New York City: Keep Working at It

I haven’t written in a lengthy time yet again. It’s been now three months since I moved to New York City, and well. It has been all but anything less than mixed bag of challenges. Some small victories. And generally a constant barrages of me asking myself if I made the right decision. The original plan was to blog my journey so far in the city. And frankly, I suck at the “daily diary” type blogging and it made me feel unmotivated at best. And that to me was a sign. We’re going to what I know. And that’s me. Sure it’s going to be a little more anecdotical but I’ll still sprinkle in a few special items.

But where do I begin on this hiatus I took? What is the point I start at and what is the point I stop? Let’s begin with the story thus far. I made the first mistake moving into Washington Heights. While the initial cost savings were a blessing. The emotional and personal cost was quite high. I can quite figure out people today and I won’t pretend to. But to put it in perspective. Let me explain it this way. As a Black man I have seen my share of injustices. But now to the be the unwilling victim of more because I am a man is wrong.  Plus to do it in a way to keep me powerless is far worse. I mean seriously, I read about what fellow black people went through with Jim Crow laws and becoming truly free. And if you’ve heard about my stop in Virginia you know I’ve experienced it too. We were powerless and to be the victim of someone with a vendetta against men was not in my program. So I can say I was charged more for rent merely because of a penis. That was the welcome for me in the city. I had no allies and no support. It was me versus the world it felt.

Then there was all the problems with the housing situation. Which related back to the whole I had a penis so I’m paying more in rent with no protection legally (in a way.) Black mold, leaking ceilings, mice, cockroaches, and a superintendent who intentionally would enter without notice.  It’s not the living situation I even anticipated.  I mean, the people I lived with argued the problem was because of me. That had I never came none of this would’ve happened. Or it is due to the fact that I am unclean male. If you ask my mother she’d be hard-pressed to hear that I am a dirty slob. That I live in filth and expect a woman to clean up after myself. Yet, this is the state of where I am. The gaslighting by the other roommates to tell the landlord that it  was mere exaggerating is more than enough to sour anyone’s experience.
And now comes the point where you ask me is it still worth it? Is it still worth moving a place that rent cost 4x times that of Montgomery County Pennsylvania. A place that is so densely packed with people an average trip to the grocery store can take over an hour just to pick up bread and milk. Eggs are $4.99 at the local grocery store. If you’re a smoker quit now cigarettes are $12 (I don’t smoke.) And now I’m just trailing off because the question I asked and get asked still sits perfectly perched on my keyboard. Was it worth it?

Yes. Okay. That was weird. Expecting anything different? No. I truly mean that. New York has made me hungry for more. I love my job. Being surround by startups and this young vibrant culture of people needing to make it themselves. Makes me want to do more. I’m also black and I know quite well about that. Being in NYC reminded me of an article from FastCompany by Lydia Dishman titled How These Black Founders Are Building Startups without Investors. In it she talks about how Black founders are under-represented and not to mention women too.  As the system shows minorities have to fight hard to be anything more. And that is what I am talking about. New York City is the mecca for startups this is where Uber, Warby-Parker, Amazon, Casper, and some of the other big names you know came from here. If you’re hungry it’s either here or California. And being part of it is what I wanted for a very long time.  So you get your foot in the door with something you enjoy. A job that makes you want more and you start there. For me being a minority I just want to take every chance I can get.

It’s crazy to think in a place where cash is king, that I’m sitting here talking about opportunities. But isn’t that the truth of it all? You take every one you get. You know where you want to be and you know what you want to do next. You have to start and keep running every chance you get and I can’t stop. I look at it and I want to ask what have I done. But that’s not the way to think about this. It should be about what I am going to do next.  And you can ask the question hat have you done because that’s the experience part of it. But it shouldn’t be a feeling of regret or of self-doubt. It should be really what it does to create the next opportunity.  In Star Wars: Rogue One Jyn Erso has a line that sums this all up so nicely. She says:

They’ve no idea we’re coming. No reason to expect us. If we can make it to the ground, we’ll take the next chance… and the next, on and on, until we win… or the chances are spent.

That’s exactly how I feel about being here in NYC. Maybe it is just me I truly believe we have to keep going until all our chances run out. Because how do we know if we’ve failed unless we keep going. Either we give up now or keep going until we’ve tasted failure. And even then failure isn’t the end. Just the question we have to ask ourselves of “what can I learn to improve myself next.” So yeah, sure this has been a challenge 3 months. But I’m going to keep taking my chances. Because that’s all I have and I’ll keep working at it.

