Truth Talks: Carlton

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meet carlton.

in case you didn’t know, i’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason - coincidences are nonexistent in my book, and there is definitely a reason that carlton came into my life. i met him for the first time last month when we became roommates for ten days. one “hey, you wanna grab coffee?” later, and this conversation is the end result.. a perfect reminder to say hi and ask someone what they’re all about from time to time.


i’ll always love the feeling that comes from making a connection with someone else when you least expected it.. when you get into subjects that go beyond the superficial with someone who you may never have crossed paths with otherwise. it’s magic. carlton follows his heart and i can’t wait for you to get to know him, too.

Hello! So excited to be roommates for the next ten days, and something I’ve learned about you is that you really value communication and I like the ways in which you think about it. So, wanna talk?

Yeah, let’s do it.

What is one thing everyone should know how to do?

One thing everyone should know how to do is both empathize and sympathize with someone, but know the difference.

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What does a day look like for you?

I teeter very heavily on the introvert-extrovert line, almost 50-50. I really value my time at home and having the chance to get ready for my day. It takes me a while to do that. A good majority of my morning is spent getting up, getting ready, getting prepared for whatever is coming. Usually I know what it’s going to consist of. It’s either going to be work or going to an event, so I’m putting myself in a headspace. After that, I’d say, it goes into whatever I know is coming. Work, an event… that’s not to say that I don’t have times where people can message me and be like, “Come out and do this.” I think a day in my life consists of me getting ready and having time to myself and charging, so to speak, and then I’ll go out to whatever it is that I have planned for the day. That’s pretty much what it is. I’d say the most important part of a day for me is my shower.

Morning shower or night shower?

Sometimes both, but definitely a morning shower. They’re always at least thirty minutes. It’s my time to… it just makes me feel clean and ready to go, but also it’s my time where I can decompress and breathe. I get some thoughts out.

Tell me more about you.

I grew up in a very tiny town in North Florida that has like 3 stoplights; one of them probably doesn’t even work by now. We’re known for an all-night gospel sing and an annual rodeo. I have an extremely conservative family that has some problematic tendencies, and then I furthered my education in south Alabama, which is not much better. Politically, it was hard. I finally rested on this place where I was hearing all of these things, and I knew what felt right for me, but at the same time, I know we can’t discredit other people for feeling the way they want to feel either. They have values. They have opinions. They matter because they represent, for better or worse, a part of our community. I know what it felt like for me, even today, to be told that what I value is not right or correct. Whatever they want to label it as – a sin, disgusting, this, that. I know what that feels like, and essentially, I think we all need to start, as hard as it is and as uncomfortable as it is, we have to look at everybody as humans.

When it comes to criticism, what do you think is the best way to handle it? Do you accept that some people will always find a fault in you? Do you try to stick up for yourself, or is it best to pursue that inner peace?

Definitely there has to be some sort of inner peace – there just has to. When there’s a certain level of success or progression or whatever you’ve reached, people are going to do whatever they can to snatch it back and discredit it. You don’t have to listen to that shit. Because it’s going take a minute for someone to get to that point where they understand you and your work, if they ever do. But if not, the repercussions of the negativity is that they do eventually spiral. They get scared, they get upset, and they broadcast all of that shit onto other people. You’ve got to tune that out… to an extent.

But if you get to a point where you’re okay and you say you’re okay, then you can find that peace.

And even when it comes to the people that you’ve wronged, you have to make peace with that and know that you’re doing the best that you can.

Right. I think the first thing that anybody tries to do when they reach that point… I think a lot of people try to reach back out to those people and that sends them into their own spiral. I have never tried to reach back out to those people. I don’t know if I ever will. I think the extent of me reaching out would be to make a public announcement that I am sorry, because I am, but I’m not going to go hunt them down just because I know that I would rather spend my time focusing on what comes next, and building something bigger and better. I think if something has happened so far back in the past, like me and the topic I used, it’s such a long time ago and things have changed so much that if that person is still in that space of holding onto that and if they’re in that space because someone has become so happy that they want to throw a rock at that, that’s insecurity that they’re dealing with.

