“Actions have consequences…first rule of life. And the second rule is this – you are the ONLY one responsible for your own actions…”
– Holly Lisle
Being a young adult in this crazy, always changing world has forced me to adopt boundaries, or rules, if you may. And these rules have become my walkway to my current happiness. With so much negativity, hate, and stupidity roaming this world, I had to do something to stay sane. Me personally, I like order, I like organization, I hate messiness in any form. I like things to be clear, apparent. How do I live the best life this twenty-three year old can live? I follow these “rules of life.”
Keep in mind, these are not all of my rules, but just some of them to help you navigate a little better.
Find yourself a hobby
I believe finding a hobby is important, especially for those of us that spread ourselves thin to a lot of people in our lives. Constantly helping others in whichever way that manifests itself. When you’re in that position it can be so easy to forget about you and do the things that help you the most. Finding a hobby is you cutting out a slice of time in your life that is devoted solely to YOU. It can be anything! Some of mine are swimming, writing (hiiiiii!), dancing, and drinking wine. I use this time to wind down and focus on me. It’s refreshing and essential for those of us with busy lives and hectic schedules that really don’t leave a lot of time for “casual time.”
Be selfish (with you)
Yes, you read that correctly. BE SELFISH! It’s okay! There’s nothing wrong with it. Be selfish with your time, your love, your ideas, your work, whatever you hold dear to you. Whatever is prized to you and whatever you can’t afford to just be giving to any.old.body. Because if you give any of the aforementioned, nine times out of time, you can’t get it back. Life, your life, is supposed to be about quality. Giving your best to people that are worth it, and most importantly, who have no problem giving it back to you. Just because someone comes up to you needing something from you, tangible or not, you are NOT required to give it to them. Especially if it is something taxing that requires a lot of attention, time, effort, and resources on your part. Most of the time we don’t have time to give all of those. So when you do, give it to someone that’s worthy and will give it back. Often times it’s those that don’t believe in reciprocation that require the most of us. Don’t fall for it. Be selective in who you help or deal with. You have that right. I hope you never forget that.
Find inspiration in a public figure
One of the things that has enabled me to be who I am and feel so free in that, is that I look up to so many excellent, bad-ass figures. These are people, mostly women, that are intelligent, giving, rule-breaking LEGENDS. Basically everything that I want to be. I made this a rule because so much of who I’ve grown to become as a young adult stems from the actions that these individuals have done. For example, some of the most important figures in my life are my favorite musical artists — Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, and Alicia Keys. I love their music, but I also love who they are as a singular person, what they represent. Alicia is truly my mental and spiritual animal. She is constantly teaching me to be optimistic and positive in this cold and dark world. She always wants her followers to see past all of that and see the good in every situation. I can’t tell you how important that has been for me. A lot, if not all my optimism was learned from her. Mariah teaches me constantly to be myself. That being myself is indeed ENOUGH. I’m not for everyone, and not everyone can take or like me, but I HAVE to be who I am. No matter how extra and festive that may be. Truly a life lesson. Mariah has been attacked for her confidence in her femininity (as have I) and not once has she ever crumbled and tried to switch it up. Mariah taught me that there is POWER in FEMININITY and authenticity. And Bey….it’s almost hard to sum up and not get emotional about what Beyoncé Giselle Knowles has meant for me and my overall confidence. Whenever I’m feeling low or depressed, I can always to turn to a song, an interview, a video, or hell even an IG post. LMAO. My work ethic has improved because of her. And more than anything, Beyoncé leads by example. She may not always have much to say, but she can always back it up with her actions. She’s selfless in the best ways possible, she remains humble even though she’s a fucking GOD. Most importantly, Beyoncé doesn’t get comfortable. She’s constantly challenging herself and the levels that her work ethic know. It’s clear that she’s grateful for everything she has in her life, but she doesn’t get content. She knows there’s more for her to do out there. She’s hell bent on fulfilling her destiny and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. Those three women have been instrumental in my life and continue to inspire me on to more greatness. I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with idolizing others. Especially when they can have a positive impact on others to do some good in this world. If you’re looking for inspiration, look for it in others. I know that’s something that we don’t always hear, but look what it’s done for me. Hey, we can’t all do it by ourselves.
