Archive | May 2013

Write On: Redirecting My Focus after “Listening” to My Circumstances

People often thank me for the transparency that I express in my writing. I don’t know any other way to be— I keep it all the way REAL (sometime a little too real)—and that certainly translates into my writing. I think that anyone who writes or does any type of artistic expression needs to know that being transparent in your craft allows you to connect with your audience in a very tangible way. I enjoy connecting with people this way and I hope people enjoy reading it.

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I’ve been on a path to become a writer my whole life. I was nine years old when I wrote an award-winning essay. Since then, every choice that I’ve made has been strategic in utilizing my writing skills. I did all the right things to align my passion for writing with a fail-proof career trajectory that would (in theory) lead me to the pot of gold known as success. I majored in English, continued to strengthen my writing skills, completed writing-focused internships, graduated with a master’s in communication, and landed a job in communications.

I thought this was the path that I needed to take. When I came to D.C., I had grandiose dreams of excelling in communications. Sadly, that has not happened. I’ve actually realize that this field is not foe me: I don’t enjoy talking to reporters, I am not good at writing press releases, and it’s too stressful for words. I’m competent in communications, but certainly not exceptional. It took me along time to realize that. I tried to force it for almost five years. I had a come-to-Jesus-moment when I realized that communications may not be my calling, but there are other areas where my gifts flourish. I think it was really hard for me to accept that because I have this self-imposed pressure that I need to be good at everything. I had to realize that sometimes I’m going to be mediocre at some things and exceptional at others. Trying to be good at things that don’t come naturally is exhausting—you can’t force it. If you continue to try to force it then it will make you a very unhappy person. Trust me. 😉

So now what? After soul-searching, crying, praying, talking with friends and mentors, complaining, crying, panicking, crying (did I mention crying?) I went back to the basics: writing. I LOVE writing. I experience real joy when I write. It comes naturally to me. I’ve “stumbled upon” so many writing opportunities. I’ve randomly pitched publications and been picked up. I’ve received countless writing opportunities through social media. I never set out to be published, but it just happened.

It seems that my circumstances have been trying to tell me something all along, but I was trying to prosper and advance in something that I’m not meant to do. I’m meant to write. I love engaging topics that I’m passionate about through my writing, being analytical, spreading awareness about albinism, etc. Thankfully, I have not been neglecting my gift even though I was trying to advance in communications. I thought it was the only way to utilize my skills, but now it’s clear that there are other ways. I don’t regret my years working in communications. I’ve acquired great skills that I use often and that are transferable to other areas, but I’m definitely happy to no longer pursue opportunities in this area.

I’m still working on figuring out this “writing thing” as a profit-making career. I know I’ll probably need to work a day job as I pursue this and I’m fine with that. Along this journey, I’ve also found that I enjoy event planning. So I’m making several leaps at the same time, but I’m not scared. The good thing about this “writing thing” is that it has taught me to become fearless.

Questions to ponder: What are your circumstances telling you? Where are your gifts leading you? What dream did you abandon to realize your real purpose?

Learning to Love

“When you really take the energy to pay attention to your relationship. And really put your all into that relationship and love him in a way that your mama didn’t teach you how to love a man.… Sistas listen…treat him like a king if you want to be treated like a queen—it works. ”

 ~Monique (the comedienne) 

A few days ago, I watched Monique’s interview where she talked about a variety of topics including her dramatic weight loss, the cancellation of her late night talk show on BET, love and relationships etc. Her comment above is in response to the interviewers questions about her “open” marriage. The open relationship was her idea because she was constantly on the road, but it backfired when “she realized the king she had at home” and decided to preserve her marriage.

 The part that intrigued me the most is when she spoke about learning to love a man the way your mother didn’t teach you. It resonated with me because what I know about love didn’t necessarily come from my mother. She gave me advice on how to deal with men and carry myself around them, but there wasn’t anything in particular that I learned from her about how to love a man. Do parents have a responsibility to teach us how to love a man or woman?

I think parents do more modeling (observational) than teaching (intentional) when it pertains to love (or lack thereof). In many ways, what is modeled before us is inherently teaching us about love (both positive and negative). Sometimes there is a clear line of distinction. For instance, I do not look to my parents’ marriage as a healthy model for love (what they modeled). However, my expectations about how I am supposed to be treated by a man come from the standards that have been set by my father (what he taught me).

 I think it’s definitely possible to learn about the nature of love from your parents, but learning how to love a man or woman is unique to the individual. It requires navigating through relationships and realizing what works or doesn’t work. It means not viewing love through the lens of the broken relationships that abound in families. It means not looking to society’s distorted view of love as the standard. It requires some soul searching to discover the ways you experience love, and in turn, show love to others. All those factors combined with putting in the work and energy that Monique was referring to influences how you love a man or woman.