What is Love? Baby Don’t Hurt Me

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow!!!
I love Valentine’s Day!
I love the spirit, I love the colors, I just love all the love that is in the air.

cartoon character sitting with dreamy face with hearts around her

Image By: We Heart It

We show love all year but it’s so different around Valentine’s day, because it’s basically love on steroids lol. It’s the extra that feels good: the frosting on the cake, the whipped cream on top of the frappucino, the sprinkles on the ice cream. It just feels better than all the other days and it looks prettier. Hey, maybe it’s just me, but I love it.

Valentine’s day isn’t just about a romantic relationship. It’s about showing love to someone in your life, whether it’s a romantic partner, a best friend, your parents, other family members, or even your pet. It’s about putting that love out there to make their world shine even brighter for the day.

In ode to Valentine’s day I asked friends and family to answer one of two questions:

  1. How did you know you were in love?
    or
  2. What does love mean to you?

Their responses reminded me why the essence of Valentine’s day is so important.
Their answers were:

“I knew I was in love when I started crying because she hung up on me” LOL
– Adonijah

“Love is more than just a feeling. You can feel strongly in like but love requires commitment. You can like someone and not be committed to them but love is a bond that yearns commitment.”
– Justin B

“Your smile melted my heart and I just knew 27 years ago”
– My Corny Older Sister Afiya

“I knew I was in love when I cared about his feelings and thought of how he would react to certain situations before I thought of anyone else”
– Lexxii

“The minute you find out you’re pregnant and then you hear the heartbeat, that is a love no one can match. I loved my daughter from that moment. I knew my purpose in life now was to love her, protect her, and make sure she knows I love her so she can accept nothing less from anyone else”
– Mareena

“I have no idea what love is. Sometimes I think I’m in love after one hour but should it be that fast? I don’t have a real solid definition but I know it feels damn good”
-Sabreen

“Love is so splendid. It’s selfless, kind, gentle, understanding, considerate. Love is putting yourself in situations to see how it feels to someone else before you do it. Love is wanting to be near the person or thing that gives you butterflies all the time. Love just might be the most powerful feeling.”
– My Mom whom I love every day by the way 🙂 lol

“Love means that you care for somebody and that somebody loves you and you love them.”
My six-year-old niece (She’s onto something here)

Valentine’s day doesn’t have to be just about showering someone with gifts, or spending a lot of money, orlike some Valentine’s day haters would say“taking this ONE day to show people you love them.” I can understand though how the commercialism of Valentine’s day can leave a bad taste in people’s mouthsit seems like just another day to put ridiculous amounts of money into businesses’ and restaurants’ pockets. Not to mention how triggering it can be for single people or people whose relationship isn’t in the best place. That’s why any time I come across someone that has this opinion about Valentine’s day, I like to emphasize that personally, my best version of Valentine’s Day usually requires no money to be spent at all, and it’s not just about a boyfriend or girlfriend. I enjoy quality time with family and people I love, letters, handmade thoughtful gifts and memorabilia. You can celebrate and have your special day that way as well, full of sentiment and without the need of material things.

Valentine’s day is a day of reflection, really remembering why you love who you love, why you appreciate them, and dedicating the day as the anniversary, the holiday, the celebration for that love. How can you not love it?!

boy with glasses with dreamy eyes looking up

Retrieved from QuanJing

For those of you who have a love-hate relationship with Valentine’s day, be your own Valentine this year. Shower yourself with love and attention.

man pointing to you as viewer with words "treat yourself"

Gif Retrieved from Pajiba.com

Whatever your reasoning may be for not necessarily enjoying or desiring to celebrate Valentine’s day, recreate the day and dedicate it to yourself. I’m always here for the self love, honey. Self love is the best love. The more you love yourself is the more you love others and accept love and disregard hate. But make sure you get a slice of all this love that is flying around right now; it’s beautiful, and on Feb 15th you won’t see it this loud anymore lol 🙂

