Second Puberty

Second puberty or “my grown woman weight” is what I have decided to call this recent weight gain I am experiencing. You know, I thought I had escaped the “Freshmen 15” curse in college just to encounter it in medical school. Might be because of a change in hormones, might be because I am not running around working three jobs and life has been pretty sedentary due to medical school. Nonetheless, I have gained weight. 

A particular store was not shy of telling me so. A couple of months ago, I made an impromptu decision of walking in into the store after dinner with a few classmates and decided to get a cute skirt. I knew I was not a medium anymore, so I grabbed large thinking it would give me exactly enough room for my curves to breathe. Oh my was I wrong! I am not delusional to believe that I have not become fuller in the past couple of years but not to the point of needing an extra-large. (And that’s not because I am ashamed of it but because I didn’t think I was). I shrugged it off as a store issue, maybe it’s just this company. A couple of weeks later I ordered some business casual pants from one of my favorite companies, and remembering the previous fiasco I decided to size up. I will get a 1X and take it to my seamstress to take it in, if anything, rather be safe than sorry. Oh my, was I very sorry! The pants could not go past my thighs, and at that point, the tears were rolling. 

I was confused and frustrated. I’m trying to not let these occurrences affect my body image because I recognize that the feelings were those of frustration. Frustration at the fact that the places that match my style, will not make clothes for me if I get to a certain size. Frustration at the pressure I feel from the fashion industry to diet. 

I have been working very hard my whole life to not place myself on any type of diet. I just want to embrace health as a lifestyle, not a craze to lose weight to get a particular figure. I eat a well-rounded diet, redefining my relationship with food. I try my best to remain grateful for my healthy body which has never failed me in a day and lessen the amount of time I compare myself to the skinny runway model or hourglass figure IG models. I genuinely love being active and have still found ways to remain physically active during medical school.

All to say, I do not do diets, I don’t really believe in those restrictive aspects that encompass many diets, and always been adamant about how the approach to obesity and diet, in this country, in particular, does more harm than good. Fatphobia is a real and very dangerous phenomenon to continue engaging in, and I remain conscious of the implicit and explicit ways I may promote that in my daily interactions not just as someone in the medical field but also just as a person. However, in being transparent, I have internalized a lot of it. I often question whether my love for exercise and healthy eating is related to a desire to never be “fat” (or even considered “fatter” by someone else’s standards).

Weight does not equate health. That’s is just a fact. 

Weight is desirable. Another fact.

Socially however this is not always the case. We can see that also with clothing companies whose sizes do not match natural bodies. In all due respect, if I am a plus size, and sizes in the majority of stores don’t go past 1-2X…who are they making clothes for? The majority of the country is considered “overweight”! 

Most stores produce smaller sizes in greater amounts. Plus size clothing is not many, when you go online or in-store they are few and are the first to run out, while smaller sizes remain…wasted. The math is not mathing! 

Even though I am currently struggling with some upper body issues, I really do love my body in all honesty, without the social media, or the number on the scale, I would never think of changing my weight. When clothes don’t fit, I give them away (I don’t hold onto things with the hope of fitting them again, it’s not healthy), I buy bigger sizes and just get them altered, and I don’t engage in any craze diets. 

Nonetheless, I feel the pressure, and I know I am not the only one. I still have not found a way to come to terms with these feelings… there is no consolation to be offered here, unfortunately. 

All I know is the conversations around weight and diets have to change, from the medical to fashion standpoint. 


Video to watch: why don’t clothes fit???? by Mina Le (Please do take time to watch Mina Lee’s video explaining more about the history and implications behind sizing.)

Podcast to listen: Fad Diets by Maintenance Phase

Unlovable?

I recently read “The Vanishing Half”, and there was a line by a white character to the dark-skinned black woman along the lines of how she (the dark-skinned woman) was so lucky to have found her boyfriend because usually, men do not go for women like her. 

The other day a white classmate in my group said to me (jokingly?) he imagines my boyfriend is a great guy if he puts up with me, the other white classmate laughed along. At that moment I was lost for words because 1. what does that even mean 2. Where did this topic even come from and why.

I think I have an idea of what it means. No matter how close, no matter how much they like you, no matter what, many people (particularly white men) can not imagine loving or how someone else can love a Black (dark-skinned) woman. 

