Life

Confidence: Where Did You Go?

Had to stop what I was doing to write this blog. For a few years now, there has been an underlying issue that I have refused to fully address. Whenever it rears its ugly head, I try my best to distance myself from it. The issue – my lack of confidence.

I believe I somewhat addressed this issue when I wrote about an incident that happened in 2017 or 2018 when blew a presentation. I just could not seem to bounce back. Today, I am still dealing with the aftermath of what happened that day. Last year when I co-authored a book, I felt like my confidence had returned. But it really hadn’t. To this day, I still find myself second and triple guessing things as simple as tweets, posts and blogs before, or if, I post them.

This morning, while reviewing a recording of a presentation I gave, I saw it. I saw my lack of confidence! It wasn’t that I was not prepared for the presentation. I had rehearsed it so many times. I knew the material. However, when it came time for delivery, I failed. I am not even sure why I was so nervous. I looked like an amateur. What happened? What happened to my confidence?

I keep saying it was that one failed presentation that caused it, but to be honest, it is an accumulation of things that have happened over the years. For one, going back to college later in life. I rarely felt out of place when I was getting my associates degree. But once I transferred to the college/university world, things changed. As much as I tried to fit in, I never felt like I belonged. The students were younger, more vibrant, and smarter! Honestly, I felt like I had no chance of competing with them. I remember having so much confidence when I graduated from high school. I guess over time that confidence dwindled. Remaining in academia and working with research after graduation did not make things any better. I went from being surrounded by elite undergraduate students to sitting at tables with professors using their “scholarly” voices. I do not blame them one bit for my discomfort. Many never knew how I felt internally. Those who did, intentionally made me feel welcomed. For that, I will forever be grateful.

Back to the downward spiral of my confidence. Social media! Social media really made me feel inadequate. So many opinions. Early on I found myself trying to carefully craft my words before posting. You know, I didn’t want to sound illiterate. And don’t let me get started on grammatical errors. I would literally have anxiety attacks whenever I made mistakes. It was too much! Sometimes it’s still too much.

So, how will I get my confidence back?

Give myself the grace that I give others to be human. I know that God has placed me where I am, and where I have been, for a specific purpose. I can see how my lack of confidence has been a hindrance. So, now that I know what makes me feel inadequate, I have to be intentional about being confident. I have too much to achieve!

As always, thanks for reading! I am going to publish this as written. I cannot continue to allow my imperfections to control me.

Enjoy your weekend!

Shaun

Life

Wednesday Writings

This morning I woke up with Whitney Houston’s I Didn’t Know My Own Strength playing over and over in my head. Truthfully, how I have made it thus far is a blur. As I look back over my adulthood, I’m amazed at how many challenges I encountered and actually overcame. Some, I thought I would never make it through. Yet I’m here. I made it!

Transparent Moment –

Last night I received a credit alert informing me that my credit score had increased in double digits. In tears as I write. Allow me to share why this is so significant. Here’s my story.

When I was 23 years old, I filed for bankruptcy. At the time, I was a single mom with a debt I believed I could not repay. My daughter was almost two years old and daycare was eating up most of my paycheck – especially when I worked 12 hour shifts on nights and weekends. Therefore, I relied on credit cards to purchase food and necessities and pay bills.

The other day I was looking through old photos and came across pictures of my first apartment. I had moved from a small, fully furnished trailer/mobile home to this huge empty apartment, and the only living room furniture I could afford was two black bean bag chairs and a small stool, which held my lamp. I remember sleeping in my daughter’s toddler bed (I’m short- smile) until I could get a bed of my own. Which, of course, was purchased on credit. Needless to say, by the time my daughter was two, I was drowning in debt. I knew I had to find a way out and I believed bankruptcy was the solution. Some of you may ask why I did not ask for help since I was in the military. Well, I was too embarrassed to ask for help. I was constantly being praised for being a young, single mom with my life “together,” so it was hard asking for help. Talk about the stress of trying to be perfect, all while falling apart inside. It was too much!

Just like the day I decided to join the Air Force, deciding to file for bankruptcy was a spontaneous move. I did not have a plan in place nor a lawyer in mind. One day I just woke up and decided to search the yellow pages of the phone book for a bankruptcy lawyer. Listen, one thing about me, when I’m fed up with my circumstances, I will find a way out. Sometimes I do not make the best decisions but I get out. After finding a lawyer who seemed kind on paper (and he was very kind), I scheduled a meeting. Two months and $850 later, the majority of my debt was gone. I still had my car and furniture notes, but I could breathe again. It wasn’t until years later that I actually looked at the amount of debt charged off – $6500. Only $6500 worth of debt. I cannot believe such a small amount of debt caused so much anguish.

