Things We Don't Apologize For: Keeping the Ring

Tuesday:Never apologize for leaving an abusive relationship. Your safety should always be a priority.
Today:Never apologize for keeping the ring even if you did not get married

As a music head, I HAVE to note the following: This is a mix of 2 versions of this song. I searched high and low for the Blaque version, but failed. Blaque recorded this song for their album BlaqueOut like the video for this song, the album was never officially released, but this is a hot track. Later, a UK girl-group, Miss-Teeq, re-recorded the song for their album Eye Candy.

The chorus to this song is
Gave you my love and I can't get it back
Gave you all my time and I can't get it back
Now the ring that you gave me
You can't have it back
Cause it's just not going down like that
When I got to this "Things We Don't Apologize For" I had no idea what to say. I've never been engaged and I've never known anyone who had to deal with whether or not to give the ring back. However, I HAVE given my all in a relationship only to be left feeling like I got nothing in return and having no way to take back what I gave. Then I heard this song on my commute home last week and I knew exactly what angle I could take.

I like the way the ring is used as payback in this song. This attitude that because she can't have back all she gave, there's no reason he should have back what he gave, especially since what he gave is tangible (and potentially expensive). I think I like it so much because when my relationship ended, I didn't have a ring (I gave J a ring -- long story -- but his mom is looking for it for me to have back, it seems to have disappeared -- another long story) to keep. Heck, I didn't have anything of value to keep and what I did have I destroyed or threw away because I didn't want anything lingering around to remind me of what used to be, or rather, what never was.

I'm sure that in a similar situation, I'd give a ring back, too, but that's just me. Anyone who was given a ring and who wants to keep it, ought to (and whether or not you later pawn it is up to you, but I won't touch that issue with a 10 foot pole). You also ought not apologize for doing so. I didn't tell anyone about all the things he gave me that I threw away or destroyed (not even him) because it wasn't about anyone but me. I needed to physically cleanse my space of all that junk and so I did. I kinda regret it now, but that's because of situations and things no one could've known would happen. In any case, it's what I needed in the post-break up period and so I'm glad I didn't have to explain it to anyone.

But really this isn't about a ring, or a gift item, it's about doing what you need to do after a break up to heal. Whatever you need for yourself right after it's over is what you need. If you want to hold on to everything to remind you of happy times, great. If you want to burn everything in a bon fire that's fine as well. There's just no room to feel the need to apologize. J kept the ring I gave him for a long time, even wearing it as a necklace at one point. He stopped, I assume, because of his new relationship and that's ok by me. It wasn't my ring anymore. A gift is a gift is a gift.

Keep the ring, pawn the ring, melt the ring down and force your ex to drink it -- I don't care, but whatever you choose to do, don't apologize for it.

Tomorrow: Never apologize for setting high standards in a relationship. You know what you can tolerate and what simply gets on your nerves.


Things We Don't Apologize For: Leaving An Abusive Relationship

Yesterday: Never apologize for treating yourself to something special. Sometimes you have to show yourself some appreciation
Today: Never apologize for leaving an abusive relationship. Your safety should always be a priority.

If he hits you, you need to chuck the deuce and keep it moving ESPECIALLY if there are kids involved (ironically, that oftentimes seems to make it harder for people to leave). Do we really need to discuss this further? No, right?

The physical abuse is always easy to spot, but the emotional and verbal abuse can be harder. Anyone who is always saying things to you to hurt you, always doing things to mess with your head in a bad way, rarely, if ever, making you feel good about yourself is abusing you and you DEFINITELY need to chuck them the deuce and go about your life. We know that too, right?

But this is a good time to clear up some points I made in discussing never apologizing for giving your all in a relationship that doesn't work out. While we shouldn't allow our friends to dictate how our relationships go, we also shouldn't discount their advice. Sometimes our friends can see things about us or our significant others that we can't see -- one of those "forest for the trees" situations.

The beginning indicators of an abusive relationship can be hard to spot. I've mentioned a friend whose boyfriend is abusive. He knows that if I find out he's put his hands on her in front of their son, his ass is mine, but I've long given up on trying to help her get out of that situation.

When she met him, I had already known who he was. I never liked him, I thought he was cocky. When she told me they were seeing each other I kept my opinions to myself, but as time went on and I saw less and less of her because he insisted on being with her all the time, my "oh hell no, dude..." alarm went off. I didn't associate it with abusive tendencies at the time, but I did attempt to draw her attention to the issue. She brushed it off and since I'm never one to belabor a point, I let it go as well. Even in the years since the first time he hit her, I've never brought it back up, but I do wonder what if she'd listened and paid attention.

We should let those around us be our eyes and ears when we can't do it for self and we should be willing to hear them out. It's important to have people around you that you trust to be real with you and to watch your back. But you take what they give you as advice, not as gospel. Hear their suggestions, but be sure you get the same "vibe" before you go off.

So never apologize for leaving an abusive relationship. Of any sort.

It's a holiday week and I'm traveling. We'll resume our list on Monday

Monday: Never apologize for keeping the ring even if you did not get married


Things We Don't Apologize For: Treating Ourselves

Friday: Never apologize for being a Single Mom. Babies are a blessing
Today: Never apologize for treating yourself to something special. Sometimes you have to show yourself some appreciation.

Probably the most effective way we apologize for treating ourselves to something special is by not treating ourselves at all. In between being single parents, frugal individuals, caregivers, friends, sisters, brothers, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, cousins and anything else we are that requires us to give of ourselves, we just don't give to ourselves. It's kinda tragic.

The last gift I gave myself was an overnight stay away from the madness that is my life. I went to another city, got a hotel room for the night and did... nothing. I told 2 people where I was going (only in case I didn't come back) and everyone else knew nothing. I didn't answer the phone, I didn't return text messages, I didn't respond to e-mails... nothing. But you know why I needed the break? Cause I don't take enough time or do enough for self.

