Adapted and expanded from a Facebook post.
My 2015 was great. The second half in particular was filled with amazing experiences, fun material things, and many professional and fraternal opportunities. It was also deeply enlightening on a personal level. Thanks to BET’s Being Mary Jane (really!), I went down an introspective path that caused me to examine and revisit some relationships, offer up some explanations and apologies, and observe how people handle me.
Yes, handle. I know I’m a lot to deal with. This was a good time to inspect how people were dealing with having to deal with me.
I don’t think I will ever be completely finished with this introspection, but I know I can walk away with a few important truths that I needed to know about myself, my life, and my world. I think I understand it now and I hope that by writing it down (and sharing it) I can enlighten others while holding myself accountable.
I was put on this earth to be amazing. I had #BlackBoyPower. Now I have #BlackManPower. I am here for a purpose higher than I can understand. The journey to that understanding is enriching and fulfilling, and if I know that I am here to be amazing, then I had better act like it.
Everybody can win. There is much in life to compete for and to feel competitive about, but we have got to become one with the interconnectedness of our successes. If one black male writer, or black gay writer wins, then I’ve won, too. There is room at the table.
I am neither a therapist nor a faith healer. No matter how much I want to save you, that’s not my job. I can no longer take the time to solve your problems. I cannot touch you and make you whole. I can’t give you an hour to sit on my couch. Not anymore. My couch is for me.
I have to fight as hard for other people as I want to be fought for. Seems contradictory to #3, right? The nuance is here: I don’t have to try to heal you to fight for you, or for us. My job is to understand you, understand what you’re going through, and not give up because your circumstances or your health or your depression gets in the way. I want you to know–it’s my duty to make sure you understand that I am here for us. I can’t just whine about not having anyone to support me–I have to be the person that I needed.
I also need to know when to let go. I cannot fight indefinitely. I have to have the wisdom to rest, to stop, and to retreat. We’ve both got to fight for us.
I love you, not the person you are on social media. I know you want your five thousand friends to believe everything is okay more than you want me to know that everything is not okay. So when I see this person, this people-pleaser emerge, I know that’s not you. And I can’t invest in or fight for an image.
Its okay to visit a city you don’t like in order to visit people that you love. Places are just destinations on a map. It’s the friends who live there that make the journey worthwhile. I had to stop the procrastination and go to the people I love. Not out of obligation, but because that’s a manifestation of fighting for a friendship.
You have to be AND you have to seem to be. The Latin phrase esse quam videri means “To be, rather than to seem to be” which basically means it’s more important to be a thing (usually virtuous) rather than the image of the thing. Well for me, I have to not only be, I have to also seem to be. I am amazing. Why hide that I am amazing? Modesty doesn’t sell these books. Quiet strength doesn’t secure speaking engagements. Silence doesn’t secure contracts. Be the thing. Celebrate the thing.
Some days you get to be Olivia Pope. Some days you have to be Huck. Some days you will get to wear white, sit in front of the cameras, have the perfect life, and get things done from the top. Other days, you will have to do the dirty work. The psychopathic, bloody, ground-level dirty work. And you better enjoy it just as much as the top-level work.
There is no ownership on grief. You don’t have to back down from your feelings of loss just because others had closer proximity to the departed. Nneka Fritz, I love you and I did not grieve for you properly when you died. In the past few weeks I have missed you more than ever. You were closer to many more people than me, but we had a closeness nonetheless and I should have celebrated that.
I will write my next novel when I am ready. I have written more novels at a younger age than many famous novelists. It is okay to take my time to bring something good.
Mentoring is work. I love my official and unofficial mentees and proteges and I constantly question whether I am doing enough for them. Mentoring is not at all like parenting or friendship, but you need to know a little of each to be of help to these folks. I just hope I am working hard enough to be the person that I needed when I was their age.
It’s okay to pursue a new goal when one door closes. Your personal ministry may change several times in your lifetime. You might not be The Supreme of This Coven. Are you going to spend your life in your feelings because it wasn’t meant for you, or will you find happiness elsewhere?
I am actually worthy of the good things that happen to me, regardless of how I look naked or how much money I earn. I am worthy because I am here, fat rolls and all. I am worthy because I am here, negative account balance and all. If I was not here, everyone’s life would be different. So I might as well celebrate being here. There is no time to be hard on myself.
That’s all. Hope this did something for you.