Accepting People Who Will Never Change

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The last time someone took something of yours without permission or mistreated you in one way or another, you forgave them. After explaining to them what they did wrong to you and listening to their half-hearted explanation, you accepted their quasi-apology and let them back into your life. Yet their undesirable character traits continue to shine. They’ve lied to you again after saying they wouldn’t; or maybe something of yours has come up missing. In either case, that person has broken their promise again. You have to realize that some people will never change, no matter what, and you must either accept it or remove them from your life.

I knew of a man who everyone accused against his agreement that he was a fall-down alcoholic. The first time I saw the man, he was intoxicated and nude in public and being pursued by the police. When this man died many years later, he did so with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit on a very public street in his birthday suit. It was no coincidence he died under these circumstances and that these were similar to the circumstances under which I met him for the first time.

First impressions are like life audits.”

Some people say first impressions last a lifetime, and they do. I like to think of first impressions like life audits. That is, when you meet most people in your life, it won’t be planned. You’ll meet the sloppy coworker for the first time, and he’ll like have a brown stain of coffee on his shirt. Sassy Susan is likely going to yap your ears off. I use these archetypes as examples of meeting people on their terms — as who they are. The sloppy coworker will say to you, “Excuse the coffee stain; I usually keep a clean shirt.” In reality, this coworker is sloppy. That’s who he is. So, if you meet someone for the first time who’s screaming his ears off at his employees, he’s probably a yeller, and you’re soon to be his next victim. Nothing you say will change the yeller into a whisperer.

“…when your brother or sister passes away, will it matter who started the argument.”

That said, we have standards and expectations in our life, and we should. In fifty years, though, when your brother or sister passes away, will it matter who started the argument in 2002 that led to the family fight? Will you be able to replace those missed moments smothered by huge egos and the inability to apologize? Or will you accept that person back into your life, the same one who mistreated you, lied to you and refused to apologize?

We tend to use loosely the words “family” and “friends.” To be sure, some would contend that blood relation doesn’t make people family. If you disagree, how likely are you to claim a distant cousin you’ve never met who may be a psycho? Depending on your relationship or experiences with your family, you may or may not claim this person as your own family. Your moral scale must be aligned properly. Understand what you stand to lose from a petty argument. Sometimes, you lose more than just a friend or family member when it comes to real circumstances such as paying back a loan or just having someone be there for you in your time of need. But some people are more trouble than they’re worth. Friend or family, for those who won’t change for the better, you’ve probably outgrown them, and it’s time to move on.

How to Reveal Juicy Secrets about Yourself to Friends

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You consider yourself to be honest, trustworthy and loyal. Although you trust your best friend and love your family, there is something destroying you from the inside out, a secret yearning to be shared lest it tear you apart. The problem is, your secret can shatter your life and image. Maybe you have a secret OnlyFans page, or you want to share something about your sexuality or maybe you didn’t really ever work at that place you claimed. Whatever it is, you need to release the burden of holding it secret and tell someone you trust or love, but you have to be careful.

Before revealing your secret to anyone, consider how you feel about it. Are you comfortable with sharing this with someone at this point? For instance, if you’ve just accepted a new part of your sexuality, unless you feel comfortable, you don’t immediately need to share this with anyone. They may have questions you haven’t even considered. So, be comfortable with yourself first. If this secret were to leak, how damaging could it be to your image? Can you withstand the fallout. Whenever telling a secret to someone, no matter who the person is or how much you trust that person, you have to realize the potential for leaks is real. Don’t say anything you’re not comfortable with owning up to.

…you don’t owe anybody anything.

Also, don’t feel guilty about not sharing your secret. Sharing is therapeutic and may assist you in dealing with stress in a positive manner, but you don’t owe anything to anyone. Share for your benefit first and someone else’s last. Unless the secret you’re sharing has something to do with the other person on a vital level, don’t guilt trip yourself for not telling them. They may ask why you didn’t tell them sooner. Just say you brought it up when you were comfortable. A reasonable person will understand.

On the contrary to sharing, you must protect yourself. Let’s say you’re in your last year of law school, and you’re about to graduate and take the bar. To get to this point, you made sacrifices in the form of creating online sexual content through OnlyFans. The fact that you did this could end your legal career before it begins. This secret you’re holding could break your future. In this instance, silence is best. Yes, your best friend has been your best friend forever. But what if she accidentally leaks your secret or you two have a fallout and she tells the world via social media about your content? Your career would be over, and there would be nothing you could do about it. People change, and so do your relationships with them. Be mindful of that when considering sharing a potentially harmful secret about yourself.

