Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On Suicide.

I'm not someone who has ever considered themselves suicidal. I never wanted to kill myself, though I would occasionally daydream about life if I wasn't living. You know, who would come to my funeral, what worries would be alleviated, what bills would still have to be paid. Sometimes even how much it would hurt to die. But I never found myself actually driving into oncoming traffic or doing any other risky sort of behavior. And every time, it came down to how selfish I would be if I actually did it.

Who has the money to bury me? Who has the time to deal with the pain my passing would cause? Who knows the effect losing me would have on people for years to come?

I stayed alive because I didn't want to be a burden to anyone in death. And so far, I'm still here. So clearly, it must be working. It must be the best solution.


Staying alive for other people means you're not living your life. You're not here because you want to be here, you're here because other people want you to be. And sort of like the transition from high school to college. When you go to school/class because your parents make you, or do your work only because you're made to, when you have the option or opportunity to make the decision on your own, most likely, you won't do it.

How many of us failed a class (or three) our first year of college? Having that freedom of choice had many of us floundering. Life is the same way. If we are living for the purpose of pleasing others, or because it feels like something that we're just supposed to do, when given that freedom of choice, some people may very well choose to end their lives. We've seen it countless times. After a parent dies, the child soon follows. After a lover passes, their significant other succumbs to suicidal thoughts.

Now, I’m not advocating suicide or that you shouldn't find meaning in bringing the gift of your presence to others. But I feel it's crucial to find meaning in yourself. To find joy and meaning in things that are unique to you. I for example, know that for all the nightmares I have around pregnancy, I most definitely want to have children. I know that I can't have children, I can't squish their little faces, I can't hear my child's first words, I can't excitedly watch them take their first steps or graduate kindergarten, or go to prom...if I’m not here.

I can't experience the joy and sorrow in marriage if I'm not alive. I can't explode in laughter at the newest viral meme. I can't spend hours diving deeper into the wormhole that is Wikipedia. I can't marvel at my good fortune when the temperature hits 90 degrees on a Pacific Northwest summer day, and I can't curse the gods of weather when on that same day, I scorch my leg on a leather car seat.

As much as I know my mother will miss me, as much as I know my passing would affect those in my life, I can't stay just for them. It has to be about me. Don’t let other people be the reason you stay alive, because you'll find yourself unhappy time and time again when people fail you. Or, when you fail them (if you're anything like me). I've learned that when it's all said and done, I’m really all I have. And that should be enough.  

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Please take the time to seek out help if you or someone you know is struggling with this issue. 

If you are feeling consumed by suicidal thoughts or emotions, and/or additional resources are needed, please feel free to contact your local/national suicide crisis hotline. If you're in the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1 (800) 273-8255. In Nigeria and other countries, dial 800 5555 5522. If phone calls aren't manageable, there are online chatlines to help as well. For online chats, please visit this site (in the United States) or this one (outside the US) for more specific and localized information. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Accept Your Defeat

Are you happy? Can you look at yourself, your life, and your circumstances and say that you are really truly content? Are you negative? Are you feeling defeated? Have you faltered along the way?

This post might be for you. 

I'm not a guru or a life coach or an adviser. But over the past few years I've learned a few hard lessons that might help you out.

Learn to be content with where you are, but not comfortable. We must learn to accept the place we are in right now, so that we may have peace. But we cannot get comfortable enough with our current status that we remain in the same situation.

I say we, because I struggle with this reality daily. (I don't know if I'm writing this for y'all or myself, if I'm being honest.)

Let your frustration fuel you, but don't let it burn you out. Don't allow yourself to be consumed with defeat, depression, despair or discontentment with your circumstances.

I, for example, struggled for work after I left school. I wrestled with the idea of going back to school. After months of unemployment, frustration, anger and prayer, I finally found a full-time job. It wasn't in my desired field, but it was something I could do while I looked for something more professional.

I took the job. I applied for others. In my field, in any field. And time and time again, I got turned down. So I stopped. Told myself I was taking a break from applications.

Almost two years later, I'm currently still in the same position.

I got comfortable. I got complacent. I got nowhere. And I got mad.

I looked at other people achieving their goals. I saw people reaching the goals I was struggling toward. I realized that somewhere along the line, I had put my goals on hold while I worked to help others reach theirs.

I got so frustrated with myself that I became unable to focus on anything else. My unhappiness invaded my personal and professional life. I couldn't get through a single day without complaining.

But nothing was changing. Nothing was moving. Nothing had happened, except I had become the kind of person I can't stand to be around. I had become so negative that never actually got around to making the changes that would help me be happy.

So I decided to make a conscious effort to turn things around. It wasn't (and still isn't) easy. But I had to try. I thought about my goals. My dreams. I tried to map out the steps I'd have to take to reach them. I reached out to people doing things I wanted to, I made connections.

But before I was able to do any of that, I had to accept where I was. I had to accept that I had faced defeat. I had to accept that I needed help. I had to accept that I wasn't happy. And after I accepted those things, I became content with them. I embraced my defeats and my unhappiness. I celebrated the fact that I could recognize that needed help. And then I became content with the fact that it was all temporary, if I allowed it to be.

When I accepted my reality, and allowed myself to reflect without feeling shame, I became to act, and act purposefully. I put out applications. I revised my resume. I saved my money. I networked. I researched. I got turned down. I got denied. I got discouraged. And then... I started it all over. And over. And over.

As I write this now, I'm entering my last week of work in my current position. After almost two years of absolute madness, I finally got a job in my field. I got accepted into a (minor) program at a great school. And I'm over the moon with excitement. But I still struggle. I'm still not where I imagined I'd be. And I'm still trying to make it through the day without absolutely losing my whole entire Black mind at work. But I'm not where I was. And I'm content with that.

If you're like me and struggling with something that's hanging like a dark cloud over your life...let me let you in on a lil' something. It's something that I try and tell myself every day.

You are more than the sum of all your defeats. And you're going to do great fucking things. 

Now, let's go get started.