The end of the year is always a super busy time for me. Not just because of the holiday craziness, but because I often use it as an excuse to purge. Getting ready to bring in the New Year always makes me want to rid myself of old things- clutter, clothes, feelings- whatever I have lying around. It’s good for the soul. So I thought as my last blog of the year, I would take stock of life around me, and write down the major lessons I’ve learned and applied, as well as new discoveries about me. Some of this may sound repetitive, because I wrote individual blogs as I was learning the lessons, but I still think they have a place here… in what’s become my diary, of sorts. Or I guess the blog should be more accurately described as a map of my journey. Some of these things will be celebratory, others will not. But I have to acknowledge everything, even the things I’d rather forget. Anyway, here are some of my lessons, and revelations:
1. I’m A Comfort Eater– This year has had a lot of alone time for me, which I appreciated, but also quite a bit of lonely time, which wasn’t as easy to deal with. Food is something I used to ignore that, gloss over it, and kill time until something changed. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life, and I’m not proud. My love of cooking and love of food in general took me somewhere I never thought I would be, in terms of my physical health, all the while soothing me on an emotional level. Something has to change about that, I know.
2. I am the best writer I have ever been– This year, I’ve grown in leaps and bounds with this blog, and I finished a manuscript, which I hope to e-publish in January. My creativity is completely off the charts. I feel talented, and special. I feel like this thing that started as a hobby is finally my destiny. I don’t know what was so different about this year, but I’m grateful.
3. I’m not as compassionate as I used to be– For the last five years, the work I’ve done has involved processing complaints from disgruntled students, parents and faculty members. Hearing and reading problems and troubles day in and day out numbs you a bit. I find that now, I don’t always have the patience to listen to the problems of the people in my personal life. I don’t have the patience to formulate advice; sometimes I don’t even have the energy to properly sympathize. I’m not proud of this either, and I’ve been working on ways to combat the emotional drainage that often happens when I’m at work- so I can be more attentive to the people I love.
4. I learned how to focus on myself– Besides my job taking so much space in my head, there’s also the fact that I’ve completely turned my way of thinking in terms of the way I take care of myself (mentally). I’ve done the best I can this year, not just to worry about myself- but to worry about myself first. It’s paid off in ways I never could have imagined. I’m sure I appear a bit more selfish to the people who are expecting me to continue to concern myself with their problems, but mostly, it’s good. I feel freer. And it’s good for the people I used to coddle so much to figure out their own shit for a change.
5. I’m Not A Mother- Because I’m A Romantic– This one may seem a little strange, but allow me to explain. I still believe in the power of love- believe with my whole heart that love makes you a better person. That being said, being in love gave me feelings that I want to repeat in my life, and that I want my children to see. I want to be in love again, and I want to at least try to have the opportunity to conceive my children in love. I could have gotten myself randomly knocked up by now, or tried to start the adoption process by myself but I haven’t. I know I could co-parent successfully without being in a relationship; I also know that I have enough family support to be a single parent, if that were the case. But that’s not what I want. I want to be a woman in love (with someone who loves me back) before I’m a mother. I don’t have children because I’m not in love. Plain and simple. That’s what I want.
6. Dating Is Not Innate– I’ve learned over the course of the year, as I’ve been attempting to jump back into the relationship forum, that there is no innate knowledge of dating. Dating is an acquired skill- and I don’t have it. I’ve been trying, and I haven’t given up by any means- but I learned that I am far better at being the girlfriend than I am being the girl you’re talking to, or the girl you’re getting to know. My need for physical contact, and the tangibility of physical contact leads me to rush that part of the relationship. I try to slow down, but that gets lonely. I’m having trouble finding the patience to limp along in conversation with people who may not be as articulate as I am, and I’m having trouble getting over the talking/ texting hump into actual social outings. My mind takes me to so many dangerous places, places where my confidence is non existent and I think it’s all me. Why don’t I get asked out? It’s shameful how many hours I spent pondering that. I know other women who have trouble dating, so I try not to take it personal, but it’s hard. Dating is supposed to be fun. It’s not. It’s often frustrating and confusing and tiring. But I press on because… Number 5.
