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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When Your Sunken Place is a Person… GET OUT!

With the snap of a finger, do you sink into a place that is unfamiliar, unforgiving, unreachable from the outside, and un…healthy? I’ve got news for you: Your “Sunken Place” could be a person. If you can relate to any of these 5 signs, GET OUT.

SPOILER ALERT:

Since the highly anticipated debut of Jordan Peele’s, Get Out, an American comedy horror film that has surpassed box office expectations, earned a nearly perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes and shed new light on age-old oppression, the buzz around the movie’s allegories and applications to reality have yet to cease. Upon its release, average movie goers and experts alike scrambled to pick apart the film and give their own interpretations of its hidden messages. Of their discussions, the most common speculation centered around the symbolic meaning of the “Sunken Place.” For those who have not seen the movie, the main character, Chris, is hypnotized into a cognitive state of mind, where he is wide awake but unable to move or call out for help; similar to sleep paralysis.

I’ve read so many different theories behind what the sunken place really is: the public education system, racism, slavery, etc. Peele even offered insight on Twitter, stating that we’re all in the sunken place:

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Still, I think what makes this concept so captivating is its abstract nature. It has the ability to take on multiple meanings and apply to just about anything. There is no right or wrong answer because each person has their own set of sunken places. For this reason, I would like to argue that the sunken “place” can also be a person or an unhealthy relationship.

Here’s what you need to know about the Sunken Place:

  • It happens so quickly that you don’t even notice until it’s too late
  • You are most vulnerable when you are cut off from friends and family
  • You are unable to live up to your full potential
  • Something prohibits you from getting out of it
  • The entry way is an insecurity or shortcoming
  • You feel stuck and like you have no control over the situation
  • When it happens, you make excuses for it instead of accepting it for what it is and leaving.

So how does this apply to a bad relationship?

1. It happens so fast…

When Chris comes in from a late night smoke break, his girlfriend’s mom, Missy Armitage, insists that they have a chat about the relationship. One minute she’s hitting a tea-cup with a spoon, probing him with personal questions and the next, he is lost in limbo, falling. This can be similar to falling in love. One minute, you are single, care-free, sure of who you are and what you want for yourself, then BAM! someone comes along and in an instant, everything changes! Before you know it, you’re in love and all you can see is them. You don’t notice the rising action at all; it isn’t until you’re in the climax, trying to figure out when it got so serious or so hard, that you see what its become. When did this stop being fun?, you ask yourself. When did this person become my life? By the time someone flashes a camera and you realize that something isn’t right, you’re in too deep. If it was called “stepping into love” then you would be prepared for it. But it’s not, so you trip and fall head first instead.

2. “Wait, something isn’t right…”

It didn’t take Chris long to pick up on the fact that something was terribly wrong. For starters, Chris remembered being hypnotized! Georgina and Walter were enthusiastically “off.” There is a scene where Georgina literally cries in front of him while reassuring him that everything is okay. The guests at the party treated Chris like he was on display at the zoo! Andrew a.k.a. Andre, the only black guy at the party, tried to give him a handshake instead of a dap. If ever there was a moment to prove his blackness, that was it and he failed! I promise you, no one had to tell a black person what Andrew did wrong in that scene! Finally, Chris’ friend told him to GET OUT! But do you know what he did instead?! He trusted Rose over his own intuition. He didn’t feel safe but instead of getting to the root of those feelings, he took her word. He let her talk him down because he loved her and believed she had his best interests at heart. Surely, she wouldn’t hurt him, he thought. He later finds out this isn’t the case. In unhealthy relationships, you can very well know that something is off. You know how you’re supposed to be treated. You can assess where your partner falls short. You can feel when you’re being lied to. You can tell when you’re not yourself anymore. You can see what you’ve given up to make it work. But instead of trusting your gut, you discredit yourself or make excuses because you think it’s easier to fix than it is to start over. You believe that your partner means well, even when they have had a hand in hurting you. I’ve seen things with my own eyes and got talked out of them! You can make up your mind about something over and over, but the wrong person will change it for you every time. Let me be the one to tell you: Love is not supposed to think for you.