It is the morning after this incident and as I sit here reflecting, I am also a bit annoyed by the fact that this bothers me still. I mean it is not a new concept. It is a misconception, not reflective of how many dark sinned women around me receive love every day. Yet I also do know that it is a very alive misconception. 

Misconceptions that have been carried along for so many years, they are seen (subconsciously or not) as the truth. 

Many often, taking media as a reference, Black love characters are often disposable. They are the obstacle the “real” (white) couple must overcome, the in-between, the rebound, the adventure, often rarely “the one”. 

In a previous post I wrote “Representation Matters”, I mentioned how distorted representation of love for/amongst Black people is.  It is never given the same grace, easy-to-watch rom-com storylines, or attention that are granted to our white peers. (Ie. Lane’s storyline vs Rory’s, even Kirk is given a love story easier than Lane’s). 

It is often something hard to accomplish, it does not naturally make sense, a struggle must happen, others have to “put up” with it. 

It really fucking sucks when these misconceptions are placed on you in real life. 


Video to Watch: The Disposable Black Love Interest – A Tokenistic Cliché

Book to Read: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet

P.S. I know Lane is not Black, I was watching Gilmore Girls as I wrote this. Nonetheless, we cannot deny this experience often extends to other POC.

Keeping Up With Anime

I’m a bit (a lot, overwhelmingly much) of a planner and find joy in staying organized, in every aspect of my life. And that extends even to my hobbies. I like to watch anime and I’m the type that watches several different types at the same time. Ya girl gets bored fast and needs to switch it up often. But that can get messy and overwhelming at times too because I’m watching multiple, I fall behind, I’m either working multiple jobs or studying as a full-time student, I’m taking too long to watch them, I discover new ones and add to my list. A mess.

However, with some organization, I am able to give attention to all my anime and relax while I watch. 

1. I like to divide by “Currently airing” vs “Finished series” For example, my current list is:

Currently airing: Attack on Titan (last season premiering TODAY omg); Demon Slayer

Finished series: Fire Force; Nozaki-Kun (always a dose of easy-to-watch romance shojo) 

2. I plan on when I’m going to watch each category and stick to it.

Currently airing: On Self-Care Sundays I watch the latest episode of the ongoing anime. No matter what day they are released, I just discipline myself to wait and avoid spoilers online. It’s easier said than done and luckily this season they all premiere on Sundays. If there’s a particular ongoing anime you know you can’t wait for, just schedule that day to be when you catch up on the ongoing anime. 

Finished series: I usually associate a time or activity and that’s the only time I watch it, also as a way to limit myself from binging. When I am cleaning my apartment: Fire Force. When I’m cooking: Nozaki-Kun 

That’s how I have been navigating everything in the past couple of years and it allows me to indulge without feeling like I just lost hours being “unproductive”. Especially now since I have so much on my plate, it’s a form of discipline. Even this can be a lot of screen time, so I am also holding myself accountable for not starting any new anime until one that I am watching is completed or off-season. Because if not, I get this urge to binge-watch until I am caught up to current episodes. 

So for example, when Demon Slayer was off the air, I watched Revolutionary Girl Utena from my to-watch list in the meantime. Or didn’t start Nozaki-Kun until I finished Toradora. 

Additionally, I have to keep in mind the ongoing anime that I am watching but that doesn’t have a new season out yet (hmm One Punch Man  & Jujutsu Kaisen I speaking particularly to you).  

Also, I only watch ongoing anime in subbed. When you’re busy like I am, you possibly can’t watch everything subbed. Dubbed is very much the wave at times. Ya girl gotta multitask. 

Be flexible with your list, but hold yourself accountable and disciplined to stick with a couple of major rules you can’t break. For example, mine is not watching more than 6 anime at a time. No matter what recently premiered or how good it is, or the recommendation of a friend, if one is being added that means one gotta go. 

I used to be a manga reader as well, you know back in high school when I had so much time (I mean there are the same 24 hours, but like dang adulthood really changes the perception of time). Honestly it got to a point where I could not keep up with all my hobbies and had to let some go. 

So I choose reading books over manga, plus I would watch the anime anyway to see the graphics so I am now a solely anime person (except Boruto because the anime was getting on my nerves.)

Sigh…Maybe when I retire, I will go back to watching One Piece and reading manga. 

Happy Attack On Titan Day!!

