master of that.

i’m usually a pretty confident person when it comes to matters of academia.  i fall on the side of book smart and tend to be above average when i really apply myself. throughout grad school, however? ya girl was floundering. my confident was knocked and i was mad shook every time i turned in the simplest of assignments. i always though my ideas too pedantic, not imaginative. and i struggled. mightily.

but i fucking made it.

i turned in my final on sunday nov 5 and i let go and let god. it was out of my hands at that point. que sera and all that jazz. but until i got my actual grade? y’all. i was cliiiiinched. i checked the online portal in which my class was delivered obsessively. i think wednesday was when i hit my peak and checked over twenty times throughout the day. because i wanted to know THE MINUTE it was posted.

thursday found me at the h.e.r. show with no time to obsessively refresh the portal during the evening and it was refreshing. breh. it had been so long since i’d gone out and just been at a thing for enjoyment. i basically became a hermit for the last six to eight months, alternately hyperfocused on my studies and hypercritical of myself.

i got home after the show and thought breezily, “lemme gon head and check this shit that i know hasn’t been updated…” only to log in and see the notification icon lit up like chrimmuh mornting. two new notifications let me know that it had been graded and it was officially logged.

i took a few seconds before i clicked on the grade update. i had all kinds of crazy shit running through my mind about having to retake the capstone and add additional debt to the mound of already looming debt that was going to greet me in six months. i had to do a quick deep breathing exercise to recenter myself then clicked and saw a perfect fucking score.

y’all know i cried right?

then hopped all over social media to brag.

because i fucking did it. and with the exception of one more discussion board response my grad school career is over. and i fucking made it.

a bish is a master in these streets!

and i wouldn’t have made it without the support of all of my family & friends, but in no particular order but alphabetical– Ajua, Ashley, Christina, Jillian, Sarah, Shakeia, Trina all killed this friendship shit and let me complain and be ridiculous in their imessage, GroupMe, phone, etc. And Tahmeka was on GOAT status my whole journey. This one helped me not lose my mind so many times I can’t even keep count.

now lemme google this damn graduation ceremony information, i’ve got a trip to plan!

three little words.

there’s a thing you should know about me if we’re friends. i don’t lack confidence in many of my abilities. i can write my ass off. i give (mostly) levelheaded advice. i give a mean gift. there are a host of other things at which i excel, but that’s not why we’re here. we’re here because though they are few, there are things at which i am not fully bolstered with confidence when it comes to my ability to rock them. i am nervous. i am anxious. i am impatient. i am scared. i am completely and utterly devoid of any sense of confidence when it comes to interacting in these spaces.

now.

having said that.

another thing you should know about me is that i don’t do real vulnerability easily. even with those who are closest to me. the way my defense mechanisms are set up, it’s rare that the kid pulls back the veil completely, but when i do there’s a thing that happens that really burns my fucking grits. and realizing the genesis of why it burns my grits has lead me to actively practicing to not do it to others in my life even though they may not be as affected by it.

if i am being open and vulnerable and basically laying my heart on the line about a thing that is bringing me major anxiety, please…for the love of all things holy–do not say the following phrase to me, “you’ll be fine.” or it’s sistercousin “it’ll be okay”.

i was with a friend a few days ago who was telling me about something major that’s going on in their life and the shock felt as a result of this recent change. and my friend said she got incensed as well when expressing her worries about the situation to someone and they said “it’ll be okay. you’ll be fine.” and i felt that shit in my soul. her anger, that is.

those phrases are such a trigger for me. SUCH A TRIGGER. and i figured out why during this conversation with my friend. because i see these phrases as minimizing or downplaying a moment in which i feel like i’m doing a lot and really letting my guard down and you’re hitting me with a salve ass, pat ass, trite ass phrase that is meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

now i’m not seeking to be coddled. i don’t need that. that does not enrich my life in any way. and i get that you’re trying to soothe my anxiety about whatever thing it is that has me all up in knots. but maybe instead of saying that, can you say “hey, i know this shit has you all out of sorts right now and that sucks. i am hoping that peace greets your situation soon.” i mean not in those exact words, but something of that sentiment.

i don’t need to be okay. i need reassurance that although my feelings at the moment are probably heightened due to my propensity for dramatics, the feelings are still valid. that it’s okay to give into, but not become overwhelmed by said feelings. that if there is anything the person i am talking to can do to help alleviate the feeling that i can count on them to be there. that they too have been in xyz situation that may or may not have been similar, but these were some of their coping mechanisms.

despite my love affair with locution, i like actionable comfort. that’s what this all boils down to really. fuck a “woo woo woo”, i’m more about a “ok bitch, you’ve cried about it–so now what is you (or we) gon do?”

el toque.

