Prompted: Who or what have you hidden from?

When we are afraid…when we are lost.. when we are hurt… when we feel like we aren’t enough…we often hide from ourselves or others. What or who do you hide from and why?


Sometimes I hide from God.

Usually it is after a failure, a short coming or a complete 180 because I am not perfect. And although I know he does not need me to be, I can’t help but feel conviction.

So, I hide.

Day in and day out, sometimes for months at a time, until He catches up to me.

I hide in the mornings when I’m running late. I run around in circles and forget to say a prayer to thank Him for giving me another day to even decide if I should run or bow down.

I hide on my lunch break in between bites of my sandwich and social media surfing. If I’m distracted, I don’t have to face the fear that I will never have the consistency He deserves.

I hide in moments of frustration so that I will have an excuse to be petty instead of patient. I use the pain as a pretext to retaliate. I use it as the scapegoat to hold a grudge.

I get home and hide from my reflection because I can’t look at all that He made me and handle the idea that I’m not living up to it.

I hide behind accomplishments, hobbies, titles and make check marks in my head as if it adds more or less value to my identity.

I hide behind the people who I love and take in their opinions of me like oxygen.

And then I hide from them because I’m not always who they think I am. I’m not even always who I think I am and that scares me.

In my weakest moments, I hide from God.

I fail then hide. Then when I’ve hidden long enough, I continue to hide because I realize that there was no reason to hide in the first place! I hide because I knew better than to think He wouldn’t love me in spite of me hiding. I understand what Adam and Eve felt because it is a never-ending cycle trying to expose yourself to God then feeling so ashamed that you try to cover up.

Sometimes I hide from God in a garden, behind a tree, covered in fig leaves to distract the world from my vulnerability.

But he knows exactly where I am. He knows exactly where to find me. Hiding.

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* Apply it! What or who are you hiding from? Leave a comment below!

Prompted: Write a short thank you note to someone…

I wrote this thank you note for the strangers who made an experience that may have otherwise been terrifying, a piece of cake.

This thank you note is for the kind strangers (and Charlotte, my grandmother’s best friend) who made my very first flight a piece of cake.

Charlotte,

Thank you for helping me find the airline check-in station and the baggage check line. Also, for taking this lovely photo of me in the airport:

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To the stranger who whispered “Put your bags here” and “You’re going to have to take your shoes off” before I got to the front of the line:

Thank you! Because of you, the people behind me weren’t held up. I appreciate the help.

To the really down-to-earth girl who started a conversation with me while I waited for my plane to arrive:

I’m sorry your flight left two hours before you got there! I hope that you made it to Newark safely and that your pregnant friend didn’t mind the wait! Thank you for the conversation, watching my suitcase while I went to the ladies room, but most importantly, for the chewing gum so that when my ears popped, I would “still hear it, but it wouldn’t hurt as much.”

To the lady that helped me quickly put my luggage tag on as we were lining up to board the plane:

Thank you! Again, I almost held the line up but you saved me.

To my plane buddy:

Thank you for noticing my introverted nature and respecting it. You gave just the right amount of space and conversation. Also, thank you for eventually giving me the seat to myself and moving closer to your nephew.

Your random acts of kindness may seem small but they were big for me because of all of the anxiety I’ve had recently. Although I was very apprehensive about strangers and taking my first flight alone, with the help of all of you, it was really enjoyable. For my next flight, I’ll be sure to extend a confused stranger the same courtesy that I was fortunate enough to receive from all of you.

With Sincere Gratitude,

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Prompted: What did you get in the most trouble for as a kid?

Mama always said, “Your mouth is going to get you into a lot of trouble.” and boy, was she right! Now that I’m older, I wonder if she could truly see that my tongue would be the greatest source of struggle or if it was just something that adults said to deter you from “talking back.” I wonder if she could really see the extent of its power over me or the adversity it would bring.

The purpose of “Prompted” is to provide an outlet for myself and others to reflect on past experiences, personal goals and innermost desires. It is my hope that this exercise will encourage unconventional thinking and self awareness. Each week, I will provide a new prompt and post my response on the blog. Readers can comment with their responses on this post and read what others said.

