By: LANISHA D. PORTER
In many ways I’ve learned to revise my ideas about love...romantic love. I now realize many of my preconceived ideas about love were only surface. Sometimes lent to me through the experiences that belonged to other people. But being on the frontlines of love and knowing it for yourself mandates you to expand your own personal world. I know now that to truly love another human being without condition is laborious. At times it feels defeating because honest and true love is selfless. Most of our ideas about love that we are beholden to revolve around our own self-centered interests. But it is a real mark of maturity when you begin to lend yourself for the benefit of someone else despite the opinions of the world. It’s an entirely vulnerable place to be but when you learn reciprocity, and allow yourself to serve the needs of your significant other you will experience how powerfully transformative love can be.
At this age, I can look back and identify the very moments I should’ve walked away from situations.
I see also now with clarity and peace why certain relationships would have never worked. I’ve watched old love interests become husbands. And I’ve also witnessed them become fathers to kids we once dreamed about over late night conversations.
Again, this is a beautiful example of how the decisions we make march us onto the paths that quickly become our destinies.
At 24, I remain unmarried and childless. It’s not something I’d dare rush—at all—but both are experiences I quietly crave someday. I dream about that permanence often; about belonging to someone and having someone belong to me and all the sacredness that will be imbued with. Nowadays my hearts desire to carry life are materialized through questions to my OBGYN like, “Does everything look healthy down there?” motivated by the steady ticks keeping rhythm in the back of my mind. Yet, despite my maternal yearnings, I police them for the security of first finding the ideal partner: my husband. I’ve learned though, in finding the right partner, how deeply important it is to maintain my standards. I’ve learned those boundaries and standards are there to protect me. If I know what I want, I won’t negotiate around it believing the trespass against myself will somehow be worth it. It never will be. Thus, currently, I curb the notions that society offers about the primacy of marriage and motherhood until I can find the right partner, and instead choose to focus on my own professional development.
True style is how you perform the idea of yourself unmoved by the opinions of others.
SETTING-BOUNDARIES & CONFIDENCE:
I have struggled in this department. Mostly afraid of being too “rigid” of a person or afraid of disappointing others. Maybe it was my southern upbringing, but it feels there’s a part of me that has a default setting always wanting to be polite. Always. To be polite is easy. You don’t have to address what’s awkward, offend someone, nor risk appearing rude. But learning to set boundaries is a necessary evil even if it makes others uncomfortable. Boundaries can feel like you’re being harsh because it is very openly holding people accountable to a standard and forewarning them of your intent to impose consequences if that standard isn’t honored. But almost always when I’ve failed to instate boundaries, I was soon left to grapple with the real disappointment of not showing up for myself. I’m now learning to feel okay with denying or forfeiting things that don’t deeply serve me or my time. I now say no to meetings without clear objectives; conversations without gain; and I’ve come to realize I shouldn’t feel obligated to share everything with everyone. There are things that are okay to keep to myself. The hardest thing for me has been learning to unapologetically say, “that doesn’t work for me” when veiled manipulation rears it’s head. These moments are usually led with statements such as: “Well, let’s just...” purposely meant to coerce your consent in a hurry without you actively agreeing to it. Often times I’ve found myself thrust into uncomfortable situations whether it was paying for a poor service or struggling to deflect answering a question that was far too personal. Learning to hit pause and say no more often has made me very proud of myself because it helps me ensure I am not set on pleasing everyone at the cost of cheating myself.
I've also learned how to be confident in who I am as a young woman through my sense of expression. I've noticed people will, when they can, try to convince the dignity out your posture when they feel you stand too tall. At moments, I have given into ideas about how a woman ought to be modest and model conservative values as it pertains to dress and presentation, but then it dawned on me: more often than not, those who spew this rhetoric do so from a lack of their own confidence. They believe that bricking themselves in behind layers of fabrics will insinuate higher value judgement on their behalf. True style is how you perform the idea of yourself unmoved by the opinions of others. That said, now I never a miss a day to throw on my favorite stilettos; change my hair color; or wear my favorite dress. Truly, those who can't won't and those who do will be criticized because they can. Either way, I've learned, although slow and steadily, I qualify my own confidence.
When I think of family, honor, tradition, and pride come to mind. I’m sure these are the very values I will assist in raising my own family with someday. Currently, I am less focused on the childhood traumas that have affected me and moreso encouraged to script a life for my own posterity that is plentiful. The days where I do not think of my children’s inheritance are scarce. Being older, I now understand the sacrifices made generations before that have preserved some of the very freedoms and luxuries that some have today. I deeply believe greatness is something that is compounded, generation after generation making an intentional commitment to honor the future descendants. My own sights to secure generational greatness helps me uncloud my judgement girdling the crazy things people have done to cement their names in the ranks of human history. I see now the motivation for, what I once thought to be senseless domination, men wanting to immortalize the legacies of their bloodline through conquest—be it with might or else. I aim to give my own children stability, resources to support their dreams, and the kind of guidance that paints a fair representation of the world so that they may be productive and contributing citizens to society. I dream of family literacy nights; outrageous Christmas traditions; and annual family vacations—some of which I did and also did not have growing up. I myself do not descend from wealth or riches, but poverty is something that has been unfounded in my spirit. I was always reared with a confidence to realize my own self-worth and have an understanding that my dreams deserve space in this world. Essentially, I am very proud of my name; so much so I doubt that I’ll give it away at the alter—a tradition in which I believe allows men the hegemony to promote and continue their own history, leaving women and their surnames often as a mere footnote in men’s history books. I’ve gone on to learn that family isn’t just the association of biological matter linking people to a common history, but it’s also those who, without blood connection, choose to honor the values that matter to you. My family is big and beautiful—made of people tethered to me by DNA and by spirit...none of them loved any less.
