Journaling

Graduate School Update: So This Isn’t An Aesthetic…Or Is It?

I am in the middle of my ninth week of graduate school. You know, it was much easier telling people I was a graduate student than actually being one. Wait…so I actually have to do assignments? This isn’t just an aesthetic? This isn’t just something I can casually bring up at dinner parties to spark a conversation? Wow, who knew? Of course, I’m kidding, but as I would proudly explain to people that I would be attending the Counseling program at Northwestern University, I truly didn’t know what this chapter in my life would consist of. Juggling graduate school work and my research assistantship proved to be quite a bit. I tried to work six hours a day, and study equally as much. I started to run myself ragged; getting two to four hours a night and trying to function. My assistantship has recently ended, and I am currently trying to find a new one. I’ve applied to a couple research positions…haven’t heard anything from them. You need money, especially if you’re me; a black woman in her 20s who would like to move out of her parents house at least by the time she is 25. I have always had this obsession with living in a New York City high rise with a perfect view of the city skyline. My apartment would be spacious with artwork on the walls and plants to accompany the corners of my room. I am nowhere close to being at that point, and a part of me feels like a failure because I haven’t gotten there. You can find me when I’m taking my breaks from studying scrolling through Pinterest envisioning myself in the place of those in the pictures I’ve pinned. I don’t know who they are, or how they got to where they are now, but I have a tendency to romanticize their experiences. My semi-solution besides work smarter not harder is to romanticize my life from day to day…which can be hard when your life is not the most glamorous. I sometimes feel like I am the character of some coming-of-age drama. After struggling and enduring hardships during my undergraduate collegiate years, I, the awkward, quirky, slightly mentally ill black girl decides to actually apply herself in academia, and somehow she was accepted to grad school at a pretty good institution. Now, I am maneuvering the next chapter of my life, continuing to grow as a young woman while simultaneously feeling like I am still 16 and asking my parents if I can buy Starbucks. This is the fun part they say, working toward the goal, but quite frankly, it has been annoying me for the most part. I know that one day I will look back at this journey and reminisce about the level of uncertainty I had during this time. In a way, it is kind of exciting not knowing what comes next, but also anxiety inducing at the same time. Guess we’ll just have to see…

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Poetry

Practice (An Auto Ethnographical Exercise)

TRIGGER WARNING: mentions of sexual assault and r*pe

Some content was supposed to be up already, but I made a mistake and the article basically did not save properly. As I write that article again, I thought I would post some past writings that I have done. One of my assignments in my last semester of undergrad consisted of writing an auto ethnography. An auto ethnography is a research method where they utilize personal experiences to describe and interpret cultural texts, feelings, emotions, practices, beliefs, and so on. Since this class was a theatre class, our task was to write a two page interaction with someone that we knew whether it was personally or not. One person chose AOC, another chose Cleopatra, and another chose an old friend that she hadn’t talked to in a while. A majority of the class picked people that they admired; people who inspired them to pursue the career that they are studying currently and people who encourage them to go follow their dreams, goals, and ambitions. I chose Eldridge Cleaver. I despise Eldridge Cleaver with a deep passion; with a fire that would make Hell bow down in submission. With little knowledge, this man might be seen as a progressive leader of the Black Panther Party, but in all honesty, he was a vile, acrimonious sociopath who resorted to unspeakable tactics in the name of equality. In his 1968 book, Soul On Ice, he details one of his strategies on how to fight against racism, white supremacy, and oppression. I was able to read a snippet of his book, and the utter disgust that overcame by body is one that I can’t quite find the words to describe yet. This man…if you want to call him that, was an avid rapist. He viewed rape as a pivotal tool when getting back at the white man and those who were victims under their power. In his book, he is quoted saying, “rape was an insurrectionary act. It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man’s law, upon his system of values, and that I was defiling his women.” He first started with black women, why? Because he said they were practice. Practice…like studying for a midterm exam. Practice…like perfecting your jump shot. Practice…these women were nothing to him. He was finally arrested for assault in 1958. During this time is when he started following Malcolm X. In his book, he calls himself a rapist. “I’m perfectly aware that I’m in prison, that I’m a Negro, that I’ve been a rapist, and that I have a Higher Uneducation.” (Cleaver) The amount of women that he attacked is unknown at this time, and probably will never be revealed. I cry for those women, as I know so many women who have been hurt in this way…I am one of those women myself. The fact that this man was a mouthpiece for the Black Panther Party is appalling. This repulsed me immensely, but I couldn’t help but think about his victims, especially those that share the same race as me. You see this monster years later fighting for justice, but he did that horrible thing to you? That’s where I got the inspiration to write my scene with him as the target. I wrote as if I was one of his victims, seeing him for the first time since my attack and since he started preaching the teachings of Malcolm X. I’ve learned so many things about our past black activists, abolitionists, and leaders…maybe that will be a post for another time? Without further ado, this is my auto ethnography title Practice.

