2014 has arguably been one of the most interesting years of my life. It has taken me through a whirlwind of feelings, emotions, and experiences that I never really saw coming. Some were predicted, but as we all know, life can throw some really tough curveballs. I have seen some wonderful highs as well as some incredible lows. As always, I’ve come through every experience being able to identify its purpose and be grateful for it as it made me smarter, wiser, and stronger. Allow me to share some of these with you.

  1. Those who don’t look for you really aren’t meant to be in your life. You probably know from a previous post about friendship that I love having close bonds with people, I have a big heart, and I enjoy making friends and getting to know people. Friendship is something I take seriously. I’ve learned over time that people won’t always love the way you love. Their idea of friendship can be totally different from yours. You have to identify where their mind is and act accordingly. However, after having so many experiences, I’m at the point where I can usually tell who is who and what is what. Although cases may vary, you can pretty much tell who truly loves and cares about just from how much effort they put into the friendship. Have you ever found yourself initiating EVERY conversation with someone? If so, have you ever brought it to their attention and explained to them how much it bothers you that everything is so one-sided, only to have them say they’ll do better and “better” never happens? Or better yet, have you ever expressed your discomfort for everything being so one-sided and they throw the “I’m busy” excuse at you? All of that will show you that they aren’t here for you or having a quality friendship with you. The same goes for dating as well. Anyone who wants to be in your life and vice versa will show it. Never will anything be one-sided. Also, it will just feel right. The friendship will practically feel like it was ordained by God. Literally. People have busy lives, but they will always find time for you some kind of way. Even if it’s just a few quick texts to check on you. If it was some ass/dick/cooch or Oprah waving a big check for a million dollars while yelling “COME GET THIS MOOONNNEEEEYYY!!!,” I’m willing to bet you the last few dollars in my bank account they would have time for that. The same applies to you if they value you. Here’s a little experiment. Stop contacting someone for a while and see if they ever notice. If they don’t check on you to see if you’re okay, then you know what the deal is.

  2. I’ll do better” is usually a bold-face lie. Refer to number one. If someone tells you that they’ll do better, they’re usually lying. Again, cases can and do vary. However, it’s all in a person’s actions. They might make some progress and improve, but usually, they fall off altogether. Just watch and observe.

  3. God will give you what you want just to show you that it isn’t what you need (at least not right now). I was in a relationship early in the year. The chemistry was there, he met a lot of my requirements in what I would like in a significant other, and it seemed to be something that I thought would last for a while. However, just as things started off great, things quickly became interesting. I found out that just as we were very much so alike, we also had a lot of differences. In addition to that, I was being pulled in a million different directions. From family issues and people being hospitalized to keeping commitments with professional endeavors and pursuing others to being there for various friends for whatever reason, I was being pulled in a million different directions. One thing I appreciated about my relationship was that my guy didn’t seem to be the clingy type as he, too, had his own schedule and list of commitments. We saw each other on weekends and that seemed to work at first. Unfortunately, I would soon discover that it wasn’t enough for him. The balancing act became too much and something had to give. For this reason and others, I realized that a relationship wasn’t exactly what I needed at the moment. Although it was something I had prayed for, for many years, it was clear to me that there was a reason why I was made to wait. Once again, I felt silly for begging and complaining that I hadn’t had a real relationship. It was confirmation that God knows what He’s doing.

  4. Know when it’s time to leave the fair. Towards the end of my relationship, I knew that I wasn’t fully happy. Yes, on the surface, it was a great thing to have, but with everything I had going on at the time, the way things were going and the things I realized about myself, I knew that it had pretty much run its course. Was it me? Was I just the one who was trippin’? I talked about my feelings with a few close friends and I prayed about it. I felt a bit guilty because the relationship had literally just began. We were almost at the three month mark. I wanted to at least try to hang in there for a few additional months just to make it to six months and have some dignity. As I was debating with myself regarding a decision I knew had to be made, I was watching Oprah’s Master Class. This episode had famed entertainment figure and former American Idol judge, Simon Cowell, as the focus. I love the show and I always watched different celebrities I’ve grown up admiring say points that I’ve grown to learn for myself. However, it was at this particular moment that my instincts told me to take notes. At one particular moment, Cowell says, “Trust your instincts.” I thought that was interesting considering the thoughts I had been having at that time regarding my relationship. There was point near the end of the episode where Cowell says, “I asked a very successful guy what is the best advice you can give me and he said, ‘Simon, always know when to leave the fair.’” He followed that with, “Something inside you says, ‘You know what? It’s time to go.’” That was it. God had officially spoken. I heard Him loud and clear. A few days later, my boyfriend did what I had been putting off and I was free again.