Before that weekend, I can't remember the last time I did something for myself, that was purely for myself. Most things that are "treats" for me somehow end up being treats for others and in and of that, cease to be me treating me.

It's amazing how we'll bend over backwards to show how much we care for the people around us but will do next to nothing to show ourselves how much we love... ourselves. If they started locking people up for not taking care of self, I'd be the first one. That's one thing J used to tell me over and over and over again... You have got to start thinking about yourself first... the irony was, he was one of the main ones who made that almost impossible.

Our friends and family love us. They do. Well, most of us and for the most part. They want what's best for us, they want us to be happy, they want us to love life -- but sometimes they get a little selfish and start infringing on our right to make ourselves happy, especially when somehow that "takes" away from them. Even during that, we have to remember that they'll get over it. We're not doing anything wrong by taking care of ourselves and we shouldn't have to apologize for doing so.

Tomorrow: Never apologize for leaving an abusive relationship. Your safety should always be a priority.


Things We Don't Apologize For: Being a Single Mother

Yesterday: Never apologize for being frugal. Just because you save your money instead of blowing it on the latest fashion emergency doesn't mean you're cheap.
Today: Don't apologize for being a single Mom. Babies are a blessing

I'll have to do this from the other side. I'm not a parent and hopefully we'll keep it that way for a while, yet. Not too long ago, I did a post on individuals who choose to be single parents. I said:
I don't think there's much about being a parent that looks like a one-person job. Hell, where do you think we get the saying, "it takes a village to raise a child?"...

There's also the fact that one person can only do so much. My beautiful mother could only make so many school plays and events; she could only cart me off to so many places; she could only be there so much. I don't blame her at all for whatever effects growing up sans a father had on me, because my father's absence was his choice, but I wouldn't wish that for anybody. Money is not everything, but my mom working wasn't about providing the finer things in life, it was about providing the necessities and time was sacrificed so she could do that.
Having said all that, there's one thing my mom never apologized for, and that was for being a single parent. She's often told me she worried about the effect of having an absentee father but she never apologized for being a single parent. Why? Because that wasn't her fault or her choice.

I've read a few blogs that ask women to step up and make better decisions about who they choose as fathers of their kids and it's a fair ask; however, we have to be careful of placing the responsibility and blame on the woman. Our society does that enough. The only person responsible for my father's choices is him. Sure there are plenty of scenarios we could offer where a mother keeps the father away from the kids, but there are very few where the man did all he could and was still denied the opportunity to be a part of his children's life.

This isn't meant to bash fathers/men; I'm not interested in that. Single parents, mothers especially, should never feel like they need to apologize for being single. If you're being the best parent you possibly can, you're doing a lot more than some other people out there. Additionally, your children will grow up ever so slightly better adjusted because they see a mom who's secure in who she is and giving it her all.

Monday: Never apologize for treating yourself to something special. Sometimes you have to show yourself some appreciation.


Things We Don't Apologize For: Being Frugal

Yesterday:Never apologize for ten pounds you need to lose. People who truly care about you will accept you as you are.
Today:Never apologize for being frugal. Just because you save your money instead of blowing it on the latest fashion emergency doesn't mean you're cheap.

This one is easier to take heed of because of our economy's current state. Though most economists agree that at least, right now, we seem to be on the way back up -- most individuals haven't felt that impact. The President just signed an unemployment extension package and people are still losing their jobs. Frugality is the name of the game.

Just this evening, a friend came to me with a dilemma: Recently she reconnected with a former professor. They've been spending a lot of time hanging out (completely innocent, trust me) and it frequently involves spending a little bit of money. Money is tight for everyone, of course, and especially younger people who are in their first jobs. Anywho, she's mentioned to him before when money has been tight for her and he's been gracious -- too gracious she felt. He even seemed to take it personally, as if she felt like he only wanted to do things that cost money. He's stopping by her apartment tomorrow to check out a dining room table she wants to sell and he's suggested they go to the grocery store and pick up some food to cook. Problem? It's the time of the month right before a check, we're super broke. She'll be good on Friday but not right now. "How do I tell him no, without it being awkward", she asked me.

"You can't", I told her.

Sometimes we have to have those awkward moments with our loved ones, but our loved ones will understand that being frugal, saving money and just plain being responsible is an important thing.

Makes me think of a recent trip to NYC. You can get to NYC from DC for as little as $1 (I kid you not). When I spoke to a friend about my travel plans, she wondered why I didn't take the train. "$120 or $50. Which one would you spend?" I asked. "You right, you right" she responded. I ended by saying, "I love ya'll but not like that..." And nothing more was said about it. No judging me for taking the bus and no need to justify it any further than simple math.

Where I get caught up, though, is with certain people. My mom and I are going to visit relatives for Thanksgiving. This includes money spent on gas, the hotel and food, at least once. Now, the plan is for mom and I to split the bill but... there was also a plan for her to pay me back for paying her phone bill. She's my mom, I give her money with no questions asked and half the time forget all about it... that is until she starts asking me about how much money I'm saving. I know that if she asked for money (which, she almost never does, usually I just offer it because I know she's struggling) and I said I didn't have it, that'd be the end of that, no hard feelings, but it's my MOMMY!

One of my close friends from college has a young son. I call him my nephew and I love that little munchkin to meeses pieces, so when she calls cause she's short on cash, my first thought is always him and I usually will send her what I have. I have a weak spot. I'm working on it though -- I need to address my hero complex, but that's another blog for another day.

We don't apologize for being frugal not only because we're in a recession, but fiscal responsibility is an important "adult skill" and anyone who doesn't support that in you isn't looking at what's best for you. We all deserve to and should splurge from time to time but nobody should make you feel bad for saving money and making good decisions.

Tomorrow: Don't apologize for being a single Mom. Babies are a blessing.