That almost creates an unhealthy environment for you to even go back into to apologize because if they’re that problem-oriented, they might not want to reach a common ground. You can come up with a solution on your own. You can forgive someone without them apologizing. If they aren’t solution oriented, then that negativity is just going to grow and become worse. I think you reconcile your past every day by choosing to be better and making good changes. Life is not as transactional as we think, where it’s an eye for an eye for an eye. One bad thing can happen, you can make a mistake, but then you can turn around and do a lot of great things with sincerity.

Right. So now thinking about it, I think most people do come to a point where they forgive others without an apology, but not forget. Or people in return, because there are personality types that want to keep trying to make amends. And there are people that will take advantage of that; they always want something for it, whatever it may be – usually materialistic items or other unrealistic expectations. But it’s interesting. Forgiveness is a very important thing. You’ve got to forgive.

And you can forgive without an apology.

Oh, for sure. Understanding that people are in different head spaces and at different places in their lives when it comes to forgiveness. I think forgiveness is a very big key to that.

Exactly.  And you decide how impactful something is going to be on your day or week or even your life. I think we assign whether something is small or large in our mind, because everything is just everything.

One hundred percent. Like, what determines something to be large or small?

Someone could lie to you about taking a candy bar from your kitchen and a lot of people would see that as little. But if a little kid does it and you think that behavior could continue into something more extreme, it’s large to you. If someone lies and says they’re too busy to hang out, and they do it once, you move past it. but if someone tends to do that to you a lot, it becomes bigger. It’s a perspective thing and I think you create your own narrative with other people and experiences.

Correct. It’s kind of like a “woe is me” thing, too. Like, okay this happened to me. It's okay to be selfish in a way that you’ll have a little bit of a viewpoint leading into future situations.

But I will say this time and time again: I refuse, whether it be entering a friendship, romantic relationship, any kind of relationship it is, or dealing with relationships I already have, I will never allow what someone else did to me affect my viewpoint on my relationship with another individual.

I can’t. I am not that kind of person that is like, “I have so much baggage.” Baggage to me is like, “Okay, these things happened and they’re difficult for me to talk about personally, so those are conversations that will take time for me to open up about.” But I’m not holding it against you. I don’t think you’re going to do anything to me; you didn't do that to me, so why am I making you answer for that person’s problems? That’s insecurity and fear.

Fear motivates us more than anything else; it pushes us to do great things and it stops us from doing great things.

Correct. It’s so weird because it’s so acceptable. Your feelings and fears are valid. We tend to rationalize our fears. But you have to move on. You have to. You can’t always be the victim.

And it almost becomes self-sabotage when you always allow fear to be part of the game.

If you have been a victim of something, you can help other victims. Does that make sense? Why would you use that power, that story, and that information, and just live in that world of “This, this, and this happened to me, and it’s just a lot, so you’re going to have to fight hard to get my trust?” No. Just as much as I firmly believe that I can tell every single person in this world that I love them, I also trust everybody in this world at the beginning. I don’t make anybody fight for my trust.

It’s not a game.

It’s not. It’s just like, going in and buying a present for someone… say, a dollhouse for a little girl. You’re not going to give her the dollhouse in little pieces. You’re going to give her the whole thing. And if you play it like a game, you are hurting people by living in a world of letting how other people hurt you affect how you approach other people and situations.

You can’t keep score.

Right. And that leads into the whole communication thing. Those are the people who think it’s okay to be like, “I need space,” or “I’m busy so I’m allowed to make it all about me and not talk to the other person about it. I’m allowed to just drop communication.” Well, to me, that always comes back to mean something deeper. Something’s been done to you or something has happened to the point where you allow yourself to make that excuse for yourself, that it’s okay to just do that or make other people answer for it.

And it’s not your problem to solve.

Those people are never going to be able to answer that for you. They’re not going to, because they didn’t hurt you. They don’t have the answer for it. Truth be told, you don’t have the true answer for it, so you have to forgive and let go.

You have to make your own peace or else you’re bringing fire into every situation you come into.

And let’s not forget the fact that that is an endless cycle. Because you’re waiting for an answer from that person, but they might not have one. That’s where forgiveness comes in, where you are no longer looking for an answer or justification. You’re no longer looking for anything other than solidarity of, “It happened and I’m done.”

