Bad to the Bone!
What it is, ______? What's up?
I'm am back with another weekly diatribe of what I been thinking when I be thinking... Naw, for real though. I struggled on what to talk about this week. I didn't want to go into emotional overload like I feel I have in the last few weeks. None of the suggestions I had on hand gave me an urge to write anything that wouldn't have me in tears or going back down a road I've already been down. So, what did your girl do? What anyone that needs great ideas would do, I went to Pinterest. lol Sure enough, after a search and a few clicks, I found a topic to discuss.
But before we get into that, let me tell y'all how EMOTIONAL my week has been. No, I wasn't depressed. No, no one hurt me or did me wrong. My crazy behind has been writing on some fiction things and I got the bright idea to kill off my favorite character. I still don't know if I'm going to include it in the finished work. But I had to get the thought out of my mind, so I wrote the "What if" scenario. I was boohoo crying the entire time like this really happened or that these characters were real people. My consultants (my friends) said that I'd grown attached to my characters over the years and that's a sign of good writing. Well, if that is the case, I pray that when I finally publish something else, people will be able to get into it the way I have just from creating it. I mean, isn't that the beauty of reading fiction anyway?
Anywho! Let's get into this week's topic: What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I'm sure many people have given you advice, just like I have been given over the years. Everyone has a set of expectations for the people around them, whether it's personal or professional. And depending on who you grew up around or where you're from, there are the additional precautions that are given because, let's face it. Black Lives Matter didn't start for no reason. HBCU's weren't created just because we like to sit at the table with our own kind. And we don't celebrate Black History Month or Juneteenth or stress promoting and patronizing Black Owned Businesses just because it's a cute gesture. I'm not trying to "shove an agenda" down anyone's throat. But the truth is the truth is the truth.
So, what are some things you have been given advice on? How about, don't touch the stove when it's on because you don't want to get burned? Or perhaps, make sure you look both ways before crossing the street? I know some of mine were, brush your teeth so they don't rot and fall out, don't sit so close to the television or you'll go blind, and be thankful because not everyone is blessed with the things you have.
We have been receiving counsel since we were created... Yes, some people encourage and affirm their children in the womb. And I'm here for it. But the problem comes in when we hear these things so much and don't let them sink in because, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I heard you the first time you said it, _____". Or we think, that won't happen to me... until it does. And no, not every piece of advice is good for you. For instance, "Do as I say and not as I do" is NOT great advice.
Our parents and/or other family members are usually our first impression on who or how to be in this world. And if actions speak louder than words, many will begin to exhibit the behaviors of things they saw quicker than they will what they heard. We have been HEARING that drugs are bad for your health since at least I was a child. Yet, we still have young people, years younger than me, that are going to jail or dying because of illegal drug usage. Clearly, the words didn't change anything. And a lot of them would say that they know it's no good for them. So, what would have given them the idea to try it in the first place? More than likely, seeing someone else doing it or bad advice from someone saying it'll make them feel better. That is why it is important to surround ourselves with positive and useful influences in our lives. And I'm not saying that those great influencers are perfect or never did anything. Nor am I saying you can't receive great advice from people who are not in the best position of their life. Because I guarantee those influencers give you the best advice because they've been there and don't want to see you go through what they've been through. But there's a difference in taking advice from those people/places and carrying it to your destination and dwelling in them. The sad thing is, there are so many people who have the "this is the hand I was dealt" mentality that stay in toxic situations just because they feel that's all was meant for them.
I am here to say that I have been given advice all my life on things I should say or do, or how to act. Things that, no doubt, have shaped me into the woman and person that I am. And I have not always listened to the instructions that have been provide either. I'd been preached that pre-marital sex and drinking were sins and will send you to hell before... Still indulged. "Drive the speed limit because it's the law"... Oops, my bad.
As I stated earlier, there is a lot of advice floating in the air around us. It's the things we internalize and actually follow through with that shapes what we become as we grow older. Sometimes, we'll forget who gave us the advice but not what was said. And sometimes, the advice doesn't have to be spoken at all. It's called being a living example. The best advice comes through actions sometimes.
The best advice I was ever given wasn't necessarily a living example. Or, maybe it was, depending on whose perspective you look at. And surprisingly, it was something that was said to me... over and over again by someone I was influenced by in so many ways: my grandmother.
Anyone that knows me personally, knows I am a family person and I hold my family very close to my heart. I am also very vocal about being a true product of my parents. I tell people all the time, if you ever wonder why and how I became the person that I am, look at my parents and both of my grandmothers. And my maternal grandmother was someone I hung out with all the time as a kid. In the latter years of her life, being a student and working, and all the other excuses kept me from hanging out with her as much as I used to. But I still made an effort to spend time with her. Talking and learning from her was some of the best time spent and I cherish every moment of it. In fact, people who have never met her know so much about her because I talk about her ALL THE TIME.
While many were advised to be the best they can be or never settle. My grandmother's advice was a little eccentric than that. It was always funny but sage. And she gave specific instructions for her grandchildren too. Her advice to my brother was always to make sure to wear his galoshes. Hey, you give the advice to the one who needs it when they need it. (Kanye shrug)
Her advice to me was just as un-grandmotherly as the advice to my brother to stay strapped when he's swimming in a sea of legs. When I was in college and it was time for me to go back to school, she would say the same thing every time. "Alright now, Kitty. You be good. But if you have to be bad, make sure you're VEEEEERRRRRYYY bad."
Now, I know some people would wonder how that is good advice? Others might think it's strange that I feel like that is the best advice I've ever been given also. But I have my reasons as to why I feel the way I do about this guidance. For one, she told me to be good. So, she wasn't suggesting that I not be on my best behavior. However, grandmothers know we sometimes get into some er... sticky situations. Therefore, I surmised that the latter part of this advice was for me to be as authentic as I can. If I'm going to be a certain way, go all the way through with it. No half stepping. When you are wavering, you are untrustworthy. And according to the Bible, a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8) Stand flat footed in your decision, whether good or bad.
People appreciate knowing who they're dealing with. It makes life easier to navigate. If you say you're going to be someone's friend, be a true friend to them. If you're going to be my enemy, don't smile in my face. Tell me how you really feel so I can move on with my energy. Don't sugarcoat shit. If you're going to proclaim being a good girl, be the best girl you can. And if you say you're a bad bitch, be the baddest bitch. (Word to Trina) Be authentically you and if people don't like it, at least they can walk away saying you were being the real you.
So, what is the best advice you've ever been given?