The Day that I Realized that I Didn’t Know Who I Was

2013, the worst year of my life. Literally. It was a year of testing for me. I had just moved to St. Louis from Mississippi for graduate school a few months prior, and I was not adapting as well as I’d thought. If that wasn’t enough, my longterm relationship was on the rocks–as it usually was–but it was coming to a real end this time. We both knew it.

Usually, I was prepared for the on and off of the relationship but this felt different. Something within me dropped. And, it dropped so hard that I couldn’t recover quickly. This was when I realized that I didn’t know who I was. During this time, I had my first taste of depression and its seduction.

On the outside, I had it all together. I was in a M.A. program and doing well, but internally, I was struggling. I didn’t know what I liked outside of that relationship and if I’m honest, I never knew. I was a relationship hopper. Perhaps, situationship hopper is a better way to categorize it. I always had an ace and a spare. I was prepared. Prepared for destruction.

I tried not to be the type to get caught slipping but I did. I failed myself during that season, and in my brokenness I told myself that I would never get that low again. I promised myself that I would neither allow another relationship to define me nor give me value. I told myself that something had to change and I meant it.

Have you ever been low before? Have you ever visited the place where you couldn’t see the forest for the trees? I’ve been there and it sucks. It’s not fun realizing that you’ve betrayed yourself. It’s no fun realizing that you’ve put yourself on display again, and for what? Likes? Empty validation?

In retrospect, I truly believed that someone could give me value. I attached myself to the belief that I was worthy of love only if someone told me that they loved me. I was a lost woman who was trying to desperately find something.

I didn’t know then that I was searching for my identity, which is something that people were unable to give me.

Are you trying to find yourself? Order my latest book: Woman of Royalty: Rule From A Place of Authority. I’ll walk you through the journey.

WOR flyer

Advertisements

Unbothered and Fly: 5 Ways to Maximize Your Singleness

blog.jpg

I used to be the woman who felt that if I were not married then my life was meaningless. Perhaps my youthful plan to be married with children by 25 could be to blame. And, I think it’s safe to say that my life looks nothing like I planned and that isn’t a bad thing. I used to get hung up on the things that I didn’t have. I wasn’t making the money that I thought that I deserved, I didn’t have the relationship that I wanted, and I was far away from family and friends more times than not. My life felt restricted and I wasn’t happy about it. But, what could I do? This was my reality and I didn’t see a way out, so I decided to maximize it.

Unfortunately, when women start to get closer to 30, they begin to question themselves if they aren’t married. They may start listening to their biological clock, hear the chatter of family and friends during the holiday season, or even the small voice within themselves asking, “why aren’t you married?” I, too, know what this is like but I decided to do something about it that would NOT take me out of the will of God. In the past, I would try to change my situation and circumstance by medicating with other things that just left me even more empty, but I’m about to share some tips that have helped me maximize my singleness and glow up! Literally.

  • Mind your own business--it’s easy to get caught up in other people’s business. This is especially true when you’re scrolling on social media all day. Maybe you aren’t doing it all day but you do it every chance you get a break. This is bad behavior. Your brain is not built to sustain the overload of social media. Your emotions aren’t strong enough to withstand the subtle comparisons. Limit your social media time and start focusing on other things. If you have some spare time then call a friend that you haven’t spoken to in a while. Check on your family. Do something other than invest your emotions into the lives of other people. When I limited my time on social media, I was much healthier and happier. It’s time to stop scrolling.

 

  • Transform your negative outlook into positive energy–Ok, so you’re mad that you don’t have a boo for the summer. Well, maybe you aren’t mad that you’re not with anyone in this season, but cuffin’ season is soon approaching and you might fall into those emotions. It’s easy and I have to work daily to ensure that I don’t succumb to them. So how do you transform your negativity into positivity? First you have to admit that you are a negative Nancy in this area. You have to be honest with yourself. After you do this, then you must find some hobby, life group, or activity that would allow you to channel your energies for good. When we harbor ill emotions, it impacts our physical, psychological, and emotional health. You honestly don’t have time to be negative. When I found myself in this position, I became a mentor in a women’s substance abuse center. I poured myself into the women in the center and realized that my limited perspective of my life was nothing compared to the traumas that they’ve endured. Sis, challenge your perspective.

