For once, I’m going to start off this post on a high note. I don’t care what anyone says about mumble rap and the new wave of popular songs being trash. When XO Tour Lif3 comes on in the club, everyone goes BUCK. And you never thought you’d be screaming “All my friends are dead, push me to the edge” at the top of your lungs in public, but then it happens and it’s complete littery. So on that same wave, this year had some great highs. Hitting your favorite spots with old friends and new ones and dancing till 4am. Going out 2 or three times in a weekend. It may not be as frequent as prior years, but when it happens, it’s always a good time. This year was also a time for exploration and trying new things, as old places got stale and I thirsted for new adventures. It even included an impromptu night out in these streets in a club by myself (after lowkey being stood up) but I was able to turn it into a fire night regardless. I don’t think I would have had the balls to do that in the past, but if I’m going to eventually move out of this city and into a new one, I had better get comfortable with experiencing places by myself and making the most out of the time.
This year was also a time for growth professionally. I got a great annual performance review and found myself more involved in groups and even becoming president of one at work. 2016 was a year of transition from school to work, with my last summer break in between. 2017 I believe was settling into the work life and then beginning to engage myself in leadership roles and in avenues that enrich me outside out of the regular day to day. I’m passionate about diversity and inclusion, as well as my college fraternity, and within those, uplifting people to reach new heights with mentorship based on what I’ve learned over the years. 2017 was another year showing me that I’m blessed to be where I am, to not take it for granted, and to do whatever I can to ensure others can get to where they want to be. There were people who helped me in the past 6 years, and the least I can do is pay it forward. After a whirlwind of my first busy season at work and focusing on doing well, I finally got in touch with my long terms goals that I’ve kept in the back of mind for at least a year in a half. There were more immediate goals to accomplish, and I knew I needed to do well in my first year to even have the option of reaching those goals in the future. Anyway, I realized I wanted to move to NYC and switch to a different service line within my firm in 2-3 years. I originally was on a Chicago wave, because it would be completely different than anything I had experienced before, which was enticing. But my mom made me realized NYC can still be affordable and offer everything I was looking for in a big city, socially and professionally. I finally have a long term goal again and it feels great to look towards the future and put steps in place in order to get there. I’ve always had a drive for long term goals and its that journey that brings me happiness. To get to a good college after high school, to get a great job after college, and now to move cities and drastically change my job.
Side note, I picked this Logic song because he was another concert I went to this past year and it was amazing. I absolutely love artists that speak to the crowd like their fans are family and leave you feeling so much better about your life. Concerts truly are once in a lifetime experiences. You’ll never be able to be at that tour stop, for that album, where you’re at in your life, where the artist is at in their career. That’s why it kills me to miss a tour for an artist I love. And onto another artist’s tour from this year.
This year was also when I finally started going to the gym consistently and getting more serious about attaining goals and becoming more healthy. All I needed was a bet with a friend to go a certain amount of times a week for a couple months and I was hooked as I have in the past. And I think I recognized that my goals can be long term in nature and that building strength and size is a journey, that lifting weights is a skill to refine, and there’s so much information out there to take in and apply how you see fit. I can’t imagine myself going back to taking months off of the gym for the rest of my life.
There’s also been growth in my self-awareness in this place in the world growing up as a cisgender, straight male. I’ve been reading books and articles in addition to listening to podcasts about LBTQ and women issues a lot more in 2017. I can see my own advantages and privileges, and I’ve gained a greater empathy for those living lives vastly different than my own. Since being black is one of my top identifiers of myself, I liken it to having the difficulty of understanding how non-POC can go through life and have no idea that others live life completely different to themselves, usually with more barriers and a harder time of attaining true self-confidence.
So those are the big good things I can name off the top of my head. Now’s time for the bittersweet.
