It was around 10:30pm last Monday when I was on the phone with one of my friends. We were just talking about what was going on with her school, job, and of course personal life. Somehow her guy troubles took up 45 minutes of a 47-minute phone call.
Then, she asked me what was up with me. I replied, “Nothing. Everything is fine.”
I don’t know about anybody else, but this is how I respond every time someone asks how I’m doing. Family, friends, co-workers, etc. I don’t like talking about myself or making the story about myself. I guess it’s the journalist/producer in me. I’m after hearing other people’s stories, not my own.
I don’t have that best friend to turn to that knows where every skeleton in my closet is. I don’t have that close-knit bond to my family that a lot of people fortunately have. I have to deal with my problems, issues, and battles by myself, or at least I used to think like that.
From a young age, I had to be a rock and a support system for other people. I had to put what I wanted and my feelings on the back burner because other people’s situations, desires, and feelings took precedent. I still remember when my parents got divorced when I was 11. I never had the chance to ever come to terms with that because I was being pulled in two different directions like a game of tug-of-war.
I have had to witness this matriarch and woman so full of fire, purpose, and a lot of times stubbornness, break down over time. Selfishly, sometimes I don’t go home so I don’t have to watch it anymore because I don’t know how much more I can take. Then, as an African American, I automatically have to be mentally tough and strong just to look at the news. That’s a battle only 14% of people in America can relate to.
I really don’t know how many more stories of cops shooting innocent black teens I can take before I become numb, if I’m not already. I really don’t know how many more times I can explain my culture without feeling like I’m defending my race. I don’t know how many times I can turn the other cheek when I hear racial slurs on campus and especially downtown Athens at night inside of a bar.
I just don’t know how much more I can take. It’s a sad truth, but as an African American, a large majority of us feel like we have to be twice as good to get half of what white people have. At the end of the day, black culture is popular, but black people are not.
The fact is no one can do it by himself or herself. Everyone needs someone or something. As I write a lot of this, I’m laughing because the people I talk to on a daily basis and have known for years are more than likely hearing of my concerns for the first time. Little do they know, they all have helped the helper.
Their stories about their significant others, drunken nights down town, and their concerns about their family, personal life, and future have helped me deal with my own concerns. Listening to them gives me a brief moment to escape from my problems. And I thank them for that.
When I’m around my female friends, I get a kick out of them complaining that all guys are the same (And we are not). At the same token, I laugh hysterically when I’m with my guy friends and they have female trouble because they stuck their foot in their mouth. Hearing their personal problems makes me feel better about my personal life (or lack thereof).
To get through the anxiety and stress, I write stories and poetry, tweet, and even producing other people’s stories help me. I’m one of three executive producers for a site called ELITE (Exceptional Leaders Identifying the Talents of Everyone).
My biggest joy as an EP isn’t seeing things I’ve done personally catch fire, but I love seeing our writers write something and be proud of it. That’s why I want to become a producer.
This brings me joy and peace in my life. Every day, I’m blessed to wake up and know I have a passion that fulfills me.
So who helps the helper? The community helps the helper. The very process of helping helps the helper. Every now and then, we just need to remind ourselves, or have someone else remind us of that.