Lessons Learned


“Mas sabe el Diablo por viejo que por Diablo.”

“The devil knows more from being old than from being the devil.”

This is my birthday month and I have now lived on this planet for 3 whole decades. I’ve been thinking a lot about the lessons I have learned and thought I would share them with you, my crunk feminist familia.

#1 – An ex is an ex for a reason. I have a reasonable number of exes. Each and every one of them has pretty much proven that the best thing that could have possibly happened was for that relationship to end. The red flags were there from the very beginning. For whatever reason (great sex, loneliness, naïveté, etc.), I chose to look in the other direction. Now that I am older, I have learned to pay close attention to what folks tell me. Maya Angelou once said, “The first time a person shows you who they are, believe them.” I cannot tell you how much this has proven to be true for me. For example, I once had an ex tell me that they didn’t believe in monogamy early on in the courtship. A couple months later we both agreed to be in a monogamous relationship. She later cheated. I can’t be angry… she straight up showed me her true colors. I just chose to believe she could be different. My bad. Lesson learned.

#2 – It is important to know how to keep secrets. Out of respect for any relationship whether friend or lover, you should never share the things told to you in confidence. I recently learned that an ex of mine shared one of my most traumatic memories with another. Refer to #1. I cannot tell you how sad that made me. It is my decision to share or withhold my traumatic memories. They are after all, mine. I am, however, grateful for the confirmation that I made a great decision. Please refer again to #1.

#3 – You are what you eat. This may be TMI, but for years I suffered from severe constipation. After way too many years of suffering, I came to the conclusion that I needed to be gentler to my body (and the planet) and became a vegetarian. I have been a vegetarian for several years now and can honestly say that constipation is no longer a problem. It is actually a very faint memory. I am now quite regular. In fact, it was quite a challenge to find single stall bathrooms I could get to, in less than 2 minutes from my office. Why are we all so ashamed of pooping? Stay tuned for that post.

#4 – I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, my vagina. It’s already aromatic (You can suck it, Summer’s Eve). I try to limit my intake of processed foods and sugar. Let me be clear, this goes out the window the entire week before my period arrives. However, when I stick to it, I feel better and I have so much more energy. I have learned that being very selective about the things I feed my body has major benefits. Not only am I healthier, my body odor is different: my sweat smells cleaner and not surprisingly my vagina exudes the sweetest of smells. It’s true. I can’t really prove this to you (cause that would be weird), just try it and get back to me.

#5 – A broken heart will heal, it just needs distance and time. I experienced true heartbreak at the tender age of 25. I was truly/madly/deeply in love and she…she was just…well…young. I will, however, never ever regret that experience. Although, she tore my heart into 3,000 pieces, ripped it out and backed over it a couple times, I was deliriously happy when we were together. I was on cloud nine, ya’ll. So high, I wasn’t even high. It was also the first time I realized I liked the ladies, and that was awesome! :-D After that break up, it took one month to realize that I needed serious therapy to get over the heartache, three months to stop crying about it, and six months to find myself in a sticky and unfortunate rebound situation. It took a total of three years for me to finally be in a place where I could say, “I still have very fond memories of the time we shared. Can we be friends?” Ya’ll know that couldn’t last too long. Please refer once again to #1.

#6 – People will always judge you on your appearance. This is sad, but true. That old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have” is true. You must also dress for your body type. If fashion is just not your thing, watch marathon episodes of What Not to Wear for pointers. I promise you, it doesn’t take a lot of money. It does, however, take a lot of focus, patience, and time. The folks at Goodwill, DSW, TJMaxx and Marshalls know me by my first name. I’m not even exaggerating. The effort pays off. Trust me. The first thing people see when they meet me is a curly haired, curvalicious, Latina. They make many assumptions based on those markers, but what they walk away remembering is that I was that fierce woman wearing the leopard heels at the meeting. Don’t sleep on me. Don’t.

#7 – Getting older is awesome! Now, I’m not sure that this will still be the case ten or thirty years from now. But, I can honestly say that I am very proud of the life I have had and continue to lead. I’ve learned so much and know that there are still so many more lessons to come. Most importantly, I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. It only took 3 decades to figure out who I am, who I want to be, what true love feels like, what I am willing to sacrifice for love, who I can trust, who to keep in my heart, who to keep at a distance and what my body, soul, mind and heart need to feel satisfied.

#8 – There are friends and then there is family. I have been blessed with amazing friends and am very proud of the friendships I have maintained throughout the years. These people are my chosen family. For years they have loved me with “all my dirty” and for that I will forever be grateful. Some of them I talk to daily, others weekly, a few every couple of months. Each and every one of them has taught me so much about life and love. I carry them all in my heart and will cut anybody who tries to mess with them.