Friends come and go through your life like seasons. That doesn’t mean they’re bad people, but life happens and people come and go. Someone asked me if I was lonely a few weeks ago. I said no, but at the same time, I don’t think I’d ever admit that to myself, let alone someone I had met a few days ago. I know why I could be lonely, and I know what I should do to not feel lonely. You focus on yourself, you find things you like to do that enrich you, you develop your relationships, you work towards goals. I’ve known that answer for a while since summer ’13 when I did have to dig myself out of hole of sadness and heartbreak. So while I think these prolonged stretches of time by myself to be alone with my thoughts isn’t bad, but I also don’t like that as much as I thought I did. I used to call myself an introvert and had no problem being alone for days at a time. But not I think a part of me feels like I should be doing more. Have more friends, do more work, experience new things. I can’t be by myself without feeling guilty that there’s something better I could or should be doing. It also makes me reflect on my current life and reminds me that that caveat of working towards a big goal such as NYC in a few years is the annoyance and inadequacy of where I’m at now. Do I hate where I am now? No. But I also feel like I’d be happier in another place and I suppose I’m anxious to be there now because it would seemingly alleviate my current state. However, if I find myself wanting more or new friends now, I doubt that would change when moving to a new city and job where I only know a few people. However, maybe I look at it like I’d have a reinvigorated outlook on life and be forced to get out there in a new place that I’m excited about. Probably truth in both. So. Friends come and go, 2017 saw a lot of people go and its disheartening to be on the wrong side of that. 2018 I need to get back out there in new avenues to meet new people. I’m bogged down with my current friends being a certain type of person, being in relationships, or just not reliable. I have a lot of varied interests from movies, music, reading, staying in to going out, my fraternity, diversity, new restaurants. None of this is novel for your average millenial. But I also don’t fit into a box of a solid friend group that wants to do the same thing every weekend. I always liked being a floater between different groups, and after college those groups dissipated. There’s a few I still have, but I need to cultivate more to engage all the aspects of myself in push my in different directions. Maybe it’s not attainable, but I want to be the person having to turn down offers each weekend because there’s so much going on. And in that perhaps its taking some of that upon myself and bringing people in to my own circles with the hopes that they’ll return the favor.
I suppose Broken Clocks relates to this notion in that time is limited, my time is precious for when I am busy. If I want to be by myself that’s great, but if I want to be social, I want to be able to do that and fulfill that need. 2017 has the air of feeling like a stand still of life, with the true movement being when I leave this city. I don’t want to be stuck by myself for 2 years and slowly become lonely and miserable, 2 years is a long time and I have to do my part to not just burn daylight and get the most of my time on this earth. And to grab another line, “It’s still love, still love, still love (still lovin’).” Still love. No one’s got time for still love, and despite it being so easy, and you get caught up in not putting in work, there’s a time when it must end and you have to move on.
So late in 2016 we saw the beginning of something incredibly new. And as we saw in my last post, 2017 saw it come to an end, and for good reason. But one part I didn’t get into was the fact that fall 2017 saw the beginning of one of the realest crushes I’ve had in years. Teenage fever is about the tumultuous end of one thing and the beginning of another. Something that’s new, fresh, and akin to a teenage crush where you can’t stop thinking about that person. I dated a lot in 2017, way more than any other year prior. Like real dates and dinners and coffees and the whole line up from the apps to texting to meeting in person to that first kiss. They all ended within a few weeks. Sometimes it was me, sometimes it was them. A lot of times I found some flaw I didn’t like in them, which I used to justify the ending being good for the long term regardless. And this habit raises my standards, makes me judgmental and critical, and doesn’t allow people to make mistakes and probably takes some of the pressure off of myself. But at the same time, if I took every swerve personally, I’d feel incredibly sorry for myself. I think in 2017 you can’t take things personal with dating because you’ll never know the true reason it ends and if you internalize it you’ll begin to think there’s something seriously wrong with you to not be able to have anything real happen in your life. At times it’s fun when you’re at the top of your game and you’re setting up dates with 4 people at time, then you crash and burn, and you’re left at square one again. It’s the way it goes because it’s a numbers game in a sense, but after a couple cycles it gets exhausting. So you might like meeting new people and seeing if this new person could be the proverbial “one” but after that you just long for someone to talk to and to share with on a deeper level. Vulnerability with another person is scary but it’s also incredibly fulfilling if that person truly wants to get to know you. So dating was a chapter in 2017, and start up again in the spring most likely, but I also think I did find something real in 2017, but I can’t do anything about it because of the whole you shouldn’t date your coworkers thing.