 

 

Cover Photo by Jamie McInall from Pexels

Life Lessons: When it Hurts

Lately, a lot has been on my mind. I took a break because I was tired of the political post. And the fighting and all that other stuff. And I was looking at the words people were saying and thinking about things going on in my own life. And there’s pain everywhere. I keep asking myself why do we hurt? Heartbreak, loneliness, loss, and just because we’re angry. Anger if you ask me is just at times placing the hurt on someone else. Because you want to hide your feelings.

I used to do that all the time. When I was hurting I’d bottle it up. Bury it. I didn’t want anyone to see how vulnerable I was. How much I was suffering. I remember the first real heart break I had. It was painful. Did you know that emotional pain like that actually becomes physical? You can take pain killers to help. However, I don’t suggest that. You see. People sometimes look at life and think I don’t ever want to be hurt. Saying things like ” I don’t want to be with them because they’re going to hurt me.” or “I keep myself closed out because someone may hurt me.” or one the more interesting ones they act in such a fashion they push people away. Because they don’t want that pain. Continue reading

If You Like Someone, Say It. But Mean it.

I did a bad thing. I slacked off on writing this week. Then again maybe I am being a little to harsh on myself because I’m actually an Analyst. So writing is my hobby and my passion. If I could make a living off it… I totally would. However,  that’s not the point of this post at all. I actually have a topic I wanted to bring up and it is a little different.

I wanted to talk about attraction today. For some odd reason, it crossed my mind. And you know often times we do not give any thought to the things we take for granted.  Remember I like to sweat the small things? But I was reading a reddit post not too long a go and asking What Was The Most Memorable Compliment You’ve Ever Received? reading the comments and the feelings of the users it got me thinking about something.

Why don’t we talk more about complimenting people? Specifically about the importance of it. I mean let’s think about this for a minute. Why wouldn’t you want to compliment someone? In a research study in the Inquiries Journal Olga Yatsenko dives into this topic. To explore what happens to both genders when they’re complimented on their beauty. What Yatsenko finds out and to me it is no surprise, is that  “[…] compliments raise self-perceived attractiveness in all individuals, they do so uniformly across gender lines, and that there is no difference between the self-perceived attractiveness scores between males and females.” In essence we all love compliments about how we look, and it makes us feel good.

And if you think I’m cherry picking and you  want something more hardcore look at the research study titled Social Rewards Enhance Offline Improvements in Motor Skill. It is a mouthful but important to what I am getting at. On the other side of receiving praise and compliments what the researchers of the study discovered is that as the study participants received praise or compliments their performance improved. So you see compliments do wonderful things for the human brain. They help us with image and can even help us do better work. And to be honest it is something we need…but there’s more to it.

Continue reading

Sweat the Small Things, Seriously….

There is something I don’t believe in. Let me rephrase that. There are things I do not believe apply to all situations. And I am sure you have heard it plenty of times in your life. And that is don’t sweat the small things. It is interesting to me because it is telling us to overlook the things that we should be overlooking. While yes, there is warrant in that. However, I think when it comes to love and relationships we should not. We in fact should sweat the small things.

Often when we think of love or dating or personal relationships. Things come to mind such as these grand gestures that in a way show our devotion or love for another person. And on the other hand, there are small things we tend to think to overlook such as poor grammar when speaking or a quirk that may drive us nuts about another person. And I think that’s where we trip up and lose sight of something incredibly important about our futures or the future of these relationships. And that’s what I am aiming to tackle today. So, I’ll break this into two parts the negative things and the positive that we need to think about.

Not taking things Seriously

People in the completeness are deep and rich individuals. We all have our vices, habits, desires, and things we enjoy. Some are quite large and that’s part of who we are. They tend to shine bright when we’re dating and when we’re with other people. But what if I told you, I have a terrible habit of picking my nails while nervous. Or I tend to say “So” a lot at the beginning of a sentence because I’m extremely nervous. I also tend to leave glasses around and forget to put them in the sink. To some they may be completely annoying. But others would say these small things should be overlooked because they may mean nothing. But I don’t agree with that at all.

Take this for example, there has been a dozen are so research studies done on texting and dating. I’m using this example because texting at its core is something we all do. But what if I told you that people are completely turned off by poor grammar and spelling? When think about it …it is insignificant but people place little value at times on it. This small message of “Hey, haw r u?” is it not bother some?  Zoosk and a few other places have done research on this and found out it does bother people. But why? I argue it shows laziness and that the person doesn’t want to take the initiative to go the extra step to send a decent message. Or it could show a lack of intelligence? It can be many things. Regardless, it is a big problem. I will say to me personally, someone who goes out of their way to correct it is aware of what they’re doing.

