Lori Harvey has achieved many things in her life such as starting her own successful sold-out skincare line, SKN by LH, and modeling and partnering with many high-fashion brands such as Burberry and Tiffany & Co. However, her love life has always made its way into the forefront. It’s no secret that the model has had many male admirers and has been attached to the likes of Future and Michael B. Jordan, and now it appears that she is dating Snowfall actor Damson Idris.
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But for whatever reason, her dating life has consistently been a topic of conversation and sometimes ruffles a lot of feathers. Black Twitter lit the internet up when the socialite made her relationship with the British actor Instagram official a few weeks ago. Some people even made off-color jokes about how she changes men like she does her underwear, or Damson is the next man she’s checking off her list.
Seeing how angry her love life makes people, especially Black men, is exhausting. Anytime her latest relationship hits the blogs, so does a slew of hateful comments calling her hurtful names and making assumptions about who she is. Now, not to sound like Chris Crocker (Cara Cunningham) or anything, but leave Lori alone.
Fortunately, there is one good thing about her overexposed dating life. It has revealed the poisonous double standards between men and women in the industry.
How can Future, Diddy, and others have a troupe of women and, at times, seemingly degrade those same women’s characters, but Lori can’t actively date as the 26-year-old that she is? Diddy appears to currently be dating several women (with one he recently had a baby with) including City Girls rapper Yung Miami. No one rarely says anything about how he moves but constantly attacks the women he’s dating online.
Let’s not even get started on Nayvadius aka Future. How many women have Future dated and publicly humiliated including Lori after dissing her in a song? Not to mention, at that time he was linked to rapper Dess Dior.
While Lori is often judged for her decisions in dating, others applaud her. Many Twitter users utilize her name as the “action” of leaving a man alone or the title of their next chapter in life. They applaud her for knowing her worth and not choosing to turn her wheels for the sake of a relationship.
Lori has clarified that she will not settle and nothing is wrong with that. She recently sat down with E! Newsand shared the details about her cover with Essence, her thoughts on love, including her father, Steve Harvey’s advice. When shooting the cover, Lori explained how it was an honor to grace Essence’s “Black Love Issue” as a single woman. Months prior, she called it quits with Michael and it was before her current relationship with Damson.
“I feel like it’s always been [about] me attached to something or someone: This time, it’s about me. It’s my time,” she said.
Lori also spoke about her growth – as a woman and individual – and how she won’t allow her past relationships to overshadow this period in her life. However, my favorite part was the advice she said her father gave her. “Just remember that you’re the prize always,” she playfully stated. So, what does his golden rule look like for the 26-year-old?
“It just means not compromising like, my values, my happiness, my peace. Not settling for less than what I know I deserve and not being afraid to walk away from a situation if it’s, like, no longer serving me,” she said
During her E! News interview, the entrepreneur admitted to finding the rumors about her “entertaining” and dispelled some of them, including dating a father and a son (alluding to dating Diddy and his son Justin Combs.) However, as she continues to grow, she is also allowing herself grace and letting the negative things people say roll off her shoulders. I can always stan a graceful queen who knows what she wants and moves silently.
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The journey to success for a lot of Black women oftentimes looks like breaking generational curses. Curses like poverty, a lack of resources, and a lack of opportunities to get out of the vicious cycle. This experience usually starts during our adolescence by way of elder family members telling us to keep books before boys and to stay focused on school. While the idea itself is digestible, it can sometimes result in Black women experiencing a disconnect within their own families.
I was a first-generation college graduate and my family was extremely proud of me and still is. But keeping my head in the books meant that my achievements didn’t stop there. I went on to accomplish a couple of other “firsts” like getting my master's, working in television, and traveling the world. Coming from nothing and being able to accomplish what I have so far, was a lot to adjust to for both my family and myself. I never took into account that I would have to change certain aspects of myself, in order to accomplish what I have.
I also didn’t consider how my accomplishments would affect the relationship I had with my family.
