A Final Gift of Love

I have never been quiet about the importance of having a group of powerful women in your corner to go through life with. No matter how much you may strive to empower & motivate each other; there is no amount of life preparation that can prepare you for what my tribe & I have been experiencing these past few weeks. When you think of life events, you think of marriage, engagements, baby showers, but never, ever, ever do you imagine the day that you will ever have to put one of the members to rest like we did yesterday. Although we all feel the magnitude of her absence differently; no one could have ever prepared us for the grief we feel as a unit.

That being said, in her rest, our dear friend Ayana will be the Nickkie&Co. inspiration this week. I am so honored, that she left one last momentum to contribute to her legacy & I get to showcase it here, on a platform she supported from the beginning. In 2018, when I first started Nickkie&Co., I wrote about the importance of building a cabinet of truly inspirational & motivating women in a memoir, Building A Sisterhood ( https://nickkieandco.com/2018/01/07/sisterhood/ ). In that memoir, I mentioned the impact a solid sisterhood can have on the worst & best times of our lives. It was in that time that Ayana reached out to me; moved to tears because of what her tribe did for her; even until her last breath. Although, she never could finish it (whether she lost momentum or forgot about it) her legacy lives on & the best gift she could ever give the people who loved her was this message. This message shows she understood what she meant to us, even in the thick of her fight, she understood. It shows that although her battle was not always pretty, the way she viewed her friends, her tribe, her cabinet superseded that. Her tribe, to her, was beautiful.

When a person leaves you, you wonder if they knew how you felt for them. You wonder if you could have done or said something more. You are tormented by the all the things you could have said. But this message eliminates that. Ayana left a gift. She left one of the best gifts; a gift that says & will continue saying — “Yes, I loved you just as much.”

I wanted to touch on the topic that was addressed the first week of January, pertaining to having a sisterhood, cabinet, or tribe. This topic spoke to me when I first read it and I became very emotional that I had to pick up the phone and call someone from my sisterhood. In the end of 2015, I was hospitalized with what was thought to be cancer but not totally ruled out until February 2016. Now just having turned 30 years old in November, that was the last thing I expected to have the doctor come back and say. It wasn’t until February 2016 that I was officially diagnosed and that’s when my cabinet really made themselves known. 

I had the support of family but to have the support of my sisters who I have known for most of my life really meant a lot. Once diagnosed I didn’t want many people to know; not that I was embarrassed but I just didn’t want anybody’s sympathy. The way I looked at the situation was that God dealt me these cards and he did it for a reason! I know they say not to question God and what he does and that’s exactly what I didn’t do. I felt in my soul that there was something that I had a blind eye to that he (God) wanted me to see and I wasn’t. 

On to the hard part of cancer treatment. I did 2 rounds of chemo therapy  treatments 1 of radiation therapy and 11 hours of surgery total. I had my surgery in June of 2016 and originally went in to be treated for one cancer but another was found during the surgery. During this time, God showed me who was really fighting with me and for me.  I came out of surgery and all of my sisters were there and those who weren’t were kept up to date every step of the way. During that time my sisters put aside their issues and rallied around me. There were days that I woke up and some were just sitting in the room, they made sure my kids were okay, and brought things I needed. It was a lengthy recovery and they stuck by me every step of the way… 

When all is said & done, it is THIS message you want left behind. Even though it wasn’t finished the message will not change. When talking to Ayana in preparation for this memoir, she was going to use her words to push others in fighting the same fight. Instead, this memoir has a totally different message; however, it is just as powerful.

Be the best kind of friend you can be within your capacity & love on those you love while they are here to receive it. Life gets hectic, but it is in those times of need that those who love you become evident. Although, Ayana did not have a pretty experience, she had the people who mattered to her most around her- always. Ayana was emotional, honest & raw. She did not sugarcoat or disguise what she felt & who she was at any point of her life. With Ayana, you got who you got & she was ok with that. She was without shame & was willing to express her emotions how she saw fit. She was raw but in the most honest way & beautiful way a person can be; she was unapologetically her. We all loved her for it. If she was happy; we felt it. If she was sad, we knew it because she was never ashamed to show vulnerability & if she was mad; we knew that too, because Yana was ok with the picture not always being pretty. But if one thing is certain, if Ayana loved you; she loved you & she thrived off of the love she got too. Cancer is ugly & I am saddened that it took our friend. But even in this, we received the best gift we could have ever gotten from her. A final gift of love.

