Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Speak On It! Iyanla Vanzant and Essence blogger Jai Stone Call For Black Women to Get it Together Part 2

Essence "Emotional Nudity" blogger
Jai Stone tells it like it is. 

Iyanla’s video wasn’t the only thing on point this past week. Essence magazine’s “Emotional Nudity” blogger Jai Stone had me shouting AMEN too. Her post “Emotional Nudity: Stop Comparing Yourself to Her” tells it like it is.

I give Jai Stone props for sharing that back in her 20’s, she was the insecure type of woman who didn't have much good to say about other women.   

She wrote:"I remember looking at other ladies and making a mental note of all their flaws so that I could give myself an emotional high-five. Her teeth are crooked but mine are straight…one point for me. She has a better figure, but my skin is smoother….two points for me. It was extremely hard for me to give another woman a compliment because secretly I felt that it took something from me."

Stone said this attitude came from having low self-esteem.

“Women. Ugh. We have this insane need to validate ourselves by devaluing others… I’m not ashamed to admit that I suffered from low self-esteem for many years, and it has taken almost as many to learn to love myself from within instead of depending on the opinions of others. Once I became less dependent on outside validation, I found less need to compare myself to those women around me.”

I run from women who do what Stone used to do. I’ve gone out with women to kick it. And if they spend most of the night saying, “Oooh, look what she got on.” Or, “Oh hell no, she need to…” That’s usually the last time I hang out with them. Even in high school I distanced myself from girls like that. Like Stone said it is an issue of self-esteem. When you got it going on, and feel good about yourself, you don’t have time to criticize others. Ironically, in my experience I’ve found that these women who like to talk mess, tend to sit in the corner at a party just talking mess. They hardly get up to socialize because they probably don’t feel they have nothing to offer. That's not always the case, but it's sad.

Envy or comparing yourself to someone else is natural. Who doesn’t do it? I find when I do start comparing myself to others, I need check in with myself. I ask myself, “Why am I feeling this way?”  “What is this really about?” “If she’s living her life or has something that I desire, how can I achieve something similar for myself?”

Which goes back to the woman I told you about who tried to pick a fight at the gas station. She was so angered, I feel, by what she saw I had. But if she had a better attitude, I probably could’ve referred her to resources that could’ve helped her. We need to do better with checking in with ourselves instead of acting on emotion. 

Jai Stone said she kicked her Haterade habit by complimenting women, being kinder to herself, and steering herself away from negative people.

Don’t let your confidence be tied up in the need to be better than others rather than to be your best,” she wrote. AMEN AMEN AMEN Miss Stone! 

What Stone wrote about just doesn’t pertain to black women. White women do it too. As do Asian women, Latinas, etc. Insecure women come in all races.  I’m a black woman who hangs out mostly with black women. So I've seen black women putting down others to validate themselves. I’ve been put down by other women who needed an esteem boost. But that boost is only temporary. It doesn't fill your soul or make your life better in the long run. 

 With many black women dealing with racism, sexism, classism, raising kids alone, trying to protect their sons and daughters, poverty, health issues, etc; it just seems that we could rise higher if we worked together and uplifted each other.

As Iyanla said, we are out of order. It’s time for us to get it together.