Category Archives: Life

2015 is Welcome

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We have officially welcomed the new year and are starting a new time in our lives.  This is mostly a time of reflection on the past year and an opportunity to set goals for the year to come.  And, although I believe change can be initiated at any time as long as the motivation is there, I also believe the new year serves as a good marker to indicate each person’s progress.  In terms of reflection, I have learned two things during the past year… perfection is nearly impossible and welcome change because it is inevitable.

As humans, we don’t like to accept the flaws in ourselves, in our environments, and in our lives, but, as soon as we stop expecting perfection, we will be much happier with our situations.  For example, as we enter a new year, we set our resolutions and look forward in the hopes of a perfect year, but, as the year goes on, things happen that don’t fit into a perfect year plan.  However, imperfections are natural.  It is how we react to these unforeseen “bumps,” which will determine how good your year will actually be.  Mortality, break ups, disagreements, and rejections are all bound to be a part of the new year.  They are all bound to evoke change and change is inevitable, but it is not always bad.

When a person dies, we who are still alive mourn their death.  We miss them, we’re hurt, and, sometimes, we’re surprised.  These are natural responses to death, but they are also selfish.  Though we must grieve and take time to cope with loss in a healthy manner, eventually, we must understand that our loved one was in pain.  They were suffering and, although no new memories will be made, we can be grateful for the memories we do have.

In break ups you must think “is it possible that two people are better off apart than together?”  Was the relationship positive and productive?  Break ups are most difficult because the drastic change scares us.  You are single again, you’ll eventually need to date again, and you’ll need to trust in another person all over again.  Essentially, all of the “progress” you’ve made seems wasted and you’re back to square one.  However, a lot of good can come from a creak up.  It can be an end to what was actually a toxic relationship, it can be a chance for you to explore a relationship with a more compatible partner, and it can force you to mature into a better person.

With these examples, my point is to welcome change because there is always a plus no matter how low this change make you feel.  The same goes for disagreements, rejection, pressure, and anything else that may have forced a shift or some kind of change in your life.  Your perspective may have changed, you may have learned something new, or you may have reached something you never thought was possible.  Simply embrace the change.

The past year been a rocky one with plenty of highs, lows, and overall change.  Can I say I had  perfect year?  Absolutely not, but I can point out enough great things that happened in the past 365 days allowing me to say 2014 was still a good year.

As for this upcoming year, I can’t say it will be perfect (and I can’t expect it to be either), but I can say it will be a good year filled with positive change.  I have my goals set and I know the direction I would like to move toward (which is mostly driven by positive thinking), but I will welcome whatever comes my way and will do everything I can to make every experience a positive one.  I hope you all will do the same and I hope 2015 is good to you.

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To Assume or Not To Assume

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I don’t know if I’m the only one who feels this way, but I don’t like to assume what a person’s intentions are. I usually prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt before I make a call on what they’re going to say or do. Call me naïve, but I believe that a male and a female can be just friends. They can talk and hang out without ulterior motives. If a guy approaches me and has a conversation with me, we might realize that we share some interests and enjoy having conversations with each other, so we might exchange numbers.

It’s true that there’s a stigma that a random stranger who asks for your number isn’t trying to be just your friend, but it’s possible. Of course, there are signs that suggest otherwise like if the guy continuously compliments your physical beauty or if he has a hard time keeping his hands to himself, but, until he states his intentions (or makes it overtly clear), I don’t think it’s fair to assume that a male’s purpose for getting your number is indecent.

Some time ago, I was out with some friends and I met two guys. One had just recently moved to Maryland and was trying to meet people in the area. The other was a friend of a friend. I had long conversations with both guys that night, they both had conversations with my other friends who were there, and we all shared some laughs. It was a good time, so, by the end of the night, we all exchanged numbers and agreed to hang out some time. Throughout the next couple of weeks, I was in steady contact with both of these guys where I got to know them better with my friends and I getting some invites to hang out. Again, I thought we were just expanding our network of friends, but, apparently, one of the guys had other intentions.

The friend of a friend expressed his interest in me and, when I told him a romantic relationship couldn’t happen between us, he responded with “it’s all good” and that was the end of our friendship. It seemed amicable. It seemed like there were no hard feelings. Flash forward about half a year and by chance, myself and a piece of that same group of friends run into the friend of a friend during a night out. Just my luck!

At first, he ignored me, which wasn’t too surprising, but then he proceeded to talk about the past. Awkward and uncomfortable are understatements as to how that situation felt. Not only was he about three inches away from my face to the point where I had to use my arm as a barrier, but he kept switching his attitude in the conversation. He went from questioning my morals to respecting how nice I was when handling the situation to asking for my number all over again (which he failed in getting). On top of invading my personal space and bringing up a tense topic of conversation, I was left confused as to if he was mad at me or still in like with me.

