Defend Yourself From Discouragement

BE confident that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.

 

You have to ask yourself this, Am I discouraged or Am I trying to please others?

 

I am a firm believer that whatever talent or hobby you found as a child and stuck with overtime is your thing. No matter if you took extended breaks from it, molded it, crafted it into something applicable in the corporate world etc. it is YOUR thing.

Mine
Mine

 

Yet, at a point in your life when you find that the thing you’re doing is not cool to others or deemed impossible by others you let it go. The trade-off is detrimental to the development of that talent. That thing. Your character.

For example, there are many talented singers that were discouraged from taking the step further into getting paid for it. I’m not talking about being the next Aretha Franklin either. I am referring to the possibilities of joining traveling theater groups, singing in the Church or even coaching others.

Were they discouraged? Verbally, yes. But, that is the moment where you have to make the conscious decision to say, fuck what they talking about.

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 9.55.55 PM.png

Instead, some of what they say is internalized. For those of you who don’t have a solid support system, you start second guessing yourself and might even go searching for approval from the next person. That person ends up asking you a series of questions about a plan you haven’t fully developed yet and dismisses the whole idea. Dismisses your talent. They give you their two cents and you take it as gold. You end up choosing to follow that person’s plan or idea for your life.

Then there you are, not working on what you believe in.

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 9.59.39 PM.png

You abandoned your thing! You probably went and forced yourself into something else and became good at it, but have no passion for it. A sense of encouragement for that decision probably came from those who discouraged you from where you were headed. This new thing now detouring you from what was made to challenge and develop your character.

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 10.01.12 PM.png

For me, I began reciting poetry at the age of seven and my first recitation was of My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson. I skipped a grade because I wrote and read well. It wasn’t cool to be smart, so I started failing. I didn’t have that support and I wasn’t allowed to cuss. So language arts became a challenge. I went on to take every English course in my high school—quickly learned the levels of writing—and thoroughly enjoyed working on our high school’s online newspaper The Knight Times. Post grad, I chose the Creative Writing track instead of the poetry track and obtained a degree in English.

 

IMG_8632.jpeg

 

With all the effort I put into learning and practicing, I ended up working in public health (loved it by the way, hey mentees!) because was time to adult and pay bills, I didn’t have time to figure out what I wanted to write and how to make a living from it. Then I lost my job. That moment, I decided this was the time to figure out my path. I expanded my portfolio by reaching out to companies and marketing myself the old fashioned way. Money was slow but it was money for my passion. I lyft drove in addition and took on contracts that didn’t work out business wise while I submitted 100’s of applications. The backlash was too real. My dad told me to move back. My mom told me to apply for McDonald’s. My aunt told me to find a husband.

1539313551533.JPEG

LexLeshay spoke clear as day, “fuck what they talking about.” Months later, I landed my dream job. My talent, hard work, prayer, more prayer, lots of tears, pity me rants and more prayer landed me my dream job as a content writer.

My roots in writing and creating are strong. No matter what I was told, I was going to make it work.

Likewise,

Your roots in _____ are strong. No matter what you are told, you are going to make it work.

Stick to your talent, believe in your passion, nurture its growth as it will develop yours. Remember that overcoming discouragement comes from within. So, knowing what you have and multiplying that by what you will do with it, is a strong defense against discouragement.

Lastly, don’t try to please others, fuck what they talking about!

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 9.55.55 PM.png

Reformation

Readers voted for me to publish a piece about the birth of LexLeshay…

Plot Twist: LexLeshay has always existed.

However, the spoiled rotten and selfish child was molded by a series of books recently collected and titled, The Help Me Be Good* series by Joy Wilt Berry.

With each book I was trained and groomed to be a better person.

One that didn’t act out, complain, break promises, get careless or destroy. Trained to be one way with no understanding that no single person is one way, all of the time. There was one book that the series didn’t offer, Being Vulnerable.

Vulnerability leaves you exposed, and as I’ve shared in my bio not all people are good people.

There are times when I am put into a position that requires the strength, boldness, sarcasm, analytical and meticulous pettiness of LexLeshay. While this happens once in a blue moon, it does happen.

Ladies, it is not your duty to always be the bigger person in every situation. Your spirit will know and it may bring out a side of you that scares you. Embrace it. Embrace your dark just as much as you cherish your light. Last of, don’t allow anyone to walk all over your, your valuables, your loved ones or your heart.

