Ask @jonubian:

I have followed you for some time and i love your tweets. I would like to know what has helped you the most when it comes to writing?

As far as writing, talent is great (and relative). Reading other writers and practicing the craft everyday is the key to becoming a better writer. I read a lot, but should be writing more. Teaching composition also helps me immensely as a writer. Old school outlining, to ensure clear and concise argument, is a lost art. SO MUCH STUFF!!!

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Hey there! First off, I love your tweets and contributions to Ebony. Secondly, I'm about to be 25 and I want to make more Black women friends my own age. I know that adults have to join activities and go to social events to make friends but I'm struggling. Any advice?

Thank you! I had a similar experience post divorce and starting over. First, I figured out what I liked (for me it was heavily an art and/or hip hop scene) and I looked for related events. I'd attend them solo and ease my way into conversations with interesting people I'd see there. I also connected with like minded folk via social media. The key is to stay natural and authentic so people don't feel like you're selling yourself. You'll find your tribe. I promise.

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I keep failing, people keep laughing at me. It's almost like i can't do anything right. No matter how hard i try not to be shy, people keep saying that i'm extremely shy. I don't have male friends, i for a long time now haven't been asked out by any guy...what should i do?

There are many possible answers to your dilemma, but it sounds like you should begin with addressing your thinking/feelings about yourself and your ability to date/attract a date. We can chat more about it if you email me at jomopickens@gmail.com

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what can I do to make myself more "girly" or into keeping myself "on point"? I am a tom boy and sometimes I feel like it's just not in me to be dolled up and manicured 24/7.

I think the first step is figuring out what you like. In the age of Pinterest and Instagram you can find a personal style that is just girly enough. Find fashion bloggers and looks you like and experiment. Enlist the help of friends you find chic and fashionable. I think this is a great start.

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I'm dating a man who is madly in love with me, wants to get married, plan our lives around each other, etc. I know that I should feel over the moon about all of this, but something just feels....off. I don't know what it is, but I jut can't reciprocate his feelings as strongly! Am I being silly?

You most definitely are not being silly. Always go with your gut. Furthermore, I can admit that I married a man I should have probably only dated because he was madly in love with me and wanted to get married. I was taught that when a man proposes marriage, and treats you well, you accept. Of course, the marriage ended because the passion and desire needed to carry a marriage through the rough spots were missing. It matters. Believe me.

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Been with my bf for 5 months. I've expressed that im unhappy with my bf a couple times over the last month. Recently it manifested into the worst argument we've ever had, and now, even though we say were going to work on it, no effort is coming from him. How long should I wait for things to change?

The question is: what is making you unhappy and can that unhappiness be cured by someone other than you. Also, how are you addressing the issues with your bf? Are you communicating about the action, and not how the action makes you feel? If your issue, for instance, is that your bf doesn't spend enough time with you, are you expressing also that spending time with him makes you feel special and loved, that such time together is one of your love language. Also, people don't respond to being criticized and chastised, and not getting what we want during periods of a relationship is a reality that we never talk about. In all, go with your gut. If you are being vulnerable and loving in your requests and he's ignoring you, he might not be as invested as you'll need him to be to make it work long term.

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Met a guy a month ago. Found out that he still was communicating with his ex. He lied about their relationship. He lied about her race (embarrased to tell me she was white, hes extremely pro black), how they broke up and who she was. also found text from July saying "ILY". Should I con't with him?

I generally detest liars, especially when folks start interactions and relationships with them. It's telling, really. But I guess it all depends on what you are willing to invest, and how much you like this person. All lies have roots. Often the roots lie in insecurities and shame. The work would be figuring out how to address the roots of the lies, which seems like a lot of work for someone you're just beginning to form a relationship with.

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How do you keep yourself motivated to work towards your goals?

