|I just can’t keep living this way… So starting today, I’m breaking out of this cage|

If I’ve ever wanted something, I very rarely let it be known. I’m definitely more of the “let-it-happen-and-adjust-accordingly” mindframe. Unbeknownst to me (until now, duh) , I’ve been minimalizing all of my feels since I was a young kid. I’m definitely a victim of feeling like giving into feelings was a weakness, unless I was mad. Anger was the only acceptable feeling to show regularly. Not that it was ok to act out in that anger, because that anger was seen as strength. It was ok to be mad, because it showed focus on something and supposedly made you more dangerous, or made people take you serious while you were in such a state. Ahh, the subtle joys of being conditioned as a young male in the American cultural tradition. Prove yourself through your own mettle and be either indifferent or upset at the world. There is no in-between, right? Anything else would make you a moody or sensitive dude, which of course is not manly at all. Of course, because I’m black, I have to also have a chip on my shoulder, because that’s also acceptable.

I mostly bought into the mentality of not being too happy or too sad about anything as a self defense mechanism. If you’re not expecting very much, then it won’t hurt as much when you’re disappointed. If you expect to be disappointed, then nothing should really bother you. You just end up being right all the time when things inevitably go wrong. Curiously, I kept myself from being happy and feeling happy things. I also ended up self fulfilling my own prophecies by seeking the hitch in people’s best laid plans (“where’s the poop, Robin?”). It gives me some kind of small, fleeting satisfaction to be correct a lot of the time, but I’m operating under the wrong pretenses, wouldn’t you agree? If you’re not doing something because you like it, then why be wasting your time?! Seems counter-intuitive to me, but that was exactly the headspace that I found myself examining and being quite surprised by.

Why is it so hard to vocalize what we want? I should re-phrase that. Why is it so hard to vocalize what I want? A self-taught lesson that I’ve realized in my life is the philosophy that if I don’t let people in on what I’m actually passionate about, then they cannot use those things against me. I’m instantly reminded of my elementary school years, where I would regularly keep a journal (not a diary, I was a boy, sheesh). That regularly updated journal was regularly terrorized by my sister and she, in turn, would bring up little snippets of some entry that she’d read recently, in the worst of circumstances.OF course, this taught me to just keep things close to my chest (except I have a proven track record of relaying my innermost thoughts through public mediums like blogs. Interesting, really), in hopes that I could steel myself against invasions of privacy. Or maybe I fancied myself a 13 year old version of Poppa Doc in 8 mile (yes, I know he’s not the hero in that movie, just go with it). I could keep all my secrets to myself and craft an aura for myself that would only include what I wanted people to know about me. Actually, that’s quite possibly the premise for any social media account…

Unlike Clarence (whose parents, I hope still have a real good marriage), I cover my tracks nicely, by never starting beef with anyone. Of course, I do have some choice people that I definitely try to stay away from, but generally, you won’t be catching any revelations about my life from someone trying to freestyle battle me in a dark club (sucks to be you). I’ve always said that I dislike eye contact, because I have never wanted someone to be able to read me and ask about whatever secrets I’m hiding. I have conditioned myself to always hold back from people. I used to be pretty good at being super interested in people (to throw them off my trail). Now I think it’s more about being genuine with my intentions. I have been spending lots of time alone, which keeps me thinking (way too much) about things like interpersonal interactions and the real effects of how I act/how my actions affect relationships of many sorts.

Having hope in a thing or in a person is one of the joys of being alive. I don’t want to live such a life of insulation. That was ok with me for a while (while trying to get my life together), but it’s no longer a sustainable or reasonable way to attack this one life that I get. I keep listening to people who are asking questions about men and how/when we’re going to be able to move past old hurts. Not only moving past them, but really doing the work of introspection and fleshing out our feelings about things/coping methods that are helpful and do not leave us depending on our partners for resolution. This is me trying to recognize that I want to have stuff to look forward to, or get excited about and I don’t care who knows it. I don’t have to have a facade of unaffected existence (that’s ridiculous). I am allowed the space to be a real person, through and through. Real people have ups and downs, real people need others, real people know to ask for what they need.

So, as is so often for me, I’m writing this down to document the truth in these sentiments. I want good things for myself. The first step to getting those things, is to admit them, then set goals towards them. The growing pains are going to be uncomfortable. This is how I get to be a better me. Time to start living, instead of just existing.

| C’mon Bro… |

Lemme preface this entry by saying that I made a terrible mistake and nothing I can say actually excuses me from it, but I’m also not asking for any excuses. I messed up and I’m opening up to it.

