On love

I am only 23 years old.

I am aware that my ideas of what love is will change over the course of my life.

” I have experienced love in a array of ways..”

As I began that sentence, I thought of the ways that love has been abusive, draining, and unhealthy. And an afterthought spoke to that idea. No abuse, no hurt, no shame is love, or apart of love. I must redefine love. I must redefine what it means to love, and to be loved. I think that everyone seeks out love in different ways, in different capacities, and for different reasons. I am an experienced lover. I am no stranger to being in love with people. I think my longing for love, and my desire for love comes from a different origin and source than most people. I find that people will seek love to fill a void in their lives, or to feel like they have reached all the pinnacles of success. But I love, because I have an intrinsic need to do so. It feels impossible for me to live without loving. I feel a unrelenting disconnect between me and individuals whose lives seem more purposeful through their careers and their financial successes. I do know however the importance of those milestones and their viable connection to love – I just find that my purpose derives from love. Everything I do must be derived from love and connected to it. My career could not exist or be fulfilling without love and vice versa.

I once dated a man who was an investor. We dated for six months before I realized his sense of purpose derived from money. He was completely disconnected from anything that was affiliated with love. He had no sense of who he was outside of his career, the only thing he could talk about when talking about himself was his career and his affluence. When I think of myself and I think of who I am and what I am, I initially think of my career goals and aspirations but it is not all encompassing. I think too, despite what your career is, it can always be a reflection of love. He could have been an investor, and uplifted marginalized communities, or just utilized his other talents that were an expression of love. But his disconnect showed itself in the way he would spend thousands on sections in clubs, hundreds on a one nights dinner, and thousands on clothing. His lifestyle was appealing, definitely. I thought maybe, the finer things in life was something I wanted. I felt motivated being around him, in the sense that maybe if I work harder I can obtain these luxuries as well, and live in such a way that is desirable by many. But it didn’t take long before I realized none of that was important to me. In that time though, I learned so much about economics, the importance of asset allocation, the stock market, IRA’s, Roth IRA’s, bond investing, etc. Love was important to me. Love in the sense of being in the world, but not of the world. That lifestyle may have been enough to make some girls stick around, but I couldn’t stand it. Every time I was around him at restaurants and clubs, I felt like I needed to leave myself in order to have a good time. I made sure my fork and knife were on the right sides of the plate, and that my napkin was across my lap, and my posture was just right. It was so outside of myself. No matter how much money I have in this lifetime, I don’t want to be around people who treat the waitress with minimal respect and the Uber driver with disdain. I do want nice things though, I’ve never denied that. I would love expensive bags, but it doesn’t fuel my soul. I think that’s what it is. No club section or first class flight, is going to fuel my soul, and bring me closer to myself. People may think well duh, that’s not what it is suppose to do, well then what is it suppose to do? Why spend money on things that don’t open your mind or your spirit. I would rather sit front row of an Opera and allow myself to be bewildered by the talents and skill of individuals who work their entire lives for their moment on stage. I would rather buy the original painting from an artist who has worked endless hours to complete masterpiece after masterpiece, just to be met by hyper-consumerism.

At this age of 23, I am still trying to make sure I stay as close to me as possible, whoever she is. I am still trying to find what I want out of love, and out of myself. I am finding the importance and truth in the expression “if you don’t love yourself, no one will”. I have taken that quote and dwelled on it for months after my last relationship. I was with a woman for 3 years. In those 3 years I practiced self-destructive behavior like it was a sport. I don’t think anyone even knew I was with her because I hid her, in an attempt to hide my sexuality, and also to hide the fact that she was not my only lover. In hindsight, I was never faithful to her. In love, I think ‘faithful’ is a word that needs redefining and strengthening in its usage. Every time I stepped out on myself, I stepped out on her. She was never really given a fair opportunity at a *genuine* relationship with me, because I didn’t like who I was. From saying that I say this, love requires more than love. Love requires you to love yourself. If you do not love yourself and you are in love, it cannot last and it won’t last. Love requires that you know yourself, wholly. Love requires that you let go of fear. Love requires vulnerability. Love I believe is an essential ingredient in the recipe for a good relationship, but it is not the foundation. A relationship built on love alone will suffer. Love is the staple that is put onto trust, forgiveness,faith, and commitment, not the other way around.

