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9 Signs You're Doing Better Than You Think You Are

Inspiration

We all enter seasons in our lives where we feel like everything is coming to a head – life just won't let up.

I, for one, experience this period of “WTF" every few years, or so. Most recently – last May to be exact – I had firmly set my feet back on the ground (financially) following a drought of sorts due to job loss, followed by inconsistent freelance work, and countless financial emergencies, which drained my life savings.


Following a move from the west coast to the east coast – I was now surrounded by family and friends – a longing I had carried for several years prior, as a young single mother. My daughters were adjusting nicely. I felt as though the storm was over. Only, within eight months of returning to my hometown life knocking at my door was a fresh basket of lemons. Once more, I was faced with uncertainty as both a mother and provider, after receiving a pay cut of 50 percent – with but a week's notice.

As you can imagine, my life changed overnight. How would I stay afloat – even more, keep a roof over my family's head? Would I have to surrender my vehicle? After being without a car for over a year following the birth of my youngest child two years prior, it just wasn't a reality I was able to stomach, again. Lord knows with childcare costs, picking up another job wouldn't even cover the bill. So, what was next?

Despite the urge to withdraw and submit to depression, I surrounded myself with loved ones who kindly reminded me of how far I had come over the years. Others revealed that my resilience was something they coveted – and if anyone could do it, it would be me. While in the back of my mind, I thought “easier said than done," after weeks of soaking my sorrows in Starbucks, I realized like many times before, I had to get it together and quick. Within five weeks, I had drawn up a plan to sublease my apartment and move back to Phoenix where I could both stay afloat financially by slashing my cost of living, as well as finish my Bachelor's degree – something I put on pause for over a decade.

By June, I had found a lovely couple who not only took over my lease, but handed me a check in the amount of my deposit and some for leaving the space in pristine condition. My boxes were packed and my car, cross-country travel-ready. Now, approaching a year back in the desert, I must admit, I've never been more at peace. While it's true, less than a year ago, I felt like my life was unraveling at the seams, fact of the matter is, we are all in the same boat – just trying to make it.

So, as a reminder that everything is going to be okay, here are 9 signs you're doing better than you think you are:

You've got a roof over your head…

Now, you may not have the means to splurge on this season's hottest bag. But you're capable of providing, putting food on the table -- you've got clean water, the lights are on, and, occasionally, you've got a little extra to spare on a "good morning" latte. Because it's the small things (we often neglect the most) that make all the difference!

You've got a solid support system…

I'm not telling you to squad up, a la Taylor Swift. Your "support system" could be a trusted teacher, neighbor, childhood friend -- anyone that'll hold you accountable -- but more importantly, will pray with you. Often, when we face hard times, we neglect the many blessings we currently possess. This person will kindly remind you that you're doing better than you think you are! Everything will be okay.

You've got a little something to look forward to…

While you may not be in the best mood, drowning in bills, or worse, thrown in the towel altogether, holding on to that ONE goal – for example, finishing your degree -- will provide you with the ammunition you need to just keep swimming.

You've learned from your mistakes…

While I certainly don't have all the answers, one thing I've learned (countless times), is that there is no one way to approach this little thing called life. Remember this: as long as you make the conscious decision to get up when you fall, failure is nothing but a fallacy. Anything is attainable if you never give up!

You've become somewhat of a chameleon…

Change is inevitable. It's how you approach a new season that makes all the difference. If you're able to approach life's disasters with a little grace – not saying it'll always be easy – you've nailed it. Coping skills are crucial when it comes to success. If you don't work at developing these skills, failure will eat you up repeatedly, honey!

You know there's more to life than material things…

In today's social age, it's easy to get caught up trying to Keep Up with the Joneses. Only, truth is, genuine happiness doesn't come by way of material things. Fortunately, knowing is half the battle. If you're aware that joy doesn't lie in that Birkin bag, a new car, or a bigger house, you're prioritizing areas of your life that are lifelong and hold real value: family, friends, or your career.

You've chosen happiness on your terms…

You've stopped chasing the world's definition of happiness, and have begun to define your own path. It's not about the chase, but recognizing that happiness is right at your feet – if you just take a minute to stop and smell the roses.

You've got some stories for the grandkids…

What's life without taking a few risks? Much like taking a leap of faith, jumping head first here or there is a great learning tool, which will equip you will the skills necessary to take on whatever hiccups the universe throws your way. Even better, you'll have an arsenal of stories to tell.

Last, but certainly not least…

You remember who you are…

These words are ones I've heard since I was a child. Since I can remember, my father would yell, “Remember who you are," as I ran out the door to school, basketball practice, hang out with friends, start my first job – you name it. While I didn't quite understand the meaning as a youngster, as an adult, I get it.

As I stated earlier, life is chock-full of transitioning periods. Nothing is set in stone. You will encounter all kinds of people, face all kinds of hardships, and you will fail from time to time. Still, you don't let a little fork in the road, disappointment, or loss change you. You are resilient. You are strong. You are someone who, when knocked down, responds with a quick upper cut. You remember who you are and where you're going. Trust, that alone will help you sleep better at night.

Keep going, sis!

What is one thing that you're grateful for of life right now? Let us know in the comments down below!

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Originally published December 19, 2017.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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