One thing about your family, they know how to humble you more than anybody. I attended college in Atlanta but was born and raised in Chicago. As a young adult, I slowly stopped living in survival mode and began to discover myself, including my likes and dislikes. South African artist and sociologist Khanyisile Mbongwa spoke on this perfectly during a Ted Talk. She talks about how getting out of the bondage of survival mode is another form of breaking generational curses. As for me, I developed a routine for how I take care of myself, my eating preferences changed, my wardrobe changed, etc.
On this journey, a lot about me changed. However, in the early days when I would come home to visit, it seemed that the person I had grown into, wasn’t welcome. I was instead, thrown back into my childhood routine; doing what I was told, eating what was provided, and not complaining about any of it. It became an issue of respect for me. I wasn’t a child anymore. I was a grown woman with grown thoughts, routines, and preferences. It left me feeling like a bougie outsider.
To me, I felt like I was being treated as the child I once was, instead of the woman I had become.
"I wasn’t a child anymore. I was a grown woman with grown thoughts, routines, and preferences. It left me feeling like a bougie outsider. To me, I felt like I was being treated as the child I once was, instead of the woman I had become."
Subsequently, I became anxious about not trying to do too much or say too much around my family because I didn’t want to come off as a know-it-all. Which led to me coming around less and less. For a number of years, I was angry and confused that the same people who told me to keep my head in the books were now criticizing me because I did just that. I did exactly what they told me to do and my life changed as a result of it. So why was I being picked on? Or at least, that’s what it felt like.
One thing successful people often talk about regarding their journey is that you sometimes have to “unlearn” certain aspects of yourself because the old you can’t go where the new you is taking you. Will Smith spoke on this in his autobiography Will. In talking about the early days of filming The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will says an executive got in his face one day and started yelling at him about a script change. Will and his friend immediately jumped into their old Philly ways and almost went toe to toe with the executive.
Benny Medina (esteemed manager and talent agent at the time) later explained to Will that the star overreacted. Benny clarified that the executive’s behavior is actually common in the industry and should’ve been handled with care. Will was really upset with himself afterward and realized then that he had to unlearn certain elements of himself that no longer served him, or he would miss out on some great opportunities. His initial reaction to defend himself served Will, back then, but that old Will was hurting the “new” Will’s career so he had to do some unlearning.
It is not easy breaking generational curses, especially when some of that battle is coming from those you love the most. However, I am here to tell you, Black women, there are ways to remedy this. Maybe your experience hasn’t been like mine. Maybe it was worse or maybe you’re in the thick of it right now. Being the first to accomplish anything means you don’t have a blueprint for how it's done and that you’re figuring it out along the way. My experience has taught me a few things that I think can be helpful to you and your journey.
"It is not easy breaking generational curses, especially when some of that battle is coming from those you love the most. However, I am here to tell you, Black women, there are ways to remedy this."
Black women know we carry enough burdens. However, it is important to learn to not only give yourself grace but to give that same grace to your family. Them experiencing this new version of you is new for them as well. Give them space to get it right and to get it wrong. It’s also important that you check in with your family as often as you can. Chasing the bag does sometimes mean you don’t have a lot of free time on your hands. But if it’s nothing, but a simple text, 5-minute call, or a quick email to let them know that you’re thinking about them, then do it. Don’t let months or years go by before checking in with your family. Find ways to “include” them in your journey. Please seek therapy. Therapy is an additional form of emotional and mental support that is so necessary for your journey to breaking generational curses.
Lastly, check your blind spots. Be sure you’re treating your family with love and respect as well. Your dreams, goals, and desires are all your own. That doesn’t mean that others share the same thoughts as you so it is important that you respect that as well. Don’t try to force-feed people information that worked for “you.” Be respectful of everyone’s journey.
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There's that age-old saying that applies to major decisions in your life: "When you know, you know." And when it comes to my sanity, happiness, or financial future, it's a saying that has rung true time and time again. Finding the right time to quit a job is never easy, whether you hate the job, love it but have to move on, or feel indifferent about it.
In my case, I knew that quitting a job after just a few weeks would be a far less painful experience than sticking it out. Continuing in the role, for me, would have led to the digging up of old career wounds and a horrible reversion in the progress I'd made both professionally and personally.
In just a short time at the job, I felt like I was in a nightmare remake of a Christmas classic, except this film would be called, Ghosts of Toxic Workplace Past. It was like allowing my ex to take me on a 10-day baecation cruise. Immediately, no.