Things We Don't Apologize For: Who We Are

Yesterday:Never apologize for crying. Wear waterproof mascara and express yourself
Today:Never apologize for ten pounds you need to lose. People who truly care about you will accept you as you are.

Ok, I'm not going to really address the weight portion of this because there's a MUCH bigger thing here. I will say this: be healthy but do it for self. That includes losing 10 lbs because you want to and are willing to put in the work, not because somebody told you to. The end.

Now the bigger thing at play here is not apologizing for who you are. As I said before, that's really at the crux of all of these things -- don't apologize for being authentically you. In a society that has 50-11 other things for you to be than yourself, it's hard, but we have to make the choice to be who we are come hell or high water.

I love my mother. Lord knows I really do. Truly -- every day that passes I find one more reason to love her. I could go on for days about how much I heart her, but she works my last.good.nerve sometimes. My mother and I get along best when we're not in the same space for longer than about 5 days, and that's if we both pray regularly and act right. Most times, by day 2.5 I'm ready to strangle somebody. We've never gotten along in that dreamy world perfect way (I set that up as if it's unattainable, but truth be told, I see plenty of women who have wonderful and close relationships with their mothers). But of all the things my mother does that makes me want to take a spoon to my eye, I hate how she will INEVITABLY find something about me that I need to change.
"Are you really going to wear that?"

"You could probably miss a few meals"

"Why don't you do your hair this way?"
I mean the list is endless. EVERY.TIME I'm in her presence, something like that comes out, I kid you not. When I ask her to cut it out she always says something like
"I only tell you that because I love you."
We love people, we want the best for them, and sometimes we let wanting the best for them become being critical of who they are.

It's easy to see other people doing it, and harder to see us doing it to ourselves.

Now, obviously, accepting everyone in your life just as they are will not automatically mean everyone will accept you as you are. But what will often shoo the "alter yourself" folks away is learning to accept yourself. We usually don't apologize for things we like and support. Like and support who you are and you won't need to apologize for it, or the 10 lbs you might need to lose.

We need people in our lives who aren't afraid to tell us the hard stuff about us, but we also need those people to support us no matter what and we can start by making sure we're #1 on that list. Know your flaws, be willing to work on them, but be sure it's for self.

Tomorrow: Never apologize for being frugal. Just because you save your money instead of blowing it on the latest fashion emergency doesn't mean you're cheap.


Things We Don't Apologize For: Showing Emotion

Yesterday: Never apologize for being successful. Only haters want to keep you at their level
Today: Never apologize for crying. Wear waterproof mascara and express yourself

I'm surely not an emotional person, so Lord knows I'm the last person to speak to the veracity of this statement. There are a lot of reasons I'm not very emotional, but I can pinpoint the moment I decided crying wasn't worth it.

It was the end of my Junior year in high school (IDK if you guys can tell, but high school especially the last 2 years were chock full of experiences and lessons for me) and I was stressed. I couldn't even begin to list all the things I had going on and happening in my space but I was super stressed and I'd been doing a good job of hiding it. This day, however, I cracked. I had taken all I could take and I was emotionally exhausted. I felt under-appreciated and overworked. the irony of my timing is that I had just left a meeting where I was re-elected President of the largest student organization (outside of Student Council, which, yes, I had already won the Vice Presidency for at this point). I came back downstairs with my friends -- they all shuffled into the then-bff's mom's office to hang out until class started. I went in, but I felt uncomfortable for some reason.

I came back out of the office into a busy student center. No classes were going on so a large portion of the student body was hanging out waiting on class to start as well. I sat down in a chair and suddenly the tears formed. I was shocked, but once I started crying, I couldn't stop. I know if anyone had asked me what was wrong I wouldn't have been able to say. I tried to hide it at first, but eventually I was too overwhelmed with emotion to care who noticed. I know a couple of people walked by and looked towards me curiously but nobody stopped.

I heard the office door open and briefly looked up to see my two closest friends standing in front of me. I put my head down, expecting one of them to ask me what was wrong, or someone to pat my back. A few momemts later, I heard the door open and close again. This time, I looked up and saw that one of them had gone back inside. As soon as I put my head down, the door open and closed again -- I didn't have to look up to know the other one had gone back in as well. I felt abandoned! Here I was crying, seemingly with no provocation, and my two closest friends just came out, stared at me and left. No one asked me if I was ok, no one tried to console me.

I jumped up, wiped my face, and rushed off to the Chapel. Of course the Chapel stayed mostly empty during the day except for the random student who wanted to play the piano. I prayed no one was in there as I pulled open the huge wooden doors. It was completely empty. I sat down on a pew and tried to figure out what had just happened. How could they leave me sitting there like that, I wondered. I didn't sit on it too long before I decided that I had learned an important lesson -- you can't trust people to know how to deal with your emotions. I also, though I don't think I realized it then, also decided this meant I didn't need to show emotion anymore.

As I left the chapel, my then-bff's mom was walking towards me. I could tell by the look on her face they had told her what was going on and she'd come looking for me. I don't know if she couldn't tell that I'd been crying (doubtful) or if she could tell I didn't want to talk about it, but she didn't ask me what was wrong. She asked me a generic question that I answered. I was hoping she wouldn't ask me what was wrong -- but in hindsight maybe she should've. My friends and I never, not once, not ever, spoke about that day. They never asked me what was wrong and I never offered to tell.

I hate emotion -- and that's not a good thing. I understand that. On the one hand, choosing to wait to get emotional helps me think through some things rationally -- but other times it can be harmful. Sometimes your friends just want you to be super happy for them or super mad with them. I have this wall I struggle to get over to do that. It was a major sticking point in my relationship, it typically rears it's ugly head in current relationships. I'm working on it -- the wall comes up to keep me from being hurt, but at what expense?

