All Articles Tagged "learning"
It’s a question that we’ve all asked ourselves on more than one occasion and during different phases in our lives. Even if we don’t use those same words or don’t verbalize the question out loud, our actions, choices and doubts are fueled by this quest to answer this broad question. We pretty much start wondering this from the time we awkwardly enter the school cafeteria and look for a table where we belong. Trying to figure this out can make us style our hair a certain way, date that boy, break that rule, join that club or pursue that degree. It can ultimately take us to the life we have now.
Even as grown women, we still ask it. We just swap the cafeteria for adult circles amongst our friends, colleagues, co-workers and society at large. No matter how many years go by, we still ask: “Who am I, really?” And until we can answer that question, it’s impossible to believe we’re amazing.
As women, we are moms, wives, sisters, friends and confidants, but we sometimes feel guilty for not knowing more about ourselves. As women we are expected to be selfless and to focus on others.
Read the rest of their inspiring piece on ESSENCE.
Do you ever feel selfish by taking a moment to give back to yourself?
Most women have heard that you should never change for the sake of a relationship. To some women, changing for a man is like admitting that you are desperate and one step away from settling for any man with a job. After all, if you’re so fabulous you shouldn’t have to change, right? Wrong. I’ve recently learned that changing for someone isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Here’s why.
Single women have certain ‘single woman traits,’ just as many women in successful relationships possess certain characteristics. When you’re single, you think for you. When in a relationship, you have to think for two. And these thoughts will usually have to accompany a bit of change.
I am an avid lover of “me time.” I think every woman should have it. When I’m single, I can have as much “me time” as I’d like without letting a man know when and why I need space and time. This love of my own space got in the way of one of my recent situations. Not because the guy I was seriously dating at the time was against it, but because I didn’t communicate it to him very well.
I’ve always prided myself on going after what I want and working tirelessly to get it.
This ‘go hard’ attitude is okay while I’m single, but has gotten in the way of relationships. Not because men didn’t want a hard working woman but because I didn’t make the time to balance work and a relationship.
Every time a man would question me about my lack of time, I would get defensive. I thought they wanted me to change who I was (my career and ambition); but instead they wanted me to change how I did it. And now when I revisit the situations in my mind, I see areas where I could have improved.
These are only two of the ways I let my single-girl-selfishness interfere with my relationships. These things are more obvious, but there are other things that are much more subtle. Most single women have adapted to being single, and rightfully so. We learn to take care of ourselves and be self-sufficient. Unfortunately, sometimes these habits put us first and leave the men trying to get close to us, behind.
So if a man tells you that you’re too into you and not as in to him; before you give him the eye, consider what he’s saying. I learned to change things about me that I actually didn’t think were bad while I was single, but realized they were like a death sentence to a relationship. This didn’t mean I changed who I was, I just changed some things that I did.
Has being in a relationship ever revealed things you needed to change about yourself?
Either I’m getting old or a majority of hip-hop nowadays is misogynistic garbage. Now you know I am not the one to go blaming hip-hop for the reason some females have low self-esteem and relationship issues. In fact, you might even catch me in the club twerkin’ it myself on any given Saturday. But there’s a time and place for gyrating in your freakum dress to songs like French Montana’s “Pop That” and Juicy J’s “Bands Will Make Her Dance.” I just wish there were more variety for our young women to choose from besides songs that glorify having a big booty and bouncing it for some change.
Degradation and disrespect of women is nothing new, so it would be unfair of me to blame today’s hip-hop community for the massacre of the black female image. Let’s be real, Mitt Romney of all people believes womens’ bodies should still be at the mercy of federal laws. But even in a world where women are commonly referred to as b***hes and h*es, I was always assured that it wasn’t going down in my childhood home. I’d like to think a big reason why I have so much respect for myself and refuse to allow my self image to be at the mercy of male judgment was because I had the good fortune of having an involved father. By involved, I don’t just mean being there and paying bills. I mean having a father that treated my mother with respect and schooled his daughters on life, love and everything in between.