And as much as I'm all for giving something (or someone) second and third chances (as I often did in the case of my ex), I'm a huge fan of Black women taking up space by not taking crap in order to prove our worthiness, tenacity, or stamina. As "strong" women, we're supposed to accept that "work 10 times harder" and big-girl-panties mission, even at a job that makes us miserable. Not only are we to survive, but we must overachieve and thrive. As my favorite auntie Betty Wright once said: No pain, no gain, right?
Well, after too many years of that, I now advocate for nipping things in the bud early, especially in matters of the heart and profession and especially when it's to your detriment.
While I don't recommend this as a smart option for every professional, it's a good idea to think through why you'd want to quit a job and when is best to do it. Here are a few red flags that led me to push the resignation button so soon:
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1. From day one, the job description did not match my understanding of the duties.
Keywords: my understanding. I often overthink almost everything in my life, so I definitely asked quite a few questions during the multiple rounds of interviews for the job. I also re-read the description and asked questions via email so that I could get a few things in writing before the actual offer was made. I thought I knew exactly what I was getting into. As someone with almost 20 years of experience in my field, I figured, hey, a few minor things might be adjusted, but the overall expectations of the job, the people I'll be leading, and the nature of the work, won't deviate much---at least not in the first six months.
Immediately upon starting the job, I noticed that not only was I suddenly given an extra team to lead, but the switcheroo was done very casually as if it were normal. I was taken aback and expressed that I was not aware that I'd be taking on managing more people than what was told to me during the interview process. The response: "Oh, it's just..."
Yeah, anytime someone of authority at work uses the word "just," it's a clear dismissal of what it truly takes to do your job, and from my experience, is a key sign that many of your valid concerns related to your job will be dismissed, whether passively or aggressively. And the dismissive responses to your concerns won't end. You'll end up a doormat and out of fear and obligation, take on more work than you have the mental capacity to do well.
You'll grow sick, physically, due to burnout, end up using the few sick days you have simply for a break, have none for when you actually do get sick, then be labeled "difficult" for finally setting boundaries one day in a frenzied act of tears and desperation. (Yep, this happened to me as well, which is why, again, this job clearly wasn't for me. Too many triggers. Too many oh-hell-naw signs to run. It was like being on a date with an ex.)
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2. For me, the actual (well... "updated") job requirements did not match the pay.
Again, keywords here: for me, as in, in my professional opinion based on the job's requirements and market value for the role. Additional team members were added, along with the time, energy, and talent it takes to manage them, with no raise in pay or update on my benefits package. None.
Do I need to say more? I'd worked at major companies and for major brands---proven myself time and time again--for almost two decades, with the career receipts and education to prove it, only to be flagrantly asked to do the extra work for free. And as a Black woman, I found it even more insulting.
3. My "manager" had totally different work experience and credentials that I felt were unrelated to mine.
While this particular person was amazingly welcoming and great at what she did, her talents and skills were for a totally different aspect of the business than mine, yet she was serving as my supervisor. I also learned that she'd floated around to various "management" positions in different departments. She'd been taking on multiple jobs and "helping out" in order to onboard me.
In my experience, I've known that professionals who do this are often either looking to be promoted elsewhere or are the go-to person who takes on tasks nobody else wants to do. I also knew that this was a recipe for disaster, especially if I would be looking for leadership and/or mentorship support in my role.
It seemed to me that this person was simply biding their time until a better opportunity came along or that the person was doing a favor for someone in order to advance in some other way at the company. Also, if the person judging me on my performance does not have the educational or professional background and/or credentials I have, how can they offer a fair and reasonable review of my work, especially in my role as a manager? This, too, just seemed too problematic.
4. I was given the responsibility to lead a team that was already emotionally battered from previous issues at the company.
During my first few weeks, I knew it would be a smart move to have one-on-ones with the teams I was meant to lead. The company had gone through a series of lay-offs before they'd hired me, and my experience taught me that it's good to get a gauge of where the remaining survivors' heads were at so that I could be of service and approach managing them in a strategic way.
