So…the oddest thing to think about is the fluidity of life. My thoughts from one week to another. The way things change just by a few well timed words. It’s all incredulous and I’m in awe at how things turn about.
From last weeks summary, I remember an emotional rant about perception and deleting my Facebook because of my inability to externalize the opinions of others. This week, my guy and I were out on our upstairs porch, him standing with one hand tucked in one pocket, the other balancing a thick cigar between two fingers, and I, sitting on the roof with my knees pulled up close to my chest, two boxes of matches jammed between my sock and the edge of my sweats, my cigar dangling from my fingers.
We chat about life. Our goals, as if we aren’t already aware of each other’s aspirations, and any emotional hindrances from the week. It’s not until rain starts to patter on the porch, chasing us inside, silently down a flight of stairs (so as not to wake baby Naomi), and onto our screened in porch that we get to the meat of it all.
This is something we regularly did, him and I, before Naomi was born. It wasn’t just cigars. Often times we’d go out to hookah lounges, or our favorite cafe that serves hookah, and we’ll spend hours entwined in each other’s legs, our thoughts mingling. This night, we discuss minimalism and how I’m on this new journey of decluttering and keeping only the things that “spark joy” and how he’s a natural minimalist and doesn’t even know it. He tells me how appreciative he is that I’ve taken this huge leap to make our house more of a home. That it’s safer for Naomi to scramble about on fawns legs because I’ve gotten my shit up off the floor and gotten rid of piles of useless, unread books. There’s a compliment in there somewhere.
Our convo, now that we are in the throes of Our Time, turns to what he calls Relevant and Irrelevant Information. I tell him how I want to delete my social media. How it all just makes me feel like shit. Why do I need justification? Why do I need people to “Like, Comment, and Subscribe” (Blah blah blah)? Why can’t I just get on and happily watch cat videos without thinking no one cares about me? That no one loves me? That their opinions cut so deep without them saying anything? And yes, we are long since working on my aforementioned abandonment issues from childhood, but this is a deeper level of questioning. This isn’t just the want to understand. This is the want to change.
He flicks the ash from the end of his cigar and turns to look at me. I don’t know if it shows in my face, as I gaze back at him, but I need to know. “You can never change the perception of others,” he says. “It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Their opinion, negative or positive, is just that. Their opinion.” I nod but my mind wanders and I think about all the “branding” lessons I’ve learned in business and how it makes a difference when showing “yourself” to clients or employers/employees.
What he’s talking about is different. “If you knew someone didn’t like you, Jade, you’d want to know why…” he knows me so well. I’d have questions, internally at least. “I don’t want to know why,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me. Even if they were to tell me, what would I do with this information? I wouldn’t change myself to suit their needs. So why?” This -another thing we discussed at length- might make him sound arrogant but as someone who knows and loves him I can tell you, he is not. But that sentence right there tells you how much I care. What he was saying made sense to me though, or maybe it’s because we have a bond. He cares what Naomi thinks, I think, and the opinions of his parents but there’s little else that can shake him. I’m strong like that, but definitely not in the area. I care a little too much.
Later, when our cigars have burned down and I’ve had to pinch the lip end of mine with both hands so as not to burn my lips as I drag, I tell him an experience I once had with perception. “I once had this girl tell me she didn’t like me because I was too happy. Seriously, she was mad because I always walked around happy for no apparent reason.” Now, this was before the pregnancy losses, before the attack in college, before adult life chewed me up and spit me out again. I had a rough childhood. An angry one, and in that sliver of between time that was the last two years of high school, I had gotten to a place where optimism and light were my unspoken motto and she stomped all over it.
“So…” he flicked his cigar again, “ what did you do with that information? Be less happy?” He had that sly, sideways look. With one corner of his mouth tilted up and one caterpillar-like eyebrow raised.
“Right?” I smiled ruefully and handed over the scorching hot butt of my cigar. I folded my legs beneath me and tilted my head at him incredulously. Because I’d never thought of it that way. Yes, I always remembered that mantra that force into you as a kid ‘be who you are’ and ‘it’s okay to not be liked’ but I never took ownership of my own feelings in the matter. Responsibility of the part I played. I did dim my light for her. I remember seeing that chick in the halls and feeling like I couldn’t smile. Like I couldn’t be happy.
