Stop chasing people who don’t want you.

Header Photo by Thomas Young | Words by Sinclair Ceasar

🎧 Audio version of today’s newsletter. 

They don’t want you.

They’re not going after you. They never call you first, email you back, text to see how you are.

At this point, they’re probably ghosting you, but you’re thirsty and hungry for their attention and validation.  They know this. Maybe they don’t.

Either way, you’re not a priority for them, but you keep going after them. It’s not healthy. You need to let them go.

If you keep holding on, you’ll miss out on all the people right there in your life who actually want you and want to give you love. You’ll miss out on yourself and all the things you’d be sacrificing if you and this person actually did life together, business together, creativity together, making a family together.

You’re willing to compromise  your values just to be with them. You know you shouldn’t, but you ignore your truest voice.

You’d rather partner with fear instead.

Dear reader, I gotta tell you,  it’s time to stop chasing people who don’t want you. People who’d bring all that’s toxic into your life. People who won’t give to you how you’d give to them. People who are clearly disinterested in who you are and what you bring.

I know this because I’ve been that chaser so many times in my life. I’ve gone after the people who only want to cause me harm. I’ve gone after people who were only meant to be in my life for a brief season.

Everyone isn’t meant to stick around forever. Some people come into our lives for the job, the date, the money, the laughs, or the trip, and then they leave.

I’ve feared that letting go means losing something I’ll never ever get back: someone who loves me, someone who sees me, someone who wants to create with me. I have attachment and detachment issues. I fear being alone. I’m uncomfortable with too much silence.

Mostly though, I fear that letting go of people means that something is wrong with me. But that’s not true.

Letting go of someone could be the breakthrough you’ve been needing to give to yourself.

It could mean you seizing an opportunity you wouldn’t have otherwise. It could be making space for the people, the healthy habits, the practices, and  the love that would actually light up your life.

But, you won’t get any of that if you’re fixated on everything and everyone that doesn’t want you.
Make the shift.

It’s taken years, but I’ve made the shift through deep work with therapists, close friends, my wife, God, and myself. Today, I’m fortunate and thankful to have the relationships I didn’t have growing up. I’m no longer sticking with people who brought violence and pain and humiliation into my life.

Sometimes, I see myself starting to chase others, but then I think: Do I have the love I need?

I do.

How to begin shifting your own narrative.

Check those stories you’re telling yourself.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I afraid of losing if I let them go?
  • Why do I keep going after people who never go after me?
  • What would happen if I focused on what I love, instead of on who could love me? 
  • How am I grounded in the relationships I already have? 
  • What’s the loving choice in all this? What’s the fear filled decision? 

Sit with the real answers that arise. Write them down. Talk them out with someone you trust. Talk them out with me, you know I’m here.

But, don’t retreat  when painful realizations show themselves. We often avoid the truth because it’s hard to digest. Then, we spend years of our lives suffering, because we chose to act from a deficit, rather than make decisions that align with our values. 

Who do you need to stop chasing? What’s your next move with this? Whatever it is, I encourage you to carry grace with you during this process. Go slow with it. Go easy on yourself. It doesn’t need to happen today.

I hope you get to a point where you can say: I’ve let go of at least one relationship that was draining me. I was doing all the work, and they weren’t willing to. I’m glad I chose me.

Choose you, my friend.

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Community of Awesomeness – June 2018

Photo by Crown Agency on Unsplash

Shout-out to everyone who submitted something to this month’s Community of Awesomeness post. Folks shared requests + offers for everything from international pen-pals to a YouTube web series. I’m truly blessed + thankful to be connected to so many wonderful people all around the world, and hope to do this project again in September 2018.

If you’re reading this you’re invited to participate! 

Aight. Here’s how this works.

  • Take a look at the lists below, and reach out to anyone you’re willing to support and/or solicit resources from. All exchanges come at zero monetary costs. If it eventually turns into a business thing, that’s for you both to discuss.
  • Be kind, be honest, and don’t spam anyone.
  • If you’re nervous to reach out, that’s okay. Just start your email to them with, “Hey, I heard you were requesting/offering _______ from this post and go from there. Then, press send.
  • Everything is posted in alphabetical order by name.
  • You got this. Amazing-ness happens when you do the brave thing. Reach out to someone!