What I found from the one-on-one meetings were signs of disenchantment, disinterest in the questions I was asking, or lackluster responses when talking about what they love about working for the company. One person even seemed to be playing a game on his phone while in the meeting. There were a select few who were enthusiastic, welcoming, and forthcoming, but they seemed to have differing versions of their own roles and responsibilities. And the team members who were positive were newer hires, just like me.
The majority of the team seemed like they didn't even want to be there or as if they'd rather have been talking to someone else, maybe a previous manager who was laid off. As much as I love a challenge, at the time, I just couldn't stomach the idea of having to fight through and win the team members over. I just didn't have it in me. I'd be tasked with not only meeting certain company deliverables attached to my role but also appeasing the hardened hearts of disgruntled workers who'd been working at the company for years.
No, thank you.
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5. I found that I'd constantly have to re-affirm my credentials and skills.
As much as this is often seen as a "norm" at companies, I'd had my fair share and was tired of it. I went solo as a self-employed consultant for this very reason. I would no longer tolerate work environments where I didn't feel affirmed by those who managed me or who had the power to back me up when I'd need to assert authority. I also would not waste my time re-affirming what was already talked about during the interview process and was the very reason I was hired. This happens to Black women in leadership all the time and it not only takes a toll on your mental health, but it doesn't allow you room to grow in leadership.
I've had jobs where I had to test to even make it to the final round of candidates, where I've had to interview with multiple members of small staffs, and where I've had to constantly play along with what's called "micro" aggressions that were very much notmicro or small at all.
And yes, I learned all of this after only a couple of weeks in that position.
Years later, I can say that quitting so soon was the best decision of my life. It was scary at the time because I wasn't sure how I was going to supplement my income, but God always comes through for your girl. And it helps that I'm not new to self-employment and the savvy of finding solutions to unemployment.
I went on to work with more freelance clients and made more money than I would have if I stayed at that job. I still have a flexible schedule, I can travel when and where I want, and I'm proud of the work I do, serving women professionals and entrepreneurs as both a coach and a seasoned journalist and editor. The companies I currently work with value my input and my experience and make me feel like a loved member of their fam. While I still face challenges, they're the type that allows me to grow in leadership and learn more about myself and the world.
So, sis, here's your confirmation: Don't wait for things to get worse. Send that resignation email (of course, after looking at your contract or offer letter) today. Stop second-guessing that gut feeling and go for yours. The time is now.
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If you made it out of this Mercury retrograde barely alive, you are not alone. From what we have been witnessing in recent weeks, it seems like so many celebrity couples have been experiencing relationship challenges now more than ever before. Or at least, that’s the pattern we are seeing on social media.
Now some of you may be familiar with Mercury retrograde, but let me just give you a brief overview before we go any further. The planet Mercury normally moves faster than Earth around the sun and usually three times a year, but this year in particular (four times, to be exact), the planet Mercury begins to slow down.
When Mercury is slowing down, we call that Mercury retrograde, and, energetically for us, that simply means that life gets tenser, there tends to be a lot of miscommunication, relationships are challenged and people from your past may circle back offering reconciliation.
In my opinion, Mercury retrograde gets a really bad rap because it is challenging, but not every challenge is inherently “bad.” During this time period, it may seem like everything is going wrong, but we must shift our mindset in order to embrace the wisdom that Mercury retrograde has to offer.
If we pay attention and actually move with the planet and simply allow ourselves to slow down, Mercury retrograde can be a time when we take a good look at our personal lives and our relationships and reassess why we are in them.
These past few weeks, we’ve been seeing many celebrity couples filing for divorce. Celebrities such as Tia Mowry and Cory Hardrict, Miguel and Nazanin, and a few more that have spent years together are splitting up due to “irreconcilable differences."
These various separations come as a shock for many, as people on social media share their thoughts and feelings about these couples splitting up.
#greenscreen #tiamowry #tameramowry #coryhardrict #sistersister #twins #twinsisters #popculture #fyp
The Problem With Idealizing Celebrity Relationships
As a society, we tend to put celebrities and their relationships on a pedestal for what a relationship should look like, the practice of which is extremely superficial. Phrases such as “relationship goals'' and even our very own “Black love'' tend to be taken out of context and used to pedestal other people's relationships.