Fly Girl, Fast Girl-Sexualization In Media 

What is the target demographic for this book? Am I too old to be reading this? Regardless, I’m also uncomfortable with the idea of pre-teen or early teens reading this. Why are these descriptions of teenagers having sex so graphic? Amongst others, these were the main thoughts that went through my head as I read 2/3 of this book ( I could not finish it).

I was reminded of this much-debated discourse prevalent among social commentary YouTubers about the weird obsession adults in media have with teenagers’ sex lives. I mean most young adult’s tv shows past and present include storylines (actually these are the driving storylines) with teenagers and sex. Is it really necessary for teenagers to be sexualized this much? 

I understand the importance of reflecting on true experiences that may/do occur to many teenagers. However, there are also sources that show that teenagers are not leading as much of a sexualized life as depicted in tv. I’m not here to slut shame, I truly hope my words are not interpreted that way. I do support safe and healthy sex for all people and find actual sexual education as important as the next. Those conversations do need to occur.

What I do find an issue with is the constant saturation and depictions in the media with sexualized teens. It’s not reflective of all, and I want to (and wish there were more stories that did) make it clear that it’s completely normal if your life is not reflective of a Gossip Girl character. It’s okay if you’re 15,16, 17, 20 something, shoot whatever age and still haven’t had a sexual experience. Young people are not just individuals with crazy hormones just focused on the next sexual/romantic encounter. And even if so, it is much deeper than that. And even if not, it is completely normal.

There are only a few shows like Sex Education and The Sex Lives of College Girls (by my favorite Mindy Kaling) which tackle sex in young people’s lives in an authentic way. Where it is not a spectacle for viewers, an insert of sex to glamorize or add a shock/edgy factor to the story.

As a Black woman as well, reading the first chapters of this book, it was triggering to see how early being sexualized starts and how much of that is blamed on the young girl rather than the world who has placed these labels on her way before she was born. 

For a long time even as an adult, I felt uncomfortable with being comfortable with my own body because of how much it was sexualized. I felt like loving myself and being comfortable with my curves was a way of making those misconceptions of “young Black girls being fast” true. I didn’t want to wear certain things because I did not want to confirm stereotypes that people would have about me. It has been taking quite a long time, and a lot of practice (sometimes literally standing in the mirror and repeating “do not change, do not change” or even avoiding looking in the mirror and over-analyzing myself before going out) to slowly liberate me from these ideas that were placed on my persona by the media and society. 

All to say to writers, producers, showrunners, to truly think about how they are depicting young teenagers when creating. Is that sexualization necessary to the character? Is the idea that “sex sells” really worth the burden being placed on your audience? To viewers, what and why is that you enjoy when watching that? Whose viewpoint are these narratives from? Why is it that when a girl decides to take control of her body, she’s objectifying herself, but when a teenage girl is getting sexualized on tv you don’t even notice? Where is this difference in reaction coming from?

I know in these past years, we have been more welcoming of how a person is defined by different identities, and more self-aware of how correctly depict stories and individuals…nonetheless that right and understanding may be extending more to certain individuals than others. We must be extending that grace and respect to everyone, not just people with a certain body size/shape, certain job, age, race, or cultural background. Don’t sexualize Chloe for wearing the same thing Halle is wearing.


Video to watch: let’s talk about the Japanese Schoolgirl by Mina Le ( I don’t think I have introduced you to one of my Youtube favorites so I chose one of her videos for this subject, well said with a side fashion/cultural history)

Video to watch: Y’all are desperate to humble Chloe Bailey by Khadija Mbowe

Boujee On A Budget- Addressing Consumerism

My relationship with clothes is one of my favorite things I like to nurture. Clothes are a way I care for my body so I take care of what I put on (and in) it. There are many reasons why I like to look put together. Because it comes naturally, I like to look good, I like the idea of exploring different styles and aesthetics, as a Black dark-skinned woman I am aware of the perceptions people make of me based on the way I dress…oh and did I say I like to look good? Lol!

However, I’m not particularly financially free as I would like to be at this moment. That student budget…

Additionally, as I become aware of the repercussions of consumerism on the environment, I have been also making an effort in taking more cautiousness when buying or disposing of clothes.

So what do you do when you love clothes but also want to be conscious of your budget and the environment?