Just the other day a friend called me crying about something I didn't think was that serious, but I was glad she felt like she could call me and be honest about her emotions and trust me to handle it well. I let her cry, told her she had every right to be upset and let her cry a little more. I've never told her this, but I'm super jealous of her ability to be emotionally present. I once told her, "you are very emotionally aware."

Over the years this has resulted in people around me always expecting a stoic front from me. "You can't break down" I've been told, "or else, how will I stay strong?" I hold my emotion in for me, but also for some of the people around me and that is not healthy. This is definitely a lesson I need to take to heart (and get some pointers on!)

Tomorrow: Never apologize for ten pounds you need to lose. People who truly care about you will accept you as you are.


Things We Don't Apologize For: Being Successful

Friday:Never apologize for giving your best in a relationship that just didn't work out.
Today:Never apologize for being successful. Only haters want to keep you at their level.

On day 2 we discussed not apologizing for speaking proper English and I told the story of my election to Vice President of my high school's student council. I also mentioned my then-best friend's commentary shortly before the election.
The week of the elections, one set of nominees showed up to school with water bottles and the other set, frisbees. Each item had the names of the respective team on them. That had never been done before either and I had nothing to fight back with. I had neither the money or the time to produce such a gimmick. I'll never forget my then-best friend looking me in the eye and saying, "I don't think you're going to win..." (in hindsight, she was a hater and let her insecurities leak out into my space).
The hating on her part continued. I mentioned in that post that I went home and waited to hear the verdict. Allow me to be more specific...

The first year I ran for an office (9th grade class President), the then-Student Council President called me to let me know I had run a good race, but had not won. The next 2 years I recieved no such call and discovered I had lost via the announcements the next morning.

The night of election day a school play was opening and I had friends who were both in the play and had worked on the play and that night was the only night I could go support them. For some reason, probably because it was close to finals time, I also didn't go to community service that afternoon, so I didn't see my then-best friend anytime after the last class we had together. The then-Student Council President, David, was in the play and I had heard that as a result they were going to do the ballot count earlier in the day than normal. I secretly hoped he would see me after the play and deliver good news.

He didn't see me after the play, but I remember calling my mother on my way home to ask if there had been any calls or messages for me. She said there weren't. I rushed home anyway, hoping that maybe my mother had overlooked or forgotten a call but discovered that my mother had been correct. I checked my e-mail and had no e-mails. I tried to quit thinking about it, but that didn't stop me from attaching both the house phone and my cell phone to my person and jumping everytime the phone rang. As I got in the bed that night, with no phone call, I shrugged to myself and assumed that I hadn't won. I was a bit dejected, but figured I could still run for 12th grade class President and at least I would have less competition.

The next morning, I got to school a little bit earlier than usual because most of my class was going on a field trip that day (FYI: Field trips for us were non-existent, at least in the normal sense. This trip was for all the students in the "regular" Physics classes -- we were going to a local amusement park to measure things). On my way to my usual morning spot, I decided to stop by a part of campus where some of my friends hung out. I hadn't been by there in a few weeks and wondered who might be there as early as I was. One girl was there -- she and I had been friends since my first day at that school. She saw me walk in and said
"Hey! Congrats on your win, man."


"Your win. You won the election, right?"

"I did?"

she seemed to stop and think and then choose her words carefully "Yeah, I mean I'm pretty sure. Maybe you should go check the announcements."
I'm actually assuming that last part because I took off for the library. On my way there, I kept walking past people who were smiling at me or congratulating me. My heartbeat sped up and I could barely enter my login information for my hands shaking so bad.

There, at the very top of the announcements was the greatest news I'd seen all day. I had won the position -- all on the strength of one lone speech. I was on a high I had never experienced. I was relieved, I was happy and very anxious for the work that lay ahead. As I headed back to retrieve my backpack I wondered what happened to the phone call letting me know I had won...

Later that morning, most of my class was gathered in one location preparing to board buses for our day trip. I was, of course, with my friends who were all somehow also basking in my limelight as if any of them had helped me at all with my campaign. I didn't really mind, I was just happy to have won something. After the 5th congrats, my then-best friend tapped me on the shoulder and said,
"I knew you won last night."


"Yeah, David stopped by my mom's office to see if you were there. He told us you had won. I was going to tell you but I figured he probably called you later."

"Well, no, he didn't. Probably because he thought you told me."

"Oh. Well, sorry. Congratulations!"
I remember being a bit dumbfounded. She didn't apologize either for not calling me, if ONLY to congratulate me first OR for doubting my ability to win (oh and did I mention she also "forgot" to vote for me?) And yet, there she stood, next to me, as if she had worked her butt off in any way to help me get elected. All she had done was try to be discouraging and then couldn't even accept that I had won. She was redefining being a hater.

It's been a long time since she and I have spoken. We parted ways in a very awkward and painful (for me) way and since then I've seen her once and there wasn't much to say to one another (though we both acted as if everything was normal for the sake of others at the table). In the time since we went from being attached at the hip to knowing absolutely nothing about each other, I've pondered a lot of situations like that one. Why was she such a hater? What was the deal? I don't know, I have theories, but I don't know anything for sure. What I have taken from that is a lesson to watch out for anyone who would do something like that to you. Real friends are happy to see you succeeding and only want to support you. What she did was underhanded and devious and should've served as great warning for what was ahead for me.

That's why you can't apologize for being successful. You'll miss the warnings about who should be along for the ride and who shouldn't. There will be a whole lot of folks who jump on your bandwagon, just in case you beat all odds and succeed, but don't ever think they're going to help you in anyway and in fact many of them will work subversively to make sure you DON'T succeed.

I have, over the years (still do), downplayed my success. I don't ever want people to feel like I think I'm better than they are, because I don't. I've had to learn that sometimes it's ok to be obviously happy about my success in life and to expect people around me to be happy as well. Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren't -- and that's ok -- but I also try to be cognizant of the people who expect me to apologize for it. Those people are looking for something I don't have and can't give.