These phrases have now been used as expectations that we set for other people to set the template for what we should strive for in our own lives while knowing nothing about these people and what’s really going on in their relationships. And in the past few weeks, as I have witnessed so many couples separating and filing for divorce, I have realized that so many of us have a very codependent relationship with our idea of what relationships should be.
A celebrity couple can split because of irreconcilable differences and people immediately assume that someone cheated or they just weren’t working hard enough to fight for their marriage, but what if no one cheated? What if their differences were just so polarizing that they could not coexist together peacefully?
According to mensrightsdivorcelaw.com, "irreconcilable differences" means "an individual and their spouse cannot get along with one another enough to keep the marriage alive, and this lack of getting along can cause a whole array of other issues in the marriage."
And the way that I see it, irreconcilable differences, outside of the textbook definition of it is what happens when two people have different values and desires, i.e. whoever they were when they married might no longer be who they are now. So many of us do not want to look at incompatibility in relationships because it’s just too painful to face, but I honestly feel like this relationship challenge isn’t talked about enough (which is also why a lot of people end up staying in a marriage that may not be for them).
We don’t want to look at the side where our needs and values are just so different that we cannot maintain a romantic relationship with someone. The reason we avoid this reality is that it requires us to practice acceptance and loving someone from a distance. Most of us tend to avoid this reality because it’s difficult to face the hard truth of loving a person. But simply being incompatible with someone may also trigger unresolved rejection or abandonment wounds.
But if we are in a relationship with someone and we are creating stories and narratives and internalizing this person's behaviors, actions, or values to mean something negative about us, we are tying our sense of self-worth to their values.
I think we should start celebrating people for leaving relationships that are not for them.
Whenever we see a celebrity couple break up or decide to go their separate ways, I see so many people responding with, “Omg, I’ll never believe in love again," and "If they didn’t work out, no one will work out," and let's not forget, "I don’t believe in marriage anymore."
My question is, why are we putting these people on this imaginary pedestal hoping that their marriage will set the standard for us?
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? #miguelsinger #nazaninmandi #celebritybreakup #celebdivorce #hollywoodmarriage
Incompatibility and the Release of Relationship 'Failure'
I think because so many of us grew up in households where our caregivers might have been absent or they weren’t able to show us an example of a healthy relationship, we take these celebrities and put them on the pedestal so they can be the representation of what we’re desperately seeking.
Respectfully, we have to come to a point of healing and emotional maturity within ourselves to see beyond what's being presented on the surface. All of the cute pictures and red carpet moments are just the aesthetic, people are going to present their best selves in the presence of other people. But the real magic happens off camera, the real relationship happens when no one is looking.
All in all, we have to stop putting these celebrities so much on a pedestal to where we dethrone our own standards. When we see relationships ending and people separating, we need to stop projecting our own shame onto them.
Rather than looking at relationships from this “success or failure” lens, I think we can move forward as a collective when we empower ourselves to see the beauty in relationships regardless of how they ended. Endings can be a beautiful thing, we just have to reframe our relationships to change.
It’s more empowering to view all relationships as a success because you got a chance to experience someone in a way you might have needed to experience in order to learn more about yourself, even if you haven’t been able to integrate the lesson just yet.
Relationships are not about possession and control. It’s not about owning or tethering yourself to someone who is not for you, that’s codependency and to be completely honest with you all, there’s no one to blame for this frame of thinking because society has conditioned us to be this way.
Society has programmed us into believing that love is all about this constant sacrificing of yourself for another person, that it's this disowning of yourself for another person.
Time and time again people get into relationships completely abandoning themselves just to say they have someone, just to feel needed, wanted, and desired rather than learning that healthy relationships are about keeping who it is that you are and maintaining a healthy relationship dynamic with another person. It’s not one or the other, both go hand in hand
Healthy relationships do not require you to “compromise” your core values. That’s not love, that’s fear.
And so when we can get to the point where we move out of this framework of codependent love, needing someone to be who we need them to be, spending years in a marriage waiting for the other person to step up, waiting for them to change, we will finally start to see that actually is not loving at all. Therefore, we would be on our way to healthier relationships and support people who decide to separate or get a divorce.
