This Year, You Thrive

“I think I fell in love with a porn star” is a very famous line from “Hell of a Life,” a song by rapper Kanye West who subsequently married Kim Kardashian who is most notably known for her less than flattering appearance alongside R&B star Ray J in a homemade porn film. Critics watching from the side puzzled why a rapper as famous and successful as Kanye would marry a woman who amounted to little more than a reality star. In their minds, Kim was trash and would become nothing more. The media boxed her in and painted her as a loose, careless woman. Not minding the man who appeared in the video with her, the world generally held a negative view of Kim. Now, she’s married — happily or unhappily, depending on who you believe — and doing well as a billionaire. But, what does her success have to do with you? Everything. Whatever station you hold in life, security guard or lawyer, or whatever goals you have from getting married to getting a degree, it’s possible to do better, and this year, you will thrive accomplishing your goals.

You don’t need a New Year’s Resolution

You forgot to make a New Year’s resolution? That’s fine. You don’t need one. If you have made one, quickly throw it away, and forget it. Have you ever followed through on a New Year’s resolution? The answer is, for the most of us, no. The reason resolutions fail is, they are typically things we’ve been putting off, and when we make a quick promise to correct it, we do not make a plan. It’s like walking naked into a bar but promising to get yourself a drink. Short of committing robbery, you don’t have a way to get a beer. Maybe a felony, but not a beer. Don’t let that become you: The naked person in the bar demanding a drink.

The above mentioned, make a solid plan. For instance, your goal is to get married. You must find a spouse first. Before you do that, check your past relationships. Why did they fail? What part did you play in the breakup? What do all of your exes have in common? From there, contrary to dating the most attractive person in the room as usual, you’ll go for the most intelligent. This is a plan. Now, you might find what you’re searching for. Put aside your verbal and mental promises, get the closest pen and piece of paper and write down your goals. Set a reminder in your phone. It’ll help you get to where you want to be.

Every imperfection…is a part of you

Also, change your mindset from “I will” to “I am doing.” Procrastination fuels the defeatist’s mentality. It takes the fight out of you, but you should always be prepared to fight the battles important to you. If you come to a block in the road, don’t turn around. Assess the blockage and find a way around it. Problem-solving is what adults do, and you’re beyond capable. Married people, police officers, doctors, they are all just people like you and I. They are not gods. They did not pass a death trial to get to where they are, and you have the same powerful traits to get you to those places. To get there, class starts now, not “when [you] have time;” the search for a suitable spouse starts when you’re emotionally ready, not when your ex comes back around to offer an insincere apology.

Exam your imperfections. Search your face in the mirror. Note every blemish, every chipped tooth, the dimples or lack thereof, the beauty. Every imperfection and perfection is a part you. Collectively, they make up who you are and how the world perceives you. Embrace yourself, make a plan, write it out and execute it. There’s nothing you can’t do, if you give yourself the chance to do it. Erase your self-doubts. Inhale. Exhale. This year, you will thrive.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Nobody is Better than You

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Sometimes while on the morning train ride, you see a guy in a suit carrying a briefcase distractedly texting as the train rocks back and forth. Silently, you imagine this man is some important lawyer who lives in a million-dollar loft downtown. You look down at your poorly ironed shirt and faded jeans and think, “This guy is so much better than me.” Newsflash: he isn’t, and no one is. Don’t stifle your aspirations because you imagine yourself as not being of the expected pedigree.

Somewhere, there is an intelligent, caring nurse who loves her job but envies the doctors she works with. A long time ago, that nurse wanted to be a doctor, but after being around doctors, these people who save lives and are respected everywhere they go, that nurse became discouraged and intimidated. She comes from a poor family and graduated from so-so college. The doctors she works with come from nearly famous families and Ivy League institutions. She feels she doesn’t compare to them and could never reached their status. She’s not only wrong, she’s ruining herself.

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Our self-doubts become insurmountable...

Certain professions have a mystical quality to them, and so we can’t picture ourselves making the achievement. Mentally, like the nurse I mentioned, we beat ourselves into complacent compliance. Our self-doubts become insurmountable mountains of barriers preventing us from attempting to make it closer toward whatever goals we’ve set. If you want to make it to the next step, you have to have a formula you believe in.

