Happy Birthday to my little sister and every Brown and Black little girl reading this.

I want all of you to see that you are more than capable of completing every single thing you write down in your planner, take note of as your goals, fight for in your everyday life, and strive to complete. You are more than capable to conquer everything even beyond that.

You are smart. No matter what anyone tells you, you are intelligent. Your mind is filled with colors, your thoughts add sparkle, and your dreams put forth the most incomparable magic that shines through the shade of your skin. Your Black is beautiful.

You are beautiful. And although there will be days where you won’t love how the curls fall on your face, how your skin carries your ancestors, and how your curves hold your resilience, through every corner, crack, or whichever ways oppression tries to sneak its way in, you are beautiful. And I need for you to recognize this not only when you look in the mirror, but when you tell yourself that what others are saying are not true. When you notice the lack of representation on your tv screen, hear the rhetoric from the community around you, and taste the sour feeling of someone who carries hate in their heart as they look your way:

You are meant to be here. And no matter how much this world tries to shrink you, pull you apart, or erase you– you are meant to be here.

 

And I can’t wait to wish you a happy birthday again.

 

 

Those Are Just Days

I think everything just hit me all at once. I am leaving. I am no longer an undergraduate student, I am officially a graduate student paving my way to my success whichever way I measure it. Although I can completely look back and see all of the hard parts of my past four years, those hard parts wouldn’t have toughened me up for the rest of the world that I have been begging to see since I was a Black girl unable to really understand why some parts of the United States really just aren’t safe for someone who wears this color on their skin. Creating myself has been one of the most rewarding but completely tiring things I have done and it simply is not over yet. I have so much more to do, so much more to offer, and so much more to change… and not only for other people, but for myself as well.

Something valuable about self-reflection is the ability to know when you have checked off something huge in your life. If you can recognize the hurdles you have jumped, the wounds that you thought were never going away healed, and even though there are some days where it feels like you maybe took 15 steps back in your journey to recovery or happiness—those are just days. You have the ability to make it farther, you have made it this far.

I took the world around me for granted. And although I am speaking about the items I have, the roof over my head, and the clothes on my back, I am also speaking about those who have taken the time out of their day to show me they care. Whether that was through a small gesture, an “I hope you feel better!” text, a “do you need help with…?”  question, those were all small moments of pure love.

I just got back from dinner with two amazing people in my life. People that I can honestly say I would never want anything to happen to our friendships moving forward. After they had left, I began to really think about those who I allow into my life and how I could not understand what I had done in my past life to have gotten so lucky. Not everyone has the chance to meet people who would walk you through a breathing exercise on the day of closing when your anxiety decided to flare up. Not everyone has the chance to meet people who would offer to drive to your school and help you move things home then pick up your belongings and drive to your new home that is 6+ hours away. Not everyone has the chance to meet people who would remind you what you deserve when you come crashing into their room at 1:00AM and don’t know what to do with yourself. Not everyone has the chance to meet people who wipe your tears and allow you to take a moment on the days you know you have far too much to do but you’re stability shakes and cracks whenever you pick up your pen and pack your bag. Not everyone has the chance to meet people who speak highly of you to the friends they made at their institution. Not everyone has the chance to meet people who would let you just vent about anything and everything—even if you did feel as though it was a stupid thing to vent about. What matters is that they listen. These people make you feel as though you are listened to, you are understood, your feelings are valid, you are more than capable, and you are enough. These are the people who I want to be surrounded by every single day. These are the people I want to thank.

I spent the last blog reaching out to those who tried to fold me back into myself. The people who ached for my weakness and grinned when they learned what would hurt me. But this is for the ones who remind me on my darkest days that the light will return shortly. That even though it is dark now, I have always fought and climbed my way out of it and that I should be proud of that. That I am more than I thought I ever would be and I need to start owning that. That people who truly care for you will always make sure that they show you they do.

This one is for you.