happy valentines day

Image from Pixabay

two young girls hugging and smiling

Image by Masterfile

man and woman sitting on couch smiling at each other

Retrieved from Essence.com

two women in intimate hug embrace

Retrieved from CinemaJam

two male hands interlocked

Retrieved from StarObserver

toddler girl kissing her reflection in the mirror

Retrieved from PathwaysOfWisdom

Time to Re-Wire: Forming Habits

“We are what we repeatedly do” -Will Durant

I once heard that if you do anything consistently for 30 days it becomes a habit or automatic action in your life. Some research argues it’s actually 21 days, some argues 66 days, and some argue some other magic number, lol. All I know is that for the past 30 plus days that school has been on break, I have not thought about school, homework, or getting to class at 8:30 a.m., and I think I’ve picked up some new habits. I have been waking up late to get to work for 11: 00 a.m., watching enough tv for every student at City Tech, and spending A LOT of time on “social media lane.”

They say old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form, so I’ve been doing my own reading and research on how to master forming and breaking habits. So with that  said, the truth is I that I didn’t really form new habits because I have had school in the back of my mind this whole time. I mean I have been going to school for so long so it’s obviously a hard habit to break. I even found myself super bored some days wishing for the semester to start.

One of the articles I found that stuck out for me and actually provided realistic guidance on the forming of habits and sticking to them was The 3 R’s of Habit Change: How To Start New Habits That Actually Stick. Right in the beginning of the article, the author James Clear says “What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.” 
That makes sense!

Our lives are really just the product of ALL our habits wrapped up in one. It made me realize that there are actually many new habits I would like to form and some I want to drop. One thing that I want to point out is that a habit is not actually a “goal.” There is a big difference. For example the habit you want to form cannot be “to get all A’s this semester” or to “lose weight.” The habit is the activity that you want to take up that could promote your goal.

For example, the habit I want to form is to be in bed by 11 p.m. I am currently on a daily
9 a.m.-8 p.m. schedule, so getting my sleep is a PRIORITY and is really imperative to me being a regular sane person and not a ticking time bomb lol. What I do now is get in bed and then decide “oh hey girl, perfect time to scroll through social media or watch just one more episode” and then I wake up in the morning regretting it all.

The article talks about using “The Three R’s” to create new habits.

Reminder. Routine. Reward.

The reminder keeps you on top of the habit, the routine is the act of actually doing it, and reward is what motivates you to keep up your habit.

I’m going to use the 3 R’s by setting a REMINDER alarm to go to bed at 10:30 p.m. which will give me enough time to wrap up whatever I’m doing. Then initiate the ROUTINE by actually going to bed by 11pm and not getting on my phone. The REWARD will be evident in me feeling better, not feeling sleep deprived and having more energy, and being more productive at my internship, job, and school. This new habit will obviously 100% contribute to my GOAL of being successful without dragging myself to do so!

What habit would you like to take up to create a positive change in your life? Maybe it’s academic, maybe you want to drink water with lunch, exercise for an hour a day, stretch and meditate when you wake up; it can be anything! Definitely moving forward I’m going to try out the 3 R’s system and see how it’s going to benefit me in making the changes I want to and forming new habits that affect me positively.

I challenge you to start your new habit TODAY and together we will embark on a 21- day challenge. I choose 21 because that seems to be the universal minimum lol.

In three weeks, I’m checking in on you to see if your new habit has begun to come naturally to you. I’m so excited!!! The article I shared with you is pretty long, but I say– as pre-work to the challenge– give it a read (or a skim if that works better for you lol) and don’t forget: Reminder, Routine, Reward!!

 

Love, Neffi

The Finish Line

Good Morning!!! Today marks several finish lines for me.
(1) It’s the official last day of my semester,
(2) it also marks the beautiful finish to my first successful semester with The Buzz Blog!
When I first started, I had no idea where to really begin and how to organize my thoughts into things that would make sense to you guys reading it.
You can kind of compare the way my creative brain works to that last minute of popcorn popping in the microwave. You think it’s done and then there’s that solo *POP* out of nowhere and you’re like “Oh! I guess it’s not done” lol. That’s how my ideas work, I think I’m all settled and decided and then I’m like “Oh wait what about this instead?! Let’s change the whole thing and start over”.

