Never Let Go

Truth - It's part of human nature to recall the bad times more often than the positive things that we experience. Those embarrassing moments, the tragedies, and all the struggles we endure stick out in our minds like a Kardashian at a MENSA meeting. We carry the pain, worry, and fear of things that happened with us wherever we go. Everyone endeavors to move on from what occurred in the past but some moments are too big to discard. What about when we keep making the same mistakes? What has to change for us for it to sink in? How do you hold on and never let go?

"We need to change the culture of this topic and make it OK to speak about mental health and suicide" Luke Richardson
If there was one thing I wish I could make normal it would be that it was socially acceptable to actually share how you're doing and be authentic about it. If only it was okay to tell other people how you're really doing all the time. I would want it to not be weird, off-putting, or seem out of character for someone to really process how they're feeling and to vocalize it. I wish people asked how people were doing not just to be courteous but because they really cared about one another and were ready to accept any answer as legitimate and follow up accordingly. Why is it awkward for someone to let you know that they're having a tough time, dealing with something, or not feeling well? Why does that bother you? Why does that make you uncomfortable? Why is it all of a sudden all about you? It's insincere, selfish, and to be honest saddening. Where's the humility, generosity, and compassion for your fellow person? What do you lose by actually being invested in someone other than yourself for a few minutes. Can you recount all the times you wished someone has genuinely asked you how you were? What a difference it makes to be candid with people. Even if there's no resolution, just sharing your feelings with other people is powerful. It also is up to you to be brave enough to tell people your reality. Sometimes their offer of listening is present and other times it isn't but either way, you owe it to yourself to be your own advocate. You speak it out loud and never let go. 

It's so easy for us to believe people to live perfect lives. We all know people who we imagine to never deal with hardship. They always seem happy, to gave everything go their way, and not a care in the world. I really doubt that's their story because for so many people I know I'm who they think of. I'm the poster boy for upbeat, positive, and that practically perfect picturesque life. My reality is that I just refrain from telling people about my life in general. It's ironic because I share my life publicly on this blog and yet leave a whole lot out. It's not all puffy white clouds, crayons, and bubbles. I decided that I wouldn't share my word or really talk about my stuff unless people asked and I can count the number of times people ever bothered to ask or asked the right questions. I'm not the kind of person to put it all out there to a certain extent but I never wanted to be a burden to other people. I still struggle with getting real and being vulnerable with others. Here is one of those places where I share my all. I guess I also know that what I've been given I can handle so it doesn't bother me as much anymore. 

We never know what other people are carrying with them. We have no idea what people deal with. We don't know their stories or their truths. All we know is what they tell us, what we see, and what we perceive. It's not enough. There's so much more to know about one another. People are infinitely more complicated than we write them out to be. Their stories are more complex than we can ever comprehend. We use assumptions to make judgments. That's part of how we interact with the world and people in it. Those judgments though can never tell the whole story. Be the person to ask more questions. Dig deeper, be better, and think harder. Smile, do something kind for someone else and expect nothing in return, and give a hug. Why is someone the way they are? What else is going on for them? What have they experienced? People make a lot more sense when you take the time to learn the stories they're willing to share. Hold on to those and never let them go. It's uncanny how drastically your ideas of who people are can change with what they tell/show you.

Everything happens at different times for everyone. Don’t get caught trying to sprint in a marathon, do what is within your means and always push yourself to be better. #runYOURrace #positivity wins in the end!
Fake smiling may very well be the bane of existence. I wish people didn't have to smile to make other people feel comfortable. The amount of times I'm crinkled my face into a half-assed smile or grin almost always for the sake of other people cannot even be counted. It's something I had to learn and continue to make myself do because my natural composure apparently looks scary. What I realized was that "resting bitch" face and it's variants of the mean, unapproachable, or just downright scary persuasion had less to do with what m or other people's faces looked like when they weren't emoting but rather who they were and the identities they carried with them. Take Serena Williams for example -together with her sister, Venus, literally changed the face of tennis and yet are constantly berated on their appearances. People tell them to smile and to be happy and maybe because women are supposed to be upbeat and available for small talk or engagement at any point in time. The sexism is beyond ridiculous. Why should someone have to smile if they don't want to, it isn't real, or because other people need them to?

