My 2nd Goal for 2015: I Want to Develop Better Discernment

black-woman-thinkingLast week, I shared that I would be working on owning myself in 2015. While that is my primary goal for the New Year, I have several others to add. My second goal in 2015 will be developing better discernment. That means, I want to be better at waiting for people to show me who they are before I believe them. Let me explain why this is so important.

I am one of those people who gets really excited about other people. I am an extrovert to the bone. This means that the people I keep around me actually have an impact on my happiness. It also means I’m drawn to folks with interesting personalities, quirky mannerisms, or other unique personal traits. For these reasons,  I typically end up embracing people I meet without properly questioning their intentions in their interactions with me, their historical biases, or other non-first impression-based attributes they may possess. In other words, I fall for people. I fall fast. And, I have been sorely burned by it…a lot.

Historically, I am that person who gets “friend dumped”. I have been dumped via email, text, and carrier pigeon (not really, but you know what I mean). In fact, it just happened to me (again) last week. This usually happens when I naively assume that someone has my back or cares for me like I care for them when in fact – for whatever reason – they don’t. Yes, I am usually the person who gets immediately blamed in these scenarios but, in retrospect, these folks usually come back to me and apologize for mistreating me. But, the real question is: why do I keep allowing these relationships to move past the point of no return anyway?

No, I’m not a glutton for punishment. I just happen to be one of those sappy, soft-hearted individuals who wants to be there for everyone…all the time…even when they treat me badly. When they are done with me, they bounce. I take people back when they abuse me. I instantly forgive people when they mistreat me. Though these are great ways to make friends, they are terrible ways to make lasting friendships.

What I am learning is that I have to be accountable for allowing these folks into my life in the first place. Because I have been lazily giving every Thomasina, Dierdre, and Harriet the perpetual benefit of the doubt, I have put myself in completely avoidable adverse situations. I have made myself other folks’ bag lady obliging myself to carry their baggage to and fro until they find someone with stronger muscles to take up the weight. I have been the savior, confidant, loyalist, and doctor to some folks who, nowadays, act like they can’t even recognize me on the street. I just can’t do that anymore. It isn’t fair to me, my husband, my kids, or to the countless people in my life who actually do care about me and my well-being.

In 2015, I am going to spend time working on my discernment skills. I am going to work on not loving folks into a compromise with my private mental, social, and psychological health. I can still love them just not so much that my nails stop growing in as healthily, my hair thins, or my weight spirals out of control. I won’t be loving people so much who prefer I neglect myself, my goals, or my dreams in favor of their’s. I will be filtering, reserving judgment, perceiving, and sensing the hell out of my relationships because I deserve so much more than I have been giving myself.

Now, this isn’t some soliloquy meant to paint me as some hapless victim. I haven’t always been the introspective, loving person I am today. I used to be pretty mean. Perhaps that’s why I have made so many efforts to give folks 71,113, 478.922567 chances at redemption. I know how much it sucks to be judged wrongly. I know how painful it is for some people to never forgive you for an email you sent at nineteen-years-old or a random thing you said when you were suffering from debilitating morning sickness or whatever. So, I am not saying I will stop giving people chances to be fair, just, and human. I will just stop giving everyone those chances.

I have developed two beautiful things: 1) life experience and 2) wisdom. And, dammit, I am gonna start using them.

I will spend more time reflecting honestly on my relationships. I will spend less time defending folks’ poor behavior. I will reserve my emotional attachments for people who deserve them, people who deserve me.

It’s really just that simple. No shade. Just sunlight. And, like Olivia Pope, I am going to be spending a whole heck of a lot more time in the sun (figuratively since, living in Chicago, I won’t be seeing it literally).

Life is too short not give myself that gift. So, Happy New Year to me.

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Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.

2 Responses

  1. ebanna22 says:

    Setting boundaries…like it!

  2. Thanks so much for reading it!