Throughout this process of improving and growing, I have learned so much about channeling the message, and even when it feels like it is about to gear off a bit, finding a way to make the underlying message clear. I hope that you have taken away whatever message was meant for you, in that moment, while reading my posts. Namaste!

So last week I told you guys to keep pushing for your goals (Be a GOALDigger!), and to keep striving for the things that help you define success and happiness in your lives. There’s no greater feeling than living your best life, or at least knowing you’re on your way there. In my group dynamics class, which focuses on leading groups: from support groups, educational groups, self- help groups, etc, I was asked to create an icebreaker that promotes and challenges self actualization. I want to share the icebreaker with you because all of the things that I’ve talked about in this blog this semester from self love, to self care, to self discovery, they all really focus on how much you know about you, and how in tune you are with yourself and your feelings.

The icebreaker is named The “I Know Me” Checklist and it’s actually not a checklist, but a sentence completion exercise (Don’t ask..a checklist is going down a list so it works). It is 12 sentences meant to be answered in the morning, or maybe at the beginning of your week to take time to do some self reflection, encourage yourself, and also goal setting. Positive self talk is one of the driving factors of happiness and well being. As human beings we’re constantly talking to ourselves whether it’s actually outloud, or the things we are thinking internally, and this dialogue directly affects our confidence and self-esteem.
So why not make it as positive as it can be??

list of sentence completion activity

Credit: Neffi

When you get the chance, check out the “checklist” and go through it yourself now if you can, completing the sentences with the first (positive) response that comes to mind.
Or save it for tonight before bed, whenever you can be clear to enter a free cognitive space. Reflect on the thoughts and feelings it brings to light.
How does the answers make you feel? Think differently?

Please feel free to go through this checklist or even create your own to use as motivation and a reality check for you. Maybe you have a moment where you just need to feel better about yourself. Maybe you need to realign and figure out what your next steps are and what your goals are. Maybe you just need to create a mantra and routine. Exercises like these are beneficial to your relationship with YOU.
There’s no one on earth we spend more time with than ourselves.
I don’t know about you but I need that relationship to be A1!
Like the quote in the picture says:
“A negative mind cannot produce a positive life. Speak your happiness into existence!”


Happy holidays and Happy winter break to you all!
With Lotsssss of Loveeeeee,
maybe too much love,
like overwhelming “Grandma get off my cheeks I’m grown now” love,

Neffi!

Photo Credits:
Left Photo
Middle Photo
Right Photo

 

GOAL Digger

person passed out with crowd looking in concernLive photo of me on City Tech campus lol. Just kidding, but that’s how I’ve been feeling. These past two weeks have felt like I’m walking down the street, but the wind gusts are so strong that I’m not even getting anywhere. As soon as I finished one paper or project, the next was due right after it. I’ve also been dealing with some personal things and probably have been the most overwhelmed that I’ve ever been in my life.

But I push on.

I push on because I know what I am working towards and I know the things you want most, do not come easy. I am a GOAL digger.

mug that reads goal digger on table with office supplies

I’m sure you’re familiar with the label “GOLD digger”, used to describe someone who seems to be using others for financial gain and opportunity. You could just call them ambitious, or someone who is able to strategically match themselves with partners who can contribute to their lives… but hey I don’t make the definitions lol.

A “GOAL digger” in my own definition is someone who too is ambitious and clear of the things they want. Goal diggers have dreams, goals and aspirations for independence, success, and their version of happiness. They “dig in” and do the work to become the person they strive to be.

Being a “GOAL digger” is all mindset really. It’s the basic of setting goals for your life and doing what it takes to achieve them. Whether they are goals set in your education, your career, your personal life, or some other area. You are setting goals for whatever it is you desire that will define success to you. Tackling obstacles and burdens that may get in your way, being determined, persevering, sometimes a little suffering with blood, sweat, and tears.

A GOAL digger never stops working towards their goals.
What have you done to get better today?
Think of every single move you made in the last 24 hours.
Was everything geared at taking steps towards your goals?
Do you have a clear idea as to what your goal really is?
You need to do an honest self evaluation of where you are right now.
Then you can focus on shaping (or re-shaping) the path.
Then once you have your eye on THAT prize don’t lose sight of it.
Fight for it! Because us goal diggers, we don’t give up.

