It’s a cliche because it’s true

I’ve got a pretty good life, I must say. There are things I’d like to change, but none of my goals seems impossible. I have a husband I adore, great friends, and I’m starting to finally meet people in Houston.

Nevertheless, I’m feeling reflective. I’m 28, so my biological is starting to tick. I want a house and kids. I want work/life balance. I want to be a better person. I want to be able to take care of my mom when she is no longer able to take care of herself. I don’t want (o settle for a life that is just “good enough”; I want to CHOOSE my life rather than just reacting to it.

In order to do all these things, I have to let go of some things that do not serve my purposes. And in reevaluating my path I’ve come to realize that a lot of the advice and sayings my parents used all. the. time. when I was growing up are true as hell. For example:

  1. Birds of a feather, flock together. If you are the only person in your circle of friends who prioritizes fitness, education, religion, or whatever–it’s far more likely that they will influence you than the other way around. It doesn’t even have to be peer pressure, but the subconscious knowledge that you can do less of what you claim to be about, and not be judged will make you start slipping.
  2. Actions speak louder than words. This a one sentence sermon! Don’t believe what people tell you unless their actions match! To be nice or avoid conflict, folks will say a whole lot of things…and then not follow through.
  3. Knowledge is power. This can cut two ways, the first being that looks fade but education is forever. The second is that information is currency so- DON’T TELL EVERYONE YOUR BUSINESS. S–t.
  4. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. All the hard work and dedication in the world won’t help you if you don’t know the person who can get you that raise, promotion, new job, etc.
  5. Treat others the way you want to be treated/You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. It doesn’t hurt you to be nice to anyone and you never know when a favor will pay itself back threefold. Conversely, keep treating folks any old way and it will catch up to you. God don’t like ugly.
  6. It’s not what you’re called, it’s what you answer to.  You have to live with yourself forever. That’s a long time. Get comfortable with yourself. Because if you don’t? You will define yourself by the labels that other people assign to you. You can’t teach folks how to treat you if you don’t know who you are.

The list goes on… but suffice it to say, parents are always right.*

 

<small>*Don’t tell my dad that, lol. Happy Father’s Day!</small>

Adulting.

Yeah…so today I realized that in about two months I’ll be 27 years old.

Where did the time go???


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The last time I was really aware of my age and could rattle it off without thinking was around 22 or so. After that, I kinda lost track. But now I am for real almost 30 years old. It explains a lot about why I have to work harder just to maintain my weight (uggghhh). But it’s only gonna get harder from here, so I’m going to suck it up and get it right, get it tight from now through 2015. This time next year I want to be down 30lbs and on autopilot with my diet and workouts. I’m getting there with baby steps, though. My knee that I had surgery on is doing worlds better; I still can’t run full out but I’m on the treadmill jogging and have made noticeable progress in just two weeks. My main motivation is that if I were to have a baby tomorrow, I’d be feeling more than the usual discomfort with my post pregnancy weight.Pregnancy is a lot of work for your body and it’s a good deal easier if you’re already in shape.  I don’t plan on having kids for another 2 or 3 years, but I want to be read. Speaking of which, somebody tell my uterus to shut up. Literally overnight I went from “Kids? Yeah, they’re all right” to “Oooh you should have a BABY!” Not. cool. Sunny was super excited to hear about me considering motherhood (and I’m sure my mother would be too, which is why I’m not mentioning it). Kids are just so much damn WORK. And time. And money. I need us to have a  house before we have a kid. I would not make it if I had an infant underfoot in an apartment. No ma’am!

In other news, the job search continues. It’s been 18 months since I graduated law school and I’ve had exactly one offer for full time employment that I had to turn down, and that just happened last week. It hurt my feelings too. The offer was from a private financial services firm to be a full time tax preparer. However, I was expected to work at least 12 hours a day M-F and 8 hours every Saturday during the 10  weeks of tax season. With no overtime pay for a salary that worked out to about $14 after taxes. I reallllly wanted to take it, but I had to be honest with myself that I would not make it. As much as I enjoy working with people, as an introvert I need time to recharge. 12 hour days, plus a 2 hr round trip commute and I don’t even get a full weekend? Shoot, I wouldn’t be even to be able to enjoy a quiet lunch & dinner in the break room because the schedule is so onerous, folks’ families come camp out at the office. Where they do that at? Plus, they still wanted me to work a full 40 hour week the rest of the year even though business drops off by like 200%. Come on now, I’m working slave hours almost 1/4 of the year and y’all can’t give me one Friday off a month? The pros and cons just didn’t balance out for me, especially since I’d be getting no more experience than what I’m getting doing taxes part time and on my own schedule.

