A year of savagery: Episode 1

My greatest personal accomplishment was realizing when the lame bitch in me is speaking. I’ve even gotten good at swiftly wringing her neck as soon as she opens her limiting mouth. Every once in a while though, usually when I’m trying to be great, she likes to make a grand extended appearance.

I anxiously got dressed while making a mental list of every reason why this isn’t going to work. Positive affirmations seemed like jokes as my confidence went into hiding . I found myself questioning whether I was even cut out for this. In every scenario, something had gone wrong because I should have chosen differently.While other people’s doubts didn’t phase me, this feeling of self-doubt was really undermining all the work I had done to accept my choices.

Hands trembling, I nearly screamed when one of the back pieces of my earrings fell to the floor. There was  no time to look for it because I should have been dressed already. No earrings would do just fine. In reality, there was enough time, but I somehow convinced myself I was late -or would be-  if I didn’t hurry. About five minutes into my state of anxiety, the alarm on my phone started to ring. It was the third of four daily alarms I had set specifically for this week.

I couldn’t thank it enough for snapping me out of my thoughts. It was about time she shut her mouth.  My room was really starting to reek of lame bitch.

Standing in front of my bathroom mirror, I took a deep breath and a good look at myself. The professional black and white romper and lavender blazer sat neatly on my frame as if customized to fit my body alone. There was nothing missing except for who I really was.

“You are the ruler of your universe, stop playing peasant and make me proud!” I said aloud before turning off the lights and making my way toward the kitchen.

Nyjah, my roommate, was already in there. I found her pouring some milk into a bowl of cereal on the kitchen counter. The clock on our stove read 8:09; that is, AM.  There was no way I’d have time to make anything, not that I was planning on cooking anyway.

“Hey pour me some too please” I said.

She didn’t say a word and grabbed a bowl from one of the cabinets. Nyjah is usually very talkative but she fixed me a bowl of cereal, placed it in front of me, and went to sit on the living room couch in complete silence.

There was no separation between our kitchen and living room; I could see her from where I sat on a barstool. She dialed a number on her phone and it seemed to have sent her straight to voicemail.

“Who are you calling?” I asked hoping to break the awkward silence.

“David” She sighed.  

“Watch, when he calls, I’m not answering. I’m gonna act like I can’t answer the phone, the same way he couldn’t answer his phone since Friday.” she continued barely taking her eyes off of her phone. I immediately regretted asking. I said nothing and took a spoonful of my cereal.

“ And it looked like he was out with someone ” she elaborated. Remember the realization about the lame bitch I mentioned earlier? Well, I wish I could drill the same realization into Nyjah’s brain because she clearly had no idea when hers comes out. While I could deal with insecurity about practical things like our careers, there was only so much male-stalking I could take.

“ So, what if he was?” I asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Um…is he not allowed to be with other women?” I slowly asked.

“ you know we’re together” She reminded me raising an eyebrow as if it justified her sense of entitlement. If I didn’t know any better, her reaction would have had me believing “we’re together” was a relationship status.

Nyjah and this guy, David, had been seeing each other for about three months. In the beginning, he was always at our apartment but lately she’s had to practically beg him for a call back.

What she wanted me to say was :

“You don’t know he was out with someone else and maybe he’s been busy lately”.

But, there was no way I’d entertain the foolishness.

I am not a nice person and I’m not apologizing for it. In any relationship I don’t look for people to stroke my ego and neither do I have the energy to stroke theirs. That’s the difference between Nyjah and I. She’s a sweet person but nothing irritates me more than an insecure grown ass woman.

Who gives a crap what David is doing? Where is your life? Stalking or texting him a million times won’t make him any less ‘not your man’ than he is.

“Nyjah” I smirked, “ you should start seeing other people”

She remained silent while I continued to eat my cereal. Nyjah was clearly frustrated and after a while, got up and went to her room. She left her bowl on the living room table almost untouched. Yikes, I must have scraped a nerve.