Yesterday on the Twitter machine, someone asked “other than money, if someone were to surprise you with exactly what you need right now, what would it be?” I answered without hesitation, ” a hug.” It was the first thing that popped into my brain and probably the most vulnerably honest answer I could have ever given. Since then, I’ve been contemplating this answer and why it came to me so swiftly.

Y’all know the five love languages, right? If you’re unfamiliar here’s a quick primer. Author Gary Chapman has written a book that basically says expressions and experiences of love are manifested in five different ways:

  • gift giving
  • quality time
  • words of affirmation
  • acts of service
  • physical touch

Until very recently I was almost certain that my love language was words of affirmation. There’s no high like the one I get from a “good job” or “thank you for doing/being/saying xyz”, but lately I feel like there’s been a shift. I have been craaaaving touch. Like moreso than usual. And not even in a sexual manner. Just the simple human connection aspect of it, man. Before I greeted a friend I visited recently, I honestly cannot remember the last time I had physical contact with another human being.

And that? If I’m being honest, it scares me a bit. It makes me feel a bit disconnected from the people around me. Makes me feel a little more lonely in the space I’ve carved out in the world. It makes me think, okay, maybe this is it. Maybe I am now ready (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) to embark on a relationship with a man and MEAN IT.

It’s daunting, the idea of trying yet again to open myself up enough to let someone in in that way. I haven’t since TONTEBMH and that’s been purposeful–mostly. But the more I sit with it, the more I think it’s real this time. I’ve said it before in this space, so I know some of you who have been reading me for years are probably rolling your eyes right now, ha!

But…er…ah…the others of you who aren’t…y’all got anybody you can arrange me in a relationship with or nah? I’m tryna see som’n. Nicole Falls needs some fodder for these lil books she outchea penning. HA!

destiny.

The other day I was on Marco Polo with a friend talking about an experience that I’d had that evening. I was so buoyed by the connections I’d made, particularly because they were in line with helping me move toward a goal I’d recently put into the universe and to see the turnaround on its way coming to fruition so quickly was awe-inspiring to watch. I think everyone who reads this knows by now that I recently embarked on a second career, penning novels–particularly #negronosedromance.

In that Marco Polo dispatch, I told my friend…this thing happening finally made me feel like this writing thing was going to stick and that I’d finally felt like this is what I should be doing. My friend’s response to my news ended with a question that I’ve been pondering ever since. She said (I’m paraphrasing), “You keep saying this…when a thing happens and I wonder…what will it take for you to finally accept that this is your destiny?”

I skirted answering her in the moment because I didn’t have an answer at the time. You see…I was adamant…AM ADAMANT that I want my writing to be a supplemental career and not my main thing. For as much as I love writing, y’all wanna know the real? I’m a little (read: fucking majorly) scared. And it took talking to another friend about the situation to really bring me to grips with even being brave enough to admit that to the three people who’ll read this, lol. These two ideas are tied together, actually the more I think about it.

For me…validation of my success as a writer is intrinsically linked with financial wealth. I’m nowhere near being able to quit working my nine to five to be able to do this full time. And a part of me feels like the little bit of notoriety I do have amongst readers in my genre can easily fade to black, so is the risk of working toward the goal of making this what is responsible for feeding, housing, & clothing me worth it?

I go back and forth with my answer to the above question. Without a doubt the feeling I get when I hear that people have consumed my work and it touched them in some way should be bottled and sold. It’s almost criminal how high I get from the simplest interactions and it’s a feeling I never want to fade. But I also tend to self-sabotage a LOT…so I worry that if I were to put my everything into my writing career and it failed, that I’d never recover.

Plus…when they’re not stressing the hell out of me, I really like my day job. I love the field and the opportunities it provides to be able to effect change. Hell, I’m in the process of obtaining a Very Expensive Almost Terminal Degree™ in the field so that I can transition from what I’m doing currently into a more people facing position to effect greater change on a larger scale.