PS…forgive me if the historical accuracy is skewed. Also, I want to state that I am not making light of the cruel and brutal acts that Eldridge Cleaver enacted. Thank you.

Practice

No…that isn’t who I think it is. He found me…how? Is he even looking for me? Get yourself together girl, he doesn’t care about you that much…he probably doesn’t remember your name. What would he want with me…again? You’re going to spend your whole life on the run buddy…not just from the pigs, but from your sanity; the so-called Messiah that lets us live another day. Lord knows you can never repent enough for what you’ve done, so don’t start now. As many times as I’ve cried and begged the God I prayed to in my youth; in Sunday’s best and pearl white doll socks, he ignores my pain…he won’t show any mercy to you..sick son of a ..no, stop it. In a way, I feel bad for you; I know…I know what it feels like to be on the run…but how can you run from yourself? That is him…oh my God…

*tears begin to well up in my eyes and my hands close into fists. I’m frozen as if the soles of my feet have cemented into the pavement* 

This man has had power over you for years, do you even know who you are anymore? You used to be Dara McGee, and now all you’re considered is one of his victims…is that who you want to be remembered as? IS THAT YOUR IDENTITY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE? Confront him, now. Do it…do it for you. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t care; your words may not shift anything in that cold and desolate mind of his, but you need to be free. Free yourself…this is not the way to live your life. 

*I’m hesitant, but my body relaxes, the same way it did when I realized that I couldn’t stop him from what he did to me. The cement around my feet are no more as my tip toes toward him become steps, and then my steps become strolls, and then my strolls become strides. I’m done.* 

Some book you wrote, huh Eldridge? You call yourself an author now? 

*he whirls around so gracefully, almost like a ballerina. He doesn’t remember who I am. How many of us were there?* 

You don’t remember me, do you? I was one of your firsts. I was your so-called revolution…some poor black girl living on the other side of the tracks. I was nothing to you, but you lived there too…what does that say about you? We are the same flowers growing from the same flower pot, and you plucked my petals and cut my stem. I may not be a man, but I understand your pain…I bear the same flesh as you. When white people look at me, they cross the street in my path, they spit at me, they deem me as an abomination…I feel that pain too. I stood in solidarity with you…all my brethren, and to have one of my own do something like that to me…why aren’t you saying anything? Do you not feel bad about your actions? Insurrectionary act…kiss my ass. That was diabolical, sociopathic, psychopathic…crazy, just crazy. I read the book Eldridge, and you referred to me…my sisters…we were targets…no, what did you say in your book? Practice. Practice for the main target. Look here, those girls did not deserve what they got; as much as they probably hated us already, they did not deserve to be taken advantage of. No matter who you are; what walk of life you’ve trekked and where you call home, you do not deserve what happened to me; I wouldn’t wish it on the lowest, vilest creature alive. Hmm, so I guess that means I wouldn’t wish it on you I suppose. They think you are so brilliant Eldridge; they drank your words like gin….they are intoxicated. You really are a natural orator, I’ll give you that. I can see why the black community idolizes you, especially wayward, Fatherless black young men…how I fear for the young girls they’ll try to pursue. The way you see the world is frightening, but alas, we live in a frightening reality. You are right…no don’t walk away from me! You’re going to stand here and remember because I can never forget; you are going to listen. You are right about the world being unfair to our people, but why did you have to go along and be unfair with it? It’s already hard enough being a black woman. We are the Black Panther Party; we are the backbone of this organization; some of y’all just pick up the bullhorn when need be. How can you disrespect those who understand your plight the most? How can you see me as disposable? We gave birth to you; spent nine months growing you inside our womb, altering our bodies to make sure you make it here alright…some of us risking our lives. I’m afraid to ever share my body with another; giving life and creating it. Why? Just why!? You ruined my life, and the saddest thing is…you don’t care. Somehow, in that convoluted brain of yours, you think these actions were some radical protest…IS THIS WHAT YOU ARE TEACHING!? Are you proud of this? *laughs uncomfortably* This is your legacy now. Black Panther Party leader, visionary, radicalist…r–ist. I wish I could see you as all those great things others see you as, but I can’t, and you’ve ruined it for me and one day everybody else will see. I stand before my brothers in awe of the stories they bestow, only to think, have they done what Eldridge has done? You felt resentment over how white men used black women, huh? And you did the very same thing that they did to us, now tell me, how does that make sense? Do you want to dismantle racism and white supremacy? Do you really?  Do you want to be free from the white man? Or do you want to be just like him? What revenge did you need to get on me? What have I ever done to you? If that was my lot in life; a pin cushion for the black revolution, the Lord didn’t need to give that burden to me. Imagine how it feels to know that no one, not even the black man himself, loves us black women? NO ONE! I am hollow inside; my heart, my mind…what good is it to use now!?  Answer me that, Eldrige, what good is it? Nothing? The one thing I do have left is my voice, and you can’t match it? Answer me!…you are a coward, you know that!?  I don’t care what you’re doing for the betterment of black folk…YOU.ARE.A.COWARD! I pray people see you for who you are and everyone loses all the respect they ever had for you. You have to be one sick twisted mother f–ker if you think brutalizing me and other black women…women in general, is the best way of attaining revenge. There is nothing deeper to it; no symbolism, no bigger picture…you are deranged. Whether you have changed from your ways or not, that will always be embedded in your psyche. It kills me inside to know that I can’t do anything but cry; scream…pray that the Lord will end my suffering and lift the weights that crush my shoulders every single f–king day. I was just prey to you…and over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion why I was your target. It wasn’t the mid thigh length dress, or the way my hair was pulled back, showing off my cheekbone I inherited from my Mother’s side. It wasn’t any of that..mmm mmm. I know why you chose me…because you knew if you were going to r–e me…you’d get away with it. I can see that I have done nothing for you; this was probably a waste of your time, so I’ll go. Goodbye Mr. Cleaver…may God have mercy on your soul, well, if there still is one somewhere in there.

