Lessons from Love and Hip Hop

For the past two months, reality television buffs have been engulfed by the second season of Love & Hip Hop —whether we’ve wanted to or not. The original cast of girlfriends, baby mamas and singers-to-be were joined by three more ladies to serve up what we hate to love: DRAMA. From knock-out fights to more drink-throwing, this season held no punches, possibly topping the foolishness of Basketball Wives and Real Housewives of Atlanta. Like clockwork, essays and commentary about how the show falsely represents African-American women swirled around the media. They’re not even married to these men in hip-hop. In fact, this season focused on heartbreak more than love. How about calling the show These Girls Goin’ Through It, instead?

Weekly, I, along with millions, joined in on the Twitter discussion. It went something like this: Where do they find these women?  I mean, us college-educated, employed, “independent” women, we don’t know women like these, right? Wrong. We do. We might one of them. These designer label-wearing glamazons might have gone the extra mile by throwing a blow or some expletives around, but you know someone who’s stayed in a relationship that should’ve ended eons ago. You know someone who has issues in her professional life. You know someone who has “Mama and Daddy issues.” So as much as we’d like to throw the entire cast and producers under the bus, we could learn some universal lessons from these chicks. Feel free to add to the list.

Never mix business with pleasure. Ahem Yandy. Unless you’re in business with your SPOUSE serving up ribs and over the top affection like the Neely’s, feelings and money don’t mix. A friend recently told me that feelings are defined as “an unreasoned opinion or belief,” so many of our emotions can be based on pixie dust, which results making irrational and hasty decisions. You could be left with no money nor honey, all of which is a very bad thing. Sometimes it’s better to use your mind than your heart.

A man will always go to bat for his woman over his homegirl. That is, unless he realized the woman is schizo and needs a way out. Otherwise, no matter how well you “hold him down,” make a way for him to provide for himself and family or be that shoulder to cry on behind closed doors, remember, he sleeps with his woman (even if he sleeps with you, too). She may be crazy, but in some way, she takes care of him and even better, he likes it and loves her. Sorry, honey, but you’ll have to the “L.” It is what it is.

Maturity does have a number. At no point in your 40s (or 30s and shoot, 20s) should you be scrapping like a 7th grader in middle school. It’s just not…sexy. If you  stand on being a real woman, jumping on another woman should be the last option in settling any disagreement. In the end, you look stupid, your makeup is smeared and you probably lost a track or two and one of those earrings you love so much. And we all know having only one earring in a pair is earth shattering. ALWAYS act like a lady.

There’s a fine line between holding on to dreams and being stupid. How many of us have dreams we’d like to fufil, but we know realistically that we have to start from scratch? *raises hand* Yeah, I’d love to quit my job and write full-time, but um, I got bills. I’m a proponent of “stepping out on faith” and not settling, yet, I have to make ends meet, so I pound the pavement Monday through Friday. Also, if an opportunity presents itself, why not show you can rise to the top standing on small beginnings? It beats standing on nothing at all, and the story is much sweeter in the end.

A sense of entitlement will have you looking crazy, but hard work will pay off. “Hey, look at me. You have to sign me to a bomb-ass deal because I sang hooks and put out one song back in 2002. I deserve this!” Sound familiar? Yeah, we can swindle our way out of blessings we think we deserve so much based on old stuff. While you’re complaining and producing mediocre results, that chick up the street is hungry for YOUR (old) spot and is putting in work to get it. (Reference: See Olivia vs. Somaya)

Your issues will deal with you if you don’t deal with them first. 

Everyone’s got atleast one. Some run deeper than others, but if abandonment, self-image and neglect issues haven’t been addressed as early as possible, you could be headed down a dark road. Who knew that seeing mama and daddy fight as a kid could affect your choices in men and how you begin/grow a family? Yes, there is a point where we must take personal responsibility for how we live our lives. Stop blaming others for our mess-ups. However, in doing that, it’s impossible not to figure out why you do what you do. In other words, get some counseling. No judgement here.

Peace of mind is better than lifestyle.

How many women have stayed in relationship to their detriment for fear that if they leave, they’ll be  scrubs (again)? I’m sure zillions, from lily-white multi-millionaires to rap stars and your run-of-the-mill dopeboy around the corner. Comfort does that to you. That job you have is killing you softly and affecting your family life and relationships, yet you stay because of the pay and benefits. Your car note is breaking you,  but driving a Benz feels so…exotic. Same thing with relationships. You can wrap yourself in minks and jewels for the onlookers, but you’re tore up in face from crying. At some point, a clear mind and light heart must win the game. If not, at least you can suffer and look good while you’re doing it. Make a choice.

Be careful who you talk to and who you call “friend.”

Newsflash: Everybody isn’t your friend, and they aren’t concerned about your story as much as they are in simply hearing it. So what, both of ya’ll were latch-key kids and ate cornbread and cold Pop Tarts every day? Just because two people share a common struggle doesn’t mean one won’t use your information against you or broadcast what was supposed to be confidential. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your experiences, as they can help someone else, but choose carefully who you share them with.

Relationships aren’t cookie-cutter.

Shoot me, but I think Chrissy and Jim will get married (eventually). I felt basic as ever as I shed tears when he proposed (I was probably emotional anyway at the time). The next day, his proposal was scrutinized because he didn’t put the ring on her finger, he didn’t get down on one knee, etc. And? That wasn’t his style. Know the person you’re dating and how far they’re likely to go. They’ve been together, and they still haven’t married, so he probably won’t. Huh? Says who? Let’s all do what works for us individually. Hell, some folks like shacking up. Who am I to judge?

Sometimes friends have to remain separate.

Remember that time you tried to hang out with your friends from high school and your new friends from college? Or your friends from work and your friends from around the way? How’d that work out for ya? Actually, in my experience, I didn’t have problems, but the lesson is it’s not our job to be Super Friend and bring everyone together. This is real life, not a “We Are the World” video. We are different things to different people, and realistically everyone won’t like everyone. So, if you must bring two separate groups together, if you sense friction, don’t do a do-over. You’ll be the one the headache, not them.

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