Who you tell your secret to will have different ramifications...

You must consider the audience or individual you’re revealing your secret to. If you’ve been a secret Trump supporter voting against Black rights, you may want to avoid spilling that in a community meeting in a Black church. Who you tell your secret to will have different ramifications, if there are any. Telling your best friend you smoke weed will receive a wildly different reception than if you told that same story to your religious granny. There’s a fine line between becoming a sympathetic figure and being the town’s gossip.

If you have to keep the most important aspects of your life completely secret, then what’s the use of loved ones and friends? Sure, there are licensed counselors, and you should seek their professional help when needed. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Still, lean on your friends and family. If the secret may ruin you, consider keeping it to yourself for the protection of your future. Don’t betray yourself or ruin your future. If you have to tell someone something that could end you, tell it to a professional who is legallly required to keep it a secret. Be you, and be proud to be you.

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Beware of Slum “Publishers”

For the umpteenth time, an agent has rejected your manuscript. Your heart skipped a beat when you saw the email, but the excitement the agent led with is gone by the fourth word. You exhale, sinking into yourself like a deflated ballon. What’s the purpose of writing all of this if you can’t get a book deal? You think, instead of shooting for Penguin or other Big Five Publishers, I’ll settle for a small indie press. Though this is a smart move after repeated failure, you must be weary of slum publishers.

In 2018, I checked my Submittable author account and almost exploded with happiness, seeing a small publishing house had accepted my book Operation Soul Cast for publishing. Over the time between the company accepting my manuscript and its publishing it, I got bad vibes from the company. For instance, after agreeing to publish my book at a certain date in order to give me time to promote, the company published the story without my knowledge. After challenging who I believe was the current COO, she defended the actions of the company. It made me uncomfortable, but there was nothing I could do.

Don’t choose a publisher because they’re “easy” to get with…

Since publishing my book, the publisher has put no effort into promoting it. Though I tried setting up a marketing plan with the company, they did not give me that opportunity. I’m not sure how many work for the company, but it doesn’t seem to be a bunch. Other than having my manuscript edited, Solstice did very little in the way of preparing my book for selling. Without an effective marketing plan, my book basically sat untouched on the shelf.

I say that to say this, do not choose a publisher because they’re “easy” to get a contract with. There are other things that come with book deals, such as proper marketing of your work and being able to count on your publisher in a time of need. Recently, a college offered me a professor position, and part of the reason was because of the book I had published with Solstice. On behalf of the college, an employment background check company reached out to my publisher to confirm verbally it had published my work but got no response. The reason is, my publisher uses its submissions email as a contact email as well, but it seems to be unmonitored. Their site doesn’t have any clear contact information, outside of the submissions and newsletter email addresses. So, to an outsider looking in, they may wonder about the legitimacy of a company like the one I signed with, especially when no one will confirm it even exists outside of a webpage.

Are the people [of your publisher] friendly and approachable?

When the employment background check company could not reach the company, I did through Facebook. I asked for them to confirm verbally my publisher had published my work, but they refused. After back-and-forth Facebook messages between myself and a representative of my publisher, I got an email in which it continually denied the employment history check company had tried reaching out to them. Further, the my publisher’s representative explained that they can email, but they do not do verbal confirmations for any author because of time constraints. The phone call she would have had to take would have been less than 5 minutes, and the background company had been trying to reach my publisher for about two weeks by the time I finally made contact with someone from Solstice. The representative effectively told me, no, we don’t help our authors advance their careers. This was after she agreed to speak with the other company. So, she reneged on her word. This put me in a bind with the college that wanted to hire me, because the publisher would not verbally confirm working with me.

When search for a book deal, consider more than seeing your name on a book. Will this company promote your work? Are the people approachable and friendly? How long has this press been around, and what books has it published? What do other authors say about this company? There are small presses and big presses, but small doesn’t always mean bad. My publisher is a small publisher, but so is Tor, yet Tor is more successful because of its dedication to both its writers and readers. The last publisher you signed a deal with could determine your next career move. Just make sure you choose the right one.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Operation Soul Cast is now available for purchase by following this link. Thank you for your support.