I’m at the point where I’ve about had it with sending out resumes and begging people to hire me. I plan to form an LLC since my dad hired me as a legal consultant for his company, and I was thinking why not take it all the way and start my own firm? It will be a lot of work on the front end (I’d need like 3 business bank accounts), but one thing I do have is time. Not to mention, the legal landscape is changing and law practice is changing. So why not create a virtual practice for the 21st century? I’ve seen so many of my college classmates become successful entrepreneurs, and I definitely have a valuable expertise. I used to think that I would need 5-10 years of experience to run my own firm. Now, I’m not so sure. I think I may be underestimating myself. Most small business owners get in trouble over taxes/improper accounting and I’ve already got the jump on that. I certainly won’t be violating any laws. So why not take the plunge? I want a flexible job, where I can pick who I work for, get paid a living wage, and do the things that I’m good at and also enjoy doing. If there isn’t a job out there waiting for me, I just might have to make one.

 

Millenial Blues

It’s been a rough year for me.

I graduated from law school last May and still haven’t found a full time job. Obviously, a forced relocation that uprooted me from my network and delayed my taking the bar exam for an additional six months didn’t help. Still, who knew it would be so hard for an educated, able bodied person to find meaningful work? And by meaningful I mean something in a professional field (I’d prefer to at least be a paralegal but at this point, I’ll take a secretary job) that pays at least $10/hr. It just seems like every time I get close, something happens to knock me off my ass again. I had a great internship at a non-profit last summer that was an audition for a full time job. They gave the full time position to another intern who was less qualified than me, who kept the job for just under a year and moved on (I know that because we’re connected on LinkedIn). I really wanted that job and had they given it to me, Tex and I would still be in Atlanta. But I guess it just wasn’t meant for me.

Seeing as Texas hasn’t been hit as hard in the economic downturn, I had high hopes for finding employment in Houston. Tex is employed but underpaid- we’re a hair above “just barely making it” without any income from me. I had a talk with one of my law school gal pals and realized my law degree was screening me out, so I have removed it from my resume. So I spend my days getting up at 8am like I have a job to go to, applying to jobs, working out in the afternoons, and watching tv. It’s depressing. I don’t have any friends or family of my own here. I gotta say, being a housewife is no fun unless you’re rich. It’s almost enough to make me wish I had a baby just so there would be some purpose and meaning to my days. I’ve still got the tax preparer gig, but summer session is slow and they overhired. Since I’m the newbie, I’m not getting hours anymore and tax season doesn’t start until January. Bar results aren’t out til November. So what the fuck am I supposed to do in the meantime?

I know that you shouldn’t worry and pray. But it’s hard not to be anxious when your bank account balance is always hovering close to zero after paying rent, and you have to keep borrowing from your ever dwindling savings account just to make ends meet. I wish I had Tex’s assuredness that everything is going to be okay. Part of me is just angry. I feel like I did all the right things, and even if I didn’t, I worked my ass off and made the best decisions I could. As a working class black girl from the south side of town, there were certain things I just didn’t know. Sure, I could have chosen a different major, done different extracurriculars, or chosen a different graduate degree but that only would have happened if I could somehow go back in time with what I know now. I’m not expecting to be on easy street before I turn 30. But can I at least make some fucking progress? I know there are plenty of folks out there who aren’t as smart or as hard working as I am who are doing far better financially. I try to count my blessings instead of other people’s. But will the struggle ever end? Can I at least get to the point where I can maintain instead of playing catch-up? I just want to be able to use my God-given, school-refined talents to make a living. Why is that seemingly so impossible? On top of everything, my car is breaking down so I’m scared to  go farther than the grocery store for fear my car will overheat. I’m trying to preserve it for when I really need it, like to go on job interviews. But that means I can’t go out to networking events, which are all 20-30 minutes away in downtown Houston. I don’t know anyone I can catch a ride with either, and Tex works on the opposite side of town so he can’t get me anywhere I need to be before 7pm, which is when most events are ending. Plus, apparently networking ain’t free anymore- you’ve got to pay cover.