So, you’ve heard becoming a truck driver or teacher is hard work. You’ve read how intense the lessons are and how many people fail. Your heart sinks but only because you haven’t formulated a plan. Make a schedule to study; watch YouTube how-to videos; ask a friend for advice; study some more. Your life is like math: 1 plus 1 will always be two. That means, if you have a plan (1) and follow it (plus 1), things may not work out perfectly according to plan, but they will work out (2). You also have to have faith in yourself through spirituality.

Healing those old wounds heals the souls…

Faith and spirituality go hand-in-hand when it comes to success. Your mind has to be clear. You must be at peace with yourself and others around you. That requires you dig deep, question why you question yourself and explore your spiritual wounds. Self-doubters usually doubt themselves because of some deep personal issue. This makes them feel less than. Healing those old wounds heals the soul and makes success simply a side-effect. So, you must find a way to connect with yourself spiritually.

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Spirituality isn’t nenecessarily or always about religion. Some people meditate. They find the calming breathing, silence and alone time to be peaceful. Others take a warm, foamy bath and sip wine. How you do it is up to you, but you have to do it. Find your inner wounds and heal them. Address your past and let your mind wander. In no time, you will shed the weight of self-doubt like thirty pounds on a magical diet and success will find you. No one is better than you, and you’re meant to be anything you want.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Leaving (Unhelpful) Friends Behind

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Recently, I expressed to a lawyer friend of mine my growing discomfort with another friend. The lawyer, about 15 years my senior, told me of a friend he had to distance himself from many years ago. His friend asked him for a ride to what turned out to be an illegal gun sale. Needless to say, police stormed in and my lawyer friend had a bunch of explaining to do. Fresh on the job, he could have lost his law license and livelihood. After telling me this story, he said, ”Some friends, you just gotta let them go once you outgrow them.” This has never been truer, and I’m urging you to do away with friends you no longer feel a connection to.

You don’t need this type of “friendaround you.

A friend you’ve outgrown could hurt more than help you. For example, you’ve been selling soap online and doing well. To your friend, you float the idea of going bigger. Contrary to supporting your idea, the friend immediately shoots the idea down. Your feelings are hurt, and now, so is your self-confidence. Now, you won’t follow through on your idea. You don’t need this type of ”friend” around you. For your own sanity, you must discard these people. Keeping them around threatens your future. They’ll never support you. They might cause you to stop supporting your own self.

”We’ve been friends forever.” That line is a common one we use when deciding whether to discard someone from our lives. We equate time with bond. The longer we’ve known someone, the closer the bond. The very thought of severing that bond could be overwhleming. However, even though time is required for binding, it doesn’t necessarily mean the bond is solid. Knowing someone for a long time doesn’t make them a required fixture in your life. Remember, some things thrive with time like fine wine or cheese. Some things rot. You must root out the rot.

Be only social media friends…

But ”outgrowing” someone is so general. What does it really mean? Picture being out with an out friend who’s now married as you are. That old friend sees someone of the opposite gender and makes a life sexual comment about an affair they would like to have and then makes an attempt to hookup with someone other than their spouse. If you’re settled down, faithful and a family person, you will cringe. You’ll feel uncomfortable. Ten years ago, you wouldn’t have felt so awkward. You’ve outgrown that friend. It’s time to cut that person off.

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Cutting off a friend doesn’t always mean totally kicking them out of your life. You might enjoy their phone conversations or social media content. Nothing is wrong with that. Still, you don’t want to hangout with that person because trouble follows them. So, keep being social media friends with them. Be only social media friends with them. Comment on their posts. Laugh at their jokes. When they ask you out, make an excuse. Don’t make promises to see them, however.

Not every friend is meant to go the long haul.

Friendships are like vehicles. Some are great for getting you long distances. Others are only good for the point A to point B ride. Not everyone is meant to go the long haul. Identifying friendships no longer beneficial to you is vital. Doing so gives you the opportunity to reevaluate your friendship. You’ll probably find it’s been time to do away with that relationship. That friendship vehicle is no longer viable.

Regardless of who you are, you need friends who share your likes and dislikes — not that you need a exact replica of yourself or a yes person. You need someone similar enough to make you comfortable but real enough to make you uncomfortable if you ever need a reality check. So, meet new people at work or on the internet. Join a bookclub or bike club. Finding new friends is important, or you will be stuck lonely.

