The World Needs You To Be Great…

I’ve always liked the tone of my life to be sweet and slow. Even in youth my favorite passtime was listening to the quiet storm on the radio. I wanted to be in love, and I wanted it unabashedly. I didnt know it at the time, but there were going to be many full moons before I discovered the most important requirement for loving; it began with loving myself.

It also didn’t help that my nearest role models for what positive influence looked like were my mother, her three male brothers, a semi-distant father, and a brother that was still developing as a man.

My brother (bless his heart) was too young to know independence and mature love. My father was busy stewing on his grievances towards my mother. My uncles were like the three amigos just trying to figure out what love was, and mom was our sole support.

My uncles were cheaters, liars, comics, boozers, and within the web of human frailties they were all doing the best they could. Consciously, I knew that I was loved. In retrospect I knew that each of them, including my mother, didn’t really know how to love.

As with most traumas, I did what a traumatized person does best. I tried to be a “good” girl. I tried not to need to much. I tried not be too vocal. I tried to live in mediocrity because no one was demanding more of me.

Most importantly, I tried to stop wanting the tone of my life to be sweet and slow. I tried to stop wanting love.

Thankfully, I never quite hit the mark.

I didn’t hit the mark because I was the mark. I was a moving target for other peoples trauma. Hurt people hurt people they say and I got hurt often in my family environment. My favorite uncle was the second eldest of the brothers. He was my uncle who would play uno cards with me and offer me beer. In one instant he was fun and light hearted. In the next he’d hit me.

He once pinned me up against a wall with his elbow because I was homesick. He was the first man that I stifled my voice to feel safe around.

My mother was no exception. She was my favorite person in the world. Still, she had a temper. She hit me once for eating a box of cereal in three days. I would later discover that it wasn’t about the cereal. It was about her relationship with my sister’s father. Again, hurt people hurt people.

After years of toxicity and hurt, I recreated relationships that mirrored my childhood. Even more jarring is the fact that I’m still trying to be a “good” girl. I still try not to need too much and to not take up too much space. I still have been living in mediocrity. The difference is that now I’m tired.

Recently, I’d come home late at night, feel lonely, and wonder what was wrong with me. After a few weeks of feeling this way I decided to make some changes. I’ve challenged beliefs about myself and my body by cutting my hair. I’ve started to end toxic relationships. I’ve begun to focus more on people who I love and feel loved by. And I’ve been spending more time doing the things that I love to do.

I’ve begun to refocus on me. and I’ve stopped waiting for someone to validate me. I’m becoming my own rescue.

See the thing is that many times I wait around for someone to teach me how to live and show me who to be. What I’ve learned is that no one is going to give me permission to be great. Self-love has become my redemptive decision.

If you’re reading this and you’re like me. You’re a “good girl”Ā  waiting for someone to give you permission to be great. My advice is to go to the mirror and to give it to yourself. Tell yourself all the things you need to hear, because the world needs you to be great.

I’d like to think that I am back to love and wanting it unabashedly, but I don’t need my life to be sweet and slow. That was a fantasy. What I want is different.

I want to help other women and to support young girls in becoming powerful women.

Also, there’s one last thing I’d like to add. Yes, hurt people hurt people, and healed people heal people too.

Thanks for stopping by. Lets talk again soon. šŸ’—

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I Dare You to Say All Lives Matter.

Today I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and ran across this status: “All Lives Matter.” It was a young woman’s response to her take on the Black Lives Matter movement. Though we were friends online I must admit I didn’t know much about her. I knew that she was White and I assumed it probably contributed to her opinion. It wasn’t until I scrolled through her post’s responses that I also learned about herĀ privilege. AllĀ of the people who responded were also young and White. The post had about fifty responses at the time that I read through it. People were going back and forth about why the Black Lives Matter movement either was or was not important. The person whom I was the most familiar with said things like Black people also had the highest crime rate. He told one person to get off their high horse for supporting the movement. One comment that stuck out the most was: “It’s funny you’re all a bunch of privileged hipsters arguing about a movement that doesn’t affect you at all.”

By the end of scrolling through the comments I was shaking. I noticed that not one person of color had been a part of the discussion. In the moment I felt uncomfortable. I felt angry. I also felt afraid. The fear steamed from a deep seeded belief that in my Blackness I could never be as controversial as that without ostracizing at least a handful of White friends. I felt angry because as a Black person, the fight to own my Blackness, and to matter didn’t come without an assumption that I’m trying to discredit every other person or race. Finally the discomfort came from a realization that as person who also has a stand on such matters I’d have to take it. I’m finally seeing that in the art of conflict trying to be neutral is dangerous. The truth is in a war somebody always has to surrender.