Here are some tips I follow when I shop:

  • Shop seasonally: I allow myself one big shopping spree during each two seasons fall/winter and spring/summer, around sales time.
  • Wait for great deals: one thing to know is that the sales are gonna come. Do not be afraid to miss one, there’s another one coming. Aim for one you think will be the best for you, Labor Day deals, Black Friday, 4th of July or Easter deals. Choose one and stick to it for the year. For example around November, Sephora has a week dedicated to deals and discount, and that is when I allow myself to buy gifts, buy that “want” product that I have been eyeing, restock on certain products. Know to not fall for certain discount tactics some companies employ such as giving out discounts that span around the same month you made a purchase. Just don’t take the card, it’s just an incentive to make you fel like you have to come back else you are not taking advantage of “saving money”. The best way to save money is to not spend any. Throw it away, there WILL be another opportunity.
  • Plan ahead: Planning your outfits (clothing attire for work, a big event coming up, outfits for the week) can help to not impulsively buy items. Also this gives you time to see what can be created with your current collection or what you may not need, lack. More tips below.
  • USE PINTEREST: this app? Chef kiss. Save pins of outfits you like and try to replicate it with things ALREADY in your closet. As shown in the pictures, except for the ruffled pants, I used pieces already in my closet to recreate these looks I had saved in my Pinterest board. Sometimes it’s not that we don’t have clothes, we just don’t know how to style them into outfits. This also is helpful in moments when I feel like I don’t know what or have nothing to wear.

I also use Pinterest to keep track of things I plan on buying so that when it’s time to shop, I’m not mindlessly buying clothes but outfits that fit my aesthetic/style.
Like the ruffled pants shown above, were saved in my board for months before purchasing them and that is where the planning comes in. I buy an item with concrete outfits planned for it. Having clothes is not the same as having outfits and knowing this difference is helpful in creating a look, saving money, and being sustainable. 

  • Sell/donate clothes and buy used clothes: if you  have something you don’t wear, doesn’t fit you, you don’t like please donate or sell them. See if your school/company is doing a donation drive, donate to companies who aren’t overloaded. There are several tailors around in dry cleaners, see if they can modify the item into something new, or a quilt, blanket. Do not indulge in mindless dumping of your clothes. Don’t be afraid to buy second hand. It’s the same experience and no one can notice if that’s a concern. Have you ever noticed? You can also sell your clothes on several platforms like Mercari, Poshmark, local thrift shops etc. Please don’t overprice your items. People in actual need, shop from the same platforms and with a lot of people overpricing their items this has been affecting communities who depend on these platforms to get their clothing needs met. Don’t be that Gen-Z. 
  • Do not follow these trends til the point where you are buying clothes to keep up: Unlike other generations, ours with so much social media we are more bound to see trends coming up every two weeks literally. For your sanity find what you like and don’t be afraid to stick to it. Or switch it up mindfully! Do not indulge in mindless shopping with the mindset that you’re going to sell or donate. Do not follow several influencers who just do clothing hauls. It’s not a sustainable or realistic practice, there are other ways to express ones love for fashion without constantly buying new clothes.
  • Exchange clothes: hold a clothing haul amongst your friends, see who likes what and see whether you can mix match just to refresh each other’s closets.
  • Invest in staple clothing pieces and jewelry: sometimes it’s okay to save up for something a bit more expensive that you like and will be a unique piece in your closet. It gives you a thrill, elevates your closet, and teaches you discipline while you save to buy something. Also once you buy it you will care for it more because it took a lot to obtain it. Same comes with jewelry. Jewelry just like shoes can elevate an outfit. Have staple pieces that are going to last. Even if it’s just one, that’s perfectly fine.
  • You don’t need several versions of the same thing. PLEASE ABEG! I promise you having 4 pairs of black jeans, is unnecessary, it is not that deep. No one is gonna notice. We are the main characters of our lives, but not the world. No one is tracking your clothes. Don’t fix what doesn’t need to be fixed. If what you have works fine for you, then leave it. 
  • Recognize needs versus desires. If you get a new job that requires more professional clothing than what’s in your closet, that’s a need. Visible changes to weight therefore new clothing is needed, (because current clothes can’t be modified by a tailor) that’s a need. Impulsively buying new items because you want to keep up? Pause, re-evaluate, ask “what can I use in closet to recreate this fit?”, sleep on it for several nights, if you don’t think bout it for five more times, you don’t need and this want can wait. 

Disclaimer: I am aware of the discourse of not supporting certain brands because of particular insensitive actions and ethics they perpetuate when it comes to workers’ rights and sustainability. However, until there is a change in our capitalist society that doesn’t place the burden of change on poor people (ie why don’t people buy from more sustainable brands vs why don’t sustainable brands make their clothes more affordable) this conversation will have not realistic executions. 

