Life…So Far…

Hey, y’all. Been a while since I updated you, dear readers, about life and what’s going on with your Square Peg.

Image credit: Giphy

Autumn 2020. Lest we refer back to the year that shall remain nameless, we’ll start there. After months of quarantine living and having way too many conversations with myself, I decided after some prayer and planning to head back to the Somewheres, VA and spend time with the fam while working from there. Fortunately, my job allowed for that, since remote work can happen from anywhere and we weren’t headed back to the office anytime soon. So, from mid-November 2020 to just this past March, I was home. Back to my people, eating regularly and my Mama’s amazing cooking, not feeling hopelessly alone. It was awesome. It was also a trip back to 1995, because my mother all the way treated me like I was 16 years old all over again. That was interesting. There were many times where I wondered if I’d end up grounded like back in the day.

Snovid-21. That’s one of the many apropos nicknames that was assigned to the Bizarre Winter Storm of 2021, which occurred in early February of this year. And if you remember, Texas got hid pretty hard. Large losses of power, beyond chilly temperatures that even surpassed Alaska on some days, flooding. And it’s that final one, that flooding, that affected my apartment.

  • Since I was still in Virginia at the time, the flooding that occurred in my apartment happened without me there:
    • My leasing office responded to my request for someone to check on my place with a reply that they didn’t have any available maintenance workers to check on my place for me. (Which would take like, two seconds.)
    • When I returned home in early March, I was greeted with mildew, black mold, and other areas of damage in my downstairs kitchen, foyer, and living/dining area.
    • After a lot of back and forth, someone finally responded to my requests for assistance. (Which means it was a bear reaching anyone for help. Which means I was beyond frustrated.)
    • Long, long, long story short: all repairs they made were in vain; I was eventually relocated to another apartment because my place became uninhabitable.

So I’m in the new place now and it’s nice to finally be in a place where I can breathe. I couldn’t sit in the living room in the old place because of the mildew and mold; who would have thought the ability to sit on one’s couch and simply relax could feel amazing, even more than before? Grateful. But in case you’re wondering, no, I’ll be finding a new place to live after time on the lease here is up. Those bullets above hardly scratch the surface of the utter frustration that occurred during March-April. Like I cannot even. I utterly underestimated the power of a home being a haven, and when that haven was gone, it was intense and difficult, to say the absolute least. Imagine all of those in the state that got hit worse than me. Goodness.

So, that’s the tea on life for now. Creatively, I’m still writing and coming up with some Frowriter branding, too. Exciting. See the IG for more info.

Bon weekend, dear readers. Onwards and upwards on this life ting…

All the Things.

So, by now, I’m sure you’ve heard the details of the “bombshell” interview that Oprah Winfrey conducted with Harry and Meghan a few weeks ago. (If you’re a woman and a person of color, not much that you heard was surprising.) But believe me, despite not being largely surprised by how Meghan was treated, I found the interview to be utterly impactful. I felt sad for them, too. Ultimately, however, I have no doubt that she and Harry will keep it moving. The interview got me thinking about a lot of things. Race, microaggressions, my own life experience, so much. Here are some related thoughts and reactions from the more popular comments and remarks I saw on social media.

One question I saw more than once was why Meghan felt like she’d be accepted by this institution.

Image Credit: O, The Oprah Magazine

When I came to this country, the black and brown kids that I longed to be with mostly ignored and/or mocked me. Of course, in hindsight, I now understand that my “otherness”, coming from Africa, was largely informed by a stereotypical representation of my continent in the media. It explains why many questions were related to where I had lived in Ghana, if it was a house, if I owned shoes. They didn’t really know any better (we’re talking about 10 and 11 year-olds here, too). At the time, it was perplexing, sad, and infuriating. And lonely. The kids that looked like me didn’t want me. Being in a predominately Caucasian school and area, I was soon accepted into mainly white friend groups. Now, young me experienced the other side of the spectrum: fascination, curiosity, and interest. Many of these friends sincerely wanted to learn what life was like for me, pre-US living. They wanted to be in my presence, to be in my company. A level of comfort set in for me. When that happens, that comfort level, you start to believe–and I certainly did–that all spaces were ready for me. Because my white friends seemed to be accepting, all white folks would accept me.

Not so.

And I honestly think that Meghan believed some of the same things. Pre-Royal Family, she was an actress, in the public eye, likely accepted in a variety of circles and groups. Perhaps this mindset continued when she entered the RF. She mentioned in the interview that she assured her in-laws that she was ready to work hard on their behalf; she saw the opportunity for representation in the Commonwealth and embraced the new chapter that she would help start. But at the end of the day, some circles are not all circles. As I got older and navigated life/adulthood/race/ identity, I learned that there wasn’t always a welcome mat for me. Sometimes that mat seemed fine on the surface, but underneath was really full of ignorance, bigotry, and those microaggressions. So, yeah, I feel like she went in hopeful. And soon learned that there was a lot of stuff going on underneath.

