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  • Writer's pictureAshley Gray

10+ Things I think... Growth

2020 taught me so much. Some of those lessons, I didn't necessarily want. And I made it. You made it too. Have you celebrated how much growth you achieved in 2020? Here's a list of ways that I am growing and/or I know I still have to grow. Read it. Sit with it. Let me know what you think.

1. Understanding that the way you experience someone is entirely different than how you do- and that’s ok. This one is so hard for me. There are some folks that have done awful things to me and they are some folks' heroes. And that's ok. I am no longer interested in recruting you to my vision of someone. I think about this all the time with partners, parents, colleagues and friends. It's a hard thing to accept. But someone loves the person that hurt you.

2. That tension, nuance and flexibility will save your mental health. The ability to flex when needed is important. You invest in some way to maintain your sanity. And you name when you feel that ugly darkness of anxiety or depression or anything else. You name is because you know others are suffering too while just looking at your highlight reel. Some folks need to see your bloopers so they understand this walk is full of them.

3. You ain’t got to argue with fools. Reserving some energy is a part of growth. You still see the foolishness but you keep scrolling. Not my job and google is free.

4. Figuring out how to express your emotions in a way that honors the heart of it all. "What I want you to hear is" or not hiding behind the facade of anger when your feelings are hurt. You honor the root emotion which in many cases is sadness or hurt. You start to work on not letting your context change your character (shout out to Rev. Howard-John Wesley at Alfred Street for that.

5. Apologizing and changing. One without the other is null.

6. Finding coupons/deals/breaks. Interest in preserving- money and time. You might invest in a more expensive version of something in exchange for longevity. You might not follow the trend because they die. You might go for classis because classis always appreciates.

7. You understand that peace is invaluable, nonoptional, essential. It simply has to be cultivated.

8. Learning to balance saying NO without explanation and stand on your YES(es) while trusting your ability to look out for you. I trust myself to make good decisions for me. I trust that this situation no longer serves me. Etc.

9. Valuing relationships more intentionally. Maybe I should check on _____ first because they always check on me. Maybe I should just let them talk about what they are navaaigating because I'm typically the sharer. Maybe I can support _______ through this tough time.

10. You begin interrogating your biases, envy and quick emotional reactions. You realize some of the tools you've been using since childhood no longer serve the adult you. For example, you can honestly say statements like, "I felt insecure when" or "I really had hope to have/be/own______ at this age- I feel behind." And you get to remind yourself that somethings come later for you than others and that means the kinks have been worked out. You know how the first generation of anything has the growing pains because it didn't know how to prepare for change. You've held on and navigated some of those changes already- you're ready and you're whole.

11. Temple focus. Now you just wanna switch some things up because your body, your most loyal friend has reminded you that you are invincible. Your body has changed so much- most of the changes you have complained about without knowing that your body was giving new curves for new terrain or shedding what was never yours to carry. Either way, you start listening.

12. You start paying attention to your mother's/ auntie’s music as a sign of what they were navigating. My momma’s listening to the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill obviously helped her to process some things. Perhaps it helped her to move on or move into herself. Either way, she found therapy in Lauryn rasp and heavy soliliquies.

13. Most important... you STOP LYING TO YOURSELF. This one is the hardest. You've been socialized to see the world one way which sometimes causes you to create narratives and plots that don't exist. Right now, you know if your situation is a long term or short term one so it's time to walk in your truth so you can make room for what the truth gives you- love. Not just romantically. You accept that some of your parents, family members, friends, lover(s) just are not equip to love you in the way you need to receive it. You aren't angered by this. You know that it is a reminder that two things can be true- you can have expectations and good people can fail to rise to the occassion at times.

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