7. My Advice is Good Advice- Now, this one I kind of always knew. Not to brag, but my friends have been telling me that my advice is pretty spot-on for years. But what I found from listening and reading people’s thoughts is that a lot of people think that you have to have gone through their exact situation in order to give them any sound advice about it. Which in some instances is true, but not always. For example, some people (mostly misguided men) think that single girls can’t give their committed friends any good advice. I don’t what kind of friends other women have, but I am a great friend- to some phenomenal women. And most of them are in relationships… while I’m not. But because I love these women, my fondest wish is for them to be happy, and have the peace and love that they desire. So I would NEVER give them any advice that didn’t foster that. I respect the fact that they’re in love. I don’t begrudge their happiness. I love them. Their happiness is everything I’ve ever wanted for them. And because I know THEM, and I’m an intelligent woman, I always take THEIR story into account. I would never base the advice I give to them on MY situation. Second example- the common myth that people without children don’t know ANYTHING about children. I know, I’m not a mother- but I am a person. Children are people too. And some shit just makes sense from a PEOPLE standpoint- whether the person is an adult or a child. I’m an aunt ten times over. I have watched these children grow, and have taken an active role in their well being. It takes a village and I am a part of their village. So although there are limits to what I can offer as advice (because I haven’t had the experience), implying that I don’t know ANYTHING is wrong and stupid. Some shit you should just do because it makes sense- adult or child. My point is, you can’t claim advice is bad just because you don’t want it. My advice is good.
8. Fat Shaming has become the new “in” thing to do– I’m sensitive. I get it. And I know better than anyone (as evidenced by my blogs on the subject), that I have a special stake in this war that’s being waged on plus-size people (especially women). But if this year taught me anything, it’s how cruel other people can be when they see you as someone with a weakness, or a deficiency. I’ve been a weirdo all my life (ask my middle school friends) and I’ve gotten use to being different- but social networking is drilling down the message that there’s definitely good different and bad different- and if you’re fat, that’s “bad different.” I don’t expect anyone to coddle me, but sometimes I’m so angry at people who can’t see past their own point of view. The truth is, most of us don’t have any idea what the people we malign everyday are struggling with. And from a personal standpoint- that shit sucks. Because weight is a struggle, whether or not you choose to see that. Yes, my weight affects me physically, but this is mental and emotional too- and there are a lot of mean people out there who either don’t see that, or don’t give a fuck about it. They live to destroy, and fat people seem to be making Top Five on all the lists.
9. People Love To Compartmentalize- Labeling is Easier Than Knowing– For example, the last few months on Twitter, there’s been a lot of talk about feminism. The place of men in the Feminist Movement, acknowledgement of women of color in the movement, as well as what does and does not make you a feminist (I follow some pretty awesome women on Twitter, by the way). I will admit that I don’t know enough about feminism to join or identify with that movement, but what I figured out was that I don’t necessarily need to. People love labels- not that “feminist” isn’t a dope label to have- but I find that more and more I resist most of that. I try to just let my personality shine through. My feelings and my actions are me- my beliefs, my values. They’re not the result of what sex, sexual preference, or movement I identify with. I just don’t want to fall into the trap of allowing other people to decide what I can be. It’s like guys who think women can’t have an intelligent opinion about sports or hip-hop. You don’t get to compartmentalize me. I decide who I am. And my hip-hop opinion is probably more articulate and researched than yours.
My friend Stephanie once wrote, “I’m pretty sure ‘black’ and ‘woman’ are the only two labels I’m comfortable wearing.” I agree with her- although I would add ‘writer.’ I’m definitely a writer.
Thanks for kicking it with me this year. I love you all. Happy New Year.