Needless to say, he wasn’t too pleased when I told him I only wanted to be friends with him, which is exactly what I don’t understand. If you claim to respect someone care for someone, and be mature, then why is being just friends with a person so insulting and blasphemous? Why can’t you respect that person’s current relationship and their feelings in general enough to not harass them about it? I understand that the friend of a friend’s feelings were hurt because, let’s face it, nobody likes it when their crush doesn’t feel the same way, but I tried my best to be nice and honest about everything.

Although he claimed to respect my feelings and decision, it still wasn’t good enough. Should I have just written him off from the get go? Should I have not allowed him the chance to be my friend only because he was a male I had never met before? Would that have been better? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s fair to just assume anything about anybody.

Sure, my assumption of the friend of a friend would have been right, but, at the same time, I met the other guy in the same way on the same night, yet somehow we’ve beaten the stereotypes and are still friends… just friends. So, even though that was one of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve experienced in a while, I’m not going to start assuming things about people because sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong. In my opinion, it’s better to give people a chance before assuming they don’t deserve one.

Nature’s Art. Nature’s Metaphor.

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Last week, two of my closest friends and I decided to take a day trip to Western Maryland together. For those of you who don’t know, Western Maryland borders Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The Appalachian Mountains cut right through Western Maryland and this area is also home to many state parks, trails, and so on. My friend Mickey is from the Bronx, I, as you all may remember, lived in Queens, and we all, my other friend Keisha included, live about twenty minutes outside of Baltimore, so a day in nature would be a very nice, much needed change of pace.

Our first stop was High Rock in Cascade, MD. As part of the Appalachian Trail, the only way to get there via car (remember we’re still city girls) was to drive up a winding road on an upward slope. If it’s your first time driving in the “mountains,” then this road can be a little intimidating, but, thanks to my hours of adventure in central Puerto Rico, which is full of mountains, the drive up was cake.

Once you arrive to the top, High Rock is the first thing you see. It’s a huge cluster of grey rocks mixed with a set of concrete steps put in to make taking in the sites easier for visitors. If the stature of High Rock isn’t enough to grab your attention, then the rainbow of graffiti will definitely make you look. The enormous rocks look like street art ruins with drawings, patterns, and words in purple, orange, red, white, green, and every other color covering the natural grey backdrop. To me, it looked like nature and the inner city harmoniously collided together to create nature’s art. On the steps central to High Rock in bold white paint, it read “peace, love, compassion,” summing up High Rock perfectly. When you walk up the steps, you see a clear view of the rural towns below and, in the distance, you can see the mountain range, marking the horizon.

The three of us sat at the top of the rock, enjoying the breeze, admiring the view, and feeling at peace. There were times where we sat in silence, but, for most of the time, we talked. We just shared whatever was on our mind, whether it was childhood stories, high school memories, or deep thoughts. The common denominator was we kept everything positive and serene. For a portion of our time at High Rock, we explored around, took some priceless pictures, and conquered some very real fears.

Later that day, we visited Cunningham Falls in Thurmont, MD, which is about fifteen minutes from High Rock. We went on a short hike to see the waterfall, enjoyed the lake for a little while, and played around in the playground like a couple of big kids. Simply put, it was a great day, but the highlight was definitely High Rock.

The serenity it brought me, the uniquely different perspective it creates, and the bonding experience it was for the three of us made it priceless. If I could, I would visit it every weekend just to clear my mind and be at peace. It was just a beautiful metaphor that I’m so grateful to have experienced.

We drove up a winding road, where we couldn’t see how far or close we were to our destination. Once we reached the top, we were in awe of its grandeur and beauty, but, to really appreciate and absorb what it has to offer, we had to move past our nerves, conquer our fear of heights, and climb up those stairs to the top of the rock. Once at the top of the top, you see everything clearly and you’re above it all. You’ve accomplished that, but then you feel the wind pushing against you and you see there is no railing, so you remember a careless decision can take it all away from you. At the same time, you’re in the middle of trees and nature, sitting on a giant boulder covered in graffiti.

The juxtaposition of city life and wilderness. The vulnerability and tranquility. The sense of accomplishment. It all seemed to mirror my life perfectly. It’s experiencing things like this when you realize everything happens for a reason.

High Rock

Another Year…

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As I sit here on the morning of my 22nd birthday, I can’t help but think about all of the things I have experienced thus far. I have gone through plenty of hardships and difficult times that most people will never even fathom. They’d be shocked, if they ever learn about the things I’ve had to overcome, but I would rather have them not know. I feel like those experiences were life lessons soley carved out for my life as my foundation.

