Mental Health Is A REAL Thing

Black people may be one of the strongest races on the planet but that doesn’t mean we know how to deal with mental health in the best way.

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Staying Positive When Life Isn’t

Honestly, it’s hard staying positive. With twitter trolls and FB stalkers whose sole purpose in life is to critique every single post, word, meme; positivity seems far and few between. And it’s even worse for the younger generation who probably spend most of their days on social media. Last week I had a candid conversation with one of my students. She and I are a part of the poetry club at the high school where I work, and she was telling me about a performance she had the night before. This particular student is like me in many ways – spirit and speech. She’s carefree, loves hard, naïve and optimism overtakes her often.

As she explained to me her performance, the audience’s response, and the poem itself; I felt her heart. A girl, who disliked her for reasons any girl of adolescence would understand, mocked her performance and her piece. This student is more afraid than most when speaking in front of people, no matter how small the crowd. The proclivities of speech stammering and nervous laughter plague her. All of which manifested during her performance and her taunter brought up before and after the performance by stating, “I told you so.” The young lady who confided in me is extremely nice so, naturally, she never spoke ill of her bullier, however, this simple fact caused her peers to mistake her as weak. And being that I suffered the same fate in high school, I felt her pain more than anything else. And I knew for sure, our paths crossed for great reason.

I told my student that she will begin to find that girls will dislike her for no reason other than because she’s pretty. In my opinion, neither of the girls in this situation are ugly, however, how they view themselves and how they actually are two separate things. The “accuser” in this is a young lady who’s more outspoken and has many friends in her corner. And many mistake this as confidence. Being that there was no real reason the girl would bully her, I concluded that she needed to tear down someone else to build herself up, and my student was the perfect victim. In reality, that is false confidence; a makeshift house of straw and sticks never meant to withstand a storm.

While sitting in a wooden desk with a paper filled with letters and numbers sprawled across her notebook, she emptied her heart out to me and I, in turn, filled hers. And after, because the look in her eyes was amazed – shocked like a child looks at her parents after discovering the warmth of the sun for the first time. I insisted that she stay positive by way of affirmations.

There was a season in my life where I had to recite a self-mantra DAILY and CONSISTENTLY. I hung to those affirmations until I believed them deep down. It was a hard time in my life that required me to do something different. My character and self-worth were being challenged every day so I had to declare over myself the statements I knew were true. That looked like: I am beautiful. I am confident. I am special. I am wanted. I am loved. Over and over and over, until it became my truth. Again. So, I told my sweet student to do the same. Eventually, I put the self mantra into a jar written on various colors of sticky notes gel pen. I am a visual person so seeing who I was worked better than just me saying it. I pulled out those mantras whenever I felt those negative thoughts come. Now, that jar is filled with scriptures to keep me going on those hard days, reminders of who I am when I don’t believe it, and statements affirming my character whenever it’s challenged.

Friend, you don’t have to believe what people tell you, especially if it isn’t true. I am not telling you to believe a false reality of yourself but I am talking about the negative, unwarranted and unsupportive critiques of your character that come from a place of hurt and negativity. And these critiques can come from others as well as self. And that kind of self auditing can be both healthy and damaging.

In other cases, our circumstances can rob us of our positivity and suck the joy from us. And the hardest part is choosing to stay positive in those moments where life is out of control and out of our control. But in those moments it is crucial that we choose to stay positive; not holding on to a false hope but seeing and believing the best of people, circumstances, and the future. And that requires a belief in something beyond self, beyond what we can grasp on our own; a belief in the one who holds the world in His hands.

And after our conversation, my student told me I should be a counselor because I helped her so much! (LOVES)

Ladies, how do you stay positive when life isn’t? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

 

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When Today Doesn’t Count

Honestly, sometimes I rush through my days. I mean, I’m stupid busy, like, it should be illegal to be this preoccupied! Somehow, 24 hours just isn’t enough. To save from feeling unproductive, I try to get through the hard, un-enjoyable parts of my days (which is counter-intuitive) in hopes of being fruitful. It’s like today doesn’t count. More importantly, I miss some really important life moments: the person I’m becoming in the process of getting to where I think I should be.
Rushing keeps us from being present. I sat back, one day, after a marathon of writing essays, studying for upcoming pivotal tests, applying for jobs (again), arguing with family and with God; and I asked myself who am I right now? I, literally, did not recognize the person I saw or her actions. I have an acute focus on the person I desperately want to be, but I dismissed the person I was becoming. The hurdles I faced, in between the sprints, I thought, were unbearable (and unnecessary) so I rushed through them, thinking that today doesn’t count.
Last year was really hard for me. I felt like I should be doing something else with my time and talents, I felt unsupported and unpretty. Given the education I hold, along with the potential to change the world deep inside of me, I felt my greatness was silenced and my paycheck proved it. My current situation affected my emotions so much that I didn’t care enough to stop in between my days to talk to a co-worker, call a distant friend, or take time to love my sisters. My professional life was barren and so were my relationships. I didn’t believe my talents were being recognized which drove my every thought. I believed I was not going to be at the job for long so I forwent establishing personal relationships; which is not what I am called to do! I felt parched from the lack of personal interaction and the possible life I could make better that day (and vice versa.)
To make matters worse, those chain of events resulted in an unwarranted depression. There were many great things, as well as, some not-so-great things that happened, however, I learned to take the good with the bad. Just because I am still underpaid for the work I produce, I don’t walk around mad at the world. Just because I am still single, I don’t live bitter. Just because I am still unsatisfied with the state of my professional career, I don’t take my anger out on those closest to me.
There are some moments where I need to be present! And I can’t speed through those moments in hopes of getting to my desired destination – my promise land. Said promise land won’t come any quicker, it is set for an appointed time. So, I don’t just sit around sulking, protesting my current circumstances, angry at the world, myself, and God. I realize now, I have to learn humility, and how to serve so that I will know how to lead well. And that time will come when I am completely ready, lacking nothing. The person I am becoming in the process of getting to my promise land is growing in humility, perfecting in grace, and developing in wisdom and knowledge of all things good.
There is a sense of relief any runner feels when she completes a race, one she’s prepared for; hurdles and all. The greatest thing about it is the hurdles. It challenges her, makes her better. Though, it doesn’t feel good and might even hurt – at the moment – those hurdles are making her whole.
Friend, don’t miss out on the person you’re becoming in the hurdles. Life is a marathon and its lived through sprints, cooldowns, and LOTS of recovery. But we can get so hung up on trying to get to our desired goal that we miss the person we become in the hurdles. And those hurdles are important, after all, adversity builds character and that character creates hope. And when we come through those hurdles with poise and grace we can have a sudden feeling of relief and gratification. Like my friend Usain.
 USAIN BOLT.gif
Ladies, ever felt like you wanted to just do today over; like the today just doesn’t count? Let me know in the comments below.

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I Love Him But Do I Have to Submit?: Part I

For today’s blog I interviewed Pastor Louie Gibbs and wife, Shenel Gibbs, on the topic of marriage and biblical submission. This is a 3 part series. Lately, I have been on a stand still regarding the idea of marriage. Last year I had a conversation with my Pastor’s wife in which I told her, “I…

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