#9 – People have different definitions of friendship. If all you know about me is what you read on my Facebook page (or what others have told you), I’m sad to break it to you…but we’re just not that cool. Sorry.

#10 – Mami was right. Growing up my mom always said, “Dime con quien andas, y te diré quien eres.” This basically translates to, “Tell me who you roll with, and I’ll tell you, who you are.” I find this to be (for the most part) great advice. However, I noticed that I learn more about people by paying close attention to the quality of their friendships more so than their friends. Furthermore, if somebody tells you that they don’t trust women and/or don’t have any female friends, that right there is a warning. Keep it moving. They are not to be trusted. Put them in the Facebook friend bucket.

# 11 – Feminism is awesome! I have said it before and I’ll say it again, I just heart feminism. It has given me a voice and connected me to amazing forward thinking people. It taught me so much and challenges me daily. It also pays my rent. I would not be an educated and employed woman of color had it not been for the tireless work of crunk feminists before me. Thanks gurrrrlz! I mean WOMEN. I mean WOMYN. You get the point.

#12 – True love is caring, thoughtful, honest, patient, supportive, respectful, compassionate, tender, and kind. Period.

These are just a few of the things experience has taught me. I’m sure I could come up with more, but since this is about comunidad and learning from each other I would love to hear the lessons you have learned. Please, please, please feel free to add to the list.

crunkista

13 thoughts on “Lessons Learned

  1. Hi! First just let me tell you that I love this blog, besides from incredible, insightful and cleverly formulated posts it has a great design. A pretty great name as well, I’ve got to say! Anyway I actually had a question of sorts: I am not at all very well informed about African-American Civil Rights Movement or the whole process, I know the basics sure but we don’t really learn the details over here.
    But during discussions about feminism and gender equality in class the question has been raised of wether or not it’s enough to just equalize everyone in the society according to law, or if the society needs to “meddle” – with different laws/regulations that will make sure that men and women are, for example, hired on equal grounds and so on.
    Like – it wouldn’t have helped just illegalizing slavery, proclaim everyone equal regardless of race and then hope that people would treat each other the very same – since it all has to do with underlying power structures. But did any laws regarding treatment of African-Americans come up during the movement, how were they formulated? I could need some help learning this….

    I hope this comment makes at least some sense, I’m very tired and – to sort of excuse myself in advance – english isn’t my first language!
    THANK YOU for a great blog (on of my favourites)!
    Hugs

  2. Lesson #13….Some say it’s so hard to say good bye, but I’ve learned over the last 36.5 years of my life that it’s OK to say good bye. People come into our lives for a reason, season, or lifetime and it’s up to us to know when a persons reason or season has come to pass. So if you need to re-evaluate your relationships (family, friends, work, etc) then I’m suggesting that it’s well within your right to say good-bye and not look back. Take the lesson that you’ve learned and keep it movin’…!

  3. O thank you. Just marvelous. Especially truly believing someone when they say they are a certain way… they are trying to HELP you by warning you. This listening and taking them at their word about your key issues can help you keep from endlessly picking friends/lovers in accord with an old pattern that you may not be aware of. Or may think you can’t ‘help’ being attracted to. It’s fine to be attracted…and leave it alone.

    And no, it’s true, no one will understand the mention of the pooping thing until… the day they really …really do. xD

  4. Thank you for this! Co-sign on #’s 8 and 14.

    And here’s my latest, greatest, and hardest won/learned lesson: a person’s circumstances don’t make them who they are; it REVEALS who they are. EVERY time. Specifically, good ppl behave like good ppl (not PERFECT ppl, mind you) no matter how wonderful or treacherous their lives are at any given moment. Similarly, assholes behave like assholes regardless of their personal season. Operating in this truth does wonders to keep your relationships healthy and reciprocal in respect, kindness and love.

  5. As someone who is twice as old as you (happy b-day, btw), and who hasn’t eaten any beef, chicken, or pork in forty years (I do eat fish), item #3, in my opinion, is the most important thing on your list. Relationships can come and go, but you only have one body, and your health (or lack thereof) will determine everything else you do in life.

    This blog is a wonderful resource.

  6. “They make many assumptions based on those markers, but what they walk away remembering is that I was that fierce woman wearing the leopard heels at the meeting. Don’t sleep on me. Don’t.” LOVE IT!

    “People have different definitions of friendship. If all you know about me is what you read on my Facebook page (or what others have told you), I’m sad to break it to you…but we’re just not that cool. Sorry.” NICELY put!