“See, the problem is that people aren’t honest with themselves. Be honest, Jade. You want people to like you. You want everyone to like you. Most people do.” I wasn’t offended but I did feel attacked. Damn, Bear (my nickname for him).
“Well,” I said. “It’s not that I want everyone to like me.” I took in a deep breath and he lifted an eyebrow. “I don’t have a problem with people not liking me! I don’t! I just…want to know why!”
”But it’s not Relevant Information,” he said. He went on this long monologue about how Relevant Information is the Information you get that you can actually utilize. Mostly from those you genuinely care about, and vice versa, and secondary players in your life that still affect you- like a boss or mentor. It’s constructive criticism. It’s when people build you up. It’s kudos. It’s even when someone is giving the harsh truth that might make you WAKE up, ask the hard questions, or the feedback that pushes you to strive harder toward your dreams.
“Irrelevant Information”, he says before taking a long drag on the remnants of his cigar and expelling slowly, “is all that information from the unimportant people in your life that you can’t use. it’s the opinions that serve no other purpose than to bring you down.” It’s what that girl said about disliking me because I was too happy. Was I supposed to dim my light? Why did I? What did I gain from that except heart ache! What did she gain except satisfaction — then she probably promptly forgot who I was. It’s the information from people who aren’t a part of your life, they don’t matter.
Now, it’s not to say negative information is always irrelevant. Like I said, if someone says something that does hurt you, but it pushes you to work harder, be stronger, move higher, then that is Relevant Information. It’s all crazy and feels like common sense, but me thinking of it in this way was like a light bulb moment. I was finally able to just let go of all the old friends, the sordid past and start over.
Keeping those people around will harm you, destroy you, dim your light. I realized I didn’t need this repeated social hiatus- not for this reason at least. I just needed to change my circumstances. I needed to change the audience. Get back to what my social media intention is really about— why I use it in the first place.
Minimalism. Declutter, not Deactivate.
I went from around 530 Facebook friends down to 32. (seriously? Old high school classmates that didn’t even like me back then and don’t talk to me now? Random people I met and never connected with again? Hundreds of people I’m dishing my soul out to and expecting them not to trample on it? Yeah. No.) I kept only the people I felt I truly wanted to keep. Then I deleted a few dozen more. As my guy suggested, join groups you like and the people who are into those topics will fill your page. It’s kind of like keeping the things that “spark joy” only…virtually.
I want my social media – my feeds – to be about Books, Writing, amazing places Traveled, and philosophy. Instead of my hiatus I’m re-tailoring with honesty in mind.
Week 3 Summary
Since you stuck around after that whole thing, thank ya thank ya. I’ll keep my summary of this week brief.
I met up with the Black Moms group for my area yesterday and it was amazing. I really feel like I might have found a community here that can help me and provide fun events that aren’t so solitary. I met several cool women with age variety – and a surprising amount of twin moms. We sat, had tea and cackled over all things culture. I definitely want to make it a point to attend more events in the future.
It really sucks not having a laptop. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to do the business, writing and editing, university work, and freelance work from my IPad. If anyone wants to gift me a laptop, I’d love it. I’m laughing but boy am I serious. Har har har. We’ll figure something out eventually. We always do.
I’ve read almost 118 books this year. My goal was 100 due to the baby and switching universities. Most of those were in the second half, and a ton of that can be thanks to audio books. I use Overdrive which is a free app you can link to your library card. Oh man, I’ve read/ listened to so many in the last three weeks. Y’all should check it out.
Lastly, I’ve been keeping the apartment clean!!! Yaaaaaas! I’m so happy because now that I’ve made it into this routine I can clean so much faster and so much easier. I’m loving this minimalist life and I know I still have more to get rid of but the hard work is done.
One more week of Introspection, guys! Then I’ll spend the last 3 days of December reflecting over the month. Cherchez La Vie is the last Sunday of the month. That’s the real holiday, I can’t wait to look over the last 6 months and set goals and plans for the next 6. Things are turning out better than I thought and I’m feeling like a better, mentally healthier, and lighter person already.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments your thoughts, goals or aspirations. Are you a minimalist? Interested? Yogi? I want to know it all, let’s chat.
To help me with my writing skills, my guy suggested that at least 50/100 of the books for 2020 have to be in a genre other than Romance and Detective/Mystery. Game on! I’ve already dug into science fiction a lot this year and I’m ecstatic about it, taking any and all suggestions!