#MemoToMe: "Quit Running Your Mouth" & Other Agreements That Have Made Me Better
a : characterized by wisdom : marked by deep understanding, keen discernment, and a capacity for sound judgment
b : exercising or showing sound judgment : prudent
The last six months have been exciting, making 2016 one of the most fruitful years of my life. I did not get a job promotion, accept a proposal, or close on a house. In fact, the opposite of all those happened in 2016. I left a job that threw me into depression. I had to live off of unemployment for six months while searching for another job and recuperating. I had no luck on the dating scene and my goal of saving a downpayment for my own home by 30 years old was postponed to help family in their time of need.
I know, with all that a normal response would be, "Damn, girl. Tell me how 2016 was your most fruitful year to-date, again?"
2016 was a year of internal reflection and growth. Wisdom grew wings. I know that sounds very ethereal but stick with me. It was one of the years where it seemed as though everything had fallen apart but in truth, everything was falling together. In 2016, I decided to make a few, strategic choices and continued to make them every day.
Let me explain.
One of my biggest flaws for much of my life has been talking too much. I was that kid in the first grade whose teacher (shout out to Mrs. Clegg!) had to set my desk right next to hers to keep me from disrupting my classmates.
Into adulthood, I ran my mouth to both overcome a deep inferiority complex and as an avoidance mechanism. If people paid attention to the talking then maybe I could simmer the guilt boiling inside me for all the things I had talked about but felt too inadequate to complete. If I could sound sweet enough, poetic enough, convincing enough, intelligent enough, then maybe people would forget to look at what I had yet to accomplish. Maybe they wouldn't be able to see how fake I was. All talk. Barely any walk.
I knew how to inspire others. I have pep-talked many a friend, mentee, cousin into their destiny. I knew how to say what sounded good but I lacked follow-through to live all that inspiration out. I also shared my hopes and dreams and blueprints with too many people, too soon, and too often. There is something about spilling your dreams onto the sidewalk of everyday life that can wash away its value if you were never fully committed in the first place; if you only liked the idea of it more than you were adamant about putting in the work, the sweat, the muscle to achieve it.
Pretty soon my voice hit a sour note to my own ears. Nothing I said felt honest or righteous or full of potential. It was nothing more than fluff and I was a con woman trying to keep the crowd distracted from my fears and inauthenticity. "Watch my mouth, not my feet." What I could have gained in silence over the years, I had lost in adding to the already deafening noise of posers. I felt like an idiot and knew there was no choice but to overhaul my way of being, my way of showing up in the world.
Over those six months, I took time to journal, spend time out in nature (it clears the mind beautifully), and talk to God. I feel so much less dependent on the opinions of people (some of whom I would probably never even meet). I'm experiencing the incredible high of announcing achievements, not empty or half-thought-out plans. Most importantly, I'm building trust with myself that I've never had.
Here are the changes/agreements I made that turned the tide in 2016:
- I will keep my word to myself.
Most of the inner turmoil I was evading was just that: inner turmoil. My desire for outside approval and acclaim was a result of seeing myself as unworthy, unable, unreliable, unremarkable. So, I decided to start with me. I made the pact with myself to keep my word to myself. If I said I was going to write a blog post, I wrote it. If I said I was going to apply to a certain job, I didn't put it off; I applied. If I said I was going to eat better, I put in the time to plan my meals and choose healthier options. Whether big or small, I kept my word to myself.
This was major. Not just because it helped me to practice completion but it helped me not to be afraid of creating goals for myself. I can't count how many years I avoided taking my own goals seriously for fear of failure or not completing them.
Not only did this begin to build a sense of self-respect that I dare say I never quite had, it affirmed that I am worthy, I am able, I am reliable, and I am remarkable. And I didn't need an outside opinion to make it so.
- I will interact with social media less but more intentionally.
Social media has a habit of sucking me in. Especially Twitter. By nature, I enjoy good conversation and I can be a complete goofball so I love to engage with other people and laugh. But this also makes me an easy target for distractions. The Internet, while revolutionary for the exchanging of information will jack me UP when I try to be productive. This is nothing new. It's why I've studied minimalism, Facebook fasts and phone apps that block you from using certain social media sites. It's why I've been plagued with depression and self-doubt at different points in my life. I look into the rose-colored glass of others' carefully-curated lives and see nothing but my own lack or insignificance when in actuality, we're all in the same boat. We may have paid for different seats but spiritually, emotionally, mentally, we're all just trying to simply be in a world that's pulling us in a million different directions.
I decided that I would use my social media for uplifting purposes only. I did not want to revert back to my incredibly unfocused self of 2013-early 2016. She was not helpful, truly happy, or whole. I decided that if I were to really walk out this calling on my life, then I had to be all in. That meant in online spaces too. No excuses. While it is not always easy and I find myself analyzing certain things I say or repost, it has made me more aware of how what I put out into cyberspace could affect others and that has made me a much more intentional person.
I became conscious of how I was using my time on social media and how long I was spending. You would be surprised by how just becoming more aware of my own behavior helped me to break bad habits and build better ones.
- I will seek wise counsel only after I've thought, prayed, and written the vision.
One of my biggest problems growing up was being surrounded by domineering extended family members whose opinions were king. There was no discussion. I was wrong, they were right. At a young age, I gave up on myself intellectually, spiritually, emotionally. I deferred to them and anyone else who seemed stronger or more "right" than me. That led to me rarely ever being able to make a decision on my own. I always needed someone to back me up or to flat out tell me what to do. It was a crutch, a learned behavior, and in a lot of ways, it absolved me of taking responsibility for myself. I needed someone to tell me what to do. I lost my creativity and confidence for a long time.
A few months ago, I decided to keep my visions, plans, and dreams to myself until I had talked them over with my God and my journal and had at least begun setting things in motion. I also made the choice to only invite trusted, wise counsel into the corridors of my dreams. Dreams are powerful yet fragile things in the beginning. It's no wonder that many of the dreams I had over the course of my life came to naught. I exposed them too soon and to the wrong people. Practicing keeping things between myself and God until the right time rebuilt my reliance on Him. It was also a confidence-builder, showing me that I have always had everything I needed to bring great things to pass right here in my heart, my head, and my hands, and I didn't need other people to tell me what to do. I was more capable than I gave myself credit for.
Material, social, or career achievements pale in comparison to the work I have become willing to commit to internally. It has not been easy but then nothing worth doing ever is easy. It has bandied me back and forth between decisions and aspirations. I have wondered if I was on the right path more than I ever thought I would. But in the end, when I look at what I have learned and been able to accomplish in these past six months (announcement coming soon!) I could weep. It's all about internal commitments. Once those are set, everything else is just the cherry on top of already sweet livin'.