Stay involved + engaged civically
Nothing is better than an individual that is present. Present and well aware about what is going around them. There is too much mess, too much evil, too much hate going around for us not to be involved in public arenas and conversations. Stay up to date with what’s going on in politics. I know it’s not the most appealing thing out there, but it matters. After the 2016 Presidential election, this should be more apparent now more than ever. I ask that you use these challenging times as motivation to increase your knowledge in civics and government. How elections work, the difference between federal, state, and local governments. How each plays a role and effects you. Too many times have I heard young people say “my vote doesn’t matter.” When in fact it matters a whole helluva lot! Your vote could be the difference in how tough the fight for your rights, right to exist will be. It can determine the livelihood of not just you, but those around you. This is especailly important to people of color, members of the LGBTQQ community, women, people with disabilities, and so many others.I truly believe that one way to improve our lives and the society we live (and eventually go on to shape) is by being educated in civics, government, politics and voting. Doing this may inspire a whole lot of young people to work on campaigns and help push these older leaders in the right direction, inspire millennials to run for office themselves (which is something I am readily to support 100%), or at best teach the importance of engagement and voting. Being informed and engaged is important to our quality of life. It’s important to know what is going on around you, and even better to know how to respond to things that aren’t agreeable to you.
Make public service your life’s duty
Marian Wright Edelman once said “service is the rent we pay for living.” even at a young age, that is a quote that I wholeheartedly agree with and believe in. I think we’re meant to go on different paths in terms of our passions and the things we want to personally pursue and accomplish. Be it becoming a doctor, an athlete, a writer, a politician, or whatever. But I also think we’re all put on this earth to serve and make contributions, positive movement, on this old, sick world. There’s so much for us to contribute on this planet, plenty of work to be done. The world is crying out for help. Service comes in many forms. It can be in the areas of hunger, education, justice, environment, voting rights, women’s health, water scarcity, and whatever else you see that needs attention and work. Me, personally, I’ve found that I’m most passionate about education, children, and women’s health. I’ve always held a certain affinity for them, but I have drawn so much inspiration from a lot of leaders, most of it coming from my idol, Hillary Diane Rodham. This goes back to finding inspiration in public figures. She helped shape a lot of my views on social issues concerning children and women. Because of her and many other advocates, I’ve become well-versed in these issues and even plan to pursue opportunities to work in these fields down the line. At 23, I’ve made it my life’s mission to serve people that need and seek the help, people that are less fortunate than me. Nothing can satisfy me more than helping someone else out. Being a blessing to someone else is so healthy for the soul and it’s one of the things that keep me going, even in such bleak times. I want you to dive nose first into the work of public service, in whatever way that manifests itself.
Listen to lots and lots of music
I hardly doubt anyone reading this isn’t already doing this, so I can keep this one rather short. Listen to music whenever you need to. I often listen to it when I’m feeling happy and inspired or in need of inspiration. I also listen to it when I’m depressed, angry, or just want to block the world’s baggage (read: humans). I am nothing without music, unable to operate, really…..It’s good for the soul and it’s truly universal, no matter who you are or what you like and don’t like, there’s a song out there for you. No matter what kind of music you listen to, it can help when everything and everybody else can’t. Don’t sleep on your iPod, boo. that’s all I’m saying. 🙂
Don’t hold back your anger
I don’t know why, but we’ve been conditioned to not let our anger show. And I think that is very dangerous for our health, especially our hearts. I have issues with it because there is nothing wrong with being angry, it’s a NATURAL human emotion. We’re supposed to experience it. I don’t see how anyone can truly heal from pain without thoroughly letting it out. Giving someone a period of anger allows them to get their most harsh feelings and thoughts out of their system, it relieves the heart and body of unneeded and unhealthy attention. Has anyone else wondered how many people have died because their heart couldn’t take the suppressed feeling of anger?
**I hate that black women are labeled as “angry.” and only angry. Especially when you’re not recognizing what black women go through on a daily basis. How their feelings, bad or good, their visibility, their personal spaces, all of it get erased by black and white men, and white women. I hate that the word angry is the only word attributed to black women. We don’t see resilient, beautiful, heroic, etc. It’s almost always “angry.” There is nothing wrong with it. Allow marginalized people periods of anger and don’t tell them how they should operate or feel in a world designed against them.**
*back to the larger point*
There is nothing wrong with being angry for a period of time, but it is important to not stay in that state. At some point begin channeling that anger in a way that helps you prosper and heal. Use it in your hobbies to perfect a skill, use it on your job to present excellence to your colleagues. I promise you working it out, in a positive way, will lift you. Remember that there’s nothing wrong with being angry, especially when the course of life hasn’t been kind to you. But don’t stay there for too long. You begin to interfere with your overall progress and I need you to thrive and slay, boo! ❤
Always be honest with yourself
DRAG THAT ASS! It’s what I do…If you can’t be honest with yourself, I don’t really see how you can be honest with anyone or anything else. I truly believe that the most important aspects of life should start with you — loving yourself, trusting yourself, believing in yourself, and being honest with yourself. If you know you’re not where you should be currently *points to self* I think being open and honest about that will wake you the fuck up and get you moving. If you stay with the lie that you’re good, you’re making progress, you’ll believe and still be in the same spot for years to come. Meanwhile, your dreams are about as dusty and untouched as my love life. If you know you have an attitude problem, own that shit and fix it! If you know you’re eating more than you should and it’s lowkey a problem, call yourself out on it. If you have a self esteem problem be up front about it. No one can throw something back at you when you know it and have accepted it and you’re trying change it. Honesty is just one stepping stone to self-love, but it’s a very important one. It’s better to know yourself and your flaws, because your family, friends, and significant other won’t always tell you. You can’t be “whole” and not be honest with and about yourself. And don’t worry, you’re not the only one who’s struggling with this. I’ve gotten so much better at calling myself out on somethings, but not on everything. That is a current battle of mine. I know what some of my issues are, but I can’t bring myself to address them fully with myself, let alone someone else. I’m not saying that at this moment you need to own all your flaws and be real with yourself, but to begin that process of being honest with your flaws. Let it be a roll out. Little by little. It’s hard, but this is essential, y’all.
