First: thank you to all of you who’ve kept up with me and what I know to be the most inconsistent blog in the world! I’m sad to say that this will be my last post. I’m revamping the site for new and exciting projects. Unfortunately that means Bye-Bye to The Big Dang Theory.
Many of you have been kind enough to share your support and respect for my thoughts and reflections, so I wanted to leave you with few things that I’ve learned over the past year.
2014 has been tough. I’ve had so many ups and downs that, at times, I couldn’t ever say which way is up. Luckily, I’ve learned a lot—if a bit too much all at the same time—but as with any difficulties we face, the most important part is what we get out of the journey.
Here are the Top 10 Lessons I’ve learned this year:
1. Forgive: Too many people let bitterness, anger and resentment sit with them for far too long. If you’ve been lied to, cheated on, betrayed or deceived, take a moment to feel the hurt. But know that the only way to move on is by making a conscious effort to forgive. Holding on to that anger will make progress and personal growth that much harder—and moving on almost impossible.
No one wants to be bitter. It’s bad for your soul—and your sexy (frown lines, no dice).
Forgiveness is something accomplished by the strong. I’m not necessarily saying forget (see: “Fool me once, shame on you… you know how it goes); I’m just saying that the ability to forgive is a strength. When you forgive you stop letting pain and resentment control your life.
2. Trust Again: Speaking of forgiveness, when forgiveness is required that usually means that trust has been broken. Whether it’s with a work relationship or a romantic/platonic one, once trust is broken it is very hard to gain it back. As hard as forgiving someone may be, allowing yourself to trust that someone again is harder. It takes time and effort to rebuild a healthy relationship—and both sides to work on it. Until you know that you’re working together to do that, trust yourself enough to walk away from a situation that isn’t healthy for you. You know the signs, you know the feelings—trust THAT.
3. Don’t be so hard on yourself: We are all human, we all make mistakes, some on the smaller side, some large. Own up to your mistakes, apologize—sincerely—to those you’ve hurt, and move along. Ain’t no body got time to dwell on the negative.
A while back I wrote a blog post titled: “Know Your Worth, and Don’t Settle.” While the simple message in the title is positive, the post itself, well… was a mistake. While I am very happy that many of you found solace and strength in my story (something I am proud of), I know now that I could have handled the situation in a better way. With that post, I revealed a little too much, invited too much attention into my personal life.
Today, I am still faced with mention after mention of my relationship, my blog post and my post-blog post relationship, even though I’ve moved on from that moment. I’ve forgiven myself for not thinking these consequences through, but in the future will be more thoughtful and graceful about handling complicated, emotionally charges situations.
4. Just because you’re able to forgive yourself for your mistakes, it doesn’t mean other people will: To those who are set on holding a grudge, say: “BYE!” Surround yourself with people who will support you, no matter what. Anyone who is constantly trying to bring you down by reminding you of your mistakes needs to get out of your life and take a serious look at their own.
5. Find your "person": The one you can always go to, no matter what time of the day, no matter what you’ve done. I’m lucky enough to have ‘people’: a handful of at least five people who I know I can always be 100% honest with and count on for help or advice. These people range from my best friends to my parents to mentors. They will always be there for me, to hold my hand and tell me it’s going to be OK. Find those people and hold on to them tight, because when your life seems to be in a downward spiral, they are the ones who will help lift you up.
6. Follow your heart: With love, with work, with hobbies. Life is too short to not do what you love. The only time you will ever regret something is by not taking a chance on something you love. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to look back and celebrate all the risks that you took, even those that weren’t successful, because you followed your heart.
7. All that said, learn when to walk away: Yes, sometimes going for what you want means failing brilliantly—but you have to know when to stay the course and when to restructure the path. Admittedly, I’m not the best at this because I’ve always believed that when you do what you love or you’re with someone you love, everything will work out. Life has a way of teaching you that what you believe isn’t always the case.
In terms of career, I’m a dreamer—a big one. Sometimes that has helped me think of creative ways to further my career; other times it has lead me to disappointment. I will never be the person to tell someone to give up on their dreams, ever. But I myself know that it is also important to realize that maybe you were meant to do something other than what you anticipated, perhaps something even better.
Personally, I’m giving myself one more year to accomplish my dream of becoming a travel host. If by this time next year I can’t see a path through those trees, then it will be time to deploy Aja Dang’s Life Plan B. Rest assured that over the next 12 months, I will do everything in my power to construct my travel-host empire before the age of 30—so that if I must eventually accept that universe has something else planned for me, I can at least say I tried my hardest before changing course.
In terms of relationships (platonic, romantic, professional), don’t let your loyalty keep you in an unhealthy situation. If they don’t appreciate what you offer, then it’s time to walk away. Holding on will only cause you more pain, because you are the only person fighting the good fight and that feeling is just devastating to the soul. Don’t exhaust yourself when there are people out there who would readily appreciate and love you—every part of you.
8. Don’t apologize for doing what you need to do to further your life: I recently had to fire my agency, who I was with for four years. Our professional relationship was stalled, and I couldn’t see my career progressing with them. The whole situation made me very uncomfortable because I didn’t want to come off as ungrateful or rude. My best friend, who was in town at the time, looked me dead in the eye and said, “Beyonce fired her dad.”
At that very moment, I saw the situation very clearly: you can certainly do whatever you need to do to make sure your life/career moves in a forward direction. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about that. #EmpireBuilding
That being said; don’t step on people; don’t stab people in the back; don’t be ungrateful; and don’t put yourself in situations you will regret, situations that might give you a quick leg up but might make it hard for you to face yourself down the line.
PS. Firing my agency has been the best business decision I’ve made yet.
9. Speaking of Beyonce: Be Beyonce.
If you don’t know what that means, well, I can’t help.
10. Choose to be happy: This might come as a shock—even to myself sometimes—YOU are in sole control of YOUR happiness.
(Pause for reaction)
It’s easy to complain and think that the people in your life should do more to make you happy. Um, what? The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts; in the end, it has little to do with anyone else.
People can go out of their way to belittle you; circumstances can be unkind. The only way to extract yourself from a negative situation is by changing your attitude and/or your environment. No one else can do that for you. If someone tells you that you are less than you are (dumb, or expendable, or whatever it is that gets under your skin), you can think: “Wow, if this person is telling me I’m these things then they must be right.” Or, “This fool is tripping, I’m the bomb. BYE!”
Please remember that their perception of you is actually a reflection of them; your reaction to it is an awareness of self. HI.
I hope that these thoughts might be gems to you when it matters! And again, thank you for all your love and support. I hope to continue to make you all proud.