Advice for When You Feel You Have Nothing to Offer the World

Lately, I’ve felt that I have little to nothing to offer the world. That there is nothing of substantive value that I can give and that I’m more of a burden to the world, friends, and family than anything else.

It is not a fun place to be in. I’m also a ruminator, which means once I get that in my head, I spend hours and sleepless nights coming up with thoughts to support that notion.

Have you ever been there?

I spent last night and the night before engulfed in nightmare after nightmare (some real horror shit too) in which I just failed person after person. I saved no one and in many cases caused their pain or demise. In one, I even ended up becoming one of the monsters after being unable to save them from an inevitable death, because I realized (the monsters reminded me), “you’re just one of us anyway” as they casually played video games.

I was definitely in a bad headspace. I went into work today, to meet 8 college students that will work in the department I direct, thinking I ultimately fail everyone, how can I ever provide them anything? I felt hopeless and empty.

I walked in ready to fake it, and my office manager tells me how much her teen daughter loved meeting me for a brief 15 min this weekend. She told me that she thought I was funny and beautiful and really cool.

And then the 8 pairs of eyes and my two professional staff eagerly awaited my opening remarks this morning. I made them laugh. The staff enjoyed the breakfast I brought in. The students warmed up to me. Slowly, the day became a little brighter and little more hopeful. I laughed. I didn’t fake a single thing. I was in my element even for a few hours today and it felt good.

I am not sure if this is the last time I will like I have no value, but even the thought that I could impact a young woman with a simple interaction or serve as a good leader to my staff helped me to find a little ray of sunshine today. The universe knew I knew I needed to feel valued and loved. The universe delivered. She hadn’t forgotten me. I rejoiced at knowing that.

If you feel sometimes that you have nothing to offer, I challenge you to look for small incidents that can affirm that you absolutely are where you should be. Don’t be afraid to relish in those moments a little longer on days you need it most. Forget what people say about pride or boastful ways – sometimes it is an act of absolute survival to really enjoy every single affirmation of circumstance and belonging, no matter how seemingly small they are. None of this is a coincidence; you are here for a reason, exactly where you are, as you are, as imperfect as you stand.

And maybe that reason is for a 14 year old girl to look up to you and think you’re cool. And as seemingly small as that is, it could be inspiring the next generation after all. You are part of something bigger than yourself and you were no accident. You’re not a burden. You have so much to offer and you offer it all the time. You are time and place imagined today, at this moment. Do not give up.

With love always.

Joy

She is a tower of strength

Her beauty coveted and unparalleled

Clothed in robes of gold,

and warming and welcoming in ways

we wish wearily for.

They call her Joy.

We spend our lives searching for her

in empty homes

Seeking to fill heartless holes

we call it happiness

But Joy evades us

Joy is a Black woman

(all things full of creation are)

basking in the beauty of beautiful rainshowers

smiling and singing

about the sun that succumbs to the necessary downpour

Daring to wet her coiled, kinky, cocky locks

by the tsunami of cleansing

that begets around her.

Joy is pancakes after sleepless nights –

The knowing that sustenance from the sweet syrup

sticks to your soul

and invites sleep on slow Sunday mornings

As rest is refreshing whenever it agrees with us.

Joy is running

Running forever

Barefooted

Broken

Beautiful

Backed with the strength of our ancestors

who softly whisper “freedom”

as you run zig zag through fields of familiar and forgotten wildflowers.

Joy is

Hard

Hell overcome

Hope mainfested

But mostly,

Joy is

the crossroad of acceptance and liberation.

 

100 First Dates Only to Realize You’re the Problem

I have admitted to being a first date queen, followed by a good second dater, but not really more. I have always thought I wanted a marriage and a good man. But after 100 first dates in my life (exaggeration, I surely have not had 100 first dates), I am not sure that I want nor necessarily deserve that.

I have met a guy a little over a week ago and on paper he seems to be what I want. I’ve been down this rabbit hole before, thinking it should be what I want, but then I’m not sure. And the few times this has happened, they have seemed very sure. And for me, surety after a week is a bit much for me. I know I run.

I easily feel suffocated. I’m learning I can be a selfish person, but recently a friend told me maybe it is ok, maybe I’m just human, and maybe sometimes you have to be. I think she’s right, but I also wonder if that makes me a good person for a relationship. Remember when I wrote that poem about the garden? A substantial piece of that was my need to be free and uncontained. I dont know if that is fair for another human, who has especially been socialized in the context of our society to have deal with. I also come with a lot of baggage too. While the thought of someone helping me to unpack it all is lovely, I have found many men to unknowingly, unintentionally, but still confidently judge the things in my bag. Or try to fix it all. I understand why. I think it is sweet. I do not like it. Yet it’s unfair to come to a place with this and not expect them to have opinions.