Consequently, possibly, I imagine, maybe there were young girls that night in that class who bowed their head in defeat thinking their mistakes placed them outside of Gods love or that their inherent goodness was now blemished beyond repair. Such a lesson is completely un-Christian.
After college I decided to momentarily discontinue my academic journey to see what I wanted to do next with my life. Robotically, I’d gone from pre-K to undergraduate following society’s trend. But somewhere in college I got the mind of my own to hit pause despite the recommendations of mentors and other associates (who were usually so loosely connected to me I didn’t much care what they said anyways). Though I’ve always flirted with the idea of law school, as senior year of college jogged to a close I felt unmotivated to pursue my J.D.. Normally when I want something, I experience a surge of will-power that will bolt me through the challenges. But here I didn’t feel that. I didn’t have that anchoring “by-any-means-necessary” feeling that had previously fastened me through past tryouts, study sessions, scholarship applications, and even college.
In my human experience, I’ve learned that my weak spot—the thing that irritates my soul most—is vast inequality and unfairness. Sometimes I lie in bed and worry deep in my bones before deciding the best escape is sleep. Sometimes I cry for the devaluation I see concerning human life.
Hence, a truth was staring me down in my face: I wasn’t really interested in going to law school. It was equally discouraging to realize I’d done so much hard work and made so many sacrifices to fall short of a sturdy return on the investment. When I read a book by Robert Kiyosaki called “Business of the 21st Century” where he, paraphrased, said something to the effect of: “climbing the corporate ladder will always leave you with the view of looking into someone else’s ass,” I began to reevaluate my career plans. School had always been easy for me. I led with an incremental academic profile—each year I demonstrated growth and a great stride in retaining information. I was a near flawless student. School for me was a sure path to experience some level of success, and at the very least create a safety net for myself. But when the reality became clear to me that there were non-degreed persons who got paid $20,000 a post on Instagram, meanwhile out of college with a bachelors (where studies say $58,000 is the starting salary) I was having to take a job outside my career field only making $38,000, exploring a new path sounded optimal to me. Some may now look at me as lost potential. Who cares. If anything, I know for sure I’m too smart to be drowning myself in debt for a dream meant to keep you asleep. I’ve nearly divested my shares in the American Dream angling myself toward a less traditional path that demands the sort of risks that would make others stop before they dare began. During my time off, I’ve been able to nurture the plans I’ve always fantasized about that were often shelved by school. I’ve been able to travel; write book number two; open my publishing company; mentor women through my empowerment programs; plan conferences; sleep in; read for leisure; watch tv...just live on my own terms. Mainly, I’ve learned that dreams do come true. Many of my own have already. But I also realize, especially as a black person, we are sold dreams with no thorough instruction on how to manifest it. Sometimes we are deprived from having access to networks that preserve the type of information, resources, and connections that can elevate one’s tax bracket. One thing I’ve learned with just the little success I’ve experienced is that who you know is destiny. I got to my dream college in New York not because I was so smart, but because my guidance counselor liked me enough to nominate me for a private scholarship that was unbeknownst to the rest of the graduating class. That scholarship went on to be the very amount I needed to head to New York in the fall for classes. Sad to say, but to truly reach one’s dreams, you need to travel the paths where the tips often go publicly unlisted. This reiterates the importance of opportunity and networking, and—above all—the need to possess a spirit that remains unflinching, able to withstand the crippling doubts that could rob you of reaching your personal jackpot. I know that with my life I want to make a difference. In my human experience, I’ve learned that my weak spot—the thing that irritates my soul most—is vast inequality and unfairness. Sometimes I lie in bed and worry deep in my bones before deciding the best escape is sleep. Sometimes I cry for the devaluation I see concerning human life. And sometimes I want to march myself into law school just to equip myself with the academic armor that would give me the credibility to effect change in our systems of power. Most days I struggle to decide where the best place is for me to effect change; whether it’s in a classroom, service to the community, from the pages of a book, or from the court room. Nevertheless, I continue to be motivated to commit myself to work of tremendous purpose. Work of true nobility is often long, hard, emotionally taxing, and sometimes—which is most discouraging—modest in numbers of turn out. It’s in these moments I remind myself that a passion that can’t be tested can’t be trusted. I believe that if I remain steadfast, enthusiastic, and faithful over few, I will be not only pleasantly surprised but appreciative to someday be endowed with the honor to serve over far more. Currently, I have sold hundreds of copies of my books and have spoke before crowds of hundreds. My dreams are to someday stand before hundreds of thousands able to empower through hope, love, and shared experiences.
Welcome to my views from this horizon!
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Welcome To My World
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