5 Things I Learned In Haiti

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I recently traveled to Haiti and that trip taught me a lot. So in this blog post, I will share 5 things Haiti taught me.

1. My Love for Culture and People of Color

Living in America in predominantly white places, I have never really gotten a chance to be surrounded by people of color for extended periods of time. The feelings I got in Haiti were quite similar to the ones I got after watching Black Panther. It’s hard to describe, but there is so much power in being around people who look like you. Very cliche, but I felt at home in Haiti. I didn’t feel like I stuck out, I didn’t feel out of place, and I loved it! Also, I loved the culture. Coming from a household of blended cultures (Nigerian and Kenyan) it was no surprise I fell in love the with Haitian culture and the similarities I found between it and the environment I was raised in. I saw simplicity, work ethic, and joy just to name a few but also just a strong sense of community. Most of all I saw beauty in the way the people around me lived their lives, and I found God at work in the details, the big picture… I saw Him in it all.

2. Paved Roads and Driving Laws

The last time I went to Kenya, I was two, so I don’t remember much. I rely on the stories of my parent’s childhoods to paint the picture of living in a third world country. My mom has always talked about how long it takes to do things there. Doing one thing can be an all-day event, and most of the time it’s simply because of the commute. The minute we hit our first gravel/dirt road, I finally began to understand what my mom had been talking about for all those years. Paved roads are truly a blessing and driving laws are too because they save you for almost having a heart attack on the road.

3. The Importance of Communication

As a black girl, the most frequent questions I got when I was in Haiti were are you Haitian, do you speak Creole, and do you speak French, to all of which I answered no. People were in shock, mainly because I look like them and they just assumed I was or could do all of the above, but also because it really limited my ability to talk with them. Thankfully I had wonderful translators around that were more than amazing, but I felt so entitled and even rude to be in their country without knowing even a little Creole, yet they knew anywhere from one to four languages. To say the least, I don’t plan on visiting a country without knowing at least a few common phrases. But in all honesty, I’m in the process of learning Creole as you reading this.

4. People are People

Cultures are different but people are people. While languages don’t always translate, smiles do and thank God for that! It’s funny how when you can’t communicate very well sometimes that’s when it’s easiest to see someone’s heart. It’s easy to get distracted by looks, status, etc., but nothing says more about a person than they’re joy, they’re smiling, and their heart.

5. Less Is More

A lesson I’ve been learning recently is that there are pros and cons to everything. I love living in America, but because of the privilege I have living here, a lot of my worries and concerns are of things that don’t actually matter. To put it more simply, the things I worry about most are things that I am privileged to actually worry about. But living in a third world country, many people only worry about the things that actually matter: God, food, clothing, and family. It’s amazing how short that list is how long I make mine sometimes. Or how often times we think things will bring us happiness when in reality the exact opposite is true.

So those are a few of the things I learned while in Haiti. If you haven’t already, I hope you get a chance to visit the wonderful country. It is beautiful!

Until next time, get up, get moving, and be salt and light.

Ghosting: The Reality of 21st Century Relationships & Communication

Don’t you just hate it when you’re texting someone and they don’t respond, or they take FOR-E-VER to get back to you? Maybe they take the better part of a day, a full 24 hours to reply, or a week and then blame it on their phone.

Or even worse, you know someone, you talk and text with them all the time, and then, one day you send a message and there is no response. So you follow up a few days later and still no response.

By now you’re thinking, “Did they die or something?”

No, no, my friend. You’ve just been ghosted.


Sydney’s Dictionary:

Ghost (v): When someone falls off the face of the earth, hypothetically speaking of course. All communication is cut off; mainly digital communication.

Simmer (v): When someone takes a while to respond, not because they didn’t see your message, but for their own added benefit and suspense.

Ice (v): Similar to ghosting, but instead they re-appears months later as if nothing had happened.


So maybe you can tell from my vivid descriptions and the definitions that I’ve had my fair share of communication issues and have been ghosted a time or two. Maybe you’re thinking, “Wow, this is relatable.” It’s unfortunate that much of our communication in society has dwindled down to completely or partially ignoring people as an acceptable response.

But with that said, would you hate me if I said, I’ve been the one to do the ghosting? Okay, before you burn me at the stake, think about it, you probably have too. Maybe you haven’t completely ghosted someone, but you’ve most likely simmered them. You know where you wait a little bit to respond because you’re “so busy,” or you don’t want to seem “too eager.”