Move on and meet new friends.

Outgrowing friends is natural, and it is OK. There is nothing cynical about realizing you no longer share a connection with a friend. It happens. Hanging on to defunct friendships will hurt you. Move on, and meet new people. Come out of your shell, assert yourself and find someone who supports dreams as big as yours.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Celebrating Your Own Success — Guilt Free

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This Thanksgiving, don’t forget to be thankful for yourself. We live in a society that tells us success is a must. So, we spend long days studying and even longer nights working, just to have a taste of that sought-after success. It’s not until we’re single, 40, lonely and stuck at a job we hate that we realize all our success chasing has been for naught. When the girls called for a night out, you declined and decided to study. When the guys wanted to watch the game, you declined in favor of filling in for the guy who never shows. Society tells us to suck it up and deal with it. This is life. That same society tells us it’s bad to revel in your own success, and frankly, that’s wrong. You should celebrate your successes, big or small.

They want you to feel bad about doing well. Don’t.

You may know someone who accuses you of bragging when you’re simply telling that person about your life. For instance, they’ll ask, “What did you do today?” You’ll say, “I bought a new car.” Two days later, you hear from a mutual friend that the other friend is accusing you of bragging about your new car. This is a circle problem — a problem created by who you choose to keep in your circle. To someone who isn’t living life to the fullest, your success is an affront to them. They want you to feel bad about doing well. Don’t.

We look for validation in others. It’s why an artist can create what they think is the best thing since the Mona Lisa, but if someone says they don’t like the painting, the artist is hurt. A step further, a nominee never feels as good as the winner. That’s because there’s no outside glory to be found in not being number one. Well, aren’t you number one to yourself? You didn’t get the award. Does that mean the other person is better than you? It doesn’t, but you may feel that way.

Do something that makes you happy.

That said, you must validate yourself. Depending on others to validate you is like waiting to be pinned with a price tag. Is your networth determined by others or by you? The first step in validating yourself is celebrating both your failures and successes, small or large. You get nominated for a prize but don’t win, smile because you even got nominated. You complete a deadline, have a treat. You get a promotion, take a vacay. Do something that makes you happy.

Stop feeling bad about being judged, or your potential success can be lost. For instance, if you’re a creative writer whose best friend says your stories suck, forget that friend. That friend may not have any faith in your future as an author. You probably even feel silly having seen your friend’s uninterested face when you told them you’ve completed writing your first novel. Don’t lose faith in your work. Completing writing a full novel is an outstanding achievement. No matter what you accomplish, it is worth being proud of.

Another thing, know the difference between bragging and not bragging. Bragging is when you drop everything to tell everyone you know about your new Ferrari they couldn’t afford. Bragging comes from a place of boastful comparisons between the bragger and the listener. It is not bragging to tell someone you got a new Ferrari alone. It’s not bragging to mention you got a promotion or the puppy you’ve been wanting or the dream woman or man you’ve been seeking.

…self-confidence is a must.

The world pressures us to do right and be successful. It tells us to strive, never give up and to do our best. On the other hand, the world says to keep your successes to yourself. Society says it makes people uncomfortable to hear you talk about your accomplishments. I say, shine a light on yourself and be proud. Humility is a must. So is self-confidence. Clean up your social circle. Surround yourself with people who don’t think you’re bragging every time you open your mouth. Celebrate your own successes. Happy Thanksgiving. Celebrate safely and socially distant.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

How to Say No to a Needy Roommate

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You’re finally free of Mom and Dad, allowing you to experience the woes of adulting alone. Paying bills, working, putting fun aside for important things…it’s a lot, but it’s all part of adulting. Also part of adulting is knowing you can’t do it alone, and you need help paying the rent. A strange roommate is better than living with your parents, but sometimes roommates become too needy and presumptuous. Saying no to them can be hard, but it’s a must, and there are ways.

