When Something Within You Dies

Have you ever noticed that something within you changed? Maybe your attitude, the way you respond to others, your desires, your diligence. Could even be your dreams, trust, tenacity, or peace. But when something dies within us, we rarely notice it until sometime down the line. Usually, it’s when someone asks us to recall an incident, brings up that old relationship or asks our story. At that point we reflect–sometimes from a distance–and if we’re honest we can find the moment where we died symbolically.

A couple of days ago, I noticed an unsettling feeling towards something I saw online. It wasn’t anything negative, it just didn’t include me. Ultimately, I had fought for a while to be included in someone’s life and when they didn’t include me, it killed something in my spirit. No, it didn’t discourage me nor did it cause me to get angry, it just silenced me. Silenced hope, silenced the vision I was creating, silenced my mind. I didn’t notice these effects until yesterday, when I noticed that I became mean. Not nasty, just standoffish, short and uninvolved.

I turned myself into myself and I secretly hurt. These feelings creeped up on me, I didn’t know I harbored them so strongly and I became angry with myself. When something dies within me I blame myself. Sometimes I know its coming and hope it wouldn’t, other times I am completely blindsided. Nonetheless, its tough but it’s important to know why there is a sudden shift in your behavior.

Dealing with death in any way is no small task. Usually we are prepared for the passing of someone we love but almost never prepared for the passing of ourselves. In those moments I believe its hard to know which way to turn, who to trust and love, because we struggle to reciprocate those things to ourselves. Self death is dangerous, it is one of the only ways that we can turn on ourselves. But if we catch it in time and are willing to confront its presence we can move forward.

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A Delayed Gratification Lifestyle

I watched you on the horizon, where the sun and the land meet. You looked so beautiful, nothing like I imagined, though I imagined you several times. The potential you have, the magnificent possibility, the complete majestic package. Still so far away, yet within arms reach, I extend my arm and open my hand to reach for you, but I only grab the air.

My life has always been one of delayed gratification. Growing up in a single parent home, having to take majority of the responsibility for my brothers and sisters while my mom worked 2 jobs, long waits for graduation, the writing process…things like that. When people look at me on the outside they swear I’m lucky. They think I came from a privileged background, they create these narratives in their head about me that are just not true.

Sometimes I get discontent about my life. Everything that happens to me, happens after much travail. It’s continuous work, pushing and pulling, tears, and sleepless nights. In the end, it does always pay off, but when is the end when there is no end in sight? I find it incredibly hard to watch others step into their dreams and purpose when I’m only on the cusp of mines. I’m happy for them but I’m sad for me.

The time it takes to get to certain moments in my life seem like they are worth it, but by the time I get there, I’m so exhausted that I hardly can enjoy the moments. So I keep pushing towards the next thing, searching for something that is immediate, tangible, quickly obtained. It doesn’t happen that way though. No matter how much I attempt to rush the process, acquire more, do more, it’s not satisfying.

When on the cusp of destiny things appear to get tough. Discontentment sets in, pain, invisible dreams that seem to materialize in your imagination. These times are critical and they teach us more than we care to admit. However, the lessons are long and hard, reality hurts. Not as much as delay though.

I’m still working on this part of my life. The part that wishes to rush the process along. The moment where I struggle to celebrate others who are in their destiny while I wait for the moment to step into mine. I think I’m getting better at it, just not completely there yet.

Fashionably Unfit?

daringI’m different from a lot of the people who I surround myself with. Sometimes it makes me uncomfortable because I’m often the butt of a joke. I don’t mean the very negative kind, the one that hurts your feelings, but the one that it just enough shade to make me feel uncomfortable.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I take pride in my appearance. I like fashions, music, and heels of all sizes. And, just being true to who I am, I’m often criticized, told that I’m overdressed, that I might need to calm it down. In the past, when those types of things were said, I would believe them. I would attempt to put myself in a box that I was too big for. It was because they said that I needed to.

Recently there has been a shift in my life that has told me to stop paying so much attention to what others say. I am me, I will look outlandish in certain situations, my simple style might be jarring but it’s an expression of who I am. I’m learning to stop pretending to believe in things I don’t, stop speaking when I don’t feel compelled, and stop trying to dress with the common folks.

My personal style has come under attack for quite a while, but it’s the same style that people take notice of. It’s the same expression that sets me apart whether expressed or not. I’ve never fit in, I’ve felt rejection because of it, but I know that it will always happen. Sadly, it has become my normal, but in the most positive way.

Never change the essence of who you are to fit the expectations of others. I know it’s hard and I struggled with it for a while, but when you’re called to greatness, others will begin to take notice.

Internal Processes

Naturally I’m an extrovert. However over time I’ve become an Introvert. I’m quite sure when the switch happened though. It could’ve been when I left and went to college, the first time my thoughts were criticized as not good enough, when I moved to St. Louis, when I entered a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) for the first time, maybe when I felt the disappointment of love, when I attempted to attach myself to people I shouldn’t have, when I moved to Alabama, when I had my first encounter with racism, or maybe when I felt myself giving up on myself.