When a young girl has no positive examples of black men in her life, she may internalize the messages she sees in the streets and on TV and use them to define her womanhood. I mean, let’s be honest, to most young girls nowadays being called a ”bad b***h” or “5-star chick” is the highest form of flattery. I don’t want young women to feel like they have to compromise their integrity to become successful or loved. But so often, young women receive mixed messages from men that tell them just that. Many fathers don’t realize the powerful influence they have over how their daughters feel about themselves and relate to men as they grow older. Here are 10 ways that dads truly do make a difference:
Motherhood has inspired singer Alicia Keys in more ways than one: she has just announced the launch of an app for kids through her company, AK Worldwide, and Bento Box Interactive.
Called “The Journals of Mama Mae and LeeLee,” it is about a young New York City girl’s relationship with her kind and wise grandmother. The application, which is released today, costs $3.99. For the interactive tool, Keys produced the music and the storyline for the app is loosely based Keys and her own grandmother.
“It’s a new adventure for me, and I’m really enjoying it,” Keys, who gave birth to her son with producer Swizz Beatz two years ago, said in an interview with BusinessWeek. “It does remind me of my world. The piano, the journal, music’s such a big part of my life, the city, all of that.”
According to Keys, the idea was not only inspired by her own childhood but by her son, Egypt, as well.”I was just getting introduced to kind of the TV shows and the DVDs and all the things you start kind of introducing your kids to, and I thought how cool it would be to be a part of something that really allows them to hear music from different places, different cultures, different sounds,” she said in the interview. “That’s what we’re able to do with this.”
Keys also has a new CD, Girl On Fire, set to hit stores on Nov. 27. It feature Maxwell, Jamie xx, Bruno Mars and John Legend.
Keys isn’t the only celebrity with app news. Earlier this year, LeVar Burton resurrected “Reading Rainbow” on iTunes and as an iPad app.
As a recent college graduate, throughout this year that I’ve been out in the real world, I have had to deal with the normal transitions that any college student faces post-graduation. What do you do with your life? What are your options? Can you afford it? I always used to say that college is a perfect little bubble where nothing is real and you are untouchable. Everyone has their ups and downs but for the most part college is a great experience. When you walk across that stage and realize that the real world is waiting for you everything changes, from bills, to lifestyle to even dating. Dating out of college can be difficult because you are to approaching the game with a college mindset. It may take a minute to wrap your head around the new dating rules of the real world, and for some it can be hard to adjust. Here are a few differences between dating in college and dating in the real world that I’ve found so far:
The Thirst is Gone
In college, especially freshman year, it seems like it’s quantity over quality. Everyone talks to everyone because you are in a brand new environment so you are just trying to test out the waters. You may be talking to three guys at a time, and it is nothing serious. Both guys and girls are very open to talking to new people, so everyone gets a chance. In the real world though, it is not that easy. People in the real world don’t have the same drive to want get to know everyone that they meet. They already have their group of friends and associates and are cool with that. In college you can walk in a bar and make four new friends and end up dating them all, while in the real world, unless you came with your girls, you might be spending the night sipping on your drink alone in the corner.
Opportunity Doesn’t Always Come Knocking
College is the land of endless opportunity when it comes to dating. Even if you are not looking, there is always a friend of a friend who you think is fly or is interested in you. There are enough cute dudes who you can meet while in the dining hall, or while pretending to pay attention in calculus. In the adult dating world I find that opportunities are not as readily available. It is not as easy as they make it seem on sitcoms sorry to say. Trying to balance work alone takes hours out of your day, so it is easy to fall into a routine (the sitting in front of your TV eating ice cream routine for instance). You can go months without meeting a potential mate.
Numbers Are Not Always Exchanged
In college everyone exchanges numbers. Because everyone is on the same page of trying to get to know one another, it is damn near customary to exchange numbers after having a conversation. Even if it doesn’t work out, you always can say you made a new acquaintance. I have realized that in the real world, just because you talk to someone for more than 10-30 minutes and have pleasant conversation does not mean that at the end of it, he will ask you for your number. It could just be a situation where you simply had a nice exchange, or where he found someone to talk to while his friend macked on another young lady and that was it. And sometimes, even when numbers are exchanged, that doesn’t mean you will get a call.