Boundaries exist for a reason…

Say it with me: boundaries. There are those among us who find comfort in privacy. I’m not talking about paranoid old people who watch you from between the cracks in their blinds. I mean, people like you, reading this article who value their space. Boundaries exist for a reason, and you must set them. For this reason, it is important to express your expectations prior to moving in or as soon as possible. The longer you allow your roommate to overstep, the harder it will be to confront them and have them take your concerns seriously. Tell them your likes and dislikes, your choice of music, your bedtime, what you like to do in your spare time and so forth. This is called getting to know them. It will help in the future.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to have a sit-down with your roommate. Tell your roommate what’s bothering you. For instance, maybe they borrow your things, like clothes or your last slice of pizza from the fridge, without permission and that grinds your gears. It’s not petty of you to expect your ice-cold soda to be in the fridge waiting on your parched mouth. It’s not petty of you to be upset when it isn’t. Don’t let your roommate play reverse psychology and have you question the legitimacy of your complaints. Say what’s on your mind and stick to it.

A thief would rob you homeless.

Moreover, if you have a roommate who’s too presumptuous, you’ve probably been shocked to find that person had been in your room without permission while you were gone. You probably causally inquired as to why that person had been in your bedroom and they made an excuse you didn’t buy. Well, it’s time for you to get a bedroom lock. I know you shouldn’t have to chain your things up in your own home, but you must protect your valuables. A potential thief would rob you homeless. True, a padlock won’t stop a determined thief, but it could stop your presumptuous roommate from overstepping their bounds.

…you need your space…

Additionally, you should invest in renter’s insurance. For prices as low as $6 a month, you can insure and protect all your valuables. Imagine your irresponsible roommate throwing a house party and your favorite earrings or game console goes missing. You could be out of thousands. With a good insurance policy, you’ll just be out of a deductible. This requires adulting though. For certain property be covered, in most cases, you’ll need receipts. So, you should always keep copies of receipts. This should be easy, considering many people order online and stores send digital receipts, and everyone has a smartphone. These days, you can snap a picture of a receipt and your phone will automatically label it as such and store it to a particular folder.

Having a roommate can be a blessing, or it can be a nightmare. It depends mostly on the type of person you’re living with and the boundaries you’ve established. Maybe the roommate is cool, but you need your space, instead of having them hang out with you all day. Or you want them to stay out of your stuff. Telling them this can be uncomfortable, but it’s their sanity or yours. Choose wisely. Be calm and respectful but stern. Tell them how you feel. The sooner you address the issue, the easier it will be to resolve.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Losing Your Tail: An Ode to Eeyore

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As a child, I was always fascinated by Winnie the Pooh, but Eeyore’s constant state of depression confused me. Why was he always so sad? Like most children, I didn’t find out until much later that the cause of Eeyore’s sadness was his lost tail. The one he had was not his own, and not having his tail affected him to the point he suffered some form of PTSD. Don’t be Eeyore. You lost your tail can be your former spouse, your foreclosed home, your stock or anything you hold dear. Newsflash: it’s time to get over losing it, and there are ways.

Ask yourself, where did I go wrong?

I’m not going to tell you breakups are easy or losing your job isn’t a big deal. Breakups aren’t easy, and no one wants to be fired. Well, mostly. To deal with that hurt, you must confront it. Look it in the face, acknowledge it, but don’t let it overwhelm your vision of self. Ask your self, where did I go wrong? What could I have done better?

The old adage says everything happens for a reason. I believe that, but to a degree. There is a reason for everything that happens, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a good one. However, for good or bad, it happened. It is out of your control. Your old boss won’t call you up and say, ”I’ve heard you’re so sad, I want you to come back.” Your ex won’t say, ”Ending things with you have made me realize how much I need you.”

When dealing with an issue that has already transpired, don’t obsess. I said it’s fine to think about it, but you have to know when to stop. It’s usually the moment when you say, ”I’ll stop obsessing later.” Procrastination enables obsession. The longer you let your bad breakup corrode your emotional state, the harder it will be to fight off depression.

Know your next move.

The best thing you can do after a great loss is make a great plan to move forward. I know you’re tired of hearing how planning magically makes your goals a reality. No, it doesn’t work that way, but planning gives you an advantage. You’ll have a general idea of what to do, even if it’s not fully fleshed out. Know what your next move is.

You also have to thank the Greater Being you believe in for that foreclosure, car repo or breakup. You say why? Because maybe the universe saved you some agony. What if the house had a carbon monoxide leak slowly killing your family, or the car had a bad brakes and an accident was imminent? All of that is farfetched, but the point is, you never know the hell losing something or someone can save you.

You’re made to evolve, so just do it already.