Awesome Requests 📬

Alexandra is requesting career advicealexandra.coreen@gmail.com

Courtney is requesting an academic writing buddy to commit to a few hours of writing each week, in addition to a weekly writing debrief (in person or by video conference, text, email, fax, carrier pigeon, etc). crgibbon@hamilton.edu

Erin is requesting content ideas for a YouTube series and writes: “I co-created a web series called “The Adventures of Fab Jenkins”. It’s a blaxploitation parody about a stylist that is driven to save the world from a tacky fashion empire. I launched the show in 2016 with the goal of creating additional content promoting independent fashion and beauty brands. I plan to create an inclusive, global community celebrating diverse voices within the industry. After a number of setbacks, I am committed to revamping the Fab Jenkins brand in 2018. I am requesting ideas for content. If you are an up and coming fashion designer, launched a skincare line, or are making other moves in fashion and beauty, this opportunity is for you. If you are interested in being involved in any other way, I’d love to hear from you too. To view Season One, visit the watch page. johnson.erina@gmail.com

Hilary is requesting relationship advicehillaryonyuo@gmail.com

Jamier is requesting acting opportunities and writes: “I’m starting out in the acting business. If you know casting directors that are looking for actors or any great casting calls, please don’t hesitate to contact me.” jamiercampbell27@outlook.com

Jeanie is a medical student requesting advice and encouragement and writes: “I’m a  non-traditional MS1 starting this August. I’m seeking current or recent medical students for advice/insight, encouragement, studying resources, and/or friendship.” jeanie.elle@gmail.com

Katie is requesting a book club to join that can help with finding good summer reads. kaitlin.muttitt@gmail.com

Marisa is requesting a pen pal and writes: “I am a high school English teacher from New Jersey who loves to write. I think this is a great opportunity to create a new friendship while adding a little zest to our lives.” marisaferris@yahoo.com

Wren is requesting a bucket list partner and writes: “I’m seeking bucket list partner pen pals for mutually supporting each other’s willingness to dream and act on those dreams.”  schoeneckwren@gmail.com

 

Amazing Free Offers 📤

Amy is offering been there, done that advice to people considering or actively pursuing graduate degrees. ajebecker@gmail.com

Ana is offering to proofread/edit your work (i.e. paper, thesis, presentation, short story, blog, etc.).  amc912@hotmail.com

Benedicta is offering to be your pen pal, and said, “I love meeting new people, sharing stories, laughs, and memories! I lavish in the beauty within human connections and think they are so important!”  oloniluab@aol.com

Betsy is a longtime professional artist and creative with an art degree offering feedback on the work of any young artists (school age through college) + offering encouragement to any young creatives who are wondering what to do with their careers/lives. Feel free to check out Betsy’s work before you reach out. mail@betsystreeter.com

Dr. Prime is offering leadership advice, personal development advice, public speaking advice, mediation + relationship advice with co-workers, and advice on how to improve your interactions with people. drprime26@gmail.com

Emily is offering a handwritten letter to any destination in the U.S.A. and will even put stickers on the envelope in true kid pen-pal style. rock.emily@gmail.com

Jasmine is offering summer reading recommendations and book reviews and said, “Writing is my absolute passion. Last year I started a blog. It offers simple, easy-to-follow recipes, toddler arts and crafts and everyday stories about parenting, good and bad. I enjoy offering these blog posts because, as a stay at home mom, I understand how important it is to be able to relate to others and not feel alone through the journey.”  rodriguez1308@gmail.com

Jennifer is offering encouragement. Especially for anyone experiencing panic or anxiety. fowler_scorpio@yahoo.ca

Katie is offering to send out love and send up prayers for anyone who needs it. k5kt@prodigy.net

Lacey is offering a resume review to current students and recent graduates, and said, In my career, I’ve hired nearly 100 interns and staff positions, and looked through many more resumes…I can and I will prioritize requests of those from low-income backgrounds, students of color, or those who are first-generation college students. Please share as an editable Google Doc. I will do my best to respond to all requests.” lacey.n.dunham@gmail.com