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3. You become less of who you are…

In Get Out, there is  a scene where Chris, a talented photographer with an “eye” for detail and an athletic build, is being auctioned off to the highest white bidder with bingo boards! It turns out that Rose, the girlfriend, was luring black men (and Georgina) in so that white people could harvest and steal their bodies! While Chris and Rose take a walk to discuss the anxiety he is feeling, Chris is sold off to a blind man who covets his keen sight. Undergoing a procedure of this caliber would mean that Chris would no longer be himself. His body and life would no longer belong to him but instead to the blind man who bought him. I know you’re probably saying, “This is an extreme example!” But, is it? In an unhealthy relationship, you’ll find yourself becoming less of who you are and more of who they want you to be in order to keep the relationship. It’s called COMPROMISE. Your plans begin to center around a future with them even if that means that your own personal goals aren’t anywhere in the mix. Their life becomes your life because you’re desperate for a life with them. Little by little, you’ll compromise the parts of you that make you who you are. You’ll give up the dream that gets you up in the morning. Instead, you’ll live for them. Then one day, just like Chris, you’ll see a face in the mirror that’s familiar, but it won’t be you at all. Someone pointed out that the definition of sunken is literally “at a lower level than its surrounding area.” When a person is your sunken place, you’ll settle for a life that is only half as good as the one you could really live.

4. “There is strength in numbers” and weakness in solitude…

Although love can be blind, we have to account for what made Chris a seemingly easy target from the start: family. Or really, lack there of. He revealed early on that his mother died in a hit and run and that he never knew his father. On the surface, what would this mean to the Armitages? I’ll tell you: it meant that if he went missing, it was unlikely that anyone would look for him. Outside of the perceived physical advantage, this is probably another reason why Rose victimized black men. The wrong person will make you feel like you have to choose between a relationship with them OR the relationships/friendships that you had before them. Sometimes it isn’t voiced but instead, implied. And you may never say you’re making a choice but your actions will tell it all. You’ll start to leave out parts of a story, neglect them, become disconnected or uninterested or even feel as if you have to hide the relationship from them altogether. The worst thing that you can do is box out the people who know and love you because these are the people who will come looking for you when you’re lost! They will show up and go to war for you.  These people will notice when you’re not yourself. They will sense that something isn’t right and they’ll love you enough to tell you! Sometimes you can lack perspective in the middle of a storm. They can save you from yourself but to do this, they would have to know that you need help! Luckily, Chris’ saving grace was his best friend, Rod! Even though he had already done his part by warning him that something was off, he still went looking for him when the communication ceased. When you isolate yourself, you’re an easy target because you’ll be convinced that they’re all you have left. You need to know that your family and friends would never stop looking for you.

5. Flaws are open windows…

Have you ever heard someone describe fear as paralyzing? It can stop you in your tracks and hold you in place. However, there was another technique that was used to trap Chris. I want to point out that Mrs. Armitage would never have been able to make Chris “sink” had it not been for his underlying issues. She figured out that his weak spot was the guilt that accompanied his mother’s death and like a scab, she picked away at it until it was wide open. Once she got inside of his head, there was no escape; he could only suffer through it. In any relationship, you’re bound to be vulnerable with your partner and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! But in a toxic relationship, this will be the thing that exerts control over you. We all have skeletons in our closets. We all have things that we don’t talk about for fear of being judged. You have to be careful about who you open up to because the wrong person will remind you of these things to keep you stuck. Your insecurities will be used to gain ground. There could also be mistakes OR a situation that you go through as a couple that can make you feel like you owe them. Seeing the dark parts of you and abusing them is a clear sign that they are not your safe place. There is no light at the end of that tunnel. I would also like to argue that Chris was a sitting duck from the start! She could only use something that he hadn’t forgiven himself for. Exploitation happens when you don’t come to God exposed. As long as you don’t believe that you’re forgiven, you won’t forgive yourself. Here’s a tip: when someone shines a light on those dark parts of you, when your flaws feel as paralyzing as fear and when you feel yourself sinking…Forgive yourself so that you can free yourself.

