Lessons vs. Lifetimes: Using Discernment in Meaningful Relationships

We all have encountered many friends, associates and experiences in life, but how do you know whether or not someone was placed in your life to teach you a valuable lesson, or to be there for a lifetime. I believe there is true discernment in allowing yourself to differentiate from the two. A lot of times, we find ourselves (for whatever reasons) holding on and letting go to the wrong people. I experienced this in my life first-hand.

I can remember a time when I allowed someone to stay in my life for longer than they needed to be, and also let someone go in my life that was meant to be in my life for a lifetime. In my opinion, it is important to discern who in your life is there to benefit you for just a period of learning a life lesson about yourself or about the world and the people in it, versus those who have planted a foundation in your life to be there for a lifetime; people who are meaningful, bring value to your life and uplift you in good times and bad.

With age, experience and time, I have been able to evaluate within myself who in my life has taught me a lesson; someone i no longer need, versus someone who has been placed in my life and i know will be there for the rest of my days. Here are a couple of things I have experienced in this area myself.

  • Life Lesson relationships:
    • they teach you things to take with you for the rest of your life;
    • they show you the positives and negatives about yourself,
    • when looking back, you will see the message that those people put into your life, and you are able to identify the very reasoning why they were in your life and what you learned from their impact in your life;
    • when the time is right, those people will drift away from you.
  • Lifetime relationships:
    • plant seeds that are built for longevity,
    • consistent positive influences,
    • able to hold you accountable when you are not holding yourself accountable, add necessary value to your life,
    • have a legitimate meaning to your life,
    • are able to be there consistently when needed,
    • no matter what happens, these people never waver or drift apart from you.

Do you know if you have the right people in your life for a lifetime, or are those people that are only there to teach you a lesson; but you continue to hold on to them, hoping they are built to be in your life for a lifetime? I believe now is a good time to sit down and evaluate the friendships and relationships in your life. Make the necessary determinations as to whether or not the people you have surrounded yourself with are people who are exhibiting qualities of someone you would want to be a lifetime person, or just someone who is here to teach you a lesson about life.

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Marriage, By Any Other Name?

When I was younger, I dreamed of having a “perfect” marriages. A white dresses (which would have been the only time I wore a dress), black tuxedos, a bridesmaid line as long as the eye could see. As much of a tomboy that I was, this was going to possibly be the most feminine moment of my life (and to date, I would say it still is, lol).

Growing up, I only knew of one type of marriage; and that was one between a man and a woman, living together, raising kids, loving one another unconditionally. Now, admittedly, I did not see that ideal scenario throughout my entire childhood; however, there are moments that I do remember that I would wish would be similar to how I would live with my spouse.

What I have grown to realize and accept is that there are so many other forms of marriage or I would call them “partnerships”, other than what one would consider “traditional.” I’d also argue that the traditional style of marriage is possibly one of the least popular.

Love is not a deal breaker in marriages, despite many of our childhood beliefs. I used to think that love was the one and only thing you needed in order to know that you wanted to marry someone. Being in a relationship for 11 years, 6 and a half married, I have now come to the conclusion that it takes more than seeing sunshine days and butterflies in my stomach to make for a committed union. Nowadays, many people may marry for different reasons that go far beyond just love. People marry someone whom they see they can build a prosperous future with, some marry but do not hold their spouse to a more traditional form of fidelity; others marry and choose not to share a residence.

So, the questions comes to mind: Is this wrong? Are people sullying the sanctity of marriage by having so many unorthodox rules and no boundaries? Who’s to say what is the right answer to a question like this? I know for sure, I am not.

Personally, I won’t go on record stating that any way that a person chooses to live their life with their partner is wrong or right. I do not feel I am the authority on someone’s else’s life and their lifestyle. I say all this to say that in 2019, the world is a lot less judgmental and holding to standards of the past. It is interesting and very intriguing to see the evolution of specific relationships, as it pertains to how men and women choose to join with one another in a union. I find it doesn’t bother me at all; and if anything, it brings about the urge for more intense dialogue on that person’s perspective, to gain knowledge and understanding.

I have never been someone to judge anyone else’s union and how they choose to live. To me, what one may see as “wrong”, another may seem as a perfect lifestyle for themselves; and as an impartial and imperfect human being, I would never hold my standards or expectations on someone else and the way they choose to live their life.

