Never Saying Never

Just updated my fb status to: It's really something to watch individuals become the sorts of people they swore they would never become. It's truly a lesson in never saying never, because you just don't know what's around that corner and you don't truly know what motivates others.

I learn a lot of lessons just by watching people. I'm learning this lesson for sure by watching someone now.

There are things about myself that I hope are always true. I hope that I'm always a good person; I hope that I always remember how to put myself in someone else's shoes; I hope that I'm always considerate and cognizant of others; I hope I'm always self-aware and I hope I'm always easy to talk to.

There are other things that I hope are always true about me, but I can't say for certain that they always will be. Things in life change and sometimes you don't expect outside changes to effect you internally.

I think most of us can think of one friend who got into a serious relationship and changed. You couldn't ever find them, couldn't ever talk to them. And if you did, they always had that extra person in tow. If you're like me, that's cool, or whatever, but sometimes you just want it to be your friend. Not that you ALWAYS expect it to be that way, but you aren't bff with their boo, you're bff with them.

Those of us who try to be... how can I say... supportive... find ourselves either putting up with the 3rd wheel act or bowing out for as long as the relationship is 100% who the person is. And that's probably precisely what begins to bug us. This person has become the relationship instead of the relationship being an added bonus of who they are. They cease to be the person you know and start to be this 2 in 1 deal. Which, again, is cool or whatever but probably not what you signed up for.

Not too long ago I had a conversation with a really really close friend of mine that sounded a lot like a conversation I've had with several good friends. They always go pretty much the same. We talk about relationships: the ones we're in, the ones we were in, the ones we wish we were in and we get to the underbelly of relationships, all that stuff no one likes about relationships, ESPECIALLY when said relationships aren't ours and one person says to another person, "if I get like that, please tell me..."

And I think that in the moment -- that moment of irritation, or jealousy, or frustration, or whatever -- we mean it. We want this good friend of ours to sound the alarm if we become this ridiculous individual we just talked about. But I don't know, anymore, if we mean that later, when we do become that person. There's something about the whatever we feel when we ask this of our dear friend that we don't feel later. There's a negative emotion driving that wish to never be this that we lose and in our elation at finding whatever it was we were looking for, sometimes we forget to care about what we had to give up.

I hope I never become one of those girls whose entire identity is tied up in her boyfriend. For one, I like my identity and for two I don't think that's healthy. But I won't say I never will, because I don't know what's in my future. Love makes us do crazy things and I can't promise to keep my wits about me when/if I fall back into that. I didn't exactly keep my wits about me the last time I did, so my track record just ain't promising.

But what I do believe is true is that if I get wrapped up in this man, whoever he is... if I forget to be an individual sometimes, forget that there are some things that are best done when it's just me and my friend(s) that someone will tap me on the shoulder and lovingly say "Ay, holmes, you trippin..." and that I'll be present enough to hear them wanting what's best for me and not jump to the conclusion that they are selfish or jealous.

In fact, it's my fear of that assumption that keeps me from tapping several of my friends on the shoulder with any variation of "Ay holmes, you trippin..." right now. I never want it said that I'm jealous or selfish. I'm constantly self-checking for that and while I don't think you can help but to be just a tidge selfish anytime you basically say to someone "I want the old you back..." on the whole, it comes from a genuine place of love and concern.

The other thing that keeps me from doing it is knowing that everyone has to learn and grow. Watching this happen time and time again is teaching me to just wait. I have my hopes and my plans. I think the ideal person for me would support how much individuality I have and not make me feel bad for wanting to do things with just me, or just my friend because he'd know that really, at the end of the day, wherever he is is where I want to be. But that's me -- that's the type of relationship I'd like. Everybody doesn't want that -- some folks are more than happy to give up their current lives for a life with someone else, whatever it means and I say more power to you.

In the beginning, that "someone" I mentioned earlier struggled a little bit with this. Striking that balance between having what they'd always wanted and somewhere in the back of their mind feeling a little guilty for having it. I had to check myself for the disappointment I felt. I felt a little let down and abandoned but that was on me and that was mine to handle. It doesn't change what I'm seeing (or what I'm learning) but it's given me new perspective.

6 months ago, you wouldn't have been able to EVER get me to say that maybe I'd be one of "those" girls. I wouldn't have even entertained the thought. I'm too self-aware, cognizant of others... too... whatever, to ever be her. But now I know, anything is possible. That doesn't mean I expect to be her, it means that I won't be so sure that I could never be her that when I do become her I miss it. Catch that? We are so sure x won't happen that it does happen because we're not paying attention since we're too busy in our self-assuredness that it can't happen. No, instead, I'll pay close attention and while I might not catch myself the INSTANT she shows up, when I notice her, she and I will have a chat.