……………………………………………………………

It was 8:50 AM when I pulled into the circular driveway of a beautiful home. There were no cars parked outside but the two story house had a garage. My GPS said I’d arrived, therefore, I figured it was the right place. Soon after, another car pulled in behind me. I turned off my engine and looked at myself one last time in the mirror to apply some lip gloss.

“You’re the ruler” I reminded myself.

I grabbed my purse and stepped out of the car. A petite olive skin-toned woman with an auburn bob got out of the car behind me. She wore pointed-toe white pumps, a white long sleeved blouse, a pair of hot pink high waisted pants, and a bright yellow purse. Her outfit was definitely marked in my lookbook. She smiled as she approached me and introduced herself. It was Lisa the person I was meeting with.

“ Our meeting starts at nine, we’ll get through all the standard things later, for now I need you to watch and take some notes for me” she said as we walked toward the front door. Lisa rung the bell and almost immediately a woman in a robe answered the door.

“Hi Lisa!” She said giving her a hug.

She turned to me and said Hi. I gave her a firm handshake while Lisa introduced us.

“You have to excuse me, I’m getting ready for court in about an hour” said the woman I’ve come to know as Mariah. Her long wavy brown hair looked really wet as if she had just gotten out of the shower. As we entered the house, a white teacup dog excitedly ran toward us.

“Not now chili” said Mariah picking it up from the ground. Chili fit perfectly in her palms to be petted.

The house was very spacious and seemed to have been decorated by a professional.

From what I could tell, there were a couple of things out of place but it was very tidy.

“ You can sit in here” said Mariah when we got to the living room. I took a seat on the couch next to Lisa where I had a clear view of the pool in the backyard.

“Do you guys want anything to drink, I made some coffee” offered Mariah.

“I already had my morning cup but I’ll have some water please”

“What about you?” She asked turning to me.

“I’m fine thank you” I replied with a smile

I looked around the living room and it was pretty much an account of Mariah’s successes. There were several pictures of her graduations hanging on the walls: high school, college, law school. One picture was of her in front of this very house shaking the hand of whom I figured was her realtor. There were smaller frames of what looked like family pictures but they weren’t hanging. They sat on different pieces of furniture and I could barely make out the faces.

I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of notes Lisa wanted me to take but I figured the more notes the merrier. I created a blank page on my laptop and started to take note of what I thought Mariah’s taste was.

She came back into the living room with a glass of water and a mug but Chili was no longer with her.

“Thank you” said Lisa as Marriah handed her the glass. She took a seat across from us and placed her mug on the table.   

“ So, how far along are we now?”

“ Well, we’ve ordered and coordinated everything. I simply need you to confirm your choices of dessert for our caterers since we couldn’t do it last time.” replied Lisa.

“ Oh yes of course”

Lisa handed her a catalog and she started flipping through it.

“ He likes red velvet cake but I’m not sure if  I want that for the party”

“Your plan allows you up to three choices so you can include it if you want ” suggested Lisa.

“ That’s true. Then I’ll do red velvet cake and….” She continued flipping through the catalog.

“Make sure to circle and initial next to what you’ve chosen” said Lisa.

“Okay, oh and before I forget, there’s one more thing. Right before I propose to him, I want the djs to play dilemma by Nelly and Kelly because that song was playing when we first met” said Mariah with a dreamy smile.

“Aw that’s nice..of course, no worries we’ll make a note of that.” replied Lisa.

I paused and glanced at Lisa but she nonchalantly continued her conversation with Mariah. I knew what I had heard but it caught me off guard.

I quoted Mariah since Lisa clearly hinted it was noteworthy.

As soon as the meeting was over and we were out of the house, Lisa turned to me and said with what looked like a smirk:

“It’s best to entertain the clients. And, yes, she is proposing to her boyfriend. I’ll see you at headquarters”

I knew my confusion was in no way concealed.

“water .. you should have asked for some water” she said without turning back as she walked toward her car.

………………………………………………………………

When Lisa told me to meet her at Mariah’s house, I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t even met Lisa before. All I knew was, we’d be meeting with a client. ‘This is interesting’ I thought reflecting on how my day had been going. The more I thought about it, the more excited I grew driving to headquarters. It brought me back to when my life first took this turn.

