Breaking the Ice Head On

Another week down and I must say, this one passed way too quickly for my liking. We have had the week off for Thanksgiving and I told myself that I was going to fix my story draft, knock out a few projects and presentations, and catch up on all my sleeping…

You know what they say about good intentions.

Nonetheless, it’s been a nice week home. It’s given me a chance to reflect on something I got to do last week for the first time—don’t have a ton of firsts left for my young adulthood. But this was a semi-big one.

I went on my first date on Friday.

I think most of us can agree that first dates are weird, right? You don’t quite know each other or how you work together, what to fill the silences with or how long is socially acceptable to stare at them without saying anything at all.

There are a whole lot of unknowns. In my opinion, that’s almost the best part. People are always nervous for the firsts of new jobs or days of school, mostly because we don’t quite know what to expect. Will people be nice, what should you wear, when is the right time for x or y?

There are always so many questions. But lucky for me, I got one of them answered pretty quickly for me on Friday.

 Will this be awkward the entire time or will I be able to relax at some point?

There will always be a degree of discomfort in something new, but there comes a point where the discomfort becomes a red flag. Gladly, I was in the beginning of that spectrum.

Especially when we looked at each other over our pizza as I tried to figure out the most elegant way to fit a slice in my mount, and he said—point blank— “you’re nervous, aren’t you.” It wasn’t a question.

In some cases, this is a very embarrassing thing to have pointed out. I mean, I’m trying to play it cool and settle in as if being there was the most natural thing in the world.

Photo by Fachy Marín on Unsplash

But it was still a little awkward, we had to find a good groove to fit into first. So, when he said that, instead of being more uncomfortable or feeling the need to play it off, I laughed (awkwardly). Because I was nervous.

And he was too.

When you spend more time trying to think of what to say next or filling in all the awkward silences because it’s weird not to, it’s probably a good sign that you need to stop thinking so much and just exist in the moment where you’re at.

We forget to do that a lot of the time, I know I do. When he pointed out my nervousness and I noticed him filling in all the silences, I actually found it easier to settle in a little bit. Once it was acknowledged, it was like I had nothing to hide and no reason to try to play something cool when I do something decidedly uncool and it turns out really funny instead.

What I was trying to do in the beginning of that date was not to be nervous. Have you ever done that? Told yourself not to be nervous or to just relax in the middle of something that you’re naturally going to be nervous about one way or another?

I was doing it wrong. What I needed to do was let myself be nervous, to not know what he would think of my personality or if I was talking too much or if things were going well because, I mean, there’s no way to control that. When people say to be yourself on a first date or first day of school or in a new city or meeting a significant other’s supporters, it really does mean just be yourself.

When you act like yourself, it’s impossible to do that wrong. It comes to you just like breathing in and out does from one second to another. If that’s the only thing you remind yourself to do, then you don’t have to worry about it.

If you’re not worrying about it, you can just sit back and enjoy whatever you’re doing instead.

Do you see where I’m going here? I was trying not to be anxious and he was trying to get rid of all the awkward silences—thing is, I like the fact that we were both a little self-conscious because it meant that what we were doing mattered to us.

That applies to anything.

As for the silence, well, if you know me then you know that I have a thing for silences. There’s something about two (or more) people in the same space just existing in each other’s presence without feeling the need to talk that I find very comforting.

That is the ultimate sign of comfort with another person I’ve found in my life so far.

And, well, I think each of you should find comfort in that too; not in the silence part, although that’s great as well. I mean in the lack of control we have on our nerves or bad dates or spilled coffee or traffic or really any one of the insurmountable things that get in the way of something going “right” for us.

Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

The only surefire way for something to go “right” is if we stop trying to change the world’s natural laws of time and chance and instead find comfort in our own selves.

You deserve to be enough for yourself, in any situation on any day. Because this is your life and you should own every single moment of it, planned or not.

This year, I got to be a little extra thankful that on Friday, that’s exactly what I got to do. I hope that you find a few more moments to remember this as we come to a close on 2019, and as for Thanksgiving, I wanted to thank each and every one of you for sticking with me and my blog. It means the world to me.

Happy Friday and for those traveling, travel safely.

Making a Lesson out of a Hot Mess

Photo by Akshay Paatil on Unsplash

I don’t like asking for help… It makes me feel weak, as if I’m giving up my independence, and I don’t like showing people that if I don’t trust/know them. Maybe you can relate to that. 

So imagine my horror yesterday, sitting in an African hair salon getting my hair done when I find myself in the position of needing to ask for help. From strangers. Strangers that I just met. And not only strangers I had just met who were handling my hair, but also the first black people outside my family I had spent hours with all summer.

It was a hot mess. And yes, I do mean hot because you should have seen me sweat. 

Here’s what happened.

I’ve been looking to do something different with my hair, we all need change every once in a while, and I realized that I haven’t done braids since my sophomore year of high school. Plus, I need to protect my edges because they’ve been breaking lately and hair breakage is no good. So why not go for braids?

Once I knew what I wanted to do, I had to figure out who I was going to have do it for me. As much as I wish I was skilled enough to do my own braids, it would probably look terrible and that isn’t quite ideal either.

