Calling in Black 

I think I’ve spent a majority of my mornings getting ready as if nothing is wrong.
Reapplied foundation and concealer to cover the tear marks stained down my cheeks.
Picked up waterproof mascara in case I have to cry for another one of my people today.
When your heart is this heavy – you almost feel sick.
Dear work:
For things you possibly cannot understand, I’m calling in Black.
And if I go outside to clear my head, go for a run, buy some skittles and tea, and just breathe –  I hope I live to be able to come into work the following day.
(Inspired by call-in Black

2020: To whoever is reading this, it’s your turn.

I had been feeling blocked for a long time. Clouded by negativity, suffocated by the inability to change my perspective, and saddened by the fact that the rest of my life is so close yet so far away. I was feeling stuck, uninspired, unenthused, and unmotivated. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it as to why I felt this way and I am writing in the past tense which makes it feel like this is a feeling of before; of previous times. But a huge part of me feels like this is another step part of the recovery process.

I’m an avid believer in signs all around us. That the “bad things” that happen to us are meant to spring us forward into beautiful spaces, that the negative events that take an emotional toll on us set the path to our unremarkable freedom, our coming of age. I tend to look at the hard times as something that we have to get through, but we must be willing to grow through the entire thing. In the moment, you feel lost. You feel like you’re floating in a sea of why the hell is this happening to me and your vision is blurred by the damning thoughts of not again. But this is your time. This is the very moment where you can decide what is going to come of this.

2019 was filled with change. I had moved to a new state: New York. I started my life as a Hall Director and made it through my first year as a graduate student. I went to a conference in Boston, learned more about my why, and continued to settle in my understanding as to where I will fit in this whole “higher education” thing. I traveled to California for an internship that was solely based on my creativity, my ability to think outside of the box, and personally challenged my capability of checking off a goal and experiencing something I was entirely scared to do. Because if you can’t beat fear, you just do it scared, right?

And that’s exactly it. I could not beat fear all of 2019 and I am entirely okay with that. I said yes to things that would challenge me and even said no to more things that I felt wouldn’t have been beneficial for any party involved. I learned what it meant to actually take care of my energy; protect it, rather. I began to recognize when something was no longer fueling my soul, left my positivity withered, and my care for myself shallow and I escaped those things. I believe, in 2019, I had finally started to feel proud of myself. Through the chaos of whatever was happening at home and even the destruction that sometimes was right in front of me, I had managed to say, “I can do this again.” When the rest of the world has spent its time spilling its rhetoric in the news, painting my skins picture, and telling my story before I had even worked up the confidence to introduce myself, I pushed through. Even if just waking up in the morning was the biggest task that I felt I needed to conquer that day. I did it. 2019 was about me and it will continue to be.

I fell in love in 2019. I won’t make this a love story, but I did. Although I have been working to fall madly in love with myself because that’s always what comes first for me, I found somebody who understands my puzzles, my hardships, and my entire story front and back.  Who wants to see me during my worst of times and at my best (and for a recovering perfectionist… that’s pretty difficult for me to grasp). Someone who wholeheartedly understands that the work I am doing, how I am doing, how much I am doing, is for my future. They never hold me back from anything, always push me to go have fun, and constantly remind me that I will conquer whatever I have coming up. They never put me down and always bring me back to reality when my ideas, my thought processes, my overthinking skyrockets me into the stars. I couldn’t be more thankful.

I realized that family isn’t family.There’s something I’ve noticed pushed in the Black community that regardless of how a family member treats you, you must forgive them. “Well that’s still your…” is what they say. However, through recognizing that I need to protect myself, my energy, and my heart, sometimes that calls for the removal of things that swallow you whole and revert you back to an environment you fought to stay away from. A space of judgement, disapproval, and shatters your own confidence. A spot of distrust, continuous abuse masked behind a “I still love you, though,” and “through all of it, they have still been there for you.” Yet very much, the things they have been there for me through was because of them.  In 2019, I refused to be around people who were comfortable in their negativity and got drunk off of their toxicity. I had to remove myself from folks who refused to grow, struggled to acknowledge how their hurt was hurting other people, and winced at the thought of carrying folks simply because they asked me to. I left things behind that destroyed my peace. I chose me in 2019.

And this is what I ask of you in 2020 – maybe you are reading this and you’re completely familiar with me. You know who I am, and you know what I am going through. Maybe you are someone I went to school with who now only sees me on social media and assumes that I am living a life of ‘doing big things’ or maybe you are someone who never gave me the time of day in elementary, middle, or high school. It’s possible that you’re even someone I work with right now or you have absolutely no idea who I am and you stumbled across this post out of nowhere (if that is the case, it’s nice to meet you.) Regardless of who you are, if you take anything from this, it is that you deserve to put yourself first. Remove the negative connotation of being selfish with yourself – with your well-being, with your body, with everything that you are. Putting yourself first does not mean never helping anyone else out – it means thinking about what you have to do to become the best version of yourself. You do not owe anyone anything regardless of if they are your family or your friend for life. When you are working to become the best version of yourself, you begin to inspire others to be their best selves or kickstart their process of becoming exactly that. I’m not sure what your philosophy about life is and honestly, I am still fine tuning mine – but I know it goes something like this:

The shit this universe will throw at you can be completely perturbing and in a lot of cases, seem entirely unfair. You will filter through life feeling an abundance of ways, learning how to define your thoughts, and undergo a series of experiences that could appear unfortunate. You will have the brightest of moments, reflect on your time in different stages of your growth, and smile at the realization that you’ve continued to wake up everyday and keep going for your dreams or keep looking for exactly what your dreams are. That is exactly it – life is about you. It’s about creating the world you’ve always imagined, what you have always craved for, and that means working on becoming your best self, however you define that. My best self is someone who understands the social constructions created were never meant to serve her but continues to persevere. She is someone who fights for the rights of others but fights for her own rights just as much. She is someone who does not feel ashamed to be proud of herself anymore and inspires others to do the same. Life is about rising by lifting others and getting the support to leave things behind that are heavy. Not forgetting where you came from but not carrying things that make you go ten times back when you put your energy into moving five steps forward. Life is about creating, epiphanies, a whole lot of shifting through the nonsense but the willingness to keep on going. I don’t know what my destination is – but I know life is about the journey, even the bad parts of it. Growth and healing – they aren’t linear, but I will actively continue to do to be the best version of me.

2020 — to whoever is reading this, it’s your turn.