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.

Headwraps is life.

Headwraps used to terrify me. For one thing, this African lady didn’t inherit the ability to tie them—to the shame of my mother—so I avoided them. I also wondered how I could pull them off in a professional setting (because, sadly, women of color have to think about these things), so I left them alone.

Enter global pineapples pandemics and pre-tied headwraps.

It’ll be a headwrap year for me, folks. Hair will be twisted up underneath as we continue to grow out the strands and many more wraps will join my growing array of colors and styles.

Here’s to 2021 and options.

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.

Do you know what today is?

It’s my naturalversary.

Eight years ago today, I drove to a salon in Maryland and told the stylist to commence with le big chop. Best decision ever. Several months before, I had decided that I was done with relaxers and straightening my hair. I’d place my fingers in my roots and feel the thick, coily texture and no longer held a desire to straighten those strands. I wanted to see the hair my mother saw when I was a child.

It continues to remain a journey. I’ve big chopped more than once, I’ve grown it out, I’ve been blonde, a redhead, all colors in between, I’ve been bald, so on and so forth. I’ve loved every minute of it. Can’t draw to save my life, but my hair has been the best artistic canvas this gal could ask for.

Favorite natural styles: Twistouts and Bantu knot-outs are my tried and true

Favorite protective styles: Senegalese twists, box braids, any crochet style

Favorite hair color: Brownish-red was pretty cool but my honey blonde phase gave me life

Favorite products: The Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus collection has never let me down. I use most of their products. A recent fave is Camille Rose products (their twisting butter is heaven). By the way, if you’re a naturalista, your bathroom is a CVS. Such is the journey to find what works well for your hair. Eight years later, I’ve solidified a lot of those things and enjoy my staples.

Image credit: Pinterest
Image credit: Camille Rose Naturals

Favorite Naturalistas: these are content creators that have helped me throughout the years to understand styling, methods, and natural hair care. Whitney White, Maeling Murphy, My Natural Sistas, Taren Guy, and countless others stand out. You’ll see many of them here.

Here’s to commemorating whatever makes us happy and reminds us of happy. Onwards and curlwards, dear reader…

Le Fro: Updates.

Here’s how the Le Fro is doing as of this past weekend, in my continuing efforts to grow out my hair and not eye the ✂️:

Frowth.

Curls galore, no? We love to see it. And this is actually a two-day wash-and-go courtesy of my stylist and good friend, who provided me with a nice, socially distanced wash/condition/much-needed trim. I’m always amazed by WAGs. I tend to leave WAGs to the experts, such as my stylist, because your Square Peg has no skills when it comes to that. I’ve done them, it takes forever (and not as “go” as the term implies), so yeah. Queen Twistout over here. But it’s always nice to simply see my natural coils and curls without manipulation.

What are my frowth goals? Big hair, y’all. I want big hair and I want to go as far as I can without, again, heading for the ✂️.

Onwards and fro-wards.

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.