  5. Every day that you wake up is a sign that you have a purpose. There are some days where everything is great. The sun is shining, you’re feeling great, and things are going the way you planned. However, there are some days where you don’t feel 100%. You feel sluggish, you hardly want to get out of bed, you might be dealing with family issues and issues with friends, everyone might be pulling you in a million different directions, your finances might not be in the best shape, you might receive some bad news, and you simply want to get away, but feel trapped at the same time because you can’t. I had many days like that (and then some) between late October and early December. To be honest, some days I just hardly wanted to be here. But I had to think about how far I’ve come, all of the people who had invested in me, all of the people who look up to me and depend on me, what would go wrong if I wasn’t here, and the promises God made to me as well as the ones I made to myself. All of those thoughts ignited a newly-lit fire within me and I got back to my normal self.

  6. Trust the process. I remembered in the midst of my down time that I have a purpose. Even though things might not be great on the surface right now, it doesn’t mean that they’ll always be this way. I am greater than my circumstances. Everything I’ve experienced in the past has taught me that. I had to remember some key words that a friend once told me while I was interviewing her: “Trust the process.” I also had to remember what Sister Loy told me during a casual conversation one day: “You have a street view of your life. God has a bird’s eye view. He sees things you can’t. You have to trust Him.” I’ve come to realize in moments of discomfort and in moments where things are comfortable that everything is leading to something greater and I have to trust God and go with the flow.

  7. The older I get, the less of a damn I give. This pretty much relates to number one. Opinions, mistreatment, negative criticism, those who don’t give you what you give them, etc. are things that I’ve grown to care less about and simply ignore. My filter has also been malfunctioning more as I’ve gotten older. The truth will always be the truth no matter what and nine times out of ten, I will tell it in some way, shape, or form.

  8. We’ll see” is code for “It ain’t never gonna happen.” Have you ever expressed to a person that you wanted to build a friendship with them and they said, “We’ll see.” Has time ever passed and nothing has changed since you admitted your feelings to them? Have you brought up the same idea to them only to get the same initial response? Well guess what? It ain’t never gonna happen. This kind of also relates to number one. If it was meant to happen, you and that person would have moved past that initial conversation and started to build. When it’s real, you won’t have to look or ask for anything. It will readily be available. What someone won’t do, someone else will. Keep it moving.

  9. Sometimes you will have to face the inevitable (and sometimes faster than you anticipate). When I was 18 and had started to deal with my sexuality, I made a deal with myself. I decided that I was going to gradually tell my friends as I felt more comfortable (and I did). I also decided that I wasn’t going to tell my mom (at least) until one of two things happened: 1) I became 100% financially independent and moved out. 2) I got into my first serious relationship and I knew that it was going to last. Well, based on what I said earlier, number two didn’t really happen. For a while, I thought number one was going to happen first; however, given how my life has played out over the last few years, I realized that I was wrong. (It’s funny how life happens after you make plans.)

    I’m not one to broadcast my sexuality or run around in circles waving some rainbow-colored flag, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that “coming out” isn’t always necessary or needed. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not on “the down low” or “in the closet.” I don’t have anything to really hide. But I don’t see the need to say it or bring it up immediately. I mean, do straight people instantly bring up the fact that they’re straight instantly when meeting or getting to know someone? If it comes up naturally, then that’s fine. If it never comes up, then that’s also fine. (insert Herbie shrug here)

