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‘National All Or Nothing Day’ Reminds Us That Sometimes It Needs To Be Just That

Love yourself enough to get all of what you want or leave all of it alone.

Life & Travel

It's kinda funny that, while I'm not really big on holidays, I will sometimes run on over to the National Day Calendar, every couple of months or so, just to see what other "special days" I might want to observe. As July comes to a close (and really, where did it go, y'all?), one that caught my attention is July 26 which is National All Or Nothing Day. How cool is it that there's a 24-hour moment in time that's especially set aside so that we can literally go all carpe diem, take big risks and make things happen?

If you read what the day is originally all about, it talks about doing things like quitting your job or mending a broken relationship; it's about taking the all or nothing approach to putting your pride or fears aside in order to make things happen. As for me, when I think about all or nothing, what comes to my mind is loving yourself enough to require that either you get ALL of what you desire out of something (or someone), or you leave ALL of it (or them) alone. ALL OR NOTHING. No more or less than that.

I will admit that it takes some balls to make this kind of boss move. So, before you consider making that phone call or sending that email, ask yourself the following questions. That way, you'll be moving forward responsibly rather than impulsively.

What Do YOU Want?

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I'll be the first to say that Nicholas Sparks gets all kinds of side-eyes from me, if for no other reason than I don't recall ever seeing a Black person (with a lead role) in any of his films. Still, that doesn't mean that The Notebook isn't a movie that can still make me watch it whenever it pops up while I'm remote surfing. One scene that I like is when Noah (played by Ryan Gosling) asks Allie (played by Rachel McAdams) what she wanted, both from him and, ultimately for herself. Because really, how can any of us create the kind of life that we wish for without first knowing what we want…what we really want?

The last emotional situationship that I was in, in hindsight, a part of the reason why it lasted—and by that, I mean dragged out—far longer than it should have, is because I wasn't honest enough with myself about what I wanted. Well, what I mean by that is I wanted him without first assessing what kind of relationship I desired first. What I really wanted was to be in something that would be heading towards marriage. But because I focused more on wanting him than wanting that, I put up with all of his commitment-phobic issues.

When I got to the point where marriage meant more than keeping him in my life in a way that was compromising my truest desires, while it did hurt, it was easier to let him go. Being true to what I wanted was worth not staying in something that didn't truly satisfy me, just so I could have a piece of him that wasn't really fulfilling me anyway. Feel me?

What do you want? WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT?

What Do YOU Need?

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So, why did I put "want" before "need"? Because, let's be real. Most of us are in the circumstances that we're in now because our wants are what mattered more to us than our needs did. Knowing this about humanity has brought me to the conclusion that when we're trying to figure out what to do in life, it's OK to think about what you want first and then decide if "it" complements what you actually need.

Now remember, when you need something, that means it's something that is necessary and essential to your life. What that means is a lot of us don't need as much as we think that we do—or that our wants try and make us feel that we do. That guy that I just mentioned? In order to learn some of the lessons that I did while being involved with him, for a season, I did need him. Now? Not so much. It was necessary to see some things about my patterns, my level of codependency and my overall self-worth. Now that those issues have, for the most part, been resolved, he isn't essential for my life. At least, not right now.

So yeah, while trying to figure out if it's time to take an all or nothing approach to a person, place, thing or idea, figuring out if you need it or not is crucial.

Are You Compromising, Sacrificing, Conceding or Resenting?

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I know a lot of people who put compromising and sacrificing in the same boat. I personally don't because I don't mind either word. The reality is that in order to get to where any of us want to be, whether it be personally or professionally, some compromising and sacrificing are going to be required. The key is to make sure that if you are choosing to compromise, it doesn't include your principles, values or self-worth. Also, if it involves another person, some mutual comprising must be going on. And, as far as sacrificing goes, all that means is that you are giving up one good thing in exchange for something that's even better. Yeah, there's nothing wrong with sacrificing, so long as you're applying the true definition of the word to your decision-making process.

Conceding and resenting are a little different. On the concession tip, if all that you're doing is acknowledging or admitting something, that's one thing. But if you are all the way at the point of yielding to pressure or accepting defeat, over and over and over again, how is that—whatever "that" is—benefitting you? And resentment? If you're constantly displeased or bitter, or you're in a situation that is constantly adding insult to injury, so to speak…really, why stay?

It took me a while to get to this point too, but I must say, accepting that healthy compromise and worthwhile sacrificing are good while always conceding and resentment are not, that has definitely helped me to make wiser choices in the "all or nothing" department.

Is It a Straight Road, a Cul-de-Sac or a Dead End?

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There's a verse in the Bible that I promise you, I hear God repeat to me sometimes—"And the Lord said to Moses, 'Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.'" (Exodus 14:15—NKJV) It's a reminder that life was designed to be lived with a mindset of forward movement. Moving forward is about advancing and advancing is about progressing, improving and increasing.

If you're in a dilemma, whether it's personal or professional, and you're not sure what to do, ask yourself if "it" is taking you straight forward, if you're going around and around like a cul-de-sac or if it is actually nothing but a dead end? You'll know by whether you are progressing, improving and increasing—or not.

How can you tell if it's probably a dead end? This brings me to my next point.

Is It Teaching You How to Be Patient or How to Waste Your Time?

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If there's one thing that's a total game-changer (if you learn to master it), it's knowing the difference between being patient and totally wasting your time. Because, indeed, while good things do come to those who wait and, patience is, no doubt, a virtue, the purpose of patience is to mature us as we wait for something that will prove to be beneficial to us.

So, how can you know if all you're doing is wasting your time? Are you waiting on something (or someone) who is already benefiting your present and shows clear signs of also benefiting your future? Is the waiting process evolving you as an individual or is it causing you to remain stagnant in your personal development—or worse, go backwards? Do you have peace or anxiety during the waiting season? Are you waiting because you are afraid to try something else or new? Is the waiting season that you're in giving you a stronger sense of self or is it actually putting you on an emotional roller coaster ride?

The reason why patience is a virtue is because it's designed to make you a better person. If you know that the waiting that's going on really isn't doing that, then…well…you kinda have your answer—don't you?

Are You Staying Out of Love or Fear?

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Love never fails. That's not a love song lyric; that is Scripture and it's the truth. If you don't retain anything else that we discussed here, remember this—the love you have for God and yourself, that should inspire you to want all of the good that this life has to offer. If you are remaining in a state of lack—again, whether it's personally or professionally—does that sound like a manifestation of love or remaining in a cycle of fear?

A writer by the name of Marilyn Ferguson once said, "Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom." If it's time to look something or one in the eye and say, "We've reached the 'all or nothing' portion of the program", remember that love always has an abundance to give you. Don't be so fearful of walking away from something or someone that you stay unfulfilled and, eventually, begin to suffer.

On the other side of moving on is freedom. Love, and all that it has to offer you, is never too far away from that. Happy National All Or Nothing Day, y'all!

Feature image by Giphy

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Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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