Mama always said, “Your mouth is going to get you into a lot of trouble.” and boy, was she right! Now that I’m older, I wonder if she could truly see that my tongue would be the greatest source of struggle or if it was just something that adults said to deter you from “talking back.” I wonder if she could really see the extent of its power over me or the adversity it would bring.

I was always an exceptional student, but on my report cards, next to the As and Bs, I always received the same feedback: “Does great work but talks too much.” They tried reassigning seats but that never helped. Everywhere I went, my mouth went with me and besides, the quiet kids were the best listeners. This is where it all began.

Then, I became a teenager and it stopped being about how much I said. The bigger problem was what I said. I was a force to be reckoned with. I had a mouth and the attitude to match. I was “The Great Debater.”  I had a teacher who would stop me at the door and say, “Not today, Ms. Washington.” and another who deemed me, “Ms. Sassy Pants.” I even had a teacher tell me to shut my mouth in French. “No, you ferme la bouche!” I said. The phrase “Shut Up” would probably only insult a person who talks a lot. To anyone else, it wouldn’t hold the same weight.

My mouth might not have been so bad if I was able to control my emotions. I have always been very sensitive and it was so much easier to get under my skin at this age. If something didn’t go my way, I had something to say about it and I wouldn’t just say it, I would explode! I used to wonder why I even had a cellphone. I could never keep it in my possession because I was always in trouble! It would be weeks, sometimes even months before I got it back. I would ask myself, why is my mom even paying the bill?

Now that I’m older, I see how strategic that punishment really was. Why didn’t she tell me that I couldn’t go outside or watch TV instead? Why didn’t she spank me? It’s because I liked to TALK. Maybe if I liked to go outside, she would have taken that way. Maybe if I actually watched TV, she would have suspended those privileges. But no, I spent hours at a time on the phone because I loved running my mouth.

*Side note: Remember when your minutes weren’t free until after 9 so when your mama asked if the person was with the same company, you would be like, “Hey, are you Verizon?” (KNOWING DANG WELL THEY WEREN’T!!!!), then when they said “Uh, no”, you’d tell them you’d call them back when your minutes were free. No? Just me?… Cool.

So, anyway, I think she knew that there would never be a way to control what I said. But, she could, however, control the medium. For non-communication majors, a medium is just the tool in which you communicate with; a means by which a message is transferred between the speaker and an audience. Another example of this would be the internet. They kind of went hand in hand for me. When one was taken, the other was too. I was so distraught when I couldn’t “share the love’ or update my status on Bebo! haha. Good times.

But the punishment was genius. I felt incomplete without my phone.

So far, we’ve covered teachers and parents. So what about your peers, Alexus? Did you get in any trouble with them? Yes, yes and yes! And it was always because of that darn mouth! I cannot begin to tell you how many times I had to own up to or defend something I said. I even spoke up for other people and made their enemies my own. And if I heard that something was said about me, you could bet I was going straight to the source.

You know that phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?”  Who lied? You can always tell what your enemy places value on based on what tactics they use to attack you.  My mouth was a lethal weapon. I could cut you with my words. But if you live by the sword, you die by the sword. I was a ticking time bomb and that was the only thing that could set me off.

I grew out of chasing after every rumor and learned how to mind my business if something had nothing to do with me. But then, I went to college…. and found out that my new problem was my delivery. “It ain’t always what you say. It’s how you say it, Alexus”, mama said.

I am and will probably always be a “straight to the point” kind of girl. One of my college friends said to me recently, “I can tell that you’ve always had problems with your mouth because of either what you said or how you said it. I am almost sure that most people who don’t like you, probably don’t know you at all. But you said something way too honest once and they wrote you off because of it. Either that or they didn’t understand your dark humor.”

It was like she read a book about me.

A good example of this “problem”: I recently found out that someone held a grudge for months over a joke that I don’t remember making.

