Tag Archives: growth

| Don’t worry, you know that I’ve got me |

I may have mentioned this once or twice, but I have trust issues.

I started seeing a therapist a few months ago, because I recognized that I have developed a pattern of extending myself to others, then flipping the switch and isolating myself from people. There isn’t a regular time frame to this cycle. I know what it looks like, however.

I am currently in the throws of one such cycle. I am observing the choices that are presented to me and I see myself making the choices that alienate me. My therapist asked me to identify what it is that I get from being alone, that I can’t get from being around other people. Why would I choose to be alone. My answer came quickly…


I will never hurt myself. I know my triggers, I know the solutions. Unless you have ever seen me react to a musical. Then it would obvious that you know those things can soothe me like none other 😉. I can (and will) care for myself better than anyone else. A big reason for this is because I just won’t let anyone else. To be more accurate, I hadn’t until the last year.

If you know me, you’ve unfortunately been exposed to this cycle (I apologize). I’ll be around and active and all about spending time with you, then I’ll just drop off the face of the earth. Sooner or later, I’ll emerge as suddenly as I disappeared, almost as if I’d never been gone.

If we are friends, I apologize to you. I’m ashamed to admit that in most cases, I keep things superficial. I’ll let you share with me when you’re hurting or upset. I’ll give you advice (whether or not you want it, oops). I’ll encourage you if you need a little push. However, I will not let you do that for me.

I’m sorry that I haven’t trusted you enough to let you be an ally. I didn’t think highly enough of you that I could trust you to keep a secret for me. I didn’t believe you when you thought that something I said was interesting or entertaining. I sold you short and thought that the strength of our friendship was directly correlated to how much I could do for you, in hopes that you wouldn’t notice me keeping you at arm’s length.

When I ask myself what I’m looking for, I realize that I’m looking for someone (or some people) that will have my back. I’m looking for a ride or die, a group of friends that feel like family, a steady roster of folk that I can enlist for my audacious adventures whenever the mood strikes. People that won’t pass out when I wax poetic about the genius of Timbaland or geek out over Pokemon Go (Yes, I’m one of those people).

However, this does not happen by magic. I can’t expect to find depth of relationship if I don’t dig a little deeper myself. So, after my apologizing, I would like to ask for some help.

Don’t be afraid to ask me the hard questions. Ask me how I’m really doing, ask me about how I’m moving forward in life, how I’m challenging myself. Ask me what I want to accomplish within the next year. Don’t take my wishy-washy non-committal answers. Invite me to get vulnerable.

I need all the practice that I can get.

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| Move it Along |

Everybody hurts.

Everybody gets hurt.

One hurt does not mean that you stop progressing, but it sometimes leads people to move to actions that will keep them from feeling that same hurt again and again.

inspirational quote

I saw this quote online earlier, and it registered with me pretty deeply.

The older that I get, the more I understand that life isn’t so much about what happens to you, but how you react to the things that happen to you. The power is then, checking how you react to something, and how you learn from it/move forward from it. It sounds like it’d be a simple thing, but I’m really checking myself lately on how this works out in real life.  There’s that old cliche about lemons being given and lemonade being made.

Seriously though, I think there is something to be said about the fact that we try to come up with coping mechanisms for things, and those coping mechanisms work for a season or two in our lives, but there is a point after which, these things become nothing more than a crutch for behavior(s) that we’ve become accustomed to and are too comfortable with to manage in any other way.

I am not the king of the silly self-imposed rule, but I am somewhere in the high court of the silly self-imposed rule kingdom. Of course, some of these rules that I follow are not silly, and some of them just need to be re-examined as relics of a previous iteration of myself that could be given a makeover. One example of such a thing is my “No dancing in public” rule. At one time in my life, this was actually a requirement of me, as a member of a Christian fraternity, but I have clung to such things because it keeps me from making a fool of myself in front of people in dancing situations.(I’m not a horrible dancer, but not all of us are MJ ok?) I’m sure there’s not that much wrong with cutting a rug in public (I’m actually told that it’s fun), but it’s something that I haven’t wanted to let go. I fear that the time for the death of that rule is upon me, based on a semi-recent conversation I had with Iona and Helene… (Yup, I just called y’all out in a blog!)