How Felons Become Rich Overnight

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For decades, the justice system tagged dads across America with felonies, effectively barring them from the workplace. With the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana spreading like wildfire across the States, criminal justice reform, overall, is becoming more progressive. Suddenly, serious jail-time for minor drug offenses is a thing of the past, and now, voters are questioning the legitimacy of background checks. For ex-felons who seek to change their lives, the barriers they face often force them back into a life of crime or permanent second-class citizenship. However, with a shift in the political climate, judges are ruling more in favor of second chances than punishment. New legislation has made it possible for some offenders to have their felony records sealed or expunged. Background check companies like Checkr routinely break FCRA rules on background checks, and companies like Uber who rely on these inaccurate reports break EEOC rules too. Good for the ex-felon or current felon, there are tens of thousands of dollars you can make from companies like Uber who deny you a job because of your background or Checkr who issues faulty background reports.

When that pre-adverse action letter comes, I’m sure your heart sinks and you feel less than dirt. The letter tells you they’ve found something on your report and they’re going to tell your employer about it. At this point, the company you applied for has already offered you the position, but it’s being snatched out of your mouth. You sigh and shake your head, defeated. However, if you are familiar with FCRA rules, you may be able to make a ton of money from the situation.

…you may be entitled to money in damages and loss wages.

Say, for instance, you do have a felony on your background that is not sealed or expunged. An employer has a right to consider that felony. However, their decision not to hire you can not be solely based on your felony. Quite the opposite. The company has to get your side of the story. It has to take into consideration any evidence of rehabilitation while weighing if your job and nature of conviction would be a conflict of interest. For example, if you have a felony conviction for bank fraud, that’s probably enough for a bank not to hire you, unless you have some outstanding proof of rehabilitation. But if you have the same bank fraud felony but you’re denied an Uber driver position solely because of your bank fraud conviction, you may be entitled to money in damages and loss wages from the company.

Under the circumstances above, when a company like Uber flat-out denies employment to an applicant only because of a felony, that company has violated EEOC rules. To remedy this, you start off by writing a demand letter to Uber (or whatever company), telling Uber where they went wrong, how many hours of work you missed and the amount of punitive damages you deserve from the company. So, if they denied your employment a month ago, you would claim they owe you a working-month’s salary and whatever you assess the punitive damages to be. Also, you tell them you expect compensation within two weeks of the date on the letter and hope to avoid further legal action. It doesn’t mean they’ll pay, but it puts them on notice. Likely, Uber would be willing to pay some of what you demand, but not all. Doing it this way with just a demand letter which you should mail, you have no court or legal fees or overhead. All the money would be yours.

Demand reasonable amounts…

When a judge grants your record sealed or expunged, it takes at least a couple of months to be completely removed from public view. In between this time, if you apply for a job, companies like Checkr will unethically furnish your felony conviction to your employer. You can sue Checkr for this. Instead of suing, follow the steps described in the previous paragraph, but you send demand letters to both the background investigation company and the employer. The background company is at fault for 1. giving out a record that is under order to be sealed or expunged (violation of FCRA), even if it is not sealed or expunged yet. Uber is at fault for 1. Using a sealed or expunged record to deny you employment and 2. Not giving you a chance to present evidence of rehabilitation or mitigating factors (violations of EEOC rules). This way, you can earn money from two different companies. You can do this to as many companies you need to who unethically deny you employment.

When assessing your damages, you must not exaggerated. Demand reasonable amounts for lost wages. Whatever the job is, just calculate the hours of lost pay. When it comes to punitive damages, how long has it been since Uber or Checkr violated your rights? How impactful was that violation to your life? How was that violation illegal and to what degree? Reasonable numbers make your demand more reasonable. Remember, demand letters go to lawyers. So, use the right language to press the right buttons. A demand letter is short and free if you write it yourself, and you don’t have to go to court. Get what you can for free. Use your background to your advantage and become a wealthy ex-felon or felon overnight.

*This is not legal advice, and should not be taken as such.