Giving up weekends and all my nights has never been appealing to me. I like to choose carefully with whom I spend my time and how. I need days to myself. I need freedom to pick up and go. Men have lots of expectations of children (I get it, babies are prized in our society), women’s place in their lives and behavior… and while I fit bits and pieces, I rarely fit that picture enough for me to feel comfortable in that either they’re settling and will eventually become unhappy as I open up more or that I am minimizing parts of myself to be more appealing. I understand compromise. But I will always be a f bomb dropping, not really wanting children, womanist, with a free spirit. I can improve my character, but these are part of who I am.

Another friend told me that this is just the product of being single too long. You have to learn to share your space and life again. Maybe. Yet I watch others able to navigate this. I fear that the real issue is that deep down I dont really want this or worse, I am not cut out for relationships. I know less than two weeks is too soon to be jumping to conclusions, but if someone else knows, shouldn’t you? I didn’t used to be this person. I used to fall fast and hard. And occasionally, when the chemistry is so strong I do (this has happened once in the past couple years, but I fear he was ambivalent as I am in this post).

So some may say – maybe this guy just isn’t the right match for you. But there is this gnawing fear that if I hang this up, I say no, I step away, that I will be saying to the universe, “please don’t send me anyone else.” That it isn’t that he isn’t right, but it’s me. And that I will be deciding then, I’m not cut out for this. Which may be the answer. But maybe I’m not ready to admit it.

I also think online dating adds this additional pressure. You meet someone and the objective is do we want to date or nah. I miss meeting people in real life and then building a connection and feeling that chemistry just serendipitously.

Lastly, I wonder if my heart has not been fully healed from love past. I wonder if someone is still holding onto my heart and my heart to theirs. I wonder if that is at play. Could be romantic, could be a familial or platonic wound. Trauma period is probably playing a role.

Until I figure it out, maybe just one more date.

The Cost of Moving So Much

Friendship is like a delicate, but favorite recipe. It requires time and effort, loving care, and to be present to make it turn out right. But it’s worth every effort, because it’s the sweetest, tastiest cake you’ve ever made (all my favorite recipes are cake). But without those things, it is difficult to make it come out right. And sacrificing that favorite recipe is one of the biggest costs to moving and following your heart and dreams.

I make no qualms that I am career and ambition driven. I have moved *gulp* 4 times in the past 6 years, all for career, none for heart. Each time it gets increasingly harder to make friends and maintain friendships. Things get lost on translation, I am confronted with more demons, other people in the past tribes get closer, you become a pleasant visitor to the party, but not a regular. You have a lot of friends, but no bridesmaids invitations nor a secret holder, because no matter how hard you try, moving and shaking has a cost each time. And each time the cost deepens.

You try really hard to hold on. You love them and they love you, but never knowing when you’ll return, and in some places, never returning, it changes. And what’s hard is that no one can quite grasp what that means unless they have been there too. So it may even seem to them, nothing has changed, but you feel it.

Today, I scurried quickly out of a banquet dinner for a bunch of first year students in a summer program, practically in tears. Because in five short weeks, you could feel the community they had built, and I felt like an intruder with no home. I haven’t had a full blown tribe or community in years – like I belonged. I am craving that. And that craving is oddly burdening existing friendships because I simply feel tolerated at times, but not included. And it’s rightfully so! Some of it is because of my own tendency to withdraw and become quite cold when I’m feeling misunderstood or outcasted. This is probably from being unmercifully bullied as a child and so spending a while searching for belonging as a young adult. I learned to shut off and shut down. Never let them see the real you (I totally identify with the queen in Frozen). Other parts of not being included is that you simply cannot be included. You dont exist in that time and space.

Many women can live without that tribe. I am not one of those women. I have learned this painfully the past year. While I struggle sometimes to understand why someone may want to spend a ton of time with me, I’m grateful for having women and men who have cherished me as part of their group. Who have welcomed me. I don’t need a large group (actually prefer it to be smaller), but I need it. And I need it close to me. I need to feel included.

Lately, I feel more of a burden than anything to my friends. I also think having a group allows for shared connection among one another where you don’t feel you need to hide or go silent. It also gives you multiple reality checks that I think is helpful. I am optimistic that it can be developed again. I’ve developed it a couple times in my life, and hopefully, in my older age now, I haven’t become so far gone as to not be able to create it again. I’m rusty, sure. But I hope I can find that community, rather than feeling like a stranger in my life.