So as I finish up this post and will then have to re-direct my focus to the 3 finals I have the rest of this week, I’m not panicking, I’m actually celebrating. I celebrate because that means this semester is practically over and I’m one step closer to my goal.woman holding out hands excited and quote picSo continue to be the GOAL digger that you are, whether you’re goals are big or small, short term or long term, doesn’t matter. Sometimes my goal is simply to NOT finish the entire party size bag of Lays’s chips on my own. Lol just saying no shame.There’s a reason you want to accomplish these things, so respect that desire and do something about it. Set them, write them down, stick to them, and the reward is all yours.

Love ya, Neffi
quote picture

 

 

 

Inspe

This morning I’m taking inspiration from one of my favorite blogs, Inspe.
Inspe is ran by one of my friends, a divine being, a gem, Lauren Purnell. In Lauren’s words, Inspe, a twist on the word inspiration,  is “the art of getting your life. Anything that speaks to your soul and brings you joy. Spreading the vibe of authenticity. Create your life. Dream it. Speak it. Live it.”

I met her at my current job, where she no longer works because she wanted to pursue her entrepreneurial dream and abandon our friendship lol.

Just joking we’re still “amigas4life”. Inspe is a daily photo blog email. She sends out this email at 4 am with memes and gifs that have no specific story to tell, but you get to create your own story and interpret them how you please.
If you follow my posts you will know that I am a MEME QUEEN.

If you’ve ever texted me you will know that I am also a self proclaimed GIF connoisseur lol. So this blog is like heaven in an email. The thing is memes and really gifs really speak their own language. It puts imagery to feeling which is interesting because most people are stimulated by visuals. It’s almost like when you’re texting or talking on the phone and you can’t see someone face to face, you let them express your emotions for you. I love it!

So anyway, Inspe is unique in the sense that it leaves interpretation up to the beholder. Sometimes it’s just interesting or eye-catching aesthetics, funny stuff, sometimes you’re like “that is so trueeeeeeee!”, sometimes you have no choice but to screenshot at least 3 of the images because they hit something on the nail and send it forward.
You never know what you’re getting which is the best part.

As like a little preview, this was today’s inspe email:

There was a few gifs as well that I can’t add here but you get the gist.
Awesome Randomness.
If you want to subscribe, which you should lol, you can at this link and you will start receiving the emails.

Hope you decide to sign up, just sharing something I adore♥

Love ya, Neffi

‘Tis The Season

So let me guess, you’ll be having salad and water all week right? lol. Yea sure, me too.
I don’t know about you but I think during thanksgiving weekend I ate enough for me and you and your family too. I feel sick right now thinking about all the things I ate, or I should I say, overate. I actually got sick! Just shameful.

So anyway it’s like a holiday countdown at this point. One down, one more to go.
Me and my family have been bombarding our group chat with screen shots of things we want, providing “gift budgets” lol, and checking off what we’re getting for who.
My 6 year old niece started off saying she only wanted one thing, a Barbie dream house, and I thought “oh what a simple girl!”. As of sunday, her list is now at 6 or 7 items. What changed? I don’t know lol.

As the holidays approach whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, It’s always my favorite time of the year. It’s a festive time of tradition, happiness, and gift giving between family and friends. Everywhere you go you hear cheery music and see bright beautiful lighting, it gets annoying lol but I appreciate it.

                              * cues Mariah Carey’s  “All I want for Christmas is you” *

Granted it isn’t this “great exciting time” for everyone. For some this may be a time of recurring sadness due to events like the loss of a family member, current living circumstances, current financial status, or other burdens. That’s why it’s our job to use our privilege to spread love and cheer, as corny as that sounds. Take this time to maybe donate gifts or a blanket to your local shelter or agency. Those old clothes and coats you don’t wear, donate it. As the weather gets colder, consider helping someone who can’t afford winter clothing so that they can stay warm. There is more than enough local charities and volunteer groups hosting coat and blanket drives for homeless shelters and families in need. I’m sure there’s even one on campus. No gift is too small.