Sources:

Cleaver, Eldridge. 1968. Soul on Ice. Print 1999.

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Uncategorized

The “Push Through It” Mentality and Trying To Set Boundaries

I AM NOT A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL…YET

THIS IS ALL MY PERSONAL OPINION

When I take a moment to myself that isn’t considered relatively productive, I feel guilty. With every spa day, every Netflix movie marathon and unscheduled naptime, my brain does a 180 and turns on me; “stop wasting your time! What are you doing?” I think about all of the tasks that I could have been doing; maybe I could have started academically preparing for my next collegiate chapter, or applied to the jobs that are saved to my LinkedIn account…perhaps introduced myself to understanding the complex inter workings of organic chemistry, I don’t know, anything but relishing in enjoyment. Genuinely, when I am engaging in a morsel of anything that is considered fun…I can’t fully let myself be in that moment. When participating in productive activities, sometimes my body warns me that I have over exerted myself. I respond to this by ignoring it and continuing on. I’m not really sure where it stems from, and as a future mental health counselor, I’m pretty sure I am going to pinpoint the cause eventually…I’m going to have to. I never feel like I am doing enough, so I’ll stay up those extra hours jotting down notes while my eyes lower and my head begins to nod. I’ll be tempted to get in bed, but everyone knows that you’re basically asking for an early bedtime. Whether it’s work, school, or other obligations, when we are constantly trying to meet deadlines and exceed people’s expectations with our work and abilities without resting, we can easily burn ourselves out.

The idea behind burnout has developed for quite some time now, as there really is no standard definition of what burnout is, as well as a specific diagnostic criteria. When we typically categorize burn out, we think of exhaustion, fatigue, maybe some irritability, listlessness, and even depersonalization. With the series of events that we have gone through collectively…it wouldn’t be abnormal if a few of us experienced these characteristics, as well as others that are personal to us. For me, it feels like my body and my emotions go entirely numb. I don’t want to do anything or talk to anyone, but I try my best to ignore how my mind is reacting. The last two semesters of undergrad consisted of me flying into fits of panic as I tried to finish six classes, neglecting the fact that I was crying myself to sleep every night and eating as much as a snack maybe once a day. I was wearing myself thin, but I thought that was the right thing to do. As a society, a lot of the time we associate success and self worth based on our achievements, and how hard we strive to reach them. We’ve become slaves to this rise and grind culture; no matter who you are, where you’re from, if you aren’t actively being slaves to capitali…ahem, I meant “productive” members of society, you are wasting sweet precious time. Pushing yourself to the limit is seen as a badge of honor and admirable in the sense that you are literally driving yourself insane in the name of productivity. Being ready to work all the time is exhausting…trust me I’ve tried it. I was so present for other people, that I left myself the scraps; I had no energy to do anything for myself anymore. I’ve heard the question, “how can I give my all to others when I don’t give my all to myself?” all the time, and it is such a great question to ask and to be asked. Simply, you can’t! It’s impossible…no one person has that much energy.