I recognize that there are others who have it worst than I do. That’s probably the root of my positive thinking. I’ll never complain about what I’ve gone through, nor will I ever try to tell the world about those things as a way to victimize myself. On the contrary, I am thoroughly grateful for each moment I have lived because, without those moments, as cliche as it is, I would not be the person I am today. I may have never have found my strength, ambition, compassion, and independence and that would have been much more tragic than anything I’ve lived through.

By living through the first 22 years of my life. I’ve learned to grow into who I am today. I’ve built a sturdy foundation for myself and Have placed myself in the position to gain opportunity. I am currently at the best place I have ever been in my life, spiritually, socially, personally, and in any other way you can imagine. I am happy and I am confident in my potential and with my place in the world. What better way to bring in another year? But the best part is that, although I’m happy with where I am, I know that this is not the best I’ll be. I know there are greater things to come that the first 22 years of my life have prepared me for. Right now, I’m living in the moment, enjoying my time, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to see what another year has in store for me.

What Comes First?

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Raise your hand if you have a job. Raise your other hand if you go to school. Stand up if you have friends. Take a step forward if you’re in a relationship. Step to the left if you have a family. Take a step back if you have bills you need to pay. Step forward again if you have a hobby. Step back again if you need a break. Did you get all of that? Are you tired? Are you confused? Well, that’s life. Life is full of so many different components that require your attention that it’s mentally exhausting and it’s hard trying to keep track of everything. So what do you do? You figure out what comes first and cut out all of the bullsh!t. If you don’t need it, why keep it?

First, you need to evaluate your priorities. What should come first? It could be school, work, or even just finding time to yourself, but you need to identify your priority and why it’s your priority. For example, for a long time, my priority was to do well in school and to graduate as soon as possible. I knew I wanted to have a strong career and that getting an education was the first step. Your priority could be to get a job in order to gain experience for a better job, to buy a car, or own a home. Your priority could also be to relax because you don’t want to have a mental breakdown that keeps you from doing anything at all. The point is that you need to figure out what is most important to you and why. As soon as you figure that out, organize your life to help you focus on your priority. Of course, you don’t want to become a workaholic or a studying hermit, so you want to maintain some balance, but you do have to rearrange some things so that you can achieve your goals. Hence cut out what you don’t need.

When you reflect on your life, where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to be, it helps put everything into perspective. You realize what really matters and what deserves your energy, so you stop stressing out about the little things and instead pay attention to what is important to you. Sometimes we get lost in the confusion of our lives. There’s so much going on that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and we end up losing ourselves a little. What’s worst is when the lives and priorities of those around us overshadow our own priorities. You start to question your own judgment, while focusing on the negative, so you usually end up shifting your life based off of another person’s opinion. Now, you’re one step further away than you were in the first place. This is why it’s so important to know what you want, so that you can stay focused on what matters. Once you realize what comes first, nothing else matters.

Presentation is Perception

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Throughout my young lifetime, I’ve learned that you should present yourself how you would like to be perceived. Age, race, gender, and any other factor are virtually irrelevant as long as you make them so. A woman can be a competitive athlete if she trains and performs like one. A Black man can be an educated professional if he has the credentials and acts accordingly. A teenager can be a business man if he works and conducts business like a legitimate entrepreneur. There should be no limitations to how a person is treated unless those limitations are self-enforced. However, I don’t know if many other people from my generation understand the true power they have over their lives. It is as if people would rather shoot themselves in the foot before persuading people to see who they truly are, or at least who they could be.

My brother is an entrepreneur at the age of 24. When he was talking to his mentor about his business a few years ago, my brother told his mentor that he was worried about other professionals not treating him as such. His mentor’s response was “If you act like a business man, then they’ll treat you like a business man.” Ever since that conversation, those have become words that my brother and I live by.

Since then, I have worked hard to eliminate the limitations that I believe people are trying to place on me whether it has to do with my age, gender, or nationality. These restrictions have no power unless I give them that power and I am proud to say, within the past few years, that power has been diminishing. People have begun to perceive me how I want them to because that is how I present myself. Intelligent, independent, hard-working, talented, and driven are some of the ways that people have described me given the way I’ve presented myself. However, it seems like not everyone realizes the power they have over their lives.

Unfortunately, I have witnessed one too many times when a person dissolves their opportunities through lack of professionalism, lack of grace to rejection, lack of preparation, and so many other scenarios. But these flaws that you yourself present to the world are what people will remember you by. They’ll say “she’s so beautiful, but her attitude is horrible” or “he’s so talented, but the profanity he uses is something I don’t want to be associated with.” So make sure people remember you how you want to be perceived by presenting yourself how you want to be seen.