Self Love is Always Your True First Love

A lot of times, there are lessons that I feel cannot or will not apply to me, even being five years into my marriage; however, 2017 put me in a place where I was struggling with loving myself more than I ever was before.  In turn, that put a big strain on parts of my own marriage.  I am not ashamed of it; in fact, I think all emotions, whether good or bad are natural and human.  No one goes through life feeling perfectly happy all the time.  No one can go through life knowing exactly how to navigate their emotions all the time, no matter what stage of life they are in.  And just as I say that, I can say that even with a man that loves me endlessly, I still struggled at times with receiving that love, because there were things about me that I could not stand.
There were several points in my life last year that I had to definitely lean on the quotes I referenced above, and learn to dig deep down and find the things that I loved and enjoyed about myself, focused solely on those things in order to pull myself out of the depression that I was feeling about not truly loving myself.
Self-love is also something that is not just mental or emotional, it is also physical and tangible.  Sometimes it takes more than just praying, meditating or speaking positive thoughts to yourself.  Sometimes you have to dress yourself up, take yourself out on dates, treat yourself to a gift that’s long been overdue, do something that is completely “selfish” in society’s eyes.  Some people may think this is a self-centered concept; however, what it really is, is showing how much you value yourself, even when no one else does.  When the right person sees your appreciating your worth, they will make sure they put forth the effort to make sure they show their appreciation for you as well.
I believe that we take for granted the one person that we all should be falling in love with first, because we are so busy putting our efforts into someone else, when really, that person should be ourselves.  Once we realize that the truth to finding real love is rooted in falling in love with who we are, the possibilities will be endless.

A Process Towards Rediscovering Myself

Life’s journey all begins in process.  I whole-heartedly believe that this life we live in is unique and while everyone has the same overall goal of happiness; the way in which we achieve that happiness is vastly different.  We all have our own journeys that we will face, we all have our own truth to discover along the way, but most importantly, the way in which we all get to our destinations; our process throughout this life, is vastly different and it is the defining factor in how we become who we are and what our purpose is in life.  All of these things tend to blend together at some point in our lives; but one thing that will always remain certain is that no two people on this earth share the exact same process and I believe that is truly what makes the world diverse.

As we all go through life, we all are completing a process; no matter how big or small it may be.  We are being tested in many different aspects and what we learn and the things we gather from those tests help shape us and help us to understand our truth.  The more I reflect on this in a more personal manner, I find myself focusing more on the idea of my process and how that leads me on a pathway towards defining myself on a deeper level as I transition into a new chapter in my life; one several of us may be or will be familiar with at one point in our lives; Chapter 30.

I’m currently 29, and only have seventeen days officially until I turn the big 3-0.  In the last few years, I have begun a process of my own to start developing a deeper understanding and a deeper level of self-discovery.  I felt like I only knew myself on a superficial level and wanted to know more about what my truth was and what it would be as I began to mature into a new era of my life.  Lately, 30 has felt more like turning the last page of a chapter, and beginning a new one.  I can literally feel a shift in my life happening; a positive shift that I am mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally preparing for.  I’ve matured in so many ways and grown in so many ways in the last few years, and I want to see how those things begin to settle and manifest themselves as I grow into my 30’s and beyond.

For so long, I have had this “unknown” feeling about myself.  I have finally started to sort out just what it is in my life that I want to do and want to accomplish, and I feel like I will be able to accomplish those things as I go into “Chapter 30.”  I know life always sends you unknowns, but I feel like I will be more prepared for them now than I was in my 20’s.

One thing I’ve learned going through this personal process thus far, is that it is not always an easy task, and just like anything in life, it will have its barriers.  Your process may be stunted by obstacles that are completely beyond your ability to control.  Oftentimes, the uncontrollable obstacles are the most difficult ones to overcome, because they are beyond our realm of understanding.  They are the ones you want to fix the most but you know deep down you cannot fix them.

The reality is, your life’s process will bring about all of these things; good times and bad, the key is focusing on how you overcome those things and how those different experiences shape you as a person.  These experiences are why develop you as a person and what help you tell the world who you truly are to this universe.

I hope that with my process, I am able to gain all that the universe has in store for me.  I hope to find out the wonderful things and even the ugly truths about myself.  I hope that my process is one that will build me up to be someone to withstand some of life’s greatest struggles; because that is how you know when you can survive the hardest battles.

Good Friends or Bad Friends; Which One are You?

So, im still on my #50Days50Questions journey, and I came across a question that I felt compelled to discuss, since it has become somewhat of a hot topic in my life currently. Here is the question.

Am I a good friend? How so or not so?

