I have become that person…but how?

I spent a lot of time with friends yesterday. A group of friends for brunch and then another friend stopped by to chat for a bit. That’s what adults do right? Eat brunch and chat? How did I get here?

Those two conversations were filled with lots of catching up and discussion of future plans as most conversations are. I’ve had similar conversations with all of these people multiple times because while I love them all dearly and am super close to them all I don’t see them frequently because of life and adulting. And that’s fine. We all are doing it and no one gets mad about it. I appreciate that about my friends.

At some point during both conversations though I realized, I have become that person. What person you ask? Well if your just a little patient I’ll tell!

In discussing some of my personal goals, the usual, weight loss, saving money, moving out (yep…I’m 30 years old and still live with my parents. That’s a blog for another day) came up. I’ve recently started to pick up on peoples responses to my saying I’m going to do these things. Let’s just say they aren’t good. Sometimes it’s met with laughter (thanks Dad), sometimes it’s met with harsh reminders (I thought you were on a diet) that only really serve to annoy me and trigger my stubbornness (thanks Mom), most times it’s met with slight side eye, sighs of “that’s great” with the undertone of “we’ve had this conversation plenty of times but yet here you still are” and encouragement with a hint of “there’s really no reason why you haven’t already done this you’re just lazy/content and used to this lifestyle” (thanks friends, family, coworkers, strangers). And I admit, since these are areas I am not happy with in my life, I probably read more into people’s slight shifts in tone, side eyes, eye rolls, and comments than they actually mean. And I put some of the stuff I’ve been already thinking into their comments too.

But, the realization that I have become that person, officially hit me after brunch, when my friend Michael stopped by and I told him my plan to move out and then my thoughts about potential life style changes for health purposes and both comments got a sarcastic slow clap with a “we’ll see.” A lot of people would be pissed at Michael for this response. I, however, have known Michael for going on 20 years (how did we get so old) and while he may be a self proclaimed ass hole, his intentions (towards me at least) are never to hurt or harm. We could all use a level headed, blunt, call it what it is friend…even if it bruises our ego a bit because on the flip side, Michael has always celebrated any of my successes with the fierceness of a loving brother.

So, what have my friends responses for several weeks/months/years and at brunch and Michael’s slow clap helped me to realize…I have become that person. Dear God lady what person?!?! I’ve become the person that no one actually takes serious when they set goals. The person that sets these goals and is super excited about them but somewhere down the line, and usually very quickly, falls off. It would not surprise me if my family secretly takes bets on how long I will keep up any dieting or healthy living practices. And I know for certain they do not believe me or even entertain my talks about moving out anymore. It’s as if everyone is just waiting to see if it happens but no one is holding their breath because they know the possibility of them dying in the process is high.

But how did I get here?

I’m not sure I’ve ever been a highly goal oriented person. I’ve always felt like most people have known since they were 6 what they wanted to do with their life. I literally decided I wanted to be a counselor one day while on campus my senior year of undergrad talking to a friend. I had about 3 months to get my application turned in take the necessary tests to apply. Then in grad school I felt everyone knew what population they wanted to work with. I have stumbled through the last five years finally finding a population that I absolutely love but even then had to step away from in order to be effective and not lose my own mind. Once a month, usually right before I start my period when I feel bloated and disgusting I go to bed and say “ok this is it. I’m going to get my life together.” Then I start my period, refuse to do anything that week because life is hard enough when your vagina is dying so I have all intentions of doing something when it’s over. My period ends, the bloating goes away, and while my body is far from perfect I usually catch a glimpse in the mirror before I shower one day and say “you know what, you good Ashley! If someone can’t love all of this then they don’t deserve you” and the cycle begins again. I can justify a lot of things and I ultimately refuse to shame myself for being human and doing things that humans need to do like eat, and rest, and enjoy life so as not to go crazy…but then I can justify doing these to excess which is where the problem begins.

It’s almost as if that slow clap Michael did made me connect all the dots and realize that while he’s the only person who did it outright, everyone else is probably doing it in their mind. My response to him was something along the lines of “don’t doubt me” to which he responded with something far less enlightening but similar too “I don’t doubt you can do it. I’m just waiting for it to happen.”