Fast forward to about eight years ago. For the second time in my life, I was drowning in debt, but this time I was married and making more money than I ever had. Two incomes and I was living off of payday loans – five payday loans to be exact – three local and two online, plus credit card debt. Yep.. that’s how I was living. I was a mess! I have never been into material things (clothes, shoes, bags, cars, etc.), but I loved to travel and I loved food (and still love both – smile). Honestly, I’m not sure when everything got out of hand, but it did. The sad part is my ex-husband had no idea. He was clueless about what was happening. He never knew how I made ends meet because everything that was in his name was always paid first. I made sure of that.

Months before we separated, I had watched the documentary Spent: Looking for Change . Y’all, that documentary changed my life. I finally felt like I wasn’t the only one who had gotten in over my head and couldn’t get out. So many of the stories resonated with me. The thing that mostly stood out was the sharers willingness to make hard sacrifices to get out of debt. Afterwards, I was inspired to change. Unfortunately, at the time that I chose to clean up my debt, my marriage was also ending. I remember finally paying off my last payday loan only to have my ex reroute his direct deposit to another account. This caused our joint, and my only, account to be overdrawn. All of the automatic payments that came out on the first of the month were either paid through overdraft or returned. I was hundreds in the whole. The only way I knew to get out was to either write more checks (payday loans), try to get a long-term loan, ask him for money (which was what he wanted) or let it ride. I decided to let it ride until the electricity was cut off. Sigh. I’m not going to retell everything that happened during the following months because I don’t want to relive it. Just know that that particular year was one of my hardest – from driving a car that was on its last leg to foreclosure, but I made it through!

Now, here I am seven years after the separation (now divorce), making far less money, in a fairly new house and car (no car note), barely any credit card debt, money in my bank account and savings, bills paid and my credit score increasing. Yesterday, I went to start my car and the battery was dead. Now I’m really in tears. You don’t know how good it felt to be able to purchase a battery without worrying about where the money would come from or what sacrifices I would have to make just to purchase it.

Y’all, I have come a long way to get where I am today. It was not easy. Believe me, the struggle was real. I’m so grateful I stuck with God and allowed Him to lead. For real! It was because of Him that I made it. One day I’ll share my entire story. Believe me, it was all God. Yep.. I’m crying. It was ALL God!

As always, thank you for reading. Wishing you an absolutely wonderful day.

Be Blessed

Shaun

Life

Love

Or until you read old journal entries. Lol!

I have been writing a lot lately. Guess you can say I have had a lot on my mind. Those darn journal entries! Lol.

Last year during quarantine, I found a few journals I had forgotten about. Well, last night I decided to read one from a couple of decades ago. Have you ever been in love with someone who did not feel the same? I’m not talking about being in a relationship where love is clearly one sided. I’m talking about being in love with a friend. A friend who, from what I read, sent out so many mixed signals. From everything I wrote, one would assume he was somewhat in love with me too, or was he just teasing me – if so, how cruel! The reason I say this is because of some of the things he did and said were not things you would do and say to a friend, but to a lover. Eventually, I told him I loved him. Y’all, I don’t remember doing this and cringed while reading it – how embarrassing! The only reaction from him, that I recorded, was him ghosting me for a week or so then he was back like I never confessed my love for him. And we carried on as usual – late night phone calls when we couldn’t sleep. Going places together. Him cooking for me. Teasing each other. I mean, nothing changed except I learned to keep my feelings to myself.

Eventually, I left that duty station and we remained in touch. After I found myself missing him like crazy, I decided to find someone who would make me forget about him. Boy was that a mistake – a big one! Word of advice, don’t listen to people who tell you the best way to get over someone is to find someone else. From my experience, that NEVER works. Believe me, more than likely you will end up regretting it.

Today, I still talk to my friend, who is now happily married. Until last night, I honestly had forgotten about how in love I was with him. Years ago, when we reconnected, I felt like I had found an old friend. Never once did I think, “I was in love with him.” Now, I will say, I always told people he would have been the one I would have married had he asked. Honestly, I would have done it without hesitation because he was my best friend. I loved being with him and everything about him.

Side note – Y’all, I was really in love with this guy and completely forgot about it. Hilarious!

Anyhoo… talk about transparency. I’m pretty sure if he were to read this, he would know it is about him. It’s okay, though. Those feelings are long gone. I am just happy to be his friend and so happy he found love. One day, the same will happen for me.

Okay.. I believe this is enough transparency for today. Maybe for the year. As usual, thanks for reading my ramblings. Wishing you a fabulous week!

Shaun

Life

Hello Sunday

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”Jeremiah 1:5

That scripture came from my morning reading. This next part was amongst my Facebook memories from September 19, 2018.