Once, when I was younger, I spread a rumor about being gay. People thought that I was a little weird (which I was). I thought that being controversial would be a reasonable way to live up to that perception. Once it got back to my mom, she asked me about it. I denied it and she asked me if I knew what it meant. I told her and a apologized for lying to people.

I had no idea how damaged that way of thinking was, but I just wanted to give people a reason to think that I was different.

Tonight, I decided to pull something similar. In a response to my own discomfort around not being a dater in this society. I’m the last of my super close friends to not be married/getting married or be in a serious relationship. I’ve heard lots in the past week about how people wish I’d meet a nice girl. I also had about how I might be gay and denying myself, because I’m not even trying to date anyone. I didn’t think about how much this might have bothered me until after I got called out by my friends for being an ass.

I got the idea to play an April fool’s joke on them by telling them that I’d realized recently that I don’t want to date because I’m recently realizing that I didn’t like women. Yes, not my best move. Yes my friends called me out immediately (as they damn well should have). It’s not a joke to be gay and that should not be how I decide to erase any discomfort for myself.

I apologize to anyone that I know who I am offensive to. It’s totally a reprehensible thing to do. No matter what I say, I gotta live with the fact that I did that. What’s interesting to me is that it’s my eat if responding to some internal shortcoming. The way many of us fall short of something in our hearts and decide that we have to be strong against or because of.

It’s really easy, as a male, to just dismiss something as an effort to cover up something that we feel inadequate about. That’s not cool. Not the way I want to operate in life. I need to learn how to care less about what people think and just live for me. You would think I would have learned this by my 36th year on Earth, but alas, I’m still in the learning place.

Also, I realize that I can only be responsible for my reactions to things and this was a failure. That’s it. No other words for it, besides my bad.

I always have this idea that living a comfortable life is boring. That night be true in many ways, but there is also no reason to try to look about who you are/why you things. Tonight, I painfully learned that lesson.

| Back in the days, when I was young, I’m not a kid anymore… (thank goodness)|

She said WHAT?! She wants to dance with me?!

Oh my gosh. What am I supposed to do with that? I’ve never “freaked” anyone before. Do I know how that is even supposed to work? Do you think she’ll know that I’ve never done it before? Ugh. Why can’t people just dance like normal folk? If there were some steps that I could follow and repeat, I would be so good at that. I’m usually very good at dancing, but this whole, putting your body on someone else’s body makes no sense to me at all. However, that was what the cool kids were doing at the school dances and all of the sudden, I had to fall in line with those guys. HOW EMBARRASSING! Where am I supposed to put my hands?! What happens if I have a “too close” moment?! This is all going to be too much for me.

This was the worst trouble of my 7th-grade year. I heard some rumor that a girl wanted to dance with me and I had no idea whether or not I was properly equipped to deal with the joys of trying to “dance” with her in public. People would be watching me for goodness sake! I won’t make mention of the countless hours that I spent in my room, trying to move along to the music in my head (actually, disturbingly similar to how I spend some Thursday nights as an adult). I spent more time worrying about this particular endeavor than I should like to admit. However, in my defense, I was a silly 13-year-old boy, so the fear was real! I will report though, that I did go to that dance, I did dance with that girl (and multiple others). Everything resolved itself in a tiny package and I only sweated through one t-shirt (outer-shirt winning)!

(Photo by Alex Lombardi/Hulu)

Last weekend, I came across a show called Pen15 (yes, 12-year-olds, that’s the name of the show, I didn’t make it up…) and it paints middle school as a true hell-hole! Everyone knows that kids are mean, but apparently, young adolescents are horrible, hormonal, and jerky! That being said, it was a delightful / cringe-y show to watch at times, but I enjoyed it. However, it really made me think about how horrible this time could’ve been. There was so much name-calling and cattiness! Was it possible that I just blocked out so many shenanigans? Maybe it had to do with the fact that I went to a Christian K – 8th-grade school? Whatever it was, I don’t remember middle school being so bad. Now then, it’s not like I was popular by any means, but I didn’t dread going to school, nor did I have any bullies to avoid in the hallways. As far as I remember, there were silly things between the boys and the girls, but nothing crazy that I can remember.

