I originally posted this on my tumblr. I didn't expect it to resonate with anyone, because I often feel like (and am told) that it's an experience that doesn't make any sense. I'm bringing it here, and making a couple of edits. Click here for the original version

Imagine you meet someone and the two of you click quickly. You take the next few years and you spend a LOT of time together. You get to know each other pretty well, inside and out. They’re like your best friend, but maybe something else.

And we all have had a something else. A relationship you can’t quite explain. It’s not sexual at all, but it’s intimate. People wonder about it, the bold ones will ask you about it and you might pretend like you don’t know why they’re making such a big deal out of it, but the truth is you don’t really get it either and you can’t explain so you feign ignorance.

Nothing truly inappropriate ever happens betwixt the two of you, but you always remain close. Maybe there was a hand that lingered too long or a hug that was a little too tight, but the two of you are close like that and it’s whatever. Plus, in the time the two of you know each other you both have your own other complicated-by-sex-and-other-feelings relationships (some people call those dating relationships, but whatever…) so that’s DEFINITELY not what’s going on between you.

And then one day your friend — your dear friend — who’s sometimes like a sibling, sometimes like a bestie, sometimes like a… something more — meets someone who falls head over heels in love with them. This person is enamored by them in every way and as they make their own moves, it quickly becomes apparent that you come along with the package.

At first your friend doesn’t really let on to what’s happening. Why would they? It’s not like it’s the first time this has occurred. Plus, at first, even they don’t see the signs. But that other person? That blinded by love person? They have a master plan and they’ve got to figure out how you fit into it all.

It becomes very clear to you that this other person is confused. They see you as a threat. They don’t want to mess up a good thing by making you the enemy, finding that your influence surpasses their own, but they have got to figure out how to lessen your influence. They have to find a way in.

And as they begin to get to know you — maybe to find your weaknesses, maybe to figure out what’s so great about you — they find they kinda like you too. Truth is, the two of you are a lot alike and that's what draws your mutual friend to each of you. Plus, it can’t hurt to befriend you since it’s clear you’re not going anywhere, right? And you know your friend likes this person, you want your friend to be happy so you are on your best behavior. Being friends is the best move, and it's easy.

And then you and that person create your own friendship separate from the original relationship you had. The two of you speak about things that don't concern your close friend, you do things with each other that don't include your close friend and it all feels good -- like this trio might work. Sure, it's complicated and yes it can be tricky navigating being friends with two people in a relationship, but you're making it work.

Fast forward a handful of years and you and your once close friend aren’t all that close. Time, space and distance have concerted to create a gap. And that new person isn’t new anymore. They now have more influence. And you’re not upset about that; things change and that’s for the best sometimes. Your close friend seems happy, and that's what you want.

There was a time where the former duo felt like a trio. You knew your place and you felt you respected what they had, just like what you had with each of them individually was respected. Now, however, you know something is really different. You start to feel like you’re viewed as a threat and you begin to think that maybe, just maybe, you have been viewed as this all along.

You know your friendship is being monitored. The closeness the two of you shared that never seemed to bother either one of you, is suddenly taboo when that other person is in the room. And you can pinpoint in your mind exactly when it all shifted. When it became inappropriate to sit too close to you, to have a private conversation, to have secrets with each other. When the respect for your previous friendship seemed to dissipate. And what's absolutely insane is that you can feel them pulling you closer while simultaneously pushing you away. Wanting to see you, but not wanting to spend time with you. Wanting to spend time with you but on their terms only. Dangling a carrot and then taking it back.

That, my friends, is my life. Well one part of my life. A part of my life that I've taken to pretending isn’t in existence. A part I’ve tried to rid myself of, but I guess that closeness makes it hard. I guess this must be what it’s like to be friends with a conjoined twin or something.

I haven’t the faintest idea what to do. I leave every interaction with them drained and frustrated. I mull over every word, every conversation, every action, every inaction for weeks. I draw conclusions, I tell my friends, I write blog posts.

I keep trying to leave it but no one will let me go.


Being Shy Is Ok

I had a conversation with @Traycee30 on twitter a couple of weeks ago about being shy. She requested this post, so here we are. :)

I'm a shy individual. Large groups of unfamiliar people stress me out. I'm not the person who will show up alone at a party where I'm sure to know no one but the host. I'm not the girl who joins one of those "common interest" groups that meet up in person and do whatever they have in common. I can be stand-offish and quiet... until you get to know me.