Moving and change is wonderful. But everything comes at a cost. I’m hoping to buy back some of this one.

My Dirty Little Secret

I’m going to share a terrible secret with you all that I’ve tried to share in 3-5 different draft posts and have not gotten far. When I try to write it, it never seems worded right and I can’t tell where I am going with it. So, it’s possible this post makes zero sense and I guess that’s ok.

I’m a really jealous person. And especially around love, but it shows up in other areas too. But when people close to me are going on dates, getting laid regularly, meeting nice men, getting flirted with – I feel devastated. Like a complete failure and I dont understand. I just don’t.

I know. This isnt what good people do. You support your friends unconditionally, you are happy for their successes, and you wait your turn, but never enviously. Thing is, I’m so tired of waiting my turn. The jealousy thing I’m sure is a by- product of being utterly tired of it. I wasn’t always this terrible of a human.

I decided to examine my jealousy, get to know her, and understand why she is present. When I get close enough to her, she tells me we are very wounded by the world and universe. Y’all. I try hard. I might be a terrible, jealous human, but I really try to be the best human I can be despite my flaws. I try to give selflessly, for many years I’ve been the supporter and cheerleader (without jealousy), I’ve worked on myself, I try to be the kind of woman someone would want to date and marry that isn’t absolutely crazy, I am extremely self aware, I put myself out there, I’ve endured being cheated on, I’ve helped exes get better, I have forgiven, I’ve made no excuses from my past and each day, I renew a commitment to myself and the world to thrive despite any trauma or abuse that has happened to me. And you know what, I still lose sometimes. Life is like that. But there are those that only of the half work, or do the same work, or no work, and they win. Every time.

They barely work out and don’t exercise – no or minimal health issues. Put in a reasonable amount of work or minimal – either way, get promotions. Treat significant others like crap – get into relationships with the most amazing people and are happy. Lie, cheat, and are wholly awful people – get rich and run an entire country. Do half the work, put themselves out one time, make stupid choices, exist – find relationships, get laid, and/or find people who aren’t insane who want to share their time. There is a meme floating around the internet that asks, “what is the hardest lesson you learned as an adult?” One answer was something to the effect that you can be a good person and do all the right things, and life still not treat you well. I cried the first I read that.

I am sure at times that my jealousy now keeps me from being or getting certain things. Part of me truly believes that… it motivates me to want to change that and then just die from the fact that it is still there. I keep doing the work though. I know I’m incredibly lucky in some ways. When I think about how unfair life is to some people, I think about those who can’t climb out of poverty, who’s governments are murdering their family & friends, who can’t catch a break, and that many of them likely have purer hearts than mine. Trust me when I say, I know my life is so charmed at times, although by no means has it been an easy life. I feel a bit ashamed, but later, I’ll see a smiling friend engaged, on a date, with their s/o, and I know I’ll be crushed. I know how stupid this sounds. This is my dirty little (not so much now) secret. I know how it sounds.

I am continuing to sit with my jealousy. Trying to figure out what she wants me to learn. It’s hard because she brings me back to the pain and I’m not exactly sure how she wants me to address that yet. The pain is connected to an underlying feeling of being inadequate, not as good as everyone else, and that I am broken in some way. I’ve been working on that – it’s tied to some deep shit. As I write that, it makes me think – maybe I just have to go through these feelings. Endure them. Check them. Try not let them ruin me, but instead build me. I don’t know.

But what I do know, is now you all know, my dirty little secret. I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you, but I hope someone else doesn’t feel so alone. I think we can figure this out. We can be better and ok.

Things Not to Do When Online Dating

*** Disclaimer: There is so much wrong going on in the world and my heart aches. I debated not writing a lighter post, because with children being torn from their parents’ arms, political disaster and silliness on all sides, and people dying, it seemed trivial. However, in times like this, it is sometimes good to remember that isn’t all of life. I also think there are plenty of folks who comment on these things better than I can. What I’ve learned is that as these things happen, we still eat, laugh, have heartbreak, go to work, and continue to live. And so today, I’m writing about dating. I just want you to know, we here at “A Tale…” are not oblivious and our hearts go out to the world.***

Dating is hard. Dating is hard when you live in a rural area. Online dating is also hard. Dating is extra hard when apparently no one has given you dos and don’ts of your dating profile and responding to people (in this case hetereosexual men responding to women). But never fear – I’m here to help you. So now you can’t say you were never warned.

