My Surprise Engagement, Negative Feedback & 7 Life Lessons



On Monday my boyfriend proposed to me at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in NYC! It was a pleasant surprise and one of the most beautiful moments of my life!

The photos above are from our photo shoot a few months ago; kind of prophetic huh?  

After I said “Yes,” my first reaction was to pick up my phone and call my grandmother!

Of all the times in the world, my phone wasn’t working. I was bummed out, but I eventually got a hold of her. As soon as I got into an area with WiFi, I uploaded pics and shared the wonderful news with my Mocha Fam and my social network friends.

I’m usually pretty private when it comes to my “current life,” but I was too excited, I had to share the news!

A midst the congratulatory wishes, there was a little unnecessary negativity. The crazy part is, the negative comments came from a few family members.

I’m talkin’ full blast obnoxiousness in the comments section. Not an email, not an inbox message, but public displays of disaffection. 

I debated on whether or not I should delete the gloomy comments. I decided to keep them on my wall. If you think about it, it’s a part of life. Regardless of what you do, someone will always have something to say. 

The challenge for us is to make decisions with our best interest in mind, while being freed from the opinions of others. This experience reminded me of a few very important life lessons. 

7 Lessons I Learned from My Surprise Engagement and the Negative Feedback that Followed

1. It’s Ok to Choose You- After I graduated from grad school in May, I was torn between two life-changing decisions. I had to choose whether or not I wanted to job search in the same vicinity as my boyfriend. A part of me really wanted to spread my wings and “do me.” Meaning, I’d put my relationship on the back burner and move to NYC to focus on my career. After much thought, I had a long and very serious talk with my boyfriend and decided to move to NYC to do me. I’m so glad that I gave myself the opportunity to choose me, it truly paid off. I had the opportunity to clear my head and figure out what I wanted and what was best for me. The distance also allowed me to figure out just how important my relationship is.

2. The Ring is Overrated- While “the ring” is a beautiful symbol and a flattering gesture, this is not the most important aspect of an engagement… or shoot, life in general! Yes, it feels good to rock that diamond (thanks beau lol) but seriously, the most important thing is what happens behind closed doors. What is the foundation of the relationship? How do you treat each other? What are your goals as a couple? Are you happy? I’ve dated guys who’ve mentioned engagement and in those cases, it just didn’t feel right. I’d much rather wait for the right man, than settle for the first person who presents a ring. Because after all, a ring is simply a ring; it doesn’t guarantee fidelity, unconditional love and respect. However, the commitment and foundation can.

3. Don’t Let Everyone in Your Business- When my boyfriend and I started dating, we kept our relationship very private (and for the most part we still do.) We gave ourselves time to get to know each other without the biases of others, the “advice” from those around us, and the “you shoulds” and “you should nots” from those who meant well. We organically grew as friends and later established a strong foundation before we “went public.” Everybody and their mom doesn’t need to know about every aspect of your relationship; every time you argue, every time there’s good news, whenever you go out on a date, etc… Keep some things just for the two of you, it’ll pay off in the long run.

4. You’ll Never Have the Approval of Everyone… And That’s OK!- Nobody knows your journey or life experience better than you. Whether you’re trying to determine a career path, the dynamics of a relationship, or something as minute as the color of your new car, there will always be someone who has an opinion that differs from yours. Despite how many times we seek advice from others, I believe that God gives each of us a gift of discernment. Typically when we’re faced with a life decision, we know what we need to do. Whatever your gut tells you to do, follow suit, those who disagree, they’ll get over it. 

5. Sometimes the Best Response is No Response- Nowadays people are so reckless online. People will ask you the most personal questions via internet or state their unsolicited opinions righteously and “innocently.” Remember, every question, statement or comment, does not call for a response on your end. Some thangs just need to be ignored. 

6. The Lady is Not the Only Catch- I have to admit, though I would consider myself to be humble, I have paraded through life thinking that I am the catch in a relationship. While this is very well true (owww owww ;)) you have to remember that two catches make a great match! Your partner is also a catch ( or at least they should be) and should be treated as such. It’s ok for you to spoil your partner with love, affection and even gifts. The respect and admiration should be a two way street. 

7. There Are Still Good Guys Out There (As cliche as it sounds) – My fiancé and I have changed so much over the past few years. We were works- in-progress when we met (we still are!) and we had to work hard to get where we are today. There were certain standards that I upheld that caused him to change certain aspects of himself and vice versa. There are still good people out there however, more times than not you have to set the bar. You have to lay on the table what you will accept and what you will not tolerate. A person will either respect what you’ve put on the table and make the necessary adjustments or get lost. 