If after reading this you come to find that your sunken place isn’t really a place but instead, a person…

If you keep discrediting your intuition and calling it “trust issues”…

If you feel like you can’t share your love with the people who love you..

If you’re molding your future to fit around someone else’s life…

If you feel paralyzed by the things that you haven’t forgiven yourself for..

and there is always a voice to change your mind…

get out

No Holding Back: PoeticallyRaw

Meet Alayssa Thomas, a.k.a “PoeticallyRaw”, a 23-year-old writer and poetess who is passionate about personal freedom and women’s rights! Originally born in Georgetown, Guyana, PoeticallyRaw’s love for writing flourished from a very young age. She finds it easiest to write about heartbreak and uplifting men and women because of her generation’s desire for lust and lack of love for others and self. Artists like Lauryn Hill, Jasmine Mans and Sista Queen have had a major influence on her writing and perspective thus far.

allaysa1Aside from writing, Alayssa loves fashion; her style is uniquely her own! She is a recent graduate of South Carolina State University, an HBCU, located in Orangeburg, SC! There, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. She is driven to serve others through both writing and public service and aspires to be a police officer and author in the future.

I got the chance to talk with PoeticallyRaw about her art; heres what she said:

Who or what inspires your craft?


“When it comes to writing, quiet a few people and things inspire me. My top two people who inspire me to write: Lauryn Hill and Jasmine Mans. When it comes to Lauryn, she was the voice of the people and a top female MC.  What made her dope to me was the fact that her content was always very uplifting for both women and men; her style was untouchable. When it comes to Jasmine Mans, I must say her rawness is my inspiration. I remember coming across one of her pieces, “Dear EX Lover”. In the beginning she said, “Your words don’t start to mean anything until you start telling the truth.” I was a senior in high school then. From that point on, I knew that whenever I got on stage and opened my mouth to speak, I wanted it to be nothing but the truth because the truth shall set you free. One thing I’ve learned is that truth is the only safe ground to stand on. Jasmine Mans’ opening to that poem was the game changer for me.”

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When did you start writing?


“I began writing at the age of eight. When I started, it was only as a means to feel better; I didn’t know that I would be creating a space for others to run and find comfort in. When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I came across a piece called “Try being a lady”  by Sistah Queen; she was one of the featured poets on the show Def Jam Poetry. While watching her, I remember thinking to myself, I can do that. Thats what I’ve been doing this whole time. In that moment, I knew that I would become a spoken word poetess.”

What new projects are you currently working on?

“I don’t currently have any projects that are set in stone, but I am writing everyday. In the near future, I intend to drop an EP! Later on, I’ll publish a book.”

What goal are you ultimately trying to accomplish with your work?

“Honestly, my ultimate goal has been changing since I started. I used to want to be famous for my  writing, but now I’ll be satisfied with just using my art to inspire as many as I can. Also, to publish a few books. If I did end up getting paid to do what I love, that would be the happiest moment of my life.”

Any advice for other artists?

“My advice to any artist would be to be true to yourself and your work. Always be honest. As long as you’re true to yourself, the crowd will always love you no matter how far you travel.”

Connect with Alayssa aka PoeticallyRaw!

Instagram:  @PoeticallyRaw (Newest work will be posted here!)

Youtube: Poetically Raw

Soundcloud: poeticallyraw

Interested in being featured for your own art? Tell me here!

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!

Questions For The Zodiac Signs

Will you ever learn to appreciate the people around you? Do you care that you hurt people when you leave? Will you ever be honest about how you feel? Why do you always run? Do you know that people will love you anyway? These were some tough questions to answer as a Gemini. I challenge you to answer for your zodiac sign too!

