(No one) knows what you go through because you portray to have it all together on the outside, that’s all (they) see.

Being vulnerable? Never that.

Lol even to our closest people…

Behind closed doors and alone only.

But I️ also think those are the pressures we’ve been put under.

From family and living up to certain expectations with so many people watching us closely.

This was a series of texts from my Sister (who, in real life, is very close family friend that I️ grew up with… who also happens to be a “Smith”).

They all immediately hit home.

The more I️ read them the more they explained the way I️ am now. I never felt that I was “allowed” to have problems or insecurities or any other mood than content/happy (in public), and that has since followed me into adulthood as the standard I️ feel I️ must keep at times.

I️ met my Sister in the lobby of an affluent black church in Minnesota (which I️ immediately thought of while reading those texts and therefore became my example for this post). Before I️ knew her well, I️ admired how she managed to balance “her world” and the world she made public in our church lobby. I️t was somewhat effortless. But, why would she (or anyone) need two worlds? Let me paint the picture of this church a little better. Imagine a place where the scene after every service was any networkers fantasy and the parking lot was a fashion/expensive car show. No pressure at all, right?

I️ always hated being there (sorry, Dad).

I️ felt like everyone was wearing a mask. I️ know I️ was never really myself. I kinda just played my part. I️ was surround by so much “excellence”, I️ felt there wasn’t room for anything else… and, I️ had a ton of “everything else”.

Nevertheless, head up, shoulders back, and smile.

I️t was the ideal environment to produce some of the finest debutantes (and beaus). We knew how to make an entrance and most of us could small talk better than our Lawyer, Doctor, and Engineer parents… but we were all secretly carrying the weight of our own private worlds under our white gowns (and tuxes).

I️ remember one day in that lobby my Dad was sharing that my AP US History project went to State and that I️ got a 33 on my ACT. However, all I️ could think of was the breakdown I️ had a few days earlier in a school bathroom. You see, I️ had also gotten my period that week for the first time (at 16). This wouldn’t normally be an issue, but little Loni had no idea what was going on because no one really had that conversation with her.

My stomach hurt so bad, I truly thought I️ was dying. After some time I️ tried to use one of those cardboard applicator tampons that they had in the bathrooms (and nearly passed out)… I️ cried for at least an hour in that stall… It seemed like everyone who was showing me how to be an intelligent, well put together, respectable lady conveniently skipped some of the most important parts.

(The how to be an actual adult parts.)

This created a decent amount of pressure… trying to (as a teenager) find the answers a mother-figure would typically provide. But, I️ would deal with the pressure and find the answers because I️ could never allow myself to feel that vulnerable again. So, it became another weight to carry with me. Another thing to smile through. Along with my anxieties, insecurities, and failures.

I️ taught myself a lot of things (let’s be real, I️ still teach myself a lot of things), messed up a lot, picked myself back up, and got a little strongerTo the point that I️ knew how to look at my best even when I️ felt at my worst. I️ mastered the nonchalant in times of distress… The problem now is that it’s a part of who I️ am and how I️ operate, and therefore people think I must have it all figured out because I’m so well “put together”. Which was why I️ was texting my Sister in the first place. Because I don’t.

Life has happened to everyone. We all have problems. We all have insecurities. We handle them differently. I️ don’t wear mine on my sleeve. I️ honestly don’t think I️ would even know how to at this point outside of the text on this page (Which is why this blog is important for me). I️ don’t have the world figured out and I️ am making the same stupid mistakes as the next 25 year old… you just wouldn’t know that if you weren’t reading this.

I mean, obviously I get angry, I can be sad, I have joy… There’s just few people who I️ tell my feelings to and/or who know what scares me the most or keeps me up at night.

I️ don’t know where I’m going here… I️ just know we all do life differently. And, I️ probably will struggle to understand those who need to be coddled or are super upfront with their emotions… and, they definitely won’t understand me at first.

I’m not sure how to end this, and my flight is landing… Don’t believe what you see on IG, kiddos.

– Loni

Monday Thoughts

“If you love something, set it free.

If it comes back it’s yours.

If not, it was never meant to be.”