I could be lying to myself; however, I feel like I am a very good friend. I feel this way mainly because being a good friend is something I take pride in. I am by no means perfect, and I’ve made some of the worst mistakes in some of the most important friendships; however, I’ve been blessed enough to continue to have them and I’ve learned valuable lessons from them. I learn so much from each person I call a friend, and I do my very best to treat them as they deserve to be treated.

Throughout my life, I’ve made many connections with people; some have been for the short-term, and others have been for the long haul. Most of the people I consider good friends I believe have the mutual feeling about me as well (at least I hope so lol). First, I’ll tell you what I feel constitutes a good friend:

  1. Honesty: I feel like this is a no-brainer. I mean, if you can’t be honest with someone, why be their friend? I’d much rather you be truthful and honest with me, than to lead me on in thinking one thing when it turns out to be another.
  2. Genuine concern: I believe another good trait to have in the “good friend” column is to always have genuine concern for those you call friends. I know sometimes I can seem a little annoying, but I love checking in on my loved ones and friends, especially when I know they aren’t going 100%. It’s partially a way that I show I’m there for them if they need me. I’m always down like four flats!
  3. A big heart: Having a big heart is also a sign of a great friend in my book; and it also is a sign of someone I know will have my back no matter what. I know a few people who may have the biggest hearts in the world; luckily, I’m glad to call them my best friends ❤️.

Now, with every positive aspect of life comes negativity in some regard; and there will always be disadvantages to being such a good friend to people and being perceived as such. I recently encountered a situation personally, that made a couple people tell me that I was being too good of a friend, based on how I was being treated; and that happens sometimes. It definitely made me reflect on how much I give to the ones I love and those who I consider some of my best friends.  I know I can give my hearts to them because in a reverse situation, they would do the same for me; and that’s something that’s important to me.  But, it also made me question if I was in fact TOO giving to those who I felt I was being a great friend to, who weren’t turning out to be so great to me..that was definitely a food for thought situation for me.

That situation taught me a valuable  lesson.  I had to finally tell myself that sometimes I do try to be a good friend to those who are not as good  to me, and sometimes those are  the people who don’t deserve some of the special treatment.  I’m not saying you have to be a complete bitch; however, you also  don’t have  to go completely out of your  way for someone  who is not showing their  appreciation, or not even acknowledging you in the first place.

I say all this to say  that I do feel like I am a good friend, but also I urge all of you who take the time to read this to look within yourselves to ask yourself  if YOU feel you are a good friend and if so, ask yourself the following:

  • What makes you a good friend?
  • If you answer no,  what can you do to become a better friend to your friends in question?
  • If you answer yes, do you feel you are being taken advantage of  as a good friend, and if so, how do you plan on addressing that with that person who’s  taking advantage of you; and could it be  time to re-evaluate that friendship?

Do You Have Magical Thoughts?

If you're a fan of Insecure, then you were tuned into episode 2 this past Sunday night. In that episode, you see Molly begin to open up more to her therapist, and she starts to list all of the things that "should" be happening in her life.

When Dr. Pine realizes this, she immediately clues Molly into how she associates a lot of the things in her life with the word "should", as if she is not quite satisfied with how the reality of her life is shaping out to be.

The doctor uses the term "magical thinking" to describe this particular situation. Needless to say, the greater majority of the Insecure fan base SHOOK. I personally was triggered by the notion of magical thinking, and hadn't realized how much I apply magical thinking to my life.

The term magical thinking means (as I paraphrase it) believing what our life and our desires should look like, as opposed to accepting the reality of what is. Once Dr. Pine clued Molly into that, it was like a rude awakening to my spirit.

How many times do you speak about your life, and reference the things that should be happening, instead of embracing what is happening in the present? How do we begin to reframe our conversations about our lives in a way to show that we are accepting of what life is or may be for us, instead of constantly living in the mentality of grasping at what we think it should look like? Here are a few ways I thought of:

  • Have Patience: life is all about being patient and waiting for the right things to come to you. I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and in its own time, so having patience can help with taming your magical thinking.
  • Do not punish yourself for what you don't have: No one should be ashamed for the things you may not have in life. It goes back to patience; sometimes, it may not be your time to have the things you feel you should have in life, but it doesn't mean you're not deserving and that it will not ever happen.
  • Enjoy Life Everyday: this is possibly the simplest of tasks; just enjoy everyday you are blessed to wake up. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we feel we should or should not have that we forget to enjoy the fact that we're alive and well.

So, now that I know I've been guilty of living all in my magical thoughts, I will take these tips and try and learn to accept my shoulds for what they are, and if the desires of my heart choose to manifest themselves in my life, that will be icing on the cake!