As a black woman, I understand all too well the push through it mentality. We are expected to suffer and do so with a smile because apparently that is our nature. The Strong Black Woman stereotype is such a damaging one, as this notion is still being perpetuated in society. I will certainly write a article about this topic soon, as this topic deserves its own space. Of Haitian and Japanese heritage, Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open, and more recently Wimbledon, has caused some controversy. People couldn’t fathom someone at that high of a caliber putting their mental health at the forefront…how dare she? She knew what she was getting herself into, right? Those waves of anxiety she endures are going to have to take a back seat…just swing your racquet and interview like everyone else who plays tennis. Those are some comments that I have seen when discussing the issue and quite frankly, I wasn’t shocked. Boundaries are foreign to a lot of us; so many entitled individuals these days. The push through it mentality can be seen as a good thing at times. When there are desires and dreams that seem like they are too far to touch, sometimes pushing through your own naysaying and negativity can allow you to complete something wonderful. Pushing through can be a sign of great strength and great triumph, but we don’t necessarily need to take risks every chance we get; sometimes taking a breather is the real risk. If Naomi Osaka completely ignored her mental health, who’s to say what would happen? Who knows how this could have affected her long term. Maybe we aren’t record breaking tennis players, but I’m sure many of us can relate on a smaller scale. Maybe you’ve been asked to take on yet another project at work while you’re already working on three. Maybe you have been studying for your MCAT exam for eight hours straight and your starting to go cross-eyed from all the information on biochemical foundations and living systems you’re consuming. Maybe you’re about to see your in-laws who know that you and your partner are having trouble conceiving but always ask you why you guys don’t have children yet…you just don’t want to deal with it. So…if you have the ability to do so, don’t deal with it; put your foot down and set boundaries with others and with yourself.

Setting boundaries is something that I struggle with, so this post is basically a call out for me…by me. In the past, I have ignored crucial self reflection. Why? Because I want to imagine myself as this perfect person who never makes mistakes. Since that isn’t true, I am going to dive head first into my strengths…fine, and my weaknesses also…the very few that I possess. When it comes to setting boundaries, I fail to actually articulate them. I’ll create them in my head, for example, I don’t like when people yell at me. When people yell at me, I either shut down and cry or match that energy and yell back. Let’s say someone yells at me, and I am affected by that. Instead of telling the person that they crossed a line with me, I’ll just stop talking to them completely. I know that I have a hard time speaking up for myself, so I start small and specifically work on this issue. If an opportunity arises where I am able to stand up for something…I’ll take it, no matter how small it might be. In the past, I also used to take people setting boundaries with me as a personal attack, but now, I realize that everyone needs to protect themselves, and I should follow suit. I’ll practice setting boundaries on little things. “Hey, you want to grab drinks with me after work?” “I would love to, but I have some tasks I need to catch up on. Maybe some other time.” “You should buy the black shirt instead of the white one.” “That’s a cute shirt, but I really like the white one.” No is a boundary also; saying no is enough. Sometimes I don’t want to stress these boundaries, but I know that if I don’t continue practicing, it’s easy to slip back into old habits; be persistent. You may feel guilty at first, but once you realize how much easier your life is getting when not dealing with unnecessary bullsh*t, you’ll never want to quit. When setting boundaries, communication is key. I’m a Gemini with an air dominant natal chart…if you want to get something across to me, use your words and speak! When we set boundaries that are way too flexible, that can completely defeat the purpose of stating a boundary to begin with; be clear and concise. Going back to self reflection, one of the questions your ask yourself while reflecting is, “what are my wants and my needs?” I know that for me, I want someone who doesn’t interrupt me when I am speaking, and I need them to listen attentively to me. Maybe you need your friend to respect the fact that you require alone time and you want them to give you some space sometimes. Maybe in relationships, you need some form of communication daily and want your partner to sometimes cater to your love language. It may look different for us all, but everyone has something that they require…you have time to figure out what yours are. Of course, while being solid on your boundaries, respect other peoples as well.

Tying it back to the push through it mentality, setting boundaries with ourselves and others can help reduce burnout significantly. High stress levels result in the elevation of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone. This can in turn create internal trauma in the body and result in many health problems. I have to remind myself that it is okay to take breaks and that it’s okay to say no until I cease to become guilty for it. You are in control of yourself, so handle yourself with care.

Featured photo: @rinnyriot

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Journaling

Today’s Manifestations: For Our Health…

With the Coronavirus causing people all around the world to panic, I think it’s time for some healing prayers and manifestations. There isn’t enough information on the virus, so no one really knows what its true impact could be. All I know is that we need to stay safe and serious about our health. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, carry hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, distance yourself from people (especially if they are coughing or exhibiting any symptoms of the virus). People can appear asymptomatic, so steering clear of large crowds is a must. With all that being said, we want God to allow this outbreak to pass over us, as well as our friends and loved ones. Can this be a lesson? What can we learn from this? These prayers/manifestations are not just for this pandemic, but for anything that does not give us a healthy and happy body.

