The first piece of information I received about the massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, was in bits and pieces of angry Facebook posts. This was on June 18th, 2015. Confused and alarmed by the mangled information flooding social media, I … Continue reading
“I saw a child crying; amidst every drop was a shimmer of hope.” Each Thursday, I like to listen to a podcast called, “On Being.” A few weeks ago, I heard featured guest Maria Popova talk about her philosophy of … Continue reading
Hi! I am Danyealah Green-Lemons. I started writing this blog When Life Gives You Lemons in the summer of 2013. My sole purpose for beginning a blog was to write because I had something to say and to bring truth … Continue reading
Skeletons in my closet wave hello having learned all too quickly my poison of choice: I’ll have one Latino man with a cup of charisma – hold the machismo… Skeletons in my closet mock me reminding me that love is … Continue reading
“That’s it for today,” professor Rovira announced. Picking up my back-pack or as I like to think of it, my “ton of bricks,” I glanced at the time on my iPhone – 5:31pm. That’s enough time to rush back to … Continue reading
About a week ago, standing in my kitchen in the midst of seasoning pork-chops, a disturbing and unsettling question popped into my head:
“Who will be the bridesmaids at my wedding!?”
Gathering myself a bit and returning my efforts to the pork-chops, I realized that the root of the question that initially startled me was even more frightening…
Out of the women in my life that I consider close friends, I would probably only have two bridesmaids!
Frightening. Because as a women in her twenties, I must admit that marriage is often on my mind – society practically shoves the idea down my throat! And, as sad as it sounds, if I were to get married tomorrow, or in a month, the only close friends I can think of are two women that I’ve known for a couple years that I’d feel pleased to have as bridesmaids. What I’m really getting at here is that I only have two close friends – that are women.
I think of shows like Sex And The City or everybody’s favorite 90’s American hallmark Friends, where even society points out a crucial characteristic of human existence: friendships. There are also shows like Clueless and I Love Lucy where, content of both shows aside, the link between the two is the close friendships shared by the two main women: Cher’s Dionne and Lucy’s Ethel. It is almost as if the creators of the aforementioned TV shows we’re trying to convey the same message: You may have your boyfriend or your girlfriend, your husband or your wife, but within a telephone’s reach, you must always have your best-friend. As for me, it is wonderful having two very good friends – they are the most genuine, funny, and caring people I know. But, I would be remiss if I did not mention the close runner-ups that led to me only having two best-friends.
The truth is, I have a had a slew of “close” friends. But, at a very young age, I felt the sting of friendships gone wrong. I’d had pretentious friends whose narrow-eyed glances at my clearance-aisle jeans opened my eyes to class-rank, jealous friends whose “You’re so pretty – I hate you'” comments helped me realize that a jealous friend is no friend at all, and I’d had belittling, arrogant friends whose insults about my lack of maturity led me to bitterness – all by the age of eighteen. At a certain point in my life I had had it with people that I sincerely believed we’re my friends, people that I invested time in and genuinely cared for, stepping on me like I was their doormat. Somewhere along the way I decided that if someone I cared about hurt me badly enough, I’d completely erase them from the planet – mentally. Now that I am a young adult, I have to fight not to do just that.
For example, after a friend has hurt me, my impulsive defense mechanism usually kicks in:
Good friend behaves in a way that is hurtful to me > I assess my hurt at their behavior > I then determine in my mind the value of the person’s friendship > I come to the conclusion that his/her friendship is no longer worth my time (despite how much I might’ve cared for the person)
And that’s how it goes every time. The person’s phone number is blocked from my phone, all pictures of him/her are erased, contact with the person on Facebook deleted, and the impulsive list of “cutting him/her out” actions goes on. I figure instead of “working things out” with a person, essentially telling them, “Hey friend, you hurt me pretty badly on this one and I do not appreciate it,” I try to flush out the daily existence of the person in my mind. The major problem with the string of actions I’ve developed is that people do exist – they are very real. They are real for my memory, real for my emotions, real for me – the memory you have of people does not go away simply because you want it to.