Signs Can Lie…
In college you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out if someone is interested in you. The signs are pretty obvious. You can get used to feeding off signs from another person and use that to gauge your own reaction and interest level. This is not so in the real world. You can be at a bar and exchange flirtatious pleasantries and at the end of it he might simply say, “All right, well, have a good night.” You might have felt that all the signs were there, but in the real world, just because someone is being social doesn’t mean they’re trying to take things further than throwing about a few niceties while sipping martinis.
Indeed, dating post-graduation can take some getting used to. College romances just seem easier to manage, but nothing lasts forever. The whole point of college is to one day prepare you for the real world and all the experiences that it has to offer, and that doesn’t just mean career and educational experiences. It’s a bit awkward at first, but eventually, everything gets easier–including dating.
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Before I go any further, I want to say that hair has been a very hard topic for me to grasp. Ever since I was a kid, I just wanted to take my hair and put it in a ponytail ALL of the time. Easier said than done.
But as we get older, we learn more about ourselves and how hair is in general. It’s funny sometimes. I often see moms with their biracial children, hair frizzy and in bows, beads that are clearly weighing down their possibly thinning hair, and gelled down curls. If they catch me looking at their child’s locks, they give the look, one seeking confirmation that says, “Hey, this doesn’t look bad does it?” No matter what I really think, the truth is, I can’t tell others what to do with their hair or what looks right, because guess what? I don’t even know what to do with my own hair. But if you read the comments on stories about biracial hair or listen to people every day on the streets, folks would think I had it so easy. Many people believe that because a person is “mixed,” they don’t have issues with their hair or that there aren’t different types within that spectrum. WRONG.
I’m a happy biracial butterfly: African American and Puerto Rican. Although I have four older sisters, my younger brother and I are the only mixed kids in my family. Growing up, I was constantly frustrated with my hair. It would take my sisters about an hour or so to finish their hair, but it literally took forever for me, and whatever style I chose would only last for a minimal amount of time. However, they used to tell me that I had nothing to complain about, and they had these delusions of versatility about how it was easy for me because my hair could be worn wet or blown out. (Fortunately my grandmother never really let that happen-if they had cornrows or box braids so did I–a funny but weird sight.) Easy wouldn’t have been my word of choice.
It wasn’t until I was in high school and college that I noticed the many types of hair textures that make up biracial strands. I met girls who were in the same ballpark as me. Either they couldn’t control their hair, or damaged it from experimenting too much. I knew that it wasn’t just me who had a problem with the politics of hair either. There’s the hair that never curls, curls that can’t be controlled, and hair that is either too dry or too oily. The combinations are endless and I can go on forever about it…but I won’t. In that time I learned from my friends and other women what I was doing wrong and how I could keep my hair nourished and healthy.
A lot of that nourishment and good heath starts with the products we use for our hair. Sometimes “mixed” products are too weak for the hair and you could just be harming it rather than helping it. Some of the best products are the ones you may be ignoring, like Aussie’s Deeeep Conditioner or Miss Jessie’s products (that is one investment I wouldn’t mind making because it really works!). It took a while after dabbling with different products, but with time comes growth.
I’m not ashamed, or feel bad about my hair anymore. I used a little gift that works for ALL types of hair in the end–patience! You’re going to run into a couple of dead ends, but those mistakes just show you how to improve. Yet and still, while I do appreciate my hair more these days, I don’t have this over-the-top sense of pride that my sisters thought I would have. You know, the mindset that because my hair is wavy it’s better than anyone else’s hair. In fact, I hate the term “good hair” with a passion, especially since no one’s hair is “bad.” In this day and age, if you still believe in good and bad hair, form your own opinions and don’t take definitions like “good hair” for face value because if it’s healthy and beautiful to you, then baby, it’s indeed good.