Rest in Peace our dear friend, Ayana. We love you.

Recognizing Your Anxiety.

As I was reflecting on my week and thinking about this week’s memoir topic – I realized that it was imperative that I discuss a topic that is very personal for me. In fact, it’s quite personal for many of us. For as long as I could remember, I have had  difficulties with anxiety and managing it. It wasn’t until a few years ago, that I began learning to identify it & take the necessary steps to tend to my individual needs.

 Anxiety effects more than 40 million adults in the US. But I didn’t have to look up statistics to know that more people live with anxiety every day than those who don’t. I also don’t need scholarly articles to tell me that few people recognize when they’re experiencing an episode & even less know how to manage it &/or deal with it appropriately. Far too many of us have been conditioned to believe that that “feeling” we can’t name; is a normal way to live our lives. However, I tell you today that god did not anoint us to walk around combatting anxiety. Our lives are so much more purposeful than being concerned with what could happen today or tomorrow. Society has conditioned us into believing that being unprepared & unknowing of the future is a disservice to ourselves. As a result, life has us running a race that will kill us before we even get to the finish line. 

To put things in perspective for you, anxiety is over thinking. It’s obsessing over things outside of our control. Anxiety is the aggressive or emotional person that people often misunderstand. Anxiety is holding your breath without realizing it or feeling out of breath because you held your breath for so long. Anxiety is that tight feeling in your chest that feels like a heart attack. It’s that need to remain active because being still makes you uncomfortable. Anxiety is the stress we fail to do anything about because “this too shall pass.” It’s the discomfort felt before any social events with people & the desire to leave once you arrive. 

Anxiety is a different picture for everyone but is the culprit for us all. If we don’t begin to handle, recognize, address & treat this; we will make our anxiety generational and pass the message that “anxiety is ok” to our children.

Through the various stages of my life, anxiety has looked different. I’ve had crippling fear, I’ve cried, I’ve laughed uncomfortably, I’ve lashed out, I’ve gotten physically aggressive, I’ve isolated myself, I’ve obsessively inquired & even tried to explain my anxiety away— all very unhealthy ways of managing & dealing with anxiety. Thankfully, I’ve learned to reflect, seek out the guidance from friends, received treatment from a licensed professional, temporarily was on medication, continued to write, pray and reflect. Now that I do these things, I am able to express myself in a positive way, recognize when I’m feeling anxious & identify the cause of my anxiety. Although, it isn’t perfect, it’s a positive stride & that matters. 

Mental health concerns are coming to the surface. It’s important to learn your triggers & understand your anxiety. Recognize the signs. Address them. Seek help & learn to rely on the genuine things that bring you joy. Don’t compare your anxiety with against the anxiety of other people because it won’t always look the same. However, learning what anxiety means for you will allow you to seek the best ways to manage it. This past month, my anxiety looked different. However, had I not taken the time to study what anxiety looks like to me; I would’ve failed at eliminating my stressors & speaking about it with people I could trust. If anxiety goes unchecked it will be detrimental. Anxiety, like stress, is the gateway to many other negative feelings & experiences & is very real for many of us. Therefore, we need to be understanding with ourselves, but MORE vigilant with finding the solutions to our mental health disadvantages. We are beautiful, “flaws” and all; but if we can target this we can help make the world beautiful too. 

This Week’s Formula…

I think today calls for some reminders to get through the week—

Literally, the start of each day, is a new beginning.

Every problem has a solution, even if it isn’t evident right away.

The world will not always understand your perspective, still stand by it.

Being misunderstood is about perspective; use it to your benefit.

Be compassionate. Compassion makes all the difference.

Give yourself grace. You will not execute perfectly; every time.

Love without conditions; do it freely.

Make sure what you say has substance. Your word is your bond. If you fail to deliver on that word, what else do you will have?

Money is nice but it should not be your sole interest. Seek peace.

Having emotions is not the problem; it’s how you express them.

Don’t stay in any situation that makes you uncomfortable.

Pick and choose your battles, but feel confident advocating for yourself.

Never allow discouragement to keep you from playing the game. The outcome will surprise you.

Be confident. However, be mindful- there is a fine line between confidence & arrogance.