Still, I believe her for two reasons: 1. It sounded like something that I would say and 2. When she repeated it, it took everything in me not to laugh out loud.. for the second time. She, however, did not crack a smile. So, yeah, I definitely said it and for the life of me, I still can’t understand why it was so bad!

I hardly ever know when I’ve struck a nerve.

But, story of my life. Did mama know that I would be this misunderstood?

So what do you do when your native language is sarcasm? If I were a style of coffee, it would be black with no sugar or cream added. Not the best taste but I bet it gets your attention!

So, I wonder… if when my mom said “Your mouth is going to get you into a lot of trouble.”, did she really know how much. I wonder if she knew that I would spend most of my childhood apologizing for what I said and the beginning of my adulthood struggling with the best way to say it.

It’s true that you catch more flies with honey but it’s also true that you die a little inside when you stop speaking up for the things that matter.

I’ve tried changing, but it never lasts.

For a while, it really bothered me to be this way.  I used to wish I was quieter. I thought that people would like me more if I said less. It’s not fun trying to shrink yourself to be accepted though. They say, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” Well, I keep trying on this stupid shoe and each time I find out that it’s not my size, it makes me feel smaller.

I found out that these troublesome words just wont fit into a neat little box. They don’t come wrapped with a pretty bow.

I decided that I would rather be ostracized than censored.

And, let me tell you something (and if you’ve gotten this far, you know I’m not asking for your permission): I recently heard a sermon about potential and purpose. The pastor said that your greatest struggle is probably central to your purpose and I believe it because you wouldn’t even be reading this if it wasn’t for my “struggle”.

It also happens to be my strength.

Mama said that my mouth would get me into trouble and she was right! But, I also think she knew that it would still take me far.

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Apply it! What were you constantly in trouble for? Did you grow out of it? Take a moment to reflect and leave a comment!

Prompted: Write about a song and the feelings/memories it evokes…

I chose Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” because it’s a time machine to a summer romance that changed the way I saw the world. I was fearless, open minded and willing to risk it all. It was poetic and painful. Let me take you back to the summer I fell in love…

The purpose of “Prompted” is to provide an outlet for myself and others to reflect on past experiences, personal goals and innermost desires. It is my hope that this exercise will encourage unconventional thinking and self awareness. Each week, I will provide a new prompt and post my response on the blog. Readers can comment with their responses on this post and read what others said here.
To: The King I Fell Hard For

From: Yours Truly

Subject: Summer Love ♥

NP: Thinking Bout You - Frank Ocean

Those violins come in and it’s the summer of 2012 again. The year of new beginnings; the summer of new love. Nothing I attempted seemed to fail and the world was at my feet. I didn’t yet know what it was like to love or to lose yourself in it, but I thought I did. I spent the first half of the summer weighing my options but by late June, he had tipped the scale.

 I hear, “Or do you not think so far ahead?” and I remember what it felt like to see my life in a person.

I couldn’t help it. I had started a lot of things, but for the first time I was interested in finishing. I could feel “FOREVER” when he hit that high note in the chorus and I believed that I could give him that.

“No, it won’t ever get old, not in my soul, not in.. my spirit.. keep it alive.”

I hear this line and I feel like I’m 18 and hopeful and 22 and hopeless all at once. He sold me alluring dreams and I bought them with the little change that I had left in my pocket; I gambled my heart and soul for his affection. I spent it all. And I know it was my last, because I haven’t been able to afford it ever since. Open minded. Open hearted. Fearless. Unaware of what it might cost me if we lost it.

“Yes, I remember! How could I forget.. how you feel?”

I think of the phone conversation that lasted 5 hours, that 7 day absence, the meaning of 143 and the “4ever” that I imagined. I wasn’t afraid of love and what it would do to me; I was alive.

The song is timeless. I hear it and I know that I wouldn’t change a thing because even the pain that followed was worth the poetry that he gave me in exchange….

for that summer love.

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 Apply it! What song/album moves you everytime? Take a moment to listen to it and leave a comment! Read what others said here!