Bring donuts to work for your co-workers one morning. Hand out christmas cards with personalized messages this year. There’s so many simple ways we can make this time better for someone; and remember not everyone’s sadness is visible.

You can make a difference without spending a penny. You can donate TIME. There are always ways to help in your local community. Even if it’s just for a couple hours, the time that you give will make a difference to at least one person and that’s really what the holiday season is about. Heck, babysit your neighbor or your friend’s child for an evening if they look like they need a break.

One of the most important things to do in order to spread joy to others is to appreciate the joy in your own life. We have so much to be grateful for, but sometimes we get caught up in our busy schedules and forget about all the blessings in our lives. Even the things that stress us out the most are usually our biggest blessings: our jobs, family, school obligations.

I am grateful for my annoying family members that no matter how many times I tell them their gift cannot cost more than $50, they continue to send me pictures of things that cost $120 lol. I am grateful to be stressed out with term papers and studying for finals. It took me a long time to get back into school and I’m grateful and definitely not taking it for granted. I am grateful for this platform and even if only one person reads my post each week, I know they are taking something positive away from it. When you are grateful it seeps from your pores and everyone around you feels it because it reflects in your attitude and how you treat others. This holiday season, reflect on the joy in your life and intentionally take time to feel gratitude for those things and pass the feeling on to someone else.

Love Ya, Neffi
picture of quote


 


Potluck of Life: What do you bring to the table??

My department at work had our annual Giving Thanks potluck this past Friday. Everyone had to bring something to contribute to the meal.
People brought different food dishes, desserts, appetizers and eating utensils.
Some people went over the top and brought 3 dishes (me), some brought stuff that couldn’t possibly be for the 25 plus staff to all have a taste of. I mean three crab cakes? Really?

Two people did not bring a thing but their empty stomachs, AND the person who was supposed to bring the drinks didn’t even show up to work! Yes! I am 100% serious, we were back and forth to the water fountain with those paper cone cups, it was really a fiasco! Everyone kept asking me “who was supposed to bring the drinks?” LOL.
I just can’t.
People crashed uninvited from other departments, ate and left.
Just BOLD, and you know what, honestly, I think this is a PERFECT metaphor for life.

What role do you play in your life and others around ? Are you a contributor? The over selfless contributor? Are you the shameless freeloader? Are you doing the bare minimum just to say you did something? Are you the inconsiderate one who does not hold up their end or crashes the party unexpectedly?

Oh wait. Maybe….you have too many of these types of people in your life.

Here is what I think of when I think of these people.

The Contributor- Always thinking of, or giving to others. Gives without needing to receive and enjoys harmony among their peers. They can be counted on. Would like to consider themselves selfless. Helping others comes natural to them. Loves to set a positive tone for others around them.

The Over Selfless Contributor- Loves to give but maybe a little too much. Finds extreme satisfaction in making someone else happy, despite what it may take out of them. Risks ending up feeling unappreciated but still goes over the top for the sake of others.

The Shameless Freeloader- You often wonder if this person thinks of anyone other than themselves. They will know its your last and still ask you for it, and it seems it just doesn’t register to them that maybe you actually need it. Not necessarily a bad person, but definitely a selfish person.

The Bare Minimalist- This person does the absolute least expected of them only to be able to gain from others. You technically can’t say they haven’t done anything to contribute, but you almost feel like you’d prefer they not be a part of anything. They get to appreciate the fruits of others labor while others often feel cheated by them.

The Inconsiderate- There’s a very thin line between being selfish and simply just not caring. This person crosses that line. They are careless when it comes to considering other people’s feelings. They make the conscious decision to not think of anyone but themselves and only see things from their own perspective. Maybe they are unaware of their actions, but calling them out about it them tends to be pointless.

Any of these people sound familiar to you??

Imagine life and your relationships are a potluck. Everyone should be doing their part and bringing something to the table. That is how it is most successful, when people give, and people receive. It’s unfair when one person is holding up their end and has to overcompensate for someone else who hasn’t or isn’t contributing.

Do you bring something positive or negative to the table? Do you drain from the energy or contribute to it? Think about your friendships, family relationships, relationship with your significant other.