The required significant changes need to happen from the people above in the chain, those profiting from the market. Smaller changes can from those of us who can afford to be more conscious of our shopping habits. Please don’t go around shaming a single parent of 4 or a low-income family for not being more sustainable with their clothing choices.

Nonetheless, as we need to individually evaluate why we feel the urge to purchase. Are we buying things to show off to others, keep up appearances? Is our self-care only dictated by consumerism, does it come tied to money? Why? We ought to give thought to how consumerism is affecting ourselves, others, our planet.


To Watch: “Fast fashion: The dumping ground for unwanted clothes” -BBC World News

To Watch: Black women deserve more than “luxury.” -Kimberly Foster

P.S. There is so much discussion occurring right now over Black women in luxury, I have not quite gathered my thoughts together on the topic yet, however, I do want to say Black women showcasing their luxury online are not the problem. First, if we truly look at the stats of who is majorly contributing to waste it is not Black people. Secondly, these stories need to be shown, even though they may not be relatable to you. Just because you don’t find something representative of your life, doesn’t mean there is not someone out there who does. Allow their content to inspire you. When they carry their Chanel bag, carry your non-designer bag with the same attitude. I think it is about damn time Black women occupy these spaces. Yet, as explained in Kim’s video, we also should not allow this to override the struggles that are still occurring and systemic changes that need to occur so ALL Black women can enjoy (not just materialistic) luxury. We are not free until we all are.

Anxious Christian? Yep, That’s Me.

My journal entry in May 2020: “These past weeks, especially with significant steps being made for my future, my anxiety has been through the roof. I’m so worried because it’s so crippling, I can’t even concentrate to practice for my exams because instead of paying attention to what I’m reading my mind is going over 50 scenarios of why I will not make it. I don’t know what it is but I’m so afraid and I keep seeing and dwelling on the negative things. It’s like I will be reading and then my mind suddenly is like what about this, what if they (admission’s committees) see this and won’t consider you? Oh remember this part, how will u respond to this if they ask you about it. It is like my brain is nitpicking at all the bad things about me and chooses the most random, hard times in my day to bombard me”. 

Happy Runway GIF
My anxiety coming in to see me every morning

It is October 2021 and things are not much different. Therapy and my journey with Christ have been of tremendous help but with the new challenges this chapter of my life presents, I feel like I am regressing. 

My constant state of anxiousness is more pronounced: it’s getting harder to pull away from things intensifying my anxiety (the line between life and school is super blurry right now and that’s something new for me); it’s getting harder to realize that this emotion does not translate to the reality of things. 

Lordy, Lordy You ain't never lied! - Church Lady2 | Meme Generator

There are several devotions that I’ve read to help me navigate my anxiety. Even the current one I am working through right now states regularly that there’s no need to be anxious for God will always provide. Matthew 6: 34 Jesus states “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble on its own (Literally if I may add).”.

However, somehow in those moment when something triggers my anxiety severely, those moments when the stresses of life get overwhelming, it’s like I experience a memory loss. I can’t remember all these things that God has said. I forget that He is with me. I forget the many previous episodes He has seen me through. I chase to control everything, trying to solve every problem on my own, which makes me feel even more isolated, forgetting that I’m not alone. It’s like I am chasing to gain control over things that I cannot do anything about.

I even worry about how anxious I am. I worry about what I can do to ease my anxiety, I worry about why I’m not “normal”, about how after all this time I still haven’t “solved my anxiety”, about how I am facing all these things, why I can’t seem to get things in order. It’s a constant I, I, I, I, I, I. 

And then the guilt sets in. I remember that I shouldn’t be worried if I have faith in God. I feel guilty because I pray and say I leave my worries to God but then I don’t. I can’t. They just keep coming back. I feel like I don’t have faith in God, I am doubting His power, even though he has shown me time and time again that He will come through for me. There is no need to worry. If I had faith how could I worry constantly about everything? If I lived a life of faith I wouldn’t have anxiety, panic attacks, I wouldn’t let the stresses of life get to me so much. 