So I took to Google, looking for a braiding salon with good ratings and not too many nightmare reviews—they’re all bound to have a few if we’re all being honest with ourselves. But I found one, picked it, called them, and made my appointment. Cool, so that was that.

Except that this was the first time I have ever gotten my hair done in braids and I’ve 1, gone my myself while 2, paid someone neither my mom nor I actually knew personally to do it. I was a little nervous to say the least. But as they say, I guess this is the time for adulting or whatever that’s supposed to look like.

Alas, there I was. Thursday morning, I got my things together, ate a sandwich as I drove (bad habit, I know), and I parked terribly in front of the salon just in time. That is, after missing my turn the first time and having to make two U-Turns just to get back to the right place… But I mean, I made it.

That’s when things started falling apart.

The moment I walked in the door, my nose started to bleed. A lot. And this is as another braider is directing me to their nice white couch to wait for my braider to arrive. Excuse me while I go be embarrassed and hold toilet paper to my nose for the next twenty minutes, fixing my park one handed because, well that was the most crooked park I’ve made all summer and I was embarrassed by that too. 

If you haven’t noticed, embarrassment and nosebleeds happen a lot in my life. Idk, I’ve learned to live with it.

In a half hour, my nose finally decided to chill, my braider showed up, and she started doing my hair. Easy process to start. But then she began slipping in between french and english while she braided and I really hope she wasn’t talking to me because I would not have known. I took Spanish in high school and college… I didn’t understand half of what was said in that salon yesterday.

But wait, there’s more. 

Photo by Max Winkler on Unsplash

Because about two and a half hours in, I started sweating profusely and could not seem to sit still. My hands started shaking endlessly, chills were running up and down my spine like a track practice, and the sweating would not stop. Considering my braider was right next to my forehead, she noticed about 15 minutes after it started and I tried to tough it out but in another 15 minutes, I was ready to pass out, puke, or both. If you’ve never gotten your hair braided or seen the process, just know that these things are not supposed to and do not usually happen. 

Yesterday was rough.

But back to me and my sweating nausea; if you know me, you may also know that I sometimes forget to control my facial expressions. Both braiders in the salon could tell I was getting increasingly more uncomfortable and didn’t know what was going on. So in a few minutes, my braider asked me if I needed anything. I told her it was cramps but it would go away—there was me and my pride, getting in the way as usual. 

Minutes later, that pride had nothing on my pain because she offered to go to a convenience store next door to buy me motrin since I had none on me. Reluctantly, I said yes…  I had to, there was no winning in this situation but there was a possibility of relief. I had to reach for it.

While I tried to understand how I just let a stranger go out of her way for me, as if that wasn’t hard enough for me to do, the other braider offered to make me cup noodles, saying she had some and it would probably help ease my stomach… While attending to another customer, the other braider who wasn’t even assigned to be working on me or my hair offered to make me food free of charge and I had no clue how to react to this overwhelming show of hospitality.

It reminded my of my 10 aunts on my dad’s side—always trying to feed and take care of people, it’s a part of the culture. In that salon though, it was honestly really overwhelming to be surrounded by a culture you’re told that belongs to you even while spending so little time around it, and I was at their mercy because ultimately, they were the ones who could help me not feel so awful in those moments.

Photo by Max Winkler on Unsplash

Politely declining the noodles—reluctantly, there’s only so much pride hospitality a girl can take—my braider came back and handed me the motrin, reminding me to drink some of my water with it. Then, instead of continuing my hair, she sat down for a break and told me to let her know when I was ready.

If I knew how to cry thankful tears, I probably would have done it then because I’m not used to this kind of kindness from strangers, even when I recognize that nature in my family or aunties and uncles from my parents’ college days.

So I’m trying to gather myself and munching on a protein bar I had in my bag, attempting to ignore my embarrassment, and somehow I was feeling a whole lot better in another 20 minutes. After an hour, my braider finished my hair and, in my opinion, I was looking pretty great. Before my body could make anything else go awry, I said a few more red faced and apologetic thank yous to both braiders, before tipping them a bit extra, and hightailing it out of there. I just needed to get out of there at that point.

Finally finished, I was happy to get back into my now well-parked car and do just that. 

After all that, do you see what I mean about the hot mess part? If not, just go back to the last time I mentioned sweating.

 The thing is, I had no choice but to swallow my pride and ask for help from people I didn’t know. Yet, I was rewarded with kindness and somehow, I realized what it meant to have grace in the face of something you can’t see coming. I mean, I definitely wasn’t planning for a bloody nose before getting sick like that. Otherwise I would have planned better. 

Photo by Zach Lucero on Unsplash

It just happened, the way a whole lot of things in our lives do, things you can’t control nor can you see them coming. All any of us can do is handle it with grace—sweaty or not—and find a way to be okay with asking for help when we need it. I won’t say that it was easy, clearly it wasn’t, but I can tell you that I was surprised by the outcome after I did.

I hope that you give that a try next time you need it; trust me, sometimes it’s a whole lot better than suffering in silence. 

Good luck and thanks for sticking with me through that story. Was it worth it? I would love to hear any of your embarrassing or humbling stories if you’ve got them; I’d like to think we all do. 

I’ll see you all soon. Happy Friday.