Racism must be bad if they came to the States to escape it.

Word. But one thing I thought about: the British media was largely trashing Meghan. Here in the States, slants exist, yes, but there’s still a level of political correctness that will come with headlines. Harry and Meghan mentioned the British press more than once during the interview, their obvious bias against her and comparing her to Kate Middleton. (Love this quote from Meghan during the interview: “…if you love me, you don’t have to hate her. And if you love her, you don’t need to hate me.”) So it’s bad everywhere, yes, but at least the depth of journalistic vitriol isn’t as immense stateside.

Why in the world didn’t Meghan Google the Royal Family before getting involved??

She stated during the interview that she didn’t want to Google her husband-to-be, and wasn’t that informed about the Royals in general before beginning a relationship with Harry. Hey, it happens. I know plenty of folks who couldn’t care less about those people, nor need to be informed about them. Of course, This Square Peg isn’t one of those people. *laughs* Starting with my beloved Princess Diana and surpassing the British royals into royals all over the world, I’ve always been fascinated by them. But where Meghan and I differ: I’m Googling you. A potential relationship, a new friend, whatever–yes, I admire that she didn’t want to be informed by someone else’s POV about her husband, but Google is Google. I still need to know some things. Anyway, it’s a valid question. Maybe learning about the history of her late MIL would have better prepared Meghan for the life she was about to begin, but I also maintain that nothing prepares a woman of color for the welcome she will or won’t receive from society. Sadly, we mostly have to live it to find out.

Wait: it was the Firm’s decision not to give Archie a title and not H&M?

And here we see how the media drives thoughts and opinions. When Archie was born and the announcement came, I and several of my friends assumed that Harry and Meghan had chosen to not give him a title and instead afford him a regular life despite being the son of a prince. Not so. Meghan shared that the Firm–the RF as a whole–decided not to give the baby a royal title. And why? Protocol, they say. But I’m pretty sure Meghan’s reveal that some members discussed how “dark” Archie would be had something to do with that decision. (Talk about the part of the interview that infuriated me more than I can even describe.) It’s just interesting, optics and media, no? Even Harry and Meghan showing the baby, not on the steps on the Lindo Wing post-birth like Kate M and Harry’s mother, but in Windsor Castle, seemed like their choice. It wasn’t. (By the way, post-birth, a photo op seems really intrusive and weird and like physically uncomfortable to look at, but yeah.) Anyway, my point: their decision to want to step back as Senior working members of the RF was warranted and completely called for.

So, Team Meghan, right?

Absolutely. From the start. (Just search Meghan on TSP and you’ll see what I mean.)

Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk, folks. Happy FriYAY and bon weekend, as well.

Confessions of an Overachiever.

  1. I was always the last chosen for teams in gym class. Always isn’t an exaggeration. It would 100% be between me and a kid somehow slower than me, which was usually baffling because, yeah, I was slow, unathletic, uncoordinated, terrified, all of it.
  2. When my high school counselor gave me my Senior year final GPA, I saw the 3.0 (this is hardly a humblebrag) and where I fell in the senior class percentile–not top, not bottom, but the middle–and felt the deep twinges of disappointment.
  3. I once met a guy who asked me, three times throughout a weekend, whether we’d met before. He would look at me quizzically each time and smile unsurely, as if we hadn’t engaged in animated conversation barely an hour before, or the day before, and ask, “hey, have we met?” Before you can excuse him, keep in mind that we were part of a tour group in NYC that was sharing every moment together. So, it’s not like I went home and saw him several days later. We were always together. Yeah.
Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels.com

From my adolescence throughout my twenties, I felt my averageness, my unmemorableness (not a word, but feel free, all yours), in the pit of my belly. I hated it. I remember vowing to my mother that in college, I’d rise above that average 3.0. I’d get on the Dean’s List, I’d snag a 4.0 and prove that I was more than some average, forgettable girl who no one wanted on their team. It mostly worked. Save for a late-stage and woeful Math credit and some other non-humanities classes that pulled the numbers down (English majors will understand), I happily found myself seeing my goals through: Dean’s List time and time again, high class standing, etc. Without a doubt, the overachieving began and flourished during those four years.

