As found in the July 2012 issue of Cognition Magazine http://issuu.com/cognition_mag/docs/july_2012_pdfmagazine
Hey, kids. How y’all feeling these days? Rejuvenated? Jaded? Exuberant? Morose? Forgiving? Bitter? Healed? Scarred—all of the above, perhaps? If so, you’re going through the same thing I am—it’s called growing the hell up. Also, if you’re like me, it may have taken you a little longer to arrive at this juncture in your life. If wiser than I were long ago, you may be in your early 20s already figuring out how to make this fire-breathing dragon called “Life” your bitch. (That was a joke of course. We ALL thought we had the keys to the city when we were your age, so don’t be so quick to take off that vest, love. You’re gonna need it again around 25-ish.) Regardless of how old/young you may be, growing pains do just as much damage at 30 as they do at 16. It doesn’t get any easier but with proper tempering you should at least be getting better. (That’s the bright side. Be excited.) Shedding the bullshit is always a good idea though no matter how daunting the task may seem. It’s a cyclical thing. The problem comes in when one finds that he/she is shedding the exact same bullshit over and over again while not gaining any insights in the process. Call me crazy, but I think I just might have at least SOME of the answers that elude you over and over again.
And I know some of you are saying “Bitch, what makes YOU an authority on the subject of MY bullshit?” Well, I’ll tell you. I just so happen to be the dumbest broad on the planet and by revealing to you (in general terms, of course) my numerous and unconscionably asinine misdoings, you can avoid becoming such a simpleton as I have been.
While I’ve had my share of missed cues, these are the main opportunities for adequate growth that I’ve foiled time and time again: Self-indulgence, denial, holding on to people that would be best let go, clinging to traits in lieu of ascertaining one’s identity and possibly most detrimental looking for/expecting instant gratification.
I’m not one to brag but—actually that’s exactly what I am and it’s part of my problem. Having a severe case of Strong Black Woman Syndrome, I’m really not one to wallow in self-pity. Therefore in my inability to establish any secure, lasting relationships with other human beings, I have often turned self-pity inside out to manifest as self-indulgence. It was my way of finding comfort without appearing vulnerable. I would be the first in line to pat myself on the back even if my self-praise is undeserved. I’d acquire anything and everything my pockets could fit in the hopes these things would bring me the comfort I felt deprived of. I would buy shoes, the finest of booze, the most delectable of treats and the stickiest of the icky. I was ridin’ round and getting ALL of it, baby… at least that’s the lie I was telling myself. What I was REALLY doing was overcompensating for my lack... sound familiar, suga? No? That ain’t you? You say you like bed-hopping with beautiful strangers? Right. That can only end very well for you. And you—I guess you can afford all that Remy, Nars and Herve with all those student loans and bills. Yeah, so can Sheree Whitfield. Well, how about this one—D-E-N-I-A-L.
While I was doing all these things that were only keeping me in a rut, I passed off my lack of self-control and discipline as mere caprices of youth. I absolved myself of all stupidity with the lie that I was just enjoying my life. In my simple ass mind, the disease was the cure. What was REALLY going on was I was burying all my emotional confusion beneath a façade of strength and nonchalance. I guess I’m the only one who does that too, huh? This next one is something that I K N O W y’all need to get your “Amens” out for—holding on to people in your life that need to be cut loose.
Cutting the fat
You know that homey/family member who’s “been there” but for the duration of your relationship he/she has actually never “been there” when you were truly in need of support? What about that (in)significant other who does you dirt EVERY chance he/she gets but y’all have “history” and you can’t quite stand to let go? Yeah, I’ve had both of those and quite frankly the shit got old. How many times did I allow the same disingenuous fair-weather friends and lovers roll in and out of my life JUST to disappoint me at every possible turn? Much too damn many. True, I can drop most hangers on like hot coals but there are SOME to this day that I still give that We’ve-Been-Down-With-Each-Other -So-Long pass. Also, one has to admit that these fraudulent individuals do have their redeeming qualities but those are usually few if but one. Gotta weigh the pros and cons of keeping certain people in your life against how much they’ve actually ADDED to your life. Don’t let a fear of being alone stop you from moving forward into better and stronger relationships with people you haven’t taken the risk to meet and/or get to know. This world is filled with too many people to hold on to 3 or 4 just because they’re familiar. Furthermore, part of what you’re holding on to in those people has to do with certain things about YOURSELF that you refuse to leave behind.
Identity vs. Persona
I always told myself that I didn’t give a shit about shit. (I kinda don’t but follow me for a few moments longer.) I convinced myself that the character traits which fueled my behaviors (recklessness, over-indulgence, carelessness, thoughtlessness and coldness) were actually integral parts of who I am as a person. I was lost in my own sense of bravado so bad that I had no idea where it ended and I began. As the children would say, I was caught up in my “swag.” What’s even more idiotic is that I truly believed changing would be the worst thing for me. One of the worst things any human being can do to hinder positive emotional growth is hiding yourself FROM yourself. Stop that nonsense. If you’re feeling vulnerable, BE FOR REAL. If you’ve been getting the feeling that you’ve outgrown some of the people in your life, BE FOR REAL. If you’re confused about the direction in which your life is moving, BE FOR REAL. Stop and take inventory. There’s no need to keep playing it cool for your adoring fans who so admire your illusion of having all “together.” Accept your weak areas for what they are but refrain from identifying with them. Learn from them. Work through them COMPLETELY… which leads me to my next critical growth mistake—looking for instant gratification.
My main problems as it pertains to personal growth have always been impatience and discontinued effort. I always assumed once the wheels of change were set in motion then I should be off to the races with no need to put any further effort into the matter. That would be true if I were rolling a ball down a steep hill but this is the method I have foolishly applied to my self-improvement. Ask me how many times this has worked out for me. Don’t even bother ‘cause I’m telling you right now the answer is NONE. It has only been over the last year that I’ve actually slowed down and really taken inventory of who I am at my very core. Only recently have I accepted that the changes I need to make in my life won’t take in just a month’s time. The changes I want to see will only come through constant, consistent, daily practice and what’s more PATIENCE. You know how Rome wasn’t built in a day? Neither will be a fortified sense of self. To erect a foundation with integrity one must take the care construct it properly—no short cuts. There is no easy way and there is no time table. Just work it out the best you can, love, but more importantly do it for YOU
I know that these kinds of lessons can’t be spoon fed to anybody so I don’t expect you to pick up what I’ve told you and run with it. I had to learn all this in my own way in my own time and I figure your revelations will come to you in a similar fashion. Just think of this as a cheat sheet so that maybe you could outsmart some of these demons before they have a chance to completely knock you down.
©Copyright by D.A. Theriot 2012