Prompted: “You are what you…”

We want to believe that we are always the leader, never the follower; that the influence our surroundings provide us isn’t impactful. Yes, you are who you are…..but you’re also who you hang out with. I’ll tell you why…

The purpose of “Prompted” is to provide an outlet for myself and others to reflect on past experiences, personal goals and innermost desires. It is my hope that this exercise will encourage unconventional thinking and self awareness. Each week, I will provide a new prompt and post my response on the blog. Readers can comment with their responses on this post and read what others said here.

It has been said that you are what you eat. Rewrite the phrase: You are what you…

My response:

You are what and who you surround yourself with.

When I was younger, I refused to accept the idea that “birds of a feather flock together” or the saying “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are”. I never thought it was fair or justifiable to assume or judge someone based off of another person’s behavior. I argued that everyone has free will, no one is in control of what the next person does, I am my own person, everyone is different and unique, all of my friends aren’t friends with each other… blah, blah, blah. Well, I’m here to admit that I was wrong. Your friends ARE a reflection of you.

There are so many connections that you have no say in. You are literally born with a set of people who have the same blood running through their veins as you. You may dislike them or disagree with them but your differences or commonalities have absolutely NOTHING to do with your connection. I know you can’t stand your aunt who makes everything about her or your cousin who can’t stay out of jail. But, while you could pretend you aren’t related, that doesn’t change the fact that they are family. You have no choice in that.

So, blood, out of your control. Cool.

But there’s more… You may go on ratemyprofessor.com and strategically pick your classes but your classmates are fair game. You may both enjoy math and want to make a career out of it but that could literally be the only thing you have in common. Oh, and don’t even get me started on elective classes! There’s nothing like 20 different majors in a philosophy 101 course! What a time to be alive! Still, your teacher will throw you in a group (usually not of your choosing) and place your grade in the hands of strangers. They call it “learning to work well with others under pressure.” I call it instructor-assisted GPA suicide. BUT. YOU. MUST. DEAL. Out of your control.

Let’s take it a step further…you had a choice in your major, what companies you applied for, even what positions. You don’t, however, have a choice in who you work with. The only thing that Susie and Tom have in common with you is the fact that all of you would like to be able to afford to eat every day and have a place to lay your head. Oh, and the fact that you all enjoy sales or marketing, I guess. Which is why they make small talk with you (I hate small talk) about the weather and how fast or slow the week is going by. So, food, water, shelter, work, week and weather…I bet you all could talk for hours about how much you love your job but you’re all so busy working hard that you don’t have the time! Not. Still, you make the best of it because you have a job to do and a homeless shelter doesn’t sound that appealing.

I think you’re getting the point.

So, I was wrong when I tried to debate the premise at hand.

Your friends are the only group of folks you get to choose! Why would you choose people who you don’t have anything in common with? What would you even talk about it?  What would you even do together?  When you want to take a break from it all, you choose more of the same? That just isn’t logical. Your friends are people you enjoy being around because you can relate to one another, they understand you, you can talk to them, you make each other laugh etc. They aren’t your coworkers, classmates or family. They’re LIKE family but you can actually disown them if they embarrass you. If someone asks if you know them, you can deny it because all of your instagram pics are deleted and they have no proof the friendship existed. Ha! No but seriously, no one is forcing you to maintain the connection. You like these people for a reason.

I used to argue that I shouldn’t be judged based off what someone else does. If I have nothing to do with it, I shouldn’t be held accountable. But if I’m offended that someone would assume that it is also my behavior, why would I be so passive when it comes to surrounding myself with it? Unless, of course, I see no problem with it. This can be equally damaging. It’s wrong to rob a bank, but if my friend robs a bank and I don’t speak up about it, that sends the message that although I didn’t do it, I’m okay with it being done. You can’t be neutral. No message is still a message, even if it’s not the one you mean to send.