FullSizeRender 74.JPG

I’ll always share my experiences here! If you’d like to play a more active role in their release, follow me on Instagram @feelthinklovelivelife. This is where I will post polls in which you can vote to determine which stories will be shared.

The poll results for the published posts this week included the Birth of LexLeshay: Reformation and Overcoming Discouragement.

*Being Lazy, Being Forgetful, Being Careless, Being Messy, Being Wasteful, Overdoing It, Showing Off, Being a Bad Sport, Being Selfish, Being Greedy, Breaking Promises, Disobeying, Interrupting, Whining, Complaining, Throwing Tantrums, Teasing, Tattling, Gossiping, Being Rude, Snooping, Lying, Cheating, Stealing, Being Bullied, Being Bossy, Being Destructive, Fighting, Being Mean etc.

High Speed Chaser

Congratulations all! We have been accepted to present at the 2016 conference for Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S. in Charleston, South Carolina. I am currently working on the final proposal to the school for travel expenses. Please send me your student information so that they know who I plan to travel with. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication, I look forward to combing over the details in the next week or so.

Till Soon!

Dr.R

One Week Later 

I spent the morning preparing for my after-school program before I went to campus for a couple classes. The time in between the two classes was spent attending a GoTo Meeting conference for the introduction of a new system at work. I tuned in, as I edited a paper.

After a successful spring kick-off for the young women with ambition’s after-school program, Dr. R picked me up. I got into the backseat of her car because another panelist was sitting in the passenger seat. Inside I sat down on a cat-hair-coated cover. I rocked back against the seat and dared not look. In front of me on the floor was a few layers of cat hair, dandruff, used and abandoned gum, empty water bottles, one dirt stained and broken flip flop and the only thing stopping a stack of hoarded items in the other seat from falling on me was another balled up cat-hair-coated blanket.

“I tried to tidy it up for you a bit back there because I know how OCD you are.” Dr. R giggled.

“No, it is alright. Messes don’t really bother me that much anymore.” I lied.

The drive to Erlanger, Kentucky was the most uncomfortable ride ever. When we arrived, I was the first out of the car before she shifted into park. We all went inside to get the rental car we’d reserved.

After an hour and a half of showing proof of licenses, addresses, insurance and inspecting the car. Upon inspection we noted that its seats were wet, so they gave us a Chevy Cruze last minute.

It was time to go home and pack.

I got into the driver’s seat of the white Cruze and Sarah sat in the passenger seat. The Cruze was a larger sedan than what we paid for and they handed it off with an empty tank, we barely made it down the road to the gas station.

At the Shell, Sarah went to the attached Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee and I went to pay the five dollars in cash that would get me to the SAM’s club in Loveland where I could fill up for seventy cents cheaper. I was so out of it, I ended up purchasing more than gas.

“What’s that?” Sarah asked.

“It’s a wood tip, wine flavored black and mild. Just in case. I haven’t smoked one in years, but I have a feeling.”

“What feeling?” she asked.

“It’s like nostalgia but not. Kind of hard to explain.” I responded as I finished pumping the gas. When I unlocked my phone to map a route to UC, I discovered it was dead.

“Shit. Okay Sarah, you’re going to have to tell me where to go.”

Sarah directed me back onto the highway which eventually led to Clifton and to a side street I had never seen. This was Sarah’s apartment.

“So shall I pick you up from here?”

“No, I will probably be at my fiancés so I will text you the address. Just text me when you’re leaving your house.” Sarah waved as she walked away from the car. I waited until she was inside before I backed out slowly. I drove as slow as a snail would walk, making sure not to hit any of the other cars in the tiny lot.

Back onto McMillan street, I was stopped by a red light. Traffic was congested in that area all of the time.

After five minutes, I was able to pass the bus stop and Drunken Bento only to find out that everyone had to merge left because someone was working on the light by the Gyro place.

After three minutes spent inching forward I passed Adriatico’s and was stopped again by the light on Ohio and McMillan. When the light turned green, the Cherokee in front of me sat and sat. I went around it, accelerating to 30mph. I went down the hill passing through the light near the MadFrog nightclub.