What role do you play and what role do you allow others to play in your life?

Do you need to re-evaluate your own actions or maybe re-evaluate your relationships?

Food for Thought.

Love you, Neffi


 

Self Discovery Series Part 4:…This Is Who I Am…..

You have now entered the finale to this series! If you need to catch up here you go>>>

Part Uno
Part Dos
Part Tres

The main goal of this series has been to stimulate your thoughts. When you hear the words “self discovery”, people tend to think it means to find yourself.
Nope, the big deal is not to
find yourself, we are already found.
What does find yourself even mean?

Self discovery is about knowing yourself. So I wanted to stimulate your thoughts on getting to a place where you are in tune with YOU underneath all of the outside influences. Your thoughts of how you perceive others and how others perceive you, and how easy it is to get it all wrong. Thoughts of knowing your truth and owning it. Thoughts of finding assurance, security, and happiness in knowing who you are, defined by your own standards.

The easiest way to get to know yourself is the same way you would get to know anyone else right? Questions, listening, paying attention. Trust me it’s okay if you haven’t been. We barely make time for intentional self-discovery. We’re just bombarded with messages from other people: what they want for us, what they think of us, how they perceive us; and we forget to listen the voice that matters most, our own!

I am no expert but I know what works for me, and only hope that the things I share may work for you as well. Through this process, I have learned more about myself as well. Part 2: Perceptions meant a lot to me. It threw back into my face how I can also be part of the problem. Assuming things about people I don’t know, writing my own story about them before one word of conversation. Creating snap judgements of people based on their expression or clothing, or how I (and this one I do a lot) create a character and personality for someone after simply reading an email from them.

I asked a few of my friends: my “sister friend” of over 11 years Mone, and a few of my blogging sisters Sam, Pebbles, and Cherishe to really dig deep like we talked about in Part 1, and tell me who they are, and I created a video montage of their responses. These women inspire me everyday and I am humbled to know them.  Embarking on a journey of self discovery is one of the most rewarding paths in life you will ever take, and one of the most beautiful things to witness happen in someone else’s life.

Don’t believe me?  Just watch. Click the video below to hear their self written stories :).

*VIDEO*

Just want to say thank you to these ladies for being vulnerable and open and muses for me and others around them all the time, I love you guys.

woamn with tears on face

Photo Credit

Although the journey of self-discovery never ends, you’ll know you’ve reached a good place when you’ve developed a greater sense of self-pride. You will be proud of the person you are and embrace even the ugliest things about you, because without them, you wouldn’t be you.

Teach yourself how to accept and love yourself for you who you are, no matter what you’ve been through and what you’ve learned in the process.

Acceptance makes all the difference in your confidence, self-esteem, and overall sense of self love. Love is loud and infectious and it stands out. Love yourself and others will have no choice but to fall in line hunny.

Own yourself, own your thoughts and your mind, and know that there’s nothing anyone can do or say that can take you away who you are, who you define yourself to be, from YOU.

I hope you enjoyed this series and it inspired you to get to know the “man (or woman lol) in the mirror” more.

Love, Neffi.

 

Self Discovery Series Part 3: Show Me What You See

Uno, Dos, Tres! Let’s get part three of the Self Discovery Series going! If you haven’t gotten with the program, you’re seriously under a rock and it’s not okay lol.

Catch up here by clicking on the links to part 1 and part 2.

So last week we talked about perceptions and how easy it is for people to have misconceptions of who we are, or perceive us incorrectly. They are seeing us through their own eyes, but we have the power to control what they perceive because their perception relies on what we are showing them.

A few weeks ago my blog sisters Brianna and Sabrina came to me with THE dopest idea! They found it here and it’s an experiment where a girl decides to let her boyfriend dress her for a week because he doesn’t seem to see her the way she sees herself. I decided to do this experiment with family members because as I mentioned in part 2, perception starts with external appearance. I wanted to see myself through my mother’s eyes, my brother’s eyes, and niece’s eyes. I felt like these were three great perspectives. My mother has her own image and expectations of me, my brother is super nonchalant and rarely compliments me lol, and my 6 year old niece idolizes me and is SUPER GIRLY so I knew this would be interesting.