 

  • Write a book. Start a podcast. Start a blog/vlog–I believe in the power of writing. During my singleness, I wrote my first book that did very well. It took me about 30 days to pen the book and a few months to revise and edit, but I did it. I believe that there is power in writing and power in focus. Perhaps, one reason that you aren’t maximizing your singleness is because you aren’t capitalizing on your time. There are people to be reached, problems to be solved, and solutions to be created. The world needs you. Get busy. Help others while you’re helping yourself.

 

  • Invest in yourself–What will the dash on your headstone say about you? Will it tell a story of one who wasted their life on careless living, or will it tell a different narrative? You have to invest in yourself. This may mean getting a job, staring a small business, learning trade or hobby. You are your greatest asset. Too many times, people believe that they need a plug to help them reach their destiny, and while I believe that relationships are important, people will not invest where you haven’t invested first. You should also invest in your physical health and outward appearance. Being healthy is not a fad but has to be a lifestyle. Further, you must remember that putting on clothes to make yourself feel good about yourself isn’t bad. When I dress up, I feel a lot better than when I’m lounging. While I do believe that lounging has a time and place, use wisdom. You should trade too.

 

  • Do your work–This is the step that most people skip, but it is the most important. You cannot attract what you will not become! You have to work on yourself in tandem with Holy Spirit. This means that there will be days when you cry. There will be low days and high ones. There will be moments when you feel like giving up. Times when God will show you the ugliness about yourself and you might be saddened by it. But, you have to realize that doing your work is messy but the person on the other side of your wholeness will thank you for it. You cannot afford to continue to create victims. You cannot live lackadaisical and expect to feel fulfilled. You must do something and this will lead you into a new understanding of who you are.

 

A couple of things:

If you haven’t already ordered, you should check out my latest book Woman of Royalty, which teaches women how to find their identity in Christ.

You can also join my t-shirt campaign, Academically Dope, which is on sale now through June 20th in honor of Juneteenth. Just use the code Juneteeth at checkout.

Remaining Confident Even When Your Memories Threaten You

confidence.jpg

They come like flashes across the canvas of your mind without warning. You can be engaging in a very important conversation when suddenly your mood changes. You become uncomfortable. Silently grasping for air but hoping no one notices. You are in need of saving and this time it is from yourself.

Oh how swiftly our mind plays tricks on us. The optical illusions that position themselves systematically to block our sight are very misleading. We begin to see things that are no longer there. Remnants of a missed moment. Words never said. Thoughts too dangerous to express. Should have. Could have. Would have.

How do we remain confident in moments like these? How do we adhere to the command to not remember the things of the old (Isaiah 43:18)? It’s not like we willingly go back to the traumas of our past, right? Majority of the time, our traumas hunt us. They inject themselves into our present with the resemblance of smoke and mirrors. Our memories are unreliable. They are unstable at times. They change as we mature.

What if we remember incorrectly? I’m not saying that you didn’t experience what you felt, but what if your perception is so skewed that you start to reason through smeared glasses? This is the greatest assault on your confidence.

More times than not, when we encounter a familiar situation, we tend to travel back into those memories. The ones that we really want to forget but they’ve attached themselves to our psyches. How can we remain confident?

  1. Remember that memories can’t hurt you unless you let them. They are invisible remnants that you must turn to examine. And, each time you inspect them, they become bigger not clearer.
  2. Admit the point of pain. Many of us like to hide the fact that we’ve been hurt. When we do this, we destabilize our confidence. Hiding anything makes you insecure.
  3. Choose the future. It didn’t work then but who says it can’t work now? Your memories throw false threats to keep you from moving. Defy them.
  4. Remind yourself of the truth. Truth and fact are different things. The fact is that something hurt you, the truth is that you are not what you went through. Don’t allow old things to impact your present and your future.
  5. Ask yourself hard questions. This one is a doozy. When you question yourself, you come into a deeper revelation of things that may not have been so obvious. Ask yourself why you really stopped loving. Interrogate why you stopped living. Listen to the response your subconscious gives you. I can almost guarantee that it can be rationalized but not hold enough weight.
  6. Ask God for insight. We all need insight into confidence. What does having confidence really mean for you?
  7. Understand where you are going. Vision is stronger than failure. Adjust what you see.

These are practical things that I do to help me remain confident. I hope they resonate with you!