Megan is offering travel tips and recommendations for anyone visiting South East Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR), China/Hong Kong, London, New York City, and northern Florida. gitmospecial1976@gmail.com

Rachael is offering coaching + mentoring and said, “I usually work with people involved in education, simply because I work in this field. However, I’m happy to coach/mentor people with other occupations.  I just might need you to explain your job to me.” rshaw@res-ed.co.uk

Sokari is offering travel advice for anyone visiting Southern Spain, Morocco, and the UK (London + the Lake District). sokariekine@gmail.com

 

If this works out for you, or if you have any feedback on this project, hit me up at hello@thesapronextdoor.com anytime.

 

 

For Anyone Else Desperately Trying to Figure Out Their Purpose in Life

According to Google, the definition of purpose is: “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”

So, when someone asks us: “Hey, uhhh, what’s your purpose in life?” They’re asking us why we exist?

Whew.

When I was a child, I had a close family member who’d repeatedly confront me with similar questions but from a place of anger and intimidation. They’d ask 9-year-old me: “Why are you even here? What do you do around here? Nothing. You do nothing!” They knew how to break me down. I felt like I was always making mistakes and feeling I wasn’t good enough. I internalized those thoughts, and part of me is still struggling to come up with a good response.

But I’m healing.

And, I’ve come a long long way. I bet you have too.

Maybe you’ve had some bullies in your life. Maybe someone has made you feel like less without even meaning to, but you still question your impact, your meaning, your reason for being. Am I doing enough?

Maybe you saw a groundbreaking TED talk, or you heard the news about an amazing child prodigy, or your friend told you about someone who has this really cool start-up. What am I even doing with my life?

Perhaps, you’ve found yourself scrolling on social media late at a night and feeling like everyone but you is living their best lives.

Or maybe you go deeper with it and ask yourself: “Is there even a reason for me to be here? Do I even have a purpose? And if I don’t, what’s that mean about my existence.”

A lot of us end up here. You’re not alone. 

We spiral and find ourselves viewing our lives as meaningless and worthless because we aren’t doing what others are doing. We internally berate ourselves for not accomplishing what we could be accomplishing based on our qualifications, ability, privilege, network, or training.

We convince ourselves that we don’t measure up.

We tell ourselves that we’ll matter more when we get the job, the spouse, the money, the degree, the _____.

Sadly, our self-worth can often be completely tied up in everything we don’t have and everything we feel like we’re not.

We can find ourselves in the happiest experiences of our lives (like truly thriving), only to be swept under the waves of self-doubt and misery moments later, when we realize we don’t have ourselves all figured out yet. Or when we hastily push ahead and set another goal to accomplish. Or when we realize that some parts of us are still broken.

But, here’s the truth of it: all of us have brokenness. All of us have doubt. All of us have shame. And still, our lives have meaning.

Each of us has the capacity to add something to the communities we live in, the churches we’re a part of, the families we care for, the schools we attend, and the strangers we meet. We can make all those places a little better. Often we’re doing this by simply showing up and being ourselves – our clumsy, unsure, brilliant, zestful, intelligent selves.

Yes, I’m still talking about you and me.

Photo of person of color standing near wall. Grafiti is on wall. Person of color is wearing a blue jacket.

Photo by Michael Afonso on Unsplash

I think we get to break up the concept of purpose into smaller and more realistic pieces. Instead of asking: “Why am I here?” ask yourself about what you enjoy, what breaks your heart, who has thanked you recently about something you did for them, what you’re good at – like naturally good at, or what you work hard at even though you don’t get paid for it.

Ask yourself about what you’ve made it through. Ask yourself about how resilient you’ve been. Ask yourself about the things no one can ever take from you.

What excites you – or what used to? What do you care about – even if others don’t find it the least bit interesting.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about these questions, and here’s what I came up with.

