A Message to the Boys who thought they were Men

To you. You who made fun of me, but told me it was really because you liked me. To those who were family friends and grabbed on me because you thought I was going to be quiet. Why did you act surprised when I fought back? Did you not feel the infant sparks of this fire?

To you, you didn’t catch me.

To my high school “friends”. You cornered me at parties, made game plans involving my name, and tried to set me up with your friends so you could watch. Often gave me that “friendly” squeeze around the waist. To you who would speak about me as if I couldn’t understand your innuendos in front of me. I knew. To that boy, you, the one who held my heart for some time. You isolated me from the friends you said were “a bad influence”. Isolated me from myself. To you who touched me without permission, in public, in private. Then ran away like a sacred cat, leaving me to gather myself. You cut me. You all cut deeper into me each let down. Yet none of you severed the chord. That chord of fibers, embedded within them, my fight.

I say to all of you, you didn’t guilt me.

To the boys who whistle at me on the street. In jeans, leggings, shorts, dresses, nothing stops you. When you think you’re in power, just know it is I who is in control. Remember, you called to me, I never whistled at you. To those of you who follow me home and try to grab on my body, or take photos of me on the train. I see you. I know about you, and I know how pathetic you are. You add those photos to that private collection your wife doesn’t know about. You’re not slick, I see the exit of pride in your eyes when I call you out. I will always stare into the lens of that phone of yours. Go ahead, take the picture, and look at it. See me, seeing you. Forever know that I know what kind of human you are.

To you, you didn’t intimidate me.

College. To my college boys. The ones who thought a photo of my midriff was an indication that I’m open for business. Do not get your majors in criminal justice, for you jump to conclusions without further investigation. To you who would make fun of me because I won’t come out on Thirsty Thursdays with you. Calling me a prude and a tease because you couldn’t get me to follow you. Pushing me, to try to get me to give in, or get worn down. Please. Thinking a follow on Instagram is asking me out, or an invitation for explicit photos. Telling me I’m a waste because you couldn’t use me, or my name, to get you higher on that undiscussed ranking system of yours.

I write to you, you didn’t break me.

You will realize one day. In that moment when you take your loved one for a checkup, desperate for answers, and it is me in the white coat. When you walk into that high-rise office, resumé in hand, and it is my name on that desk. C.E.O. I hope you feel caught, guilty, intimidated, and slightly broken. Not because I actively set out to hurt you, but because you know what you did. I hope it helps you.

For now I will not yell, I will not protest sign in hand, or talk about you. I will never be that “woman, hear me roar”. I will rise in silence. I will keep working and striving to succeed. I am already above the “glass ceiling”, as I wasn’t raised to believe one exists. I will run circles around you like a shadow, and when you look up and see my name, my face, me, drawn in the sky,  you will ask “How did that happen? How did She happen?”. It happened because I do not deal with boys like you. I would never give in to your attempts at persuading me with the fact that you are a “rich man”. I will be the rich man.

I will stand in front of that mirror, admiring the halo of my triumphs. You should know you will not cross the pathways of my thoughts. While you were waiting for the elevator to take you up, I sprinted up the stairs. I will have done it by myself, like I always have. In that glorious moment, I will break that silence. I will validate my power out loud and say:

My God, what Woman am I.

O

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Let 2018 be the year you learn to respect yourself. Not just “love yourself”

Growing up, I used to hear my parents speak often about people in a way I did not yet understand. “I don’t love him, but I respect him”. What does that even mean? Do they not go hand in hand? Don’t they have to be synonymous? No, they do not. Loving yourself has become a rage. Will the progression of social acceptance and openness, many people have grown to become determined to love themselves. However, many a people do not respect themselves.

The difference was never clear to me, as it wasnt really explain. This is the perfect time to explain exactly what this difference is. The beginning of the year, most people have resolutions to better themselves. Get in shape, eat healthier, find love. All of these things can help you love yourself, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will end up respecting yourself. I know many girls for instance, whom love their appearance, their senses of style, their grades, but they do not respect themselves as individuals. Girls who will follow the lead of any man because they just paid them the time of day. They’ll stop talking if they feel inadequate in a conversation. Stupefy themselves to garner attention from those they’ve placed the worth of themselves in the hands of. You can love yourself, but not respect.

Another instance is one many people have dealt with. You look in front of the mirror day after day, finding things you find appealing about yourself and play those attributes up, or see something you don’t like and try to fix it. Accepting the way you look and feeling comfortable with it. Those are all positive things, yet notice how they are all physical. Things we can physically alter, hide, remove. Those are the things we tend to focus on when we strive to love ourselves. However, very few people can step away from the mirror and feel comfortable with themselves on the inside. The goal is to step away and respect your thoughts despite the physical. That is hard to do. I have never had trouble attracting attention from men, and I say this humbly. Yet, they didn’t treat me with the respect, and having worked to respect myself, I shut many people out. It isn’t common, especially for girls of this age to do that. There is such a rush of needing to get attention from others in order to feel whole. Good, bad, momentarily, doesn’t matter. Many smart girls, who are confident in their looks or presence, still do not respect themselves.

Now, love is a feeling. It can be instantaneous, or grow over time, but respect is not that simple. And I’m talking about real, true respect. For instance, you can think you respect your boss, but if you speak poorly about them when they are not around, that is not respect. That is teh respect of authority, not the indivdual. My goal in this (as I sometimes need help with it too) is to help people when they feel doubt, to know that they are enough within themselves to not cave into the negativity of others. People can comment about how good you look, or how bright your smile is all day long, it gets old. When no one is giving you credit for your hard work, or intelligent contributions, find it within yourself to know that it is you who needs to validate your own actions. Do not go searching in a mirror to veil the insecurities with your love for your waistline, or hair. So many people do that, lets stop that. Let us respect our minds, and our feelings.

In order to further display that there is a difference, I have another example. One many could probably relate to. Have you ever been in a situation, or witnessed one, in which something was presented to you and it brought up an instinctual feeling. A feeling of either “this is wrong” or “this could be something fantastic” and you ignored that feeling or did the opposite? That was not respecting your feelings. I see it all the time. When people are asked to do somthing they don’t feel comfortable about, and they passively voice their feelings to just fish for validation, but because they think it would make them look a certain way, they comply.

Trust your ability, trust your gut, trust the fact that there is a whole other side of you beneath your skin. Dont let the plagues of what society says is cool, even what your friends say is cool, sway how you truly feel. Do, of course love yourself, but please, do not rely on the mirror or what other people say towards you to build you up. Respect yourself when you are in a group and when you are alone.  It will never steer you wrong.