She pops onto the team in August, and while I saw she was cute, she was also quiet and just getting to know the team. What followed was the beginning of a friendship, without a romantic connotation. In my life I’ve more or less seen women in three realms. To date, to hook up, or to be friends. I said to myself, why would I pursue just friendship, when I could possibly have an extremely fulfilling romantic relationship with them, especially if the attraction is mutual. I’ve come to realize this is problematic in that it’s objectifying in a way in that I can’t simply say I want to have a friendship with a beautiful woman. I think the key is the mutual attraction part. I don’t think I get butthurt and mad if someone rejects me early on and still wants to be friends, but a lot of times there are mixed signals that go on too long or I find the person doesn’t really know me at all or care to know me more. And in that, what point is there to pursue a friendship? Nevertheless, because I was coworkers with this woman for the foreseeable future, I shut down any notion of being romantically involved with her. And I was able to actually get to know her on a friend level. What she laughs at, her quirks, her savagery, her sarcasm, what she’s passionate about, what she dreams about, what her past was like. And over time I really started to like her as a person. We started flirting back and forth as fall started, coupled with the possibility I may not be on the same team with her in the future. And then I had this true crush and teenage fever about the possibility of being with her. And contrary to a lot of my dates or hook up ploys of 2017, this one was different because I sincerely wanted to just be with her more just us and learn about her life. With formal dating there’s a lot of constraints with timing and how fast you go, and when you make moves, and when you have sex, and what do you share with them. With this because I knew her already on that friend level and it enticed me, I was just curious to see what else made her who she is. It’s different than anything before because it’s a very slow burn of a desire that built up over time. There’s also a confidence that if I was to make it move it would be received well, and if it wasn’t, I don’t think I’d stop being friends with her. I think few people know how to converse well these days and actually reciprocate questions, so someone that’s as interested in learning more about me as much as I am learning about them is almost invaluable as a trait.
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself and I suppose that’s what a crush is. Just day dreaming about the “What-ifs” and imagining yourself being happy and perhaps even loving that person one day. It brings a smile to my face at just he thought. This song was personified with that clip in the season finale of Insecure Season 2 (SPOILER ALEEEERT) when Issa imagines her “future” with Lawrence in her head. And to me that’s the exact flow. And it goes farther that this song is in a timeline after the couple has went through hard times, and even built an unhealthy dependency on each other, he still comes back home to her and what they have together. And that he’s a mess and probably has his own emotional issues and baggage he brought along, but he’s blessed to able to be with her, because she takes him for who he is. I have a familiarity with this crush that I’ve built up over the past few months and that I feel like I could be myself with. With how I talk, my identity, my likes and dislikes, with my past, with my present, with my future. And honestly, that’s something I don’t recall being able to say in the past 6 years.
(Sorry for the live performance clip, but I can’t find the actual song on youtube)
With the words said on that crush, and continuing from teenage fever, I realized it was time to move on from something that was getting old and made me lazy and complacent. In reality it wasn’t my choice and I probably would have continued it, but this swerve was a long time coming and for the best. This song’s about leaving behind someone that was holding her back and being unapologetic about it (blah blah, yeah i’m reading from the Genius lyrics summary but it’s true). The pseudo-relationship in 2017 was great in the beginning. Good sex, someone to hang out with, and the trifecta of novelty, secrecy, and passion that kept me fulfilled. Yet those all fade with time, and this faded probably in June or July. I was still dating and out in these streets this year, but having something in your back pocket may subconsciously sabotage you in a way. But with her was I able to be 100% myself, could I share, be honest, or vulnerable, even if she was with me? No. The structure of the relationship wasn’t supposed to allow that, and that’s the way I wanted it to be, but in the grand scheme of my growth I need more fulfilling relationships with people where I can push those boundaries with for my own movement forward in learning about myself and other people. It was going nowhere because I never wanted to have an actual relationship with this woman, something I always knew, but I pushed the thought to the back of my mind because as I said it’s easier to go with the flow and not have to try for 12 months out of the year, especially when you’re busy with everything else you’re trying to do well at in life. I’ll go into 2018 still thinking about her often, but I’ve been in that space because it’s the most recent thing and eventually that will fade as it always does as she’s replaced with someone new. We’re going out separate ways, it’s for the best, I’m happy she was able to find something real, and I can only hope I find something like that for myself in due time.
