Social media has a weird way of bringing certain people into your life without you realizing the impact that they will have on it. Crystal and I followed each other on Twitter last year after we bonded over a conversation about mental health (and being Leos!) and we have kept in contact since then. She has gone through many experiences that have helped shape her into the woman that she is today. Get to know Candidly Crystal as she discusses what it's like to seek therapy, have dealt with an abusive relationship, new found love, and her web series, Sorry Didn't Mean to Bother You.
What does being a strong woman mean to you?
Being a strong woman, to me, is being a woman who is honest even when it’s hard. Even if it takes her a while to get there she’s honest with herself and everyone around her. A woman who learns to admire herself… acknowledging her flaws but still being able to admire herself. The final thing I would say is a woman that loves herself. That is a strong woman to me.
Why do you think that therapy is an essential part of your life?
I’m newly baptized but right now my pastor is doing this thing called “Elevating the Essential.” One of the things he talked about, besides the necessities, is finding direction even in discernment. Therapy is a luxury. Many people can’t be apart of that if they wanted which is unfair, but I think that it is essential because it helps and guides you sometimes. Our friends and our parents are amazing people, we love going to them and it feels good that you can be open with your family, but it comes to a point where there are just certain things you can’t quite express to them or that you can’t quite articulate because you’re so thoughtful of their feelings.
Someone said to me that he doesn’t like therapy because it’s like having a paid friend but in reality it’s like having a paid GPS to guide you through life (laughs.) Therapists try not to tell you what to do but it’s nice to get an unbiased opinion or have someone hold up a mirror to yourself, because honesty is hard, so having someone go, “okay, what made you do this? What drew you to this decision or to this person? Where is that stemming from? Do you think it’s stemming from XYZ from the past?” It’s nice to have that guidance.
You stated that at age 18 you were in an abusive relationship, what were some things you had to deal with during that time?
I don’t want to touch on it too much but during that time period when I went off to college I started dating a guy who seemed very charming and nice. It was really cool for a few months then after awhile it started to feel like I had someone constantly talking down my throat about everything… where a person makes you feel guilty for their decisions. I actually broke up with him and he started popping up at my apartment at like three or four in the morning and at the time I had a roommate. So he would be listening in and he would hear my roommate moving around and the next day he would be like, “there was a guy there!” It got to the point where I was like, “oh my God it was my roommate, RELAX.”
It was a very stressful time period. Having someone text you, threatening your life, and not feeling safe even being at work because this person is popping up at your job and your classes. More so, just very emotionally and mentally abusive. That person that calls you at about two in the morning leaving voicemails saying, “I’m gonna go kill myself if you don’t talk to me.” It’s just not something any 19 year old girl should be dealing with. I remember going for a restraining order and having a police officer say to me “you’re an attractive young woman, what did you do to him?” , as a young woman the entire situation was unfortunate. However, I managed to never lose sight of myself and I fought hard against that person.
You met someone new and got married at age 21. Were there people in your life that tried to convince you that you were too young or discourage you at all?
No. It was kind of like, “you’re your own person and you’re going to make your own decisions. If you all feel this is best for you then you do that.”
Tell me about your web-series “Sorry Didn’t Mean to Bother You.”
A little fun fact: me and my husband were on the phone and we were having a disagreement and I remember afterwards I said, “well I’m sorry” and then I got off the phone. And then when I was off the phone I was like, “why did I apologize?!” You know how like you have those freeze frame moments when you think of all the times you’ve apologized to people? I started watching myself and thinking about it like, “I know I’m not the only young woman doing this.” Sometimes talking to random people or with any relationship with someone and you will hear them say. “oh I’m sorry” and it’s like, “girl, what are you apologizing for?”
But anyway, that’s how it all came about. One of the reasons I called it that—not just because of how prevalent it is in our behavior—but because in the show you’re watching this young woman navigating through therapy, her own relationships, and she’s really getting in touch with herself. It’s something about someone else getting in touch with themselves that makes other people uncomfortable. It goes back to “sorry didn’t mean to bother you or sorry I don’t mean to make you think about how you might need to make this different or how you can be more proactive in your life. But… I did. My bad!” We’re going to all get something out of this together.
Me writing this was therapy for me because I tried to put elements of my best friends in this character, as well as myself. A lot of my life could be the basis of the character. But it’s other women that I admire and their journeys that I respect even if I wouldn’t do some of the things they did… I respect it, you know? I wanted to put that in those characters because everybody’s not like me but you could find yourself in either one of my best friends. I feel like saying “best friend” is so disrespectful after a certain point in life and friendship because we’re just so much more than that! (Laughs.) I wanted to show this young woman evolving and kind of breaking out of her own shell… her own mental shell. Just putting some humor into evolution because it is not always fun or a photo worthy moment, But when you look back at it you can laugh so why not just go through this process real quick together.
Has blogging always been an outlet for you to express yourself?
Dancing and writing are my outlets. Like every little girl, my mom had the VIBE subscription and I used to just adore Danyel Smith. I really used to adore her and I used to go all through the magazines or watching the old episodes of Living Single and I wanted to be like Khadijah James with my own magazine. Writing was just always that thing for me… it’s also how I related to Carrie Bradshaw. It’s hilarious how you get older and you watch old episodes of Sex and the City and you’re like, “I don’t wanna be like Carrie!” You started to realize how much sucky stuff happened to her and she didn’t handle growth that well! (Laughs.) Anyhow, I started my first blog when I was 15 and then I think when I was 18 I started the “coming of age” online magazine. It was very short-lived but it was my baby at the time. Producing and creating shows has been my natural evolution.
Why is it important for you to share your story and experiences with other women?
It is important because I adore sisterhood! I grew up the only child but I always knew of women to take care of me. My mom has a sister and she had this group of girlfriends and they all loved on me. I got to watch them grow as women—and also growing up during the whole girl group era with Destiny’s Child, Spice Girls and the period were shows like “Girlfriends” and “SATC” were created— sisterhood has always been important to me. I like to feel connected to people even if it’s only for a minute. Even if they may not be my cup of tea I want them to walk away knowing that I love them or that I’m a good person. Even if I don’t seem like I could relate, I relate. I get it. I just want someone to feel the sense of being understood because — I know how misunderstood feels and it’s hard being a woman. if you could feel understood for fifteen minutes that’s a gift and that’s what I want to give everybody.