In the meantime, I'll keep watching my friend. I think she'll figure out how to make this work one way or another, whatever it means for her, not for me (or anyone else).


Life Lessons and so Forth

I really am doing a lot of growth and it is so cool to learn a lesson and be present for the learning of said lesson.

Today, 2 people that I haven't spoken to in months reached out to me. Two people I consider friends and have known for several years and two people who's relationships with me are great examples of the varying things in my life I'm learning how to handle.

The lesson I learned today is that if you wait, things always come back around. People can't deny themselves a good thing.

I'm my own worst critic especially when it comes to skills I believe I should have. Skills like patience. But even in my deepest criticism I've always felt my lack of patience comes in times when I'm being most irritated. Not in the every day thing of doing life, but I came to understand today that I just lack patience.

A story I shared about a year ago IMMEDIATELY came to mind. My BFF told me to stop and drop it. He told me the situation didn't need any further involvement from me and I needed to wait. If it was going to happen, the other party would initiate it, but that any push from me would be too much.

I intended to heed his advice. I did. He's my BFF and he has my best interest at heart (most of the time) but my patience wouldn't let me. I wanted a yes or no, up or down, in or out, stop or go answer RIGHT THEN, and I got it. And even if I imagine that it's the answer I would've gotten in any case, it didn't need to be right then.

See, my problem was balancing allowing people to do what they wanted with me doing what I wanted. I thought that if I didn't wait to make moves in my life until all the people I wanted in my life had gotten in their seats and strapped on their belts, I'd leave some people behind that I really love and really care about.

In processing and unpacking this tonight, I thought about the age old question: if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound?

My answer: absolutely. Sound exists independently of ears/sound receivers. Sometimes there are things around to pick up on the sound when it's made, but whether these things are present or not, sound is there. In another analogy, I left my school's campus tonight. Just because I'm not there doesn't mean it's leaving. In fact, it's trusting that barring some major event, it will be there in the morning that allows me to function. I can come and go as I please knowing it will be there for whatever I need it for.

Anyway, it all brings me back to this. I had a fear that came from a misunderstanding. I was treating my relationships like sound and believing that not being there meant the sound wasn't happening.

Here's the truth: If I decide to keep it pushing if a person can't decide what role they want to play in my life's script, I really might leave them behind, but guess what -- that's ok.

And even better, odds are, they'll catch up. I let my actions toot my own horn for me, but I really am a good thing and people cannot deny themselves a good thing. They always come back. The risk THEY run is that I may not be open to letting them back in. That's their risk to take, though. I don't need to mitigate it by placing my life/emotions/wants/needs on the back burner while they get it right. First off, that gives them FAR too much control and secondly, it allows me to not take responsibility for not being where I want to be.

I had finally said to myself, "hey -- I love 'em, but if they don't want to be on this ride, that is their business and this ride cannot stop..." and no sooner had I said that, then they asked to get back on. I don't doubt for one second that one, if not both of them, will step off as soon as they know they can get back on, but that's fine. This ride moves whether passengers are present or not. THEIR presence does not change it's existence. This is today's life lesson.

I'ma tell y'all something, this growth and change and alladat is HARD WORK, but I'm happy to be doing it.


Eclectic Tastes

For the last couple of years, I've been a part of something called live tweeting during the Grammy's. Essentially, live tweeting is tweeting about an event as it happens. So live tweeting the Grammy's means tweeting your thoughts and opinions as they happen.

For the last couple of years, there's been a point in the show where half of my timeline (TL) complains about the music they're hearing and the other half lambasts the first half for not having a wide array of musical tastes.

I find myself in the 2nd half more than the first. I don't love every genre (techno makes me nauseous, for example) but I am open to all types of music and I do love genres outside of what I should like, stereotypically (rap/hip-hop and R&B).

My first musical love is DEFINITELY R&B. That's what I grew up with, that's what my friends all listened to, it's my first love. But as I've grown, I've come to appreciate and love other genres as well, and it's been interesting re-counting my steps to this point. What re-counting my steps has done is made me a little more sympathetic to folks who don't get down with cross-genre love. I think it's harder to learn to love music you don't already love later in life. I think that even though many of us hip-hop fans long for some of hip-hop's better years and us R&B lovers really really wish we could go back to singers who can sing and songs that are about something, we continue to check for the newest and the latest because we remember those great albums that got us through our first break ups and our first heart aches and were there when we came into our own... We have longevity with these genres and it's hard to see other genres in that light.

There are several moments in time I can look to as explanation for how I came to love music as a whole instead of just one genre. One thing is that when I was growing up, my mama didn't listen to a whole lot of radio and when she did it was a Christian music station. She played a lot of Michael Bolton in the car when I was growing up and we listened to a lot of gospel. For a number of years, if I heard a Top 40 station or an urban station it was because I was in someone else's car.