You need to create that peace or that lacking, negative mindset will follow you everywhere. You’ll find yourself at the grocery store you won’t even look at the cashier nicely. And if you can’t cross the street without thinking that someone is out to get you… you’re done.

It sucks, too because we live in this world where we are based off of our reputation and we’re based off our status… and that goes down to something as simple as going out to eat at a fucking restaurant. Does it have three stars instead of five? Oh, that’s a red flag! And why? Because of a small handful of people who had a bad experience?

Exactly. And that affects how you go about the entire experience, because you’re either going to leave thinking, “Oh, that wasn’t as bad as I expected,” or you’re going to go into it looking for your server to make a mistake and then it’s going to be terrible. And it’s crazy because reputation isn’t truth. I’m starting to learn that I can’t let someone else’s perspective of me change how I feel about myself.

And if it was true, it was true in the moment. Not an overall picture.

Exactly. Things are always changing. Not to be morbid, but it’s kind of like how some ideas become more treasured when someone dies, for example.

Like, no one cares about what you have to say until you’re dead. That kind of thing?

Right. Something that comes to mind is how Amy Winehouse was made fun of for her addiction. It was a spectator event until she died, and then it was a tragedy.

Yeah, good point. It’s funny you say that because that’s an artist, so whatever she produces is being influenced by what she’s experiencing personally. I fully believe that. So, she doesn’t shy away from, in her music, talking about things she’s dealing with. You’re listening to it, maybe not so much now that she’s gone, but what do you mean, “No one was there to help her?” You weren’t there to help her. It’s so interesting because I guess people reach a certain status and level that we feel so disconnected from them and they’re not humans anymore? She’s a human. It doesn’t matter if you know her or not, or if you’re a fan of her or not.  You have the power to be a decent human being and say, “Hey, guys, you know, she’s kind of going through something.” You know?

Yeah. Everyone’s just doing their best. We can be our own worst critics, but knowing other people judge you, too… you have to come to terms with the fact that someone is sometimes going to limit you to a snapshot and not a full picture, which is so hard. But I guess that’s also like a way to gauge if someone is a good fit for you, because you can filter out and say that this person is just looking for me to mess up, so maybe they’re not the best person to spend time with.

It is heavy and it is hard. There are so many things that are double-edged. Like a huge conversation that I’ve had with a lot of friends lately is about the toxicity inside of the queer community as far as dating, and the way that we subject people to certain body types and positions… yes, it’s toxic. But it also comes to a point, for instance, where this person that I was talking to for a bit, another red flag that I should have addressed at the time, was when he said, “Oh, well just in a nutshell, the queer community is toxic.” He said something that attacked an entire group of people. Our community, and I was like, “Whoa. I totally agree with you that there is a lot of toxicity inside our community, but it comes from mindsets like that.” Yes, toxic, but follow it up with something positive because at the end of the day, we’re not getting anywhere by attacking each other. It’s not wrong for those people to go and work out every single day and have buff bodies versus my femme body. It’s not wrong. What’s wrong is when I think people start shutting themselves off or deeming a certain body-type or certain type of person unattractive or not worthy of affection or unworthy of communication. Just stop being so stingy and stop questioning love. Stop questioning communication.

Everyone is worthy of it; everyone deserves it. You’re not better than others because of something that you choose to do personally. Because on the other end of it, they’re choosing to do something personally, too. There’s never going to be anyone just like you.

I love you. Okay, as a human, how do you personally gauge whether someone is trying to be a better person and support them and when I guess the authenticity doesn’t seem to be there?

Or when it doesn’t seem to be clicking… I know that there are things I am guilty of in the past and I firmly believe that it starts with self-acceptance of what you’ve done. You have to own that shit. Like, “I did this.” Also, not just owning that you did it, but also telling yourself that it wasn’t right.

