My journey to self has been long and difficult. Becoming aware of our own neuroses and problems is one thing- but knowing the pattern, and being stuck in the pattern is another thing. In the beginning of my journey it was exciting; I was able to break bad habits, shift my perspective, and combat feelings of fear as much as I could. I ridded identities that were rooted in ego. I unlearned a lot of what I thought about myself and the world in general. I felt like I had gotten through the worst of it, but I haven’t. With introspection being the catalyst in my journey, it has now become my worst enemy- and I say that with humor. I am so self-aware that it is making me miserable. If I don’t finish a painting at the deadline I set, I tell myself “this is the behavior you need to change”, “you aren’t disciplined”, “you’re lazy”- and the negative thoughts thrive for the sake of a “positive lifestyle”. I constantly beat myself up because I feel like I should have already mastered this. I should already be disciplined, I should already be super-confident, and I should be happy that I am in a career field doing work that I enjoy. I have become so attached to progressing that when I don’t do well- I feel like a complete failure. It stops me from wanting to pursue more, because I am scared of failing.
I decided to write about growth because I realized that it is very easy for people to accept their own growth and their own journey to self, but seldom are people able to accept the development in others. What inspired me to write this was a friend talking shit about another friend- but in reference to how she used to be (years ago); And I just was not with it, it didn’t sit right with me because I’m not even the same person I was 6 months ago. My journey for the last few years has been filled with tremendous growth; From how I think, to what I eat, to how I speak, to how I respond to people, etc. etc.
In this blog I challenge you to think about your interpersonal relationships, and ask yourself if you are still holding someone in contempt for their past mistakes and behaviors.
We must be willing to afford people the opportunity of growth and evolution. We must believe that people can change and transcend from unhealthy behavior; We must because we need people to see that in us. If we can’t afford people grace when it comes to growth – we do it at the expense of ourselves, and our own growth. If we can’t see it in others, we can’t see it in ourselves.
What is growth if it is putting you in a place that makes you look down on others?
What is growth if it has just transferred your ego from one state of being to the next? (don’t let that go over your head, now)
If I hold a grudge against you for a mistake that you made years ago, and I don’t trust that you have changed, that is only indicative of how much I believe I haven’t changed. If I can’t see it for you, I can’t see it for myself. It’s almost like when you tell people your career dreams, but you downplay them because you need them to see it. If you say “I want to own my own business one day”, they’ll be more incline to believe you. If you say I want to be a millionaire- they may not believe you so easily, BUT, if this person wants to be a millionaire themselves, they are able to see what you see. They can see the dream because they too have it, or they can see the dream because they see you. They know that you have control over your destiny and anything is possible. When someone tells me they have changed, I believe them, because I too have changed. When someone tells me they are on a journey, I believe them because I too am on a journey. But if you can’t see it for someone else, it’s probably because you can’t see it for you.
What we withhold form others, we withhold from ourselves. What we are withholding ultimately is love, and when we withhold love from others, we feel pain.
Since I have started this blog, and since I have been on my journey of healing, and trying to be the best version of me that I can be- I’ve definitely experienced criticism. An old friend wanted to tell me what this guy had said about me which was “how do you feel about Lakota suddenly being ‘holier-than-thou’ when she treated you like shit”. At first when she told me what was said, I thought to myself, “okay, and what made you want to tell me this?”. Another person went around saying I had a drinking problem- someone I’ve never had a conversation with. Both people who have spoke ill of me, have recently asked me to work with them; I don’t say that to feed my ego, I say that because both of these people felt higher than me. They felt like a “fake” or “drunk” person was beneath them. I don’t believe anyone is beneath me – not a drug addict, not a narcissist, not a poor person, not a lazy person – no one is beneath me. Everyone is my equal. Everyone is my brother and sister- but don’t get it twisted, I’m still not going to work with either of them, because that is my power. I don’t have to explain my “no” to working with them, it’s just a “no”. Honoring yourself means saying no to people and situations that make you uncomfortable- when it doesn’t involve fear, but love, love for yourself.
“when you do clownery, the clown comes back to bite”- Monique
It is important for me to treat every person with respect despite where they are in their journey. They could be on their first day of getting clean from drugs and I support that. I don’t think that I am “better”. I don’t think that I am better because there were situations in my life that I never thought I would be in. I know that people who use drugs never wanted to be where they are. Life just happens, and we must give people who are suffering, love, not judgment. I am not that person anymore, but I was that person.
Yesterday at work, I seen a black woman wearing a pink and white shirt with a black woman on the front of it with an afro. I told her “I like your shirt!”, my way of saying “I see you girl, but I couldn’t see the bottom of the shirt, because I was sitting at my desk and she was standing in front of me, all I could see that it said was “I AM”. The little 7 year old girl with her said proud and joyfully ” It says, I AM MY SISTER”. I was filled in that moment, a heavy feeling too. Here she was at 7 years old, learning an extremely important value- sisterhood; I never understood the importance of sisterhood until maybe a few years ago. “I am my sister” is something I always tell myself when I start to judge another woman, and it stops me down that spiral.
1. How important is sisterhood to me?
2. Sisterhood is inclusive of our diversity- am I leaving anyone out?
( I think this is an especially important question to ask yourself because we often divide ourselves from others through classism, colorism, ageism, etc. ; furthermore, the pretty girls only wanting to hang out with ‘pretty girls’.Are transwomen, lesbian women, queer women, disabled women, invited into your circle?)
3. When another woman violates that sisterhood, how do I respond?
( Consider gossip, ‘side-chick’, disrespect, boundary-crossing)
4. When I don’t agree with the lifestyle/profession of another sister, do I treat her differently?
(sex workers, strippers, bartenders, sugar babies, etc.)
Another part of this that I think is important to note is to beware of how men speak about women, and beware of your response. I’ve had several men say things like “you’re not like them, you’re so classy” or “you’re prettier than her”. When a man has to compliment you by comparing you to another woman, check his ass. PERIOD.
There’s a poem by Rupi Kaur that I always think about on the subject of this:
you tell me
I am not like most girls
and learn to kiss me with your eyes closed
something about the phrase-something about
how I have to be unlike the women
I call sisters in order to be wanted
makes me want to spit your tongue out
like I am supposed to be proud you picked me
as if I should be relieved you think
I am better than them
So that is my blog on affording other people growth, maybe I should also say GRACE. Affording people grace through their process. Nobody’s perfect. Remind yourself that there was a time where you didn’t know who you were either, you didn’t know how to communicate well, you didn’t know what you believed in, etc. etc. Don’t *grow* so big that you look down on everyone else and forget where you came from.