So I asked them to dress me for work the next day. The only direction was to choose something that they feel is reflective of me through their own eyes. After they chose the outfits I asked them WHY they chose that outfit, and what did they think others would be able to perceive of my image on first sight.

I started with my 6 year old niece, Sanaa. This was interesting, just like I thought it would be. Let me start by saying she demanded everything from chokers, rings, makeup, shoes, I mean the whole 9.
blog author neffi young niece rummaging through clothing drawer
She landed with leopard cat ears (No it was NOT halloween), a gray camisole, brown suede skirt, olive blazer, brown choker, and furry platform sandals. I mean… look at her outfit in the picture above, she wears tutus and tiaras all day, I knew she would be over the top!

So umm yea… I mean impressive sense of style for a 6 year old, but I would NEVER go to work in those shoes or randomly with cat ears. When I asked her why she chose this outfit she said I am a beautiful person and the outfit makes me seem like a “nice beautiful girl”.

Next up was my Mom.

blog author neffi's mother pictured holding up burgundy pantsShe chose a burgundy tunic, black jeans, and black boots. Also I don’t know what’s their obsession with chokers lol but she chose a choker.

She said she chose this outfit because it looked more sophisticated than I normally look (I disagree lol) and that at my job I should be setting an example and looking the part. I teach young people ages 16-24 work readiness skills at The Door, a Nonprofit organization in NYC, and she feels I am more effective if I look more serious and sophisticated. I think I teach just right in my sneakers and sweatshirts but hey, perception is everything right?

Lastly, I asked my brother to select an outfit for me for work. All I can say is Lord have mercy lol.blog author neffi brother pictured holding up pants

This young man put in jeans with THE BIGGEST holes… for work!!. I looked like I was headed to a bar-be-que in the summer!

His thoughts behind the outfit was I looked stylish and “fashionable” and looked like “the people he sees when he goes to the city”. In his opinion, the outfit set a relaxed chill tone and he likes chill people. Younger brothers lol. He dressed me as a reflection of himself, how HE dresses, jeans and basic top.

This experiment went easier than I thought but I guess it was slightly biased because I only buy clothing I like (duh). It was interesting though to really pay attention to how much clothing is used to measure perception. My niece said my outfit made me look like “a beautiful person”, my mom said I was being a “role model” and my brother said I was “normal and approachable”. Although we have been taught not to judge a person solely by his or her outward appearance, even now as adults it remains to be one life lesson we hardly ever comply with. People tend to associate a specific clothing style with a certain personality, job affiliation, social status, and actually….our status period.

So as we are working to create our own narratives and take charge of how people perceive us, like I talked about in Part 2, knowing that perception starts from the outside is key.

quote photo

The homework for this week is to test out this experiment yourself., it was super fun and interesting! Ask a family member or friend to pick out an outfit for you for an specific occasion, such as work, school, a date, wherever. Ask them why they chose what they chose, ask them what is the message the outfit sends?. This concept of perceiving people at first sight is one I find to be unfair and sometimes pretty hurtful but the truth is, that is really how it works. People say things like “dress the part”, “dress for success” or “dress for the job you want” and when you do the experiment this week it will open your eyes to your clothing language. We already have a clothing language for the most part right? Sweatpants means “I’m relaxing”, a tie means “business”, so when you are more aware of your message, you continue to control your story. Let me know how it goes in the comments after you do it!

Until next week!

 

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”

– Rachel Zoe

Self Discovery Series Part 2: Perceptions

Woman allowing other woman to see her through her eyes

photo credit: Jezebel.com

Last week in Self Discovery Series Part 1: Who Are You?, we talked about uncovering your true self and defining who you are on your own terms.
I hope you did the homework!
This week I want to get into
perceptions and how to handle the discrepancy between external perception: how others see and would describe us,
and
self-awareness: how we see and describe ourselves.

How many times at one point or another has someone perceived you totally differently than you believe yourself to be. You may have heard something like:
“I thought you were mean when I first met you.”
“I thought you were quiet”
“You seemed like…”
And you just wonder where they get these ideas from? lol

How people see someone vs how they really are (facial expressions)

photo credit: buzzfeed.com

Or the other way around: you met someone and created an image of them that totally differed from the person you grew to know. The biggest factor in someone’s perception starts with a first impression. The discrepancy this causes is that our image only partially reflects our personality.