Take it a step further and compound that with race with black skin apparently eliciting fearful responses in some people and you get people who require your smile to let them know you don't intend to harm them. A smile, unbeknownst to people of color everywhere, is the universal way to let people know you're not dangerous. The racism is embarrassingly obvious. All I'm saying is I've never heard of a white man being told or chastised to smile because he looked mean or scary. In fact, the grumpy cat look is quite well known to middle aged white man everywhere - Jeremy Renner anyone? I'm tired of smiling for the benefit of others to feel comfortable around me. I honestly do not care about your preconceived notions of me and refuse to waste a smile on someone who doesn't deserve one from me. Do you know how taxing it is to constantly pretend you're happy, check your tone, and be mindful of your well everything because if you don't police yourself someone else will (#MileyWhatsGood or respectability politics). If I'm mad, sad, or unenthusiastic why am I not allowed to be? Why does my demeanor terrify you when it's just how I am normally? That's a life lesson I'll never let go but one that I seriously wish I didn't have to learn. 

These posters were made by the organization Stop Telling Women to Smile, who have been working to end street harassment nationwide and possibly even worldwide. Street harassment, which often crosses the line into sexual harassment, is something that many women across the nation face on a daily basis. It can be demeaning, hurtful, upsetting, and affect the way that you go about your day. gk
My first two years of high school were nothing short of awful. Being bullied at school left me all but silent. I could go to school and legitimately not speak to anyone for days on end. I would go home and spend hours in my room alone just playing games, reading, or doing homework. It got to a point where I didn't want to have to endure the harassment, constant nervousness, and feeling of invisible anymore. I had decided I no longer wanted to exist. You know how I talk about my sister, Bianca, all the time? What happened next is why. I vaguely talked about not wanting to be alive anymore and she expressed that she couldn't live without me, that I mattered to her, and that she loved me. She was the first person who had spoken those words to me and that I had really taken to heart. Most times it had been implied or the subtext was there but she had out and said it. I knew she meant it. She had saved my life. I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for her love. So much has changed and now my family and even with my friends, verbalizing how I feel about them has become more common. It has been so empowering and freeing. That's not to say all is always well from then on but I had received hope.
There were times in college, particularly those long nights staying up to do homework or program where I felt hopeless. Even more so where the times where I made mistakes and wanted to hurt myself. Add in those moments where I questioned my purpose, value, and humanity and those were times where those thoughts of worthlessness, despair, and self harm crept in. Contemplating cutting, or burning myself were some of those dark thoughts that reoccurred. For me, wanting or being expected to be perfect and happy all the time almost destroyed me. In college I only ever told my senior year roommate, Zach, and his response was exactly what I had needed. He let me know that it was okay to make mistakes, fine to fail, and that the world (and campus) would survive without me rushing in to save the day. I'm one the lucky ones because my tough times were aided by others. Not everyone is so lucky. Suicide ideation is a serious issue and prevention is on all of us especially on college campuses where the pressures of life, lack of stability, or bullying among so many other things can lead people to places where they think about or act out hurting themselves or others. If you notice someone demonstrating the signs of contemplating suicide do something, say something, and be someone who cares. Get help or be the help someone needs. Tell someone what's going on do you and trust that they will take you seriously. Schedule an appointment your counseling center and talk to a professional. Call a hotline and talk to someone. You are not alone. Things do get better if only give them the time to do so. Never let go. 

*It's suicide prevention month - which inspired this post. For more information and to get help click here - Everyday Matters

Your existence is one of a kind. You are part of so many other people's lives. Your presence is necessary, wanted, and needed. Your actuality is authentic, genuine, and powerful. Your essence is irreplicable, unadulterated, and undeniable. Your impact is immeasurable. Above all else know that you are irreplaceable. You matter, not only to yourself but to so many others - believe that to be true and never let go of it. X


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