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"He called you back. He opened the door for you. He kissed your forehead. Now you want a relationship. It's time for us to re-evaluate, sis."
- Me to me in the mirror.

"Bare minimum Twitter" has become a thing, and it's triggering. Out in the Twittersphere, there are women tweeting about simple things that they claim to be relationship goals and many commenters are calling them out about their choice of standards.

"Bare Minimum Twitter" is a reflection of the reality about the standards we have for romantic partners.

It exists as a result of the prevalence of guys out there who put in less effort than what is being tweeted about, and the fact that what is being praised are things that are standard and mandatory (read: bare minimum). Have we gone so far down the abyss that a man opening the door for us, calling us by our name, and texting us back is subject to praise? When did basic behavior start becoming the bar for bae-material? Are we convincing ourselves that we are not settling?

A lot of these tweets have been dirty mirrors for me to look into. Throughout my history of dating, there have been many times where I've called my best friend to gloat about how charming a man was on a date - opening the door for me, paying for the food, driving me home, telling me how pretty I was. The annoyance in my friend's voice was anything but sugarcoated, "Uh, yeah, girl. That's what he's supposed to do."

It made me take a long look into the patterns of partners that I've allowed into my sacred space. The realization hit me hard: a lot of the men I had been dating were admitted a pass because of the minimal requirements of respect I had for myself.

And suddenly, my membership card to the Bare Minimum Club began to sparkle under the enlightenment.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I want a type of love that feels like poetry to my soul and wine to my bloodstream.

I no longer want to be involved in situationships that require me to silence half my voice, dilute my being to be fit to their preferences, or feel guilty about my whole self only being half-loved. There are things that I tell myself that are standard to receiving my love - character, ambition, respect, generosity, etc. - but fall short.

Why am I allowing myself to get excited over men doing things that should be considered necessary before I even consider dating? Have I really forgotten the principles of courtship to the instant gratification of the era that we live in? Why should I feel ashamed to say I want a emotionally stable, honest, attractive man with good credit, great relationships with his family, and an even better career?

In 2018, I want to attract high-vibrational and wholesome relationships into my life.

With the new year about to be in full effect, I think it's important that I begin to ask myself questions to reflect on why I have allowed my love life to be half-assed and half-full. Here are a few things I am learning in order to cultivate what I want and rid myself of the bare minimum syndrome for good:

Know What You Bring To The Table

When you know what you bring to the table, you have a platfrom to expect reciprocity. Because, honestly, no one likes an entitled sista. What are you willing to give and what do you bring to the table? Are we doing the bare minimum for ourselves so it's okay for others to do that as well? Raise the standard for yourself and therefore you'll attract that kind of partner into your life.

Know What Your Standards Are & Abide By Them

Once you know and understand what you have to bring to the table, you have the footnotes to provide when people snootily ask, "Well, you're asking for so much out of a partner. What do you even have to offer?"

Bring out the receipts, sis. What do you want from a partner? What do you expect? Are we compromising our standards to just say that someone is in our life or that we aren't alone? Are we so afraid of being alone and doing for ourselves that we're willing to accept anything? No, because we know our worth and we are abiding by the standards we've set. Don't settle for less when you know exactly who you are.

Make Sure The People In Your Life Who Reflect & Hold You Accountable

If the people around you don't hold themselves to a high standard, then they don't have the muscle mass to hold you up. Their uplifting will only be temporary. They will grow tired in their praise of you if you don't believe it or if they are not secure about themselves. Keeping positive, self-secure people around you will only elevate you, because they will not have the time to be around Debbie Downers or self-pity lobbyists. Queens recognize queens.

Find you a queen that sees your magic just as you see hers - she'll remind you if you're stepping out of your own boundaries for a partner real quick.

Observe How Much Energy & Effort A Man Puts Into Other Things

Do your homework. When an interest in a partner begins, you want to observe. How is he treating you compared to everyone else and the other aspects of his life? Once you get a clear vision of where he puts his efforts and his energy, you'll be able to see where you stand. Are you accepting the bare minimum from him? Is he going out of his way to provide for you or make time to get to know you? If not, you need to return to step number 1 and 2, and act accordingly.

There is no question that I am coming for everything that I deserve; therefore, accepting the bare minimum is no longer an option. I may have new years resolutions of minimalism but a minimalist love affair is not one of them.

I am learning that there is a difference between low maintenance and low standards.

In order for a woman to be low maintenance, there has to be a high standard to exist when it comes to how a man treats you. When he's consistent in operating from a higher standard, it is low maintenance, because it's the norm. When he's consistent in operating from a low standard, you'll always be considered high maintenance, because you're asking for more than what he is used to providing.