  • I pray that this virus or any virus, disease, or illness of any kind passes over me
  • Anything that is not meant to go into my body will not infect me or come near me
  • I manifest healthiness for me, my friends, and my family
  • I pray for the doctors and scientists studying this epidemic
  • I manifest that they find a vaccine, as well as a cure
  • I pray for the strength of those who have already been infected
  • I manifest a quick and speedy recovery for those who are infected
  • I pray for anyone who has been exposed to any illness and let them not be affected by it
  • I manifest common sense for myself and others
  • I pray for those with anxiety; I pray they are able to stay calm
  • I manifest that everything will be under control sooner than later
  • I pray that people who still have to go to work and/or school stay safe and sound
  • I pray that people are able to find the supplies that they need to stay clean
  • I manifest people having enough to eat and drink
  • I pray for the people that live in shelters, in their cars, and on the streets
  • I pray for the people that have to quarantine in toxic situations with toxic people
  • I pray for people who don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from due to businesses being shut down
  • I manifest that the people traveling at this time will not be infected or spread anything to others
  • I pray for the small business owners that are being affected at this time
  • I manifest the economy not taking as big of a hit as it looks like it will
  • I manifest that there will be more people who are able to be tested for the Coronavirus
  • I pray that the events that have been postponed due to the illness spreading around are even better than they originally would have been
  • I manifest mental sanity for all
  • I manifest nothing else disastrous happening to our earth
  • I manifest people living long, healthy, and happy lives
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Facts and Opinions

Am I Next?: How many more will go through what Uyinene went through?

TRIGGER WARNING:

I’ve been logged out of social media for a little bit so I was a little out of the loop on some things that have happened recently. Going through the normal bar bathroom selfies, inspirational quotes, and random rants, one story made me furious. It made me grow angry with each word that I read. I’m tired. I’m tired of seeing stories like this. I’m tired of slowly being desensitized by these stories because they happen so often. I’m tired of being fearful for the people that I know. I’m tired of begging my friends to put their locations on so I can check and make sure they’re where they are supposed to be going. I’m tired of carrying around mace because I don’t know if some lunatic is going to randomly feel enticed to tackle me to the ground and assault me. I had thought of carrying around a taser, but they aren’t legal in Illinois. I do plan to carry a pocket knife with me at some point. I shouldn’t have to do that! No one should have to do that! I should be able to get to my destination safely with no interference. Anyways, I could get stuck on this topic for days, but I’m going to get on to the point of this article.

Uyinene Mrwetyana. Uyinene; a South African name meaning gift of God. Reading about her I got a chance to get a glimpse of her personality. She seemed intelligent, warm, and widely loved. Her skin was so radiant and that smile…her smile was captivating. She was just nineteen years old, making strides and efforts towards living her dream. She attended the University of Cape Town. She was a film student. Who knows, we could’ve seen one of her films on the big screen one day. Well, that won’t happen. We may never get to see her creativity in motion. We may never get to see her artistry. Uyinene Mrwetyana was raped and killed by being hit in the head with a scale by 42 year old Luyanda Botha (allegedly) inside a post office. She went there to get a package, and the man told her to come back later. She was said to be missing August 30th. That’s when he brutally attacked her. I was scrolling through her Instagram and nearly cried. She was beautiful…my God she was so beautiful. The man’s trial is set for November 5th according to The South African. He seemed to have no remorse in regards to what he did. I really hope he rots in prison.

The hashtag #AmINextProtest has been trending. People carry signs through the streets of South Africa pleading with people to stop killing their peers and loved ones. South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, addressed the nation Thursday, admitting that there is an uproar of sexual violence against women. He proposed numerous ideas to try and combat this issue. Will these proposals be enough though? Words are just words…they are nothing without action.

Women in South Africa are at risk for being attacked. According to Al Jazeera, a woman is murdered every three hours. Rape is just as rampant. In a 1994 journal by S. Armstrong, it goes into how rape is the assertion of male power. Under apartheid, rape of white women was the only rape that mattered; they found black women rape to just be apart of the struggle. In the journal, it also states that one out of four women have been sexually assaulted before the age of fourteen. These numbers are on the rise…more and more women are going through this treachery.

Will it be me? Will I be the next one to die? Will a situation like this be my fateful demise? Will it be my best friend’s? My Mother’s? My aunt’s? My future daughter’s? I couldn’t fathom sitting at home waiting for my baby girl to come home…only to have the police approach me, telling me that she’s been bludgeoned and raped to death. So many people are apart of the “sexual assault club” and frankly, I don’t want any new members. I think back to my experience, and I thank the Lord that I am still alive, because I didn’t have to be. I’m starting to lose faith in humanity. I’m thinking that there will never be change. And if there is, things will get a lot worse before it gets better.

Uyinene could’ve been me. It could’ve been anyone. So…who’s next?

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Journaling

June Manifestations + Change

Now that’s she’s back from the atmosphere with drops of Jupiter in her hair. She acts like summer and walks like rain, reminds me that there’s time to change. Since the return of  her stay on the moon, she listens like spring and she talks like June.