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

This Year, You Thrive

“I think I fell in love with a porn star” is a very famous line from “Hell of a Life,” a song by rapper Kanye West who subsequently married Kim Kardashian who is most notably known for her less than flattering appearance alongside R&B star Ray J in a homemade porn film. Critics watching from the side puzzled why a rapper as famous and successful as Kanye would marry a woman who amounted to little more than a reality star. In their minds, Kim was trash and would become nothing more. The media boxed her in and painted her as a loose, careless woman. Not minding the man who appeared in the video with her, the world generally held a negative view of Kim. Now, she’s married — happily or unhappily, depending on who you believe — and doing well as a billionaire. But, what does her success have to do with you? Everything. Whatever station you hold in life, security guard or lawyer, or whatever goals you have from getting married to getting a degree, it’s possible to do better, and this year, you will thrive accomplishing your goals.

You don’t need a New Year’s Resolution

You forgot to make a New Year’s resolution? That’s fine. You don’t need one. If you have made one, quickly throw it away, and forget it. Have you ever followed through on a New Year’s resolution? The answer is, for the most of us, no. The reason resolutions fail is, they are typically things we’ve been putting off, and when we make a quick promise to correct it, we do not make a plan. It’s like walking naked into a bar but promising to get yourself a drink. Short of committing robbery, you don’t have a way to get a beer. Maybe a felony, but not a beer. Don’t let that become you: The naked person in the bar demanding a drink.

The above mentioned, make a solid plan. For instance, your goal is to get married. You must find a spouse first. Before you do that, check your past relationships. Why did they fail? What part did you play in the breakup? What do all of your exes have in common? From there, contrary to dating the most attractive person in the room as usual, you’ll go for the most intelligent. This is a plan. Now, you might find what you’re searching for. Put aside your verbal and mental promises, get the closest pen and piece of paper and write down your goals. Set a reminder in your phone. It’ll help you get to where you want to be.

Every imperfection…is a part of you

Also, change your mindset from “I will” to “I am doing.” Procrastination fuels the defeatist’s mentality. It takes the fight out of you, but you should always be prepared to fight the battles important to you. If you come to a block in the road, don’t turn around. Assess the blockage and find a way around it. Problem-solving is what adults do, and you’re beyond capable. Married people, police officers, doctors, they are all just people like you and I. They are not gods. They did not pass a death trial to get to where they are, and you have the same powerful traits to get you to those places. To get there, class starts now, not “when [you] have time;” the search for a suitable spouse starts when you’re emotionally ready, not when your ex comes back around to offer an insincere apology.

Exam your imperfections. Search your face in the mirror. Note every blemish, every chipped tooth, the dimples or lack thereof, the beauty. Every imperfection and perfection is a part you. Collectively, they make up who you are and how the world perceives you. Embrace yourself, make a plan, write it out and execute it. There’s nothing you can’t do, if you give yourself the chance to do it. Erase your self-doubts. Inhale. Exhale. This year, you will thrive.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Nobody is Better than You

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Sometimes while on the morning train ride, you see a guy in a suit carrying a briefcase distractedly texting as the train rocks back and forth. Silently, you imagine this man is some important lawyer who lives in a million-dollar loft downtown. You look down at your poorly ironed shirt and faded jeans and think, “This guy is so much better than me.” Newsflash: he isn’t, and no one is. Don’t stifle your aspirations because you imagine yourself as not being of the expected pedigree.

Somewhere, there is an intelligent, caring nurse who loves her job but envies the doctors she works with. A long time ago, that nurse wanted to be a doctor, but after being around doctors, these people who save lives and are respected everywhere they go, that nurse became discouraged and intimidated. She comes from a poor family and graduated from so-so college. The doctors she works with come from nearly famous families and Ivy League institutions. She feels she doesn’t compare to them and could never reached their status. She’s not only wrong, she’s ruining herself.


Our self-doubts become insurmountable...

Certain professions have a mystical quality to them, and so we can’t picture ourselves making the achievement. Mentally, like the nurse I mentioned, we beat ourselves into complacent compliance. Our self-doubts become insurmountable mountains of barriers preventing us from attempting to make it closer toward whatever goals we’ve set. If you want to make it to the next step, you have to have a formula you believe in.

So, you’ve heard becoming a truck driver or teacher is hard work. You’ve read how intense the lessons are and how many people fail. Your heart sinks but only because you haven’t formulated a plan. Make a schedule to study; watch YouTube how-to videos; ask a friend for advice; study some more. Your life is like math: 1 plus 1 will always be two. That means, if you have a plan (1) and follow it (plus 1), things may not work out perfectly according to plan, but they will work out (2). You also have to have faith in yourself through spirituality.