We’ve all done it a time or two, but what I really want to know is where did this come from and why is it happening?


Ghosted

*Disclaimer: In this story, my friend is of the opposite sex, but our friendship was platonic.*

As I established above, I have been ghosted before, and yes, it sucks, but no ghosting hurt quite as much as the performed by one of my closest friends at the time. We’d been friends for about three years and I couldn’t have valued our friendship more if I tried.

It’s safe to say that in the latter years of our friendship he was becoming less and less of a good texter. Days would go by between responses; sometimes 2 days, sometimes 4, and at some point, I was tired of it.

I addressed it, we cleared the air, explanations were made, followed by apologies for the misunderstanding and things were good. Things were good until about 6 months later when he fell back into that habit of not responding. This time it was even worse. Weeks would go by before I’d get a response.

I quickly recognized that we had been down this road before. But in an effort to maintain the friendship, or what was left of it, I brushed it off. I mean you can maintain a friendship without communication, right?

Um… NO! YOU CAN’T. But the rationalized idea I had in my head said I could so that had to be true, right?

What was left of the friendship came to a screeching halt when a natural disaster hit a part of the country my friend was in, or at least I thought he might have been affected. I sent a text to make sure everything was okay.

One day went by… no response.

Two days went by… no response.

A week went by… no response.

Then I logged on to Twitter and saw him tweeting about the new Game of Thrones episode.

I was done.

I had my answers. He was fine and that was great. But the status of our friendship wasn’t. If you’re not going to respond to a text about your safety, I don’t know what you’re going to respond to.


Ghosting

From there I proceeded to do the only thing that really made sense to me. I feel off the face of the Earth. Well, at least to him I did. I blocked his number and social media accounts, and I deleted him for anything that would leave the slightest trace that we even knew each other. This happened in October and nothing has changed since. He’s still blocked, we still don’t talk, and I have no idea if he’s tried to get in touch with me.

I can’t speak to why he ghosted or simmered me like he did, but I can speak to why I ghosted him.

Simply put, it was time for me to value myself over our broken friendship.

I knew that if he reached out to me I would be inclined to respond because that’s what normal, respectful people do. But I wasn’t trying to be normal or respectful. That ship had sailed.

Treat people the way you want to be treated.

I deleted and blocked him because if you don’t teach people how to treat you, they’ll treat you any kind of way, and that wasn’t something I wanted to sign myself up for.


Why do we ghost?

Short answer: I don’t really know.

Long answer: I think we ghost people because living in a digital age has made disconnecting from people on a physical and emotional level, a lot easier. Who cares if you don’t respond? You won’t have to see the disappointment on the other person’s face. Or realize the consequences of your actions.

Or maybe it’s because we’ve gotten really bad about expressing what our top priorities are. Instead of saying, “Hey, I would love to chat, but it’s going to have to wait because you’re not my top priority right now,” we say “Oh, I’m so busy,” or “My phone’s been acting up,” or we just don’t respond at all. But let’s be honest, saying, “you’re not my top priority,” is like ripping off a band-aid, while not responding is like a dull ache that hurts for days, weeks, years…ouch!

I mean, you wouldn’t ignore someone asking you a question in person. But let’s pretend you did, you would have to sit there and deal with the consequences that come with not responding. That person would be able to rebut. You would be able to hear their anger, discontentment, or possibly indifference. Regardless, it would affect you because you’d actually be able to see it.


Conclusion

Being ghosted sucks no matter if it’s a colleague, best friend, family member or romantic partner, but it happens all the time and can happen in any of these relationships. I guess my advice is to think twice before you ghost, simmer, or ice someone. How would you feel if it were you?

This post was inspired by two podcast episodes created by the NPR podcast, Note to Self. I highly recommend you listen to them as they had a lot of insight into why people do this, the effects of it, and much more.

The first one is called Ghosting, Simmering, and Icing with Esther Perel and the second one is I Didn’t See Your Text. The second one was my favorite and Esther Perel is my new hero. She hit the nail right on the head when it came to this topic.

As always, if you found this blog post entertaining, insightful, or informative, please share it on social media and subscribe so that you never miss a post.

Until next time, get up, get moving and live your best life.