I argued that I am my own person. I have my own mind and I’m not influenced by others. You ever notice that when people spend alot of time together they begin to pick up on one another’s mannerisms, patterns and phrases?  If you asked your friends to mimick you, I bet they could act it out perfectly. They may even mirror what you do with out realizing it from time to time. It’s natural. It’s easy to pick out those influences because they’re light and mostly positive. It’s obvious that we can pick up on bad habits from a person as well. Energies can transfer. Behaviors rub off. You could go all day without saying a swear word, then meet up with your friends and drop 5 F bombs and not even bat an eye. You probably don’t even like to gossip but with a certain person you can never understand why all of your talk is about other people. You adapt to the conversation and the vibe. It’s the same reason you put on your “professional” voice with your co-workers. You do it without thinking because you adapt to the “surroundings”. There’s that word again.

Then I said, well if birds of a feather flock together, why aren’t my friends all friends with eachother?! Oh boy, I’ve got an answer for this one.

It’s because they have the same CHOICE that I have on who they surround themselves with. I’m not just one type of person. You can place me in categories and stereoype me if you’d like, but it’s layers and levels to this. Especially, if you’re speaking in terms of zodiac signs. Geminis are supposed to have two or more personalities to begin with right? Okay, so when I made this argument about my friends not being friends with eachother and everyone being different, I should have seen the issue with that from the start. Your friends can be reflections of different parts of you. Even the parts that you would like to hide. That’s right, you aren’t fooling anyone! I could have something different in common with 5 different people and they could have nothing in common with eachother. My friends don’t have to be friends with each other for the premise to be true. They have the same choice that I have but no say in who else their friend is friends with.

You want to know how I know that birds of a feather flock together? Because as I changed in college, my circle changed. Who I started with was not who I finished with. We had less and less to talk about as time went on. I started working here, found this hobby or that habit, joined this club or that organization and as my interests changed, my surroundings did too. Sometimes change is good. Sometimes change is bad. But, the saying is definitely true.

Yes, opposites can attract but if the only connections you get to choose are your friends, you’d better make sure you’re choosing wisely. This isn’t always an easy thing to come to terms with but its necessary for growth.

You ARE who you surround yourself with. If this offends you, you need better surroundings.

Keep evolving,

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Apply it! You are what you…? Leave a comment! Read what others said here!

Prompted: What do you need right now?

What I need isn’t a thing, it’s a feeling. I spend a great deal of my time wishing that I could go where I want, say what I want and do what I love. I always long for more time because there is never enough of it in day.

The purpose of “Prompted” is to provide an outlet for myself and others to reflect on past experiences, personal goals and innermost desires. It is my hope that this exercise will encourage unconventional thinking and self awareness. Each week, I will provide a new prompt and post my response on the blog. Readers can comment with their responses on this post and read what others said here –> Prompted!

What do you need?

My Response:

What I need isn’t a thing, it’s a feeling. I spend a great deal of my time wishing that I could go where I want, say what I want and do what I love. I always long for more time because there is never enough of it in day. I constantly feel weighed down by my own thoughts, insecurities and need to please others. I never feel like I have enough money. I feel held back by my own fears of stepping out. My anger and frustration controls me. My past plagues me. I have habits and patterns that I want to change but they persist. I know that all of these things have to do with perception and my state of mind. So, what I need is a different mindset.

When I saw this prompt, I thought I was going to write about being free. I have a habit of seeing doors marked exit as safe havens. I kid you not, up until this very second, that was my response. But actually, I can be as free as I want and still be a prisoner to negative thinking. What I need is a better outlook, a renewed state of mind, to see the bright side of darkness, to count my blessings. I need to be content wherever I am with whatever I have. I’m not always very optimistic. So, I guess I need to be able to see that what I need in this very moment, God has already supplied or will in the future.

Keep Evolving,

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Apply it! What do you need right now? Leave a comment!

Check out what others said here! —> Prompted

Prompted: What have you lied to yourself about?

If I had to narrow it down to one thing, I would have to say that I lied to myself a great deal during my job search this summer.

I graduated back in May 2016 with a B.A. in communication and had a hard time accepting that God’s timing just wasn’t synchronized to my personal deadlines or calendars.

The purpose of “Prompted” is to provide an outlet for myself and others to reflect on past experiences, personal goals and innermost desires. It is my hope that this exercise will encourage unconventional thinking and self awareness. Each week, I will provide a new prompt and post my response on the blog. Readers can comment with their responses on this post and read what others said here.