A few days ago, I came across a series of personal questions that were supposed to reflect the internal conflicts of each of the 12 zodiac signs. A few twitter users  commented with responses like “thought provoking”, “triggering or “spot on” in regards to how much it resonated with them. After reading the questions tailored for the Gemini zodiac sign, their responses made perfect sense. Whoever created the questions really did some research on the temperament and patterns of each sign. While I could never answer from any perspective but my own, I  decided to take a jab at the questions that applied to my sign:

Questions for Gemini:

Will you ever learn to appreciate the people around you and realize all that they do for you?

This one is tough for me because I don’t think I have this issue but then again, wouldn’t that be evidence that I have the problem in the first place? Still, here’s why I feel it doesn’t apply:

I don’t forget anything you do for me. In fact, I obsess over it. I take note of it and store it. This is not to keep count. It is because I am prone to feeling like I owe someone for every kind gesture. For example: showing up to to an event, holding a door, picking up the tab on a meal, sending a card on my birthday, listening to me vent, walking my dog etc. speaks volumes to me. I think it has a lot to do with what I consider love and how I love others. I scored highest on “Acts of Service” (and “Words  of Affirmation”) when I took the 5 love languages test. Because of how much value I personally place on this, I truly feel obligated to return the smallest favor. Typically, it is equal to what the person did for me. For example, if you paid for my meal, I’ll pay for yours. If you show up for a huge milestone of mine, it is mandatory that I show up for yours. I feel terrible if I don’t. Now this is not to say that I ONLY do things for people who do them for me because again, this is how I show others that I love them too. More so, I feel the need to constantly reciprocate where as someone else may just take it at face value and just say thank you for the gesture.

Do you care that you hurt people’s feelings when you leave them in the dust?

Okay, before you judge this response, please know that I am aware that some of my relational patterns are unhealthy. Trust me, I’m my biggest critic!

I can’t speak for every Gemini, but I, for one, am EXTREMELY sensitive. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I care about people’s feelings, I promise. But, for the sake of transparency, I have to admit that I am guilty of “leaving people in the dust” and I stand behind the saying, “out of sight, out of mind.” Please hear me out: I would never want to intentionally hurt anyone! But there have been instances where I chose my feelings over someone else’s.

The first instance is if I am legitimately hurt by something that someone said or did. I mean seriously hurt to the point of no return. Yes, remembering what you do for me can be a positive thing. However, the con is I don’t forget what you do TO ME either . It plays over and over in my head. Being as sensitive as I am, my normal response is to cut ties. It’s not healthy but it’s the truth. I learned recently that I can’t blame others and be blessed so I have to work on that for ME.

The second instance is much more common than the first. It involves my patterns in romantic relationships. Often times, I begin to feel suffocated, weighed down, smothered early on and my normal response is to run *inserts track girl emoji*. I try to warn them of this pattern but in every single case, it doesn’t matter what I say. I’m sure an ex or a “potential” from once upon a time can attest to the fact that it is very hard to keep me interested. I’m here to today and bored tomorrow. From there, the conversation dies out, the response time takes longer, my enthusiasm fades and I withdraw… They can feel it. So, I tell them what I knew to be inevitable. Sometimes, they accept it.Cool. Sometimes, they don’t and try to force it. Sadly, my response is to jet *inserts jimmy neutron gif*. I don’t know why I’m this way. I beat myself up about it. I think i’m afraid to settle for a lukewarm kind of love. But that’s a post for another day. Anyway, the question was do I care that I hurt them when I leave?

Most definitely! That’s why I try to warn them that the only thing that I’m consistent about is being inconsistent! So to my almost lovers, who never made it past the door, I’m sorry. But, you can’t say that I didn’t tell you.

When will you tell someone how you are actually feeling without covering it up with humor?