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Because yeah, you can own it, but there are some people that are “owning it” and they’re making excuses for it still. So, it starts with that. Also, there has to be some sort of inner peace with yourself. Like, the things that I’ve done, some of those people may not ever forgive me for it and moving forward, there are going to be things that I do that people don’t agree with, but I think whenever you reach a certain level of status or success, and I say those terms very loosely because I don’t really believe in them – I believe we’re all just kind of doing what we’re doing and sometimes it works better for other people because they found a moment and it was the right time and they got what they got from it – but, I think moving forward, you have to understand that when you’re passionate about something, or even if you aren’t, there’s just going to be people who don’t agree with what you do. But more so when you’re passionate about something and you have a platform and you’re speaking about it, [some] people are going to do whatever it takes to find something to pull you back, and they’re going to do whatever it takes to find something to throw at you, so it comes down to how you deal with it then. Again, own it, but moving forward, I think people notice very quickly when someone is still being themselves. Like, they move forward with just as much tenacity and genuinity as they had before, if not more, and they continue to go on and do what they’re doing.

It’s kind of like when you’ve fallen, how do you get back up? It’s about how you’re going to get back up that matters, and how you continue to move forward.

That’s how I view that.

Do you find that the best way to reconcile past mistakes, because you’re open and transparent about yours, is to keep yourself accountable and aware of it and try to do better?

I do think it’s very important. I do think there comes a point in time when we all have the choice to educate ourselves further and I think that just kind of goes with people all have that feeling inside of them where they know something’s just not right. It just doesn’t feel right. For me, a lot of my actions and behavior were stemming from fear because I knew that the people I made fun of were experiencing things and acting upon things that I had been feeling myself but was hiding. It was a fear thing. I think it’s important to know the reason behind why I was acting upon that. And then when you reach that point, you can either run from it and continue to go down that path because it’s comfortable, or you can start exploring those feelings and start finding, what I believe to be, yourself. Because we’re all influenced up until a certain point by the values and morals of our families and the loved ones that surround us, but we have the choice to start replacing that with our own feelings and our own morals and things that we truly believe are correct. Personally for me, I know that I come from a family that’s not supportive of my sexuality and I’m at that point where, like, I’ll talk about it, but I don’t know if I’ve formulated it enough to speak about it.

I just know that there came a certain point where my happiness and my story mattered more than being unhappy and also harming other people because of that unhappiness – not physically, but you know what I mean. It just didn’t feel right. It’s not right. So, when you do that, I think that there’s a certain amount of relief and light that comes through you and you just keep wanting to move. You keep wanting to grow.

We had that conversation about my mom one day telling me, “You were just always that person. Even as a kid and going through high school, when you were home, you always introduced the family to new things. You were that person. You showed us things.” But there comes a point where A) that’s not really my job. You’re my family. You should be interested in these things because I’m your son. You love me. If you’re wanting a relationship with me, you should genuinely care. If you’re wanting a relationship on any level with anyone – friendship, romantically, whatever – I think you will have that desire to be interested in what that person’s doing. But also, I started realizing that I had a personality type and the knowledge and the passion to help more than just a small group of people. When I say that, I mean using my influence and my education to go after a larger group of people, like the younger generation. Or even people who don’t have the same abilities or haven’t been given the same opportunities or resources or haven’t reached that point yet of that realization and are struggling the way that I did.

That’s a really important thing to recognize, where eventually you have to realize that some people don’t have the same desire for growth and change that you have, so you decide to focus on people that are more teachable because you can’t force people to change if they don’t want to. We have a similar personality type where we don’t like to leave someone behind, so to speak, but where do you find the comfort and lack of anxiety where you realize that you can’t make excuses for other people and your change becomes more of a priority?

I think we need to be so relentless in not offering excuses for toxic behavior. We just have to. Toxicity can be a word that has so many different meanings to it, and to that point I say, you know yourself. Obviously, there are different people. I think each person has a threshold of how much they’re going to allow themselves to keep being ran over or how many times they’re going to reach out that hand and it get bit before they’re like, “No.” But I think that the true testament is when that person is harming themselves in any way by running away from growth.

And don’t forget that you have to be so extremely patient. I would never encourage someone to leave someone who isn’t changing because that’s not going to do anything. That’s not going to help. With the personality type I have, it would eat me alive more than anything. I think you have to be patient and we all have to understand that people move at their own pace and they move at their own time. But with that being said, you can do that without excusing their behavior. I think that people need to stop being so afraid of rejection and people need to stop being so afraid when someone calls them out on their behavior. People need to stop being so afraid to communicate in general.