I asked a few friends and they all pretty much agreed that there were some unsavory moments in middle school. Some of their least favorite times were those 3 years before high school. Apparently, everything got stuck in a whirlwind of hormones, pimples, bodily changes, and judgment. Who would want to live in such a crazy time? The boys were busy trying to look cool, the girls were trying to be the coolest, the expectations were SKY HIGH! How does one make it through such things?! I’m curious. If you read this little slice of the internet, tell me how your middle school times were. Am I really the only one who has the worst story of their childhood being about a stupid dance? This seems like it should be the way to middle school it…

|I ain’t goin’ nowhere, so you can get to know me|

I finally came across my theme for the year (Yes, I know it’s mid-Feb. Fight me). I was supposed to be spending the 2nd half of 2018 feeling myself out and learning what made me happy, but of course, I got lazy and ordered pizza, then Netflix’d and napped (I can feel your judgment. I choose to ignore and continue). SEE?! Personal growth is already happening. I could’ve snapped on you. You’re welcome, reader! The theme is “unfiltered” (this might be updated or edited, but the general idea is the same. Thanks for the idea Kassaundra)!

One drunken evening, I was all set to just party it up with some co-workers at the Emporium. Actually, I guess I was already successful in that endeavor since I mentioned that it was a drunken evening (I’m terrible at constructing stories, thanks for your patience). A co-worker sat and had a heart to heart with me. Basically, he was telling me about how he knows that I’m kind of a big deal (without those words), but he sees me consciously dimming all this fly-ass-light within me. “Why do you spend so much time doing this?!” I spent the rest of the night getting out of my own head and just going SUPER JUSTIN (Saiyan felt weird to type unless you know of the legend of the dragon balls). I had a lot of fun and beat a LOT of people on a pool table that night. So what’s the point of this story? I’m going to try to re-introduce myself into the world and of course, I’ll start with this blog, because I always love thinking out my life in words and having someplace to keep myself accountable later on is always helpful. Anyways, here’s an intro to me.

Hi, I’m Justin. Here are (more than) a few facts about me:

  • I love long walks in the park, pondering over life and gaining insights about the inner workings of the human psyche.
  • I am EXTREMELY sarcastic (read previous bullet point and take with ever-so-many grains of salt)
  • I can be serious sometimes though! Starting with the next bullet point, I swear!
  • I have a burgeoning love for many things outdoorsy. I wanna learn to love hiking and check in more with my primal, nature man.
  • My happy place is the water (being on it or near it, never in it, can’t do that swimming thing).
  • I am an over-thinker and try to be a perfectionist (Yes, Master Yoda, I said try, not do. Take a nap on your log and stop beating me with that stick).
  • I spend over 80% of every day of my life listening to music. It helps calm me, gathers my thoughts, and usually my memories and expressions tie back to songs/lyrics.
  • I am a lover of love. (YES LAURA, I FINALLY ADMIT IT. Sit down please, people behind you can’t see past your rapidly inflating hubris over being right).
  • I’m an introvert with extroverted tendencies (I don’t understand this myself).
  • I’m EXTREMELY good at rapping things (especially when I have to do it faster than is necessary).
  • I am also really good at things that require hand/eye coordination. Think billiards, darts, ping-pong, etc.
  • I’m a jack of most trades. I am deathly obsessed with something until I get better than average with it, then it’s just: “meh, I can do that”
  • I am both able to think WAY more than anyone should and keep my mind blank for the majority of my time (I’m a special boy).
  • I want to learn how to ask good questions of people again.
  • If something interests me, I’ll do several layers of research on that thing and then on a couple of peripheral things closely related ( 🤓)
  • I learned everything I know about adulting from How I Met Your Mother and 30 Rock (This explains SO much, I know. You’re welcome).
  • I don’t laugh at comedy shows. I AM that jerk. However, I never heckle!
  • I have a super-human ability to randomly befriend strangers (usually at the cost of whatever group I’ve ventured out with).
  • Wait/help/service staff love me. I always make friends with waiters/steward(esses)s, bartenders, etc.
  • If I befriend you, I love you HARD. You might not even know how much, because I’m too cool to say it
  • That previous point is not cool. I should always say it!
  • The only two things I hate are Rapid-fire lines of questioning and people wasting my time (aka flaking on me or standing me up)
  • My number one love language is quality time. It’s how I receive it, it’s how I show it (but I can be more flexible on that one).
  • My mind is SUPER tangential. I can be fully in conversation with you and be thinking about music lyrics, or some random experience, or monkeys typing. That’s a normal thing for me.
  • I’m always up for challenging myself. This entire post is the beginning of an exercise of challenging my comfort.