    However, the day that I thought would be a long way away had quickly approached the night before Thanksgiving. Until recently, my mom ran a Rape and Domestic Violence ministry at a church and she usually passes out condoms and other materials at meetings to promote sexual health. She was about to go into her room when she mentioned that she had “a bag of raincoats” being delivered within the next few days. Now keep in mind that this was late at night and I was already starting to feel tired, hence my brain was slowly in the process of shutting down.Initially, I thought she meant she actually had a bag of raincoats coming, but then my brain said, “No, fool.” My mom then yelled, “Condoms!” (Yes, I had a slow moment. I hear you thinking. Hush.) She mentioned that she was going to give me some. I laughed and said, “They ain’t gonna be used!” She said, “Well that’s your business. I know you ain’t a virgin, son! You can’t fool me!” I just remained silent and just ignored her. She then came out of her room and asked, “You are having sex, aren’t you?” I asked, “Does this really matter?” Her persistence and determination to get an answer this time around gave me a feeling that the day I had slightly been dreading had finally arrived. In addition to this, reoccurring dreams I had been having for the last couple of years had been signaling everything that subsequently happened. By this time, she sat on the loveseat across from me. Finally, I said, “Yes, mom. I am a virgin.” She then said, “Okay. Interesting. Are you heterosexual or homosexual?” I thought, “Oh shit. Here it is. There’s no getting out of this one this time.” To be honest, I was annoyed. Like I also said before, the older I get, the less of a damn I give. If you want to go digging for something, then I will give it to you if it’s available. However, just be sure you can handle whatever it is you’re trying to find. I asked, “Why do you want to know?” She said, “Because I need to know these things! Please don’t say homosexual, son. I want some grand kids.” I charged back with, “What makes you think homosexuals can’t have kids?” She said, “Uh oh.” So, despite some nervousness, but feeling tired at the same time and wanting to get it over with, I simply just let it go. “Homosexual, mom! Homosexual!” With a look of disappointment, worry, and acceptance all wrapped in one, she said, “Okay. I kinda sensed it. I always wondered, ‘What if?’” After talking some more and doing damage control after she attempted to jump to conclusions (gotta love parents), she said, “I still love you, son. Just give me a minute. I need a Pepsi.” She went into her room and started crying a bit after getting a Pepsi from the refrigerator. In that entire moment, I felt feelings I hadn’t felt in years. I was a bit scared. My heart started beating fast and I was shaking on the inside as I once did in the beginning whenever I told people about my sexuality. However, the difference between the Herbert then and the Herbert now is that I know more and I’m comfortable with everything. I’m confident in who I am and I really couldn’t give less than a damn if anyone has a problem with that. What was I going to do? Lie? I couldn’t. Not now. I’ve never really been good at trying to make myself be someone I’m not other than times I acted in classes and in a theatre troupe in college. I’ve pretty much always remained true to myself. Besides, I’m just too old to try and please people in that way and I move forward. Not backwards. Someone once told me when I first started to deal with my sexuality that those who mind, don’t matter and vice versa. I’ve found that to be nothing more than the truth. But the whole experience of coming out to my mom reminded me that sometimes things will happen sooner than you anticipate and they won’t always go as planned. You have to just improvise, accept the change, and hope for the best outcome.

  10. Trust your instincts. You have them for a reason. I was “talking” to this guy I had become friends with. The friendship grew rather quickly and before we knew it, we had developed stronger feelings for each other. Everything was going well for a while. We would text nearly all day, every day, flirt, have deep conversations, etc. It got to a point where we were becoming exclusive. I asked him if he had any other suitors (based on past experiences, I’ve come to learn that you’re hardly ever the only person your love interest is talking to during the “talking” stage), He told me I was the only one at this point and he only wanted me; I was the real deal and other guys just don’t measure up to what he wants. It sounded like music to my ears since I felt the same way. However, after a few months of us enjoying each other, things began to change. Small things about his behavior led me to believe that something was wrong. Once being one to share everything, he started to dance around certain issues. One day, he told me he got a new Instagram page. When I asked what his username was, so I could look him up and follow him again, he refused to give it to me. Usually when things like that happen, the other person has (cough) another person (cough) to hide. My instincts were right. A few days later, he sent me a good morning text. Before I got a chance to respond, another message came into my inbox in response to his. “Morning baby” is what it read. When I asked about it, he would say it was nothing. Unfortunately for him, Mama ain’t raise no fool. I immediately stopped trusting him and really cut back on communicating with him. Shortly after, I just happen to come across his new page on Instagram. Since it was private, I requested to follow him. A few weeks later, I got a notification saying that he had accepted my follow request. When I looked on his page, I instantly saw pictures of him and another guy cuddled up and being lovey dovey. They were very recent pictures at that. I took it upon myself to comment under one of them. “Oh wow.” That was it. Soon after I did that, he text me saying, “You mad.” I simply responded with, “Not at all. I hope you enjoy him.” I deleted him from my phone and went on my merry way. Was I disappointed and hurt? Of course. Plus, other issues I was dealing with at the time didn’t help at all. But the instance reminded me to always trust my instincts, which I did. I’ve come to learn that your gut feeling is one of the ways God speaks to you. You should never ignore it. It’s there for a reason.

