Updated: Sep 5
Let's cut to the chase; taking responsibility can be embarrassing, humbling, painful, and downright costly. Therefore, owning your actions requires two crucial factors; eliminating blame and getting rid of excuses.
Lately, it's become common practice to say that adulting is ghetto. That's now comical to me because, as teens, we couldn't wait to be rid of the people who dictated our every move. For reasons I have yet to grasp, we could not then appreciate the level of responsibility it took to parent us. I'd give at least one kidney to go back to a time when my most significant decisions were what to buy from the lunch lady and what whacky style I would fix my hair in next. But no, like so many of you, I didn't appreciate what it meant to be free of worry or stress. Nope, I wished myself right into bills that come faster than people when they hear the government giving out free things.
Allow me this caveat, yes, life is sometimes unfair. Yeah, you may get the messy end of the stick, but sometimes you're the one giving the messy stick. But let me ask you, "What exactly does blaming someone else get you? Does it increase the balance on your bank account? Does it improve your health or quality of life? Does it ultimately get you what you want? Are you any happier being able to point fingers? And even if they admit they've done you wrong, does that make you satisfied? Does that ease the pain?"
I know, I get it. We often see people that make having it all look super easy. But have you ever even considered what it takes to be in their shoes? Do you have the skills, better yet, the character to maintain that life? I heard a preacher say recently that being gifted is not easy. It got me thinking about how being who you are is a responsibility that only you were created to carry.
Sure, the gift is free, but the development is sold separately. Look, everyone has a responsibility to lead their own life. Being covetous won't enhance your life by any stretch of the imagination. Remember: If two people were exactly alike, one of them would be unnecessary.—Larry Dixon
This month, I've shared several anecdotes of my high school days with you, and today it's another one. Most people who know me now would be hard-pressed to learn that my report card was garbage juice in the first 3 years of high school. To add insult to injury, every teacher's comment said, 'Raquel talks too much.' That one line would overshadow any positive notion, like when teachers added, 'But she has great potential.' I should have known from then that trusting in people's potential is about as rewarding as letting Kanye be the next President. But I digress.
Honestly, it wasn't for lack of ability, but I had every excuse in the book as to why my failure was everyone else's fault but mine. "Oh, the teacher doesn't like me. She didn't mark my work!" And my all-time favourite, "Everyone in the class failed." I entered high school in the top stream, and by year 3, I was downgraded. Talk about embarrassing. Still, even that wasn't enough of a wake-up call. I started that school year simply not caring. I was like, what's the point in even trying? Only something unexpected happened. I became interested in boys, well, one in particular. And to my surprise, he was about those books.
Well, it was just the motivation I needed. There was no way on God's green earth I was gonna let him upstage me. I still didn't see it as my duty or as important to do well; I just didn't wanna look like a dumb girl to a guy. Question: Do you want what you what because it's truly your desire or because you want to prove you can do it better?
Unbeknown to him, he became my competition. Secretly, I was doing all I could to stay on top; meanwhile, he was simply doing him. Filling an obligation he knew he had. After all of that, imagine my horror when 12 grade rolled in, and he was chosen to be a prefect, and I wasn't. Why was I even mad, though? He had put in the work while I was busy dilly-dallying. He, like many of our counterparts, took school seriously.
The novel guy that he was didn't have 3 years of toilet water for a G.P.A, nor did he have a suspension to blemish his record. On the contrary, he was involved in everything from track and field to gentleman's club, and I had no clue there was something called a debutante. But isn't that like us, to want what others have, even when the seeds we sowed weren't poised to yield the fruit they now reap?
I couldn't blame anyone; I couldn't complain. I didn't have a broken home life; I wasn't ill-treated or deprived of basic needs. So I couldn't begrudge the kids that were there putting in the work—from study groups to library time and asking the teacher questions. No, I was there acting as if I was baby Einstein. There was no way I should be thinking, 'Why him and not me?' but I did. There was no reason why I couldn't excel. I had all my needs met and occasionally some wants.