WHEW! I think that’s a lot to take in. If you made it to the end of this, then in the words of J. Cole: ” I really f#$ks with you!”

Here’s to introducing myself (again in some cases) to new and old friends. 2k19, I’m coming for you!

|Get over yourself |

Time for some #realtalk.

I’m a terrible friend. I’ve been a terrible friend for a good while now.  I say this from the perspective of someone who is willing and ready to change that fact into a false statement in 2019. I don’t usually make resolutions, but today I realized that it’s going to maybe encourage me to start doing things differently.

Ever since I was little, I’ve just wanted to be someone that people paid attention to. I wanted to be that guy that people wanted around and wanted to include in things. As I got older, I lesson after lesson in my childhood on how this wasn’t going to be the case. I devised this idea that I needed to be someone that people needed to be included the way that I wanted to be. I figured that I couldn’t be denied if I was worth something to someone. The only thing that I learned from all of that was that I was only capable of setting myself up situations that left me feeling like I was being rejected and that I was not having the impact that I thought I was for people.

This eventually turned into me getting burnt out from trying to occupy a special place in people’s lives. I decided that I was always the one trying too hard. I had a reputation for being the one that was always good at staying in touch with people or would be able to gather folk together but then would just disappear into the background when everyone got together. I grew upset with people in general and I decided that I wouldn’t worry about people any further. I wouldn’t deal with trying to make anyone happy or trying to get in people’s good graces. This was rather effective! I learned the important lesson that (read: clung to the idea of) being your own person only requires you. I was all that I needed to enjoy life and I would strike out on my own, f@$k what other people may or may not have to add to this.

I decided that I would never chase a person again. This was something that stuck hard in me. I still have issues with this to this day. I often slip into this place of wanting to hang out with someone and hounding them to make something happen. What I always go back to, after a while, is the idea that people make time for what’s important to them. Once I get denied or ignored for a bit, I decide that it’s just better for my health to not worry about people in most cases. Especially once someone has become free, or isn’t as busy. As of a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine, Emily reached out to me and apologized for taking so long to not reply to my messages asking to hang out. My response to her was one of being unbothered and aloof. Oh, you’re finally willing to pay attention to me? Interesting… Your behavior before let me know that I wasn’t important to you, so now I’m no longer pressed to be in your presence. It’s just one of the ways that I’ve developed for coping with not getting what I want.

I had a brief convo with another friend earlier this evening, which was supposed to be a friendly hello. I worked with this woman named Ozge and I used to try to have lunch with her once we stopped working at the same place. Today, I sent her a message on Facebook, once I realized that I hadn’t talked to her since January in 2017. She started off friendly, but once she brought up the possibility of getting that “long overdue” lunch together, I was reminded of being that dude who chased people to no avail. I figured that if I couldn’t have lunch with you then and gave up for 2 years, it wasn’t worth my time to get all twitterpated about the opportunity. I told her that I didn’t want to try to see her and just wanted to say hi (which wasn’t a lie but reminded me of how I’m constantly just writing people off). That was the end of that, as she became less interested in a conversation (and who would blame her).

The only problem with this mentality is that it’s led me to be very solitary in life. I know that normally your friend groups dwindle in your 30s, due to people having kids and being married and living their lives like normal people do. The only problem is that my behavior is promoting these situations in my life. PEople might invite me to things and instead of extending myself and doing something that might be a good friendly ting, I decide that I’m just not interested, or I’ll get into the mindset that I don’t have any reason to do anything outside of myself. Why not just enjoy my own company? I don’t have to deal with people or their shenanigans.

That’s not the way that people build a community around themselves. This is how someone encourages hermit-like tendencies.

I don’t want to be a hermit. Although I kinda do and that back and forth is interesting to me. What I really want is to just normally fit into a group and have fun without over-thinking things.  My new goal is to learn how to be social again, learn and practice being friendly for the sake of being a good person/friend again. It’s a little daunting, but I think it’s the right move. I gotta stop cutting people out if I want to be accepted. My pride will be a little hurt, but it’s ultimately a good move for me.