Stop second guessing yourself. Trust your instinct.

Be ok jumping in the unknown. It’s going to all work out.

When negative thoughts surface in your mind; profess with your mouth the opposite.

Ask God to give you wisdom before making decisions & be patient. He will answer.

Be ok with feeling how you feel; use it to reflect.

Stop using horoscopes to predict how your day will go; YOU set the trajectory of the day.

You really are in charge of your destiny; do it one step at a time.

Make the best out of this week. You got this.

Suppressed Childhood Traumas…

Hey ladies, Happy Sunday.

Hmm…

Let’s talk about childhood trauma & how important it is for us to deal with it. As children we have a variety experiences that contribute (to an extent) the type of adults we will be. However, many of us have had positive & negative experiences that we carry around with us– whether we know it or not. Like I said in the memoir I wrote a few weeks ago, “Let’s Talk About Trauma”, if we do not deal with what we have dealt with, we will never reach the pinnacle of our very best.

Let me give you an example. Like many people I know, I was raised by a single mother. I was abandoned by my biological father before I was born & I spent a large portion of my childhood feeling discarded. That later began to trickle down into how I handled my relationships with love interests, family & friends. I found it better to discard of people before they could discard me. I left very little room for errors & I never looked back. It was not until I began to deal with some of my deep rooted issues of abandonment that I started to recognize my own toxic behaviors. Had I continued on that course; I would not have been able to maintain the wonderful relationships I have now. As I have said before, I am grateful for the people who loved me even when I was not so pretty to love.

You see, many of us walk around everyday with the facade that what happened is irrelevant. We suppress without realizing that in doing so we allow negative behaviors to surface. We have to recognize that in denying ourselves the correct outlet to heal; we give our trauma the victory. Address it. Talk about it & then work on forgiving yourselves. Because trauma, especially those brought to us in childhood, creates a gateway that causes us to blame ourselves for what has happened. The truth is, we have been raised by people with their own trauma, had interactions with people that suppress theirs, encountered people who cause distress as a result of their own & we have contributed to the trauma of other people. However, when we make a conscious effort to deal with the wounded child, teenager & adult– we make positive strides to ensure that we stop contributing to the negative experiences of other people people. We clear the slate to raise people without our own trauma in mind & we further work on ensuring that we end those generational curses we often hear people talk about.

Life is absolutely too short. Wouldn’t you want to have a positive experience with it where you set the standard & create that trajectory. Life really can be beautiful. We just have to give it permission to be.

See you next week.

You Owe Yourself Patience

Good morning, Loves.

As we prepare to start a new week, I want to encourage you all to be patient…with yourselves. Often, we set these timelines of expectations & beat ourselves up when we do not reach those expectations. We often fail to take into account the things that may have restricted us from reaching our goal or recognizing the that the initial timeline was unreasonable. We are also extremely critical of ourselves. We allow ourselves little space for errors & fail to recognize that the mistakes we make always serve as opportunities to learn something & readjust.

So before this week, I want to remind you– just as you strive to be patient with your co-workers, your employers & family members, be mindful to include yourselves in that group of people. Patience is one of the ingredients to being compassionate. Therefore, I ask you, why does everyone else deserve your compassion except you? Why don’t you recognize that just as someone may need a moment to readjust, so do you? Make conscious steps to take it easy on yourselves. Give yourself some leeway to not be perfect & allow yourself to accept that “your decided” failures are reinforcements that contribute to making you a better version of yourself- spiritually, productively, personally… in every aspect.

The thing about life is we never know what we are doing & how what we do impacts us in the future. But I do know, mistreatment & the lack of love we give ourselves does not create a positive trajectory we can look forward to later. Understand life, will have it’s loops & turns. Many of the setbacks we experience, can very well get us to our desired goal. If we show ourselves patience, compassion & gentleness–we are guaranteed to be better people overall, not only to ourselves but to others, as well.

Have a great week.

Let’s Talk About Trauma.

Good morning! Happy Sunday!

Trauma. What is it?

In sum, it is a response to a distressing event we experience. It has an effect on our ability to navigate through situations & has an impact on how we may cope or overcome unfavorable circumstances. Trauma, unfortunately, is inevitable. Despite how cautious we may be, simply navigating through life & interacting with others; makes us susceptible to experiencing trauma in some way, shape or form. Many times, we do not realize that our survival or recovery from certain life experiences has left behind remnants that will require us to work hard to get past it.