Relationships End and That's Okay
We have to get to this point where we’re able to move out of patterns of codependency and move beyond expecting everyone and everything to stay together because it makes us feel good. Love is about honoring a person's journey which also means recognizing when a relationship is approaching the end of its season. Real love is about respecting and honoring that person's journey enough to let them go.
Love and honor them so much that it transcends beyond the physical. Love them so much that you let them journey in this lifetime on their own schedule and go wherever it is they need to go, whether it is with you or not.
We’re not always going to able to go with people because not every person is meant to go with us, not every relationship is meant to last forever so I commend anyone who has the courage to end a relationship that is no longer a good fit for them.
Sometimes our differences with someone are so polarizing that we just can’t coexist in a romantic relationship together and that’s okay. Now, is that to say the whole entire relationship failed? Absolutely not.
If both people have tried and put their best foot forward, it’s a success.
Anything that brings you back to yourself at the end of the day is a blessing, anything that teaches you how to love yourself more, anything that teaches you how to stand firm in your boundaries, anything that teaches you to stop betraying yourself, that's a success.
At the end of the day, you got to share an experience with someone who you loved and learn something about yourself in the process, even if it didn’t last for a lifetime.
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I've spent the past five years of my life learning to love myself and striving to be at peace. After being in a constant state of learning and unlearning, I was ready to breathe. I was ready to be free and live. So, when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last July, I didn't know how to feel.
In early 2019, I got a yeast infection that wouldn't go away for three months. After trying several over-the-counter remedies and being prescribed a few Diflucan pills, I stopped believing my problem was untreatable yeast. I went to a women's clinic that happened to perform routine thyroid ultrasound exams during their gynecological visits. They found a nodule on my thyroid during the ultrasound and referred me to the radiologist. The doctor told me thyroid nodules weren't uncommon, but I should visit the radiologist as a precaution. She looked slightly concerned and kept asking me if I felt a lump or pain in my neck, but I didn't. I also didn't think much of it because I didn't know anyone in my family with thyroid issues, and I was focused on treating the uncomfortable yeast that wouldn't go away.
The radiologist confirmed that there was a nodule on my thyroid—in fact, there were three. He requested that I get them biopsied and urged me to get my blood work done because he was worried my thyroid wasn't functioning correctly based on what he saw on the ultrasound. When my primary care physician reviewed my tests, she told me my thyroid levels were normal, but I was anemic. My body was running on its reserve iron levels, which had gotten dangerously low. My doctor put me on an iron treatment plan because I didn't have enough white blood cells to fight my yeast infection, even when I was on medication. With treatment, my yeast infection went away, and I felt great. Then my neck started hurting.
It was a dull pain that would shift from the left to the right side of my neck. I thought my years of sleeping without a pillow finally caught up to me, but the pain wasn't surface level. My doctor told me that I could have developed allergies, and the pain was likely due to swollen lymph nodes. The pain continued for the rest of the year, but I tried my best not to scare myself. I had a habit of assuming the worst-case scenario and driving myself into a panic. This time, I wanted to do things differently. My blood work was "normal," and the pain in my neck wasn't constant, so I told myself there was no need to fear the unknown.
But the pain in my neck returned and I was concerned. I called my doctor and told her I wanted to check on my thyroid. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was meant to visit that women's clinic and discover those nodules. Though my blood work showed normal thyroid hormone levels, I couldn't stop thinking about a woman who shared her cancer story on YouTube. Her labs also looked "normal" before she was rushed into emergency surgery a few weeks later.
So, when I went to the radiologist in July, and they confirmed I had cancer, I was sad, but I wasn't shocked. I was diagnosed with Metastatic Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma. For the first time in my life, I truly understood what the adults around me meant when they said, "If it ain't one thing, it's the other." The diagnosis explained my feelings of fatigue, inability to concentrate for long periods of time, low white blood cell count, and dull pain in my neck.
I'd go into exam rooms, and the doctors would share a lot of information and then try to comfort me by saying, "Of all the cancers to get, thyroid cancer is the best because it has a treatment plan!"
Or, "You're not going to die!"