The taco bell was in my sight and I signaled to switch from the middle lane to the far left lane. As opposed to bo-guarding my way into the left lane—the Cincinnati way.

My light was green. Which meant that the light on Highland Avenue was red.

Halfway through the intersection I spotted a car coming at me.

Coming at me fast.

“No, no, no.”

It was inevitable. A PT cruiser. I mean, a PT bruiser smacked the Cruze. T-boning the car so hard that the passenger doors dented inward and I was jerked in my seat.

“Seriously. Why me?” I asked myself as I reached for the seatbelt and simultaneously checked myself for any visible injury.

As I did so, the guy in the bruiser made eye contact with me as he backed his car from the middle of the Cruze and sped around me.

“Oh hell nah!” I yelled as I clicked my seatbelt back into position. I continued down McMillan around the taco bell, making a right onto Highland and right onto the path that the PT Cruiser sped down. I spotted him pulling into a Church parking lot as he turned his lights off. “You slick huh? I think tf not.” I pulled into the lot and blocked the car from the exit.

I poked my head out the window, “What the fuck? Are you serious bra? Where’s your license and proof of insurance?” I mimicked the television shows. I stared at the figure in clear view. Young, handsome, curly afro and smooth dark skin. It was clear now as to why he decided to hit and run.

“I sorry. I can’t. Can we not call cops?” the young man said in a thick accent.

“Unless you have two-oo-oo thousand dollars in your car right now, we are calling the police.” I stated as I picked up my phone. “Shit. Shit. Shit.” It was dead. I checked the block. It was empty and it was dark.

Tires screeched.

This mf pulled off on me twice!

I flipped the car in reverse and jumped on his tail. He took me down Highland, then Dorchester and made a right onto Reading where he ran a red light. I remained on his tail. I flashed my brights on, off. On, off. On, off.

The speedometer read 75.

I started honking the horn. We swerved in and out of cars doing 85 passing the Horseshoe casino.

I rolled the window the rest of the way down. Crisp air hit my face as I yelled out like a lunatic.

“Somebody call the cops! Somebody HELP ME!” I screamed at the city-goers enjoying their drinks. He took a right and then a left then another right onto Main street as I continued screaming out the window to draw enough attention for someone to call the police.

Where were they?

I followed him in a four square, up Main, down E 13th, down Walnut passing Lachey’s, up E 12thand then left back onto Main street. The he turned up E 13th.

A one way.

Blocked by a white BMW, he had nowhere to go. The driver honked their horn and the young man flipped the cruiser around and parked it. After the BMW moved, a line of cars was formed in sight. They attempted to move down the street but I blocked the road.

The young man got out of the car and made his way towards me as the line of cars played a tune of their own.

“Please. Please.” He said with his hand around his head crying. As the various honking notes hit the air causing nosy neighbors to emerge from their homes.

“No!” I shouted. “FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU. BACK THE FUCK UP!” I shouted from inside the Cruze as I cleared the way for the other cars. A tear flowed from my eye and I started shaking. “Can somebody call the cops?” I asked the residents. Eyes stared but no one picked up a phone or made a motion to.

“This girl, this girl needs someone to call the cops. Cops please.” He chuckled through his tears.

A  male in a highlander with his wife pulled up and looked down into the Cruzes’ window.

“Hi, yes, she is right here. What happened?” the man asked as he spoke into his phone.

“A hit and run.” I said before the tears poured from my eyes. “It happened on McMillan, tell them the license is…” I read the license off as he repeated it into his phone.

“Thank You.” The man said as he hung up. “The police are on their way.” He said, then drove off. Other people stood outside of Low Spark to record the car that turned down the one way. The police finally showed up.

I was relieved. Feeling safe enough, I got out of the car and approached the cop.

“Ma’am, why are you driving the wrong way down a one way. It is clearly marked.” The officer asked.

I rolled my eyes.

“It was a hit and run and I chased him.” I pointed to the young man. The cop looked puzzled.

“You look like a business woman. Like you work in an office but, not a detective. So you know that was dangerous right, what made you do that?”

“He ran and this is a rental. My phone is also dead and I have never been in an accident.” I spat out as the adrenaline rushed out of me.

The officer analyzed both cars and took notes. I took photos. The young man confessed to running into me and the officer told me that he would be charged with Motor Vehicle Accident.

