Be Good to You

Full of bliss and belly laughs in the streets of Paris | Photo by Derrel R. Todd

Be good to you. That's what he always tells me. I am not afraid to admit that I have struggled with this for a long time. It's very easy for me to feel the pain and joy of another, to put their needs and desires before my own, to be that shoulder to lean on. It is a big part of who I am, an empath, and selfishness does not come easy, but I'm learning. Every day I'm learning to be more selfish - with my time, with my energy, with my love, with my dreams.

I don't always speak my dreams aloud, but I always dream them. I believe in the law of attraction. I believe in the universe. And I think the universe believes in me and my dreams because they are indeed my dreams. From the moment our minds are able to comprehend and develop an idea of what we want, that dream is already a reflection of another's idea, be it that of our family, society, religion, etc. And by the time we are mature enough to think for ourselves, we're already consumed with ideas and no real indication as to whether or not those ideas really belong to us. I spent a lot of time battling with dreams. Truth is, I still do. Especially in the dark of the night, when all of the thoughts that I was too busy to think about throughout the day start to pour in. Often, I feel as if I'm playing tug of war with myself, constantly wondering why my desires are so different from others. Are my dreams too small? Am I settling by not dreaming big enough and not wanting more for myself? Are these even my dreams? Insomnia at its fullest of the overthinking mind of an artist. Talk about a mind fuck.

Growing up, I was only exposed to two types of women - happily married or lonely and single. The fact that a woman is almost always described by her martial status in association with success and happiness indicates the importance society has place on it. We are immediately defined based on our relationship with another as opposed to our relationship with ourselves. My parents have been married for 30 years and together even longer than that. They were high school sweethearts. I am proud of their love for one another. That was part of my mom's dream, being happily married and I'm glad it came true. However, I never saw an example of a happily, successful single black mother. I never saw me. Representation matters more than we could ever know. I just want to show the kid that there's other ways. I don't want her to wonder why her dreams are different from that of her friends. I don't want her to doubt her desires. I want her to not only be ok with wanting what she wants, but to be proud of what she wants for herself. I want her to be selfish.

Reality is that I don't have the answers to everything. It's a terrifying reality, but reality nonetheless. I just have to try my best to be ok with not having all the answers. And to put my faith in my feelings and in the universe that I am always exactly where I'm suppose to be, even when I have no idea where I'm going. I don't have a blueprint to any of this shit, but dreams guide me. I get tired and sometimes I feel defeated, but the dreams always remain. I have a theory that the universe grants the dreams that belong to you. Creating art belongs to me. Experiencing unconditional love belongs to me. Seeing the world belongs to me. All in all, my dreams belong to me. I'm trying to find more ways to be good to me. His dream for me has become my dream for myself. I think it will be a lifelong journey, but I'm prepared to experience it. While my idea of happiness may shift overtime, my ultimate goal is and will always be happiness. "You only get one life", they say. Whether that proves to be true or not, the only life I know is the one I'm living now. And I know I want to get everything I want out of this one.

Dreaming aloud | Photo by Derrel R. Todd

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