However, this leaves me to consider more than just text messages. What about the other things? Maybe it is your spouse and they leave the dishes in the sink? How about the fact he can leaves his socks everywhere? Or maybe you just can’t stand that quirk of every-time you ask a question, the person apologises? (I personally have a problem with using the British spellings of certain words. If you haven’t noticed.) All these small things. Well they are not that small after all. They can and could lead to serious problems. Let me throw a small curve ball at you. It’s called a red flag.

Yes. I am now arming these small annoyance or things in a relationship you’re seeing. They are truly red flags. But not even in the common sense. These are red flags to you these are personal things that you are not okay with. And though people may say they’re small. You should sweat them. You should question them. You should look at them and think. Is this what I want? Is this okay with me? Am I okay with this for the rest of my life? Because if he can’t even take the time to put his laundry in the hamper. Can you count on him to take the time to comfort you when you’ve had a rough day? I mean I know I may be over exaggerating but it is something that needs serious consideration. You must get to know someone. And then you will truly know. If these things are truly small or an ugly beast waiting to rear, it’s not so subtle head.

Psychologist Jennifer Kromberg, writes about red flags. However, there is one point to me that stick out especially in relation to the small things when she says,

If something strikes you as off, then chances are something is off. I know you’ll want to interview all your friends, twisting and turning your odd feeling in every direction in hopes of finding reassurance that you’re overreacting. And maybe you are! But don’t write yourself off so quickly. If something feels not right, you don’t have to end things on the spot, and maybe the oddness is something you can learn to live with.  But, don’t underestimate your intuition. You know more than you think you know.

 

And this is the point of it all. When you think of those things that are so bothersome about someone. You know the truth of if it is a problem or not. If it seems off and it may be insignificant. Think about it. Trust your feelings. After all you’re going to have put up with this person for the rest of your life if they’re in it for that long. All I am saying is when people say don’t sweat the small things. Think about the implications of it. Think about how it makes you feel and if it indeed is a problem. And don’t forget to trust yourself.

 

You Don’t Have to Move Mountains

On the other hand, there is the idea about love is walking a million miles. And reaching the person you love. And telling them about some grand journey you took. Then you have this idea that you must plan this grand surprise dinner. Roses and fine wine set out. A perfectly selected playlist. All the sappy love songs you choose to remind the person you love them. And don’t take this for me being cynical. Or me not liking it. I do, but I am saying there’s more to love and relationships than going over the top to show someone your feelings.

We often lose sight of the small gestures the ones that show us the person cares and may not have been able to take the time to do something grand. Instead they’re showing you it in a simple. But sweet way. And those are the exact gestures I am talking about. A simple. Small gestures just that go a long way. You should consider that these things are important to a relationship. Sometimes it may seem silly or futile but they mean so much. For example, (I’m going to put my parents on notice for this) every day I lived at home as a child and even after college. I noticed something my father tried to do every day.  And that was kiss my mother good bye for work. Now I know I know, you’re saying a lot of people do it. But that’s the exact point of it. It’s that a small gesture of just kissing someone good bye. It means a lot. It means I’m thinking about you, I care about you. And you don’t have to even say a word.

A friend, for example may have had a bad day at work. And you could take them out on the town or maybe even invite them over for dinner. But who knows if that’s what they really need. Instead, you shoot a text off saying Hey. I’m here for you.  And that is a big deal. Because you’re saying I’m care about you and I want you to know I got your back. It is not a large gesture. But it still shows how important someone is to you. And that’s what small gestures should do. They should be the simplest way of showing the importance of another person. So, we should be sweating them…. well doing them.

When’s the last time you just told someone how wonderful you thought they were? Or when was the last time you took the time to call someone and ask them how their day was? These low effort high impact things are so small. But so, important to maintaining both romantic and personal relationships. Telling someone how wonderful their work is.  It is just taking a few moments to recognise someone. A hug for a friend haven’t seen in a while. Caressing a loved one at random and saying You make me happy. Seriously, it can be as small as text or Facebook message. But it’s the gesture and weight it carries. Think about it, and why not try it right now? Make someone’s day.

 

I think we often lose sight of the small things. Be it the negative things that warn us of something bigger to come. Or the small things that tell someone how important they are. In love and in relationships we need these things. We need to sweat them. We must do what we can, and it doesn’t have to be big. And we need to look at things and question them no matter the size. So, when someone tells us. Don’t sweat the small things. Consider that bees, are so so small. But help keep the eco-system in balance. The world wouldn’t be the same without them.