Drops of Jupiter by Train is probably one of my favorite songs. As a child when the song would come on in the car on my way to school, I would instantly become a bawling mess. I still to this day don’t know why, but the song has this connection with me. The song captivated me with the first few lyrics, pictured above. She listens like spring and she talks like June. I distinctly remember asking my Mother what that meant, and if I did that because I was born in June, which is in the spring. She had no clue, but I have given myself my own personal meaning of what that means.

Spring is rebirth; it is the start of new things. June is the last month of the season, the 21st being the first day of summer. When I think of speaking like June I think of speaking positively or speaking with purpose. No matter how hard times may get, there is always a sense of hope when you speak. The weather during the spring acts as nourishment towards crops (rain), but then it can also be a bit hectic and (thunderstorms). Some words can destroy infrastructures, removing the old so that the new may be built. Listening like spring is being attentive and open-minded; being adaptable and open to the future. Honestly, I’m probably just reading too much into it, something that I do constantly. It was probably something that sounded good at the time, so they slapped it to some music.

Spring is my favorite season, mainly because it is the season that I was born in, as well as what spring symbolizes. June is all for revitalization, and going into the fourth day of the month I can feel differences ever so slightly. It’s about making a change in one way or another. I just got some really great news a few days ago, so I am praying that this is the change that is taking place. What kind of change are you looking forward? What type of change is going to take place in your life? This is the time to start that project that you’ve always wanted to but have been putting off. Your ideas that you have been cultivating, put it into action! I know that I’ve been saying that I wanted to start sewing and pick up my viola again to practice and I certainly think that this is the time to do so. I have just enrolled in a summer psychology course, and I am hoping that this is going in alignment with the rest of the things that I want to accomplish. I already am eating healthier and engaging in the vegan lifestyle, and now I am trying to make a change in my education. The person that you want to be, it’s time to start doing things that that person would do.

Now is the time to clear out any things that you don’t need; mentally and physically. Sometimes, God or a higher power will remove these things for you. The people that are no longer a benefit or a positive place in your life…they need to go. The habits that hinder your growth…gotta go. It’s time to acknowledge the things that you would like to change for the better. You have the plan, so put it into action. If you don’t have the plan, that is the first step. Take it one step at a time. Have a plan, but don’t get discouraged if things don’t go the exact way you want them to. For example, curing world hunger…that might not be the first thing that you should start off with. Maybe apart of your change could be volunteering more and being apart of a difference in the community. It’s always good to dream big, but actions definitely need to be apart of the journey there. You’ll never get there if you stay stuck in old, toxic ways that serve no purpose. The time for change is now. The best version of yourself is emerging.

I will let go of any negativity that I am still holding on to

I will be successful and happy in my life

I will change myself for the better

I am closer and closer to being my best self

I am growing

I will be the best version of myself very soon

I will be the best version of myself very soon

I will be the best version of myself very soon

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Facts and Opinions

What My Anxiety Looks Like

*this post keeps deleting itself…and I have no idea why….but here it is!*

It was a whirlwind; a tornado of conflict. I was fine one minute…not the next. I was sitting in the front of my classroom trying to focus on a Sigmund Freud documentary in my Theories of Personality class. My heart was racing, my mind was wandering, and I was sweating from my palms. The room was shrinking as my breaths became more labored. I felt as if I sat in that chair any longer, I would have fell through the tile. I grabbed my bag, a cute tote bag that I collected during my trip to New York (a story that I will tell soon), dropped my phone on the floor, and fled what felt like a near death situation. I remember sobbing and wailing in the Psychology office, sniffling on the shirt of the woman who had been behind the desk. I felt pitiful. This lady probably thought that I was insane, but she was in the Psychology office, so I’m assuming that she was a little more equipped than someone from say the Biology department. I was shaking like I was struck with hypothermia. This was a side swipe; it hit me out of nowhere. What happened? What was that? That, my friends, was an anxiety attack, and the largest one that I had by far. I’ve heard people detail their episodes and they sounded like nightmares; something straight out of a horror film. Over the course of about a year and a half, my anxiety had skyrocketed. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I’m forcing myself to heal in a toxic environment, or because I’m piling too much on my plate…or a mixture of both.

Anxiety is commonly caused by external and environmental factors. In my case, an act of trauma on a college campus. An anxiety attack can spur anywhere at anytime. It’s also very common too. According to DoSomething.org, around ten percent of teenagers and forty percent of adults suffer from anxiety. I’m not good at math, so bare with me, but that’s more than three million cases. Anxiety is very much so treatable, but around two-thirds of the population There are so many different types of anxiety: GAD (generalized personality disorder, social anxiety, panic disorders, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), agoraphobia, specific phobias, and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Because I am not a licensed professional, here are some definitions of each one according to Beyond Blue (https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety):

Generalized Personality Disorder:

A person feels anxious on most days, worrying about lots of different things, for a period of six months or more.