Or did the seeds begin when, as an adolescent growing into a teenager, I didn’t hear the best things coming from some family members about me? I used to condemn myself a lot (you’ll note, if you’re new to TSP, that I had to do a lot of inner work to love and respect myself; that’s why my Square Peg nature and confidence is high; I proudly march to the beat of my own drum), believing that the words some in our family used to describe me (fat, lazy, etc.) were true. My mom mentioned recently that she saw a photo of me as a teenager and I looked so sad. I didn’t respond in detail and simply said, “could be.” (I rarely discussed my lack of self-esteem and self-worth with my parents, by the way. There was a big part of me that didn’t think they’d understand. Immigrant kids may get where I’m coming from. Discussing feelings just wasn’t a thing in my household back in the day. But my mom and I had a pretty revealing conversation about all of that years ago. Freeing and cathartic.) I clearly digress. The point is perhaps those toxic descriptions of my character were forming the overachiever that would come: the obsessive need to be good, perfect, and efficient at everything in order to prove them all wrong, the unflagging desire to seem valuable.

Overachieving didn’t end in my formative years, as I mentioned. As I began my professional life in corporate America in my early 20s, it bothered me when I didn’t understand something quickly at a new job, fearing that I would seem not smart, not capable. The fear of seeming average. Adding the fact that I was a young Black woman in corporate America and undoubtedly being judged made things exponentially stressful. Those little microaggressions made their mark, believe me. (“This Square Peg, we heard you graduated college! Wow! Did you go to a four-year school?”) I constantly pushed myself to have a reputation of efficiency and silently beat myself up when I fell short of my own impossibly high standards. And some exceedingly high standards were self-made, yes, and some were absolutely not. Either way, I was emotionally toast most of the time.

I’d love to say that presently being a grown woman who’s way more self-aware and happy with herself and who understands how adolescent trauma and insecurities can lead to traits like overachieving means I’m no longer an overachiever. That wouldn’t be accurate. I work on it constantly. (This new job brought it out like crazy.) I talk about it with a trusted friend, too. I pray about it. The high that comes from being known as dependable and efficient, especially in a professional space, is the same as the low that comes when you criticize yourself unfairly because of natural imperfections. I went through that this week and I was able to express myself to said dear friend who reminded me of a few things I hope to remind you of, if this is something you go through:

  • You did a great job and you do a great job.
  • No one is 100% amazing at everything.
  • See the areas you need to improve on and realistically find ways to make improvements, remembering that you may still fall short and that’s okay!
  • Is it really a necessary improvement or camouflaging as a normal thing that will happen and out of your control? Try to see the difference.
  • Speaking of differences, there’s a significant one between overachieving/perfectionism and simply being a hard worker. The lines can blur and it helps to understand this.
  • Read this.
Photo by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels.com

Oh, and therapy! 2021 may be the year when I hang out with a professional. Being self-aware doesn’t replace doing some good internal work with someone who’s licensed.

Be good to yourself, okay? I’m certainly trying to.

my own grass.

Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

I once mentioned to a friend that when I see others engaging in milestones in their lives–babies, marriage, etc.–it fills me with yearning because I long for those things myself. Her response: the grass isn’t always greener. You know the cliché/adage. But here’s the thing about me, and a point I clarified to my well-meaning friend: I don’t live in an imaginary world where I think others are living perfect lives. Even further: when I see my people commencing with said milestones, I don’t begrudge or envy them. I simply want my own grass.

Does that make sense? You can be happy for someone and want the same things for yourself without believing that people have entered perfect prisms where nothing goes wrong for them. No, the grass isn’t always greener and I’ve lived a life where I well understand that sometimes the grass is old, fading, and/or isn’t even there at all. These facts of life do not preclude me from wanting to experience those milestones for myself and obtain my own little spot of garden.

Some folks envy. Sure. Some folks hashtag people they don’t know as #relationshipgoals despite not having one clue as to what is happening behind closed doors, despite the curated aspect of a social media embrace and smile. That’s them. My desire, though, is for folks to stop assuming that everyone feels that way, that envy/jealousy/etc. are being nursed in hearts that don’t live the lives they’re seeing. Because I certainly don’t feel that way, and I know several others who don’t, either. If you’re in that place and you share my mindset, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

So when you hear “the grass isn’t always greener” after expressing very natural desires to well-meaning friends, calmly assure them that you simply long to feel the fresh blades of your own cultivated grass under your own feet. For some of us, nobody’s life is a blueprint. We just want our own imprint.

The 2020 Win.

Believe me, I hate to go back to that weird year, but I promised to discuss this awesome development in ’20 and never got around to it, so here we are.