All in all, I share my story of struggling with my strands to say the following to those like me:
1.) Hair isn’t your identity: Many people who aren’t mixed are often targeted for saying things like my sisters did, but sometimes you are to blame too. Just because you’re mixed or you believe that your hair is “good” doesn’t mean it is. Step down from the high hair pedestal that society has given you and look around. You’ll see that everyone has awesome hair.
2.) Embrace your curls: If you’re a mom out there reading this, just know that you don’t have to kill the curls (flatten or press them to death) so your children don’t look different from other people. Different can be good, but just remember to mix it up!
3.) Don’t give up on your hair: At one point I did, and I realized I caused more damage (physically and emotionally) to myself and my locks by ignoring them. There are tons of tutorials online, and you can also request samples for products before you make a serious investment. While it’s a struggle, with patience and effort, your hair will surely be your crowning glory.
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First and foremost, let me say that this story isn’t about my child in particular, but about a niece of mine with a lot of talent and potential. I just thought I would bring this scenario to you guys to get your opinion on it and know what you would do as a parent (as I know many of our readers are mothers).
So during a recent trip to see my family, I had the chance to see almost all of my nieces and nephews. Two of them, twins, my family has been somewhat estranged from because of their mother and her rocky relationship with my brother. They’re both married to different people, but they still don’t get along all these years later. I also had something of an online argument with her and her sisters after one of my nephews other aunts decided to publicly disrespect my brother–his father–via Facebook after HE did the same. After some good time passed, my niece and nephew came to my mother’s home for the first time in years during Thanksgiving and we all got to reconnect. At THAT time, they were talking about their post-high school plans, their sports (which had always been a huge part of their high school career) and what they hoped to study.
Fast forward to graduation time and my visit home in May. As my sister picked up her doctorate, my cousin graduated from high school and talked about going away to a Big 10 University in the fall, and my nephew was asked to play baseball at a Division I school, my niece was the only graduate I knew who didn’t seem to have any after-the-fact plans. When I talked to her father about it all, since she was doing a good job of being MIA after all the festivities, I was quite disturbed to find that she had told him and others that she really didn’t think she was going to go to school. Though she had been accepted to a good school that wanted her to play softball in another state, she didn’t want to go that far because she didn’t know anybody out there…
Always one to stand out and stand on her own, even as a twin, she all of a sudden wasn’t ready to stand completely alone for the sake of her education. It was almost June and she hadn’t said yes or no to any school, and it seemed she was just going to take a break from school altogether. I could understand her reservations about attending a school far away from home, as I was the last child in my family and was somewhat scared about making the decision to go out-of-state for school back in the day. But to have no plans and to say you’re not really feeling the idea of school? C’mon, this is 2012, and in this world and in this tepid economy, NOT going to school these days is unacceptable in my opinion.
And I’m saying it’s not acceptable because I think it’s a wack way of thinking or something like that, but rather, because as a friend would say, these days a bachelor’s degree in SOMETHING is your ticket in the door. At this point, it’s what the high school diploma used to be, and while many would say that a college degree doesn’t guarantee you any kind of job in this shoddy economy, we know that it at least offers you a shot at something and you won’t have your resume immediately put in the “No, thanks” pile. Many fields require a bit more, but a bachelor’s degree is something you should strive to have, whether you’re taking a few classes while working, or if you’re literally in the books full-time solely focused on your studies. If my niece decides to take some time off, that’s fine, but the whole concept of saying, “School’s just not for everybody” is on the nonsense level at this point. It’s for everybody, son. Even if she doesn’t go away, she needs to take her behind to school and not waste too much time waiting to do so. Her parents don’t seem too bothered by her choice at the moment (only time will tell how they’ll act if she’s sitting around on her mother’s couch in the fall), but as her aunt, I’ll say I’m clearly a bit worried. It’s already tough out here, I hope she doesn’t make things for herself much tougher.
So I guess that leads me to my question for you: As a parent, how would you react if your child (or even your niece or nephew as in my case), told you they didn’t want to go to college? No big deal? Or big problem?
