By Lacresha Hayes

In the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time heart broken at the state of our young people and even our older ones. I’ve watched as people use facebook to fight, argue, tattle and prostitute themselves. And I wonder all the while what is coming next. It’s bad out here now.

When I was raising my son, I used to drill one principle into him- be the same kind of person you hope to find. If you don’t want a loose goose, don’t be one. If you don’t want a busybody, don’t be one. Values, they matter, especially when no one is looking. Unfortunately, I walked the dark side first and I can tell you that once you have lost your integrity, it is hell trying to convince anyone, especially yourself, that you have value.

Back to my original point: I see young ladies showing their bodies to the world, bragging on their sexual prowess, and posting about their frequent bed partner changes right here on FB. But later on, you see the same young ladies crying about being disrespected, cheated on, lied to, or lied on. I was young once and I do understand, but the truth is there are times when we open ourselves up to attack and pain. Being victimized is one thing. But setting yourself up for failure is another.

Loving yourself means resisting the things that feel good today but destroy your future. I made so many mistakes growing up, but didn’t really begin paying for them until later on in life when I had finally settled down. Now, I look at the mess my young decisions created. And I recognize the patterns when I see them. Trying to find value in the eyes of others, selling your soul and all your own respect just to feel loved, wanted, needed, or celebrated. Rather a male or female, this isn’t the way to peace. It creates a never-ending circle of pain, confusion, frustration and hopelessness. These kind of circles need to be broken.

If someone is going to love you, it will happen outside of the bedroom, without all the shenanigans, without all the lies, without you having to earn it. People will give you what you demand, not with empty words but by your character. If my character demands respect, generally, people will respect me, or avoid me completely. But if I sell my soul, living for those around me while being untrue to how God created me, I find that even if they do accept me, I cannot accept myself and the cycle of brokenness, loneliness and despondency will continue and fester. We must stop setting ourselves up for failure. We must love ourselves and demand better first from self and then from our surroundings.

Class isn’t something a person can fake. Either you have it or not. If you find yourself in that hopeless circle of pain, disrespect and loneliness, then choose to break it by changing your own behavior first. You cannot control what’s around you all the time, but you can control how you respond to it. Choose the high road even if it does not pay off the way you think it should. If no one notices, it isn’t about them. If no one pats you on the back, it isn’t for them. This is for you. This is about you loving you. Trust me, everyday these past months, I’ve had to tell myself that I love me. I’ve had to fight my own way back from depression and loneliness, desperation, etc. Let that circle be broken in your life.