Or, "You didn't do anything to end up with cancer. It's not your fault."
I never knew how to respond. Part of me felt guilty for being sad because of the constant reminders that my diagnosis could be worse. Part of me felt like my biggest fear of dying young was going to come true. The doctors would say their speech and wait for me to cry or ask questions, but I had nothing.
I was diagnosed with something I couldn't control, and I felt defeated.
For most of my life, I felt like if I was in control, bad things wouldn't happen. A few years ago, I realized trying to control everything was impossible, and trying to was making me unhappy. So, I started unlearning the harmful habits that kept me stuck in self-sabotaging patterns. I was focused on getting my life together and trying to improve the relationship I had with myself. I moved back to DC. I was making new friends. I was going out more and became more consistent with my writing. I was probably the most at peace I had ever been.
And then, I was presented with something I couldn't control, and I went numb. I googled everything, but I couldn't find it in me to research my diagnosis. I didn't want to overwhelm myself with information because I knew I couldn't change it. I couldn't fix it. I couldn't read, cry, vent, dance, talk, learn or journal my way out of cancer.
I tried to revert to my favorite habit of finding escapes, but it wasn't the same. Spending money I didn't have made me anxious. Having sex with men I don't like and who don't like me was underwhelming. Being drunk wasn't fun. It made me feel irresponsible, and it triggered migraines. I tried to fill the silence with random TV shows and YouTube, but the lack of quiet moments made me feel ungrounded. None of it was the same because I knew the only thing I could do that would ultimately make me feel better was surrender.
I've done everything to avoid writing about my diagnosis, and It's made me struggle to write anything for the past year. I'm not ashamed of having cancer and I don't feel sorry for myself. I know I didn't do anything wrong, and this isn't punishment from God for any "wrongdoings." But being sick is hard. Having a chronic illness is hard. Feeling like your body is betraying you at 30 is hard—I get anxious anytime I feel a random ache or pain.
I had surgery to remove my thyroid a few weeks after my 30th birthday last October. Since the cancer spread to a few of my lymph nodes, I had the infected ones removed as well and then had a radioactive iodine treatment (a form of radiation therapy) to remove any residual thyroid cells in January. Now that I don't have a thyroid, I take daily medication to prevent the cancer from returning and treat my hypothyroidism. I get my bloodwork done every few weeks to ensure my medication works and ultrasounds twice a year to monitor any growths in my neck.
It's an adjustment.
In her book When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron writes, "Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy."
I think about those words every day. Things come together, and they fall apart. My life as a person without a chronic illness is over, but my life isn't over.
After my diagnosis, I promised myself I wouldn't stop going after the things I wanted in life. I've gotten a better job, added two great people to my friendship circle, developed some new creative outlets, had many fun nights dancing awkwardly in DC, and made many memories with dope people. Good things are happening. And every time they happen, I lean into them. Fully. When joy is present, I reach out and grab it. When grief is present, I try to let myself sit in it. I have to have faith that I can make it through the parts of life that will be beautiful and the parts of life that will be terrifying because this is what it means to live a full life.
Being diagnosed with cancer didn't give me any major life epiphanies. But it did make me value myself more and have a stronger desire to protect myself and care for my well-being. I try not to lament over things I can't control. I feel less inclined to spend time with people who don't make me feel seen and loved. I give less energy to thoughts, opinions, and beliefs that don't serve me. I'm more focused on living my life for myself and not for the approval of other people. The whole experience has made me more appreciative of life. I don't have everything I want in life, and my life isn't as I pictured it would be at 30, but I have a good life. And I'm grateful.
Each year an estimated 44,000 adults in the United States get diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Women are three times more likely to develop thyroid cancer than men, and those with cancer are likely to be diagnosed at a younger age. You know your body best. If you feel pain in your neck or anywhere in your body, get it checked out.
Featured image by Mario Arango/Getty Images
When you know your worth and value, you refuse to accept anything less than what you deserve. One thing about Tracee Ellis Ross (and so many Black women) is that she more than understands her value and has “no interest in being in a relationship just to be in a relationship.” She stated in a recent interview on Kevin Hart’s Hart to Heart show, “I’m a rare breed.”