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Myranda Trevino is one of the latest teenage mothers to be featured on the fourth season of MTV’s popular program, 16 and Pregnant. The 17 year-old high school junior learned that she would become a mother only a short time after she started dating boyfriend, Eric. After battling a lifetime of substance abuse, Trevino’s mother allowed her daughter to move in with Eric and his grandmother after they had only been dating for six months. In fact, in one of the opening scenes to the episode, the pair can be found spooning in bed as his grandmother folds clothes and vacantly warns, “When y’all get up out of that bed, y’all better make it up.”
This had me thinking: This can’t be life. Since when did it become acceptable for teenagers to play house under the same roof as their parents, so that essentially they have all of the privileges of being an adult and none of the responsibilities? In my opinion, this is lazy parenting. And apparently this in fact IS life where we refuse to communicate to our children the ins and outs of contraception and sexual health, but allow them to engage in sexual activity under our own roofs, sending them conflicting messages about values.
In Trevino’s case, we have a young girl from a broken home whose parents probably weren’t the most responsible people to begin with, but when other families experience a teenage pregnancy, they sometimes believe distance can be a deterrent to the teen couple’s ability to share responsibilities effectively. For this reason some parents allow the young parents to cohabitate so the baby’s life will be more cohesive since he/she will have constant access to both parents. Unfortunately, what happens more often than not is that teens see this as an excuse to play house, and act like adults in what is an unrealistic situation.
In fact, on another episode of 16 and Pregnant, a 16 year-old named Lindsey confidently tells her mom about plans to move in with boyfriend Forest after the birth of the baby only to attempt to push intimidating hospital paperwork onto her mother in the hospital after the baby is born. After her mom tells her she doesn’t understand why she has to fill out paperwork if Lindsey no longer lives with her, the young woman puts up the defense, “It’s because I’m not 18, and since I am not 18 yet, legally you guys are responsible for my bills!” All of this before she goes for a full-blown tantrum and dismisses her mom from the room with an entitled, “Shut up.” And just so we’re clear, Lindsey is anxious to move into a home where Forest’s mother insists on him not working to support his child since he has to finish school. Where was she when he was making babies? Yes, it’s television, but it’s TV that’s mirroring many households across the country.
There’s a reason that we call them minors. Most teenagers lack the life experience and discipline it takes to make major decisions, especially when it comes to sexual health and relationships. It’s a parent’s responsibility to enforce boundaries. When you allow teenagers to live as a couple under your roof where you pay bills, you’re essentially allowing them the perks of living “on their own” but off of you and with none of the responsibility. Many parents say they allow their teens to live together for one of three reasons:
1. They figure if their teens are going to be sexually active, they prefer it to be in a place that’s safe where parents can be reached if necessary.
2. The partner may be experiencing hardships at home, and the family steps in to provide safety and security, when the partner’s parents cannot.
3. The family believes that teen parents should raise a child as a family, and don’t want to have to deal with the challenges that come with raising children in separate homes.
Who said that breaking up with a boyfriend or husband is the only tough breakup your heart will have to deal with? Anybody who has had to separate themselves from someone they used to consider another family member knows that the grieving process after the end of a lengthy friendship isn’t easy. But at some point, like with all break-ups, you have to learn and move on. It will take some time, but in the end, you should try and achieve the following in the process.
1. Think Back And See If You Did Everything You Could To Work Things Out
Most people feel conflicted about the break-up of a friendship with their best friend if they leave on messy terms. Was she mad at you about something you didn’t know about? Were her issues or your reasons for feeling a certain way vague? If you know that both parties were never really on the same page about why they were mad, you might want to try and seek full closure with that friend. Especially if you can’t seem to stop talking about it with anyone who will listen.