    “True love is caring, thoughtful, honest, patient, supportive, respectful, compassionate, tender, and kind. Period.” TRUTHBETOLD

    My own personal fave- NEVER judge a book by it’s cover: you may be aptly surprised by what’s under the cover sleeve **WINKS**

  7. Oh, and HAPPY [belated] BIRTHDAY chica! Love and peace, a Crunk Feminist Collective blog reader

  8. This was the most beautifully written wonderful post to wake up and read on a sunday morning! I am feelin ALL you words of advice and as I approach the big 3-0 myself I will add these to the list of lessons/experiences my “online” fam have taught me! Happy Birthday Sistren!

  9. This is great. I agree with so many things, especially feeling better each year as I get older! Happy Birthday!!

  10. Hello! I am an avid follower of your blog and frequently pass some lovely insights on to my sisters (I have 4 of them). 9 times out of 10 I am usually inspired by what you write and usually quite agree, but I had a concern reading this one. I wanted to comment on number #10.
    “#10 – Mami was right. Growing up my mom always said, “Dime con quien andas, y te diré quien eres.” This basically translates to, “Tell me who you roll with, and I’ll tell you, who you are.” I find this to be (for the most part) great advice. However, I noticed that I learn more about people by paying close attention to the quality of their friendships more so than their friends. Furthermore, if somebody tells you that they don’t trust women and/or don’t have any female friends, that right there is a warning. Keep it moving. They are not to be trusted. Put them in the Facebook friend bucket.”

    I agree with the majority of this statement but the end was a little hard for me as I consider myself to be one of these women that has a hard time making friends with other women. Let me explain why I feel that this is an unfair statement. As you well know, everyone comes from different walks of life, and while I agree that there are a lot of women out there that if they say they don’t have female friends it usually is a red flag, I don’t believe that this is always the case. But for the devil’s advocates point of view, how can a woman like this expect to grow out of these negative behaviors creating the distance she has between other women, if statements like yours in this blog are causing other women to pass them by. As a women that does not have very many female friends and so desires them, I find it slightly hurtful that due to this ‘red flag’, that a person like myself would not be given a second chance with a woman like yourself whom I deem to be incredibly strong and inspirational and a great role model in which I could learn how to have and maintain strong female relationships. Women that may have negative behaviors causing this situation in their lives may respond well to having strong female role models to help them grow out of themselves and join a force of talented, strong and amazing women. Women should be helping these other women get past what is holding them back instead of simply shrugging them off as a red flag and likely an ‘unfit’ comrade. As I said earlier, all of us come from different walks of life, and while I’m sure there are some added factors as to why female friends are hard to come by, my upbringing definitely had a hand in how this behavior came to be and I don’t feel that due to my childhood that I am unable to learn and grow into a better friend to women. I am the youngest of 6 children, and when I was 7 years old, my Mom and Dad separated, and she left all of us. From this point on I was raised by my father and older sisters. My father was a traditional man that did not know cooking, cleaning, raising 6 kids (let alone 5 of which were girls) aspects of our lives, he knew how to put food on our table. My sisters were still growing up themselves and didn’t know how to be a mother and a sister and a teenager all at the same time. Being thrown into these new roles, you can imagine that there was not a lot of attention devoted to some important aspects of our lives, a very big one was communication and self-worth. We all fought for our father’s affection and attention as he was the only parent figure prominent in our lives, when we discovered that that was few and far between due to the sheer amount of us, we all looked elsewhere as we grew up, boyfriends. You can imagine the impact of this type of female personality in a relationship… it usually was not pretty. We all learned a lot of hard lessons through this and it has taken me till almost my mid twenties to learn that I have a voice, and that I don’t need a man to give me value. Due to the majority of my adult-hood being in relationships or striving to be in them, my ability to make friends and more importantly, female friends was severely neglected, leaving me now, 25, next to no female friends and so desperately wanting them. I had so many years thinking I was cool because of the amount of male friends I had yet secretly knowing they were only friends with me because I was a pretty girl and they all had ulterior motives. And additionally, I have so many sisters, so growing up I did not built on the strength of making female friends as I had felt I was fulfilled in that area with so many sisters. But now we are all older, getting married, having kids and I am quickly realizing how different we are and how I wish I had made more female friends growing up. It’s an unfortunate situation, but I do not feel that a person like myself deserves a boycott, rather I would love a helpful female hand to show me the ways of a female friendship, one of trust, respect, and support, that way I can teach my nieces (and potential future daughter(s)) how to treat a woman instead of perpetuating what my sisters and I have been burdened with. I hope that this does not come off as an attack, you appear to be an extremely open minded woman and I would love this insight to just add to your already large knowledge of relationships. I appreciate the opportunity to say these things as it is again re-opening my eyes to my situation and a reminder to keep working at these things. Thank you. Keep the positive words coming!!!!!!!

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