Share Your Wisdom. Join the Conversation!

Do you have any life lessons that you’d share with your younger self? How do you handle disapproving feedback from family members or friends? Please share!


  • Wow! What a coincidence. We have a lot in common. Thanks so much for taking the time to share LF. Keep your head up mama <3

  • LF

    Wow. So first off I too come from a traditionally Christian family and experienced the same negativity from my family when I announced I was engaged. It was so bad it actually drew me closer to my now husband of 6 months and growing. I too moved to NYC with the hopes of being blessed with a new job. I felt stagnant and smothered by the opinions and expectations of others who never respected me as an adult no matter how much independence I displayed. I am happily married we are growing and healing each other at home. Guess what…we even have the same ring girl! This is so deja vu. The ring never mattered to me it was my public display as I was so over the superficial that I didn’t want a wedding ceremony at all. We celebrate daily and fall in love every Friday and honeymoon the weekends out doing whatever comes to mind. I’m still dealing with a lot but determined to be the best woman I can be and grow in my new corporate job (out of no where). God bless you and yours and I look forward to continuing to learn of your journey as I heal from mine as well. Thank you for having the courage to share your testimony and walk through the journey.

  • ParisV

    This is really good, so glad i found this site. Wishing you much success!!!!!!!!!!
    God Bless

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  • Ang

    I most certainly agree!! The last one is definitely important to me, “YOU” set the bar for what you will and will not accept. I speak those words to friends, strangers and family alike.

  • Hey Tonya! Thanks for reading. These principles have helped out a lot. I appreciate your best wishes and your comment 🙂

  • tonya hanna

    i love your 7 principles that you posted knowing eachother, respecting one another, finding things in common, keeping your business to yourself and learning who you are……..You are wise, smart and confident…….. my future vision for your relationship will be successful, forfilling and happy…….thanks for your words of wisdom…..

  • Terri

    Thank you for sharing and commenting Sam! That sounds like a tough situation to be in! I hope that your family comes around to accepting you for who you are and your fiance too. I know how important the validation and support of loved ones is. I wish you and your fiance the best! Thanks again for reading 🙂

  • Sam

    I am so proud of you!!! I always knew you would do great things the first day I met you as my freshman year CA. I always find myself on your blog and page looking for motivation and always find it. My life has become extremely difficult because I am engaged to someone my family does not approve of, who happens to be a girl. My mom pre-judged her based on her past posts on social media and immediately made it very clear she would never approve and then turned my whole family against meeting her, ultimately pushing me away because of it. Everyday I work hard to get her approval and to show her she isn’t a bad person, but now I have come to the realization that I need to make me happy and in the end and over time things will get better. I still refuse to get married until I can have my daddy walk me down the isle (so cliche) I know, but it’s what I want and know matter how much my fiance has a distaste for my family, she understands and is willing to wait for that day.

  • K. Elizabeth @ YUMMommy thank you so much! For a minute I almost let it phase me!

  • Congratulations on your engagement. Glad you aren’t letting the negativity rain on your parade. Like you said, you’ll never please everybody and that’s fine. Just do what makes you happy.

  • Thank you @lolinda:disqus! hehehe “some thangs” 🙂

  • YAY!!!!! Congratulations Terri!!! And lol at “some thangs” need to be ignored hahaha!

  • OMG Thank you Kissa! Please share lol. Yall are the cutest couple!

  • Jarryn! Thanks mama!

  • Thank you for sharing Tee! Thank you 🙂

  • Thank you lady! 🙂

  • Thank you so much Darci!

  • Darci

    Terry this is beauty at its finest!!! Congratulations again girl!

  • Excellent article!! And Congratulations to you!!!!!!

  • Terri

    Thank you Kissa! 🙂 Omg, inbox me! You all are THE cutest couple ahhhh!

  • Terri

    Jarryn! Thanks boo. I really appreciate that 🙂

  • Terri

    Thank you so much for sharing Tee! Happy Holidays!

  • Kissa

    I absolutely LOVE your post Terri!! Once again, Congratulations I am true happy for you. 🙂 Hakeem & I have some exciting news for you as well *wink, wink*!

  • Jarryn

    Great post!! Once again congrats! So happy for you!

  • Tee

    This was very beautiful to read. First and foremost congratulations. You have also opened my mind up to a lot of things. Thank you for sharing.