The path had always seemed clear for as long as I could remember. It was go to college, go to medical school, and become a pediatrician. When it became a burden to even start a medical  school application, it wasn’t so clear anymore.

I had a pretty good GPA, the necessary prerequisites, and an MCAT score most medical school applicants would practically kill for. I even did all of the recommended extracurricular activities and made the necessary connections during undergrad. By any standard, I had done everything right except apply to medical school.

When graduation creeped around and I told people about it, their favorite questions were: “what are you going to do with your degree”? Or “What do you plan on doing after that”?

While I understood their human curiosity, I wish they knew how excruciatingly annoying those  questions were.

My response used to be simple: “I’m going to med school”

Then it became silence or a shoulder shrug depending on my mood.

I was now the proud owner of a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences doing nothing related to the medical field.

………………………………………………………

The drive to headquarters lasted for about thirty minutes. I somehow lost Lisa on the way and had to call her at the gate to let me in. To the right of the black gate was a huge white wall with a black and gold three dimensional sign that read: Visionary Productions.

The sign had beautiful plants and flowers below it with a small waterfall. Once I made it past the gate, the entrance felt a mile long. Huge neatly trimmed trees lined the road as the sun reflected through the gaps in them. The road was made of what was designed to look like a multicolored stone pathway that split into two. One path led toward a parking garage. The farthest led toward an artificial lake where the pathway narrowed across its center leading toward another side of headquarters.  

I parked in the garage and made my way into the main building. It was golden beige and white with aqua blue windows. The doors opened automatically for me to walk in. It was a six story building with a ceiling just as high. The floors were in the shape of a “U”  facing the entrance wall.

I walked toward the reception desk and was greeted by a woman with curly hair. I told her I was there for Lisa and she handed me a lanyard with a pass on it.

“ Lisa went into a meeting but Antonio will be with you in a moment.”

I had no clue who Antonio was but he didn’t take long to make himself known. He must have known who I was because he approached me as soon as he exited the elevator.

“ Hi!” said a white man in a fitted green suit. “ I’m Antonio, nice to meet you”

He seemed to be physically fit with his black hair in a low cut.

“It’s really nice to meet you too” I replied introducing myself. He had a very firm handshake and I returned the same.

“So, I’ll be giving you the tour! are you excited?” asked a very flamboyant Antonio emphasizing every word that left his mouth while dragging the last word of each sentence. I came to learn he was also a ‘hand person’ who could abuse the art of gesturing.

“Yes, of course” I replied with a smile.

Antonio and I walked throughout the building while he detailed everything, a lot of which I could clearly see. I appreciated his energy  as it made the tour more fun. He showed me all of the different areas with their respective functions; planning, coordination, creativity etc.. There were over fifteen teams and over one hundred employees that made up this company.

When we arrived on the 4th floor, there was a glass bridge leading into the next building. It was absolutely beautiful. Looking down I could see the ground through the glass. Several beds of colorful flowers neatly aligned the ground below us. People were walking back and forth at different paces. Some seemed to be in a hurry, while others seemed to have all day to spare. Visionary productions felt like its own city.

“If you walk through here straight ahead, you’ll end up on the 4th floor of the executive building” said Antonio. He must have noticed me staring through the glass because he assured me I’d eventually get used to it.

We walked on the bridge and into the executive building. The 4th floor was pretty much where a lot of the magic happened. It was filled with digital production rooms, practice rooms, sets, etc.. After touring that floor, we decided to go up onto the 5th floor before making our way down to the others.

While in the elevator, Antonio started to describe what I should expect to see.

“That floor is pretty much where the big decisions are made, the executives’ offices  and where they meet”

I nodded

“It’s really nice up there, hopefully one day I’ll be going up as one of them” He smiled.

Once we exited the elevator I could see what he meant. The layout had such an air of sophistication, you could practically feel the power around you. It was quieter and a bit dimmer than all of the other floors.