The thing is at least for me,Ā things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Saying Black Lives Matter doesn’t negate the importance of other lives who aren’t Black. Still I personally would like to disassociate from Black Lives Matter shaming. It goes without saying that the world needs peace throughout, and it’s okay to assert that a specific culture matters too. My name is Brittaney. I have a Black life and it matters. Thanks for stopping by and let’s talk again soon.

Heavy (A Poem By Me)

Heavy

It’s been said that in writing your state of being shouldn’t be revealed but described. That’s why I’ve decided Ā to expose every detail of this hell. No jail for prison would be more inviting than watching one more person be killed. When the war is in your front yard your back and your heart. When you don’t know how to operate within a system that was constructed to see you deconstruct. When you’ve done everything “right.” From not kissing that boy because kissing made babies. To getting good grades at school while steadily being on the road to a college education just so those around you would pat you on your head and say well done. Only to look up and find yourself still running in circles but the only other option which hurts you is to sit politely in a corner waiting for the world to say it’s your turn while knowing that well behaved women never make history. Man it burns to yearn for a reparation that cannot repair anything. Can your solace Ā bring my grandmother back? She left my mother to face a world that did not understand her only to make her feel that she was wrong for dreaming of more. I implore someone to tell me. For I too have a dream or had. See how can you reap life when it has not been sewed into you? How do you win when there was no one to teach you how to beat the odds? How do you stay alive since we’re all just trying to avoid dying? My mother said you’re a millennial and I’m a survivor. Well I’d like to see before we part that our hearts see what it’s like to be actualized. To be validated. To be valuable. No longer does the woman have to be the mule of the earth. I want to know my worth! For now can you see what’s coursing through me. The dread the prevents my sleep. The deaths that should bring me to my knees but instead keep me on my feet for fear that if I don’t stand I will fall for anything. Is it now clear? Does the description seem petty or is now obvious that my heart is heavy?

Thanks for stopping by and let’s talk again soon.

The Thing You Must Do.

This morning I awoke to an email from a Navy seaman friend of mine who I haven’t spoken to in months. It was awesome to hear from her. Before entering the Navy she and I had been writing buddies. We actually shared a blog (monalisasmiles) on blogspot. She is one of the most inspirational writers I know. Her email to me was profound, but what stuck out the most were these words: “You Must Write. The laughter, the ugly, and the beautiful.”

In the moment I agreed. I was ready to share every truth nestled within me. Of course they’re my personal truths but no one can expose my inner truths better than me. Then an unexpected thing happened. I began to think of all the “reasons” I’m not worthy enough to share my writing. I’m not popular. I’m not skinny. I’m not rich. It really unsettled me. So much so that when the time came for my head to hit the pillow, I couldn’t sleep. Then it hit me. I realized the truth. I must write but I also must be willing to do so much more.

The thing is at least for me, I don’t have to measure my life by how many likes I get on Facebook. I’ve wondered away from the purpose in being. It’s not to be loved or hated but to be fully alive. I have a voice. I have a story. I have an opportunity to share. I live with the tools I need to be a part of affecting this earth. So hi I’m Brittaney. I’m queer, I’m Black, I’m fat, and I am a woman. I present many qualities that have been misrepresented in the world. By God’s grace I am still here. For this reason I can’t shut up. It’s not just writing! It’s speaking up, taking up space, striving, living intentionally, and the list goes on… these are the things that I must do. No one else can do it for me. Thanks for stopping by and let’s talk again soon.

It’s All in What You Do?

I’ve been wanting to move back to New York for awhile. It wasn’t until about March of 2016 when I concretely decided that I was relocating. Once I decided to come back I remembered that a former employer of mine told me that I could return at anytime. It’s important to mention that I had worked with this company for almost two years and it was one of the most rewarding job experiences of my life. I hadn’t earned much financially, but I was thrilled to go in to work.

This is why when my former employer said they’d be happy to have me back I was super stoked! I’d have a job lined up and it would be with this particular company. As soon as I confirmed my position I told four people that I was going back. Three of them said… “damn.” They were all upset for me! The fourth person who also happened to be the last, reacted really supportively. I recounted how everyone else seemed upset for me. It made me feel as if going back was bad or wrong. After sharing my feelings with the fourth person we both agreed then and there. We wouldn’t let what we do define who we were. Instead we’d let who we were optimize what we do.