Bitterness does not have to follow the ending of a relationship. That is a choice. No matter how a relationship ended, what is in your heart should not be threatened by what is in their heart. I’ve been left before without a reason or a conversation, and in that it left me so angry and so hurt. I kept telling myself that I was ‘right”, but being ‘right’ wont make you happy.  I It also doesn’t have to end in friendship, you have to know what and who is good for your space. For example, the investor guy I dated was a great guy, but I do not want him in my space, even as a friend. That’s my choice. That’s my power. And the involvement ended with that understanding. When a relationship ends it doesn’t need to be written off as a ‘failure’, as long as the two people in the relationship learned what they needed to learn, the relationship was a success. I’ve found that my most terrible relationship, was actually the most successful, in that it taught me things that I would have not learned otherwise. Every relationship I was in, I can look back and understand, why it had to happen and why it happened at that time .Whatever relationships that are in your life, that you feel you need to rid yourself of, just do it. We all do need to be selfish sometimes, but we need to do so in good character. We need to do so when being selfish is the difference between growth and hindrance .
So now being single, I’m not looking for anything, more than anything I’m looking for myself. I may seem really introspective and aware of what I want, and do want, but I have no clue as to what I need. One thing I try to hold with me when I go out is ,I always trying to think less of what I think about the person, but more of how they make me feel. Too often I go out, and I compare that person to another person, I think of what they bring to the table, and they’re never really given a fair chance. But if I channel into myself, and I let go of expectations and fears, only then am I truly allowing myself to just be opened. Usually my mind is closed after someone says the wrong thing, literally it can take one thing, and you will never hear from me again. I was once on a date and this guy had a lisp, and I guess I didn’t notice over the phone, oh my God, I wanted to run for the hills. He was actually a great guy but my mind was not opened to be with someone who had a lisp. I literally never spoke to him again. That was a learning experience for me, that I can be really really shallow. I think it’s important that we are able to recognize where we ourselves fall short, and where there is room for improvement within ourselves. We are so quick to find the faults in others, as if we are perfect beings- and a quick way to check yourself is “if there were a perfect person, how likely is it that they would want me?”.
What I know now though in summation, is that love can only get as close to you as you are to love. As long as you are in your heart and not in your mind , as long as you always show up as your best self, whoever that is, the universe will bring that back to you. And I believe that holds true in all parts of your life- your career, your family, your relationship, everything.

Being Black at Work

Placeholder ImageMy co-worker is talking about furniture in her house, and I am half paying attention, as usual because nothing she says- nothing they say is ever relatable. She says “Danielle came over and picked up some of my hutches”, – I opened my eyes, attentive because I never heard the word, and words have always been important to me.

“Hutches?” and my curiosity killed my indifference.

I said ” What are hutches?”, she laughed,and said “Really? You don’t know what hutches are?”

I said “Nooo, I don’t, what are they?”, I was smiling, leaned in and interested now..

Her eyebrows pushed down, and she says to my disappointment,

” You black girls don’t have hutches ?”

I paused. Wondering, is this real? Did she really just say that shit? And it reminded me how micro aggressions and racism work without ever having to be elicited.And it reminded me something about white women.

They are rarely your allies. They generalize you from your attitude, to your knowledge about living room furniture. I soon realized, she never was speaking to “me”. She was speaking to every black woman, meaning, I was a representation of every black woman to her, like we are all the same, like I am not an individual.

They love when there is one of you in the room, never more than one, more than one is too many. They just want to ask you questions about anything, just to confirm or fulfill their wonders about black women. It wasn’t about hutches. It was about me finally not knowing something , something as trivial as that. It was about her feeling superior to me . I don’t know if she was envious of my political or social knowledge that seemed to always impress my colleagues or the fact that I was a third her age working the same position as she, but something made her uncomfortable about my black skin being so God damn comfortable. She could not make the distinction between the individual (me) sitting in front of her, and the entire demographic of black women- just on the subject of knowing what a hutch was. This was what she was searching for though, overall – to find something that I didn’t know. This was what she was waiting for – a moment worth mocking. A moment that would be conclusive to her idea that black women don’t have shit, and they don’t know shit. She tried to stretch that moment out as long as she could, repeatedly asking me if I was serious, and joining in other co-workers to exaggerate a feeling of disbelief in my unknowing of what a hutch was.
Stationary in my thought flow, I allowed her to continue and tell me what a hutch was. I never said anything to her about the comment she made. I hated myself for not saying anything to her, but I couldn’t find the words in time or maybe I knew that if I did say something, if I did tell someone about her inappropriate comment, they wouldn’t see me, they would see the generalizations made of all black women, that we are angry or that we are always pulling the race card, or that it is not that serious- And it’s hard sometimes, to make the decision on what is worth fighting about and what is not,even when we know it is wrong. I am invisible to a world of people capable of seeing. I am invisible to a world that chooses that their imagination is a far better security to their cognitive dissonance then the truth is. And the world sometimes, the white world, the world that controls whether I still have my job tomorrow, – I know that they do not see me, in the same way that she does not see me.