Daring to be different can be viewed in many different ways. Some may choose to be different for all of the wrong reasons, and others may choose to be different to improve their quality of life. In the context of breaking the cycle and not conforming, being different is viewed in one way – the better way.
Choosing to be different will require you to be confident and unapologetic. You have to be 100% certain and comfortable with your decision to be different, otherwise, you may get deterred and end up conforming, just like everyone else. There will be consequences (good and bad) that comes along with choosing to be different. Some of the things you should expect on your journey to be different are: envy from others – even from those closest to you, being singled out, becoming a target of unpleasant treatment, or feeling like you don’t belong - which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Developing confidence and an open mind to overcome the adversity you will face might pave the way for others. There are people, probably more than you may know, who also wants to be different by choosing a better path, but lacks the courage to do so. Your courageousness and unapologetic qualities may just be what it takes to give them that.
When you choose to be different to better your life, and the lives of others, you should also prepare for the positive that comes along with. Contrary to the not so good consequences, striving for better will naturally render positive results. Your quality of life will improve by the choices you make, your behavior, the people you choose to associate with, and your overall mindset. All of which are benefits of daring to be different.
Never feel guilty about your choice to break the cycle by choosing a different, better path. This should never discourage you from doing what is right for you or a loved one.
We’re ultimately responsible for taking control of our own destiny and not allowing ourselves to be influenced by our surroundings. Being different is actually a form of obligation; obligation to yourself that if you know better, you should do better!
We may not be able to control others’ actions, but we can control how we let their actions affect our lives. I was driven to seek a better education and better options for myself, and others treated me differently. With more education, I saw things in a new light, and I made smarter choices. There were people I grew up with or who lived in the same community as me who perceived it as if I thought I was better than them. I was told that I think I’m “white” or that I act “white”, just because my vocabulary or pronunciation was different than the majority of those from my neighborhood. I didn’t think I was better than anyone else, I was simply being me, and making the best of the opportunities available to me.
Dare to be different and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! This is your life to live and you can’t go through it worrying about what other people think of you. Love yourself first and the rest will follow…
Daring to be different will not only change your life, but it can also change the lives of a community.
In my previous blog, I talk about how easily it is for some people to conform to a lifestyle that they are constantly surrounded by because it may appear to them as if it’s a normal way of life, especially for those who don’t know any better.
My reaction to my raw and tainted circumstances physically manifested itself through illness. I suffered with fever, chills, headache, sore throat, canker sores, weakness, and dizziness. The lifestyle I was surrounded by on a constant basis made me feel emotionally and physically drained. I didn’t want to move, speak, or function anymore. At the tender age of 10 years old, I had become fed up with living this way. My mind, body, and soul would not allow me to conform to society the way others had. I didn’t know what better looked like at the time, but I knew that the environment that I lived in sure as hell wasn’t it!
Several homes were like mine, where crack smokers congregated in kitchens to get high while their children played or slept 10 feet away from them. Unfortunately, the families and kids I played or visited with had become immune to this lifestyle and got along as if it was a normal part of life. They accepted their parents behavior and didn’t expect more from them. It was very peculiar to me why I couldn’t conform and just be okay with it, too. It seemed like I was the only one who thought it was wrong to live this way. I was never okay with it and I was highly disappointed at my parents’, and the adults in my community, for their negligence and selfish behaviors. At the mere age of 10 years old, I chose to be different. I refused to conform to an unhealthy lifestyle and unhealthy behavior. I chose to be better!
Never accept what you know is not okay. For any youth or child facing similar circumstances or any circumstance you know and feel isn’t ok, seek help. Do not except these conditions as normal. Find a responsible adult and inform someone at your school about your living situation. You don’t have to be a product of your environment. Be Better!
This blog series will focus on the ‘Round and Round We Go’ chapter of Life in its Rawest Form.
It’s no secret that poverty, drugs, single-parent households, and lack of education plague our society in the inner cities and urban communities. Unfortunately, a lot of those brought up in these communities adapt to their surroundings by seeing and doing--basically imitating--what is going on around them. It becomes second nature as they grow into adulthood, only to pass down what they’ve seen to the next generation. For a lot of them, it’s all they know. Very few chose a different, better path.