The thing is at least for me, value is not defined by a job title. I’ve been through several job experiences in the past few years. I’ve made more money in some but it didn’t make them a good fit. I am in no way saying that making more money equals job misery while making less means job liberation. What I am saying is that from this point forward I’m going to go with positions that align with my passions and desires. For me it’s not what you do that’s unique it’s why you do it. Thanks for stopping by and let’s talk again soon.

You Don’t Have to Believe to Take Action.

Today I was talking to my girlfriend and I made the statement “things are looking up.” We’re moving in together and we haven’t been able to find an apartment that’s in our price range. When the words came out of my mouth I didn’t believe a word of them and I even proceeded to knock on wood. Once we were off of the phone I wondered to myself. When had I become so cynical? Then the words ” you don’t have to believe to take action” whispered up from somewhere inside. I thought of the ‘dryer theory’ that had occurred to me a few months ago when my mom was moving into a new apartment. My mom had decided that she didn’t want to take this old beat up dryer into the new place. My girlfriend decided that she had a great idea. She suggested that we place the dryer on a blanket and drag it to the dump.

In my mind I thought that it was the most stupid idea I had ever heard. I didn’t believe it would work. Instead of making my girlfriend feel bad about her suggestion I chose to simply give it a try. It was the easiest time I’d ever had moving a piece of furniture. It worked simply because I had taken action in spite of my belief. Fast forward to present day. I’ve become a bit of a cynic. I don’t believe that good things will happen to me. I experienced a bit of a rough year in 2015. I lost my job, I gained 100 pounds, and I chose to leave one of the greatest cities on earth New York city. When I pay attention I see that good things have happened. I spent a year getting closer to my mom and sister, I met my girlfriend, and I was able to pause for awhile in order to discover what really matters to me but my faith in the universe is suppressed. And that’s ok.

The thing is, at least for me is that I still don’t believe in a lot. I don’t believe that I’ll ever lose this 100 extra pounds. I don’t believe that I’ll ever find a career that values me and in which I feel valuable. Heck I don’t even believe that my girlfriend and I will find ourselves an apartment. But the truth is I don’t have to. I simply need to keep taking action and maybe just maybe my belief will catch up. In the mean time I’ll treat life like a dryer on a blanket and keep on pulling. Thanks for stopping by and let’s talk again soon.

It’s Okay If You Don’t Like HBCU’s.

There’s no tasteful way to say this. I didn’t like my HBCU experience. Choosing to hold that in for the last eleven years is the equivalent of hiding any other trauma. You think its your fault. You don’t want people to be mad at you. You don’t want to be the anomaly. But what if I’m not? It took me six years to graduate and I was completely clueless. I feel like no one talks about it. The experience can be hard. The first year I spent getting high and doing absolutely nothing. I failed English twice and then became an English major only to fail it twice more before taking it seriously. In the second year I gained fifty pounds and became a dorm room recluse for over half of the semester. During the third year I had a nervous breakdown and was suspended from school for writing a twenty-one page manifesto about my experience. Year four seemed a bit better I met a new friend and even lost a good bit of weight. Year five I had another nervous breakdown because said friend found different friends and fell in love with someone that wasn’t me. Year six was spent working my ass off because I had been in college way too long and needed to graduate. In all of it I felt completely alone.

The hardest part of the whole experience was the social construct. I won’t lie I did connect with a few people that I occasionally speak with in present day. Some others are my Facebook friends and it’s nice to see their lives play out through social media. But I got nothing from the HBCU college experience. My former school’s slogan is “You can get anywhere from here.” I’m currently unemployed and sleeping on my mother’s couch. If I could do it over I would not have attended my HBCU. Let’s be clear I am a proud Black woman who loves Black culture, but I’ve learned that environments foster emotions and actions. If you don’t feel good get out. Don’t spend six years like I did trying to make a metaphorical shoe fit that was too small.

My mom used to tell me that in the end I wouldn’t know half the people that I attended college with. She was right. What’s sad is that I spent so much time and energy worried that I would. Now I can never get that time back. The thing is at least for me, you only get one life per lifetime. I no longer want to waste it. In the end it’s impossible to please everyone. That’s why I had to write this post. Yet, ultimately I’m sure there’s still more for me to look forward to in the future. I am also certain that my the degree will benefit my career at some point in time. But I will never forget the trials and tribulations that got me to the degree. I can confidently say I did not like my HBCU experience. Thanks for stopping by and let’s talk again soon.

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