It’s the domino effect of the “bad bitch” complex and covering yourself up with that, and covering up the fact that you don’t want to be emotionally vulnerable because you’re a “bad bitch.” It’s so glamorized, and like… why? It just breeds a culture for people to think it’s okay to just leave someone in the dust and not have a conversation about it. It’s powerful to be a bitch nowadays, if that makes sense. It’s almost seen like, “I’m a boss and I don’t have time for what’s not serving me,” but it’s like, “Yes, that’s accurate if someone is being toxic to you, but you have to have a conversation and you have to also see their perspective.” You can be tough, but you can’t be rude. The truth is people only use the bad bitch complex when they’re afraid of something.

Now, with that being said, there are just some people that are slower to warm up, but that’s a completely different concept. You need to be patient with those people who are taking a bit to grow and might be a bit difficult to be around because they’re saying problematic things. Call them out on it because it is wrong, but also, they’re not going to change overnight.

You didn’t change overnight. I didn’t change overnight. I’m going on twenty-four years old and I know there are many things that I have to learn, and I’m excited to learn, and there are things that I frustrate myself with because I still haven’t learned.

But I can never imagine the people that I consider to be my friends and my family, whether blood-related or not, looking at them and being like, “I’m done. I have to leave” Do you know what I mean?

Would you say that you could cut off communication for a time in order to focus on your growth? Do you ever feel held back by others or does your patience overrule that?

Yeah. I think that distance from someone is also something that people need to stop being afraid of, too. We’re not obligated to people’s time. We’re just not obligated to people; people are not obligated to anyone.

We all grow and we all change and we all do different things but at the core of it, there’s something about someone that’s always going to be the same.

If you don’t talk for a couple of weeks, a couple of months, a year… that doesn’t mean that the friendship isn’t there. Yeah, things change. Things grow, but I think we put ourselves in a weird situation if we start worrying about stuff like that.

Because we can’t control everything.

Yeah. My good friend, Sarah, I’ve talked to her more in the past month than I’ve talked to her in half a year, but nothing’s changed. Things have changed, but we’re still friends. I’m not mad at her. I don’t worry about the place that our relationship is in. It’s about valuing the moments in a relationship. You’re two individuals and it should always be viewed that way; you’re not fused as one. That means you’re on different levels. That means sometimes you’re going to need to vent to someone or you’re just going to need to talk, and the person you need might not be on the same energy level to be giving you words back. Maybe they just need to sit and listen that day, and then the conversation’s over and you gotta go. Or, maybe they’re just not in the headspace at all to have a conversation that day and you have to wait. That’s, I think, how relationships work. You just have to give and take with each other. You understand where the other is at, but also, if you’re the person on the other end that isn’t ready to talk or needs space, you have to say something. You can’t just leave someone in the dust.

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You can’t just do a quick 180, straight ghost. You can’t do something like that because it’s a two-way street. Because in return, you can’t look down on that person for questioning your behavior. You can’t look down on them because you introduced that initial responsive behavior to them. If you set up this norm, it’s the norm. It’s possible to change and of course, it’s about respecting where you’re at energy-wise and everyone can be at different levels, but you still have to communicate. You’ve got to. Because it’s not somebody else’s job to read your mind. You have to say it.

Do you think our generation in particular has this weird sense of entitlement to information, while also keeping some things to ourselves? Like, people demand to know everything about you but will take a step back with no warning to others. Do you think that’s kind of because of social media, or what do you think has influenced that?

I do think there’s a huge problem with social media and the sense of people feeling obligated to know more about someone else’s life. Yes. However, it is your choice to put yourself in a position of holding a platform where you’re putting it all in the street. Does that make sense?