Quote – “God is calling you, equipping you, [and] preparing you according to His purpose.”

And this was my caption in response to the quote:

I’m so thankful God chose me to fulfill His purpose. Despite my quirkiness, He chose me to carry out this part of His mission. So grateful He loves me as I am. There’s NO love like God’s love!

Based on everything written above, sounds like God has a lot of work for me to do. The humbling part is, I do not have to change who I am to fulfill His purpose. As the scripture above suggests, God already knew what kind of person I would be even before I was conceived. He knew I would see and do things slightly different from others. He knew that no matter how hard I would try, I would never fit anyone’s mold. “. . . before you were born I set you apart.” Whew!

Y’all, I needed this reassurance. Sometimes I do not feel like I belong in certain spaces, but for some odd reason God keeps placing me in them. From here on, whenever I feel unqualified I must remember – God chose ME!

Same for you. If you ever find yourself in spaces that you feel unqualified to be in, just remember – God chose YOU! You are the ONLY one qualified to fulfill that specific part of His purpose. Yessss, YOU!!!

Listen, always remember who you are and Whose you are, and everything will work out just fine. Enjoy your week!

Shaun

Life

The Truth Shall Set You Free

I don’t even know where to begin. What happens when what you thought happened and what really happened, aren’t the same?

Been reading journal entries from 1992. Many entries were significant. However, this particular entry – written a few weeks before I left for basic training – hit me like a ton of bricks! Y’all, for almost 30 years I have been retelling this one particular story all wrong, very wrong. Well… maybe I have or maybe not. You decide. I do know that the way I remembered what happened has significantly influenced my life and decisions I have made over the years.

Here is how I have been telling it. How I remembered.

“Blue Eyes (y’all know I don’t use names) and I were sitting in the stairwell when I told him I had joined the Air Force. I could see he was disappointed. The words he said next have haunted me for years – ‘You’re just going to end up pregnant and alone.’ And he was right. I ended up pregnant and alone.”

Well… here is what I wrote on May 4, 1992.

“Blue Eyes said that I’ll probably end up married before I come back.”

Hmmm….. not pregnant and alone. Nothing about me getting pregnant or being alone. Did I really make it all up? Or at the time that I wrote the entry, was it not that significant? Could it be that I did not remember the rest of our conversation until I found out I was pregnant?

Well, for almost 30 years I felt like trash whenever I retold that story. I felt like he thought I was not worthy of love or marriage. As if I was destined to be alone. Did I project this on myself based off of something I thought I remembered? Why did I not remember the married part? Had I gotten married instead of pregnant, would I have remembered?

Sadly, I allowed one story, remembered incorrectly or partially, to control my life. Yes, it has actually controlled my life. It has controlled how I have perceived my worthiness. For years I have always seen myself as a single mother. Of course I eventually got married, but in my mind I was still a single mom. What is even more crazy is, I got married because I wanted to prove my worthiness. That I was worth more than being “pregnant and alone.” You know, sometimes it’s not the big things that happen to us that bothers us the most but the tiniest. Y’all, what I thought I remembered hurt me to my core.

Honestly, I really do believe he said it because I remember the pain from that conversation. It was not a good feeling. And to think that was the last conversation we ever had.

Today, I am releasing all of the remnants from that conversation. How I perceive myself today, and my worthiness, is not based on some conversation in a stairwell almost 30 years ago. From here on out I will no longer view myself as a single mom but as someone who is single with two beautiful children who is worthy of love and marriage.

Resetting my life. Feeling free!

Listen, you better get you a journal.

Shaun

Life

Hello Sunday Update

As you may have read, I was feeling pretty down a couple of hours ago (Hello Sunday). Well, a couple of things happened afterwards. I was led to watch/listen to the first YouTube video I saw. This happens quite often when I need a message. The first video was a message by Bishop T. D. Jakes, “How to Prepare for a Shift.” It was only eleven minutes long and when I first started listening, I didn’t think it was for me. By the end of the message, I knew that it was. Message: Be quiet and listen. Listen for God’s voice. As soon as I became quiet, I remembered a program I had been thinking about enrolling in for my new venture. Well, after looking into it, I enrolled. I also received a 75% discount! Woohoo!!

Mentally and emotionally I’m still not back to normal, but I do feel so much better. After finally feeling up to journaling, I was led to read last year’s journal entry. Y’all, this is actually how God works in my life. It’s how I make it. Here are the first two sentences of that entry.

God’s got me; therefore, I know everything will be okay.

He works pretty fast doesn’t He? I’m so grateful He loves me.

Have a blessed week!

Shaun