 

If you haven’t already ordered, take advantage of my current book, Woman of Royalty: Rule From A Place of Authority 

WOR flyer

The Power of Thrivation

thrivation.jpg

Thrivation (noun)

[th-ri-vey-shun n]
  1. The act or an instance of thriving.
  2. The state or condition of thriving, or being in a moment of consistent growth

(Definition: Briana Whiteside’s mind)

I’m convinced that there is no place called “there.” And, if we aren’t careful, we will push ourselves to reach this mythical place only to knock on the door and have it vanish before our eyes. “There” is not a place but a state of being. It’s the element where you find yourself operating in a rhythm. You’ve caught the beat of your drum. You’re moving with accuracy. You can see yourself clearly.

This is when you know that you have tapped into thrivation. It has been called other things in the past, but I like to think of it as the place where you’ve embodied your identity. There’s nothing like it, really. To know that you’ve finally accepted your difference. You’ve defied the stereotypes. You’ve found your footing. You are here! There?

Thrivation cannot be lent. It won’t be television or advertised. It won’t even be acknowledged by onlookers until it’s too late. It’s funny that people can be around you and still not perceive it. One day, they will look up and see that something is different about you. They will notice that your laugh is different–fuller.

Thrivation is the element in which you do what you do. It’s the place where your glow is bright. Your smile is welcoming. Your eyes invite wealth. It is the place where you find yourself unbothered by the competition because of your groundedness.

It’s where you Evolve. Simmer. Plan.

It’s where you THRIVE.

When you enter into thrivation, you cannot be stopped. Your focus is keener. Your thoughts are clear. Your intentions are known. You aim for success. Your confidence flows from it. You find yourself laughing at past fears. You doubt your doubts. You move past false burdens. You make it. Unscathed.

The power of thrivation is that you will finally see yourself the way that God sees you, as the light of the world. A town built on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). Radiant. Glow

 

Before you leave, take advantage of my new book, Woman of Royalty 

WOR flyer

What If I Were Given the Instructions?

ed

Sometimes I reflect on my journey and I like to imagine the ways in which my life would’ve been easier had I had certain things. You know, the silver spoon, access to wealth, rich parents, a maid to clean my room…the finer things in life. I like to think that these things would’ve made my journey a bit easier for me because I know what it is like to struggle for almost everything that I’ve earned.

One of the main things I like to think that would’ve made a difference in my life is instructions. Yes, instructions. While many people have the grace to put together items just by looking at the box, I don’t have that anointing. I need to read the manual to understand how a thing should be working and how it should be constructed, but what happens when the instructions are not included?

This sense of panic is how I felt for majority of my life. I was navigating without a detailed blueprint, but with an entire picture of how my life should look. And, in an effort to get to the place called “there,” I made some major mistakes because I didn’t have the most important component to my life–the instructions.

When I was trying to come into the essence of who I was as a woman, people would tell me that I needed to find my identity in Christ. Sometimes more seasoned Christians will throw phrases around without doing their due diligence to unpack what they mean to the listener. So, when people would say, “Briana, you have to find your identity in Christ,” I agreed. Yes, that’s what I’ll do! I’ll find my identity in Christ. I’m on the right track.

Then I would realize that I didn’t know HOW! I once asked someone how to find my identity in Christ and they told me to ask God to show me. Um, ok. Yea! But what’s next. I wanted them to provide me with some tangible steps on how to do so, and they couldn’t, unfortunately. So, I had to ask God, “How can I find my identity in you?”

He took me through the book of Esther for an entire month. A short 10 chapter book of the Bible took me 30 days to unpack because it is filled with so much revelation on identity. Esther was a girl who was orphaned at a young age, but she manages to find her identity in Christ and move into her position as a Queen in the palace. Esther showed me how to find my identity in Christ and I offer this revelation to you.

My new book, Woman of Royalty: Rule From A Place of Authority, provides such insight and is now available here (signed copy) and here!

WOR flyer

The Power of Intentionality

I believe that our lives are the sum total of our thoughts. If you take a second to look back over your life, you may be able to pinpoint certain thoughts that landed you in your current position. I know I sure can. Contrary to popular belief, my thoughts are not always good. Sometimes, I actually have horrible thoughts and before I know it, I’ve thought myself into a bad day. And, as a result of bad thinking, I usually begin to speak negatively over myself and towards others.