In the 4th grade I became friends with some of the "tough guys" in my class. They were what we might call "trailer trash" now but back then they served as some cross between personal body guards and really good friends. One kid, Jamie, probably had a little crush on me back then. I probably had a little crush on him as well. He LOVED Green Day. He talked about them every day and so that I could contribute to morning convos about Green Day I began watching a lot more MTV (and football, because I wanted to talk about that too. First team I liked were the Packers because Jamie liked them). Of course watching MTV led to being exposed to a lot of other bands like and unlike Green Day.

When I was in middle school, a time that is the epitome of trying to be cool, some of my friends stopped listening to our local popular (and only) urban station and began listening to a very new Top 40 station. I followed suit. Of course, I was in middle school at the time of what some people call R&B's heydey (every decade before 2000 there's someone who will say it was R&B's heydey) and so of course I heard a lot of that on this station, but I also got exposed to more pop music that I found myself really liking...

Probably the ultimate experience was moving to a new school where the kids overwhelmingly liked non-urban and older music. Here, I was exposed to the likes of Led Zepplin and the Grateful Dead. I wanted to know what they were talking about and I wanted to prove that I did know about artists who weren't black and so I began watching a lot of VH1 to supplement the little bit of knowledge I did have.

But you know what was really effective was my willingness to give new music a chance. That was in part thanks to my mom who had begun exposing me to other music but also an openness I had to step out and be different. I stayed on top of what was hot on urban radio, but I also made sure that I was listening to music I liked, regardless of the artist. We don't always allow ourselves to step outside of the boxes we get put in. We let unsaid expectations dictate to us what we and what we consume.

I do not consider myself better than anyone because I like a wide array of music. I'm simply just happy that I do.

Oh and one more thing: If you watch the Grammy's and don't see the artists you love on stage performing or winning, I suggest you start buying their albums instead of downloading them for free when the leak the week before.


Dream Slayers

I started talking about this on my tumblr and got sidetracked by really digging into some of the thoughts behind my gchat statuses...

Earlier today, my gchat status said
It really is true what they say about not sharing dreams with people. Not always because they want to steal it from you or prevent you from achieving, but rather because sometimes their lack of support/caring/encouragement is all it takes to stop you from trying. 
I'm not sure where that came from. But I know that the other day one of my cousins had a facebook status up that said, basically, you shouldn't tell everyone your dreams because if they don't try to beat you to it, they'll try to keep you from it. I believe that to be so true, but I've been blessed enough to not have experienced that, at least as far as I know.

However, what I have experienced is an inability to be happy for me or supportive of me. Recently, I've shared a hope with several people and for the most part, I've actually gotten a lot of verbal support... "I bet you'll be great..." or "That's awesome..." or "That's right up your alley, I think you should go for it..." Just really great and nice things. But I've also gotten some verbal equivalents of a ::blank stare::

Now, I've told y'all that I'm changing my life in 2011, and I am. So I'm trying not to dwell on the disappointment I felt at those verbal blank stares, but rather sit with the appreciation for those who are supportive; however, I do have to acknowledge the disappointment I felt and in my own status about sharing dreams had to acknowledge the damage dream slayers can do if you let them.

Now, I could rattle off a number of reasons why a person might hesitate to support a dream shared with them. Maybe they think it's off the wall and impossible, or maybe they think it's not something one should aspire to or maybe they just don't know how to express support, but in the end, none of that matters. Dreams really are fragile things and I don't care what anyone says, if you've ever had someone tell you you couldn't do something, you know exactly what I mean.

There are those with the tenacity to ignore naysayers, but the truth is, it hurts for just a minute. We all want to believe that not only can we be anyone but that those closest to us will support our endeavors.

I myself have been guilty of being a dream slayer. I know that at the time I thought I was doing the right thing by being honest about what I thought the person could really accomplish, but I now realize that supporting positive dreams doesn't mean you agree with the plan. It means you support that person's right to set a goal for themselves and reach for it. It's that chasm in understanding that, in many cases, causes person a to dismiss person b's hopes and dreams. What do I mean? I mean that as a dreamer, you understand that when you share your dream you just want some support to have the dream. Not necessarily support to achieve it. But when you're the person being approached for that support, unfortunately we often read it as a request for permission to do that thing, instead of a request for general support.

I've not had any dreams slayed but I've had people try -- both on purpose and in some wayward attempt to make sure I stayed in touch with planet Earth and it's horrid realities.

In the end though, I don't write this to discourage people from being dream slayers (though I do wish you wouldn't) I write this to encourage people to think about their own dreams when confronted with someone else's, but bigger than that, to encourage folks to continue to dream. Whether another person beats you to it or tells you you can't or tries their best to make you look a fool on your quest for what you want, keep on dreaming up what's next. Even the best dream slayer can't take away your ability to create one.