Stop Hitting Myself

Girl Preparing for Job Interview, Photo by Trista Simington
Girl Preparing for Job Interview, Photo by Trista Simington
  • Brush off the lint
  • Fix collar
  • Smile but not too much
  • Walk normally but don't make strides too long or too short
  • Don't think about how restricting the business attire is, it will show on your face
  • Don't sweat about not wearing one and a half inch heels. You are five feet ten inches anyway. How much taller do you need to be? The flats will be okay
  • Don't sweat
  • You don't have your resume. Try to forget about that ASAP
  • Firm handshake, but still be feminine
  • Speak up but don't be too loud
  • Stand up straight but don't look awkward
  • Breathe (but not too much or too little)

This is a mere glimpse of my personal “advice” before I walked out of my room to enter a day with a packed schedule: courses, QS Grad School Fair, Kwame Ture Society meeting, and step team practice. No time to officially sit down and enjoy the delectable drug in which we call food. No time to take an extended break. No time to think. My focus is centered on the graduate school fair and my desire to make a good impression. Wearing my business suit and rolling my multicolored carry on bag, I walked out of my room on what I thought was confidence. Yet, the unfortunate mishaps that I experienced during my trek to school made me realize the most important advice of all: loosen up, be nice to myself, and stop hitting myself.

My dormitory is a 15 – 20 minute walk from the Howard University campus. Since I used every minute possible to get ready, I had no choice but to walk to school. To some, that walk is a long journey not to be undertaken which is why there is a high stakes competition everyday for a seat on the shuttle. However, I consider the walk as a relaxation period before the storm so I wasn't too concerned. Everything was going okay until I tripped on an anonymous crack in the sidewalk and my heel came out of my flat. Not allowing my usual clumsiness to ruin my mood, I continued walking. Then, on a different block, after I greeted two gentlemen, the handle on my carry on bag miraculously left my hand and fell to the ground. Water spilled out of my water bottle onto the ground. That was the second strike, but I did not give up. Only when the third strike occurred that I had to reevaluate my life. It happened at a curb on campus. Two people were standing on the corner and ROTC was passing by. I came to a complete stop at the curb to pick up my bag. Instead of walking normally, I tripped on the curb, almost falling flat on my face. Embarrassed, I regained some composure and scurried away with my heel out of my flat, again.

Finally, after 30 minutes of harsh personal advice and three embarrassing moments, I arrived to my first class. However, before I entered the classroom, the case of the giggles overcame me. That was the moment when I realized that I forgot to tell myself to loosen up and relax.

All morning I have been hitting myself. I was forcing my mind, body, and even my soul to fit the narrow picture of what I perceive as “perfection.” While trying to present an ideal candidate that is ambitious, humble, outgoing, kind-hearted, respectful, polite, organized, and friendly, I ultimately created a nervous, stiff monster. During a party, I was sitting in the living room with some friends. A well-known, vivacious young man, that was our mutual acquaintance, entered the house. After he greeted everyone and hugged me, he squeezed my right breast and told me to “stop being so stiff!” While I don't agree with the methodology used, he was absolutely right. I need to stop being so stiff in social events and gatherings because I am not being honest to the people around me on who I really am. Patience, confidence, and peace must become my absolute paradigm at the moment I leave my cave and venture out into the world.

Furthermore, I need to be nice to myself and stop hitting myself. Each time I make a mistake, I accuse myself for being “so stupid,” “dumb,” or “not good enough.” This semester, I am enrolled in a swimming course... and I have a fear of swimming. My instructor, a wonderful soul, continuously reminds me to be nice to myself for every moment that I enter the pool, I am changing my story. I am changing my paradigm from “I can't swim” to “I can swim.”

In the end, once I relaxed and released the tension that was building up in my body, my day began to be fun. I actually made it to all of my events and I learned a lot of good information from the graduate school fair. My schedule can become so restricting, that I forget to have fun and enjoy the passions that I pursue.

So to all my readers that tense up at the slightest touch of the sunlight's rays, my advice for you all is to loosen up, be nice to yourselves, and stop hitting yourselves.

Stop hitting myself.