Tomorrow: Never apologize for crying. Wear waterproof mascara and express yourself.


Things We Don't Apologize For: Giving our all in a relationship

Yesterday: Never apologize for using proper English. Keeping it real doesn't mean speaking Ebonics.
Today: Never apologize for giving your best in a relationship that just didn't work out.

Man oh man oh man oh man. In a lot of ways, I'm more than prepared to discuss this one from my own experiences, but in a lot of ways, I'm not. I need to continue to take this one to heart and really put it into practice.

We have to be careful about how we define apologizing. It's not just saying you're "sorry," it's making excuses for your actions or choices. It's altering what you say or what you do because of what other people will say or do in response. It's being anything other than your authentic self.

When it came to my relationship with J, I did all of the above plus some, especially when it was over. I even did it here on this blog. Carey did a post a few days ago titled "If You Were My Girlfriend...Again" He asked the question:
If you could go back [to an old relationship], what would you change about yourself?!
Answering Carey's question reminded me of a conversation J and I had when he asked me if I would ever look back on our relationship and see good. I told him "no" and though I've long-since changed my mind, I never told him that.

The reason I never told him is because I was spending far too much time apologizing for changing my mind. I don't think I realized the extent to which I did that until I was talking to a friend who was trying to explain to me why she was afraid to tell me some things she had recently done. She told me it was because I had been able to drop J so effortlessly. She told me that it was like I decided it was a bad thing and was done with it just as quickly. I had to remind her of the circumstances surrounding the demise of my relationship and that I didn't really do it by choice. "Sure," she said, "but once you were done, you were done."

I thought about it and realized I had to come clean. I talked a good game to my friends because I knew what I was "supposed" to say, but I wasn't being fully honest. Instead of using words reflecting how I actually felt I was using words that I wished accurately described how I felt. This was something I had done throughout my relationship with J. I was apologizing to my friends for giving my all in a relationship they neither understood nor agreed with. They had a right to feel the way they did as people who cared about me, but I had a right to pursue something with as much fervor as possible (and to expect them to support that).

Just recently some of these lessons came back around in the form of another friend struggling with the fact that none of her friends liked her boyfriend. I've mentioned her before, but in the most recent conversation we had about him, I told her:
If you want to get back with him, I support that. You have to keep in mind that the only thing your friends will ever know about him are the things you tell us and the only things you tell us are the bad things. That's human nature to want to vent to your friends. But when we give you advice about your relationship you have to keep in mind that we only know half of the story. Ultimately you have to make the decisions that are best for you and as much as we love you, we don't always know...
In thinking about it, when she quit talking to me about him she was apologizing for the relationship. When she made excuses and whenever she felt like she had to justify staying with him, she was apologizing. I shouldn't have put her in that position just like I shouldn't have been put in that position (and, ironically, she was one of the ones I was apologizing to).

Spending your time apologizing for giving your all in a relationship that didn't work out takes away from spending time learning the lessons from that relationship and being better for the next one. There's nothing wrong with running full steam ahead until you have a reason to stop. Your friends can be a good way to see the warning signs before you run head-first into them, but don't let your friends stop you from being sure. In other words -- slow down but don't stop until you're ready to stop. Be prepared to consider the things they say but don't let what they say be the only reason. End the relationship or walk away because you're ready to and because you understand the lesson. People can't have your "a-ha" moment for you.

Rihanna just took time to apologize, to millions of people she'll never know, for giving her all . She did the right thing by leaving Chris, but I hope (yet doubt) she did it because she was ready to go; because she understands that a man putting his hands on you is unacceptable; because inside she was truly ready to be done with it. If she didn't, she'll easily end up in another situation just like it. I still hope, though, that in her time away from him she'll grasp the severity and "get it" that way.

I think that's the point of it all. All of these things you shouldn't apologize for because that's you not focusing on you. Instead, by apologizing, you're making things that affect you about the people around you when they are not. Apologizing for doing what makes you happy is about assuaging the insecurities of others; apologizing for speaking proper English is about comforting people who may be jealous of your abilities; apologizing for giving your all in a relationship that just didn't work out is about letting everyone around you learn the lesson before you do. It doesn't work and it is not healthy.

Monday: Never apologize for being successful. Only haters want to keep you at their level.


Things We Don't Apologize For: Speaking Well

My last post was my 200th post. Slow clap for me! :)

Continuing on in our "Things We Don't Apologize For" series...

Yesterday: Never apologize for pursuing what makes you happy. Even if you need to quit your job, transfer schools, or move across country, always do what you really want.
Today: Never apologize for using proper English. Keeping it real doesn't mean speaking Ebonics.

Two years ago, I wrote a post called "I'm unique...just like everyone else." In it, I said:
I've been accused of "acting white" a lot over the years. We won't go into the whole debate on what it is to "act white" or "act black" they're both stupid terminology and I wish our society didn't condone the use of them. Anyway, what it usually boils down to is education level. I've pretty much always gone to predominantly white schools and I've been blessed enough to have also obtained some of the best education a person can get. People look at you differently when they find out you go to a private school. In high school I would avoid telling people what school I went to until I felt like they had a chance to get to know me.
Though I've been told I "talk white" or "act white" and even called "an oreo" for the most part in high school I was insulated from that stuff. I went to school with black students just like me, as far as academic abilities and intellect. I was surprised to get to college and find that suddenly, the same black folks I'd gone to high school with "felt some type of way" about the way I spoke. Suddenly, I wasn't black enough for my fellow private school educated black friends...

I've never spoken any differently than I do now. There are some words I use, like "buggy" that are very much Southern (and even regionally Southern) words. There are some phrases I use freely like "get it in" that are very much "urban" phrases and sayings. But my pattern of speech, the cadence with which I speak and my diction have always been the same: slightly influenced by both where I grew up and my culture, but mostly based on how those around me spoke.