I have bursts of energy where I'm trying to accomplish all kinds of amazing things, other times doing the basic everyday life things is a struggle. On those days I think about the kind of example I want to be for my daughter and others around me. For me, the first step in achieving a goal is realizing said goal is attainable and that I deserve to tackle the shit out of it.

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Wait inspired the hair change?

I change my hair every 36 hours, so I'm not sure which change you're speaking of. Lol. I had locs for like 15 years and wanted to be free of them and all the life and trials that had been tangled up in them. I'm easily bored and love to experiment with identities and "looks", plus I think it's become an avenue of artistic expression for me. Like Lupita, "doing hair" was a first love. I feel like that answer was too damn long, but YOLO!

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is there a process to forgiveness? & is letting go the same as forgiving? like, how do know you're ready & able to forgive someone for something they've done to you?

Oh man. Forgiveness. I wrote a post about forgiveness as I worked through forgiving a past lover that I've achieved friendship with today. It's here: http://jonubian.com/2010/10/18/on-forgiveness-and-atonement/ . I think the first thing to remember about forgiveness is that much like love, it's a verb. It requires action and desire. It's much easier to hold a grudge. The next thing to remember, I think, is that we should work on forgiving others while remembering we benefit most from forgiving. Holding on to the hurt and pain that someone has caused us stifles us and spends energy that we could be using for much more awesome shit. We know we're ready to forgive when we know that we're ready to let go of a person or act, and move on with our lives. We hold on to people and pain, as well, when we want to continue being victims, when we want to continue blaming others for the many ways we are stuck in our lives. When you're ready to get unstuck, you're ready to forgive.

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If you aren't officially in a relationship, what's an acceptable time frame to go without talking to someone you're dating? It's still pretty early (2 months) but I'd prefer to hear from him every day and he seems to be fine if we go 2-3 days w/o communicating.

There really isn't an acceptable time frame, because each person and relationship is different. Are there barriers as to why your bew can't communicate with you as regularly as you'd like? Have you discussed your desire to communicate more frequently? Do you initiate more frequent communication, and if so, does he respond in a timely manner? These are all things to consider before getting worked up about something that may just be a difference in communication style. The answer may be as simple as letting him know, "I love it when we talk/text. I look forward to it. I'd like to hear from you more often :)." If he responds negatively to something so sweet and genuine, then maybe you two aren't on the same page.

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Do u believe in the adage "Date/marry a man that loves you more"? I'm dating someone and have fallen hard but don't think his feelings are as deep for me (at least not yet) so purposely play it cool. I mirror his interest/amt of calls & txts vs reaching out as often as I want to. Is this ridiculous?

I don't think it's ridiculous to want to give what you receive, but I do believe in transparency and authenticity. The thing is, often some men don't articulate their feelings in the same ways that some women do. He may very well be feeling you just as much as you're feeling him, but may not be ready to express it as fully as you do. I'm not at all saying that you should "wait for him" to catch up. Unrequited love is bullshit. I am saying (especially if it's early) to let it flow. It's okay to show your adoration without expecting an equal return immediately, but trust your gut. Don't we always know when it's right and when it isn't?

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how did you become the love that you ultimately received? how did you overcome past hurt to be/find/cherish love in your heart?

This is a to be continued answer, I believe. I'm still learning to be the love I want and still learning to love myself the way that I love others. I believe these to be life long pursuits, that maybe no one ever masters. I think the goal is always to do better as we know better... And "oh the places you will go!"

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What do you think about the notion that Black women dont receieve support regarding the injustices that happen to us, yet we still support black men movements (Trayvon) Do you think its time we focus on ourselves like black men have been doing and ignore their issues?

I hate to speak in generalizations. There are plenty of Black men who have little to no interest in acknowledging or fighting against those things that hurt and oppress Black women, but there are also plenty of Black men who work to be our allies. My goal is to seek out those Black men who want to help and don't waste time on those who don't. Overall, I do believe that Black women put themselves and their happiness last on their lists often; and this definitely must change, as we can be better builders of family and community when we are happy and healthy.

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