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.)