I’m sure you’ve already been told time and time again how important first impressions are and how hard they are to reverse, and that’s true. People’s perception of you is initially their reaction of the “surface”or “top layer” of you, based mostly on your external appearance.

a self discovery pyramid

artist: Revalatori; https://www.instagram.com/revelatori/

You end up being pre-judged solely on your facial expressions, demeanor, your clothing, those sorts of visual factors, and not the real you. A person can create an entire judgement and story for someone else without speaking a word to them. You look at someone who appears angry and think they had a bad day and that they are NOT the person in the room you’ll ever approach. Then you talk to them and they say they’re not angry at all, that’s “just their face” lol and they’re actually having a great day.

All of our interactions are opportunities for us to see more deeply into who we are, who we are showing to people, and how we can begin to refine ourselves and make sure we are narrating our own stories. We should view every encounter and interaction as a mirror through which we can discover something important or new about ourselves.
We can then use what we find as valuable information in the process of arriving at a deeper self-understanding and self awareness.

So the questions of focus are:

How do people see you?
and
Does it match who you feel you really are?

Now, does it really matter what others think of you?? Some would say nope, just do your thing doesn’t matter what people think. When you’re talking about perceptions and what “people think of you”, you tend to meet resistance because most people feel strongly about not living for the world where everyone is too judgy anyway, and they shouldn’t care what anyone thinks. I know I’ve ran the “you think I care what they think of me?” line too many times before LOL.

Which is right…but to an extent. There is nothing wrong with having the confidence and free spirit to ‘do your own thing’ and live without the pressure of caring what everyone thinks of you; but it’s dangerous to disregard other people’s perceptions of you.
Imagine believing that you come across as a confident person. You speak clearly, you “don’t beat around the bush”, and you have no problem sharing your thoughts right However, people actually see you, not as confident, but as cocky, arrogant, inconsiderate, conceited, insensitive, or “feeling yourself”.
What are the consequences likely to be? How many relationships can be broken..or never formed? How many opportunities could pass you by? How many people would you be rubbing the wrong way?

Getting to the bottom of how people perceive you is one of the essential elements of understanding how you come across to them. Does how you represent yourself daily match who you say you are/ who you want to be? Once you know this, you can start to think about adapting your behavior so that their perception of you is what you want it to be, not what they have assumed or decided for themselves.
Put yourself in a position to control their perception of you.
This is YOUR show, direct it.

Let’s say you had a candy company and the candy was A-Ma-Zing but the wrapper was so unappealing and un-engaging that no one ever really brought it. Customers looked at that wrapper and assumed the taste of the candy was just an unappealing as that wrapper. First thing you would think is “ change the wrapper” so customers wouldn’t have the incorrect assumption and end up knowing it for the amazing candy it is. Make sense?

I challenge you to think seriously about how others view you.
This week’s homework is: Ask a diverse group, a few friends and family members, to tell you what they think of you? What did they think of you when they first met you?
Also reflect on some of the misconceptions and pre judgements people may have had of you, and you of others. If you are not happy with some of the conclusions you come to, then you know what to work on. This is not for you to feel ‘judged’ or misunderstood, because that can happen. They have some nerve to see you differently from the way you see yourself, how dare them? Lol.
Seriously, appreciate the honesty as it comes your way.
A life with all YES men has NO growth.

The thing is, if you’re willing to be honest with yourself you will quickly realize that you may have some things to work on.  If all their perceptions seem so far fetched, what has led them to these conclusions? Self- reflect on THAT. What changes can you make to reverse the perception and set a new tone?
That is how you continue to make progress on your journey to self discovery.

Until we meet again next week for part 3!

“How you are isn’t always as important as how you are perceived. Perception is the gatekeeper between your essence and your image. And your image is the only thing others truly see. Changing yourself is at best half the battle. Changing how you are will give you peace, but changing how you are perceived will give you power.”
– John Bastien