The Power of You: Part 1!
Now, I know you’re wondering: Shae what are you talking about? But just hold for a second and I’m going to tell you!
The Power of You simply means knowing who you are and being okay with it. It means being able to admit your faults, change what needs to be changed, and using self-awareness to your advantage. I get a lot of questions from friends, teens I mentor, clients I work with, and – more importantly – myself, on what it means to be okay with being you. One thing I always say to others is: be okay with being with yourself – flaws, imperfections, mental issues, physical issue, and everything else – because at the end of the day the only person who goes to sleep with your last thoughts is you.
I spend a lot of time alone. Now yes, I do have friends (lots of them!) but I LOVE being alone. I’ve been told I have JOMO: Joy of Missing Out. That might not sound like a good thing to some people, but embracing that joy has changed my life for the better. I used to search for myself in other people. This hindered me from going out to explore, it made me lonely for myself and it made me even more depressed than I already was. And truth be told, I was super freaking depressed, to begin with.
Yes, I said it! I, Shae.Carrey – a black woman – suffers from depression. I know many of you are thinking, so what? Plenty of people are depressed! But I’ve had it forever and a day. I am not talking about adulthood and being lonely, I’m talking about being a child and suffering. Depression is a horrible soul-sucking disease and I haven’t shaken it yet and honestly, I don’t even know who I am without it. However! I do know who I am today. And knowing that I am now at peace with it. If there is one thing anyone who knows me can tell you, it is that I have stayed true to myself, my faults, and will own up to it.
Owning up to my faults meant I had to get rid of my biggest fear. If you have depression then you know it is EXTREMELY hard to motivate yourself to do something that you have gotten so used to doing, i.e. to break out of your box. I encourage you to start small, maybe you don’t like to eat alone, so go over to McDonald’s and get food and sit in the back corner alone for 5 or so minutes, you know build up to it. Most people try to make you do the bigger things such as go outside and force yourself to talk to a stranger and that maybe worked for them and it was what they needed, but all of our needs are different and most people don’t need the bigger things. Ultimately, it just boils down to them wanting to see that you did something, instead of acknowledging that people break their comfort zones every single day in many different and small ways and it’s just simply none of their dang business.
For me, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) was my comfort zone and my box. I used FOMO as a reason to hang out with friends who didn’t have my best interest at heart, and when I look back at it, I was put in danger more times than I could count simply because I didn’t want to miss out on what was going on. But after one incident where I got jumped, I put my life on pause to assess what I like, what I dislike, and realized, nah this ain’t for me and I never want it to be for me again. I continued on with that friendship but eventually, we grew apart and now we don’t speak but I will always consider this person and their family, my family, but it was more important to me mentally that I did right by myself and them.
After assessing myself, I started to use my FOMO and turned it into JOMO, when it came to things I am not into. I hate drinking, I hate clubs, I hate partying… but I love activities. I love going to events like Naked Sip and Paint and just hanging out with my friends and eating. In college instead of partying, (which once again I hate, mainly because I hate people all in my space, it freaks me out) I went to the bars instead. I like bars over clubs and lounges over bars because it allows me to dance if I wanted, play trivia games, have a drink while sitting down, eat food, and make friends. I used to worry about missing out on getting drunk because I never drank until I met the right people, and even my partying friends who tried to convince me eventually gave up because it is EXTREMELY hard to turn my “no” into a “yes.”
I used my likes and dislikes to my advantage. Going to bars allowed for me to have actual conversations with not-as-drunk people, it gave me the opportunity to network, and now I still contact those people and host things for them. I used my fear of being alone and turned into a love of being alone. You know what that did for me? It allowed me to go to the movies alone every 2 weeks, to go shopping alone, to eat alone; but more importantly, it allowed me to explore alone. JOMO has allowed for me to really get to know myself and it was very scary at first, but I had to start trusting in myself that I could do it. That I could be alone and not feel alone, that I always had me to fall back on. I cried a lot, self-harmed a lot, but I also took to exploring a lot. I would go outside and walk for HOURS! Literal hours all over my home city.
-photo from blavity.com
I ended up going to different coffee shops and trying various desserts and drinks and discovering that I love desserts that involve custards and hated the flavor of passion fruit and dragon fruit. I realized that I absolutely love painting and art and sculptures (although I am no good at it) and that I am not a big fan of cubism. I didn’t do this with my friends; they didn’t want to. They wanted boyfriends and I just wanted boys to leave me alone, they wanted to party, and I just wanted to bowl. But guess what? When you start realizing who you are, you meet the right people. I met the right people and we went bowling, to the movies, to museums; helped one another through a crisis, respected each other when we said no and, more importantly, we were all okay with being alone and knowing who we were even as teenagers. I have never had an issue with saying no to my friends, I just had an issue with not looking cool. I was bullied growing up and that shapes you for the rest of your life – oh goodness, do not get me started! But once I stopped trying to look cool, I started to really blossom, really speak up.
By being alone, I was able to find my interests in the world, and it turns out I’m ridiculously political. I never thought I would be into politics; I just knew I was nerdy, into comic books, Harry Potter, Octavia Butler, Angela Davis… but never thought I would be marching around the streets of NYC screaming Black Lives Matter and rolling my eyes when cops approached me. Yet here I am! It took being alone, exploring the world, traveling to different cities and states ALONE, different countries ALONE to realize I am this person: I am strong, and I am okay with being alone.
I am defined by my past, present, and future. I’m multifaceted. I am not just this angry black woman, I am also this soft black woman; this culturally enriched, but sometimes culturally ignorant black women; that I have more to learn and that some people will dislike me no matter what, and I cannot worry about that anymore (not that I truly worried about being liked, just respected). I only need to worry about liking myself, and that it is 100% okay to be selfish even when it involves family and close friends. This did not happen overnight, this took years, YEARS! And it’s still happening, it’s still a journey, I am still evolving, exploring and living my life how I see best fit for me.
I wrote this because I am living in my truth now. If this was last year I would have denied all of this. But it’s okay to be alone, it’s okay to explore your life on your terms. Is it not easy no, but it is absolutely worth it.
This was just a little precursor for the rest of the Power of You series that will be written out over time!
Thanks for reading! Next post I will be reviewing my first full Curlfest experience.