I try really hard to put a brave face on. I pray and try to put it out of my mind. But every day I don’t have a job is a day I feel useless. Unwanted. What was the point of 7 years of higher education, when I could have stopped at high school and been in the same position? Possibly a better one, since I’d have 7 years of work experience? By the way, entry level ain’t what it used to be. Jobs that required a college degree when I was in college, now only require a GED. If you do need a degree for the job, you also need 5, 7, 10 years work experience- just to be able to make $50,000/yr or $40k/yr with benefits. It’s insane. *sigh* In my heart, I know that God will provide. He’s never let me down yet. But the doubt in my mind is hard to quiet. I used to feel like I could never fail. I was valedictorian, voted most likely to succeed, got into the honors program at a top ten public university and survived law school, even if I didn’t necessarily conquer it. I guess this is just my test…patience isn’t my biggest virtue. But giving up isn’t an option. I have to make it. I have to.

Daddy Issues

On Saturday I graduated from law school. And as excited and thankful as I was, something cast a pall over the celebration because my dad wasn’t there for me.

Yes, he and my stepmother came to the celebration. But they refused to sit on the same row as everyone else because my mother’s boyfriend (henceforth referred to as her partner, because saying boyfriend is weird at their age) was there. When I left the arena and came to hug my father, his words were not “Congratulations, I’m so proud of you” but “I love you but I hate that son of a b*tch.” When we went out to the courtyard, I was savoring the moment, chatting with my siblings but he broke it up to say “Let me get my pictures so we can leave.” He had told me earlier in the week that he had to work, and since then his sister had been taken to the hospital for surgery related to her cancer treatment. Understandable. But in his haste to leave he didn’t refer to that, he talked about how he couldn’t stand to be around my mom’s partner. As a gift, he gave me the money to treat everyone to lunch but stipulated that it wasn’t to be spent on “that man”.

The rest of us went to lunch and had a wonderful time. But it bugged me, not least of all because the words I thought I’d hear from my father came from my mom’s partner. He was the one who gave me a big hug and said, “Congratulations, I’m proud of you. You did good.” Today I spoke to him on the phone. He tried to explain himself and say that my mom’s partner says inappropriate things. “He is just so arrogant and pompous. He had the nerve to say- in front of me, your father~- that he needed to walk around and catch you so he could have the first picture.” I responded by saying he just likes to joke and you have to ignore it, and honestly I was a little disappointed because I felt that he let his dislike for my mom’s partner, overshadow my accomplishment. From there the conversation devolved into a monologue of how ungrateful I was, how dare I say that after all he’s done for me when mom’s partner has done nothing; that the fact he’s been around as long as my stepmom is irrelevant because he and my mom aren’t married; that if I take pictures with him at my wedding he’ll be hurt and disappointed. I only call when I need something and I didn’t even wish my stepmom a happy Mother’s Day (untrue on both counts).

I’m done.

I have spent the past 5 or 6 years of my life actively trying to build a better relationship with my father. He has always been emotionally distant. I thought that since I was growing up, that maybe we could start to speak on more equal footing, and that my feelings would matter just a little bit. But unless I’m showering him with praise, it goes south. My dad can recite every perceived wrong that I’ve done to him and my stepmother going back a decade or more, but the things I do right are summarily dismissed. It has become clear that he has no interest in my feelings. Anytime I do or say something he dislikes, he says I am selfish, greedy, ungrateful. If he’s in high dudgeon, there’s a guilt trip about how he won’t be around forever and I’ll regret not appreciating him while he was around to see it. Frankly, it’s starting to feel like emotional abuse and I’m not having it. I’ve wasted years of my life trying to be the perfect daughter in order to gain his approval but I finally see that will never happen. I’ll always love my father, but he does not have the right to be in my life just because we share DNA.