I don’t know why I’m writing this or even if it’ll stay published on this site. But these thoughts have been swirling around in my head for months now, almost to the point of consumption and I needed to get em out. If you have thoughts, feelings, opinions, can commiserate in some way…PLEASE REACH OUT. LOL! Let me know I ain’t (too) crazy…

credit.

i’ve had a rough few weeks. not really talked about it much, just kinda internalized until i felt ready to sort it out. not completely there, but today someone said something to me that took me by surprise. i had lunch with a friend of mine who used to be my very best friend until differences in religion (i had none*, she is a jehovah’s witness) made that bit impossible.

anyway, we were at lunch for like damn near five hours and near the end of our conversation she said, “i just always wanted to tell you that i felt like you were a better friend to me than i was to you.” and i was a bit taken aback. i didn’t think the scales of our friendship were unbalanced in any way. i knew that our friendship had bounds that i was able to operate outside of for various reasons, but that she could not. and this wasn’t/isn’t a big deal to me.

i was talking to another friend about this conversation and how it left me feeling. and she essentially said that i don’t give myself enough credit for how dope a friend i am to people. i pooh poohed it off, but now i sit here an hour later noticing this is a recurring theme lately. i’ve talked about playing small in this space before, but this is something slightly different.

a friend recently told me i was too hard on myself. we were chatting about something and i said “i’m the worst at xyz” and she politely gathered my edges about negative self speak. i be too focused on where i’m lacking that i am hesitant to give myself credit for where i am flourishing. i need to find the balance before i go too far in the opposite direction. i can’t wait ’til my life coach is ready for me, i got so much work to do! i’ma keep her mad busy.

*when i say i have no religion, i don’t mean that i am atheist. i definitely believe in God and a higher power reigning the Universe. i’m just not one for organized religion or church or the pomp and circumstance. love me a sangin’ ass gospel sanger tho.

On zooming out…

Sometimes, I can be very insular. I get into modes where I rely on very little to stimulate me externally, which can be an advantage, but more often a detriment. Whenever I’m overwhelmed, I withdraw…I burrow. And then I sit with whatever emotions I am meant to tackle until I feel as if I’m equipped to unpack what’s wrong and heal. Sometimes that healing is the form of a very self-contained emotional breakdown and other times it’s simply the passage of time that allows me space to work through.

Rarely do I ask for or seek the counsel of others. Rarely do I take friends up on the offer of being a soft place to land. Rarely do I feel the need to lay my burdens at someone else’s feet, despite actively being a storehouse for the emotions of others.

And last night, in a rare moment of transparency and vulnerability, I confided in a friend about current frustrations I’m facing. This led to her asking me a series of questions that led to me doing a deeper examination of the issue and finding the real source of the problem. We uncovered two things:

1) I think I’m WonderWoman.

b) I’m not a large picture examiner.

I just wanna sit with the second one for a bit because when it hit me last night, I was kinda taken aback. In my mind, when I assess an issue in order to solve it, I’m looking at all sides of it. I’m picking apart all aspects to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. But what I’m not doing is paying attention to how this granular issue causes a larger ripple in relation to the totality of my life. I’m so focused on fixing The Thing that I don’t. . .zoom out.

Talking to my friend and then stewing on the issue a bit further helped me realize that. And it’s now a thing I want to be cognizant of recognizing and adjusting (if necessary) going forward. I don’t anticipate it being easy, but I’m also less resistant to change at this point of my life more than ever, so I’m looking forward to how this shift ripples through my life.

Steady growing, ever evolving…

Dear Me….

Inspired by Solange’s beautiful letter to her teenage self, a Facebook friend asked, “What’s ONE thing (or more!) you would want tell your ‘freshly graduated’ self?” Here’s my answer…

I’d tell newly graduated high school me: Stop being such a people pleaser. The most important person that matters is you. Do not forsake your comfort for the ease of others. Let K go–he’s not worth it…or you. You’re too young to even be thinking about “love” or “the one” or “forever”. You’ve got a lot of places to go, things to see, and people to do. The world is limitless, step outside of your timidity and face it head on. You’ll fall (a lot), but it’s okay. Learn, move on, & grow.

I’d tell newly graduated college me: Well that took some time didn’t it?! But you did it…at your own pace and on your own terms. So relax and bask for a minute before heading into the “real world”. Hold onto B. He is good for you and your mercurial moods. Get out of Illinois as soon as possible, you need some time away to appreciate home fully. Take time out for yourself and don’t forget to breathe. I love you so very much…even when it seems like I don’t.

On growth…

A few days ago two friends on Facebook asked questions that really piqued my interest. And if you know me you’ll know I rarely meet an inquiry that I don’t like to answer, so of course I had to weigh in. Neither question posed was related to the other, but they both had a common ground for me, which was an area of growth. 