Yeah.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that because of the fact that the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or Ariana Grande get up on stage every single night and they’ve been given a platform – no, not given. They’ve worked their asses off for a platform, to have the fans and the followers that they do and the people that care about them. That does not mean that we’re obligated to know when they’re going to eat lunch or when they’re going to take a shower. No. But I do think that, because of the fact that we have this… and I don’t even think it’s a generational thing. I think that anybody that uses social media now, to a certain extent, feels some kind of a way sometimes about knowing things. Maybe that’s the thing, too. I try and monitor the way that I use social media as more of a professional thing. I try to monitor the media that I’m taking in. I try to have things on there that inspire me to create art, or inspire me to be more proactive, or be more involved. On the other end of that, if I’m following people because of a friendship, it’s because they’re people that I’m not seeing every day. Those are people that I’m not getting to constantly connect with, so it’s an outlet. But I do see the dynamic of friendships that are based off of a follow for a follow, and you have to like every single thing that I’m liking, and you have to be in my pictures, and you have to do that. I do think there is a certain amount of obligation that comes with social media, but on the other end of it, it’s a double-edged sword. There are pros and cons. And I don’t think that social media and its’ problems can be diluted to just one generation.

How do you approach people who gauge the quality of a friendship based off social media interaction?

Social media was created to connect, so I think it has to stop being viewed as a status symbol. When the status and the symbols that are kind of thrown into the picture, or established, when it comes to social media… it’s viewed more important at times than just a normal conversation. There’s a lot of insecurity in it because people use that as a way to tell how serious or valued the friendship is.

If you were to go and have a conversation with someone, you wouldn’t base that entire relationship off of that one conversation. So, people shouldn’t go on social media and base an entire relationship off of a follow, or how many likes someone gives you. It’s something that’s built over time. It’s not something that is based off of one little thing and one little component.

People need to understand that when it comes to communication, we all work at different levels and at different times. We value some things more than others do and vice versa. For me, there are people that I see every single day that I don’t follow on social media because I don’t feel like I need to. That’s the thing, too.

If you don’t feel like you need to do something, then don’t feel obligated to do it. Don’t do it. Stop making excuses because people are making you feel a certain way. If someone comes up to you and says, “Well, why don’t you follow me?” Be honest with them. Say, “I don’t follow you because I don’t feel like I need to.” Obviously, don’t be so short and abrupt with it. Explain yourself because, hey, communication, but yeah. Be communicative about the way that you feel and stop being apologetic for it. But also, on the other end of things, let’s stop making people feel like they have to be apologetic for it. Yeah?

Yeah. Do you have any tips for better communication?

1. If you feel it, say it. Just… don’t be a fucking dick! Don’t be this badass rude person that is just out to harm people. These are two tips that tie in together: So, yes, say what you want to say when you’re feeling it because that’s important. But, make sure that you’re not saying something that is just you broadcasting your insecurities on someone else. Say it when you feel it; don’t broadcast your shit on other people. Say what you say when you feel it. Stop worrying about what people think, but also stop making people worry about what you think.

What do you mean?

Like, we all know what it feels like inside of our own selves, let alone with other people, to be that person that is second-guessing themselves, thinking, “Oh, I look this way,” or, “I sound that way,” or “I did  this wrong,” and it sucks. That’s a really hard thing to deal with. Those are really, really hard feelings to deal with. We’re all battling with that, and the first time it really resonated with me was when I first moved to the city. I’m not sure if many people are aware, but mental illness in the city is something that you see more. You actually physically see it more. You see people that are dealing with it in the streets every single day. I remember one day I was riding the subway, and there was this homeless person that was talking to themselves, and there was a person on the train that was making fun of them… just laughing and being loud about it and calling them crazy and stuff like that.

A man next to me leaned forward and told that person, “Hey, you don’t get to do that. You don’t get to make fun of this person because, honestly, the only difference between you and that person is that they’re just doing it out loud.”

Every single time I think of that story, it gets me. It’s so true. What makes you label someone as crazy is just that the struggles that they’re having internally, they’re broadcasting externally. We have to recognize that just because someone is communicating a little bit more or in a different way than you communicate, it doesn’t make them crazy and you don’t get the right to make them feel like you’re judging them. Stop making people feel that way. Communicate with them and be honest about how it’s not necessarily the way that you communicate. Then maybe monitor it and try to figure out what works for both of you.

Don’t ever just shut somebody off because it’s not your norm. Don’t ever do that because you’ll miss out on so much. You’ll miss out on so many friendships and relationship, and so many conversations. Just decent conversation with people.