I don't know how my mom grew up in west Alabama and never developed a stereotypical Southern accent, but she didn't. As a result, though I lived all my life below the Mason Dixon line, I (apparently) only have an accent when I'm drunk. Sometimes when I'm back home visiting my mom, I meet a new person who will ask me "where are you from?" and when I reply, they always look shocked and some even further question "did you grow up here?" the shocked look only becomes more obvious when I say "yes."

One thing I had to learn about people who will use how well you speak, against you is that that's their problem. Seriously. They have some insecurity that isn't your fault or your issue to deal with. Consistently I've discovered, either purposefully or by happenstance, that each and every person who has ever told me I was acting white or called me an oreo or otherwise tried to suggest something was wrong with me because I don't drop whole parts of my words (unless for dramatic effect or because I'm in that mood) did so because I made them uncomfortable and instead of addressing whatever it is about them that they felt was lacking, they pushed their issues back on me. I will never apologize for someone else's issues.

If I start making apologies for how I speak, I'm making apologies for where I grew up, for the effect of my mother's pattern of speech, for the care my teachers throughout the years took to ensure I understood and practiced appropriate English. To apologize for my speech is to apologize for many things I have no control over but have all worked towards my own betterment.

Having said all that, I don't apologize for speaking correctly not because I'm always cognizant of that very philosophical and feel-good thought, but rather because I'm not sorry. I'm not sorry that I don't have an accent (b'cept when I'm drunk); I'm not sorry that I know how to say things in accordance with commonly accepted pronunciation rules; I'm not sorry that I'm well read and well versed; I'm not sorry for being well aware that these skills and this knowledge base has served me well over the years. I'm not sorry at all, not one bit.

In high school, I ran for an elected office every year. I ran for 9th grade class President and accepted the loss because I was the new kid. I ran for 10th grade class President and would've coasted through, except 2 kids I asked to sign my petition decided to run and one of them won. I ran for 11th grade class President and lost because (sadly) my competition's mom died in a car accident shortly before the elections (it was later determined she committed suicide by purposefully driving into oncoming traffic). Every year I ran for an office and lost, I always thought to myself, if they made us debate, if they let me give a speech, I would win. The only offices that required speeches were student council President and Vice-President so I ran for one.

The students I was running against were all relatively popular and all had a VERY good chance of winning. Somehow, it broke down so that there were 3 guys running for President and 3 girls running for VP. 2 weeks before the election, 2 of the guys and 2 of the girls paired up and decided to "run together" (this had never happened before). I suddenly wasn't just competing against 2 other girls who I figured I was comparable with in terms of popularity but I was ALSO competing against 2 guys who were very popular and I had to figure out what to do about being automatically associated with the 3rd guy who -- bless his heart -- just wasn't going to win.

The week of the elections, one set of nominees showed up to school with water bottles and the other set, frisbees. Each item had the names of the respective team on them. That had never been done before either and I had nothing to fight back with. I had neither the money or the time to produce such a gimmick. I'll never forget my then-best friend looking me in the eye and saying, "I don't think you're going to win..." (in hindsight, she was a hater and let her insecurities leak out into my space). I realized then that I had only one shot to win this thing and that was with my speech. I had always intended to make it a bangin' speech, but I KNEW I had to put my foot in it.

I incorporated both of the shocking developments -- the "teaming up" and the frisbees and water bottles -- into my speech. I took 2 deep breaths at the podium and then lit it up. If I had known who Barack Obama was, at that time, I'm sure I would've later compared it to his rhetoric abilities (in my hubris). My fellow students applauded and since I was the last speech, the special assembly let out and the voting began.

Voting continued all day and I tried not to think about it. That night, I anxiously awaited a phone call from the then-Student Council president letting me know I had won but it never came. I showed up to school the next day hoping that I had at least gotten a significant number of votes and preparing myself to run for 12th grade class president. As I walked towards our student center, I noticed people smiling at me and then my fellow classmates began congratulating me. "What?" I thought. I turned on my heels and headed to the library. I checked my e-mail and the daily announcements were congratulating me! I had won!

I can tell you that whatever it is I would gain by altering the way I speak (as some people I know do regularly) it doesn't compare to what I know I've gained by speaking well. Oh and don't get it twisted -- I can code switch with the best of them, but I'm not permanently altering the way I speak just because speaking well makes some people uncomfortable.

So -- apologizing for using proper English? We off that.

Tomorrow: Never apologize for giving your best in a relationship that just didn't work out.


Things We Don't Apologize For - Being Happy

I was going through some old e-mails yesterday and stumbled across one I had saved. It listed 25 things a black woman should never apologize for. I think they're things no one should apologize for and so I want to share them with you plus my own commentary.

The first one...

Never apologize for pursuing what makes you happy. Even if you need to quit your job, transfer schools, or move across country, always do what you really want.

There's a story I tell frequently when I discuss why I'm ready to go back to grad school. When I was 14 and in the 9th grade, my mother quit her job at a fairly stable snack cake company to go back to school. Everyone thought she was crazy. How would she afford my schooling? How would she afford her mortgage? Bills? What in the world, they wondered, was she thinking?

During that time, my mother told me that when she graduated from high school she had dreams of becoming a model. My mom could have(hell STILL could) absolutely been a model, but, she told me, no one encouraged that dream. It was pie-in-the-sky, baseless and not realistic. Instead, she left home and moved to New Jersey and worked in a plant there for a year. She hated the city she lived in so she moved back home for a while and then to a city where 4 of her brothers lived. She initially enrolled in college, but took a job working at a snack cake company; she intended to work for a few years and go back to school. 25 years, 1 daughter and many life changes later she finally went back. The lesson for me: what you are passionate about and what you desire to do with your life trumps all else. She admonished me to be sure that I followed my own passions, no matter what. "Don't wait, do it now" she said.