Many of my now close friends that I made in grad school probably don't at all remember that for the first month, I didn't really talk to any of them. Partially because I wasn't interested in making friends, but also because my shyness makes that sort of thing a big more difficult. Yes, me. The one who can be the loudest in the room, the one who isn't afraid, necessarily, to talk in front of a large group of people. I'm shy. I've just learned to work around it.

My go to technique is to just get over myself. I spent several years in high school attempting and sometimes conquering high ropes courses and the one thing that I came back to time and time again was to just let go. Jump. Fall. And I would tell myself "come what may..." Figuring I'd deal with whatever bad thing happened if it happened because contemplating all the possibilities made my head hurt.

In a room full of strange people, if I can find one person to strike up a conversation with first -- I'm usually golden. I'm funny and engaging, but moreso on a one-on-one basis. If I get one person on my side, we can usually find a third and so on and so on. Oh, but what to talk about? It's usually not terribly difficult to find something to make a random comment on.

Shyness, like introvertedness is not a made up thing or even a thing to overcome. It's real. It's legit. It's ok. If you're not shy, help your shy friends out. Not by throwing them to the wolves, but introduce them to a few people at a party and let them be great. There's nothing wrong with being shy, dammit. Beyonce's shy and look at her. Oprah and Michelle Obama love her... maybe being shy is actually something we should aspire to...


Life Lesson 19: Nothing Good is Happening at 4am

Yesterday: Life Lesson 18: Forgiveness Comes Easier Than Permission (sometimes)
Today: Nothing Good is Happening at 4am
Nothing good happens after 4 a.m. Besides blowjobs.

I'll be honest: I've never understood this. What is this assumption that the wee-am hours are only bootycall hours? Who started this?

And even further, why is this something people like to highlight? The first time I heard this was in some "important information" one of my mom's friend's gave me as I headed to college. I supposed she wanted me to remember to keep my head in the books and off of boys? *eye roll*. Or maybe she wanted me to know that she knew? Or maybe she wanted to hip me to game in case I ever wondered whether or not to take that phone call at 3:30am.

Anyway, I suppose the only reason this is a life lesson is so you can make an educated decision. It's 4:30am, your phone is ringing. Unless a pre-set call time, the person on the other end is either in dire straits or has something a bit more carnal on their mind. Answer at your own risk.

That's it, folks. The end of the 19 life lessons you should've already learned by now. I hope there was one or two in here that gave you some clarity!


Life Lesson 18: Forgiveness Comes Easier Than Permission (sometimes)

Yesterday: Everyone Has A Guilty Pleasure
Today: Forgiveness Comes Easier Than Permission (sometimes)
Sometimes it’s better to act first and apologize later.

"It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission," goes the old adage. Basically, there are times when we just have to do something and plan to beg for forgiveness if it doesn't work out rather than wait for someone to give you permission.

I maybe operate too much in this line of thinking. I'm always doing something first and asking questions later. I just don't always care to convince someone to let me do what's right. Unless it's spelled out that I MUST ask first, I probably won't.

Sometimes the person who has to give you the permission won't fully understand what you're trying to do. Or maybe they just can't know. We all had the experience of wanting to go somewhere that we just KNEW our parents wouldn't approve of. Maybe it's because of who would be there or what would go on. So we bent the truth a little and got our way. And maybe we got busted -- but maybe we didn't. But it's the motivation for the lying that I'm talking about. As an adult, lying to our bosses or our friends or our significant others is just... ugh (not to imply people don't). Sometimes they just can't know why, they just need to say yes.

Of course not EVERYTHING you want to do that might get a no works. You could end up looking like a jackass, with no reprieve and no possibility of forgiveness. I always look at it like this: if this situation is one of those "if things work out the way I hope, then I won't need to explain a damn thing" situations, then go ahead. Otherwise, I probably just need to go back to the drawing board and drum up a bomb ass explanation.

Tomorrow: Nothing Good is Happening at 4AM


Life Lesson 17: Everyone Has A Guilty Pleasure

Yesterday: Learn to Hold Your Liquor
Today: Everyone Has A Guilty Pleasure
There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Own your bad taste!

What is a guilty pleasure, anyway? The thing you like that you shouldn't? And why shouldn't you?

These days, reality tv is often cited as a guilty pleasure for a lot of people. Myself, included. I've missed very few original airings of the Real Housewives of Atlanta all the way from its first season. I watched the entire first and second seasons of Basketball Wives. I'm a proud fan of Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta. I know that maybe I shouldn't watch these shows. I recognize that they show black women in a less than wonderful light. I realize they are negatively influencing our young girls (I DEFINITELY realize that seeing as I work with young girls). But there's something about the ratchetness that draws me in. I can't explain it, except to say that it's a guilty pleasure.