  11. Once trust is gone, it’s usually difficult to get back. Nearly two months had passed since the incident from number ten and I received a message telling me good morning while I was walking to my train and heading to work my last day at a temporary job I had gotten. Before even opening the message, I saw the banner name above it in my notification bar and realized it was from the same guy. Do I open it? Do I respond? One thing about me is I’m a very nice person. Sometimes I’m too nice. I decided to respond and say good morning in return. However, old feelings that I felt when I found out what he had been doing began to resurface. I thought I was over this. It was clear that I wasn’t. I was on the verge of tears for most of the train ride as he proceeded to apologize. He mentioned how bad he felt and I told him that I forgave him, but I also let him know how much he had hurt me and asked him why he did what he did. That conversation took place over the course of a few days. But I pulled myself together by the time I had reached the office. The anger and hurt went away over time and I was able to put it behind me. Besides, I’m not one to dwell on things and be affected by them for long. He wanted to rebuild our friendship and I hesitated for a while. I eventually agreed to it and we patched things up. It wasn’t an overnight occurrence. It took a lot of talks and my relapsing a few times before I could get it all out of my system. This process of rebuilding reminded me that it can be extremely hard to trust again once you’ve lost it. It’s not impossible to get back, but both people have to be on the same page in order for progress to be made. This was probably one of the biggest tests I had last year and it reinforced just how strong I am.

  12. There’s power in forgiveness. This relates to number eleven. When you finally move past your anger, hurt, and sadness regarding a situation and you learn to forgive the person or people involved, you become free. And there ain’t no better feeling!

  13. Get out of your own way. I submit for extra roles on television shows that film here. I just started doing it in 2014 after expressing to a close friend that I ultimately want to be an actor and learning different ways to break into the field. My friend has been in short films and she worked as an extra in Get on Up (the movie about James Brown that came out last year). She showed me how she finds out about different opportunities and I’ve been submitting for roles ever since. I knew that breaking into the entertainment industry can be extremely difficult, and that never bothered me one bit. I believe that anything is possible. My life is an example of that. I submitted for every opportunity I felt was right for me for most of the year. I never heard anything back. I didn’t think much of it. I figured I would hear something back at some point. One day, while looking at different articles on this casting website I visit often, I saw an article about how to submit for any kind of role. I read all of the tips and I immediately began to realize some of the things I was probably doing wrong. Some time had passed before I had even thought to submit for anything. Surely enough, in early December, I saw a casting notice for another opportunity that fit me perfectly. I submitted for it (not even thinking that the following would happen), keeping in mind some of the tips I had read in that article a few months earlier, and went about my business. A few days later, I got a call from the casting agency that casts extra roles for different television shows that film here. I had missed the call by fifteen minutes since my phone was in another room charging. When I called back, I was placed on hold. By the time the person who left me the voicemail came to the phone, she had already filled the extra role slot for that particular scene. She said she would keep me in mind for a shoot that was happening a few days later just in case they needed more people. Was I disappointed? Not at all. I was more so excited and thrilled that they even called me! However, I tell this story to say that it was a reminder for me. When your way isn’t working, sometimes you have to be open to other ideas and adapt a different approach. Sometimes you have to get out of your own way in order to get achieve what you want.

  14. God will get you together one way or another. When you ask for greater, you will be pushed towards it and groomed for it. When you try to go back to old ways and old habits, God will surely block you from them or remind you of what you really want and where you are trying to get. He will subtract certain people from your life, remove things and pleasures that were once readily available and good to you, and literally turn you back around and push you in the right direction if you try to fight Him and jump off course. I know this might not be the best saying to use given how people use it, but it’s the utmost truth. Sometimes you can’t fight it. You just have to let it happen.

Overall, I believe a common theme that can be found in all of the points I made is learning to choose yourself. Those who know me well know that I have a big heart, love hard, and give a lot. I make a lot of sacrifices just to make sure that people get what they need and want. However, what the last few years (especially 2014) have taught me is that sometimes you have to put yourself first and do what is best for you. You have to do what makes you happy. You can’t always worry about how something is going to affect someone else or what someone else might think. You can’t constantly live in suffering. If it’s not right, then it just has to go. It’s as simple as that. I hope you are able to take pieces of this post and use them in your own journey moving forward.

Your Brother in the Livin’ Like Maya Movement,

Herbert

About The Author

Herbert is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in Advertising and currently resides in Chicago. When not doing consulting work, he enjoys writing, reading, volunteering, music, and television, among other things.