There's nothing easy about what my mom did. Plenty of people still think she made a mistake, but she knows she didn't. She knows it was time for her to quit worrying about what other people thought and start doing what she wanted to do. Good friends are important. It's nice to have people in your world who care about you and want what's best for you, but sometimes our friends allow their own insecurities to leak out into our space. We share things we want to do with them and instead of hearing the promise, they hear the fear they have for their own dreams and that's what they let come out instead of support.

My friends do things I fundamentally disagree with all the time; however, I try to be careful not to let the fact that it's not something I would do affect my support for it. When necessary, I point out my reservations, but I always try to emphasize that as long as it's safe for them, I support what they want to do. Sometimes, I find myself encouraging risks my friends don't actually want to take :).

I don't apologize for the things I want for myself or the way I want them and I try not to put the people I love in a position to have to do that either.

Never apologize for using proper English. Keeping it real doesn't mean speaking Ebonics.

Author's note: If you need one more reason to pursue what you want, check out OneChele's list of 5 Workplace Villains.



I'm tired of dreaming. I really am. I'm tired of talking about all the great things my friends and I are going to do. I'm ready to do it now.

The greatest speech ever given on dreaming is the one titled I Have a Dream but what makes Dr. King's speech so incredible and influential is that he died for his dream. This wasn't just something he sat around in the comforts of his living room talking to his close friends about. This was something they woke up every morning to work on and went to sleep every night preparing to continue that work. The men who marched alongside Dr. King who are still alive today, like Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev Joseph Lowery and Andrew Young continue working on the dream they all shared.

The dreams I have with some of my close friends are amazing. We discuss ways we want to seriously and permanently impact the world we live in; however, I can't help but notice how it's ALWAYS somewhere out in the future and so rarely up close and personal. "When I get my degree" (even though all of us have at least a bachelor's) or "when I make real money" or "after I quit this job." I'm just as guilty of it as they are. I imagine what I'll do with that Master's in 3 years and how all my friends with JDs, MDs, and MBAs will be able to help me with my goal.

I can't help but notice people my age and younger than me who are living their dreams. I could sit here and outline all the opportunities they may have had that I didn't, but I'd either be exaggerating or outright lying.

I wrote a grant in high school (read more about what happened to it here) that was successfully funded. My idea was to bring the "at-risk" youth we tutored every day back to my high school's campus and expose them to team-building activities as well as cerebral activities all designed to help pull out their leadership potential. This is right along the lines of what I still dream about doing. At 15 I had the opportunity to jump on it and I didn't. There were real roadblocks holding me up, but I allowed my own frustrations to stop me from pressing on.

I've pondered before on the difference between dreams and goals. Ultimately, I think dreams become goals through hard work. You wake up everyday and you do something to take you closer to making your dreams a reality; that work transforms a dream into a goal. I'm not doing enough, anymore, to make my dreams goals and it's starting to bother me.

This post came to mind because of a conversation I had with a friend. She's thought up a plan to help make her life less boring and she's super excited about it (which is saying a lot, because she, like me, rarely gets obviously excited) and I could tell she was a little bit disappointed that I'm not as excited. I try to be, but it becomes a drag to have people set up this great plan and then not follow through as she's done numerous times. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I'm tired of having these "in the future" convos. I'm tired of dreaming and I'm ready for my dreams to become a reality.

Now the question is: what am I going to do about it?


Bug-A-Boo Part II

Read part I

I felt my phone vibrating in my jacket pocket. I pulled it out and saw a text from a local number that I didn't know. I flipped the phone open, prepared to rattle off the digits to my friend incase she recognized it, but gasped instead...

The text message said:
"How's my beautiful lady doing tonight? Maybe you should give me a call and let me hear your beautiful voice."
My friend immediately looked at me. I showed her the text message and a sly grin crept across her face.
"You didn't tell me you had a new boo..."

"That's cause I don't."

"Well, have you told him that? Who is it anyway?"
I quickly gave my friend the lowdown on Cecil. I told her that when he gave me my phone back I never checked the address book to see if he'd actually put his number in. It appeared that all he'd done was call his own phone. I had forgotten all about Cecil the Security Guard and now he was texting me. My phone vibrated again. It was Cecil. Whatever the text said didn't matter. I deleted it as soon as I opened it. If I ignore his texts, he'll get the picture eventually I reasoned with myself.

Cecil text me off and on for the next couple of weeks. Once, I responded to his texts to see how far he would go (and because my friends made me feel bad for ignoring him). It appeared, based on what he said to me, that he lived at home, didn't mind letting me know he was "juggling a few women" and had the conversation skills of a 12 yr old (which considering all our conversing was done via text, speaks volumes). Once I realized that he wouldn't be impressing me enough for me to continue talking to him, I saved his number as "DNR" (for Do Not Respond) and tried to leave well enough alone. The last text I got from Cecil showed he seemed to be picking up what I was putting down.
"I see how it is. You think you're too good to talk to me. I always gotta be the one to reach out to you. It's whatever, though. Your a** wasn't that pretty no way."
I could only laugh.

4 months later I had a new phone and as I did my customary "numbers transfer/clean out address book" I ran across my lone "DNR." I had to jog my memory to remember who this was and immediately laughed when I remembered Cecil's last text. I don't need to add him. He's done with me I said to myself. I did, however, keep my old phone within reach for the next few months so I could figure out numbers that popped up that I didn't recognize. 3 months later, though, I was sure anyone who's number I needed was in my phone and so I didn't always keep the old phone within reach.

