Growth & Change: A Time for Complaint

Photo by: Unapologetically Pam

There is a time for everything. There is a season and a place for every action under the sun. 

But, is there a time to complain?

I would argue absolutely! There are good times to complain, especially when something violates your values. When you feel that tug on your heart-string after something sexist, racist, classist, homophobic, or xenophobic, is said, speak up. That is an excellent time to complain.

But, have you ever been around someone who seems to complain all the time, about things that don't even really matter? Here's an example - recently, I overheard someone complaining about the free coffee that was provided during a meeting. Now, mind you, this meeting was about ways in which we can continue to provide resources and empowerment to underserved communities. When I walked into the meeting, I was really impressed with the effort the staff put into this provision. There were two different kinds of coffee - Peets or Starbucks. Plus plenty of creamer - french vanilla, hazlenut, lowfat, dairy-free, you name it! I walked in and thought, "Wow, this is really nice of them to provide!" But not this other person. This other person said, "Ewww, the coffee here is so gross. Peets basically tastes like brown water. Starbucks sucks. Why couldn't they do Intelligentsia? Ugh...I hate the coffee here so much." This person then continued to grumble throughout the meeting about various things they didn't like. For all of your coffee connoisseurs out there, I get it. You may agree with this sentiment. Maybe you aren't a fan of these brands. And that's totally cool. But, I would argue that in a meeting where we're discussing ways to serve underserved communities, this is not the place to complain about the coffee. And in the most general sense, when someone is providing you a courtesy, not a requirement, is it really the right time to proclaim that you HATE that thing they gave you for free?

I tried to shake off their comment, to not allow their negative actions to dictate my own. But it still was nagging at the back of my mind. Rather than ignore the nag, I decided to lean into it. When I dug deeper into this, I understood that really what frustrated me about this person's complaints was the position of privilege that they spoke from. With all of the things in our world that are important, that we should be fighting for - should complaining about free coffee be one of them? Furthermore, in a space where we are seeking to serve those who are under systemic oppression, should we fight about coffee? Or fight about inequality? Moreover, as someone who grew up low-income and as a member of one of these underserved/underrepresented communities, most of the places I went to didn't provide anything for free. The meetings I've gone to, I would be grateful if there was water available. But, I don't expect it from them. 

At what point in our lives do we become so privileged that we complain about the provisions in front of us rather than responding with gratitude?

There is a time and place for everything. I encourage you to use your voice and to speak out, especially in places where your voice would be silenced. However, do not become blind to what's really important. 

Pick your battles and complain wisely.

Pam ♥

Growth & Change: Envy

Photographer: Nancy Valladolid | Model: Unapologetically Pam
I used to want other people's talents. I would see the way another person dressed and styled pieces in unexpected ways and think, "I want to be like that!" Or I'd hear someone else sing and think, "Man if only my voice could do that, I'd be golden." I saw a picture of Teyana Taylor and thought, "I want my body to look like that." These sound like harmless thoughts, but they were sparked from envy.

I disguised the envy behind the idea of self-improvement. 

I would copy others in order to reach a 'better' version of myself. My mind hid away the envy in my subconscious. At the forefront of my mind was, "I'm doing this to 'better' myself." So I'd work out incessantly and count calories to look like someone else. I'd practice vocal runs and impressions to sound like someone else. I'd spend hours in my wardrobe trying to figure out how to force myself to dress like an artist or hipster.

When we think about envy, we often think about BIG things: jealousy of the things someone has or owns: wealth, a huge house, a huge car, an esteemed job title, etc. These are all true examples of things we can envy, but we cannot neglect the more hidden ways we are envious: such as jealousy of personalities,  traits, features, or talents.

When I was hiding behind the disguise of 'self-improvement,' I convinced myself that I was just inspired by others and wanted to take it upon myself to be better. And, truthfully, you absolutely can be inspired when you see someone doing well. But when you see that post about another's blessings, before you make an effort to change, ask yourself,  "Am I inspired or am I jealous and wanting that for myself?"

There is a difference between being inspired by someone and obsessing about becoming like someone.

I could say all day that I was working out because I wanted Teyana Taylor abs. I could have said that I was practicing those vocal runs because I want to keep improving. I could say that I was using those creative artistic dress styles for motivation. But truthfully? I was doing these things because I thought they were BETTER than what I have to offer the world. I thought Teyana's body was BETTER. I thought other voices were better. I thought other styles were better. 

But they're NOT better. They are just different. Those people are working with their talents. And I need to work with mine.

What I've learned about envy is that it robs you of all the things that make you beautiful, smart, unique, creative, and gifted.

Jealousy is an act of violence against the self.

Undoing envy and this thought that others are 'better' has allowed me to embrace my strengths more. And the remarkable thing? I found that as I learned to love the things that make me unique and beautiful, I became more thankful and appreciative of others talents rather than being envious. You are YOU, and I am me. I love my body, my voice, my style, and my life.

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