What have you lied to yourself about? Why did you do it?

If I had to narrow it down to one thing, I would have to say that I lied to myself a great deal during my job search this summer.

I graduated back in May 2016 with a B.A. in communication and had a hard time accepting that God’s timing just wasn’t synchronized to my personal deadlines or calendars. I wanted to move off and do great things, meet new people, (blah blah blah) and had a  small window of time to make it happen. It was primarily based on when and where I could find a decent paying job. So, I put in application after application and the rejections came pouring in days before I walked across the stage.

Over and over again, I would get hung up on the possibility of some full time job, any job really, that even hinted at a little security. I desperately wanted to be able to have something to show for my degree.  I considered so many different avenues: cellphone retail sales, insurance claims, bank telling, property managing, reservations, admissions coordinating, etc. It was frustrating and disheartening to constantly get rejected for jobs that I was positive that I was qualified for.

I even applied for a supervisor position within a department on campus that I worked for for two and half years. The basic qualifications: customer service experience, experience working in that environment, a bachelors degree… Everything I had. I figured “experience + degree + connections = job”. I didn’t even get an interview.

They all said no. Still, I think the real tragedy would have been if any of those companies had actually hired me.

I was in a low place. I cried to God for months about it because I was afraid of the future and had no idea what I was meant to do with my life. I wanted things on my time and was upset that nothing I tried to force would fit.

So, I formulated a master plan to avoid anymore rejection: Step 1: Go for my MBA. Step 2: Start a business. Step 3: Hire myself! After all, in school, everyone could see my potential. In school, I didn’t have to apply, I was invited. In school, I was rarely ever turned down because all that mattered was my GPA. In classes, I felt like I belonged. In the world, I felt insignificant. I spent the next few weeks scrambling to complete paperwork for admissions and financial aid, going back and forth with my family (they didn’t think it was necessary) and trying to convince myself that it was the best route to take.

Things were looking up. I had a plan. Obtaining another degree seemed to make sense.

But then, two weeks before the semester started, everything turned around. I went for an interview with a college and  was called back the same day to schedule a second interview. The morning of the second interview, I received a call. They wanted to cancel the interview and had decided to go in a different direction with the job. I felt relieved because I was conflicted about if I would take it or go back to school. I no longer had to choose. Closer to the time of the scheduled interview, I received another call from the director who led my first interview. I told her that I was under the impression that they had decided on another candidate. Well, it turned out that the interview was canceled because they had already made the decision to offer me the job.

It was a full time salaried job with benefits!  So, guess what I did?..That’s right, I turned it down! After all of that crying, praying, rejection,etc.. I turned it down because I had really drilled it into my own head that I had to back to school, when in reality, I just wanted to be able to say that I was doing something. I also felt that, because I made so much of a fuss about getting admitted and registered, I couldn’t abandon the defense mechanism I had built for myself. She told me that they would move on and interview more candidates.

I thought I was doing the right thing by sticking to my guns but honestly, I never felt at peace about it. I realized that I was forcing myself to stick to something  because I had invested so much time into the idea of it.

Days later, I called the director back and she informed me that although the committee had moved on to more candidates, they would still consider me when it came time to make the decision. I just knew that I blew it. Even if was qualified, who would want to hire someone this indecisive?

The wait over the weekend felt so long. But, on Monday, she called me and offered me the job for the SECOND time. This time, I accepted.

When I look back on it now, the time span was only over the course of a few months. However, it felt like my season of rejection went on for years. I made plan after plan and every last one fell through. To combat the failure, I chose something I was certain I could not fail at: school. That was my safe place. Let me be the one to tell you that safe doesn’t always mean that it’s meant for you. I was so committed to my own plan that when God did send me the job I had been praying for, I passed it up.

The irony is that I now have the opportunity to go back to school with tuition assistance and loan forgiveness because of this job.

The greatest lie I told myself: My plan was better than His.

Keep Evolving,

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Apply it! What have you lied to yourself about? Leave a comment!