Crying Baby Pep Talk GIF - Crying Baby Pep Talk Sad - Discover & Share GIFs
God giving me the weekly pep talk

Connotations about “do not worry/fear” are mentioned so many times in the Bible, it’s literally God’s catchphrase. Gratefully, God always pulls me out and I am reminded of his grace, I am reminded to pray, journal, talk to other people and leave it in His hands. And I always find comfort in doing so. I just do not know why I don’t do that sooner when I feel the panic coming. Why don’t I immediately surrender to His way rather than tackling it on my own.

I know that anxiety is not a sin. Emotions are there for a reason, and we have to feel them. But where is the point where it crosses over from healthy expression to damaging? I find it difficult to sometimes not let my anxiety steal the joy out of my life. And that pisses me off because I love my life. I am blessed in so many ways. We all are. But sometimes the truth is clouded by anxiety.

I have to remember and I’m here to remind you that if you have anxiety, you’re not alone, your feelings are valid however they are not a permanent, realistic portrait of your life. You’re more than that. God is more than your anxiety and He will pull you from it.

Write it down, pray, let it go. Go for a walk or something.


To read Victory Over Anxiety by Charles F. Stanley

To watch: Uhmm… the new season of The Morning Show is out? What else should you be watching!

 Did I Make Being Single A Personality Trait? 

I never felt in a rush to be in relationship. Whenever I asked, I tended to run the other way. Sometimes I think I just enjoy dating, and I’m not in a rush to find the one. Sometimes I think it’s because I just hadn’t found a person who made me excited to be in a relationship. 

However, had I unintentionally made being single such a part of myself, that I was failing to see the beauty in the otherwise?

Even when the occasion of someone who makes me excited to be in relationship presented itself, a part of me felt like I was abandoning myself. I found myself afraid to let go of the “single woman trope”, “happy in my singleness”, “can do it all by own” character. I had learned to be so comfortable with myself nonetheless, when did that turn me into being against accepting love from others? 

I have always been afraid of being defined by a romantic relationship. I want to be known as me, and not be shrunk into “someone’s girlfriend/spouse.” This fear of being overshadowed by a relationship or marriage is not unfounded. There are many instances in history when this has happened and continues to happen in certain communities/instances. However I often feel alone in this fear. I don’t see many women speaking on this, and often the ideology of aspiring to relationship/marriage is often portrayed as what should be normal for a woman. Therefore, I often felt and was made feel abnormal for not always wanting that. 

Also sometimes when I would start voicing these concerns I have about being in a relationship or marriage, it would often be perceived as not wanting love. I want love. I’m a romantic at heart, I love Love, love seeing it, giving it, experiencing it. Nonetheless romantic love is not the only love I prioritize. Love with my family and in friendships have taken a great importance in my life. In a way I have been blessed enough to feel satisfied in those, but however due to certain pressures, that satisfaction feels incomplete without romantic love. I want companionship but I don’t want that to be the only or most important form of love in my life. 

Being single for me also became a way for to prove that love with my family and friends is equally enough. Which it is. But to who and why was trying was I trying to prove it? 

I feel like I’ve taken upon myself certain burdens that no one asked me to and I’m learning to let them go. The best way to inspire people is by living my life happily as I want. Not by single-handedly trying to deconstruct social views through my life nor by neglecting different blessings that come into my life, to fit a certain narrative. 

I don’t have to fit in a box. Things aren’t black and white. Being independent doesn’t equate being single. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean not having any autonomy. I for sure know that now, with my commitment fearing behind being in a healthy long-term relationship.

If you have the privilege to be able to pursue any kind of loving relationship, you should. You deserve to be loved on. That doesn’t mean you are forgetting yourself or caving to the patriarchy. Remember to set your boundaries, find people who will respect you and them, and stay true to yourself.


Video to watch: “Being Single is NOT a personality trait” 👀 Dating Successfully & Having Fun in your 20’s (minute 35 ongoing) This video empowered me to put into words these thoughts I’ve had.

To read: We Should All Be Feminists- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Deserving of Grace 

My pastor stated that God is not further away from us. We are not deserving of God or closer to Him based on what we do or what we are able to accomplish. It reminded me of what Kimberly Foster (For Harriet) stated about how in our society we grant grace to the people we perceive as worthy, hardworking, or have something to show for the kindness they have been given. Utilizing the Simone Biles situation during the Olympics as an example, she questioned whether the support Biles received was due to the fact that she was a gold medalist. Would the same support occur if she wasn’t a decorated athlete? 

Is that grace and support people demonstrate contingent on her merits? Would she have received the same kindness if she hadn’t earned it through the her many well deserved accolades?