Eeyore lost his tail and let depresssion consume him until he was a shell of a donkey. Sure, he’s a cartoon, yet he’s a an excellent example of how not getting over loss can drain your chances at happiness. Moping changes nothing. Action does. Forget your lost tail, whether it’s a spouse or prized possession. It isn’t the end of your life. It’s simply an alteration. You’re made to evolve, so just do it already.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Confronting Lazy Coworkers (Or Classmates)

From Pexles.com

We’ve all been there. You’ve been assigned a group project at work or even at school. The other two or three people on your team are at least attempting to hold their own, but there’s that one late guy who thinks rules of work don’t apply to him. Or maybe it’s an attractive coworker who thinks their rugged good looks or cute figure will get them by. It irritates and frustrates you, but you don’t know how to deal with it. Well, there are a few key ways to handle lazy people.

Stress leads to depression.

To begin with, confront yourself. Though the lazy person obviously needs to step their game up, something in you would rather have you grind your teeth and soldier on than confront the person and feel awkward for a while. Why is that? Why would you want to suffer carrying someone else’s workload than confront them? You don’t deserve that. Allowing someone to bully you will only emotionally harm you.

Confronting that person may come across as a huge step, and it is. However, you need to take that step for yourself and your own health. Imagine biting your tongue every time someone puts their work off on you. Whether you’re a college student or a professional, the added stress can damage your quality of life. Stress leads to depression. You’ll be gray before your time at the hands of others, if you don’t stand up for yourself.

Protect yourself...

Taking a step back, it is important to delegate duties. Everyone must know their role. Deadlines must be set, and meetings have to take place. The sooner you find out there’s a slacker, the sooner you can address and correct the issue. Don’t wait until your boss says, ”Where’s the project?” or the day your professor says, ”Presentations are due.” This will be the bane of you. Protect yourself professionally and academically.

Also, before speaking to the other person alone, have a group meeting. Go first. Tell and show your coworkers or class group what you’ve done so far. Once it’s on the slacker, the slacker will make excuses as to why they haven’t completed their part. It may embarrass them enough to actually make them do their work. Nothing gets someone more uncomfortable than being put on the spot when they’re unprepared.

From Pexles.com

If the other person continues to slack, if no one has brought it up by now, you do it. Get the others’ opinions. If they feel the same way you do, you all together should address the lazy person. Tell them what the issue is and give examples of when they have been late on deadlines or completing milestones. Let them give their side. Listen patiently. Reinforce what you’re feeling and kindly let them know your future expectations.

When all else fails, you must report the slacker to your boss or professor. It sounds harsh, but it’s life. There are those who will take advantage of your meekness. They will trample all over you if you allow them to. Notifying your boss is what’s called C.Y.A., or covering your ass. Don’t take the blame for someone else’s underperformance.

Still, you have to be understanding.

However, you must be empathetic of other people’s situations. With the pandemic in full force, you see that life happens. Some things are out of our control. So, you have to be understanding. Still, a slacker will show who they are. One insincere excuse will follow another. You should be able to identify those with a real life issue from those who don’t.

That said, be your own backbone and stand up to lazy coworkers or classmates. You don’t have to do other people’s work. That’s the whole point of splitting it as a group. Don’t take a reprimand for someone who wouldn’t for you. They may not care about their career or academic future, but you care about yours. If that person won’t work, turn them in to the boss or professor. It’s not stitching. It’s covering your ass.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get updates on blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Conquering Self-Doubt After Failure: How to Win

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Maybe your boss overlooked your hard work and instead promoted the know-it-all who gossips behind everyone’s back and gets half the amount of work done you do. Maybe you had a job interview but didn’t get the position. Or you finally confessed your love for your crush, but your crush shot you down. Whatever you’ve failed at, you feel embarrassed, likely ashamed, and inadequate. Also, you’re afraid to make your next move, because you’ve failed before. Fear is fine. Folding to fear is not. You must shake your fear, treat your bruises and move on. New opportunities have (or will) presented themselves, but you feel incapable or inadequate for those opportunities. You must overcome that self-doubt, but how do you do that?