The face of the: “don’t hold yourself back so much” movement, for me, has been my friend Laura. She really pushes me to just question the motives behind my actions (or non-actions), and encourages me to rage against that machine.  (I think I just became a robot in my mind? Not quite sure on that one.) I have appreciated being able to take a step back sometimes, and really think about where some of these things come from, and how they can affect my current or future happiness, without any real reason or logic.

The fun thing is to now see how many of those rules, when destroyed, invite others to get to know me in ways that they might not have previously. This can be a tool for infinitely more true connections with others, or deepening existing connections with people. This, being the 11th anniversary of my 21st birthday, seems like a really good time to try out something new.

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| Nice to meet you… |

I’m going to quote one of my favorite rappers, Mr. Shawn Carter:

“Allow me to reintroduce myself…”

Some of you might think you know me. Some of you might miss me a lot (aww, that’s so kind of you. I miss you too!). Some of you might simply wonder: “Who does this foolio think he is?”. I AM A VER– *ahem*. I am a very important and interesting person, thank you very much.

If I haven’t seen you in quite a while, I apologize. We should really make plans to hang out soon. If you haven’t seen me in a while, I might want to warn you that I’m looking a little different these days. In the last 2 months or so, I have gone ahead and lost a bit of weight (currently 33 lbs. lighter), I have stretched my earlobes, and I have procured a nice tattoo. I was asked today if I’m rebelling against something, with all these modifications and changes.

The best way to explain this, is to say that I’m finally starting to arrive. I am usually fashionably late to the party, however, it’s usually a pretty good turnout.

This is the image that I got tattooed on my arm last saturday. I got it tattooed on the inside of my right arm. Fancy yes?

My original plan was to have a line of text be the tattoo. It was going to be something along the lines of: “Never settle for being a carbon copy of you.” The basic idea is that I feel like, the duration of this year has really helped me grow. I was able to let go of some big baggage, and I think that I’m definitely on the way to really becoming/showing the real Justin that I’ve been growing into. The base of this design is the logo of the city of Oakland. I chose this, because I believe this journey started in Oakland and materialized itself in Oakland. 6 years ago, I was part of an urban mission trip that took place here. I learned a lot about myself here, and I felt the calling to reside here. It took me about 4 years to actually move here.

The group that I was here with, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, was an organization that I wanted to work for. That was the idea before I was done with college, I thought that I would be able to jump into that life and start doing that for a living making a difference in the lives of college students. I decided that I wanted to do this really from the beginning of my time in the fellowship. The actual transition from my idea to the realization of the opportunity to be on staff, it took about 3.5 years. (Noticing a pattern?)

When I finally had the chance to move to Oakland, it was at the hands of my career as a staff worker. Truth be told, I couldn’t really live the life of a staff worker, because I owed too much money to the gov’t. (YAY expensive diplomas). 4 years after the initial desire, I was finally in Oakland, but I wasn’t really there. I was too into working, and I didn’t get any time to really insert myself into the community. It really took me almost 2 years here for me to feel comfortable enough to actually put myself out there.

So the trend is, I get an idea, and I want to do something. However, I’m usually not ready when I want to do it. This past year in Oakland has been an awakening. The tree is a symbol for patience and growth. Here one on hand, it represents where so much happened. On the other hand, it’s a reminder that good things take time. It takes a lifetime for a tree to mature and show itself. It does not have days or weeks to prove itself.

I am finally feeling like it’s ok to put myself out into the world. There is a lot to go, I am far from who I want to end up being, but it’s a lifetime challenge to become that person. I have nothing to prove to anyone, but myself. God planted the seed, and knew what He was growing. I just have to be patient enough to see/allow it to happen.

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