But if you know that you tried to reach out to this friend and be as understanding as possible and they still weren’t happy, then you have to let it go. Same goes for when a friend betrays you. If you know that what this person did was something you won’t be able to get over (and will bring up constantly) or they broke the trust in your friendship, your reasons are pretty justified in parting ways. But if feelings of regret come up, it’s never too late to reach out. Things might not be the same later on, but if you know you want that person in your life in some capacity, put the pride aside.
How important is sex to a man? Would he be willing to forgo sex in a relationship? A few years ago I decided to take a hiatus from dating to regain focus of my life as a single woman. I didn’t want to engage in any type of relationship with the opposite sex because I needed time to learn how to balance everything that was going on in my life. With this hiatus, I realized that I subconsciously and consciously made the decision to practice celibacy. I say I made this decision subconsciously and consciously because during this time, subconsciously, I did want to have sex, but I didn’t want to deal with the emotional and possible physical consequences that come along with it, and I didn’t want to have another meaningless sexual experience. Consciously, I had plenty of options and chances to indulge in sexual intercourse, but I didn’t, and that’s when I realized I was going to try and be celibate. After this realization, I decided to do some soul searching to really understand why I was celibate, and to decide whether or not I would stand firm on this decision.
During my soul searching, I reflected back on each of my relationships, and I discovered that I was sexually intimate with the men I was involved with before I had a chance to be intimate with them. I didn’t take the necessary time to learn who they were and develop a close and personal connection with them for the people they were before I developed a connection with them sexually simply because I was physically attracted to them. I also realized that I went into each relationship with my feelings and not my faith, which in turn led me to be misguided. After this discovery, I made the decision to forgo any sexually intimate interaction, and remain celibate until I am married. The beginning of this journey wasn’t difficult because I was on a hiatus from dating. It almost seemed easy and unreal, but when I decided to go back into dating, things got real. I met a wonderful man that I seemed to have everything in common with. We liked the same foods, we communicated well with each other, we share the same favorite color, and on and on. Most importantly, we both wanted to start our new relationship as friends.
I recall one evening when I was on the phone with my new male ‘friend’. We were engaged in a great conversation when the subject of celibacy came up. I shared with him that I have the honor of teaching a class on celibacy very soon, and I told him that I was nervous about it. He then told me that I would do fine, and as he started another sentence he abruptly stopped and asked if I was celibate. I replied with a nervous, yet firm yes. He immediately replied “Oh, oh no, I can’t do that…yeah, we are definitely going to be just good friends.” I said okay, no problem, and started to move forward with the conversation. While moving on to a different topic, I noticed the tone in our conversation went from upbeat and funny to slow and drab. Where there were no awkward moments of silence in our conversations before, there were now more than enough to make up for it in this one. I could tell my friend was uneasy about what I told him, but what did it matter? We were just friends anyway, right? So my decision to be celibate would not affect him in any way, right? Wrong.
I believe my friend thought we were going to develop a great friendship that would lead into an even greater monogamous relationship; and with a relationship comes sexual intimacy. Or maybe he thought we were going to be friends with sexual benefits, and with news of me practicing celibacy his thoughts were shattered. As much as I tried to move forward with the conversation it was difficult, because I knew my friends thoughts of me and our relationship had changed. After our phone call ended, my decision to be celibate and the effects of that decision stayed on my mind. Yes, things got really real.
After hearing and comprehending his reaction, I was slightly disturbed, and a little disappointed because subconsciously I thought we were going to develop a great friendship that would lead into an even greater monogamous relationship without having sex. But clearly I was wrong. And even though I was flabbergasted with his reaction, not once did I doubt the decision I made because I’ve learned to stand firm on the standards I’ve set in regard to my body and relationships even if it hurts.
I’ve also learned that I can’t expect someone to change their expectations to meet my standards, and not to change my standards (my non-negotiable standards) to meet someone’s expectations; they are who they are, and I am who I am. Although it is still slightly difficult for me to grasp the fact that my friend and I will only be friends, I respect his honesty, I look forward to our growing friendship, and I am looking forward to learning and growing on this journey through celibacy and dating.
Liz Lampkin is the author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.
Have you tried to be celibate? How did that affect your dating life?
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