Pieces of my purpose: To be a kind, good, and caring husband. To be a supportive older brother and supportive to others in my family. To be a solid and dependable friend. It breaks my heart to know that others are struggling in silence with mental illness. I find myself thinking of ways to help others take better care of themselves – this keeps me up at night.  I also find myself thinking of ways to create community with other black men around issues of health and wellness, because so many of us are dying and suffering from preventable issues. I enjoy doing improv, writing, connecting with people, dancing, and bringing people together. If I wasn’t afraid, I would go all in on my dreams – I’m getting closer. Even at my lowest points, my worst moments, my biggest failures, I am still loved. I wholeheartedly believe part of my reason for being on this earth is to share God’s light with others through my work. I’ve often struggled to communicate this, because I feel like saying I’m a Christian and I love doing the work of the Lord turns others off, but it’s who I am. So here it is: I love Jesus. And if you don’t, I’m cool with that, and I still love you and celebrate you and think you get to have the big wondrous life you want to live. I find that leading and living from my heart makes all the different. It’s about love for me. That’s the big picture. Lastly, I believe I’ve had a positive impact on the lives of many just by showing up and being kind.

And, there’s so much more to me.

There’s so much more to you.

If you’re struggling to get unstuck from feeling like you have to have your entire life figured out today, I encourage you to pause, take a deep breath, and find some time to reflect on the topic of purpose in a different way. Remember to break it up.

 

Here are some questions to ask yourself this week, as you dig into this topic a little more. 
I don’t suggest trying to respond to every one, it’s not a test. See which question tugs at you the most, kicks up stuff for you the most, or just feels most salient for you right now.

  • What issue or idea has been keeping me up at night?
  • What’s been breaking my heart?
  • What am I already doing that has a positive impact on the lives of others – if only a little?
  • What have my friends, family, or strangers thanked me for lately? 
  • What would I create, add to, join, or show up for if I had the resources and wasn’t afraid?
  • What have I been hesitant to tell others about who I am and what I believe? 

Oh, and I just gotta say this. Sometimes, we need to put down the journal, and get out, do something, and shake things up. I’ve personally found that taking action is a healthy way to move through the anxiety of trying to figure out ALL THE THINGS. This means signing up to volunteer service, joining a book club, attending a free lecture at a nearby college campus, or signing up for a workshop gets you out of your comfort zone. Thinking and reflection are necessary, and so is getting lost in experiences, meeting people you’ve never met, and doing things you never thought you could do.

Perhaps you won’t find the entire meaning for your life by doing this (you don’t need to), but you will learn something about yourself. You will take memories with you, and you will hopefully feel a little more alive.

You do not have to know your purpose in life to have meaning on this earth.

You don’t even have to be living on purpose to be belong here.

You already belong, and you’re already enough just because of the fact that you’re living and breathing. Those are the prerequisites. Live. Breathe.

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What Every New SA Pro Should Know – Q & A with Gavin Henning

I had the opportunity to interview ACPA President, Gavin Henning, on Tuesday, September 8, 2015. Gavin has been in the field for 22 years, and began in 1993 as a Residence Hall Director at the University of New Hampshire. It was his first job out of graduate school after attending Michigan State University. Gavin told me that he’s been connecting with other Student Affairs bloggers in order to get more connected to new professionals [and] help amplify the voices of new professionals.

Since the release of my free eBook, Two Thousand Hours: Advice for a New Student Affairs Professional, helping other new professionals to develop has been one of the top items on my wish list. As someone with one year of post graduate experience in the field, I find it valuable and exciting to provide resources to others because I get to learn at the same time.

I’m hoping at least one piece of advice from Gavin is able to help you provide even better quality service to your students and institution. It’s certainly been helping me.

2

What is one thing many new professionals get wrong when they start a new job? 

New professionals assume they know much more than what they do. If you think about it, it is pretty natural. You do an assistant ship that’s pretty intense. You come out of that pretty confident in your abilities. They have not had the seasoned experience. I’d challenge new professionals to check the assumptions on how much they know, be open to learning, and not assume they know everything. 

What is something new professionals need, but aren’t getting enough of?

Mentoring. I don’t think we do a good job of personally and intentionally helping new professionals get mentors. The ACPAGROW program is primarily for graduate students and new professionals. It helps them to formally connect to a new mentor. We are not as intentional as we could be in providing that kind of connection and support for new professionals.

We need to provide the tips for them to get their own mentor as well. Unless you’re really outgoing or assertive, that connection generally doesn’t happen. Mentors provide that realistic reflection. They give you honest feedback so you can grow. At one point, I was young and uxexperienced. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. 

