“What do you know for sure?”
If someone asked you this question, how would you answer?
Film critic Gene Siskel once asked Oprah, “What do you know for sure?” which sparked her acclaimed “What I Know For Sure” column in O, The Oprah Magazine and subsequent book of the same title. She said the question offered her a way to take “stock of her life.”
I’ve been taking stock of my life lately, wondering, like Oprah, “What do I know for sure?” What do I know that I know that I know? Do I know anything? Can anything be known? Is there a difference between knowledge and belief? (I tell you — studying philosophy in undergrad has made me think of everything differently…).
I decided that I would try to compile a list. This is not a commemorative list (to memorialize a special birthday), nor is it exhaustive. I just wanted to share what (just over) a quarter century of living has taught or proven to me. This is what I know for sure — not just words to live by. They have been proven to me time and time again. There are other things that seem to be true (“pain is never wasted,” “don’t act from a place of desperation,” “be unapologetically you”) but they haven’t been tried and tested by me. I still have my reservations (e.g. I am still not convinced that I can be unapologetically me in all circumstances…). I am not sure of those truisms (they aren’t something I know for sure), so they haven’t made the list …yet.
In a few years or ten years, it would be interesting to revisit this list, not only to update it but to see if these truths still hold true years from now. According to Oprah in her book, “…when you know something, really know something, it tends to stand the test of time.”
I’ve come up with a list of fifty lessons that I would share, and I intend to share some every week for the next few weeks. Here is the first of my ten part series of life lessons. For this post, I figured I’d focus on relationships:
- Focus on the many people who love you and not on the few people who don’t
Don’t obsess over the one person who didn’t text back or didn’t like your Facebook status. Focus on the other people who did. They are the people who care. They are the people who matter. Don’t waste your precious time and energy on people who are not thinking as hard and long about you as you do about them.
Don’t focus on the fact you don’t have a boyfriend to talk to while you’re still awake, suffering from insomnia, cursing the night. Focus on the friend who said that you can call her during such times. Focus on the friend who unexpectedly left tangerines and raspberries at your doorstep when you were sick. Focus on your younger brother who buys you a gift each time he knows you’re coming to visit. Focus on the sister who always has your back. Don’t focus on the people who don’t call; focus on the people who do. Don’t focus on the dearth of things; focus on the girth of what you have. Don’t focus on the absence — focus on the abundance. Have enough self-respect, have enough dignity, think enough of yourself, love yourself enough not to want someone who doesn’t want you.
- If you have to Google “How to know if a guy likes you” then you already know he probably doesn’t like you.
Because if he was interested in you, you would know, and you wouldn’t have to Google your answer. If someone is into you, it is obvious. You are smart — you just love to second-guess yourself. There are signs. You will notice them. This also goes for his interest in you for anything other than a relationship: if he is interested in you for your personality, relationship, sex, money…he will let you know. It may be subtle, but he’ll tell you in his own cunning way. There will be red flags and obvious signs. He will somehow (through words or actions or body language) communicate that to you. We Google because we want to discover a sliver of hope of mutual attraction. We hope to stave off the reality and realization and truth that he’s just not that into you/us, because that truth kind sucks and often stings. We are faced with the sinking realization that the object of our affection does not dote on us the same way, and we are forced to ask ourselves, “Why?” And “Why?” is a confusing and very painful question to answer.
Don’t over analyze. Assume that he is uninterested until explicitly told otherwise. I’ve learned to take a page out of Mellody Hobson’s book. On an episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter, George (Lucas) and Mellody (Hobson) retold their story of how they met. George basically stalked Mellody across three cities – “You’re going to NY? Guess I’m going to NY too…” “Oh, you’re going to XYZ? I’m going to XYZ too.” Each time she declared she was going to be in a certain city, he would tell her that he would meet her there for a lunch date. Mellody was oblivious to the fact that George was following her until she finally clued into what was happening. From an outside perspective, I thought to myself, “Girl, you’re slow. How did you not get the clue? The man is literally following you across the United States and you don’t think anything of it??!” But then I realized that her approach is probably a wiser one to have.
A lot of people are told, “You’re never in one place; that’s why you can’t find anybody.” Mellody Hobson is case in point that if you’re living your life, the right guy will intersect your path and perhaps even follow you. If a man is interested in you, he is fully capable of going to where you are to see you. Don’t make excuses for him.
- If you don’t know where this friendship or relationship thing is going. Ask.
Don’t waste time. We say we have too much pride to ask, but in reality, our pride is being spat upon each time we go out and we don’t know where this thing is headed. Honestly, you shouldn’t have to ask because the other person should have made their intentions obvious. But sometimes you have to. And in those times that — the fact that you feel like you have to ask — should be a clue. It has often been awkward, but I have never regretted it.
- Use Google to your advantage.
If you don’t know something, Google it. There’s a wealth of information out there. There is no reason to be ignorant. Lizzie Velasquez wanted to know how to be a motivational speaker. She Googled it and poof! She’s a speaker. I’ve fixed my toilet all by myself thanks to Google. But Go to God first (see #16 [when it eventually gets posted]). I follow the following process: God then Google. I find that God will guide my Googling if I let Him.
- If you have an idea, do it. Go for it.
Follow through with the idea no matter how random or simple or unimaginative you think it is. Have faith in your ideas. We need people to stop underestimating themselves and start contributing to this world through their talents – no matter how “boring” that talent may be. You never know what may happen and who you may reach. I’ve seen that in my own life with my blogging.
We live in a world where apparently anything goes. I’ve seen ideas soo asinine it’s insane — but they end up being lucrative (like Magic Mesh — I could have thought of that. The point is I didn’t, and now other people are making money). I’ve seen book titles and projects that are so elementary it’s frustrating, but that are raking in money. There are things people are paying for ($7 smoothie or bowl at Freshii when you can make one at home for half that price) and simple things (videos, blog posts) that have gone viral that have just blown my mind. Whoever thought that diaper warmers, or avocado and banana cutters would be a thing? (Not gonna lie — I have an avocado cutter). There are people who can’t write, and yet have New York Time bestselling books. Nicole Ari Parker created a hair wrap that will save your hair do at the gym. I could have done that. Brandon Statton was jobless and took pictures around New York and now we have the hugely popular Humans of New York blog. Ever heard of IFTTT app? It’s basically an app for apps, or an app that creates “recipes” for apps… Who would have ever thought of that? Who ever knew celloboxing or playing the violin while doing dub step would ever become a thing? Just go out and do you.
To be continued…