It is that simple truth that has led me to reevaluate the method in which I deal with how people hurt me. “Deleting” people from my life does not work, and honestly, dropping friends gets very lonely. After a couple of years of leaving people behind who I didn’t think were worth my time anymore I started to feel like I was living with a trail of ghosts following me. I found that even when I entered a new phase in my life, a graduation or moving to another state, I was still carrying my ghosts of friendships past.
In the end, I think many people live their lives with a number of friends in their memories that they’ve “let go.” As for me, I have grown tired of collecting ghosts. I have learned that it is better to fight for the friendships I love, than to continually cut people out of my life. Fighting for a friendship, working through the nitty-gritty with someone that you deeply care for, and repairing ties with a person is no cinch. In fact, I’ve never fought to keep any of my friendships. Thinking through my life, I’ve decided that it is time to make a change. My two closest girlfriends are ones I would never want to lose, and I realize that I even though I may have intense moments of disagreement with either of them in the future, both of those friendships are worth fighting for. So, as I challenge myself today to fight for my friendships, rather than giving up on myself and the other person, I invite you to the challenge as well. Be the type of person who is willing to fight for your friendships.
As Bob Marley once said, “… Everyone is going to hurt you, you just have to find the [friends] worth suffering for.”
Hello, my reader! In reference to an earlier post I wrote titled, “Summer-time Sadness With a Little Less Lana Del Rey,” I’d like to share a bit of how my summer is going.
As you may know, healing can be a slow process – emotional healing doubly so. In my summer “manifesto” I mentioned that this summer would be a time of emotional healing for me – a chance to mend the scars that resulted from my emotionally taxing junior year of college. I stated in my last post that I wasn’t exactly sure what my emotional healing process would look like, whether it would involve me spending time with close friends and family or going to the beach weekly to ease my mind. Proudly, I can say that I’ve discovered something as precious as gold when it comes to allowing myself to heal. And, I must admit that I was closer to defining my emotional healing process than I initially thought. Giving myself the time, the energy and the space to heal (to essentially fulfill the summer “manifesto” described in my last post), involves doing the things I love. As plain and simple as that!
“Do the things you love, Danyealah…”
A sentence that has been running through the course of my thoughts as if it were a tape recorder on loop, “Do the things you love…” One of the things I love is music and, “doing” music has helped me a lot this summer. Because music is something close to my heart, I am gifted with the ability to sing and I grew up playing the flute, I gravitated naturally to the thing I knew would help me cope with my issues. Not only does music have the ability to soothe, it’s therapeutic qualities for me are much deeper. Music gives me a sense of identity, helping me fight on in the journey to not only heal emotionally, but help me figure out who I am as a young adult.
The truth is that music creates community – for the listener and the listened to. When I troll the web, or solicit recommendations from friends, or seek out NPR’s All Songs Considered for new music, I know that I am not the only one searching for a good tune to listen to. “Doing music” involves not only endlessly searching for underground artists or new alternative bands, it involves becoming engaged with the music community. And for me, engaging the music community includes everything from singing in my shower to a Yellowcard album I loved in high-school, to finding the perfect song to match every mood I’ve ever had.
Essentially, rediscovering my love for good music has given me a snippet of my identity back. It is almost as if my inner-self walked up to me and said, “Hi, Danyealah. I am the part of you that loves music. Embrace your identity as a music-junkie.” Now here I am, half-way into the middle of summer accepting that part of myself, allowing myself to heal.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with a song that has soothed me many times this summer. The melody carries me to a place where I can sit in peace and my own thoughts are not my enemy. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do. 🙂
About a month ago, I posted a status on Facebook saying,
“It takes courage and strength to be different; I guess that makes me both a strong and courageous person.”
The truth is, I have always felt different from people my age – often I feel like an outsider in most social circles where I am expected to “fit-in.” A good example of this traces back only a few weeks ago when I went to see the movie The Amazing Spiderman 2.