So, I’m going to have to try to re-integrate myself and see what comes of it. Again, this will be rather uncomfortable, but everyone says that the best way to heal yourself is to deal with any discomfort head-on.

| Happy New Year to Me! |

This year’s edition of the annual birthday trip will have me adventuring (in the laziest form of the word) to Puerto Vallarta! It will be my first trip to Mexico and will also (potentially) be my first and last trip of a purely lazy nature. I am going to an all-inclusive resort and am planning on ringing in my personal new year with lots of room service for breakfast and beachcombing.

This year, I’ve been trying to take more time to ask pointed questions of people during their birthdays (or around their birthdays). I feel like it’s actually really helpful for me to learn what’s been important to people and what they’re focusing on. It’s interesting to keep notes on that and hopefully, helping to keep asking people about their goals/cheering them on around those things. So… In the spirit of being open about things, I’m going to answer those questions for myself, here:

What are three things that you’ve proudly accomplished this past year?

  1. Became money smart
    – Right around the time that I was in Iceland (last year’s birthday trip), I decided that I wanted to stop living completely paycheck to paycheck. I spent a good amount of time checking out different savings tools and setting a goal of trying to save 12k for this year. To date, I’ve gotten a little over that 12k saved (I don’t have it currently with me, I have done a bit of spending this year. This trip is the last bit of that $$$).

    – I also decided that I would learn about how credit works and how I can re-build mine up. Lots of reading, lots of monitoring my “credit score”. I realized that there was a bunch of basic stupidity that stemmed a lot from being unemployed, that made my credit kinda poor. Not EXTREMELY bad, but definitely something that needed to be addressed and remedied. I’m on the path of getting things right now and all that’s going to be needed is some patience and practice. I can do it!

  2. Branched out on my own
    – Part of this was my own choice, part of it was thrust upon me (haha). I had become a bit of a hermit over the past couple of years. A lot of this had to do with my mental health (which I’ll discuss later). A lot of that mental health was set by me feeling trapped in my life. I had no car, I had to basically rely on other people for basic things (like going to the supermarket). I basically resigned to the fact that I would just stay in my room and go to work, as a routine. This routine was killing me and I had no idea.

    – I purchased a car! Thanks in large part, to the fact that I was successfully able to make those savings happen, I was eventually able to get a vehicle. This opened up my world much wider than just my room! I could be more autonomous in my living. I never thought about how this was a truth for me, but having personal transportation did increase the quality of my life and I am extremely grateful that I was able to take on this opportunity.

    – I moved into my own place! This is the part that was thrust upon me. However, because of the progression of goodness in my friend’s life, he went ahead and got married, which meant that I had to move out. I had the opportunity to live with my other roommates but after some soul searching I realized that although the possibility was scary, it was probably something that I should try out. I didn’t think that I would be able to afford to do such, but again, that savings goal saved me. Because I had money socked away, I was able to afford the process of moving and realize that I was able to handle this financially also.

  3. Found my happy
    – I made moves towards really accepting what could be done for me with therapy. This resulted in me taking much more of a chance on myself and breaking patterns that I was seeing in my life that were keeping me weighed down. I gave myself the space to start feeling things, instead of trying to explain them away or let them wash over me. I learned a bit of what it took to get me out of the shell of my depression. I re-learned what it meant to take joy in some of the small things and I was able to jump in the saddle and recognize + appreciate those things.

What are three lessons that you’ve learned?

  1. I am enough
    – I learned that I don’t have to wait for someone to come around or be convinced. I am the opinion that matters. If I want to do something, I am the only motivation that I should need. Whether or not it’s a popular choice, I can make moves they I desire to and be completely happy with myself/those choices.

2. Friends can be trusted
-People do say what they mean sometimes. It’s

not always a joke or a trick. The key is to pick.
friends who actually prove themselves to be
trusted. No one is out to get me. The ones who
are shouldn’t be friends with me anyways.
Friends are important!

3. I can make it happen
-Things don’t have to happen to me. Things can
be because I cause them to happen. Life isn’t just
a series of things that happen to me and I need to
adjust to. I am definitely capable (and have
permission) to do things. I am able and have
permission to change things up if I’m not feeling
them. The power is in me. I don’t have to wait for
a good break. I can make good luck happen, by
taking action.

What are three goals for this your next personal year?

1. Be healthy

2. Invite others in
-All this solo work is cute, but no one needs to be
an island. This life is not about all the things you
can do alone. It’s about who you can share
things with, what kind of memories you can
create and who you make them with.