I’ve been on a long journey of self-discovery and getting to happy. And y’all…I won’t lie, it has been HARD. I’d say about five to seven years ago I had been in a place that I can now say was probably a deeply depressive state. I was apathetic to a lot in life, only allowing myself to show depth of emotion in times of extreme duress. Rarely openly or outwardly, I bottled my emotions until they were compressed too tight and they had no choice but to explode. This compartmentalization led to an internal turmoil that was ongoing until I decided to do the work and figure out a few things about my life and what I would do to change them. I had to make the decision to live and not exist. To be an active participant in my life who seeks out challenges, searches for and finds her purpose, and…most importantly, chooses to embrace the setbacks, pitfalls and generally shitty parts of life while gleaning a lesson. 

And I know I sound very self help book right now, but it was a necessary work. Because the person that I used to be was terrible. She was a stewing pot of misery, jealousy, resentment, anger and discontentment. She blamed everyone but herself for the reasons she wasn’t flourishing or living her best life. She thought it was simply bc the universe was delivering some sort of karmic retribution for…hell, I don’t even know because honestly? I’d done nothing even worth a universal wide conspiracy to be levied upon me. But that HAD to be the reason because it was simplest. And it allowed me to shirk personal responsibility for my actions and the path that I’d chosen. 

I wish I could say I remember what the catalyst was, but my memory is trash, y’all. I barely remember what I had for lunch yesterday. LOL. But I digress…at some point I decided that I needed to get better, be better and do better. I wasn’t an asset to anyone around me. I was a low-key succubus. Feeding on their positive energy to fuel my negative nature and keep me stewing about how life refused to cut me some slack. About two and a half years ago I started doing the real work. I did a lot of journaling and reading and praying. And took a lot of alone time. I questioned myself about what I wanted/needed/desired out of life and how I was going to get what I wanted/needed/desired. And then I enacted changes…incrementally because there was still a small part of me that believed no matter how many changes I made nothing would come to fruition. 

It’s been hard but goddamn sitting on the otherwise of it now? It feels so goddamn good. To not be constantly bombarded by feelings of insecurity and insignificance. To not be violently jealous of every win someone around me obtains. To not seethe with envy at every turn. To be genuinely ecstatic when people around me conquer their goals, obtain a win or are just feeling good for the sake of. To know how unmitigated joy feels. To have a purpose and a path and a plan. To see the manifestations of my positive energy in the world is a feeling that is unmatched. 

I don’t know why this was on my heart to blog about today, but I’ve been mulling it over for a few days and was awakened out of my sleep thinking about it in the wee hours of this morning. I’m just feeling really overwhelmed with gratitude for continuous growth and knowing that even if I don’t get things right the first time, I have abundant opportunities for revision and learning and more growth. 

On being too hard on myself…

I didn’t think I was previously, honestly. But this weekend I came to terms with the fact that I am. Like…extremely so. Not to the point of demanding perfection, but it’s damn near on the horizon. So if you follow me on social media, you know I did the Shamrock Shuffle on Sunday 04.02. The Shamrock Shuffle is an 8k race through downtown Chicago that happens annually, usually near St. Paddy’s Day hence the name. Now sometime late last year I was high (at least I’m pretty sure I was) and I told my bestie, “We should do the shuffle! We can train for the next sixteen weeks and then BEAST THAT BITCH!” She was reticent at first, but then quickly got on board. We paid our monies and committed to getting our run on.

Now here is where the narrative pauses to inform you guys that I had to have been on an endorphin high to even consider let alone INITIATE talks about running. I…don’t run. At all. Ever. Not even when I was a cute lil 130lb varsity tennis player. It just wasn’t a thing that appealed to me

I went balls to the wall about this shit. Bought some dumb expensive running shoes, told my trainer we needed to tailor my workouts to get me prepared to run the whole thang, bought a dumb expensive smart watch. About four weeks into run training I got sick. Flu-like cold. Had me down for a week. Then my ma was seriously ill. Then I got sick again. Then it was March 31st and I was woefully unprepared to run an 8k. Four point nine seven american ass miles.

I woke up the morning of the race and almost called my friends to beg off. I stood in the corral with my cousin giving me a quick pat on my back before we took off wanting to crawl beneath that nylon rope that separated spectator from runner and mosey on over to that open Starbucks that was a few blocks away so that I could grab a chocolate croissant and a grande cascara latte. But I shook the nerves off, turning up “Shining” and when the gun sounded, took off at a slight jog like everyone around me. One step in and I knew this wasn’t the life for me. I berated myself for even incubating the idea that it could be for me. I was every synonym of dumb for a solid fourteen and a half minutes as I trudged through most of mile one.