We need to stop confusing standards with preferences and confusing our assertiveness of these standards as being "too much" because a man's criticism is rooted in his inability to perform and deliver.

It's okay to set the bar high when you are consistently operating from your deepest, truest self. That's called knowing your worth.

When you know your worth, you know what serves you and what doesn't. If you feel triggered by the truth of that is coming full circle and making you look into the mirror, self-evaluate where you are, work on yourself, invest in yourself and raise your own stock so that you can raise your standards, and turn in your Bare Minimum membership card.

Should excellence be expected or rewarded? Only you can answer that for yourself.

Featured image by Giphy

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For black women, hair is an extremely sensitive subject for us. It has so many meanings, especially how we hold it with high regard in appeal to our beauty and femininity. When our ideal of what our beauty is is taken away from us, we are forced to redirect our energy and learn to deal with the loss. But we always come back out on top. Lauren "LuLu" Williams is an example of this.

The 16-year-old high school student experienced traumatic bullying recently when students at her school ripped her wig off and recorded the incident for SnapChat. And to make matters worse, it was all because of a $5 bet.

This week, LuLu's mother, Myckelle Williams, took to Facebook to talk about her daughter's experience with bullying:

"Yesterday I received a call from my youngest daughter screaming and crying on the phone, for me to come and get her from school. Apparently, some boys had taken a $5 BET about pulling her wig off in front of everyone. Lulu has a scalp condition that causes severe dryness and hair breakage and loss, and had been so ashamed of her appearance that she had taken to wearing wigs in an effort to still feel beautiful. We all know how easy it is to feel insecure at age 16. These kids not only tore her wig off in the middle of school, but video taped it. They followed her to the bathroom as she screamed and cried and proceeded to tape her OVER the stall as she cried and begged for her wig."

In addition to the trauma they left her with, the bullies that took LuLu's wig left her with whiplash and bald patches throughout her head. Devastated but determined to take her power and her own narrative of beauty into her own hands, LuLu shaved off all her hair. Myckelle finished off the powerful post with a message to all mothers who may deal with a situation similar to her daughter's:

"Lulu later decided to shave her hair off and not let these bullies win. She was not wanting to feel controlled by her hair any longer, and take back her control. I am only posting this with her permission but yesterday our entire family was angered and in tears about the way she was treated. The teen suicide rate has now DOUBLED and bullying has played a HUGE role," Myckelle wrote. "If you have a teen in this situation, continue to uplift them and let them know that they are strong and beautiful and can own their insecurities and take control rather than being controlled. I admire the strength and beauty of my little Lulu and know that she will inspire many others even through this difficult time in her life."

The post went viral and caught the attention of many, including supermodel, business mogul, and self love advocate Tyra Banks who took to Instagram to write her a letter of encouraging words.

"...I want to let you know how unbelievably fierce you are…" she wrote in her caption. "... Someone momentarily lacking judgement and kindness pulled off your wig and another person felt the need to chase you down and capture it all on camera. But what they fail to realize is those moments changed you forever...for the better!!! Like you said when you shaved your head - you took BACK the power! LuLu, you are strong and you are FIERCE and I want you to continue to be courageously LOUD! Girls around the world need warrior queens like you."

Like Tyra, Ciara also took to Instagram to step up for #Love2LuLu and reminded the young girl of her beauty. "Your Confidence is inspiring to us all," the songstress said in the post. "Can't Nobody Stop That Shine

Tyra and Ciara's words were not only supportive, but empowering. Black women stepping up to support one another in our fight against beauty ideals placed upon us is the greatest exhibit of black girl magic.

Last year, Chewing Gum star Michaela Coel showed a similar display of solidarity when she came forward and pulled her wig off in an Instagram post to support Blessing Okagbare who made headlines after her wig fell off during an IAAF long jump competition.

Taking our power back can happen when we least expect it, during the times our back is on the wall. LuLu was able to take her situation and use it to empower herself and as a result, she now feels a sense of freedom. She told her local news station Fox 19:

Your beauty isn't defined by the number of strands on your head. Ever since I [shaved] it, I feel free. I'm not held down by my hair. I'm not defined by it — I'm defining myself."

When it comes to our hair, our crown, the symbol of beauty for us, it can be hard to cope when someone tries to come in and tear down the walls we built in our home of ideals, but LuLu made the decision to recognize that she is beautiful no matter what. She's a huge reminder that it's important that we continue to uplift one another and call attention to the beauty of our spirits and not the external factors that we give so much weight to.

There's a heavy weight of truth that comes with being an independent woman. The sweet nectar of fulfillment tastes a little different when you're able to look back on your own hard work and self-fulfilled ideal of success.

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