Healing those old wounds heals the souls…

Faith and spirituality go hand-in-hand when it comes to success. Your mind has to be clear. You must be at peace with yourself and others around you. That requires you dig deep, question why you question yourself and explore your spiritual wounds. Self-doubters usually doubt themselves because of some deep personal issue. This makes them feel less than. Healing those old wounds heals the soul and makes success simply a side-effect. So, you must find a way to connect with yourself spiritually.

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Spirituality isn’t nenecessarily or always about religion. Some people meditate. They find the calming breathing, silence and alone time to be peaceful. Others take a warm, foamy bath and sip wine. How you do it is up to you, but you have to do it. Find your inner wounds and heal them. Address your past and let your mind wander. In no time, you will shed the weight of self-doubt like thirty pounds on a magical diet and success will find you. No one is better than you, and you’re meant to be anything you want.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Leaving (Unhelpful) Friends Behind

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Recently, I expressed to a lawyer friend of mine my growing discomfort with another friend. The lawyer, about 15 years my senior, told me of a friend he had to distance himself from many years ago. His friend asked him for a ride to what turned out to be an illegal gun sale. Needless to say, police stormed in and my lawyer friend had a bunch of explaining to do. Fresh on the job, he could have lost his law license and livelihood. After telling me this story, he said, ”Some friends, you just gotta let them go once you outgrow them.” This has never been truer, and I’m urging you to do away with friends you no longer feel a connection to.

You don’t need this type of “friendaround you.

A friend you’ve outgrown could hurt more than help you. For example, you’ve been selling soap online and doing well. To your friend, you float the idea of going bigger. Contrary to supporting your idea, the friend immediately shoots the idea down. Your feelings are hurt, and now, so is your self-confidence. Now, you won’t follow through on your idea. You don’t need this type of ”friend” around you. For your own sanity, you must discard these people. Keeping them around threatens your future. They’ll never support you. They might cause you to stop supporting your own self.

”We’ve been friends forever.” That line is a common one we use when deciding whether to discard someone from our lives. We equate time with bond. The longer we’ve known someone, the closer the bond. The very thought of severing that bond could be overwhleming. However, even though time is required for binding, it doesn’t necessarily mean the bond is solid. Knowing someone for a long time doesn’t make them a required fixture in your life. Remember, some things thrive with time like fine wine or cheese. Some things rot. You must root out the rot.

Be only social media friends…

But ”outgrowing” someone is so general. What does it really mean? Picture being out with an out friend who’s now married as you are. That old friend sees someone of the opposite gender and makes a life sexual comment about an affair they would like to have and then makes an attempt to hookup with someone other than their spouse. If you’re settled down, faithful and a family person, you will cringe. You’ll feel uncomfortable. Ten years ago, you wouldn’t have felt so awkward. You’ve outgrown that friend. It’s time to cut that person off.

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Cutting off a friend doesn’t always mean totally kicking them out of your life. You might enjoy their phone conversations or social media content. Nothing is wrong with that. Still, you don’t want to hangout with that person because trouble follows them. So, keep being social media friends with them. Be only social media friends with them. Comment on their posts. Laugh at their jokes. When they ask you out, make an excuse. Don’t make promises to see them, however.

Not every friend is meant to go the long haul.

Friendships are like vehicles. Some are great for getting you long distances. Others are only good for the point A to point B ride. Not everyone is meant to go the long haul. Identifying friendships no longer beneficial to you is vital. Doing so gives you the opportunity to reevaluate your friendship. You’ll probably find it’s been time to do away with that relationship. That friendship vehicle is no longer viable.

Regardless of who you are, you need friends who share your likes and dislikes — not that you need a exact replica of yourself or a yes person. You need someone similar enough to make you comfortable but real enough to make you uncomfortable if you ever need a reality check. So, meet new people at work or on the internet. Join a bookclub or bike club. Finding new friends is important, or you will be stuck lonely.

Move on and meet new friends.