Another song I could put on replay for hours and not get tired of. Life can be a cycle we go through, ups and downs. 2017 had it’s share of ups and downs and as always, I learned a bit more about myself. But that cycle can continue past it’s time to end and that’s where we need to break that cycle and move on. Move past this end of a relationship. Move to a new city. Move to a more fulfilling job. Move to a leadership position to engage with younger men and women in the best way I can. There are some great friends out there that help you through these tough times, and that uplift you when you need it. And for the friends that leave for a time, the true ones come back like no time has passed in between. And God is always there as well. I think Fall in 2017 saw myself getting away from God and not finding as much in it as I did in the previous couple years. I’m going to work to find that relationship with God again. Because even in times of loneliness, He’s always there with you and looking out for you. Also, we all have difficult pasts that we like to run away from. This was the year I recognized that my past is what makes me who I am today. I am never to forget who I am or where I came from and a trip home in June, taking a drive past all my old houses, reminded me of that. It made me cherish the time I had with my family and that they know me better than anyone in my life ever will because we share that past, that came with those struggles.
This song speaks to my attachment to my 20s. A conversation the other day made me realized that at 24, the next decade is going to move incredibly fast. I’ll be in a new city in a few years on a new leg of my career, I want to get married and have children in my early thirties, I want to be a partner at my firm by my mid thirties. That means I should probably be more deliberate with relationships and how I spend my time because the next few years will fly by incredibly fast and they should be constructive. But at the same time your 20s are about being young and free, and not having to worry about the future. I don’t think I’m neglecting putting in the right building blocks in life now, but I also don’t think I’m doing enough of living in the moment. Having the feeling of having control in my life and how I go about it empowers me in life. There’s always another day to do more or to do less. Life will throw whatever at you, and while it’s been good for the past few years, I know it can also throw me curve balls of negativity in the future. But the semblance of having control and having that freedom to navigate my own life gives me a grit to keep moving forward and shaping things how I’d like them to me. And that also means shaping myself to who I want to be.
I’m ending this post with this song because it’s probably my most played song of 2017. Gets me in a place to completely see my mind. I think the chorus plays with my current thinking of leaving the nest of the city I’ve been the past few years in order to realize my dreams. Change is good, and I think I’ve been here too long. I want to see what I’m like in a different element. I was someone in high school, and then someone vastly different in college, but it think I’ve stayed that same college person the past couple years because there’s no new stimuli to get me to change. This city and my home will always have a place in my heart. Like my childhood home, this city has pushed me in growth in ways I didn’t know were possible. But there’s a time when this too gets familiar and you have to move on to see what else is out there. I could live a life here and have have a great career and family, but that’s not what my future holds, even if that’s what I was 100% sure of a few years ago. I can always come back to visit or permanently if I want to, but you have to push yourself and see what else is out there.
In the end, as the clock strikes 11pm on December 31st, the year of 2017 was once again a year I’ll never forget, and we’ll see what 2018 holds. I’d say this year is the beginning of the end of the time I have left in this city, but I’m going to make these years the best they can be. That means more fulfilling romantic relationships, more vibrant friendships, a re-connection with God, the development of attaining the body I want, an appreciation to my home and family, continuing to excel in my career, and helping younger men and women reach the goals they set for themselves.