I told myself I am worthy

Recently, a college offered an interview for the job of my life. I imagined myself in a suit and tie teaching eager 20-something-year olds how to master grammar. Me, a professor. The thought alone blew my mind. The offer followed my having some professional hiccups. Coming from humble beginnings, I could be lecturing a class of students and guiding them. That thought is as overwhelming as it is exciting. Knowing how hard I worked to get in the position to even have a college consider employing me as a professor did nothing to quell the nervousness bubbling in my gut. However, after doubting myself and worrying, I told myself I am worthy because I earned it.

In 2021, do away with toxic humbleness, the type that tells you that you aren’t good enough. Humility is a good thing until it takes on the corrosiveness of self-doubt. Whether you’re applying for a new job, thinking about changing careers or simply changing yourself, you have to remind yourself that everything you want, you deserve it. Easily, you can think of a million reasons you can’t achieve or deserve a goal, but you have to find the main reason you can. That reason can be because you need it, worked for it or just because you want it.

In a sea of people, you stand out.

Moreover, when was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror? Really looked at yourself? Look yourself in the face and say, “I got this.” They say crazy people talk to themselves. Well, I’m nuts, because I often talk to myself. If you don’t encourage yourself, who will? The belief of the world in you starts with your own belief in yourself. Peer into that mirror and remind yourself of your worthiness and greatness. Whether the president or the pope, no one is above you. In a sea of people, you stand apart. The kindle of self-worth is within you. Your belief in yourself is the spark to set it ablaze.

Next, you have to stop pitying yourself. You failed. So what? It happens. You shouldn’t mope about it. Sure, take time to process what went wrong. Replay the scenario in your head and see what could have gone better. Analyze. Don’t obsess. People fail all the time, and sometimes, it is out of their control. Delinquent homeowners are foreclosed on by heartless banks. Maybe the homeowners had a gambling problem, so their issue is their own creation. Even if this is true, even if you somewhat helped in your failure, you can not pity yourself. Not a soul walking this planet has walked it perfectly. For proof, catch the news on politicians caught participating in the same activities they publicly discourage. This is what happened when someone caught former president Bill Clinton smoking weed while president. That didn’t stop him from seeking — and winning — a second term. Be bold as Bill.

Embrace every part of yourself…

So, you’ve made some mistakes in the past and missed an opportunity. You feel like a failure. You feel inadequate and discouraged. Failure together with fear will inhibit you. To blossom, do away with those feelings. Forgive yourself for whatever you didn’t succeed at and move forward. A failure is someone who accepts failure. A winner doesn’t let defeat dictate their next battle, other than to ensure that battle goes in their favor. Try. Fail. Try again. Search for new opportunities. Do not feel overwhelmed. Embrace every part of yourself and beat your self-doubt.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get updates on blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.


Growing Your Own Wings: You Got This

Who are you trying to please? What arrogant asshole has you feeling inadequate or less than? Don’t lie to yourself. The sooner you face the reality that you allow your happiness to be determined by how someone else feels about you, the sooner you’ll be cured of this. Sometimes, we fall in awe with people, i.e. being starstruck. We are taken by who they are and where they came from. In a way, we aspire to be that person and so we break our backs unsuccessfully to please that person. I am here to say, you must confront this person and move on, whether that person is a best friend, lover or employer. Whoever that person is, it’s time for you to realize they’re not worth impressing, and it’s time for you to spread your wings and soar.

“You feel pressured to agree [with them]. Don’t.

The other day, my youngest daughter was watching an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. After SpongeBob’s boss decides to impersonate a famous clown instead of paying the money to hire the clown, SpongeBob calls his boss “Cheapy the Cheapskate.” Mr. Krabs’ true colors crushed SpongeBob’s false perception of Mr. Krabs. Instead of thinking of him as generous, SpongeBob knows his boss is selfish and cheap. While my daughter giggled at the episode, I processed it, having recently uncovered a phony in my own life.

Maybe you have a mentor or boss you look up to. Up to this point in your life, you’ve done all you could to impress them; you’ve taken their advice, strived to be a better you and made sure not to make the same mistakes twice. Yet this person you seek to impress doesn’t respect you. Where you listen to their opinions, they half listen to yours and stomp all over them. If your viewpoint isn’t their own, they can not let it go. You feel pressured into agreeing with them. Don’t.

“Don’t let anyone tell you your opinion…is wrong.”