Here are five awesome things about my promotion at work:

  1. Honestly, I’d been praying for and working towards being back in a field where I could apply both my academic and professional training for a while. My previous position, though welcomed because I’m always grateful to just be working, didn’t really allow for that. But this new position does.
  2. It’s really interesting work. Nope, I’m not sharing my new title because it’s the interwebs and work and interwebs stuff requires a level of privacy, IMO.
  3. It’s challenging. And while challenges can be challenging, I’m also very accepting of them in this regard.
  4. I’ve been able to work remotely since March of last year. A blessing during this panoramic! (Not a gaffe; I’ve become a fan of calling the pandemic everything that starts with a ‘P.’ Blame TikTok.)
  5. I really like the folks I’m working with.

It would have been nice to celebrate with friends and enjoy dinner and a night out on the town, but I did that for myself and enjoyed it in the safety of my living room. A win is a win is a win. Thankful and grateful.

Just No.

Image credit: Instagram

Whew. The accuracy.

I saw this post on the ‘Gram and felt like discussing.

So, although “no” is a complete sentence (just like yes), most people don’t hear it that way. Agree? Most of the time, a “no” is followed by a “why not?” from the hearer or them giving you a run-down on why your response should be in the affirmative. Even a polite “no, thank you,” which, to me, should stop a conversation because I’ve said no and I’ve added courtesy to it, doesn’t always suffice for the requester. Reasons must be given. Responses must be qualified. Well, here you go for reasons and qualifications: because I don’t want to. And facts, right? Because you simply don’t want to.

I do wonder if all the above springs from childhood and adolescence. When the Terrible Twos come and little ones find their “no,” they’re usually saying that in response to things they need. Bedtime. Healthy snacks. Listening to mom and dad. The majority of us were taught to not respond negatively to things we needed. Perhaps we take that into adulthood, the politeness of agreeing, even though we now can decide what we want or don’t want to do.

I found my “no” when I learned to esteem myself. Being a people pleaser as an adolescent/teen meant agreeing to things I had no interest in and/or deeply wanting people to like me, although I still intriguingly maintained a level of control over bigger things. It was an interesting dichotomy. I wanted my peers to like me, but I was also resolved not to compromise certain values. Anyway, I digress. For the most part: it felt weird for me to say “no” back then. That’s not the case now.

Image credit: Pinterest

My bestie and I were laughing the other day because she asked me to try a few things and I said “no” to each one. She was like, you’re a stubborn one, aren’t you? She’s the bestie so there wouldn’t be applied pressure but it got me thinking. For me, saying no to new things may mean missing out on certain experiences because I simply don’t want to engage in them. That can be a blurry line. But c’est la vie. Free will, self-determination, so on. You get my drift. The point is: a no is a no is a no.

How do you feel about saying no?

Blogtober #29: A Few Things…

…that I know to be true.

1. The last few minutes of Law and Order are the most explosive.

2. I’ll fall in love someday…even though hope is sitting in the corner, exhausted, bored, and yawning…

3. You’ll always get the Oxford comma from me. Always, always, and always.

4. I’ll end up living in a cottage in a quaint village in Britain. Claiming it.

5. This cottage will require a typewriter. Because: cottage.

6. Vintage travel ads will always bring a smile to my face. (I have a whole board dedicated to said ads on my Pinterest page. Take a gander; link is at the top of the page.)

Bon Thursday. Friday awaits us…

Blogtober #28: Blue Light Special.

(This blog post contains Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission for purchases made through these links.)

So, if you’ve been working from home for several months like me, you’ve also been staring at a computer screen for several months. But pandemic, so we’re also staring at Zoom screens, FaceTime screens, and basically living a virtual screen life with our eyes. I’m already a squinter when it comes to screens (the doctor maintains I don’t need prescription glasses though 🤔), so you can imagine the tension I’ve been been feeling. Enter a good friend and her suggestion that I head to Amazon to purchase Blue Light blocking glasses to help with the eye strain.

🤓

The MeetSun Blue Light Blocking Glasses are awesome. The price was fantastic and I received two pairs for the price of one. As a fan of fashion glasses anyway, it’s not surprising that I was excited to find a pair that were stylish and would help my eyes out at the same time. Check them out.

Happy Wednesday.

Blogtober #16: How it started/How It’s Going.

Started on the left, Going on the right

This is the latest trend I’ve been seeing on social media, the how it started and how it’s going challenge. I don’t do the trend thing, by and large, but this one I like. Seeing your growth, seeing your changes. I’m all about that self-assessment life.

Your Square Peg was about 8 years old on the left. Newly arrived to the US, about to start school, grinning for her Dad’s camera. On the right, still here, missing Dad but hopeful for the future, still grinning. I’ve come a long way. Happy to be here.

Bon Friyay.