This is an awareness post. More times than not, we allow our thoughts to run rampant without any accountability, and then we wonder why we receive certain outcomes. At some point, I grew tired of thinking lowly thoughts. I was irritated by the lack of quality of life that I was experiencing. I was frustrated more times than I was peaceful, and this is when I started to take a look at myself.

If we hope to accomplish anything great, we must learn the power of intentionality. We have to be aware of how the process of directing our thoughts towards a certain goal will begin to yield fruit. We have to start taking inventory of every negative perception, word, idea, or understanding, and bring those unto subjection to God.

Sometimes Christians believe that God is able to shift circumstances, lives, jobs, [insert your request here], but we don’t always want to do our part. We don’t always input the effort needed for us to partner with God. We don’t want the responsibility that comes with living our best lives. But, we do want better, just not the work.

Intentionality is an understanding that we must work to see things change. It is an agreement between ourselves and God that we are in partnership. That we accept responsibility for ourselves. That we understand what is required of us and we agree to the terms and conditions. That we will start being intentional about our lives.

When I started being intentional with my thoughts, conversations, words, relationships, and actions, the quality of my life started to change. The essence of who I was came forth, and that, my friends, is living my best life. Intentionally.

If you haven’t heard, my book is available for pre-order now!!! You can order online at http://www.brianawhiteside.com

WOR flyer

What Did I Do To Make Him Give Me A RATING?

IMG_0169I remember it like it was yesterday. We were driving back to my apartment from a museum tour and he was mainly silent. Granted, we got into a small disagreement that morning, but nothing that warranted his extended silent treatment. We were newly reconnected, and though God warned me that someone from my past would attempt to re-enter my life, I dismissed that the warning was about him.

Until the moment that he rated me.

Ok, I was in the wrong because I allowed him to stay in my home for a few days because he said that he missed me. And, the curiousness as to why I had never given him a chance in past kinda fueled my decision.

We were enjoying one another…until we weren’t.

For some reason, our long nightly conversations on the phone did not equate to the real time we spent together in person. We were on two completely different pages and while it was obvious, I still wanted his company. I was lonely.

While he was a guest in my home, I made sure that he was taken care of. This was hospitality, right? Ha. Farthest thing from it. I was petitioning for the place of girlfriend in his life and I purposed within myself that I would cater to, and anticipate his every need.

I thought that I was doing good…until. Fast forward.

As we were driving back to my house, I asked him to talk to me. He said a few words to me before he pulled out his phone. (I cannot recall the beginning of the conversation). When he opened the note app, he started to read me my report card. What I mean is that he said, your life is too planned, you are not spontaneous, your cooking is a “B,” your attitude is a “B-,” etc, etc, etc. Negative. Negative. Negative. He seriously had letter grades that dissected any possible weak area that I had.

I was stunned. I never had anyone rate my efforts in the manner in which he did. (Well not to my face). It was an insult to everything I worked hard to make happen for him. It didn’t matter to me that he came during the busiest part of my academic semester. It didn’t matter that he was a bit inconsiderate for the things that were happening in my life. All that mattered was that he proved to me that I had not measured up to his expectations.

That moment still sits with me because I allowed him to do it. While I think that constructive criticism is helpful and heed should be taken, when it comes out of a spirit of destruction, it is problematic.

I didn’t stand up for myself. I actually took it and I felt myself sink lower. I didn’t have words to counter his observation of me. I let myself down. I was not who he wanted, but I allowed him to finish out the rest of his trip with me.

What type of woman would do that? A broken woman.

Now, this is not a post to bash the individual in this experience. In fact, it is to point you back to my dysfunction as a result of a flawed identity. I didn’t know who I was and as a result, I allowed him to start to attach meaning to my life. Labels. I allowed him to measure my worth by the stretch of sight, but he didn’t have true insight into who I really was. (I didn’t know this then).

I internalized his rating. I started to pick at my self-confidence–the little that I had–causing it to become even more infested with lies. It took me a while to rebuild after this experience but it all made sense after I discovered my identity.

In my upcoming book, Woman of Royalty, I provide 10 practical steps for how to find your identity. It is not enough to just want to be better, but you must put your desire to action. You don’t have to be alone on this journey.

Pre-order your copy today on www.brianawhiteside.com. (I will personally sign your copy).

WOR flyer