Love fiercely, but also love smart
Rihanna said it best “we all want love.” I know the current landscape for love and relationships is unstable at best. Especially for us millennials. It’s seems like we have a lot of love to give, but the prospects of someone serious enough and worthy enough are slim to none. At least that’s how I feel, partly anyways. While I question when i’ll find a good love, I still do have hope that someone is out there that is going to give me the love I deserve. No matter how much I (jokingly?) tweet how single i’ll probably be for the rest of my life, I still firmly believe that there is someone out there for all of us. I say that to say this, as your bobbing and weaving through this 21st century love game, I want you to love the best you can love. Make it worth your while. You’re either all in or you’re not. With that being said, don’t be out here just giving it to any old body. beware of those that put gorgeous illusions up. People are cruel and will take advantage of your feelings for them. And I know love is not as logical as an Aquarian like myself thinks it should be, you can’t help who you like or “love.” You’re not always able to control your feelings. But I ask you to go into this with as clear a mind as possible. Have your feelings, but be conscious about the overall setting. Be analyzing how they interact with you, check the vibes often, make sure they’re giving the same amount and kind of love that you’re giving. Hopefully doing so will cut your “talking” stage down and no time will be wasted. I do believe that it doesn’t take long at all to see if someone is serious about you or not. Analyze, make a decision, and move on. That’s my motto. I advise you to take it.
Make your dreams and aspirations your number priority
It’s important to want to help others and be there for them, support them, etc. But never forget about you! Don’t put your aspirations and dreams to the side for anyone. Maybe you’ll have to adjust them a bit, but keep them. Know that no matter where you are in your life, no matter how low you feel, your dreams are possible, you have the ability to achieve them. Don’t ever let “adulting” get in the way of that. If you don’t have goals and dreams, what are you living for? You have something you want to accomplish (I know this for a fact), I don’t care who you are. That still holds true and will always hold true. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not smart enough, or that you don’t have the look, the will power, or the resources to achieve your goals. You’re the only person that can determine that. While I am passionate about advocating for the causes that are important to me and helping those who need it, my dreams are firmly sitting at the number one spot and they don’t plan on leaving that spot anytime soon. Achieving these goals may mean that you have less time for friends and family members, but those who know you, love you, and can relate to you will understand and get out of your way. Be weary of those that shame you for going after what you want. I’m not saying drop them, that’s your decision. But watch for those people and make sure they don’t interfere with the bigger picture. Which comes to my next point, don’t be afraid of cutting people off. That person that’s been a cancer to your dreams may be the roadblock to your next milestone. Part of growing up and truly growing, is having to make the hard, necessary choices like cutting once important people off. It’s not easy, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s a test. a test to see if this is really what you want. All that aside, dreams or not, sometimes you just have to cut people off. That’s just the honest truth about life. It’s so inspiring to see others go for what they want, regardless of the current stage of life they’re in, age, or financial situation. My mom is 50 and she’s engulfed in makeup and photography. I love that this is a skill she picked up later in her life, but she’s so dedicated about it. As a young person, that’s important for me to see. Especially from the most important person in my life. So be relentless for your pursuit of happiness and slayage. Make it known that you have dreams and they’re important to you. You never know who might want to support you. Your dreams are valid and they’re possible. You just have to put in the work and give the dedication and a little bit of sacrifice. It’s worth it, babes!
And my last rule? Well, it’s simple: Do WHATEVER you have to do in order to be happy. If there’s one thing I don’t want you to do is let anyone steal your happiness from you. Without that, you’re dead. Hold onto it for dear life.
All I have left to say is go out and live your best life, girlies!