While I don’t know the exact moment it happened I do know that it has impacted my life critically. Professionally, I am a college teacher and PhD student who is nearing the end the process.  My profession as English teacher and scholar, demands that I’m alone with my thoughts quite frequently. It asks that I internalize readings and papers and produce a fresh idea. However, sometimes it’s not fun. I feel isolated, often alone with myself–and for a season that’s good, but for a long time, it’s not.

In internalizing and analyzing everything, I cur myself off from the rest of the world. I barricade my ideas in with the part that wants to be outwardly acknowledged. In taking on the identity of my work, I’ve separated myself further from my true essence.

How to get back though? How to reposition myself in a way that will cater to my truth? How do I stand up to the inner call to be more vocal and take a stand? I’m in the process of finding out.

Calling in the One

I took a seven week course through a book called Calling in the One: Seven Weeks to Attract the Love of Your life in hopes of literally finding “the one.” I always hear people say that they’re waiting for the one, and that they’ll be happy when they meet the one, all of that is true, but the one we are searching for is us.

Sometimes we divorce ourselves long before we realize that we’ve done it. We go seeking that companionship with someone else because we can’t find connection within ourselves. Our members are disconnected and as a result we’ve ascribed to a fractured psyche. We accept the mental and spiritual brokenness and lift up down cast eyes looking for someone outside of ourselves.

The course taught me that I was broken in the most deepest parts of my soul. It challenged me to release those people who I had held captive to my pain, I had to do the ugly work and face again, for the 3rd time. I think that’s the hardest part. I could no longer blame anyone else because I was guilty. I held on to people, my past, my pain and prolonged my struggle.

When searching for the one, I was really searching for myself. I was looking for al the missing parts of me that made me who I once was, those parts that I gave up to fit someone else’s mode. The one that we are searching for is our own wholeness. It is our inner peace, strength and soundness.

I wouldn’t have been able to find the one because I couldn’t recognize myself even though I was looking in the mirror the whole time. I was estranged, grotesque, and distorted.

It wasn’t until I did the 7 weeks of work that I recognized “the one” and decided to love her viciously. She was waiting for me to find her again. Waiting for me to listen to her dying whispers. She here now, alive and well. The one I was looking for is ME.

Looking For Validation

I looked for my identity in your smile. I touched your finger tips in search for the energy that was once drained from eyes. Picked the dandruff off your scalp hoping it would materialize into the wings of doves to carry me off into my destiny. I rode the curve of your breath, picking apart the saliva particles thinking they were rain drops that would puddle together and materialize my vision. Until I discovered that you couldn’t validate me on the level I needed because you couldn’t see past the trees.

I have a constant battle within myself to look for the validation of others. Whether they be professionals, classmates, peers, friends and/or family. I look for their validation because somewhere in my (sub)conscious I don’t believe in myself. There is great danger in this , because if you’re already shaky, someone who doesn’t believe the way you do might have the power to destroy the string of faith you have.

When you are a “Big” person–by big I mean weighty, goal-oriented, morally driven, and even overly compassionate of a person, you might have the tendency to allow others to put you in a box. They will attempt to contain your essence, put you under a rock and flatten your creativity. They will mold you to their expectations and spit in the face of exceptionalism.

Beware of those who don’t encourage you to do better, move better, or live better. Look for their fruit, bind them with their words, and salute their validation as it sails in the boat with their dreams.

Don’t look to the left tor right of you in hopes of someone telling you “good job.” Be who you are and know that your validation comes from the Most High.

Transitioning Dangerously

Have you ever been in the place between where you were and where you are going? That place where you’re unsure of a couple of things but you know something is calling you to another level? The dark hallway between surety and uncertainty? Maybe you’re trying to stabilize in quicksand. You’re in transition.

Transitioning is difficult for me because it interrupts everything that I’ve worked to build. Sometimes while in the process I’m kept up at night, other times my emotions are like a yo-yo. It’s hard, I hate it because it makes me question almost everything. It interrupts my normalcy and shakes the foundations I’ve built so badly that when the smoke clears, there’s nothing else but debris. During this time I feel like I can’t trust myself, I become my own worst critic and I start to sabotage. Sometimes it’s friendships, other times it’s my dreams. In essence I throw a tantrum.

Someone once told me that when people’s visions don’t align with their current lifestyle, they act out. And, I couldn’t agree more. My actions a lot of times when I’m in transition are reactionary to a secret silent inner war that I’m only aware of. During these times I tend to over eat for comfort, I isolate myself because I don’t want others to hear my truth, and I cry silently. Though sometimes the tears never leave my eyes, prideful, there is an inward weeping that almost happens daily.

In retrospect, I believe that majority of my life has been in the season of transition. Either I was moving from one place to another geographically, becoming conscious–spiritually and socially, going from one school to the next etc., I’ve consistently been caused to stretch. And stretching leaves ugly marks and is singular. People can’t go with you when you’re in transition, even your old self has to be divorced from your destiny–I think that’s the hardest part.

In transition, you don’t know who you are anymore for the sake of becoming better. Often times, you’re in fear of the unknown. It is the most potent yet important times of your life. But, transition the wrong way can kill so many things. It can kill your dreams, your beliefs, your foundations and relationships. There’s no way to move from one state of being to the next. The only way to be sure to survive is to, as Toni Morrison writes, “surrender to the air and you can ride it.”