I want to say thank you to those who allowed me to be completely vulnerable. Who chose to support me while I put myself back together which, on some days, felt almost impossible. Those who chose to deny the hatred that floods the media for “people like me,” and created their own sparkling views to envision me as someone who deserves to speak, who deserves to smile, who deserves to learn, and who deserves to live. I want to say thank you because although we are all busy, tending to our lives, hopefully taking moments of rest to reassure ourselves that that too is an essential part of progress towards success and happiness—you are the people who I want to spend the rest of my life with. You have no idea what you all have done for me and a blog post won’t show that, nor will any amount of thank you’s come close to the amount of gratitude and immense amount of tear jerking love I have for everything you are. The type of love you have given me in these past four years (and some of you reading this, my whole entire life) I hope I am giving it back to you. And if I have failed in doing that in one way or another, this is me taking the moment to let you know that I love you, that I care for you, and I appreciate you. The type of support, love, care, and positive energy is what I want to give to others for the rest of my life—if I can help people feel how I feel right now: loved, empowered, appreciated, cared for, understood, and at ease— at least one person, I will know I have done enough. Thank you for helping me understand that the days I feel as though I have shrunk to the last drop of resilience I have left, that there is a whole glass waiting for me tomorrow. Those are just days and I have the ability to try again.

And so do you. 

And I Will Be Your Biggest Fan

Whether it was in high school when these girls made a fake Instagram page about me – to college where I ultimately just trusted the wrong people, lost respect for those who chose to change others views of me, and were smiling in my face one minute and saying reckless things the next, thank you.

Truly, I mean this, thank you. And if you’re reading this and get a sense of heat that comes over your body, maybe that you feel guilty. I am not asking for you to feel this way. This isn’t meant to be sarcastic nor facetious. It is because of you and the support I got along the way, that I am where I am today.

It is because of the girl in elementary school who called me names, yelled about how the darkness I wear on my skin was everything but gorgeous, and made fun of how I look at recess that I choose to make it my mission to ensure brown/black people feel beautiful (I do this loudly).

It is because of the girls in middle school who used to exclude me from their conversations and ignore what I had to say because I wasn’t “pretty enough” that I demand my voice to be heard as well as many other marginalized groups in our nation (I do this loudly).

It is because of the boys in high school who played lacrosse, basketball, football, and etc.. who indirectly almost always made me feel less than,  that I directly tell girls growing up that the approval of boys is not of their concern during this time in their lives. It is okay if you are not dating or if you do not have a partner. You are in this time to create and discover who you are, to pass your tests, to turn in your homework, and to make it to high school (I do this loudly).

It is because of the girls in high school who told me I looked like a troll (and the boy who laughed about agreeing with it), made fun of my body type which led me to questioning my eating habits, attacked my way of speaking, slandered my name when I wasn’t present, and told me I would not amount to anything that I tell those around me to have a thick skin- but understand that it is okay to talk to someone. It is okay to be vulnerable to someone. It is okay to cry. Therapy, self-reflection, a chance to forgive those who have put shackles around your wrists of confidence, tied you to your insecurities, and lit a fire underneath your chance to even smile at yourself in the mirror and convince yourself that what they are saying is not true… is necessary. Do not forgive those people for them, you owe them nothing. Forgive those people for you.

It is because of the girls in college who made me feel as though “Black” was a bad word, the girl who made me feel like I wasn’t pretty enough to be introduced to all of her friends, the boys in college who tried to define me as just a body, the boy in college who told others that I just “get everything,” unknowing of the times I had to find a way to make sure I could eat dinner on most nights, carry my emotional stability on my back, and try not to unfold at the wreckage that alcoholism, separation, addiction,  and DCF had created. If I got everything, I would have had a childhood.

It’s because of these experiences, these words people shamelessly toss around whether it was cause of anger, hurt, jealousy, or you just did not like me, that I fight for those who endure(d) the same things I did. It is why I choose to work with students to make sure that they know their past does not control their future. That the mistakes they made, the people who hurt them, the wrong people they let into their lives, the harsh words said to them or about them, the humanity people would strip them of day in and day out, will not conquer them.

Granted, I own up to things I have done in my past. Hurt people, hurt people. Please read that again. Hurt people, hurt people. Once I had heard that, once I really understood that, and once I had realized I had lived that—it only put things into perspective for me.

Being in a marginalized community, you already have society trying to convince you that you do not belong and maybe that is why it hurts more when those close to you try to do the same. In my opinion, forgiveness is the hardest thing to accomplish. Once you do, it is like you can finally exhale and move forward. Sometimes you have to hurt to get to the next part of your life plan. You have to forgive, you have to move forward, and at the end of the day, you are going to have to fight. And unlike those who chose to tear people down to get to where they are…you will be stronger. And I will be your biggest fan.