Since we left the scene of the accident it could not be filed as a hit and run. I over heard that the car wasn’t his and I was glad that all he’d have to do was have insurance pay for the vehicle and personal injury—if any. A strict parent’s wrath is more of a punishment than any fine in my book. Once the paper work was signed and the information was exchanged, the cops helped me get the Cruze righted. The second cop that showed up gave me old school directions on how to get to the airport and exchange the rental.

I flipped the car around and drove off.

When I found the highway, I rolled the window down again and lit the black n’ mild.

Un-Comfort Zone

In November of 2015 we submitted a proposal titled, “African American Poetry Connections in Cincinnati: A Demonstration and Roundtable Discussion of African American Poetry in Action”.

In the spring semester of 2016 at the University of Cincinnati, my professor and mentor Dr. Reutter announced that we were chosen as panelists for the 2016 MELUS conference.

Charleston, South Carolina was the selected city for their 30th anniversary. MELUS is a society that studies and endeavors to expand the definition of U.S. literature to more diverse and cultural contexts. We were to be the only undergraduate panel during the conference.

Eager to showcase poetry we previously dissected in Dr. Reutter’s class and share one of my own, I agreed without hesitation.

The first week of planning consisted of logistics, how were we going to pay to get to Charleston and be excused from our courses? In addition, I had begun a full-time career four months prior and I was still in the probationary period.

Dr. Reutter later informed us that we were granted $100 each for campus travel expenses and that she would foot the bill for the rental car. A few things that would have prevented us from attending worked out in our favor. We reserved the hotel and the rental car and as the presentation date approached, we became nervous.

IMG_2091

Neither of us needed to be nervous though because we were chosen for a reason.

The passion in our writing, the research, the revision and dedication to expanding simple poems into something with layers. We each had our own way with words and communicating with the world. We had something to offer this conference that the grad students and doctors didn’t.

Our unique lived experience in this world.

The day of, we slept in and did not attend any of the conference workshops after being on the road all night. My back was aching and when I decided to get up I went to an urgent care facility for x-rays. I came back with muscle relaxers and hydro’s for the pain I was in but I couldn’t take them before the panel or else I’d fall fast asleep at the podium. At that point I was thinking about having someone else read my work so that I could remain in the hotel bed.

I went downstairs instead.

During the cocktail and networking hour before our panel we mingled with the conference attendees. We stood out in the room which invited inquiring minds to our area, we answered their questions and engaged in light conversation about the racial tension in America.

After it ended we made our way to the assigned room where we sat in front of an audience of ten doctors and professors and a few doctoral students. We began with a presentation taking turns using the PowerPoint screen to dazzle eyes as we entertained ears. It was my turn to walk up to the podium and as I approached the microphone I was hit by a wave of anxiety.

Pause.

You know how anxiety is, one moment you’re elated and sending and catching vibes then BOOM. You’re light headed, faint, stomach on another level and possibly shaky.

As I was trying to avoid appearing nervous, my voice became shaky. My first time reciting outside of the classroom in years. There were mhm’s and heads nodding in agreement. Someone’s visibly uncomfortable exit made me more comfortable as the remainder of my words flowed with ease. They applauded me.

It was confirmed that this was a society we were welcomed into.

The few that remained at the end of the presentation had the opportunity to ask us questions and the exchange turned into an open discussion in which Dr. Reutter moderated. We didn’t leave the room until we had to.

In under two hours, our heads had grown larger. We celebrated by going out to dinner before enjoying more sleep.

The next morning the three of us took the rental car to the Folly beach area.

We parked and walked over near the waves, too cold to dip into but perfect for photos and reflection. At a cute gift shop nearby we purchased souvenirs before walking into the Taco Boy next door. There, we met up with some of my friends that lived in the area.

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 3.35.41 AM

We spent about three hours eating tacos and chugging margaritas laughing about the stress of college and careers. The other panelists and I headed back to the hotel for our final night in Charleston.

IMG_8480

As I took you back to 2016, I want you to reflect on what you were doing at that time. Then think about a time that you pulled yourself out of your comfort zone into the space that you were meant to occupy.

The next time you are presented with an opportunity that pushes you to either challenge yourself, grow, learn or profit, figure out a way to make it happen. As it is said:

If you are afraid to go, go afraid.

%d bloggers like this: