues with you, it’s normal—If a Black woman does, it’s angry and non-submissive.

Additionally, I'd surmise that the so called validity in that stance rests less on actual experience, more on one sided stories that have been skewed in perception and MOST to do with fragile ass ego.

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

It also it leads me to believe that some of y’all don’t even know what the submission dynamic IS… (Hint—it’s not when someone just goes along with whatever you say) –Oh the irony in Exhibit B is truly scrumptious.

But, I digress.

I will say at this:

Ladies, if you don’t trust his judgement—obviously these things take some time-- then you shouldn’t be with him. It’s as simple as that. He can’t be a good leader/partner in your potential future home and nuptials if you’re always questioning his decisions. Find yourself someone who you believe is of sound mind, and has proven that to you.

The myth that Black women won’t follow a true, good man’s lead is unintelligible, hurtful and harmful at best and it's about time that it be dismantled. And ladies, don’t let Tee-Tee and ‘nem tell you any different.

Take the Book out of Your Bag

It's been a minute, because you know, life. But amidst all of the crazy triggering shit happening around us--- like the possible election of an Angry Cheese Doodle to arguably the highest and most powerful position in the world, and footage continuing to surface which illustrates violent police practices/murder of African Americans, I decided to veer away from the frustration, and write about something different--books. That's right... books. Sort of... Follow me for a bit. 

I live in New York City.  The subway trains, though comedic and annoying at times, are the most efficient way to commute around the city. They're kinda like the roller coasters in an amusement park (although I am rarely amused)-- the line is always long, it's crowded, and someone is usually getting sick.

To keep my sanity and pass the almost hour commute to work,  I usually pack some form of entertainment. That's sort of the perks of not having to drive in NYC. (It's one of the reasons I don't own a car)--I can focus on more important things like, making sure my eyebrows are on fleek, decide whether or not to draft a well crafted read in the 'Notes' section of my iPhone (act like y'all don't do it) in response to an idiotic text that I received, or, I can enjoy the musings of my favorite characters in the latest book that I'm indulging in.

The last fiction piece that I read was, 'Half of a Yellow Sun' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and as always, I was pleased by her extraordinary writing and literary genius. Although the story line was wrapped in cultural and historical references that takes place before my time, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't feel like I was reading a chapter out of a book in a High School Social Studies class. 

I carried this book with me everyday to and from work and finished it in under a month. One day, several weeks later, I was cleaning out my big ass bag (everyone who knows me, knows that my bags are HUGE-- mostly because it gives me room for all of my snacks) and I found the book. I thought to myself, "Why is this still here? I finished this weeks ago."

It dawned on me that because I was so used to carrying it, even when I was finished with it, I never took it out.  Unbeknownst to me, it was contributing to the stress of me having to carry an already full bag and I had absolutely no idea. It had served it's purpose. Yet, it was still there.

I immediately smirked, because at that moment, I knew that there was definitely a hidden message. (Hey Universe--I see you, Big Fella)

Often times, when something is finished in our lives, we still carry that baggage (literally, figuratively, emotional or otherwise) around, not taking the time to consciously remove (read: heal from) the hurt or pain that we've experienced.  Even if there was no so called, "trauma", there is still a necessary element of learning from a situation and then releasing it. 

Considering most of my discussions center around relationships and dating, this is of course, what I'm referring to. Those of you who follow me on Facebook and see my stories, know how passionate I can be, and how much of an advocate I am, about going through healing.  And for those of you who don't, just know, I think that it is CRUCIAL. For example, some of us, will bounce to the next d**kboy *Beyonce voice* (or whatever your preference) without taking the time to fully recover from the loss or frustration experienced from the last one.

We're so used to "the book", that we want to stay in it. Perhaps, to keep rereading the chapters, even though we already know how it ends. To try and force that feeling again. Or, we're so used to it's weight, that we don't even notice that it's there-- we're just feeling the effects of it. And sometimes, it almost feels like a burden to remove it.

Whatever the story is, it's finished. You enjoyed it for what it was. Read another one. Enjoy another adventure. 

I took the book out, and I felt so much lighter. Have you?

The Importance of Pushing Through

Shit happens. Right?  By now, it would be safe to assume that the average twenty something has definitely been hazed up by different experiences and occurrences throughout their tenure as a pseudo adult. "WTF" is apart of our daily phrases.  Basically, we understand that life straight be TRYING it.  

We can deal with the regular stuff. The day to day, --train delays, annoying bosses etc.  But when the shit hits the fan? That's a different situation. We're talking about the "when it rains, it pours", the "if it ain't one thing, it's another", the "compound interest" shit. 

And that, my friends, is what makes us feel like someone just unplugged the stopper in the bathtub, and we're circling around the drain, trying to avoid being sucked down the pipe. It's relentless. It's chaotic. It gives zero f**ks about you. It smacks the plate of food and cup of Kool-Aid out of your hand at the family BBQ. 

Take the month March for example. For me, it was one of the roughest months I had in probably a year. It may have not seemed like it, but it was a doozy. I meaaaaan there was personal drama, family drama, work drama. It was all way too much and my head was spinning. There were several late nights and early mornings, and most days, it took so much out of me to simply put one foot in front of the other. My anxiety was on fleek. There were tears and pleading, and lots of talking to myself. (I support this, and I'll probably explain on another day). 

But the thing about life is, it continues. There are things that I was still expected to do; like go to work, pay bills, etc. Life goes on and, as hard as it is when you feel like you're drowning, you will have to as well. Push through. Here's what I did.

1. Compartmentalize- Everything can't get your attention at the same time. If you're having problems at home-- if they're not overly severe-- still go to work, and actually work.  Focusing on your problems at home, when you're at work is counterproductive, and could compromise your paycheck as well. And that would only add to your problems. So, put your phone on Do Not Disturb and try your best to focus on the task at hand.  For March, I really had to dig deep. Meet quotas, put on playlists and knock out 'do' lists. When 5pm came, I checked back in on my issues. And would ya look at that. They were still there.  To be clear, I'm not just talking about work.  Compartmentalize in other aspects of your life. Put your problem(s) in a small box and (don't avoid them, but) deal with them on a piecemeal basis.  Which leads me to number 2. 

2. Do Not Be Consumed-  Stay positive. Try your best to not allow your issues to take over your entire life. Don't let them spill out of their assigned compartments. Write. Grab a cup of coffee. Go to the gym.  If I was one of those people who lost weight under stress, honnneeeeeey, --I would be snatched. But I actually have the tendency to gain. So, in March, I took Spin twice a week, and did circuit training as well. It's a great way to relieve stress and my jeans started fitting better. Two snaps for me! This is a good time to zone in. Tackle those things you've been meaning to do. Book that trip. Balance your finances. De-clutter your space. Chaos forces you to reexamine your life and re evaluate the things that are important.  

3. Own What You Can, and Leave the Rest- "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference" This is super important. Sometimes the chaos that we are experiencing is a result of trying to change things that we know good and damn well we have no business trying to change--like other people. Well? This also means, that with the things you can change, you have to determine if they are short quick fixes, or if they might take a little longer to work through.  Also, in the spirit of mindfulness, we must understand that things, people and experiences can't technically make us "feel a way"- we're choosing the response to a certain situation. Easier said than done, but it doesn't change the fact that it is true. Choose your responses carefully. Protect your peace. 

4. Cry, and then Go. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a big old fashioned cry baby. We live in a society that tells us not to show emotion in fear of being labeled weak. But a good cry is everything. It's refreshing. I'm for it. What I am NOT for, is staying in that space and feeling sorry for yourself. Cry. Get it all out. That's a huge part of pushing through. But when you're done, get out, go get something to eat, and keep going. You have to. You need you. We need you. Trust me, you got this. So take your time, wipe your tears, and then refer to Number 2.

5. Create Boundaries -Maybe you put yourself in this position. Maybe life and other people saw your light and tried to stomp it out. Maybe other people's poor choices are affecting you.  Whatever the case, tell yourself that this isn't the end. Be kind to yourself. Most importantly, don't let anyone else take you on a guilt trip for taking care of yourself, mentally and emotionally. If you need a moment or several, take them. And don't feel bad about it. I've learned that sometimes other people have expectations of themselves that they don't fulfill, so as a result, they project that onto you. No. . 

Even though March was was legit cray, doing the above things allowed me to understand a lot about myself, what my strengths are, where my weaknesses lie, how far I have to go, but also how far I've come. 

Hope this helped. Chaos is never fun. But it will be OK.  Push Through. 





 

Overthinking Shit Will Ruin Your Life

Bruh--

Let's talk about it. How trying to make a simple decision takes you all week, because you've made a damn pie chart on all the different outcomes and possibilities. How you think about something for hours on end, until your head is pounding, so like a true procrastinator,  you end up closing all your tabs, opening a new one, typing in your Netflix info and watching Law & Order, SVU reruns instead. Detective Benson and Stabler need your help, after all. And it sucks. How do I know? Let's see-- It took me a solid two and a half months to debut (today) this blog AFTER I had made the decision to start one, (sometime back in January) simply because I sat and agonized over every. single. damn. detail. From the name, (I can't begin to count how many names I went through, but let's not open up Pandora's Box) to what platform I was going to use. I almost scrapped the idea altogether. And then one day, I remembered that some time ago, when I was overthinking another project --oh just so you know, this ain't nothing new-- someone told me, "Grace, sometimes 'done' is better than 'perfect'.

And that's when I stopped watching an episode, amidst one of Ice-T's tough guy monologues, (outside of the fact that his name is Ice T, he's also got a major lisp, so it's really hard for me to believe him-- he needs more people) and got to work.

It was really that simple. No one is saying that you shouldn't pay attention to details, but there is absolutely no reason to frustrate yourself into an unproductive frenzy because your mind is on team #doingtoomuch.

So, how did I (and continue to) get through it?

A couple things.

1. Drake-. Yes, I'm serious. Yes, as in Aubrey Graham. Drizzy. October's Very Own. He's such a great motivator. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a huge music head.  So, anytime I'm about to sit down and do something, that requires a lot of concentration, I have to get pumped with the right soundtrack. It might just be the high energy or that I absolutely believe that he's bae in my head, but from 'Houstalantavegas' to 'Headlines,' Drake records just makes me want to like, get things done.  'Make Me Proud' is the theme song of my life. "I know things get hard, but girl you got it,  girl you got it, there you go...." He knows that I went to Howard, and how I be on the treadmill and trying to only eat salad.  Then he told me he's proud of me, repeatedly.  I'm all like, thanks, boo! Next time, you have a project, do yourself a favor and make yourself a Drizzy playlist and Thank Me Later. See what I did there?

2. Make a list- Now this can be a rabbit hole, so you want to get specific. My list consisted of 3 major things that what I wanted to accomplish with debuting this site/blog, and then I broke those 3 things down further to include how I was going to get each done. This also helped me trim down the unnecessary and irrelevant thoughts that kept me going in circles in my head.

3. Create a deadline and (try my best to) keep it- Mine was the first of the month. Of almost every damn month. I didn't keep to my deadline, and I'll admit that at times, it felt like that small detail kept pushing me further and further away from my goal. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't get frustrated, but it allowed me to use that experience, and what came next, surprised me.
(see #4)

4. Being flexible-  This helped me so much. But Grace, I thought you said have a deadline and keep it? Yes, I said that. But sometimes things have to just... come to you. As you write down the list of goals that you want to accomplish for your project, you might see it evolve and change right before your eyes. Embrace it. Grace Period was so many things before I was (semi) content with what it is now. And it still may change. Being flexible also led me to change my debut deadline from the "first of the month," to just...Monday. Those come more often.  Like ponytails, jeans, like Karrueche and Chris Brown, --don't force it.

5. Being kind to (my)self--Sometimes overthinking things can produce an awful lot of anxiety. It did for me. Caused me to second guess, and be super hard on myself for not getting things done by the time I thought I should have. For not being "perfect". I had to stop before I drove myself crazy.  Honestly, if this happens to you, take a bath and a chill pill. Breathe. Take a break and come back to it. Ambition is a gift and a curse, and mental fatigue IS a real thing. I can't speak for all folks, but I know that I can't produce quality like that. I simply can't function that way. Allow yourself to be a human. A 15 minute, 'you is kind, you is smart, you is important' pep talk, can do wonders. A walk around the block, a cup of tea, a trip to the nail salon-- whatever it is-- use it to get yourself re-centered, and back on task. In my experience, a clear mind is way more likely to be productive and less likely to think about things that are unnecessary. It also helps to remember, that progress is always a work in progress.

Hope you found this useful.

Thank you all for your support, and welcome to The Grace Period.