A few feet away from the elevator, was a large reception desk. Next to it was a waiting area with black leather couches. A young man with blond hair and blue eyes with glasses sat behind the desk. His name tag read: Stephen Lawson.

“ Good afternoon” I said

“Hello” he replied. He noticed our passes and didn’t ask any questions. He went back to working on his computer.

“He’s the administrator of this floor” said Antonio as he stared at Stephen who paid us no mind.

We walked past the waiting area where there were three people in suits sitting. A young woman was handing a mug to one of them while the other two looked at their phones.

I noticed a huge office past the waiting area and immediately started walking toward it as Antonio followed.

“This is the CEO’s office area, the actual office is in there ” said Antonio

I stood in front of the glass wall looking into the office. My eyes instantly locked in one location. I had come to know about it during my research and there it was magnificently hanging on the wall. I smiled and felt an instant rush of appreciation for the air I was breathing. It was nothing short of inspiring.

“We can’t go in there but you probably won’t ever need to come up here because…….”

I was no longer paying attention to Antonio. I tuned him out to appreciate the moment. In  its blue and red splendor, the huge Haitian flag was displayed for all to see as they walked by the office.

Man! I have got to meet that woman.

 

#2 Apologize when you take yourself out of character!  

Proclaiming positive affirmations on a daily basis does not mean you’re confident. Walking with your head held high is not what makes you confident. Portraying an image of grandeur still does not make you confident.

You can even believe with all your heart that you’re confident but true confidence doesn’t shine until tested.

#Insecureuntilprovenconfident

Let’s make one thing clear, a truly confident person would never take herself out of character. For the purpose of this article, taking yourself out of character means:

Doing things you normally wouldn’t do given your concept of who you are.

And, OR

Accepting things you normally wouldn’t accept given your concept of who you are

Because you need some form of validation.

Seeking validation can be a search for approval, praise, attention, affection, privilege, company, benefit, belongingness, security, significance, justification, etc.. Essentially, you need someone to react to you in a specific way so you can reaffirm and feel good about who you are.

If the person reacts positively (the way you want), it reaffirms your false confidence. If they react negatively (not the way you want), it can nag at your insecurities and send them slapping you in the face. Of course you must fight back!! (lol)Man Doing Boxing

So, you may lash out and engage in even more “out of character” behavior.   

I intend to write an article about confidence but for now, confidence is tested in situations where you can:

(a) Potentially do something to gain another’s validation. 

And, OR

(b) Accept something to maintain another’s validation.

Will you succumb to validation-seeking behavior? Or will you choose to be your own source of validation? You must be very aware of yourself to notice when you are faced with that decision. In reality, it’s never really as clear as a question. It’s much more subtle than that. 

This makes it particularly easy to seek validation while still believing you are confident. In the moment, you can find multiple ways to justify your behavior while keeping your self-concept intact. All it takes is a little mental adjustment. It can eventually go on until you barely recognize yourself anymore.

Ever had a flashback moment when you’ve asked yourself : “What was I thinking when I did that ?” There are times when I’ve had to stop and ask myself : What are you doing? Is this even you? A lot of the time, it was because of validation-seeking behavior.

To be your own source of validation means:  

Being able to affirm and feel good about your self-concept, without needing to do or accept anything, for the sake of another’s validation.

It requires confidence in your conception of who you are. This is impossible if your self-concept is built on false confidence. In that case, you will continue to do and accept things that are incoherent with your self-concept. Thus, you will always take yourself out of character. 

Given all discussed above, you never actually take yourself out of character. The validation-seeking part of you has always been there. It’s simply hidden by a self-concept built on false confidence. The issue isn’t exactly with your self-concept, it’s with its engineering. 

You’ve guessed it! This wasn’t an article about apologizing when you’ve taken yourself out of character. It’s more of an “apologize when you’ve kept yourself in denial article”.

It’s okay to deconstruct how you view yourself to better understand it.

It will help you achieve the goal of PenDorah’s box: 

“A quest to understand and engineer a fulfilling self-concept”

#Jointhequest = don’t forget to subscribe!