I’m 30 now. I do 30 things. I go 30 places – the bank, the cleaners, the occasional happy hour, the work place, the house, the bed. I’ve learned some hard lessons. I’ve dodged a few bullets. I don’t have life figured out (y’all know me), but I do know myself pretty well by now. I’ve spent a lot of time alone, a lot of time with others, and a decent amount of time with God. I try to be sensitive to other people’s emotions and personality traits. I’m in tune with my own emotions and try hard to regulate them appropriately. I feel centered. I’m whole. I’m so good right now.
But every blue moon . . . Every now and again . . . Before I’ve had a chance to get my wits about myself for the day or maybe right after I’ve left a really taxing meeting with folks who work my nerves . . . I’ll run into a hood dude with gold fronts and a neck tattoo while I wait in line at McDonald’s for a sausage and egg McMuffin. He’ll say something kinda funny like “I like the way you ordered your food, girl.” I’ll laugh a little harder than necessary but only because I wasn’t expecting him to be funny and because he kinda a little bit cute. He’ll ask me how I’m doing. Show me pictures of his cute kid. Casually mention that he hasn’t been with the kid’s mom for like three years. Talk me up a while more (because the line is long that morning so we’re standing there waiting for hotcakes to flip and biscuits to bake). And then he’ll ask me for my phone number. At first, I’ll say no because I know good and full well that he ain’t for me. Then he’ll ask me if I’m on the Gram. I’ll follow him because . . . why not? And then, right when I’m all comfortable and the aroma of McDonald’s breakfast is wafting into my nasal passage ways, sending about 5 too many sensors somewhere that release endorphins I should NOT have for food, he’ll ask me for my phone number again and this time I’ll give it to him.
As soon as the last digit slips out of my mouth, floats into the air, and gets locked into his contacts list, I’ll regret it. I won’t regret it like that time I cut my own bangs. No, it’s not that life altering. I’ll regret it more like the times I eat McDonald’s for breakfast. Like it’s cool in the moment but then I feel it in my love handles for the rest of the day. So not worth it.
First off, hood dudes need love too. I know that. This is not about that. Because you know the guy who played the character Black in the movie “Moonlight”? The guy with gold fronts, lots of tattoos, and who sold drugs? Yeah him. Well, he’s beautiful. He looked good enough to lick. No shower. No warning. Just lick his face and then head to the bank to deposit a check and go back to work before happy hour. Black was obviously not interested in women in the movie but y’all know me. I would’ve slid in his DM’s anyway just to see what he would say (read my post about shooting your shot).
Ok but yeah, this is not about gold fronts or neck tattoos. None of that matters for real for real. It does matter. Just so we’re clear. But not here. What matters is the decisions we make for ourselves – all the really small decisions that seem harmless in the moment but that transform into habits that have this infinitely important effect on the trajectory of our lives. That was a long sentence. I’m saying I made a decision that did not resonate as authentic. I did not want that guy in my life longer than it took me to get breakfast. I’m not saying I think giving my phone number to a person I wasn’t interested in changed my entire life. It didn’t. I just had to do a little bobbing and weaving for a few days until he probably figured I wasn’t interested. No real biggie. I just think that every time I make a decision that is not in keeping with what I truly want or what I know to be best for me, I allow myself to become more comfortable with accommodating other people above myself.
So here comes the rub. Sometimes other people should be accommodated over me. Sometimes I need to do what’s best for someone else even if it’s not exactly what’s best for me. That’s God’s greatest commandment right? To love others. I want to do the thing that makes Him happy so I almost categorically have to exalt others above myself. Other times I absolutely need to put myself and my desires first. There’s a fine line. I don’t always know where it is. Obviously (and by obviously I mean hopefully) I’ll get better at finding the line as I get older and have more experiences. However, there are times when the line is clear. Like when I was standing there looking at the McDonald’s dude. I knew I didn’t want to be anything other than McMuffin friends with him. Fast food line only friends. Fifteen minute friends. Instead, I gave him my phone number and I not only stretched the friendship longer than it had capacity to go, but I also gave him this false sense of hope for the friendship, which wasn’t fair to him.
This is the moral of the story: just say no. Don’t make decisions that make you feel like you’re compromising too much of yourself for someone else. Again, there’s a fine line and only you’ll know where that line is. If you cross it too often, you’ll get comfortable on the other side.
I’ll help you stay on this side of your line if you help me. Deal? Deal.