I know a few things about myself. One of which is that I can be really stubborn and strong willed and there is a certain level and type of negativity that I use as a driving force. It’s what caused me to give birth without an epidural, because everyone said I wouldn’t. It’s what caused me to go to college and grad school and find a career that I love, because I was afraid of becoming a teen mom statistic or being what I knew people were betting I would be…a failure.

But sometimes that backfires. And there is a moment where those negative comments become my way of fighting the system and my stubbornness becomes “oh I’ll show you that I absolutely do not have to do these things.” That’s usually surrounds any negative responses to my weight gain/loss or my still living at home.

So yes, I have become that person. I’m aware. I apologize to the people who are sick of hearing me talk about these things without seeing any action. I thank you for loving me all the same and not giving up. I’ve decided to make no promises and to also stop talking about it. Thank you Michael for that slow clap and gentle chuckle of supportive pessimism.

We shall see what happens!!

Dangerous Messages I Have Seen on Facebook

Sometime last week I started paying attention to random things people were posting and how subtle but dangerous the messages were. I started collecting them and then all of a sudden people stopped sharing them! Alas, however, I have gathered enough for a sufficient blog post. None of these messages are inherently bad (well one is). Most are just simple comments or posts that at first glance seem positive in some way but if you take a closer look, not so much. So please enjoy my random commentary as to why these messages should stop being shared…immediately.

The post:

The problem:

This post actually sparked the beginning of this blog post. I saw a few ladies that I love share it and quickly got on them about it! I know what it’s getting at. “Don’t let your feelings get the best of you. Don’t let things get you down.” There is, however, this terrible idea floating around that feelings are a bad thing. Feelings are feelings. They are neither good nor bad. They just are. We subscribe meaning and worth to them. And these posts almost always refer to feelings such as Love and connection to others. And no one can survive without connection with others. And there is almost always someone who cares. Even if it’s not someone you want to care. So posting things like this is like a slap in the face to those who do care. By all means be a boss! But don’t deny your feelings. It only leaves you bitter, lonely, sad, and angry which are surprisingly all feelings!

The post:

The problem:

First of all…what is a REAL woman?!?! I hate these posts because it usually implies that only a certain type of woman is “real.” Usually the hard working, hyper-focused, “on her shit” woman. And that’s all well and good. But the woman dealing with depression who hasn’t gotten out of bed in a week is also a real woman. The woman who doesn’t have time to exercise and meal prep and work a full time job and raise five kids under the age of three, is also a real woman. The homeless drug addicted woman having sex for money…is also a real woman. And trying to live up to people’s definition of a “real woman” usually causes way more stress and anxiety than any “real woman” should ever have to deal with. ALSO…all my friends are bad ass and they are my friends so clearly this is a lie. As mentioned earlier, no one can survive without connection, friends, a tribe of some sort. Humans naturally crave it. This message that we don’t need people is 100% false.

The post:

The problem:

This was a share by my fellow blogger (thanks Malcolm!). Here’s the thing…sometimes people just suck. Sometimes people are just terrible. Sometimes they are rude, nasty, conceited, full of them selves, evil, hateful, abusive, and dangerous. And while hate is a strong word, sometimes people hate you for those reasons. This post should have a fourth option…sometimes people hate you because you suck as a human being and have a lot of work to do!

The post:

The problem:

I have literally never done this. If I ask someone what they do it is because I actually want to know what they do. If you are someone who determines the level of respect you provide someone with based on their occupation… then you would fall into the fourth category that I mentioned in the previous section. Don’t be that person.

The post:

The problem:

Again, I get where this one was headed but it is just so dangerous a message for many reasons. What about people searching for a reason to live who are unable to have children but want them? Does God not care about them and their life? What about people who have children but don’t want them? What about people who have children but still feel suicidal? Posting things like this can be very harmful/hurtful for others who read them and may have a different experience. Just be careful.

The post:

The problem:

This is just stupid. Stop.

The post:

The problem:

This is one of those post that unknowingly shows support for terribly toxic relationships. Also, am I a basic bitch if I’m not “on your ass about everything”? At what point are you, as a grown adult human being, supposed to take responsibility for your own actions and goals in life. I am all for support and encouragement. I’m all for sticking through the tough times. What I’m not here for is raising someone who is already considered an adult. You need to be on your own ass about everything. I’m not your momma. I don’t even do that with my own kid!