From now on, our relationship will be strictly surface level. I’m keeping all my opinions and feelings to myself. If it’s not about something neutral like the weather or the news, or impossible to avoid like the wedding? I’m not speaking on it. I thought we could be open and honest with each other but he either can’t handle it or doesn’t want to be bothered. But I won’t continue to put myself in situations where he is going to belittle me. I have yelled, screamed, cursed and shed tears over how my father treats me and I won’t do it anymore. It’s not worth it. If he asks why I’m acting so distant, I’ll tell him–but only one time. I’m sure my honesty will incite more bad behavior on his part, but I think it’s fair to give people an opportunity to change. From now on, the ball is in  his court. When he’s ready to treat me with respect and kindness, even when my actions don’t please him, I’ll be waiting.

 

 

 

 

I’m Every Woman

You know, when I turned 25 last week, the day didn’t really feel that significant. But nonetheless, something shifted in my mind. At 25, I will have completed two degrees and enter the workforce. In short- I can now say, without any qualifications, that I am a grown woman. It feels good. *cues Tony, Toni, Tone*

I’m fast approaching the end of my scripted life. From here on out, there is no predetermined path- it’s just me, doing what feels good and growing as a person. And all of a sudden, I find myself caring less and less and sometimes, not at all about what other people think, or about what disasters could potentially occur. Eff it. I’m going to do the best I can and let the chips fall where they may. In keeping with my new outlook on life, I’m doing a makeover of sorts. I’m out of the stage where jeans, fly sneakers, and cute t-shirts are all I need to get by in life. It’s time for me to start dressing like an adult. But what does that mean for me? I want to look powerful, elegant, sexy. I’m tired of being cute just being cute. I went to a potluck-turned-houseparty last week and danced like I was at home alone. In front of other people. I never do that! I guess I just have my own way of doing things. Up until this point, my goal was to graduate, get a job, and hopefully have a worthy male companion to share it with. Clubbing, drinking, worrying about looking sexy- they were all things that could deter me from my primary focus on academics. I come from a working class family, so I literally can’t afford to leech off my parents until I’m 35. I just don’t have that luxury.

Except now, I do. At this point in my life, all I have to do is not screw it up! So the pressure’s off. As long as I don’t slack off with my classes, I’ll graduate. As long as I continue to network and stay on my job search, I will find a position. And I’m with a man who loves me unconditionally and wants to spend the rest of his life with me, so what do I have to be scared of? I’m far away from the humiliation-laden hallways of middle school. I’m no longer a naive, insecure high schooler. I can let it all hang out, so to speak. Sexiness and sensuality are not reserved for the skinny girls, or the perfectly hourglass shaped Beyonces of the world. It’s truly a state of mind. When I lost weight my senior year of HS, I thought it would make me feel totally different but I had the same insecurities as before. And I don’t have to wait to lose 10, 20, 30 pounds to love myself and enjoy the body I have. Lately I’ve found that I can work out or not, eat a salad or not, without a crippling sense of guilt or obligation. I do it because it makes me feel good, and if sometimes what feels good is having a cheeseburger then dammit I’ll have one.

Let go and let flow.

Letting Go

I think my lesson for 2013 will be in “letting go.”

Letting go of:

anxiety

control

fear

 responsibility for other people’s feelings

insecurity

the cocoon of higher education

other people’s expectations

bad habits

 

This year is a paradigm shift. I’m turning 25 this week- a quarter of a century old. I’m graduating in 4 months, getting married in 8. I can unironically consider myself a grown woman now. But even though part of me is chomping at the bit to start my “real” life,  it’s scary too. Will I be able to handle all of my responsibilities for BLSA (and manage my exec board too)? Will I find a job? Will I get all my assignments in on time? Will my car break down? Will I have another dental emergency? Will I be a financial  burden on my fiance? Will my car break down? I swear, worrying is an unintentional hobby of mine and I could create a litany of things to be anxious about. But that kind of thinking is dysfunctional as well as an utter waste of time.

So much of my life has been spent in defense mode- trying not to repeat my own mistakes, or those of others. But even if I fail (and for me that could mean anything from actual failure, to simply not meeting my own sky high expectations) it’s not the end of the world. I’m young, and I will recover. More than that, I’m blessed. I surely didn’t make it this far all on my own. Tex has a job and is prepared for me to move in and support me while I search for a job- and who knows, I may even have one by graduation because I’ve got a couple of leads already! I’ve made a career out of pessimism and the worst case scenario has yet to happen to me. So why do I continue to carry an umbrella on a sunny day? It’s time to let it go.