When’s the last time you gave yourself a thorough analysis? It happened for me one month ago and I haven’t been the same since. On a recent girl’s trip to Miami, I had to painfully examine the negative effects that lacking tolerance, patience, and grace has had on my adult life.
Growing up my mother, a Gemini, often told me that I was too sensitive. That I wore my heart on my sleeve. I cared too much about what people thought of me and truthfully, I wanted to be liked. That desire sometimes led me into doing things to win browning points by a boy I had a crush on or a girl I wanted to emulate.
In my first serious relationship, that behavior continued and overshadowed my standards. I accepted some things that I didn’t like to keep the person around because I loved their company. A bigger problem was that they knew this, too, and essentially took one yard for every inch I’d give them. Instead of communicating my feelings, or sticking to what I said I’d do from then on when I would express them, I’d shut down and become silent for a few days. Fed up years later, I left and vowed to never tolerate sub par behavior, or at the very least, not fall in love with someone’s potential. I’d also left toxic friendships around that time, too.
My way of coping – and easing self-shame – was to stop being so sensitive and finally take my heart off my sleeve by showing compassion with conditions instead of freely. The shift in tolerance strengthened my back bone and helped me identify toxic people before they got too close. Though I felt vindicated in that freedom I failed to truly heal or give this transition an expiration date. At the age of 29, in the middle of a much-needed vacation, mixed partially with close friends and strangers, I realized that this preventative tolerance has inadvertently robbed me of letting people in and offering them second chances. This might explain why just last year my mom held my face with tear drenched eyes begging me to let down my guard so true love will come knocking on my door. It hasn’t come yet.
Because my tolerance for things has depleted, so has my patience. The few fuckery-stricken things that shimmy in my life abide by a Strike 3 system that’s often lazily or inconsistently enforced. It’s lazy because sometimes I go against my better judgment and ignore things staring me in the face, which is dangerous and irresponsible. It’s inconsistent because this “system” has, unfortunately, castrated itself on people and things who don’t deserve it while skipping past those who shouldn’t have had any time at all. This begs the question of if a self-imposed system is foundationally barren, why does it still exist in (my) psyche?
To avoid some situations that require me to painfully “go deep” I’ll brush it off with, “I don’t have time for that,” and move about my day. While this used to protect me from hurtful people and things, it’s now found itself in the way of me deeply analyzing some areas in dire need of improvement in my life. How far can you really go in life without patience? Being that parenting requires hourly and sometimes Godly patience, it’s a blessing that I’m a good mom.
People are flawed and make mistakes. I know this because I am one of them. That being said, extending what my sister calls “the B.O.T.D.” – the benefit of the doubt – is often lost on me. You see, I’ve been hurt before and aligned grace, or stupidly doling out fifth chances – hence why my faulty Strike 3 system exists – with visualizing myself in physical and emotional pain. While I know that it doesn’t work that way, it’d be a lie if I said I haven’t fully moved past it.
There were a few times in Miami where extending grace to others would have provided an easier going experience for me. Instead, what happened was a minor anxiety attack, furious thoughts, shortsightedness, and one drunken night. By the end of the trip I’d counted it as a fun one, but in truth, it opened my eyes to the realization that I no longer have to protect myself in this way anymore. That what worked for me 7 or 8 years ago no longer has a place in my life now. That those coping mechanisms are detrimental to the woman I’m becoming and I have to deal in a new way.
I am petrified of “going there” but if doing that will regain the heart I once wore on my sleeve, then so be it.
Ariel C. Williams is the founding editor-in-chief of Slay Culture. She’s a millennial who’s down for the culture, loves Netflix, and pegs Master P as one of her entrepreneurial heroes. Buy her book The Girl Talk Chronicles here. Follow her at @ArielSaysNow everywhere.