The post:

The problem:

I really hope that I don’t have to explain why this post is a problem to anyone who reads this, but incase I do….RAPE IS NOT FUNNY. DO NOT PERPETUATE RAPE CULTURE!!! No means no means no. Don’t means don’t means don’t! Stop means stop means stop! The only time those words mean the opposite is when you put them all together and get “no don’t stop” at which point if you do stop you are a terrible human being and again belong in that fourth category I mentioned earlier. I know that all of this can be very confusing. This is why you should be able to openly and honestly communicate with your partner before, during, and after sex. If you aren’t sure…ask. If you still aren’t sure, err on the side of caution and let’s just say that if you aren’t sure if it’s rape or not…then it’s rape.

Well…that’s all I’ve got for now. Let’s hope people on my timeline stop posting dangerous messages. I’m sure what’s going to happen though is I’m going to hit publish and people are going to start posting the craziness again!!

Childish Gambino’s New Video Made Me Cry

If you haven’t seen it. Here it is, in all it’s wonderful beautiful glory

Now, why did I cry? Why did the video make me cry?

Well for one, it’s named “This is America”.  This video is full of truths about our society as a whole, and as I sat there watching it for what felt like the millionth time, I started to shed tears, because the meaning continued to weigh heavy on my heart.

The main point in this video is basically showing how distracted or little we tend to care about what’s going on in society.  As we see Gambino dancing with these school kids, as if nothing is going on.  From the opening scene we hear a chant, basically describing that we just want to have fun and that we just want to have a good life.  Starting off the song with an up-beat, African influenced chant “We just wanna party, Party just for you, We just want the money, Money just for you…” and from there things get grim when Gambino pulls out a gun and shoots a man with his head covered…and utters the words:

“This is America, Don’t catch you slippin up…”

Like…WHAT?!?!?

And the scene afterwards, which was noted by many outlets online, showed Glover handing off the gun to someone else, who had a red scarf of some sort, taking the gun off screen ever so carefully.  And what does he do after all of this commotion? Starts to dance as if nothing happened.  It’s a mirror on how society is taken aback by the sheer horrendous nature of America, but will then turn their eyes to something else as if the event that just happened never occurred.

The dancing in the video is a distraction. The lyrics, while basic in delivery, tells a simple story of our country.  “Police is trippin”, “I got a strap, I gotta carry em”, etc.  but the song alone does not make this the epic experience you should be hearing. The video is what you should pay attention to.

Gambino even goes to murdering a church choir, symbolizing the Charleston shooter from a few years back, and again the gun, which looked like and Assault Rifle, was taken away with care, which Glover, in turn, decides to start dancing again.  Symbolizing the initial shock of a tragic incident, but how we are quick to move along and forget about things again.

And while Gambino is dancing around with his crew, the background is just full of chaos.  The world around us in burning, but we’re focusing on the wrong things. And while all of these things are going on, we’re dancing, rather the Hip Hop community is dancing, and “getting their money”.  That’s what it’s all about.  As a black male in America, the chaos in the background is what we deal with on a normal basis, but society is being blinded. These things continue to happen, and people are out here just “getting their money” but not out here striving to make a change.  Obviously this is just my opinion and how I view it, but as the chaos goes on in the background, we’re just out here doing our dance. Whether that dance be “dancing for the man to ‘get that money'” and not challenge the status quo, or the dancing around people do to avoid the hard conversations.  However, there is a point where  this video screams how much America loves our art, but not our lives.  The outro goes like this:

“You just a Black man in this world
You just a barcode, ayy
You just a Black man in this world
Drivin’ expensive foreigns, ayy
You just a big dawg, yeah
I kenneled him in the backyard
No probably ain’t life to a dog
For a big dog”

If this doesn’t scream “we’re just loved for our entertainment” I don’t know what is.  They don’t love us, they just love our culture.

This is America, where people want to believe it or not.  And this is why I cried.  Because while we are enjoying our lives, there will always be a next time, and a time after that, unless something is done about it.  Being a black man in America only amplifies the hurt, due to injustices that we have to worry about on a daily basis when it comes to police brutality and racism.  And that reality just breaks my heart…

Donald Glover, you are a genius and most of America doesn’t deserve you.