Sitting in the movie theatre with three people I know from my architecture classes (and another person who was a sister of one of the three), I couldn’t hold back my repulsion at the “high-schoolish” nature of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy most action movies and leap at the chance to see any hero from Marvel personified on the big screen, but The Amazing Spiderman 2 just did not do it for me. The petty romance scenes, the mediocre one-liners delivered by a slightly better than average Andrew Garfield – it just wasn’t for me.
On the other hand, the people I went to see the movie with were sucked in at every scene. From the flashes of lightning at the hands of an angry and misunderstood ‘Electro,’ to the sappy “Baby, I’m leaving you for London,” scenes – these guys were hooked! I remember thinking to myself, “What about this movie is supposed to appeal to my generation?” And now as I write, I still don’t know the answer.
My “difference” really struck me when, during one of the pinnacle scenes of the movie as Gwen reluctantly tells Peter she’s decided to go to Oxford, I turned to my right and caught a glimpse of my friend’s sister at the point of tears. Immediately I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Is she really crying?” News to me, my friend’s sister was emotionally moved by the teenage angst and overdone, “Oh my God how will I ever live my life without you because there is a huge plot twist getting in the way of our love,” appeal. Sitting there next to her I felt like a complete jerk – soon after came the slightest feeling of isolation.
“Am I supposed to be emotionally moved by this scene too? *Aleece is only a few years younger than me… Maybe I should be crying too.”
Ironically, I found myself letting out something closer to a chuckle at the cheeky romance of the scene – no tears from my end. And now that I think about it, I believe I was the only one laughing at that part of the movie in the theatre. I couldn’t help myself – the romance was too cliche!
When the movie finally ended, I found myself in an old, familiar place. Walking out of the theatre I asked the people I was with what they thought of the movie, testing them to see whether or not these were people I could get into deep, intellectual dialogue with. Their responses ranged from the usual, “Oh, it was alright,” to “Yea, I thought the action was good,” and “Ah! I loved everything about it.” You can imagine my disappointment. Not only was I disappointed with the fact that, judging from their responses, an intellectual dialogue was out of the question, but I was more upset because I felt out of place. What I wanted to say to my friends was, “Do you guys think critically about anything?” And, not that I thought the people I was with were complete idiots – they are actually smart people individually. It was the fact that they are intelligent people capable of saying much more than, “The mediocre content of The Amazing Spiderman 2 sparked my 20 year-old interests and I cannot be stimulated past what is supposed to appeal to me.”
My frustration with my friends that day represents an isolated situation that embodies my feelings toward most of the people in my generation. My outsider-ness is fueled by a number of experiences, most of them hurtful, with a generation that is all too caught up in the here-and-now and “YOLO” – a license to do anything stupid and harmful to yourself because You Only Live Once. Time after time, I have been that girl at a party with shorts too short, drinking down my insecurities, trying to convince myself that YOLO and the here-and-now moments were the only way to get through the struggles of youth. I have been that girl dragged to a party, guzzling down shot after shot with my friends in an attempt to forget the things that pain me because I thought, “This is what people my age do.”
On the flip-side, I have also been the person that even while drunk, stumbling and trying to move my hips to reggaeton, I knew my life was worth more than the “hype.” That drinking it up, partying it up, comparing hang-over stories with friends – that was not the person I wanted to be. And, the moment that I decided I did not want to merely “get-by” in life, sidelining my problems, living for the next party or the next drink I could get my hands on, the isolation I felt from my peers was stifling. I went from being the party girl, “down for whatever”, to being the “prude” – the person people asked, “Wait, why don’t you drink again?”