Getting older has given me a new perspective on this; as it should. However, it has also allowed me to not only recognize my own trauma but the trauma enabling or effecting other people. For instance, anyone that knows me personally, knows my mom was suuuppper strict. Although, I would differ in the approach, I can look back now & see that a lot of the hold & reluctance my mother had on my life had a lot to do with what she did for a living (not to mention her own individual life experiences that may have contributed). My mother is a CPS worker. She has seen too much of what happens when children have been left unattended, with “friends”, with “family members”, etc. So, if to her, I am her prized possession, how can she not allow the trauma she experienced on a daily basis impact the reigns she had on me & my life? Helping other people navigate through their own traumatic experiences infiltrated into becoming hers; which can, if I am not careful become my children’s.

Because the truth is, on a consistent basis, we see & survive many things. How we choose to cope with that, if we are aware of it, is entirely up to us. But I can say this for sure- trauma left untouched, not dealt with & suppressed will effect you in every aspect of your life. It will keep you from arriving to who & what you are destined to be. Instead, you will be running the same never-ending race of unfillment, dissatisfaction, discouragement & regret despite your life’s accomplishments & victories.

I am unsure if the effects of trauma truly ever go away. But I do know that God never intended us to suffer & that he will trade our ashes for his beauty to make our own. I also know that wounds, with time & dealt with properly, do heal. It may take some time, but they do. Marinate on what I am about to tell you. Your trauma has a purpose. Once it is over & you have been able to emerge from the negativity of it; use it to fuel your purpose. See, without trauma, I believe that it will be extremely difficult to figure out how to pour into ourselves & others. You see, it is our experiences that allow us to do so. The good ones, the bad ones & the ones that cause indifference.

If I remained silent every time someone told me to shut up, Nickkie & Co. would not exist. If I did not attempt to advocate for myself when I felt an injustice, I would not be here. I would not be the self-reflective, advocating woman I am today in my career, my personal life & in my purpose (Nickkie&Co). If I allowed my own trauma to win, if I stayed quiet & always did what I was told; or “suppressed” my emotions like they told me to; my testimony would not exist. Whatever words I have written or said that helped someone reflect or shape themselves; would not have reached them. I truly believe, it was my trauma, my experiences, that allowed me the wisdom, courage & ability to come forth & share it.

Though it does not define us, our trauma is part of our testimony. It will serve as the beacon of light not only for ourselves but for someone else too. Many times our fight creates the pathway for someone else to walk on & get to meet us where we are. To help them arrive too.

Do not let your trauma keep that.

Intentional Lifetime Promises

Welcome to 2021! Many of us has just pushed through one of the most challenging years of our lives (collectively). Many of us have lost loved ones, income, assets, encouragement, faith…the list goes on. Many of us are dragging into 2021 exhausted & eager for a break. This year is the year many of us are looking to rebuild, reestablish & reimagine what is ours. However, before you do anything, make sure you do one thing before all else-

Pour into yourself & do it with intention.

After the year we just had, we spent much of our time surviving & helping others to do the same. But we cannot deny that we have come out of last year beat up & eager to bounce back from some of our less than ideal situations. Although, 2020 had its shining moments, that allowed us to see who GOD is; it was also unrelenting for many of us. So many facets of our lives that have been effected & are requiring us to lick our wounds while we re-adjust. So while we re-adjust, let’s stray away from unrealistic, short-lived, NY resolutions & make intentional promises to ourselves.

Let us look at the bigger picture. Where do we continue to sell ourselves short? Where have we failed to deliver for ourselves? When have we put the care & love of others, before ourselves? What steps are we willing to make to ensure that next year, we see ourselves the way we want to see ourselves? What are our hard-nos? Where have we sacrificed our boundaries? When have we accepted less than we deserve? Think about all of that & make your intentional promises. These are not promise anyone but promise for yourself. I You have heard it before, empty wells cannot pour into others. So with these promises, ensure that they fill you up abundantly that pouring into others only adds; not depletes.

Happy New Year, Loves & Happy 3rd Birthday to Nickkie & Co.

“What is the most important thing? To love yourself and the world. In that order.” -Yoko

Who’s Holding You Accountable?

Hello Ladies! Happy Sunday!