It is a fact that as a society, we do not extend the same grace and kindness to just anybody, especially not to the poor, elderly, or disabled. 

We often hear phrases like “you can rest once the work is over”, “you deserve to be proud only if you accomplish this”, “why don’t they just get up and go find a job instead of complaining”…one is allowed to rejoice, complain about status quo, to be celebrated only once certain accomplishments have been reached.

This mentality has even translated into my academics and my faith. I will only be happy, or be deserving of where I am, after I have worked tremendously to get a certain grade or certain position. I have to do these specific things on a daily basis to be deserving of God’s grace and kindness.

Hearing my Pastor’s message, it made me more grateful to have found God and to be a believer. It reminded me of how much and why our God is the almighty. The fact that He loves us not based on our work and merits, shows how merciful He is and how we should be towards each other. Equity can be only be found through this way. Our society (the American society I should specify) separates people and grants them certain privileges and rights based on their class. But God gives grace to all those who believe so we are all equal in His eyes. You don’t deserve His grace nor are you better than someone else based on your degree, occupation, abilities, income, position in church leadership, or how much you give or do compared to your neighbor.

In the same way, being deserving of basic human rights, deserving of safety, shelter, kindness, love, good living conditions should not be dependent on people’s merits. 

I wish we could all let go of this idea of meritocracy because honestly it is truly a false ideology that does not exist especially in a society with so much structural discrimination that has constructed generational wealth for and continues to benefit a certain demographic.

I am not saying do not ever celebrate your wins or accomplishments. I am saying that no matter what a person should be granted joy, grace, kindness not just when they have something to show for them, not just when they accomplish something.

The good news with God is that grace it’s not down to our efforts but His mercy. 


Video to Watch: Is it even worth it to work hard? Let’s discuss #IDontDreamofLabor (For Harriet, Kimberly Foster)

Book of the Month: Currently reading Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree

A Letter to Elena Greco (My Brilliant Friend Series by Elena Ferrante)

I see parts of myself in you and Lila but yet found myself rooting more for Lila. I couldn’t particularly understand why until the third book when I saw you taking more confidence in yourself and I started taking more of your side. I failed to root for you because you weren’t rooting for yourself, especially as much as, despite however much you claimed to wish her dead, you rooted for Lila. Lila understood earlier the need to live for herself, which I guess is something I valued more. Maybe she was pushed by the excruciating beatings from life early on, that lacked in your life.

I wanted you to recognize in yourself the same tenacity and “evilness” you saw in Lila. You had it too, I wanted you to be able to see that you did demonstrate that same aura you saw in Lila. The difference is solely in that Lila was not able to hide hers, it was expressed outwards. Instead you, you Elena, had learned how to hide it, internalize it. Doing evil only to yourself.

It’s often obvious that you forget or don’t understand that just because someone else’s light shines bright, doesn’t mean yours doesn’t. One’s light doesn’t have to dim for yours to shine. Too many times in this friendship was that the tone. The expectation. Be proud you left the neighborhood, be proud Lila stayed.

You give importance to everyone surrounding you even when they are not worth it, failing to see how important and spectacular you are, you could be. How spectacular you could be if you lived life for yourself, rather than how you should as the poor girl allowed to study at these places with these people. You forget the part where YOU earned those opportunities. You continue to live life as expected but no one is doing the expecting but yourself.

You fail to see the greatness in you, just yourself without Lila. The only time I ever liked Nino was when he said to you “you ended up attributing to Lila capacities that are only yours.”

I can not and will not judge you for your relationship with Nino. The bond between two people can only be fully understood by those in it. When it comes to love, I have learned that the statement “that could never be me” can easily become untrue.
Yet I hope to not make the decisions you did.
I hope not to be proud of my accomplishments only when recognized by others. I hope not to dismiss my feelings when they are not shared by others. I hope to not shrink myself to comfort others or when others are greater than me. My lights shine, even when others do not shine or shine brighter.

Yet I hope, Elena, to have the bravery you emulated by recognizing my strengths and passions and having the courage to pursue them. To not give up because things do not come easily. To love Love as much as you did. To invest in my imagination even when others do not see its worth. To see the beauty in the people around me when they failed to see it.

Elena, you lived a full life, one I hope to see you proud of.


Videos To Watch:

My Brilliant Friend series on HBO Max…duhhhh.