For a while during my junior year of college, I felt like I would never be able to escape my loneliness. People that I thought were my friends began to turn on me, brushing me off with an attitude of, “If you’re not drinking with us, taking shots at 2pm on a Tuesday with us, then you’re not a part of us at all.” As soon as I started to see through the “hype” and gained enough courage to essentially be my own person, the isolation came from every angle. My roommates thought I was judging them because I had decided to live differently, they drank in my face, and hardly included me in any of their plans. After a while, I started to realize that my basic interactions with people were colored by my feelings of hurt and loneliness. My longing to be accepted and “part of something” had been squashed.
Fortunately, there is an element of irony in loneliness: it has the potential to breed strength. Learning how to be my own person, okay with only having one drink at a party or not even going to a party at all, has helped me realize that my desire to think critically about my life does not make me prudish, but it fuels my sense of identity as a young adult. And believe me, I would be remiss if I did not mention the few genuine friends that have partnered with me through my changes as a young adult. In the end, I have learned that it indeed takes courage and strength to be “different.” And as cliche as this may sound, the world would not be the way it is today if it were not for the different people who were unafraid to live against the “hype.” That is the community I want to be part of – the community of outsiders willing to be a little lonely for a while, not only for integrity’s sake, but for the sake of helping a generation get it’s head out of the clouds and grounded in the things that will last.
As I close, I want to challenge you as a reader to ask yourself which community you are part of? Are you willing to encourage the outsiders you see in your own sphere of friends? Are you willing to take a step into outsiderness? The process of becoming your own person is never easy, but the process, the journey itself, is indeed worth it.
My readers it is time! On the heels of April rain come the insufferable heat-waves of summer. Yes, that overwhelming flush of hot, sticky air that turns tiny beads of sweat into rivers of smelly perspiration. For some, the deviously hot summer months give birth to short-lived romance, travel opportunities and beloved family vacations. Warm woolen sweaters get shoved to the back of the closet, rain-boots get neatly tucked away, and all things winter are replaced by string-bikinis and loads of 50-proof sunscreen. While summer might be a time to “let loose” for most people, I have become acquainted with summer in a very unique way. For me, the summer months always provide a time of hiatus, a season during which most of my energy is put toward writing and deep introspection.
Year after year, June, July and August have always been my months of pure escape – relief from masses of people, deadlines, and 8am-start-of-the-day-stresses. Interestingly, this summer will not only be a time of escape and introspection for me, it will also become a time during which I seek to care for myself emotionally. Having endured the tumultuous fall and spring semesters of my junior year of college, in an extremely rigorous graduate architecture program, my goal for this summer is to “heal” – to mend all of the gaps, the voids and the scars from a number of hurtful experiences I encountered during the academic year.
To start, I’ve developed a simple, yet effective plan for myself – a “manifesto” of sorts. It reads like this:
“For as hard as I work and as much time as I put into becoming a “better,” more loving,
more open-minded person, I owe it to myself to use this summer as a time of emotional healing.
The people I’ve encountered, the friends I’ve trusted, the hours I’ve labored in school,
all weigh extremely heavily on me.
Restoring myself and allowing myself to heal from all of the trash dealt my way
will involve breaking down my walls of distrust,
rekindling my ability to hope, and ultimately, growing closer in my relationship with God.
I plan to write as much as I need to, be as honest with myself as possible, and to be as transparent with others as need be…”
The real question is, “What does my summer of emotional healing look like?” Will it involve going to the beach every weekend, attempting to relax? Or, is it deeper than that: an investigation of the events that led to emotional turmoil in the first place? Is it a commitment to meditation or scripture reading? Or, more like hanging out with close friends once a week to restore my sense of trust? I may not know what my emotional healing process will look like, whether the time I need to heal will indeed be a summer, or a life-time of soul-searching, but I intend to write about the process.
With that being said, you my reader, can expect a new blog post once a week Saturdays at 12pm. Starting tomorrow I’ll be posting anything from new poetry and insights about my personal growth, to snippets of the crazy experiences that occurred during my junior year of college. In the end, my hope for you as a reader is to be inspired and, that by sharing honestly about my own life experiences I would lend an ounce of healing to yours.