Social Anxiety:

A person has an intense fear of being criticised, embarrassed or humiliated, even in everyday situations, such as speaking publicly, eating in public, being assertive at work or making small talk.

Panic Disorders:

A person has panic attacks, which are intense, overwhelming and often uncontrollable feelings of anxiety combined with a range of physical symptoms. Someone having a panic attack may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness and excessive perspiration. Sometimes, people experiencing a panic attack think they are having a heart attack or are about to die. If a person has recurrent panic attacks or persistently fears having one for more than a month, they’re said to have panic disorder.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD;

This can happen after a person experiences a traumatic event (e.g. war, assault, accident, disaster). Symptoms can include difficulty relaxing, upsetting dreams or flashbacks of the event, and avoidance of anything related to the event. PTSD is diagnosed when a person has symptoms for at least a month.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD:

A person has ongoing unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. Although the person may acknowledge these thoughts as silly, they often try to relieve their anxiety by carrying out certain behaviors or rituals. For example, a fear of germs and contamination can lead to constant washing of hands and clothes.

I will try my best to define agoraphobia and specific disorders. I use to think that agoraphobia was just being afraid of going outside, but it is a bit more intricate. Wide open spaces can trigger some type of anxiety. I would assume because you’re worried something may happen to you and you have no one to alert…but I am not a professional I wouldn’t know. Some people are startled by large crowds, or being in an enclosed space. Panic attacks and agoraphobia may go hand and hand, especially if a panic attack ensues in a public space. Specific phobias are phobias on one particular thing. For instance, my Mother is deathly afraid of snakes. Small snakes, big snakes, poisonous snakes, non-poisonous snakes…it doesn’t matter. I think it started when she was a child and saw a garden snake in her backyard. When my Grandmother was pregnant with her, a snake slithered across her foot, so I thought that was rather interesting that she developed this phobia. My friend will have a conniption fit if she sees any type of insect, even a ladybug. I remember I use to terrorize her when we were younger with cicadas that I found around my house when she came over. I didn’t think about the severity of it all, I was seven. Thankfully, cicadas don’t come back until I’m in my mid-twenties, and I’m pretty sure I have grown from that sense of immaturity. Sorry girl, I love you though. These phobias can be compartmentalized into different categories, some common ones are: situations, animals (like my Mother and my friend), natural disasters, injury, and miscellaneous like clowns or vomiting.

I think as a person, it is normal to worry, but over time, I can clearly see that it is becoming quite intrusive in my life. During the end of my freshman year and my sophomore year, my anxiety was through the roof. One thing that I was really nervous about was walking to the dining hall to get food. My dorm was literally a hop, skip, and a jump away from the dining hall, and I would not go because I was afraid of people seeing me outside. I lost a lot of weight around that time. Now, it has subsided a little bit, but there still is a surge of uncertainty when I leave my house. I can’t really pinpoint what I’m worried about, but I get those butterflies in my stomach that fly up through my throat.

To help calm these nerves down, I have tried carrying notebooks around with me (you can learn more about that with my Guide to Journaling post). I also take deep breaths, or I try to focus my thoughts on a particular scene that I made up in my head. I always like the one where I’m wandering around Paris around the Louvre. The sky is infused with purple, pink, and a hint of blue. I’m in nice clothing and I’m exploring the city, eating macaroons and living freely. See? That’s a nice image to picture in your head right? Sometimes that’s not all you can do though. Trust me, if we could dream about out our fantasies as a way to aid anxiety, people wouldn’t need to be prescribed medication. However, medication is a way to get a bit of solace. There are also natural remedies. I have heard that incense and scents like lavender help calm the body down. Some people carry around crystals (and I actually have a few which I may do a post on one day). The same friend that I terrorized with cicadas actually offered me some CBD oil that her mom had bought her. I plan on trying it out quite soon, so maybe I’ll do a review on it later.

Whatever way works. there is a way to ease anxiety. One way may not work for everyone. Anxiety can get better over time, and it can also get worse. It depends on the person. There is a way to heal of course, but it may take some time to find the right method. There is a way to manage it.

 

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Facts and Opinions

Back to the Basics

Hello to that one person who may be reading my blog. I really haven’t been on it too much. I guess there really is no explanation as to why. School could be one. School has been kicking my butt ever since kindergarten, but this last semester of my junior year of college is making me wonder why I didn’t drop out yet. It could be my wavering time management. I think honestly it has to do with laziness. But the summer is nigh, and I feel like I will have more energy, as well as more creativity throughout the warmer months. I plan to write more poetry, speak about more issues that are not only affecting me but others, and most importantly have fun with blogging. So expect to see more posts from me in the months to come!