We often discuss the need to have supportive friends that encourage us & inspire us to strive forward. However, today I want to discuss the importance of having friends that hold you accountable, as well. Friends that are “supportive” & friends that hold you “accountable” are not always one in the same. However, it amazes me how often people have this misconstrued. We often think because a person is supportive that they are capable of holding us accountable. However, that is not true & it is important to evaluate what that means for you & your circle.

It is easy to have people in your corner that show you the various ways they support you. Though we always appreciate the ones that show up for various events, cheer us on when we are doing well, & encourage us when we are feeling low; it is different to have a friend that can look you in the face & say “listen, you’re effin up, tighten up”. An accountability partner should be someone who’s opinion you value, who truly has your best interest in mind & someone who is not afraid to hurt your feelings. Having someone who can hold you accountable is a blessing & is the secret weapon behind your road to success. The will naturally ensure that your performance in the various facets of your life (professionally, educationally, spiritually, culturally, financially, etc.) will improve. Not to mention, they will deliver faithfully when you fail to do so.

Their role is to push you out of your comfort zone.

So far out of your comfort zone that you have no choice but to get comfortable where you’re not comfortable.

Do not settle for lack luster accountability partners that are unable to hold you to a standard that will ensure your success. In fact, recognize the various streams of support in your network; if one of these essential secret weapons are not in your team I urge you to find one. I guarantee you, the trajectory of your goals will have a positive impact that would have been significantly more difficult for you to see on your own.

We spend so much time refusing to accept that anyone is able to be unproductive & inactive. However, we have to remember every boss has board they have to answer to. That board ensures that the boss is in line with the mission, purpose & vision of their organization. Find yourself a like-minded individual & get to work!

You will not be sorry. Trust me.

Taking On More…

Sometimes it feels like we are biting much more than we can chew. I know many times we feel like we are running a race on a hamster wheel, against ourselves. Because when one thing is sorted out; another thing happens. I personally have been feeling that way lately & it has been extremely uncomfortable. These past few months, I have been very transparent about being in one of the most unique & uncomfortable faith tests of my life. If I were to be honest, I hate it. But my faith (hence, the current faith test I am in) tells me it will all be sorted out & God holds me near. I am sure, with the current times, many people are feeling much like I am; especially with the holidays close & our inability to gather in the ways we are use to.

Normally, I will start talking about how we are going to get through this time & that God will not put us through anything we can’t handle. Although that seems promising & sounds good; I recently heard a different perspective on this. Pastor Tony Evans told his congregation that often times, God gives us more than we can handle because it helps shape us into the very person we are supposed to be. This resonated with me because every time, in the mist of my chaos, God met me. Every time, when life was too much, God has shown me that he was able to relieve me from the stresses that were too difficult for me but never too difficult for him. My drama has taught me empathy & has molded my ability to encourage those who will be where I am; after me. Because the truth is, our testimonies are not for us. They are for someone else. Someone who will be in the same place we are in now; who is having a difficult time getting through, moving forward & functioning solely on faith.

I am able to write these memoirs every week because they are MY experiences meant for YOU. Life is a classroom; sometimes you will be the teacher & many times the student. We just have to be willing to accept the role we are assigned in that particular time of our lives. Our ability to be the teacher to someone else comes from being the student, failing the test & trying again. Therefore, along with the theme of every other memoir, I am going to remind you that this obstacle is temporary & that your life has purpose. To give up & to lose faith is not only a disservice to you but to the lives of those that will follow after you. Even when life gives you too much to chew, know that you are not chewing alone. There have been other people where you are now & God stands with you in the midst of it all.

You are history. You are a story. You are a trailblazer. You are power. You are strength. You are light. You are life. You are love.

Beautifully Imperfect

Hey, loves! Today is a pretty exciting day! Nickkie&Co. has not had a Guest Inspiration in quite a while. However, a long time friend & fellow woman in Christ, Quiomayra Figueroa, has offered her Testimony to share with us today. She brings forward the conversation that religion & a relationship with christ are NOT the same thing. In fact, relationship is so much more. Tune in & check out the brief summary of her journey. It might sound a lot like yours. Thank you Quio for your testimony.

My name is Quiomayra Figueroa and I am 31 years old, born in Camden and raised in  Pennsauken, New Jersey. This is my story of a born sinner saved by an awesome father God in heaven. 