If you were to just say, “Oh, you communicate differently than I do. You talk differently than I do,” and cut it off, you’d really miss out. That’s so toxic and so harsh. So upsetting. It’s a defeated attitude, but it also feels like defeat when you’re on the other end of it, too. We’ve all been there. We’ve all been on both sides, to which I say, know yourself. Start being more comfortable learning more about yourself to know that there are times and places when you should put yourself in conversation and times when you shouldn’t. You’re going to start saving yourself a lot of trouble when you know, “Hmm, I’m just a little tired right now and that means that I shouldn’t really have an in-depth conversation with somebody.” Know when it’s right for you to put yourself in a position to have that type of conversation. If it’s not time, then don’t go there.

But you also have to make yourself uncomfortable at times. Like when I flew in and I first met you, not going to lie, I was a little tired and I’m generally a little quiet when I first meet people. I could have easily walked into my room, set my suitcase down, and closed the door. And maybe that’s not great but it’s definitely the more natural thing for me to do so knowing that, I came back out to talk to you because that’s the polite thing to do and it was important. There’s a balance.

Know your tolerance level.

We talked about how some people won’t necessarily make themselves uncomfortable anymore. Sometimes have to put yourself out there and take the risk.

For sure. Hands down.

We all have the opportunity to be whatever the hell it is that we want to be. We really, really do. I firmly believe that. The only thing that stands in our way is ourselves and our lack of ability to be uncomfortable.

I will say time and time again that discomfort is growth. It just is. And it will always be that way. You have to know your boundaries, and it’s okay to have boundaries. And you have to know how you as a human progress best. You have to know at what speed, with what kind of people.

You have to be honest with yourself about things that you want. You just do. You have to be honest about, “These are things that I’ve questioned. These are things that I really want to experience.” Then go do it. I had a friend who talked on her Instagram Story the other day about how we keep breaking promises to ourselves, whether it’s as small as, “I told myself I’m not going to eat sugar or fast food, but it won’t hurt just this one time.” Or, “I’m really going to start going to the gym, and I’m going to go five days a week but every so often, it will be okay not to go that many times a week.” We keep breaking those promises to ourselves, and it creates this behavior inside of us that allows it. Obviously if we’re doing that to ourselves, that’s what we extend to other people. But if you look at it from an outsider’s point of view, if you were in a relationship of any kind with someone, and they kept promising you something, and then they kept breaking it over and over again… you would adjust your expectations. You wouldn’t keep going back to get bit so hard all the time, and eventually you wouldn’t go back at all. So why do we do that with ourselves?

True.

Yeah.

We want the growth, but we don’t want to work at it. I don’t know if that’s because we don’t have someone holding us accountable and we’re doing it alone, but we are sometimes more likely to show up to that hike if a friend is counting on us to be there. We are more likely to go get that job if we have to make rent.But for something as simple, or as significant, as, “I want to quit drinking soda.” Or, “I want to become a more positive person,” it’s a lot easier to phone it in and quit when it starts to get hard, but we don’t recognize it as making excuses when it comes to working on ourselves in the same way we do when it comes to others. In a way, we’d be way harsher if a friend canceled on us last minute than we are when we last-minute decide not to go to the gym.

Yeah. It sucks because I think what it is sometimes is that we view those promises to ourselves as something small. “Oh, that doesn’t really matter. It was like a little thing I thought of randomly.” Those are the biggest things! That’s your foundation, your rituals and your routines.

Because here’s the thing: with life, you’re not running away from discomfort. You’re not. Life is uncomfortable. Life is growth. It just is, whether you like it or not.

So if you aren’t allowing yourself personally to create those foundations and set those goals, you’re not feeling anything but discomfort. That’s terrifying. That’s scary. So, obviously how you handle that and how you keep your own promises is going to affect the way that you approach relationships with other people. You don’t have a foundation to go back to, so you’re irritable. You’re upset. You’re scared. So, you do what? You put the “bad bitch” complex on? You rationalize the way that you talk to other people and how you make them feel inferior? You rationalize the way that you talk to yourself and make your own self feel insecure and inferior? Yeah, that’s a thing. It’s not cute. It ain’t pretty. But it happens. I think that the world right now is begging… begging, begging, begging in many different ways, because we’re all different and we all communicate differently at the end of the day… we’re all begging for that to stop.

