Turning L’s Into Lessons

Like John C. Maxwell said, "You must be big enough to admit your mistakes, smart enough to learn from them, and strong enough to correct them." Afterall, life is all about learning and growing.

The year 2020 has been filled with many surprises. First, we lost Kobe and his daughter. Come March, the whole world had come crashing down— literally. Everything shut down and the world was in crisis mode. By June, Black Lives Matter protests took place in all 50 states, adding more fuel to the fire. Chadwick Boseman, a champ, had been fighting for his life with no one knowing. This year showed us that anything can change in a blink of an eye. Therefore, live the one life you have before it’s gone.

I’ve had my fair share of surprises as well. Never in a million years did I ever think I’d be the bridesmaid that declined to participate in the wedding. I definitely didn’t anticipate making such a decision two weeks prior to the big day. As I said before, 2020 has been filled with many surprises. I’m sure you’re probably wondering what the hell happened? Don’t worry, hang tight, we’ll get there.

The scariest part about telling your truth, is that it’s your truth. People aren’t going to be fond of how you tell your story. Some may even retaliate, but it’s not your job to make them comfortable. It’s your job to share the parts of you that you wish to share. Who knows? Maybe, “one day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide.” – Brené Brown

Perhaps I overstepped, or maybe I didn’t. I’ll let you decide. I wasn’t aware that there were certain rules and guidelines that needed to be followed: not making suggestions, asking questions, or sharing your dislike for something. I wasn’t aware that as a bridesmaid you are expected to “suck it up and move on.” So, I learned a few things:

People will have a problem with what you say and never tell you.

After purchasing the bridesmaid dresses, I asked if it could be modified with a slit. I was told to make sure everyone else was in agreement and proceed from there. Or, when she asked how I felt about my daughter’s hair being placed in a bun and I said, “I don’t know how well that will executed since she’s natural but a puff with jewels and edges would probably work better. We might be able to blow it out and use the donut bun thing.” She responded saying, “a puff will work too.” I never knew what I said was a problem. It wasn’t until I received an unpleasant visit from the bride’s father, that I realized there were an issue. He arrived at my residence to confront me. He brought up multiple points: I didn’t want to rinse my hair black, the bun, I didn’t have a babysitter, and even blamed me for the bachelorette party not happening. I couldn’t afford to go. I opted out about a month in advance and didn’t ask for my money back. I can’t be mad at him, not entirely. He did what any parent would have done and defended his child. To his knowledge I had an issue with “everything” presented to me (false). Apparently, anything I said was repeated to the bride’s parents. I was being painted in a negative light the entire time. So, when I declined to change my hair color, that sent him over edge. But we’ll get to that part later.

Sometimes it’s best to say nothing at all.

While going through that journey, I noticed others saying things that they preferred or didn’t want. Some complained about prices. I was so confused as to why they’d never tell the bride. In my mind that was fake. Why pretend that you’re okay with something if you’re not? Why talk amongst yourselves but never directly to the person? I was staying true to my values of honesty and transparency, but not everyone is a fan. I guess that’s why they say the realest people don’t have many friends. Some people would rather you be quiet and not keep it real.

When it seems as if someone doesn’t understand a concept, enlighten them, don’t talk about them.

At the time, I wasn’t aware of wedding etiquette. I’m not sure if it was etiquette or preference but either way— I didn’t know. Often, I was the topic of discussion, giving others the perception that perhaps I was being difficult when in reality, I never knew my suggestions, questions, or saying that I disliked something was an issue to begin with. My lack of knowledge could’ve been fixed with someone enlightening me. Instead I was being torn apart and made out to be someone I wasn’t.

You’re probably thinking… that’s minor stuff. Are you still wondering why I wasn’t part of the wedding? It gets better!

It was two weeks until showtime! I was getting all the small details together and I was excited! I felt like Drake, “N**** we made it!” My phone went off and I got a text asking if I confirmed my hair appointment. I had an appointment set up, but I needed to double check with the person styling my hair. Things were good until I got another text asking if a different stylist had mentioned rinsing my hair black. Right then and there, I could feel my anxiety flaring. I already knew what was coming next! I said, “No she didn’t mention it.” A text followed asking how I felt about getting a black rinse. I replied, “no ma’am, I apologize but I cannot.” And absolute hell broke loose! We exchanged a few texts. I knew things were going to end bad. My intuition is never wrong.

As I mentioned before, her father arrived at my residence to confront me. He’d said a lot of disrespectful things to me. He really tried to insult me. I have the audio. The body language, his tone, and air quotes all showed me that he meant every word he said. I left my own home distraught. I drove to my cousins’, walked into the house, and I broke down. In tears I said, “I’m defeated. I feel so defeated.” Time and time again, I was doing everything by the book, doing everything I could to please people! I had my child young so I went to college, got degrees, got awards, and joined Greek life. I got my own car and had my own place; I did everything to please people but that wasn’t enough. I held my tongue a lot during the wedding process yet the little I did say was made out to be so bad. People had always had issues with me or something I’d done, but never told me. They always spread sh*t. I had had enough.

I was informed that I was countering everything. My entire household was in or at the wedding, I had no sitter (no kids allowed), so she added my child to the wedding party. I appreciated that, and expressed it. There was a wig I could wear. She preferred that I wear hers but I had to pay for that. We agreed that wearing my locs in a style she chose was the better option. My plan was to have black faux locs added to the ends of my locs, covering the color. I’m a ginger by choice and I have been for over a year. It was unreasonable to ask me to change my physical appearance in that way.

Had I not said no, I would’ve never known how much of a burden I was the entire time. After an exchange of many texts, as well as an unpleasant surprise visit, I chose to leave the wedding party. The biggest lessons I learned was to stay true to who I am, choose peace, and do what’s best for me.

Stay true to who you are!

If something doesn’t sit well with you, listen to it. That’s your intuition talking. I was compromising to the best of my ability. On the first day dress shopping I felt uneasy but I pushed through it. When it came down to taking away the key parts of who I am, I couldn’t do that. Part of the reason I was selected was because of how unique I am, yet my uniqueness was the problem. In life, sometimes people fall in love with the idea of us but not the real us.

Peace over everything!

That’s one of the mottos I live by. At a certain point, no words can be taken back. Those views have already been expressed. I could have chosen to put my pride aside and stood up there with a smile on my face, but I’d be battling with myself internally. Or, I could choose peace and opt out with no ill will against anyone. Peace isn’t about everyone else. Peace is about you. Sometimes we have to avoid people or situations just to protect our mental state.

Do what’s best for you!

One of the realest things she said was, “I want you to do what’s best for you.” She also said something along the lines of, “it’s what you feel you can handle.” Regardless of the backlash I knew I’d get from people and the bridesmaids; I did what was best for me. I chose myself. I was removing myself from a situation where my gestures brought an abundance of frustration. Sometimes the best decisions we make are the hardest. You will know you made the right decision when you make the hardest and most painful decision, but your heart is at peace.

People told me to be in it anyway. People kept asking if I were going to the wedding. People told me to get cute and attend anyway. Someone even asked me if I wanted to sit out in the car while it took place. I knew they meant well and I appreciated it all. However, I had to do what brought me peace. I needed that time alone to reflect. I wished the bride well and I tried enjoy my weekend. I made alternative plans, and oddly enough, not one plan fell through that night. Apparently, God is or was protecting me from something, so I won’t argue with ’em.

Life is composed of a bunch of results stemmed from decisions. Outcomes are only as bad as what our mind makes them out to be. Train your mind to turn your losses into lessons, and you’ll receive a blessing every time. In the words of Big Sean, “last night took an L but tonight I bounce back.”

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