3. Stay ready
-Be prepared to accept blessings. If you’re ready,
you won’t miss chances/opportunities. Be ready
to say yes. Be ready to try something new, be
ready to meet someone new. All of these things
are fun and can be healthy. Just be ready to take
advantage. Be just as ready to say no to road
blocks. Getting out of your own way is the best
option for growth.

I’m looking back on this past year with nothing but gratitude. I’ve wasted lots of time with overthinking. I want to acknowledge the good that I’ve done for myself and the greatness that lies ahead of me. I’m ready to step into year 36 with brand new focus and clarity.


| You can’t see me |

A few excerpts from a text conversation with a friend today…


You are such an amazing soul

I’m not sure why you think so kindly of me, but I’ll take it

Because you have a heart of gold

what have I ever done that shows you such a thing?

I’m literally curious


You do nice things for people all the time. And also you always ask how I’m doing and take genuine interest in the things that are going on with me. And you’ve always been a great friend to me. You’re very very loyal


Is it sadder that I had to ask the question of her, or that I realize that there are parts of me that I miss, which are contained in her explanation?

I’ve been really struggling lately with this internal struggle of not feeling seen/understood vs. being willing to be open with people. On one hand, I recognize the need to stop being so closed off at every turn. I’m missing out on the chance to create some lasting friendships with people, or just getting great connections.  The trade-off for that is the ability to tightly control what I have to deal with and not allowing any hurtful behavior to come at me. I have willingly let my distrust of the good in people give me a reason to just stay to myself. I’m an island, when I don’t have to be, all the time.

This next idea is going to sound cocky or stupid, but I have genuinely thought that I am too special to just be ruined by people and their actions towards me. This is where I identify with what my friend listed about me. A conversation that I had with her earlier in the week left with me telling her that she hadn’t even been witness to the best of me yet.

1. Who says that to someone?
2. Who believes it to be true?…
3. Why is it that I am selectively doing things like that?

This is my time for growth and my time to try to find me. Those are the challenges that I have set for myself. It’s not going to be easy or pretty, but I have to strike that balance and get myself back to opening myself up. Putting myself out there is the only way that I’m going to be able to step into the complete Justin that I know to exist and let him see the light of day with other people. I’m encouraged though, that there are little bits of me peeking through and that all is not lost. I have to choose the uncomfortable position for myself, to see real results. |

Friends! I’m coming for you! If I don’t know you yet, get ready to meet me!



|little voice|

When I was really young, I fell in love with the power of words. It didn’t matter whether they were written, sung, or spoken. There was power in the ability to convey something through language. Some people, of course, package them in palatable packages better, but there are very few ways to better demonstrate a thought, a belief, or just a feeling. This is why some of us fall in love with word-based artforms. I enjoy a good book, I love spoken word performances, and it’s one of the reasons that I love music the way that I do. The melody and the interplay of the feeling expressed with the words always slays me.

When I was a little bit older, I realized that this power could be mine. Even though I might not want to say things out loud all the time, I could write something and people would respond/react to it. There was a commonality and usually for me, writing things down got people to pause long enough to pay attention to me and listen to my side of things. I might not have always been a great conversationalist, but I was always able to just sit and crank out my thoughts with ease. During therapy, I made the association of my good feeling times with being able to throw words together on paper. When I wasn’t doing well mentally, I could always count on having some kind of problem with writing. Either I was too lazy to sit still for the 15 minutes or so that it took to write something, or I just didn’t feel like anything that I had to say was worth putting down. I used to write poetry, these days, I just like to get my thoughts out of my head.

I’ve always believed that people had to be careful with the words that they choose. I was never much of a fan of talking just to hear my own voice. I know what it sounds like when I speak. I know that there is power in the spoken word. When you want to remember something, you repeat it to yourself. Words can be a powerful uplifter, something that brings people together, or they can be used to tear people apart. The idea is that you keep good words of encouragement (of any kind) for various situations that you might go through. To keep yourself calm, you might repeat a word or phrase a couple of times to keep your mind off things.

That being said, one of the keys to life that I’m noticing in my self-reintroduction recently, is that you have to want it. If there’s anything that you want, you set a goal for it, or you figure out ways that you can actually make that thing appear/happen/true. If you identify the want, then you have a way to rally around that and change your situation/circumstances to get the results that you want. Usually, when a person is excited about something, they can’t stop talking about it. It’s stuck in their brains and that manifests itself in their everyday conversations. It’s why people have mantras, something that you can remind yourself of, over and over, to get a coveted result. There is something to be said for things like vision boards and goal journals. They keep you focused on the prize. Whatever that prize happens to be.