Did you check out my bio introduction of myself where I said I majored in Communication and minored in…SARCASM? It’s second nature. Its just the way I communicate. On more serious matters, I know it would be more helpful to just say what I feel but I guess part of it is this insecurity that the person will just downplay my feelings or won’t understand where I’m coming from. I’ve gotten that a lot. So, I can admit that I’m guilty of passive aggressive behaviors. The question was when will I tell someone? I do. Too bad its after a series of things have built up over time (also, not very good). This goes back to keeping score in my head!

Do you know that there are people out there who will love everything about you, even the bad things?

I’ve heard about those beautiful people and I am afraid of them. This question is triggering for me. Because I’m sure they exist, but my biggest fear is that I will wreck them. I know, I know. They’ll love me anyway. But I don’t want them to come near me until I love myself. I mean overall, I love me but there are things I would change of course. After all, loving yourself isn’t a one time thing that you just wake up and decide and then its settled. At least, I don’t think it is. No, no, no. I think you have to wake up everyday, face yourself and find that love all over again for every part of you. I think it is a constant and ongoing process and that some days will be harder than others. So yes, I know there are people who will love all of me but I think first, I have to focus on a steady love for myself.

Why do you run away from your problems?

I said in my prompt of the week that I have a habit of viewing exit signs as a safe havens. Whew. That’s a word. Sometimes, I run physically. I cope by taking a break from my world and the people in it. I live about 15 minutes from the beach so its where I go to clear my head. I don’t take anybody or tell anybody. I just go. And when I leave, I feel better even if it is only for a little while. Sometimes, I run on a much larger scale. If a situation feels permanent, you can bet that I am actively looking for a way out of it. If I’m unhappy in a job, relationship, friendship, living situation, class, career…I have this habit of thinking that there is a better substitute. I just don’t have it in me to stay in dysfunction. Chaos really takes a toll on me. So, I check out. It’s really just a defense mechanism and going back to my fear of being stuck. So that’s why I run. Its rare when I am ever truly satisfied. Check out my prompt response! I said that I needed a renewed mindset so that I could learn to be content with whatever I have and where I am.

So, this week I gave you layers. I gave you vulnerability and transparency. You are welcome to do the same. You can even reply anonymously if you’re shy!  Answer any or all of the questions that apply to your zodiac sign! The questions are posted below.

Keep evolving,

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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

Black Musicians Matter: Briennia Jenkins

unnamed (3)Briennia De’andra Jenkins is a 21-year-old singer, rapper, songwriter and poet. Majoring in accounting, she is in her final year at Coastal Carolina University. During her time at Coastal, Briennia has been an active participant in many organizations including Alpha Kappa Psi inc. and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP.)

She is is best known for her soulful voice and passion about race relations and equal rights. She adamantly supports the Black Lives Matter movement and the empowerment of African-American men and women. Upon graduating, she plans to pursue music as a career.

I got a chance to catch up with Briennia! Check out what she had to say:

Who or what inspires you?

“I am most inspired by Lauryn Hill to make music. She inspires me to be simple and complex. Simple in materialistic things; complex in my way of thinking. unnamed (1)My drive to make a career out of music comes solely from my deceased mother, Ms. Gwendolyn D Jenkins. Music kept her going throughout her battle with Leukemia. She made me appreciate my gift more than ever.”

When did you start making music?

“I began creating my own music about two years ago. It started out with poetry and then it blossomed into rapping and singing.”

What new projects are you working on?

“I am currently putting together an EP that will feature other up and coming artists and poets. This will be my very first one so I am excited about debuting my work to the world.”

What goal are you ultimately trying to accomplish with your work?

“My goal is simply to move people. Music means nothing if nobody can feel it. Also as a lesbian and African-American artist, I hope to motivate others like me to chase their dreams no matter what people will think.”

Any advice for other artists?

“Stay original!”


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Connect with Briennia!

Youtube      Instagram   Twitter      Facebook

 

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!