Early one morning, I woke up not to my phone's alarm but to a text message. Mentally, I cursed out whomever it was texting me so early in the morning. Why in the WORLD would someone be up trying to get in contact with me at 7am?? I rolled over and fumbled for the phone. My hazy vision (it was morning AND I didn't have my glasses on) managed to decipher that these were numbers and not letters. Whoever it was, wasn't in my phone. At the time, I was in a temporary job and had all kinds of people calling and texting whose numbers I didn't know. I sat straight up and slid my phone open to read the text.
Hey pretty lady. Long time no talk
I had no idea who it was, but my readers are smart so I know you know exactly who it was...

I don't know why I hesitate to ask people "Who is this" when I don't know, but I do. I usually engage in conversation until I figure it out. It was 2 days later, after intermittent text messages that I recalled Cecil. I hadn't even considered him because of his last text message. The problem was, I had very stupidly revealed to this unknown person what city I was in and how much longer I would be there. I waited all day for Cecil to text me but he never did.

2 weeks later, I was lying on my mom's couch when my phone vibrated.
"Hey. I wanna see you".

"Cecil. Don't text me anymore."

"What? Why?"

"Look, I'm sorry. I didn't know it was you at first. I thought you didn't want to talk to me. I lost your number. Lose mine."

"All you b*tches are the same. Crazy as hell."

"Maybe next time you shouldn't make someone think you won't contact them anymore and then contact them. Looks like I'm not the only crazy one."
It's been a year since that last text, but I'm still waiting on an unidentified text message that begins something like Hey beautiful. When will I see you?

Superiority Complex

This morning it occurred to me that I may be developing a “you don’t know who I am” complex. It’s because of where I work. Many people here have that complex. I work with/around some of the most powerful people in America. Some of these people have the type of clout to get folks fired from jobs they’ve held for years, just because they want to. One swift e-mail from some of these people could put lots of money into your organization, or strip it all away. As a result, many people here have a “you don’t know who I am” complex. That is, small gaffes like mistaking them for someone of “lesser” importance can piss them off enough that they find it necessary to prove to you who they are by somehow negatively impacting whatever organization or group you represent. I’ve seen it happen.

It’s a complex born of an environment that thrives on clout, capital (of the non-tangible kind), and typically manifests itself worse among people who’ve never had power before. Power is and can be a very dangerous thing. I’ve heard many people, like the recently convicted former Mayor of Birmingham, AL, say that power is a dangerous drug...

Finish this at The Outlook


Bug-A-Boo Part I

It was important to me to find a version of this song performed by the ORIGINAL Destiny's Child. I still think it was a publicity stunt gone awry. LOL.

My last semester in college I lived off campus with my BFF. I also lived fairly close to a wal-mart, so I spent a fair amount of time there; it was nothing to just go 'cause I thought up something I needed.

One night, I decided to make a quick run to wal-mart before I went home (after being "home home" visiting my mom). I wandered around the store -- I did need a few things, but wal-mart, I'm convinced, is designed to make you buy all types of things you don't need. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a security guard staring my way. It was the corner of my eye, so I couldn't tell if he was staring at me or not. I dismissed it.

A few moments (and aisles) later, I saw the same security guard, and this time I could tell he was looking at me. He looked to be a good 3 inches shorter than me and mostly average. Certainly not my type, at least not from one look. I quickly averted my eyes because I wasn't in the mood to make any "new friends" and didn't want him to think I wanted him to come talk to me. Too bad because I guess the full on eyeball I gave him was all the invitation he needed. Though I saw him walking my way, I kept going as if I didn't see him. I don't know if it was just the way it worked out or if he peeped my game because he walked directly in front of my buggy (yeah, buggy...) forcing me to stop.
"You're pretty."

We already are having problems, because while that's a nice thing to say, it's also very awkward. "Thanks."

"What's your name?"

"Uhh... Ashley."

"That's nice. My name is Cecil."

"Hello Cecil. Nice to meet you." awkward silence "Ok, well I really need to get going."
I maneuvered around him and kept going. I actually saw him again on my way out, but was able to skidaddle fast enough to avoid him.

A few weeks later, I was back in wal-mart, having completely forgotten about Cecil. I was there, this time, because the BFF and a friend were at the crib, hungry and I had promised to cook. I have one dish the BFF loves and that's what he wanted, so that's what I was making. Of course, though, I had none of the necessary ingredients so a quick wal-mart run was in order (plus, we were out of paper plates/cups/napkins and I wasn't interested in cleaning up the kitchen after all of us, again).

Because I was on a mission, I was pretty focused. I didn't allow wal-mart's well-placed mid aisle items to distract me and had made record time. As I was rounding the last aisle and headed to the cash registers, I heard a familiar voice.
"Hey. I know you saw me. You gon' act like you don't know me."
I thought about ignoring the voice, but the volume alone let me know I wasn't going to be able to sneak away. I slowly turned around and saw Cecil grinning in my direction. I got a little nauseous and immediately began plotting a way out.
"So you think you could give me your number this time?"

"Uhh... I don't know if that's a good idea."
Cecil started coming closer and I started panicking. "Just give him your number, stupid." I thought. Of course we can all sit here and think up 1,001 options I had, but only 5 seconds prior, I was focused on my buggy (yes... buggy) full of groceries and making sure I wouldn't have to make another run out to Wally World. A "quick getaway" plan was the furthest from my mind.
"You planning on cooking tonight? You got a lot of stuff there."

"Uhh yeah. Got a few people waiting on me to get home; they're hungry."

"Well perhaps you could cook for me some time." and there was that damned awkward silence again "Ok. Well, here. Let me just put my number in your phone."
Cecil reached out his hand for my phone, which of course, was already in my left hand. He put his number in my phone and of course called his own. I quickly grabbed my phone, paid for my items and drove home.

About two or three weeks later, I had put the unfortunate incident out of my mind. As I came out of an on-campus event with some friends, I felt my phone vibrating in my jacket pocket. I pulled it out and saw a text from a local number that I didn't know. I flipped the phone open, prepared to rattle off the digits to my friend incase she recognized it, but gasped instead...

Read part II