I want to start challenging myself to be more intentional with my speech. Even when I’m just rambling about things, I need to start being more positive and uplifting about what is coming out of my mouth. I’ve been saying for so many years now that I don’t like this thing, or I don’t like that thing. It’s keeping me boxed in and I think that I need to stop putting these kinds of restraints on myself. I have been throwing around words like: “I never want to date” or “I hate dating”. These are not fully true, but putting stuff like that out there keeps me single. Whether or not that will be my intent, you say something enough times and it becomes true. There was a time back in about 2k16 where I was vocal about what I wanted and I started moving towards those things. Right near the end of my therapy time, I was asked about what I wanted. The things that I said out loud are things that I’m enjoying in life right now. There is a power in being able to say something and I’ve been pretty careless with my power. Time to tighten that up and speak some good things into my life.

|Stream of Consciousness|

Here I am again. Usually, I hate the monotony of this daily dance towards the office. The bus ride is usually smooth. The BART is the worst part of things. We unenthusiastically file into this mobile metal tube and throw ourselves into our normal distractions. People hop on their phones, others make sure their music mutes the rest of the world.

All is normal on this front. I step into the train, I have Boyz II Men blasting old-school joy into my ears, and I have my latest novel on my Kindle. I’m all stretched and ready to play the human puzzle of fitting in without inappropriately touching anyone else or inviting opportunities for neighboring bodies. Awkward arm up, shoulders at a different angle than legs and feet. Perfect?

Then you step into the train at the next stop and immediately, I register: “pretty black girl” and put my head back down. Somehow you settle right in front of me, which is no big deal. I get back to my book, but between this one and the next stop, I can’t help but notice how good you smell. I don’t know what it says about general society, seeing that I’m a daily commuter, but I never notice good smells that stand out.

Immediately, I’m appreciative of whatever your morning routine is. Being on this train, butts to nuts, is usually the bane of my mornings but I figure that if people always smell this nice it might not be that bad. I could definitely get through this. After another stop, I’m done reading my book and I’m just imagining the morning routines of all of my neighbors. Based on the look of the guy next to me, he rushed out of his house, worried about missing a meeting, the way he keeps looking at his watch.

Then somewhere along the ride, I close my eyes and imagine writing a poem about the joy of a morning commute. I can suddenly see the beauty of every individual on the train as my eyes sweep over them. Am I delirious from a lack of sleep, or just suffering from hunger? I’m noticing my surroundings and taking a moment to appreciate them. Usually, I’m distracted enough by my book or music to fit right into the perfect anti-social sweet spot required for public transportation. Not that I’m against the idea of opening up to my fellow rider or anything.

Also, taking a look at my fellow riders makes me feel a rush of sympathy towards people and I have the feeling of understanding how society is supposed to work. I can be in my own little bubble, but I miss out on depending on people. I miss out on the social niceties that come along with growing friendships and relationships. For the first time in a really really long time, I think about how I miss the feeling of a hug. How I miss spending time with someone who smells nice, sharing observations about the small things with someone and laughing about how silly they may or may not be.

Then the door opens and the spell is broken. Off I go into the world. For once it’s with less of a grumble and more of a feeling of gratitude and an excitement about what the day is going to hold, instead of a sense of accomplishment because of what I just had to survive.

| But really, I would rather by at home by myself… |


The quintessential jam of my summer 2 years ago. An isolationists’ anthem. A young lady singing about why she shouldn’t be at a party (mostly because she doesn’t want to be). A good enough reason to get caught up in the moment of feelin’ yourself and not wanting to deal with the rest of a social scene that isn’t your jam.


As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really embraced the idea of giving little to no f#%ks. I read that this is just something that kinda happens with more experience. You begin to see what’s really worth your time and you’re able to make strong choices for yourself. People can follow along with you, or they can pass, it shouldn’t make any big impressions either way. I think that this is enhanced by pop culture though. There’s this prevalent idea that you are all you need. People come and people go, but you’re stuck with yourself, so the only person that you have to please is you. There are lots of memes out there about doing you. I mean, it’s also my personal motto for this year: “You do you!” Which really just equates to a pat on the back for thinking of yourself first. I can’t blame you for taking care of priority number 1 (yourself).