When you live an environment where everyone around you are living the same way, it can be easy to believe that this way of life is the only way of life. In such environment, it can be hard to distinguish between the good and the bad, resulting in one adapting and conforming to their surroundings. This is essentially one of the most powerful forms of influence – misconception of the norm… How can one do better if they don’t know what better looks like?.?.
Another unfortunate circumstance, when living in an environment where everyone around you are living in similar conditions, is the feeling of being rejected when daring to be different, better. This may cause others to become intimidated and envious, all because you believe there is a better way. This same feeling of rejection, have prevented some from breaking the cycle and wanting better for themselves. They become concerned about how their loved ones and community will treat them.
If this is you, try your best not to fear how others will perceive you if you don’t live “the norm.” Break the #HoodHabit and if you are looked at sideways, that means you are probably doing something right. Dare to be different! (Keep an eye out for the third post in this series).
Yes! You can have fun.
Have you ever been in such a state that you feel you don’t even deserve happiness? That you will forever be hardened by doom and gloom or sadness from unpleasant life experiences... I’ve hit that point I my life on multiple occasions.
It’s the story of hopelessness and fear of feeling like you don’t deserve to be happy. Continuing to harbor hurt and guilt of the past, blocking any streak of light and hope from entering your soul…
If this hits home for you, you are not this person; we are not this person! We shouldn’t feel ashamed of where we’re from or of our past, good and bad. Live in the moment and celebrate where you are now, what you have overcome, and where you are going.
Life can turn so gray that we can’t even open our eyes to see if the sun is even shining. Others, just like you and me, need someone positive to help guide them to the sunlight, someone to mentor them on their own journey to becoming a better person. That someone can be you! Allow the sunlight to shine bright through you so that you can be the same ray of light and hope for someone else.
That’s what we have to do. It took someone from the gutter to rise up and show the other person that it could be done. Life is too short to stay in the gray.
Lesson 4: Find joy! I mean pure joy at least once a day. One thing to bring a smile on your face and escape your past or a negative in your present.
A little fun will take you a long way. A feeling of excitement, a laugh or a hug.
What will you be enjoying today?
Summer time calls for a lighter wardrobe, cool drinks, and an overall sense of relaxation. The #lightload applies to your well-being too!
Lesson 3: Don’t take on too much at a time, and don’t get discouraged by how far you have to go. Instead, focus or re-focus on starting and conquering one thought and one goal at a time.
Take the summer approach and unwind. Your release could simply be in your mind, it could be escaping in a book (Life in its Rawest Form – shameless plug) or lightening your normal sphere of influence and taking some time for yourself.
Take time to recharge and reset for what lies ahead. This will allow you to see you clearly. Try not to focus on the noise, darkness, pain, and trauma, which can create roadblocks ahead.
Summer is a time where you should focus on your mental and physical wellbeing by taking care of you, doing things for you, celebrating how far you have come, recharging for continuing your journey, and build up the anticipation to conquer more!
In every situation, in order to get a positive result, we have to give up something in the process. If you are looking to get healthy, you may have to give up certain foods. If you are going back to school and you are working at the same time, you may need to sacrifice time and give up TV or extra curriculars.
To pick up from the last blog, revisit that thought you held captive and released. What sacrifice will you have to make to not allow that circumstance, situation, or pattern occur again? It may be not engaging in a certain behavior or not allowing someone to re-enter your life. Don’t focus too long on what you have to give up. The quicker you take the first step to move on to what you can and should do, the easier it becomes.
Page 79 of the workbook is a great exercise to encourage positivity in thought and behavior. Sacrifice will lead to Success!
Lesson 2: Focus on one pattern or habit and find something to offset when you feel you are approaching dangerous territory. Whether it’s a prayer, physically removing yourself from a space, or finding something new to do in its place. Your sacrifice of not entertaining poor decisions will start to reveal your best and true self.