Kevin did in fact give Tracee her flowers and celebrated her success throughout the interview, but at one point, the conversation started to feel as if a mystery was being explored through her vulnerability when the topic of relationships came up. The infamous question: why are you still single?
Although Kevin didn’t directly ask Tracee “why are you still single,” I wasn’t convinced that Kevin believed that Tracee could be successful, single, content, and not have something wrong with her. Sometimes, when you know who you are and stand in your truth, it’s hard for others to accept a reality that’s different from their own.
As Tracee started to share what a healthy relationship looks like for her, Kevin offered up a plethora of questions and assumptions:
“That’s why you’re not meeting them because you keep going to the jazz bar.” (jokingly)
“I think that you know what you want so much that it’s hard for a guy…you have no patience.” “How much patience do you have?”
“How fast is the off button?”
“How fast do you go there and say ‘I don’t like that’?”
Question after question, it seemed as if Kevin was determined to pinpoint the reason for Tracee’s singleness like a doctor trying to diagnose their patient. Never mind that she previously stated how she refused to settle and wasn’t looking for a relationship just for the heck of it. Never mind her success. Instead, the questioning suggested that something must be wrong with Tracee, which is often the assumption for so many successful Black women.
Unfortunately, a lot of these notions are driven by a history of patriarchy, misogyny, and antiquated views of women in society.
Kevin even went on to ask, “Are there triggers?” Talk about being triggered. Part of being triggered is when people try to tell you why you’re still single. News flash: men and women – whether single or married - have triggers, and triggers don’t just disappear especially when they’re rooted in childhood trauma and past experiences.
As if that wasn’t enough, the discussion of children also came up. At one point Kevin asked Tracee, “Are kids a thing?” Despite the nonchalant feeling behind the question, Tracee actually shared how she tried to have children on her own, as well as the “grief that came with it.”
Tracee stated, “I always thought a child would come out of ‘I love them so much.’ I did want kids but the window of desire has closed.” Nevertheless, she said she’s still open to the idea with the right person.
While I respect interviewers wanting to go deeper, some people don’t always understand how questions can open up wounds that people may not be prepared or want to discuss. Whether you’re a celebrity or not, you don’t always know what a woman has endured in order to get to where she is especially when it comes to having children.
It’s similar to the ridiculous statements I hear when people ask me, “Why don’t you have any children,” or “I guess you don’t want children.” There goes those assumptions again. People don’t think about the fact that some women have chosen not to have children, while some of us have been hit with the reality of infertility struggles, illnesses (actual diagnoses), and the fact that ultimately we are not in control.
Oftentimes, people assume women are single by force rather than choice, or that single women are overwhelmed with despair simply because of their single status. Despite the multitude of successes, the belief tends to be that there’s no way a woman can feel complete or truly be successful without being in a relationship.
However, success is not determined by your relationship status.
Singleness is not a synonym for sorrow.
Singleness is not a burden.
Singleness doesn’t mean 'unsuccessful.'
Whether it’s the self-proclaimed relationship guru on social media, the preacher in the pulpit, or a celebrity interviewer, Black women do not need the unsolicited, unprofessional, unsubstantiated so-called “diagnosis” and theories to try to explain their singleness. We’re not asking men the same questions. So, why are we repeatedly asking women?
While I’m a huge advocate that all of us – men and women – have to do the work to become better versions of ourselves, we shouldn’t support the narrative that something has to be wrong with you just because you’re single.
Despite all of the questioning, I loved how Tracee handled everything with humor and grace. As she so eloquently stated during the conversation: “We don’t have to be narrowed into what other people’s idea is of us [Black women]…I want people to feel good in their skin.”
My sisters, don’t allow anyone to make you feel like something’s wrong with you or that you’re “off track” just because your life looks different from theirs. People often project their plans and desires onto you based on what they want for themselves, but everyone’s journey is different. You don’t have to subscribe to other people’s timelines and societal pressures.
To the rest of the world, let Tracee Ellis Ross, and whoever else, live their lives, enjoy their success, and enjoy what they do have instead of constantly making them feel as if their success is less significant without a relationship.
Featured image by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for PATTERN Beauty by Tracee Ellis Ross