There are a lot of reasons that this might be true in some cases. Someone won’t earn money for me. No one will do my job for me, or pay my bills for me (if I were prettier, maybe I could work on getting that one reversed). Life is about the experiences that you go through. People can’t learn and grow for you. You have to do the heavy lifting for yourself on things. The world won’t give you any breaks, you have to prepare yourself for battle or for success. There are some people who think that the prosperity or struggle that you have in life is directly proportionate to the work that you do to get yourself into or out of that particular well being or hard luck. It’s true that some great lessons are ones that are impressed on you by the chances that you take, or the stretching that you do when doing something outside of your very warm and very safe comfort zone.

I’d beg to differ though. I think that there is something faulty here. There’s no way that you can have the full experience of life without others. No matter how hard you try to make it all about yourself, there’s no way that you can get by solely on your own. I don’t say this to mean that everyone has to be married or in a relationship. We need people! You can be single but still, rely on your friends and family. I don’t know of anyone that has been able to successfully cut everyone out of their lives and live a life of pure solitude (if they are, I’m sure that they’re suffering and trying not to show that they are lonely and not thriving). Somehow, we’ve decided to promote the idea that the self is greater than the group. Maybe this is just something that I’ve noticed being in America, but I find that it’s far too easy to get that validation (which I don’t agree with).

I bought into this so hard, that I used it as my only defense right out of college. My philosophy was that I was the only person who truly cared about me and my well being. I would read all this self-empowerment stuff and took it all exactly the wrong way. Instead of being willing to be vulnerable with anyone, I retreated into myself and convinced myself that I was doing the best thing. No one would be able to tell me anything that would affect me, I wouldn’t be misled or mistreated because I was taking life into my own hands. Any problems that I had would be because I put myself into them. I had no one to thank or acknowledge when I came out successful on the other side because I had made me! I was the vehicle for which this life would be best experienced. This mentality got me absolutely nowhere, but a place where I was depressed and sad for myself. I began to think that no one wanted to invest in me when really, I was just pushing all the help away and trying to shoulder things on my own.

I don’t believe there is anything wrong with wanting to create your best self or live your best life. Those are definitely things that I want, but where I went wrong was thinking that there was any value in keeping people at a distance while I figured this out. I left a lot of people out of the “inner circle” and missed a lot of opportunities to learn the most about myself. It’s critical to have some people around to bounce ideas off of or to just get feedback from. As much as I hate dating, the great thing about it is that you can get some really specific feedback about yourself, that you absolutely cannot get from going through life solitary like. There are just so many lessons out there that a person will learn from their interactions with other people, as part of a community, whether there are romantic intentions or not. Now, in my post-therapy life, I find myself trying to slip back to the old things that kept me afloat. Now I have the tools to check myself and make sure that I am no longer making decisions without involving people. The best thing for me is to realize that I can actively choose to involve people and invite their partnership in my life.

I already caught myself just this week, wanting to have alone time with my upcoming three day weekend. My friend wanted to have a gathering for his birthday, that I immediately wanted to slink out of. Because I disliked this friend? No. He’s one of my closest friends and he will be leaving my everyday life soon, to go pursue his own happiness. I felt my personal time threatened and I couldn’t handle the idea of making room for celebrating someone else. What kind of crappy bullcheat is that, Justin? I’m a jerk, I know. I felt like I had so many people trying to get me to do something over this weekend with them, that I just wanted to curl up in my bed and ignore it all. WHICH IS THE OPPOSITE OF LETTING PEOPLE IN. This is exactly what I spent 2 years in therapy trying to avoid. The next morning, I apologized to said friend and let him know that I was not trying to hate on this gathering for him. He, of course, mentioned that he understood the need for personal time, but I had to call myself out. There’s no reason to be a whiny brat when people just want to enjoy their lives and include me in that.

bb5ba6debeb32ac8ed241a97f6a1d180It’s difficult to try to turn a new leaf, but hopefully, he’ll still have me at the gathering and I’ll learn to be able to cut those kinds of thoughts/reactions out faster, instead of just jumping into them. Like it or not, I need to embrace the idea that people enjoy me and want me around. It’s something that I enjoy. There’s no need to fight it. I need people in my life. That’s just what it is.

I gotta stop trying to keep to myself and wishing that I wasn’t “here”.