Outgrowing friends is natural, and it is OK. There is nothing cynical about realizing you no longer share a connection with a friend. It happens. Hanging on to defunct friendships will hurt you. Move on, and meet new people. Come out of your shell, assert yourself and find someone who supports dreams as big as yours.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Celebrating Your Own Success — Guilt Free

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This Thanksgiving, don’t forget to be thankful for yourself. We live in a society that tells us success is a must. So, we spend long days studying and even longer nights working, just to have a taste of that sought-after success. It’s not until we’re single, 40, lonely and stuck at a job we hate that we realize all our success chasing has been for naught. When the girls called for a night out, you declined and decided to study. When the guys wanted to watch the game, you declined in favor of filling in for the guy who never shows. Society tells us to suck it up and deal with it. This is life. That same society tells us it’s bad to revel in your own success, and frankly, that’s wrong. You should celebrate your successes, big or small.

They want you to feel bad about doing well. Don’t.

You may know someone who accuses you of bragging when you’re simply telling that person about your life. For instance, they’ll ask, “What did you do today?” You’ll say, “I bought a new car.” Two days later, you hear from a mutual friend that the other friend is accusing you of bragging about your new car. This is a circle problem — a problem created by who you choose to keep in your circle. To someone who isn’t living life to the fullest, your success is an affront to them. They want you to feel bad about doing well. Don’t.

We look for validation in others. It’s why an artist can create what they think is the best thing since the Mona Lisa, but if someone says they don’t like the painting, the artist is hurt. A step further, a nominee never feels as good as the winner. That’s because there’s no outside glory to be found in not being number one. Well, aren’t you number one to yourself? You didn’t get the award. Does that mean the other person is better than you? It doesn’t, but you may feel that way.

Do something that makes you happy.

That said, you must validate yourself. Depending on others to validate you is like waiting to be pinned with a price tag. Is your networth determined by others or by you? The first step in validating yourself is celebrating both your failures and successes, small or large. You get nominated for a prize but don’t win, smile because you even got nominated. You complete a deadline, have a treat. You get a promotion, take a vacay. Do something that makes you happy.

Stop feeling bad about being judged, or your potential success can be lost. For instance, if you’re a creative writer whose best friend says your stories suck, forget that friend. That friend may not have any faith in your future as an author. You probably even feel silly having seen your friend’s uninterested face when you told them you’ve completed writing your first novel. Don’t lose faith in your work. Completing writing a full novel is an outstanding achievement. No matter what you accomplish, it is worth being proud of.

Another thing, know the difference between bragging and not bragging. Bragging is when you drop everything to tell everyone you know about your new Ferrari they couldn’t afford. Bragging comes from a place of boastful comparisons between the bragger and the listener. It is not bragging to tell someone you got a new Ferrari alone. It’s not bragging to mention you got a promotion or the puppy you’ve been wanting or the dream woman or man you’ve been seeking.

…self-confidence is a must.

The world pressures us to do right and be successful. It tells us to strive, never give up and to do our best. On the other hand, the world says to keep your successes to yourself. Society says it makes people uncomfortable to hear you talk about your accomplishments. I say, shine a light on yourself and be proud. Humility is a must. So is self-confidence. Clean up your social circle. Surround yourself with people who don’t think you’re bragging every time you open your mouth. Celebrate your own successes. Happy Thanksgiving. Celebrate safely and socially distant.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

How to Say No to a Needy Roommate

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You’re finally free of Mom and Dad, allowing you to experience the woes of adulting alone. Paying bills, working, putting fun aside for important things…it’s a lot, but it’s all part of adulting. Also part of adulting is knowing you can’t do it alone, and you need help paying the rent. A strange roommate is better than living with your parents, but sometimes roommates become too needy and presumptuous. Saying no to them can be hard, but it’s a must, and there are ways.

Boundaries exist for a reason…

Say it with me: boundaries. There are those among us who find comfort in privacy. I’m not talking about paranoid old people who watch you from between the cracks in their blinds. I mean, people like you, reading this article who value their space. Boundaries exist for a reason, and you must set them. For this reason, it is important to express your expectations prior to moving in or as soon as possible. The longer you allow your roommate to overstep, the harder it will be to confront them and have them take your concerns seriously. Tell them your likes and dislikes, your choice of music, your bedtime, what you like to do in your spare time and so forth. This is called getting to know them. It will help in the future.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to have a sit-down with your roommate. Tell your roommate what’s bothering you. For instance, maybe they borrow your things, like clothes or your last slice of pizza from the fridge, without permission and that grinds your gears. It’s not petty of you to expect your ice-cold soda to be in the fridge waiting on your parched mouth. It’s not petty of you to be upset when it isn’t. Don’t let your roommate play reverse psychology and have you question the legitimacy of your complaints. Say what’s on your mind and stick to it.