1. Please stop taking pictures with your money fanned out on your bed or held literally as a fan. Also, taking the picture with your daughter or son having money fanned out is equally a “no.” I thought we left that on Black Planet in 2001? I can’t believe I have to say this.

2. Stop writing a long list of things you hate. This makes you seem like a terrible person.

3. Proofread. It doesn’t have to be perfect but if I’m scratching my head trying to piece a sentence into something vaguely resembling a complete thought, it’s not slang. It’s just mumble jumble.

4. Dick imprint profile pics are a “no.” Also, yes, it was me. I reported your picture.

5. When you respond, do not talk about lips or any other part of the other’s body touching yours in the first 5 messages. Actually, not in the first few days unless we mutually agreed upon that is happening/happened. But definitely not in the first 5 messages. No, I do not want to envision myself kissing you.

6. Don’t go from “hey” directly to “when am I going to meet you?” The answer is likely never at that point.

7. You should probably not have all 50 pictures in the same pose in different shirts. It’s just weird.

8. Don’t ask someone to immediately send you more pics. You legit have a whole damn catalog of pics. You’ve only said hello, I dont owe you shit.

9. If you spend the first 5 messages describing all of a person’s physical features, they begin to wonder what are your intentions. I’m just saying. Also, creepy.

10. If it is stated someone is looking for something long term, stop pretending you didn’t know that. And if you didn’t, read the profile.

11. If someone doesn’t answer you immediately, it is not ok to go off on them and how they’re ignoring you for a pretty boy, and that they’re missing out because you have a job, car, house, and you go on vacations. You obviously also have high levels of. insecurity, a temper, and crazy. *unmatch*

12. While asking questions is a great way to get to know someone, asking someone back to back to back questions, unrelated to the previous answer, and not following up, commenting, and finding common ground with answers (aka having a conversation) is jarring and feels like I’m under interrogation until you feel you’ve done enough to ask for my number.

13. Which brings me to if you ask for my number or to continue the conversation off the site and I say I’m not yet ready, you dont have the right to angrily rant at me and that doesn’t mean to do #12 in an attempt to appease me.

14. Say “hi” and then ask me “truth or dare.” I hate this with all of my soul and it causes me anxiety. Just ask me how I’m doing, what I do for work, etc.

15. Respond to all of my questions with something about meeting me today. It gets annoying. For example, Me: what was the most exciting thing today?

You: Matching with you.

Me: So sweet of you. What are you doing this holiday?

You: hopefully you are coming to see me

Me: Lol. Hmmm… idk I’d like to get to know you better first, plus I have plans.

You: You wouldn’t drop your plans for me?

Me: No. Hell no. Fuck no. I don’t know you!!!!

Ok, ok, I never say that. I usually unmatch, but you get my drift.

16. Similarly please don’t respond to my statements with completely unrelated statements.

Me: So, that about sums up what I do at work. I told you it was a little complicated.

You: I’m just thinking about how it would be to see those lips in person.

WTF?

17. Send me emojis over and over as responses. Especially looking eyes. đź‘€ THOSE. I love a good emoji but it is annoying when you use it in this way.

18. “Good morning/evening beautiful” has become synonymous with fuck boy when you barely know me. I didn’t write the rule. It just happened. Usually to follow is violation of several of the above.

To end on a positive note, I thought I’d end with a list of “do’s.”

1. Do put up a wide range of pics and look like you enjoy life. I love smiling pics. You’re still a man if you smile, I promise. And you’re sexier immediately to me.

2. Do fill in a bio area. I read every single one. Make it about you and what you like and not what you hate (see above).

3. I am definitely ok with a “hey, how are you?” I don’t need creative pick up lines. I don’t know when it became a crime to just say that.

4. Ask questions about things I wrote in my bio, follow up on common threads, and share info about you.

5. Write more than one word messages.

6. Compliment other parts of me that aren’t physical, i.e. “I can tell you’re really bright or caring.”

7. Talk about a passion of yours. Passion is the key to opening my heart.

8. Make appropriately placed references about Wakanda. I’ll love that.

9. If we have been going back and forth for awhile, we are both sharing info and it doesn’t seem antagonistic, whether for 20 min or 2 days, ask for my number then.

10. Ask me if it’s too late and should we continue in the morning.

11. Continue in the morning if I say yes.

12. Tell me you’re smiling as we’re talking about something non sexual, but interesting. That will make me think you really are into what I’m saying.

13. Use humor, not sarcasm.

What about you all? Have you encountered these things? Agree or disagree? Love to hear from you!