What were some things that helped you to succeed during your first several years as a full time Student Affairs Professional? 

Connecting with my Staff – There were two hall directors in the area in the buildings next to mine. They became my guides during the first two years of my career. If I wasn’t sure of what to do, I’d contact one of them. It’s critical to build that connection. Additionally, connecting with staff provides an outlet. For instance: for Residence Life folks, their home is on campus. Connections are important, because they have moral support and an outlet for when they need to complain, yell, scream, or release anger. Their peers understand what they’re going through. It’s good to have someone in the field to empathize with.

Getting Involved on Committees – Joining committees provided me with the opportunity to connect with people and learn different things. On a wider scale, I was able to connect across campus.

Never Stop Learning – One of the things that helped me during my first years as a new professional was the desire to learn and not to stop learning. That curiosity helped me learn how to do my job better, helped me learn how to serve my students better, and where to go next in my career as well as how to get there. Learning helps us to continue to become better and demonstrates to our students that we need to be learning our entire lives.

3

What is something you know now, that you wish you knew then?

A few things. First, mentors are going to be your mirror, your guide, and your stepping stone. Second, getting involved professionally is important. I didn’t get involved in ACPA until I had been in the field for 10 years. I would have gotten connected to others outside my institution had I connected earlier. Third, it’s important to understand the politics and learn the organizational culture of your institution through observation. When I move to a new institution, it’s important to learn who the leaders are. I didn’t really learn that in graduate school. I worked in a Residence Life office where they intentionally shielded us from the politics so we could be better hall directors. It didn’t help us overall, however, because we didn’t understand how things worked outside of our departments. 

Lastly, you shouldn’t fear failure. I often talk about getting lost when I’m driving. I try not to get upset unless I’m missing an appointment. I learn more by getting lost than not getting lost. I go places I’d never go and the experience is different. To quote Erik Qualman: the goal is really to “fail fast, fail forward [to actually take something away from the process], and fail better[the more often you fail, the more you learn].” Anyone that does research on innovation talks about how important failure is in helping them succeed. In today’s society, we shield kids from failure. Everyone gets a trophy. If we fail, mom and dad are their to fix things. The whole goal there is to make it easier, but it’s not easier for the individuals in the long run. Failing is part of learning. We have to be open to embrace failure, do it quickly, and learn from it many times. 

What is the biggest thing you learned during your first year of work?

I learned what my strengths were and what my weaknesses were. It was a year of self-awareness. My strengths were mainly in administration. I was really good at it, along with programming, teaching to groups, and doing research. During one of my ancillary appointments, I got to spend 10 hours doing something that gave me experience. I did research. I learned that I loved research while doing applied research. I realized that it was a career path for me. 

1

What are some qualities or characteristics that have helped you get to where you are now?

Grit. It’s idea about resilience, optimism and persistence. It’s helped me with a lot of things in my life. I was in a cohort of 25 people and I was the last person to get a job. I didn’t get a job until after I graduated. The job  got helped propel me to where I am now because of the experiences. I had to be optimistic that I’d get a job. Persistence is what helped me get into ACPA in the first place. I signed up for a commission and never heard back. I contacted the chair and never heard back. The next year, there was a different chair. I ended up attending the Carnival the next year, and talked to another directorate member and got signed up for the Commission. The new chair did get me connected. 

The whole idea of grit has been helpful. What’s also helped me to get to where I am now is the curiosity piece of loving to learn. I’m always reading something (books, social media, etc.) always trying to learn something new. I’m always curious. Pure hard work has helped too – being willing to put in the time to get the work done and get it done right. It’s been about not being afraid of the long hours, and keeping in mind that it’s for a greater purpose.

I’d also like to add that I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of support from family and support from my wife. and I’ve had a lot of privilege. I had the money to go to grad school even though I had to take out loans. I haven’t had to deal with micro-aggressions or other aggression. As a white heterosexual male, I’ve been very privileged. I don’t want to make it sound like it’s these individual characteristics that have helped me succeed. I’ve had some health issues along the way, but they are still not the same challenges that a lot of others have had to face.