 

Dating Digitally the Messy Truth.

Dating has changed in the era of black mirrors. A great show if you haven’t seen it . I digress. Recently having being single again. I made the decision to enter the dating market place. I did have a quick conversation with my therapist because it is intimidating at first and more importantly, I want to make sure everything was still true about the progress I made.

I wholeheartedly believe you need to be emotionally healthy before starting to date. And it’s not always about the baggage. Sometimes it’s about what you may begin to inflict on yourself or people throw at you. And trust me over the years I have had some interesting experiences. Some I still scratch my head about. However you live you learn. And you move on, and that I will write about later.

I want to talk about Online dating. I have used it in the past when I was younger with mild to moderate success. Today we have a plethora of options and more importantly slow the stigma is dying. Which to me is great as we live and breathe technology and I see no difference between this and personal ads. Which if you want to see some you can craigslist. And when do look at them it is kind of scary and confusing.

This time around I decided I will be a bit more focused. Last time I looked at it and considered it by the numbers. That I needed to meet as many people I could to explore as much of the dating scene as I could. While it proved to be both interesting and satisfying to an extent at the end it proved that it was exhausting. I felt I did not devote some women the attention they deserved. And for that I would hope that they were able to meet someone special. And not a guy who was a bit of a flake but tried to be nice about it.

This time around it is different. I decided I would avoid the conundrum of choice and find someone truly interesting and send her a message. Then rely on what dating really is. Getting to know someone you may want to be romantic with. As crazy as it seems that’s the whole point of online dating to some. And I prefer that. Others my want hook ups or more ‘casual’ things. But not to scare of any potential matches that stumble onto my blog. But I don’t think that’s me at all. I want something more stable, fun, and has the potential of developing into a good relationship.

And there in lies the problem. According to The Pew Research Center 32% of internet users agree with the statement that “online dating keeps people from settling down because they always have options for people to date.” Which means if I am focused on actually settling with a woman who is someone I am interested in… what guarantees do I have she’s of like mind? The main problem here is that because we have so many options and we can browse through a store like shopping for clothes. We may never actually settle down because we’re stuck on what-ifs or maybe the next one will be better. However, that doesn’t have to be the end of it. Which I will address later.

Another problem that crosses my mind as well is that Pew also points out in the same article 11% of people who are in long term relationships less that 10 years in length have met online. Meaning the tough part isn’t exactly finding a person who wants to settle it is actually the settling in itself. And if anything now you’re wondering “Cam. 11%? How the heck does someone fall into that. Or why take that risk?” We already have to major issues that plague users of online dating. And they are quite serious. Then what solutions do we have?

Well I don’t know. But what I can tell you is maybe just maybe there is a reason why 11% online is fairing better than the rest. And I think that’s hard to answer. We can never truly put couples who have met in different environments in a true vacuum and see the results. But let’s assume that for a minute. That all people who are dating or married or in a partnership all have had equal inputs. They met and it didn’t play as much as a role. Because we all know it does in some cases. I think there’s answer somewhere.

Allow me to cite Mandy Len Catron, maybe just maybe she can help us with these dilemma. The title of her TEDTalk really says it all about what we’re all thinking. In her talk titled Falling in Love is the Easy Part she goes deep into her own personal experiences and talk about what makes a relationship last. She even cites a study in which a series of questions were asked, and a lab tried to create a romantic relationship to make a relationship last longer than a fling. What is most interesting is her response to what we all want to know “Are they still together” or did they work out.” She argues that looking at her own relationship that what would it really tell them if they were still together? And the answer truly is people are simply looking for a lasting relationship.

What stuck out most to me was when a student approached at a talk about the study not working for him and all it ended up with was being better friends with the woman he was after. And she said it worked. So then what. What generates a lasting relationship? And again she presents this question when asked to relate it to her own experiences.

How do you decide who deserves your love and who does not? How do you stay in love when things get difficult, and how do you know when to just cut and run? How do you live with the doubt that inevitably creeps into every relationship, or even harder, how do you live with your partner’s doubt? I don’t necessarily know the answers to these questions, but I think they’re an important start at having a more thoughtful conversation about what it means to love someone.

In short she says it is choice. We choose the other person, just as she said she choose her significant other. I won’t spoil if they’re together or not. But definitely watch the TedTalk. Anyways back to my original point. So in the end the reason we have lasting relationships and beat the odds. Is that we choose to. We sit down look at what’s on the table and together enter this sometime scary idea. But willingly we choose to work through things. Cry with each other. Get angry and make up with each other. Share the best and the worst times. And that what makes it last.

