Last week I took a break from 'The Real Word' to make sure this week's article was more upbeat for my dedicated readers. Today, I'm kicking it up a notch. Ready? Yes? Well, let's go!
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not ladylike.
"ALEXIS! Why would you say that?!" Well...because...it's true. I spent 18 years believing that "In order to get respect, you have to give it." This is true, in some cases. However, a woman respecting herself does not involve the clothes she wears, the music she listens to, or the frequency of her sexual relationships.
When I got to college, I began to wear skirts, shorts, and shorter dresses. I fell in love with crop tops, and I never feel ashamed of uploading my bikini pics during Spring Break. In fact, most of my Instagram pictures are in these same types of clothing. If someone chooses to judge me from my attire on social media, then they can simply unfollow. I twerk, I occasionally drink alcohol (in moderation), and I am in LOVE with rap music. Young Jeezy, Gucci Mane, Young Scooter...you name the rapper, I know the rapper. In society's world, I am not the typical ladylike woman. However, that does not keep me from being the intelligent, kind person I will always be.
With that being said, I want to introduce the world to my types of role models. Check out the list below:
1. The 'Carefree' Role Model
How are former exotic dancers like Blac Chyna and Amber Rose role models? They are proof to current dancers that there are ways that you can capitalize from your earnings, and leave the pole in the past. Chyna (born Angela) and Amber both appeared in music videos to get their names in the press. Afterward, they used that attention to promote their businesses. Chyna now owns her own clothing line, and skin care business. Her boutique, "Lashed", provides body waxing, facials and eyelash extension services.
Amber is now an actress, author, and she has released her own line of sunglasses. The same women that you see bearing their busts and posterior areas on Instagram, are the same women who have several brands to manage. They are mothers who will raise their sons not to disrespect a woman because she dresses the way she pleases. They are MY type of role models.
2. The 'Educated' Role Model
I have hundreds of celebrities that I want to meet. However, if I never get to meet Taraji P. Henson and Regina King, I will never be satisfied. Watching Regina King hold an EMMY in her hand gave me an extra dose of 'Black Girl Magic'. She was worked for over 30 years in television and film, including animation; easily making her one of the most versatile and brilliant actresses in the African-American community. Ms. King went from "227 Brenda" to "Emmy winning actress" and I'm not mad at her.
Take a look at the picture above and notice the apparent honor Taraji felt as she handed Regina her award. There is nothing more beautiful than true friendship. When Henson starred in her first major films Hustle & Flow and Baby Boy, she admitted that she had done her own hair because she could not afford stylists and hair extensions. She came to California after graduating from Howard University with $700 to her name. Today, she is an Academy Award nominee, and an Emmy Award nominee. Whenever I doubt myself, I look to my educated role models and say to myself..."If they can make it through college and their budding careers...so can I."
What You Can Take from This:
I encourage my readers to look for encouragement through everyone. Even if you notice someone who is making mistakes...figure out a way to ensure that you don't follow those patterns. Education goes beyond a classroom. Never stop learning. Never stop observing. Allow yourself to be inspired by the world, not hindered by it.
This post will probably be the hardest for me to write. When I relaunched my site, I agreed to be more open with my readers. I promised I wouldn't sugarcoat things like the famous bloggers do these days. So I'd like to finally admit that I have suffered with depression since I started college. That is 3.5 years of inconsistent anxiety, random bouts of sadness, and many days of not even leaving my room or apartment.
Even though I'm still suffering every now and then, I wouldn't have been able to make it through these experiences without my immediate family...and the few, true friends I do have. I say 'few' because I've lost many friends since the start of my depression. People take it personally when you don't want to hang out every weekend. Instead of asking if anything is wrong, they assume you're being boring and/or fake. Eventually, the contact ends.
I don't want anyone else to lose friends and miss out on experiences like I have. So, I came up with three small strategies to inform my readers on how to help someone who currently suffers with depression and/or anxiety. Here goes:
1. Always invite them to outings/events, even if you think they will decline.
Even though someone may feel down, it does not mean that they want to feel left out. I'd rather tell my friends, "Not this time," and see them have a great time. However, if I see them on Snapchat having fun without giving me an invite, it is more likely to trigger my depression. Let your friend or family member know that you are willing to just stop and see them if going out is too much for them. It really helps tremendously.
2. Don't tell them that they aren't depressed. Don't tell them to "Get over it."
Of course "Work harder!" or "Suck it up!" sounds encouraging to someone who is emotionally stable and actually happy most of the time. But to a person suffering with depression, it sounds like you're trying to tell them that their feelings aren't valid. Let them know that it's ok to feel inadequate, and that there are solutions. Listen to their feelings, even if they can't express them in detail. Don't try to fix them, but don't dismiss them either. Just be there.
3. Learn to think on their 'level'.
This step can not be done without effectively utilizing steps 1 and 2. By thinking on your loved one's level, you help them AND yourself. If you think that they may have been in the house too long, and you want them to feel better, invite them to things you know that they'd never turn down. For example, if your best friend is a foodie, ask them to go to a new restaurant with you. If you know your cousin loves comedy movies, then take them to go see "Trainwreck"...or "Straight Outta Compton"...whichever you prefer. There's nothing better than good food and a lot of laughs.
Those are just a few steps, but having a healthy relationship with someone who has depression is always a process. There's never enough 'steps' that you can take in order to help. Also remember to never take thoughts or mentions of suicide lightly. If you ever hear of someone wanting to kill themselves, make sure they seek immediate help and medical attention. Thanks for reading, as this subject is near and dear to my heart.
Read or weep,