I always thought this quote was dumb to be completely honest. If you love something why would you ever let it go? Well I guess that’s the beauty of getting older. Finding yourself in these weird adult situations. Although it’s a lot easier to picture the kinds of scenarios that were the inspiration for this quote playing out in my own life now, it still doesn’t resolve the dilemma for me. Is a well-known saying enough to convince me to let go? I mean this isn’t the Titanic, and unlike Rose I am dealing with a living, breathing human here. I need to know, was this something that was proven like the law of universal gravitation? Is it somehow related to the science that makes boomerangs work? Or, is it just another one of those sayings that help push people to make difficult and/or very necessary decisions…

If it is true, why am I the one thinking these thoughts? How did I draw the short straw? What about my current happiness? How long does it take for “the return”? Will you even know that there will be a return, or do you feel empty every single day until it happens?

On the other hand, what if it’s not true, and they never come back? What if I never find this again? What if it’s all a huge mistake? Will the lightening of the weight on their shoulders due to freedom from all of this anxiety provide me with enough joy to mask my pain? Do we really want to see someone happy if it’s not with us, or do we just tell ourselves that to feel better… to put up a front that is less for other people, but mostly to convince ourselves that we’re strong enough to handle it? Am I really crazy enough to (possibly) forfeit this?

I’m sure it’s easy to determine what to do from the outside looking in… whether to let go or to hold on for as long as you have strength. But, I’m not on the outside, am I? And, although I could rid myself of this constant emptiness in the pit of my stomach, I’m certain that missing all of their subtleties would bring it right back… like how they squeeze my first two fingers when I reach for a hand, or how they always attempt to hold back their smile a couple of seconds before it happens (if you blink you could miss it completely)…

There’s just no guarantee here, and in life you don’t get a re-do. This is like jumping off of a cliff without checking whether there’s water or rocks below. So, what would you do?  Comply or create your own rules? Release control or hold on for dear life?

– Loni

Loveli Valentine

Everyone wants to enjoy Valentine’s Day, but it’s fair to say that for a decent portion of the population, this day sucks. Unless you’re in a relationship, the holiday isn’t always full of romance and bliss. Instead, it feels more like a day to reflect on everything that you are missing. I can’t speak for the single men who are (more than likely) joyously enjoying their lack of V-Day responsibilities, but often single women spend the day avoiding cute posts on social media, watching The Notebook and/or eating their weight in chocolate. On a day where couples are tasked with creatively condensing all their love into 24 hours of pure magic, it seems like there’s no love left for you.

For me, Valentine’s Day was the most fun in elementary school. Why? Because no one was left out. It didn’t matter if you were a nerd or ugly or super shy, everyone got a Valentine. In middle school things started to get a little too competitive. At my school there was a tradition to send mini boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to all of your Valentines and they would be delivered in their home room on the 14th. Needless to say, if you didn’t get any doughnuts, you felt some major V-Day shame. High school was rather uneventful for me during this time of year, but someone did attempt to be my Valentine once. My Dad called me to the door because “some boy” had candy for me… And, if you know my Dad you can be sure that this exchange of candy at my front door was the extent of that attempt. 

Since then, I’ve never had a Valentine (with the exception of my Dad, Brother, or Grandparents of course), and every year I would get myself down in the dumps about it. I was either very single or in that awkward middle ground of “talking” that our generation loved so much in college which meant I would spend the holiday alone. One particular year I thought I would have my first real Valentine (despite the fact that we weren’t official) and boy did that backfire. Thinking that I would have grand V-Day plans only to discover nothing would actually happen was about a thousand times worse than just sitting on the sidelines the years prior… Somewhere between that experience and now is when I decided to try to put some of my own love into Valentine’s Day.

For those who don’t have anyone to celebrate with, yes, this holiday can be absolutely terrible, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s plenty of love in your life to celebrate even if it isn’t manifested in a breathtaking date with Mr. Right. Celebrate your love for your family, your friends, your pet fish, but most importantly yourself. 

It’s not easy. From one serial single Valentiner to another, I know. But, my Loveli Valentines, our time will come. Until then, embrace the holiday. Show love for all of the things that you love in your life, make someone smile, and think positive thoughts. But, if you’re not ready to embrace the 14th… Pretend it’s a normal Tuesday and resist the urge to text your Ex. 

…But actually, you will regret it later, so just put your phone down now.

– Loni