And I guess when I call something a guilty pleasure, I'm saying: This is something I enjoy that I realize is damaging in one way or another, but I plan to keep enjoying it. *shrug*

There are probably some limits to this (like murder can't be a guilty pleasure) but for the most part, I don't know that there's anything really wrong with indulging yourself in something that maybe you shouldn't. We probably shouldn't do a lot of things, but hell, life's risky -- might as well have some fun. Might as well do one or two things that you shouldn't but you have fun doing (as long as they're not, like, you know, murdering people).

And yeah, maybe if I and all the other folks who consider ratchet reality tv a guilty pleasure quit watching, these shows would go off and magically our young girls would stop looking to television for role models. Then again, maybe if parents parented and schools taught and we got serious about alleviating poverty in our country, young girls wouldn't look to the television for role models either, right?

Tomorrow: Forgiveness Comes Easier Than Permission (sometimes)


Life Lesson 16: Learn to Hold Your Liquor!

Friday: Scared Money Don't Make Money
Today: Learn To Hold Your Liquor
Don’t drink a shitload of alcohol when you haven’t eaten anything, you dummy!

There are a ton of rules of thumb people like to use when drinking. Stuff like: "liquor before beer, you're in the clear; beer before liquor, never been sicker. Dark liquor gets you drunk faster. Mixing liquors will mess you up. Etc... And all these may be some varying level of true, but the one I've found to actually be true is: eat before you drink.

My friends and I like to call this coating the stomach. I'm sure if I tried I could drum up some article or research that shows that eating food prior to a heavy night of drinking is a good idea, but I'm telling you from first hand experience. My worst morning afters have almost universally come from drinking on an empty stomach.

There's math to this as well. Obviously a heavy breakfast will do you no good if you ate it at 10am and begin drinking at 10pm. There's also what you eat. A salad won't "coat your stomach" the way a good burger will.

But you know what? Drinking responsibly is just an adult thing to do. I told a friend of mine recently that I'm a binge drinker. *gasp* I know -- that sounds terrible. But on the whole, I don't drink. I don't keep a bottle in my freezer, or up in the cabinet to relax with after work. Don't usually do that with wine, either. But when I do go out and I do drink, it's usually one right after the other until I'm feeling "right" and because my tolerance has some weight to it, that could be several drinks.

The CDC defines binge drinking as consuming 4 or more drinks in 2 hours or less (for women). 4 drinks in an hour? If I'm out with my friends and we're going hard, try 4 drinks in ONE hour. Easy.

These days I don't binge drink often. I always try to prepare myself with a nice heavy meal beforehand and I also try to cut myself off (you know, show some adult self control). Nobody likes the girl who drinks too much and then spends the rest of the night doing annoying things like drunk texting and spouting off useless and embarrassing personal information. But aside from that, I gotta function EVERY day of my week. I don't bounce back from a hangover like I used to. Knowing all of that causes me to make better decisions about my drinking.

Like when I was over my friend's house this past week. She told me to bring an overnight bag and prepare to get drunk, but it was mid-week, I have to work (with attention-deprived kids, no less). I couldn't do that. So I had one drink and I went home.

Learn to hold your liquor, and learn some self control.

Tomorrow: Everybody has a guilty pleasure


Life Lesson 15: Scared Money Don't Make Money

Yesterday: I Call Bullshit
Today: Scared Money Don't Make Money
Nothing risked, nothing gained. If you find yourself feeling miserable about something like your job, JUST QUIT. You will make it work for yourself. You will unleash your inner-hustler.

Everything is a risk these days. Go outside, you might get shot or run over by a car. Walking around your house, you might stub your toe, or catch your favorite sweater on the edge of the table and rip it. Life's just one big risk.

So if everything's risky anyway, a little extra risk that might catapult you to somewhere great can't be too bad of a thing, right? The trick here is a calculated risk. You hate your job, quit. But have a plan. What will you do? How will you do it? What resources do you need? Who can help you? This isn't just a wake up tomorrow and tell your boss to shove it kind of plan. As awesome as it might feel to do that, what do you do next?

What truly makes a hustler a hustler is that they always have a plan. They have a plan for their plans. They have contingency plans. They have little plans and big plans. What if plans. How to plans. If it's gotta happen, the hustler has a plan. It's all a risk, but to the hustler, a plan is the best insurance policy to have.

You can't be afraid to try something new, especially if what you're doing right now doesn't work for you. Make a plan. Take some risks in the plan. Change your life.

Scared money won't ever make money. At least no money you want to write home about.

Monday: Learn how to hold your liquor!