Whether it be in media, social media, photography, music, friendships, romantic relationships… we’re all begging for that to stop. We’re tired of it. We’re just not interested in it anymore. And nobody wants to say it. Nobody wants to say, “I’m just not interested in it anymore.” Because that’s the thing: it’s great. I love seeing things here and there that are polished and pristine and ready to go, and they’re beautiful, but that’s not reality. Things have to be built. Things are going on. There’s communication happening to make that work. There’s this, there’s that. People are uncomfortable. People are scared. What is the process like to get there? To get to success? Or to finally find that sense of accomplishment, in whatever capacity that might be? What’s it like? What is the process like to get to a healthy relationship? What is the process like to become successful at what you’re passionate about? That’s what we want to see. That’s what people want to see. That’s where we’re starting to get at; people just have to start admitting it and stop giving in to that illusion that life is perfect. Because it’s not. It never will be.

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the quick fix:

I can’t go a day without… reflection. That can be a hindrance, and an advantage. There are some things that are really good to reflect on, like a conversation with someone that meant something. But with the way that my brain works, I can also just bring shit up from out of nowhere. From years ago! And start reflecting on it and worrying about it in some way, or the impact it had.

Everyone should… listen to The Daily podcast on Spotify. But I think whatever medium it is, everyone should engage with something political, even if it’s just for five minutes. Something that talks about what is going on in our climate is something people should learn every day. Mine is The Daily; I like to listen to that. But also, I think it can be something that’s more on-topic or personal for you. Stay involved and understand what’s out there and what’s going on and how it applies to us.

Life is better with a little… love, girl! Come on, y’all, if that’s not everyone’s answer! Oh gosh, love and effective communication, because filler communication is not it. It’s okay to be silent sometimes because communication is not just verbal. There is physical communication; there’s emotional. All of it. Each one is important in its own way. Actually, a lot of love and communication.

Everyone in their 20s should…not be afraid to take chances. Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. I think that it’s really easy for us, especially in today’s climate, to feel like we have to be doing something because everyone else is doing it. Especially with the way that media is now. And that’s a two-sided street, because I feel that media opens up a world for us to see things that we couldn’t see, but at the same time, I think it makes us feel obligated to be doing the same things. Don’t be afraid to explore things that are festering inside of your mind. If it’s something you’re thinking about, act on it, as long as you’re not putting yourself or anybody else in danger. Act on it. Explore. Have fun.

One insider thing to do in NYC: whether you’re visiting or you actually live here, don’t be afraid to just walk around. You don’t have to spend money. Get out of Times Square. Get out of Midtown. Get out of Manhattan. Just walk. Literally just go out and walk around the neighborhoods, the parks. Just take it all in. Because I think something that we really take for granted here is that in a span of five blocks, the entire architecture can change – height, when it’s been built, if anything has been remodeled, what kind of families live there, what the neighborhood is oriented towards. It’s so refreshing to not spend money and not feel like you have to be doing something. Because it’s kind of like doing something without doing something, if that makes sense. You’re just being. It’s very calming to just take everything in.

What the world needs right now is… a lot. The world needs a lot of things. I think the world needs to listen more. I think we are all so quick to jump and have an opinion and we’re not really basing it off of anything. We’re just throwing our two cents into the mix because everyone else is, and we’re also throwing our two cents into the mix without even hearing what the other person is saying.

One way to spread love is… stop questioning it. I think that people attach, and we talked about this, each word has so many different meanings. I think people attach such serious meanings to the word love – oh, it means romance, it means moving too quickly, and all of a sudden you’re so afraid and saying that word to someone has to mean so much more. No. Love is love. Love is, “I love you.” Genuinely, there is not a person in this world that I think I don’t love. There are many, many people in this world I haven’t met and I still love them because we’re all worthy of it. And we all deserve to hear it. It needs to stop being something that is questioned so much. It’s not questionable. it’s not, especially if it’s coming from a genuine place. I think a way to spread love is to stop questioning it. Just do it.

You can follow Carlton on Instagram here.

First photo courtesy of Vlad Nabat.