Peace and blessings 🕊❤️

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Journaling

Month Number One: A slight rant and 400 years

January is coming close to an end. The first day ushered in this new sense of hope and discovery for all of us. 2018 was a year of realization. It was like a gnat; buzzing around our ears and crowding our personal space. The lessons of 2018 are going to be the foundation of my 2019, and so far I am still going strong. Could it be because of the new year and its new wave of energy, or has nothing really changed? Maybe this new feeling of purpose and confidence is some sort of placebo. Am I still the same person now that I was in 2018? Some of the voices in my head (true Gemini lol) tell me these things off and on, and I try not to succumb. If I really think about it, all of my manifestations for the first month of the year are slowly but surely coming into fruition, and I think that has a lot to do with myself, as well as the beginning of a new year.
I wanted to briefly talk about an article on The Root that I happened to come across while scrolling through the internet one day. The first person of African descent set foot on America’s soil in the year 1619. Ever since then, black people have had a treacherous experience here. We are seen as foreign objects that do not belong; the “other.” Our skin is discriminated against, as well as our hair, body types, and culture…but it’s always copied. Like I stated in a Facebook post a few days ago, we are the culture, we just never get the credit. I just thought that is was kind of interesting. This 400 years of slavery (even though slavery was abolished in 1865) may have brought some sort of curse. We might not be picking cotton in fields and being beaten with whips, but we are still slaves to systematic oppression as well as archaic ideologies of how black people should be. Jim Crow kind of still exists you know? It just manifests itself in various ways throughout the years. The 400 years trope comes from the bible. In Genesis 15:13, it says, “Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there (New International Version).” Sounds familiar doesn’t it? If you add 400 to 1619, what do you get? I know I’m not an aficionado in mathematics, but if my calculator is correct, you get 2019!
2019 is the 400th year. Has the curse been lifted? I can say as a minority in America that my experiences here have not been peachy keen. I mean, a bit of my self loathing as a child came from the fact that I did not resemble my Caucasian counterparts. Going to college in a town that is more than 90% white lets me know some days that I am not accepted in some communities. This, however, has only made me stronger as an individual and prouder of my blackness. People are so pressed that I exist, like…keep hating boo. 2018 had made me come face to face with myself. People will not always like me just by looking at me, and I can’t let that affect me. We as people can work together as a collective to strengthen our community, but we must first acknowledge the beauty and power in ourselves individually…and there’s an abundance of it. Do you know how important you are? How much you’ve endured? How much your ancestors have gone through? Your looks are envied by others. Your history is rich and full. Black people…that is all in you! It’s in me! And 2018 has made me aware that I am a blessing and I should think of myself as such. That might sound a little vain, but you are a blessing. You could be six feet deep in the ground. Every day that you live is a blessing.
I have a tendency to get rather preachy with these posts when I’m passionate. My main focus for this post is to say that we must break the curse that we held in ourselves, and that’s with changing our habits and thoughts. I need to plan out my thoughts; my mind goes a mile a minute. This month I have made an effort to better myself, and I will continue to do the same in February. I prayed and manifested for more experience in the career that I want to be in, and I was promoted to a higher position. I’ve had people from my past come and contact me, trying to slither their way back into my life…and I ignored their advances. My worth is much more important than a brief stint of attention. I’ve accepted the fact that I cannot change what has happened in the past, and can only move forward. I’ve accepted my face and the way it kind of hangs to the right. I’ve accepted my little round nose and full cheeks, as well my gap teeth (which I’m proud of). I’ve practiced self-care by keeping to myself when I need to. It’s okay to say no to hanging out. It’s good to spend time with myself and get to know myself even more. She loves overly feminine stuff. She likes perfume and getting her nails done and fashion. She loves to read and write and engage in her own little world. She’s introverted…but nowhere near antisocial. She is delicate, but durable.
I have taken steps toward keeping my peace. I’ve moved mountains this past month. I’ve spoken my truth and expressed my feelings thoroughly. I’ve come to terms with past mistakes that I have made, as well as acknowledge what I did to get into that situation in the first place. The groundwork has been laid, and I need to follow what I’ve laid. I’ve learned not to be as trusting as I have been in the past, and not tolerate the things that I have previously. I just feel chains falling and my head lifting. I just have a good feeling about 2019, even though we have had some major mishaps happen already (thank you Trump). I can only control myself, and I am trying my very best to not fall back and remain the way I used to be. I am slowly evolving, and I can see the progress.
In a few hours it will be February, which is the perfect month to talk about self-love. I want to tie self love in the black community, because I know that us as people are conditioned to think that our beauty is lesser than. I am beautiful. I am beautiful because I am black. I am beautiful because of my history, good and bad. I am beautiful because I am continuously growing and changing. I’m beautiful because I am finally realizing my worth. I am just beautiful….PERIOD!

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