I literally had one job, and even that I did haphazardly but still felt entitled to some recognition. It's no surprise from then to now, any schooling I did, I became an overachiever. Especially when my money was paying for it. Failure was NOT an option. No, sir, not at $350 per credit. I finally saw the need to take responsibility for my life and the direction it was headed. While it didn't go down a glamorous road, my manuscript tells a far better tale. #smallvictories
For the record, taking responsibility and blaming yourself are two very different things. It's the difference between asking yourself, 'What is my takeaway from this or what did I learn here?' versus 'Why did I do that?' Rehashing all the shoulda, coulda, woulda's won't change anything, but you should at the very least evaluate the situation. Yes, being able to explain your actions is great, but I find that when questioning is directed inward, it's done with little to no empathy. Sometimes you have to change the question to get the most honest answer from yourself.
It wasn't that in those days taking responsibility was a foreign concept to me. It was very prevalent when I knew I was doing something wrong. Even before I committed the act, I was resolved that any consequence administered would be well worth it. Come straight home when school gets out early. Nope, I went downtown with friends. I didn't care what happened at home, 'cause I already had my good time. As long as it involved me satisfying my desires, yes, ma'am, I owned it. Anything else was in my Silk the Shocker's voice, 'Ooh, it ain't my fault!'
This made me wonder, could we honestly bear the responsibility of what it means to be the people we say we want to be like or, worst yet, the folks we're envious of? Sidebar: Let me just tell you, jealousy and envy are not the same. Jealousy is I wish I had a nice shirt like yours, while envy says you're not good enough for the shirt, and I alone should have it. Could we really shoulder the burden of what it means to be the people we see in the limelight or those with fame and fortune? With that said, each of us is responsible for the things we've done equally as the things we haven't done. Read that again. Better yet, let me say it another way, inaction is still considered an action.
Each area of your life calls for a different level of responsibility. As a friend, you're required to do certain things. Being an employee calls for you to be something else; as a citizen of a country, you're expected to wear a different cap. Then as a spouse or parent, or more importantly, as an individual, all demand even more depth from you. Each of these areas requires a distinct part of you to show up. With that said, I don't advise you to take on anything more than that. Minding your business and being concerned for others could actually work independently of each other—use where applicable.
If you could, would you swap places with the people whose lives you think are so much better than yours? Provided you're thinking this on any level, DON'T! Believe me, when I tell you, you don't have the capacity to be them anyway, and they don't have what it takes to be you.
Let me pull 3 examples for you. Because while we like to idolize the glamour, some people's life beneath the surface calls for them being the sacrifice, and that's not always visible when they are #goals. What if you were called to be like Hosea, who married a harlot so that God could use your life as an example to show His people how much He loves us (see Hosea chapters 1-3).
Come on, really think about that. It's one thing for this ordeal to be your decision, but it's a whole other story when it wasn't your idea to begin with. Imagine hearing, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution." Errrr- excuse me?! Pardon!? Issa, a hard NO for me!
Or what about John the Baptist? Yes, the same one who baptized Jesus. A forerunner if there ever was one. Only to be imprisoned and then decapitated cause some 'lil hussy (egged on by her equally evil mother) found it amusing to ask her father, the King, for John's head on a platter(see Matthew 14). Better yet, what if you were tasked with the responsibility to redeem all of humanity? Crucifixion isn't exactly the Rolls-Royce of death requests!
How many of us would offer to pay the price, and by 'price,' I mean death or even volunteer our one good son for a bunch of ungrateful people who only know you when they need you? It gives WWJD a whole new meaning, I tell ya! I don't know of a single person, dead or alive, who would want to trade places with Jesus (see Matthew 27:32-56).
Life gives you options and choices, and ultimately, you have to make the decision. However, whatever road those conclusions take you down, you must take responsibility for those actions. I'm amazed that a whole lot of folks are casually listing 'public figure' in their social media bios. 'Cause in this hot cancel culture, no one is exempt from the dragging that ensues when you make a mistake. The burden of living up to people's expectations coupled with the bar you set for yourself, honey challl .... bless you'll's heart!
Listen, it's enough of a burden just being you. You've got your own bills, a job, maybe a spouse, a couple of kids, a pet