June. The first month of Summer. This time of year usually brings good vibes and outdoor escapades... However, for some, a sunny disposition may be reflected on the outside, but things aren't so bright in the inside. There are many whose soul Is filled with darkness from sadness or discouragement that not even a ray of sunshine have been able to enter through.
This blog series will explore sections of the companion workbook to Life in its Rawest Form, that focus on true work of the soul. I will share simple and actionable steps of how my experiences shaped me from the inside out.
Lifestyle shifts start with one simple change. Section 3.9 of the workbook focuses on this concept and is applicable to anyone looking to do just that.
My personal change catalyst was that of having my son as a teen. The lessons learned are applicable to anyone facing adversity.
One thing that we can all do is learn from what life has taught us (i.e. our experiences). Learn from past failures, poor choices, and mistakes.
Lesson One: Take one, single, solitary poor choice from your past. Hold it captive. Once that thought makes it presence – take it, release it, and learn from it. It sounds easier than it really is because negative thoughts take up way more inventory than they should. You can conquer dark with light!
Tilt your head to the sun and let it go… Accept the new day and bask in the sun.
Be on the lookout for lesson 2 in the next blog.
Writing was and is therapeutic… it was an outlet for me, when I was younger, to get help without even knowing.
Now my hope is that my voice and experience can be that written word to move others out of their comfort zones and serve as a source of encouragement.
My book ‘Life in its Rawest Form’ details my life story. I grew up in an environment with drug and alcohol addicted parents, was homeless, suffered sexual trauma, and was a mom at 15. I had dreamed of better life, but extenuating circumstances weren’t making that a reality…
I’m happy to be on the other side. With my book, supporting workbook, and blogs, I can help guide readers through adversity and into a place of peace and purpose.
There was a career fair that I attended my senior year of high school. If you didn’t read the previous blog, check it out. One of the guest speakers was an IT Professional. They spoke about their career and later I went on an informational interview to get a better idea of a day-in-the-life of an IT professional – programming to be precise.
I became very interested and did more research on it and learned how competitive it was, and about the endless opportunities within this field. Mind you, being an 18-year-old with a three-year-old carried its own challenges, but I could not let that deter me for making a better life for us. You have to move and not feel like you’re stuck in your circumstances.
I pursued IT in college, earned an undergraduate degree in Computer Science/Information Technology, and looked for a job within a company that had an IT department. I started at the bottom as a Customer Service Rep, then later moved into IT. I learned various programming languages and about the infrastructure of various technologies.
Today I am proud to be a Senior IT Manager. Just as that IT professional came and spoke at my school, I am now in the position to do the same and speak to the youth about my story, and how they too can achieve their dreams no matter where they started from.
Check out the Speaking page if you are interested in learning more and allow me to encourage growth moves for your audience.
Being a mom at 15, I had to grow up quickly… Life as I previously knew it to be was no longer. My choices and priorities had to change. I was no longer making decisions pertaining just to me. There was another life that I was obligated to care for and protect, and it wasn’t just physical protection I had to provide. I had to protect him from any negligent behavior on my behalf. This meant I had to do my best to avoid making poor choices, wrong decisions, and passing up on opportunities for a brighter future. It was difficult, and I failed at times. However, I had to constantly strive at getting better.
Being an adolescent parent was by far one of the toughest things I would have to face in my life. I had very little room for mistakes, so I took advantage of every opportunity that came my way. Education was my #2 priority. It was the only resource that would afford my son and I a brighter future. There was very little financial stability that I could provide for him at 15 years old, so I had to do my very best with the opportunities I had.
The very first opportunity I took advantage of, which actually turned out to be life changing for me, was attending the career fair at school. It gave me insight into professional careers, post-high school and college. I took this opportunity seriously and looked further into the career choices that most interested me. A year prior, I would have overlooked the potential this career fair offered, but becoming a mother made me think differently. Little did I know, this would change the trajectory of my life (more on this in the next blog).
How can you grow in this moment? Choose one thing that you can do immediately and act on it with intention, and purpose.
Now go and grow!