I knew who God was but never really had a “relationship” with the Lord, it was more religion than anything else. I grew up in the Catholic Church; that’s where the foundation started but it didn’t continue. The seed was planted in me by my parents to know who God was and that Jesus died on the cross but never really experienced or understood the importance of having a relationship with God, to understand why Jesus died on the cross for us, and to be thankful and devoted like I am now. Back then what I knew about being a Christian was to “do this do that” and “if you don’t follow these rules you are going to hell and God is going to punish you”. Because of that, I didn’t have a desire to seek the Lord because I thought I had to be perfect. I didn’t fully understand why God allowed things to happen in this world and why I had to be a part of it; I didn’t believe it at the time because a lack of understanding.

I then started to do things my way. I went to college to do something that I was passionate about to help people and the community I grew up in; I went for criminal justice. In my college, I didn’t really experience the partying scene in school but I experienced it outside with the group of people I grew up with. I did what I wanted and what I thought was “living life”. I was partying, drinking like crazy,  and going out to the clubs all the time. Looking back now I basically got myself into a lot of situations that I could’ve avoided that were dangerous. Thank the Lord he had me covered. I was also not in the best relationship.  I don’t blame the person I was with because we obviously weren’t meant to be and that’s okay. I remember after graduating college I  was in a relationship for four years with a man I thought I was going to marry. While we were together I started to seek the Lord with a couple of my family members due to situations in my family; we decided to go to church and I loved it. I kept attending and curious about God; wanting more. I was baptized and I made that declaration to the Lord that I was going to follow him and change my life around but I wasn’t fully dedicated. At this point in my life I became a “luke warm Christian” with one foot in and one foot out. I didn’t want to let go of my old lifestyle; not fully trusting the God. I thought my life was good; I had a boyfriend, we lived together, working in my field of study, and got a dog. In reality though, things were following apart. 

Just like on social media, people post what they want you to see. Who post’s up their failures or what’s going on in their life? My relationship with my boyfriend at the time failed, just like  people in my life that love the Lord and prayed for me, said it would. I am not bashing the person I was with; but our situation. I knew that I was doing things out of God’s order. The relationship ending helped me to take the rose colored glasses off my eyes. I was able to be like you know what God “ I’m TIRED of how I’m living, TIRED of the partying and the drinking, TIRED of the failed relationships, TIRED of being mad at the world with different situations, trying to be in control and not getting good results. I decided that day to just say “I’m done” and I started to really seek the Lord a different way; on his terms because in the past I didn’t handle problems well my way.

When I was in high school during my senior year and part of my college life I handled situations so differently, unhappy and depressed. I would literally shut myself from the world, not wanting to be bothered by anyone. I would lock myself in the room, sleep all the time and I wouldn’t have an appetite. I remember my mom knocking on the door in my room to check up on me and  I would not let her in. I went from weighing 135 to 105 real quick; at my worst. At a certain point I snapped out of that depression in which God delivered me from and I decided to leave it in God’s hands! Once I made that decision to follow Christ wanting his peace and his joy, I ended up finding another church home; not because where I was wasn’t a bible preaching church but because I needed something different. Where I attend now has helped me to grow in relationship with the Lord and not just what people call “religion”. I get to learn who God is as our father and our friend. I have a community of family who know and love the Lord just like me that I can be accountable to. Because let’s face it, nothing is ever going to be perfect; we are human with real problems. Just because we are followers of Christ doesn’t mean we are not prone to trials in this world because we decided to take this step. That’s a promise from the Lord that we will have to “face troubles but to take heart because he has already overcome the world”(John 16:33) when he died on that cross for us. That’s the beauty of it! We are going to fail in some way, shape or form. I feel true conviction when it happens which is good, but as long as we continue to trust the Lord and give it to him, he will help us, he will show up and he will change our lives like never before! 

God wants to meet us where we are; that’s where he can work in us. We don’t have to come to him perfect. He tells us to draw closer to him and he will draw closer to us (James 4:8). Because of that decision I made a long time ago, to accept this invitation from the Lord to follow him, my life has never been the same. Life’s purpose that he has for me and you is to encourage people, to allow them to see the love of Christ and to tell them the good news about him. It’s the whole point of life, to love God and love people. 

I didn’t desire to seek the lord because I thought I had to be perfect.