As for the earlier point about being able to settle. Well it too falls into the same answer about creating a lasting relationship. We have to choose, to focus on just one person. Because putting your energy into it will at least tell you if it’s worth while. Than after that you can choose (and hopefully they will too) to go from the budding friendship to the romance and relationship you want to last. I guess my point is this. Yes, online dating is great 1,000s of people all over the place. You can meet and browse and keep options open. But maybe that’s the problem with dating. Since when did we start treating it like Warby Parker? That’s what makes it messy it’s not supposed to be looked at as a shopping service. Instead of being focused on one person and choosing to take that risk we get caught up. Eventually we meet someone and maybe it fails because we’re constantly dwelling what else is out there. So by effectively not choosing and not settling we’re dooming ourselves to 89% of all online relationships?

My challenge if you are dating online or dating in general. Is choose to be bold, choose to try something different, just make a choice for what you want. And see it through. You never know what may happen. But sometimes it’s choosing to set a course and focus. After all we don’t know what we don’t know.

(Repost) A Hard Topic for Men: Vulnerability

I remember the last time I had a good cry for a beautiful reason. It was my brother’s wedding, after doing my toast…. The sight of him on his special day. I had written a speech and did away with it. I spoke from my heart. The whole time I kept thinking. I’m going to cry. I’m going to sob my freaking eyes out. And I did. The tears couldn’t stop coming and even now I can feel them sitting behind my eyes. I cried because it overwhelmed me with good emotions. Things that felt good. I had opened up my heart in front of a room of friends, family, and loved ones.

Since then I am sure I’ve cried other times from the emotions I was feeling. And as a male, especially a young male. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I was on Reddit the other day and I saw this question from one the users posed to women of the site asking “How do women feel about vulnerable men?” The responses were many responses to me were eye opening to read. However, it really got me thinking. Are men like me in fear of appearing vulnerable in front of women? In front of the ones we love? Or in front of anyone? Are we hard-wired to shy away? If you do reading on it there is a plethora of information. One of my favourite sites to read Psychology Today, they posted it about it and had some interesting revelations. Dr. Emma Seppala wrote ,

Although we may try to run from vulnerability, it is an inevitable part of social relationships. Even outside of romance, vulnerability is something we encounter frequently: calling someone who has just lost a child, asking a friend for help, taking responsibility for something that went wrong at work, confronting a family member about their behavior, or sitting by the bedside of a friend with a terminal illness. Opportunities for vulnerability present themselves to us every day, the question is whether we will take them.

She goes further to cite examples about how we as men try to find pragmatic solutions or try to fix problems in our relationships. That we do avoid vulnerability. And I kept thinking about the “why?” And the depth of what this really is. Being vulnerable in front of someone who you really care about is daunting. I am sure men and women go through it. However, part of me leans towards the fact that as men we learn to face it and try to skate around. But why? Why avoid something that enables us to feel. That enables us to relay emotions and share a social connection at a deeper level.

I am not ashamed to admit I cry, have these feelings I want to share with that special someone. My family, my closest friends, my girlfriend. I am also not ashamed to say I am scared as hell to open up for the fear of getting hurt. However, life is about the risks. It is about the chance that it will hurt us. If you look at it from the position of a romantic relationship, it is important that we look at our vulnerability. That the very moment you’re feeling scared to say what you’re feeling. Or cry in front of this person or anyone in fact. Admit when we’ve done wrong. Raise our hand and say that we’re drowning and need help. Say when something doesn’t make us feel good. Or even grieve in the presence of another soul.

Intimacy is only successful when we are open and honest. Being open and honest allows us to be vulnerable, and that seems scary. Frightening is the idea that I will show my heart and have no assurances of what happens next. And no one likes the hurt or the unknown, sure we can act tough pretend that we don’t care. Yet, the key point is we’re only human. We have feelings; we have hopes; we have dreams; we have these things that everyone experiences. We feel things. And here I am questioning why avoid vulnerability?

The people closest to you, those who love you…. they love you for you. Vulnerability isn’t this evil lurking to destroy you. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “[d]o one thing every day that scares you.” I am not too afraid to even admit sometimes I’m scared myself. Allowing myself to be vulnerable. How do we know we’ll get hurt if we don’t take the chance? How do we know that vulnerability is bad if we’re never vulnerable?  I think it is something we as men (and women too) need to remember isn’t out to kill us. That moment where we are at the edge... that we’re vulnerable.  Why not take the chance and see what happens? Life is too short to hide.