A thief would rob you homeless.

Moreover, if you have a roommate who’s too presumptuous, you’ve probably been shocked to find that person had been in your room without permission while you were gone. You probably causally inquired as to why that person had been in your bedroom and they made an excuse you didn’t buy. Well, it’s time for you to get a bedroom lock. I know you shouldn’t have to chain your things up in your own home, but you must protect your valuables. A potential thief would rob you homeless. True, a padlock won’t stop a determined thief, but it could stop your presumptuous roommate from overstepping their bounds.

…you need your space…

Additionally, you should invest in renter’s insurance. For prices as low as $6 a month, you can insure and protect all your valuables. Imagine your irresponsible roommate throwing a house party and your favorite earrings or game console goes missing. You could be out of thousands. With a good insurance policy, you’ll just be out of a deductible. This requires adulting though. For certain property be covered, in most cases, you’ll need receipts. So, you should always keep copies of receipts. This should be easy, considering many people order online and stores send digital receipts, and everyone has a smartphone. These days, you can snap a picture of a receipt and your phone will automatically label it as such and store it to a particular folder.

Having a roommate can be a blessing, or it can be a nightmare. It depends mostly on the type of person you’re living with and the boundaries you’ve established. Maybe the roommate is cool, but you need your space, instead of having them hang out with you all day. Or you want them to stay out of your stuff. Telling them this can be uncomfortable, but it’s their sanity or yours. Choose wisely. Be calm and respectful but stern. Tell them how you feel. The sooner you address the issue, the easier it will be to resolve.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Losing Your Tail: An Ode to Eeyore

Photo by Fontida Assisted Living

As a child, I was always fascinated by Winnie the Pooh, but Eeyore’s constant state of depression confused me. Why was he always so sad? Like most children, I didn’t find out until much later that the cause of Eeyore’s sadness was his lost tail. The one he had was not his own, and not having his tail affected him to the point he suffered some form of PTSD. Don’t be Eeyore. You lost your tail can be your former spouse, your foreclosed home, your stock or anything you hold dear. Newsflash: it’s time to get over losing it, and there are ways.

Ask yourself, where did I go wrong?

I’m not going to tell you breakups are easy or losing your job isn’t a big deal. Breakups aren’t easy, and no one wants to be fired. Well, mostly. To deal with that hurt, you must confront it. Look it in the face, acknowledge it, but don’t let it overwhelm your vision of self. Ask your self, where did I go wrong? What could I have done better?

The old adage says everything happens for a reason. I believe that, but to a degree. There is a reason for everything that happens, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a good one. However, for good or bad, it happened. It is out of your control. Your old boss won’t call you up and say, ”I’ve heard you’re so sad, I want you to come back.” Your ex won’t say, ”Ending things with you have made me realize how much I need you.”

When dealing with an issue that has already transpired, don’t obsess. I said it’s fine to think about it, but you have to know when to stop. It’s usually the moment when you say, ”I’ll stop obsessing later.” Procrastination enables obsession. The longer you let your bad breakup corrode your emotional state, the harder it will be to fight off depression.

Know your next move.

The best thing you can do after a great loss is make a great plan to move forward. I know you’re tired of hearing how planning magically makes your goals a reality. No, it doesn’t work that way, but planning gives you an advantage. You’ll have a general idea of what to do, even if it’s not fully fleshed out. Know what your next move is.

You also have to thank the Greater Being you believe in for that foreclosure, car repo or breakup. You say why? Because maybe the universe saved you some agony. What if the house had a carbon monoxide leak slowly killing your family, or the car had a bad brakes and an accident was imminent? All of that is farfetched, but the point is, you never know the hell losing something or someone can save you.

You’re made to evolve, so just do it already.

Eeyore lost his tail and let depresssion consume him until he was a shell of a donkey. Sure, he’s a cartoon, yet he’s a an excellent example of how not getting over loss can drain your chances at happiness. Moping changes nothing. Action does. Forget your lost tail, whether it’s a spouse or prized possession. It isn’t the end of your life. It’s simply an alteration. You’re made to evolve, so just do it already.

*Jermaine Reed, MFA is a writer from Chicago who writes fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get my recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.