I almost broke down sobbing in the middle of the race path a smooth six times. The first was right before mile one; the last right past mile four. Something inside of me, however, allowed me to keep going. And honestly? It was the fact that I’d run my mouth to too many people about this, so I couldn’t be like “I didn’t finish” when they inevitably asked how the race went. It was less a race and more a battle of wills within myself, honestly. Shortly after the race I was texting with my friend C and she asked if I felt a sense of accomplishment and I answered honestly, “no.” Later that evening I FaceTimed with my trainer and he said he was proud of me and it took everything in me to say I don’t know why you’re wasting that pride.

Because I didn’t feel deserving of it. And two days later I still don’t. I set a goal and didn’t reach it. Yeah, ok…I finished, but I didn’t do my best. And to me? That negates everything else. And as I sit here with a slightly swollen ankle and all of these closer to negative than positive ass feelings post shuffle, I am also coming to grips with the fact that perhaps I hold myself to a standard that is at times too high.

Somewhere along the line just doing a thing became not good enough. I experienced similar feelings just after releasing my second book. The sales were good, but I didn’t immediately reach my highest highs of the first book in the same time period, so I called it a wash. Because if you don’t get better then what’s the damn point. But then the Universe did its thing and bopped me on the head like “sit your ass down and bask, my G!” I also experienced this with a project I tackled at work. I gave myself a particular time frame in which to finish it and I threw a whole ass tantrum (in private bc grown) when I didn’t meet it.

So I’m actively working on this. It’s hard, man. As fuck. But thankfully, gratefully, prayerfully I have people in my life who will read my whole damn life if I try to sell myself short on achievements. Not getting down on myself for not reaching my goal via what are likely ridiculously stringent parameters in order to consider it successful is TOUGH. But I’m fighting the good fight, learning to redirect negative and unnecessary energies. ISSA STRUGGLE.

. . .but still, I rise.

(Happy birthday, Mother Maya. May you rest in perfect peace.)

On dating…(a-fucking-gain)…

IMG_4392

I came across this meme yesterday and died laughing. Then I promptly forwarded it over to three friends, declaring it to be me. All three agreed, with one even going as far to say that’s why she never pays me any attention when I lament my single status. In her words, “Whenever you mention it I just laugh. Like, okay girl. Let me know when you for real.” For a half a second my lil feelings were hurt, until I realized she was one hundred percent right.

I only desire to be coupled when life is unbearable. Last week I had to deal with some pretty heavy health related shit in regards to my mother. I was completely exhausted—physically and mentally between going back and forth to the hospital and being knotted with worry and anxiety. I moved through life as a shell of myself, wearily running errands and tending to her needs.  I sent a text to a friend at the height of my frustration lamenting not having someone to help me carry the load. I wanted nothing more than to have a man swoop in like a fucking superhero and relieve me from some of this shit. And as quickly as the desire settled in, it cha cha slid right on out of my mind.

I like the idea of being half of a forever more than I actually truly want to be one. The above meme is spot on—consistent zick and someone to tell me I’m pretty every once in a while is legit nirvana to me. My life is so self-contained that I rarely am lonely. I’m fulfilled by the love in my life from family and friends. Material things that I desire, I obtain with ease (for the most part). I live by my own terms and rules, rarely deviating from my path.

And…it’s only more recently becoming a bit unsettling to me. Mainly because growing up I was always the girl who wanted the handsome husband, two point five children and white picket fence lifestyle. I desired motherhood to an almost obsessive degree; going as far as routinely maintaining list of potential child names to discuss with my eventual beloved. The vision of my future always seemed resolute and inevitable.

But then a funny thing happened. I grew up. I loved. I lost. I got hurt…badly. I got over him…and under someone else. And then I stepped out of the dating game. I sought inner solace, with dalliances with the occasional buddy now and then to sate physical needs. But even after a while I began to abstain from that…not because desire had waned, but it just seemed…hollow and extraneous.

So now…as I approach thirty-five, I’m perplexed. I’m not completely adverse to love and finding The One™, but it’s just not paramount for me. I’m in love with my life the way it is right now…for the most part. There is always room for improvement. But I’m not pressed to date. Maybe the guy who’ll shake me to my core has just yet to cross my path…but am I limiting the chances of the universe sending him my way if I’m just not even putting in the effort?

Dating is hard, man. I don’t even know where people meet dudes anymore. And I’m busy as fuck. Why can’t The One™ just fall into my pu…lap already?!