Too Little Too Late

Today started like any other Tuesday.

My alarm woke me up at 5am. I made a cup of coffee. I sat down on the couch and leafed through the latest edition of Essence magazine, slowly sipping. I finished the magazine, stood up, and rushed into my husband’s arms. Eyes filled with tears, I uttered the phrase that’s been permeating my thoughts for quite some time.

“…I don’t know what I want to do with my life.”

My husband chuckled, held me tighter, and replied, “Join the club.”

Ever since COVID hit, I’ve realized more and more that life is too short to waste on things that don’t fulfill you. The “great resignation” of the past year proves I’m not the only one–we are all waking up to the fact that we can control our own lives. We don’t have to work at a place we hate for pennies; we can make our way through life in our own way, on our own terms.

These realizations are freeing and crippling (at least for me). I’m so overwhelmed, y’all. A billion questions fly through my head at any given moment: What am I passionate about? Where do I start? What do I do? How can I make a life–a comfortable, sustainable life–that brings me true joy? What is true joy anyway? Have I ever even felt it before???

There are so many things I like to do: orate, read, cook, motivate people, laugh. But I struggle to see where I stand apart in those areas, how I can bring something new and different to the world. There was an article about Tabitha Brown in the Essence I read today and good Lord–what an inspiration! That’s the kind of person I want to be: funny, kind, uplifting, a breath of fresh air. Tab’s got that lane on lock right now–she’s even got the vegan scene covered! (Veganism–particularly for Black people–is also something I find very important.)

In my head, I’m giving “too little, too late.” I feel like I missed an opportunity I didn’t even know was there. I was so focused on work and school and other people I neglected to nurture myself. I was too busy just trying to keep my head above water, going to work and coming home and paying bills like a fucking robot.

But hey, hindsight is 20/20 as they say. I can’t look backward–I’ve got to look forward. I’d never tell anyone else they’d missed their opportunity to get what they want out of life, so I won’t say that to myself.

I won’t let fear stop me from pursuing my goals either.

A lot of people know me as an outgoing, confident person. But the truth is I’m scared as shit. I’m absolutely terrified of making a mistake, causing problems, not being perfect. For the longest time I thought perfectionism drove me forward and made me successful, but now I’m realizing it hindered me in many ways too. My therapist tells me, “There is no such thing as perfect, so do what you want.

Easier said than done, right?

Especially for me, a Black woman from a tiny town who can’t seem to take her blinders off. A 30-something who can’t get out of her own head long enough to figure out what she really wants out of life. I feel like a piece of furniture from Ikea with no instructions–all the pieces are there, but I can’t figure out how to put them together. I see all these examples of excellence everywhere–Tabitha Brown, Issa Rae, and many others–and wonder how the fuck they did it.

My guess? They just tried. And if it didn’t work out, they tried again. And if that didn’t work, they tried something else!

So for 2022, I’m just gonna try shit and see what happens. Stop being scared and start doing me. Time to work on all those things I’ve wanted to do but didn’t have the time/energy/money/motivation to pursue. I’m going to focus less on “perfect” and more on authentic. Any amount of effort can’t be too little, and it definitely isn’t too late to start–I’ve got the next 30+ years of life to put myself and my dreams first.

I wish you and yours all the best in the new year–drop a comment and let me know what you’re planning to work on in 2022. One of my goals is to make this blog more interactive, so I promise to reply to comments (which I admit I haven’t been good about in the past). Maybe we can help each other become the best versions of ourselves. 🙂

Enter Sandman

Anybody else have extremely vivid dreams?

Personally, I feel like I’m not even sleeping when I dream. Everything’s in technicolor. The sounds are loud and close. I even smell what’s happening in my dreams–it’s wild! Basically my dreams are the same as what I’d experience in real life…except for the people.

The people in my dreams aren’t even close to who they are in real life.

My dream people are cruel, calculating, liars. They manipulate me and break my trust. They try to enslave me, humiliate me, even kill me. They look just like they do in real life, but they act so viciously. They terrify me. It’s hard to shake those feelings even after I wake up.

You know there’s a lot of research out there on dreams. Scientists and psychologists say they represent our innermost thoughts, fears, and desires. Your teeth falling out in a dream means you’re afraid of getting old,”–that sort of thing. So what does it mean when the people I love most–my husband, mother, close friends–betray me so brazenly in my dreams?

I think it all comes down to trust.

I have such a hard time trusting people. Well, technically that’s not true. I trust people very easily–too easily. I remember times in my childhood where friends played pranks on me because they knew I’d buy into it. I grew up believeing someone until they gave me reason not to.

In adulthood, I’ve behaved differently. I’m more calculating, more hesitant to take someone at their word. I don’t fully trust anyone, because I’ve been let down so many times before. And that’s showing up in my dreams (I think). Which, to be frank, sucks. The absolute terror I feel when I sleep creeps into my thoughts and actions when I’m awake, perpetuating the cycle of distrust. (My husband can tell you firsthand about all the side-eyes he’s gotten for something “Dream Hubs” did or said.)

So much for a restful night’s sleep.

The Outside

Never in my life have I felt more out of place than I did an hour ago.

Currently, I’m celebrating an early Christmas with my in-laws at a ski resort in Utah. They own a timeshare here and invited me to join them on their annual trip to the slopes. I accepted the invitation with enthusiasm; I’d only been to Utah once for a high school speech trip and even them I never ventured into the mountains.

I haven’t seen anyone else who looks like me here either.

The scenery is breathtaking. The mountains take up the entire skyline, coated in a think blanked of pearly snow, dotted with toothpick trees. Sunny, cloudless, with air so crisp you could bite into it. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.

Technically, that isn’t true. I did see three other Black people…working on the property. But I haven’t seen any other Black guests just enjoying their time here.

Definitely not surprising, but absolutely disappointing.

I knew this would happen. I honestly wasn’t even expecting to see the Black employees (and was was pleasantly surprised when I did). But that doesn’t make it any less isolating.

My in-laws are wonderful people, welcoming and supportive. But all their efforts don’t lessen my fears that someone will decide I don’t fit in. I’m terrified people are laughing at me, wondering why the hell this Black girl is here. Asking themselves, “Who brought her? Who does she belong to?”

Have you ever felt like this? Utterly defective, entirely out of place? It is so hard to explain unless you’ve been there. I wouldn’t wish this feeling on anyone. It makes me want to stay in the room, hiding from people who might judge me.

But I won’t hide.

Instead I’ll do my makeup, just enough to make my eyes pop and my skin glow. I’ll style my hair so it looks perfect, but still natural. I’ll put on my cutest casual outfit, something that highlights my figure and makes me stand out in the sea of bulky coats and snow pants. I’ll pretend I belong here until I feel like I actually do.

I may feel like an outsider, but I sure as hell won’t show it.

Who knows? I may even start to believe it.