The biggest part of growing is accepting and defending your well-researched viewpoints or holy-held spiritual or moral beliefs. Once, my former boss took the entire office out to lunch. She asked what I was getting for lunch, and when I said, “ribs,” she said I should get something different. I didn’t. When my steaming, tender plate of ribs came, red-faced, she said, “I thought I said get something different.” And I said, “I wanted the ribs” and enjoyed every artery-clogging bite.

As you grow, you’ll see you really like some things the person you wish to impress does too while really disliking others they love. So what? For instance, you may be against the death penalty while the other person is for it. Though the death penalty is essentially a moral issue, there are facts to bolster both sides of the argument. Just because someone has facts doesn’t mean their facts are more powerful than your own. Don’t let anyone tell you your opinion or belief is wrong.

Moreover, it is time to stand up for yourself. You must address every condescending remark your mentor, friend, parent, boss or whoever throws your way. Take a moment. Breathe. Then address the person. It is best to check the person at that moment for impact. Or you can wait, mull things over and call or text the person. Don’t let them tell you that you misinterpreted what they said. Don’t let them tell you what you’re feeling is misplaced, isn’t real or based on a false premise. No. You have to say, “Maybe you didn’t mean it that way, but I took it that way, and that’s what matters.”

“They intentionally drown out your opinion.”

If the person doesn’t apologize, tell them they have not apologized and why they should. Don’t accept “I didn’t mean it that way” as an apology. Getting them to give a real, meaningful apology is important in preventing them from making condescending remarks in the future. If they don’t apologize, they will do it again. So, without a sincere apology from that person, I would suggest you nix that person from your life.

Sometimes, we fall in love with the idea of a person. We place them on a pedestal and seek to impress that person, be it a friend, parent boss or coworker. In doing so, we often whitewash who we are. Mentors can sometimes build cages around you, trapping you in a world of their opinions and beliefs. They intentionally drown out yours. You must stop trying to impress that person, spread your wings and take off. You got this.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get updates on blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck (In 2020)

As this year comes to a close, the sci-fi horror story complete with a failing economy and killer pandemic is only getting worse. The pressures to do something, to be somebody have only multiplied. Never has it been such a great time to give a fuck less. Enter: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is not your normal self-help book, and it is not for the faint of heart. This book doesn’t coddle you into feeling better or amp you up into believing you can do anything. Instead, it tells you how life is and suggests that you just deal with it. This is something we need to hear right now as Americans. As people, we dress in fancy clothes or use “good English” to set ourselves apart. In our Sunday’s best working hard at our jobs, we simply pray someone, anyone, gives a fuck about us and our faux-pretentious hard work. What if they don’t? Do we give up or do we change gears?

“Giving others dominion over your happiness doesn’t end well.”

No matter how perfect you try to be or how nice you are to everyone, you can’t please every single person. Have you ever noticed that one insult outweighs a dozen compliments? Celebrities are praised daily on social media, but it takes just one off-color comment to set them off. Just like you, they are only human. Also like you, they shouldn’t give a fuck about what a troll says on the internet, but it’s human nature to want to impress and do better. Yet giving others dominion over your happiness doesn’t end well.

COVID may have you scared in the house, and rightfully so. Caskets of the deadly infected are dropping every day while the infection and hospitalization rates climb. This is terrible, and it is fine to feel afraid, but you can’t let this pandemic hold you back from self growth. Use this time to mediate, think and plan. Don’t let other people’s expectations hold you back. Equally, you can’t let those expectations force you to act more quickly than you plan to. Doing so puts you under unfair pressure.

“…take the crookeds with the straights.”

I have always been a believer that in order to achieve goals, I must write them out and go for them. I have never been the type to weigh the consequences. As Mark Manson put it in Not Giving a Fuck, life is a series of problems and when you decide what success you want, you also have to decide what pain you want. That means that everything comes with a certain stock of pain. As science puts it, for every action there is an equally adverse reaction. Simply put, take the good with the bad. Or as Troy Maxon in Fences would say, take the crookeds with the straights.

What is failure?”

Success is not easy. You will lose a lot to gain what you want. It is called sacrifice. This is why ninety percent of us fail. Because we lack the fortitude to keep on in the face of adversity. The pandemic and economy may scare you. Failure may scare you. But what is failure? Do we fail by society’s standards or our own? That choice is up to you.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get updates on blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

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