In addition: The lasting legacy of r*cist pseudo sciences | Khadija Mbowe

The Dread After College – VULNERABLE THOUGHTS ON NOVEMBER 20, 2020

We spend a lot of time and money during college to gain a degree but none of those expenditures really go into preparing us for life after that degree. Especially, when it comes to mental health. We don’t discuss what happens if you don’t get a job immediately in your field, we don’t discuss how to navigate transitioning from a student to being an employee (or self-employer), we don’t discuss how to deal with the sudden “loss” of a community or routine that has been part of your life for four years or more. We don’t discuss how weird it may feel to move back home after years of living independently. We don’t discuss the challenges of moving out in your own and those new responsibilities. We don’t discuss how to cope with the successes or failures that one may encounter in those few years after getting a degree.

You are handed a degree and suddenly expected to know how to be an adult. Am I asking for a handbook with a map to life? No, that’s crazy. No one’s life looks the same. You understand life by experiencing it, defining your own journey. Nonetheless, why don’t we ever take time to discuss, acknowledge the new realities that many new graduates may encounter. Why don’t we ever pause and teach students that a degree is not the magical answer to all, and dwell a little bit more on the changes that come ahead after college.  

Conversations as such are necessary and would be helpful for many graduates. I think it would have been helpful for new graduates to be mentally prepared to know that these challenges in life are not individual, isolated experiences. It would have cushioned the blow to be able to know that we can speak on these things freely and be taken seriously. Tweeting a sarcastic statement about life that goes viral is nice and all, however we cannot truly deduce how (and if) others relate to these experiences and are not sure if we are welcomed to speak on it in real life. Additionally on social media, a lot can occur that suggest that others have a more successful life, leading to comparison and feelings of inadequacies. Additionally there is often a lot of pressure in remaining private about your hardships and only showing your successes. No one is supposed to know you are having a hard time, everyone who posts seems to be living the luxury life…it can all quickly feel very isolating. Even though you know that “not everything on social media is real” it can be hard to apply that and remember that. It’s often made seem that facing difficulties in life is not normal. Something must be wrong with you if you are encountering that.

Something must be wrong with you that you haven’t found a job or don’t know your next step after college. Something must be wrong with you that you live with your parents or that even though you are living on your own, cannot afford luxury living conditions. Something must be wrong with you that you can’t afford to buy (insert expense here) when you have a full time job (albeit at times employers may not recognize your value to pay you enough to live comfortably in this economy and you have to find a way to negotiate for bigger pay which is a whole different challenge as a new graduate). Something must be wrong with you that you are not satisfied with your new job experience or may desire a new career now.

It has been a little over a year since I graduated and it’s been quite the journey. I think everything has been exasperated with the pandemic, nonetheless I often wonder how recent graduates are coping with life after college. Like am I the only thinking…this ain’t all that, yet? Am I the only feeling kind of lost and stuck? It’s like I want to move forward, I know what I want or I’m still figuring it out, but yet I constantly feel dubious or feel like I don’t have the right tools to move forward?

As someone who was also deeply involved with my community during undergrad, I have also been navigating my identity without these roles defining me anymore. The roles were a form of community, identity, validation and now that they are not a part of my life anymore, I have had to pause and think about who am I outside of those roles, outside of being a student. If these passions are something I want to continue investing in, how can I do so without my college community? 

IDK Idontknow GIF

I think even with my experiences of being: basically responsible for myself throughout adolescence and early adulthood, having had the multiple jobs, the good head on my shoulders thing, taught to be independent, I still feel unprepared for these life challenges.

And sometimes it’s hard to not beat yourself up for it. 

As the oldest child in my family, I often think about how can I use my experiences to help my younger siblings navigate through things they may encounter when they get to my age or older stage in life. With my brother soon reaching this milestone, I often wonder how can I prepare him for this when I don’t feel prepared and I’m living it. All I know is I will for sure provide a safe place for him to speak on his experiences and let him know that whatever he may encounter ahead he’s not alone. 


Book of the month: The story of the lost child by Elena Ferrante. I’m finishing up the fourth and last book of this marvelous neapolitan series by Elena Ferrante. Highly recommend, such an enjoyable read. What I love about this series is that it gave me so much more time to grow alongside the characters. Usually books narrate only a small period of life, but with these novels we get to navigate the entire life of our beloved Lina and Lenu and their neighborhood. Book review coming soon.

Article to read: What advice do you wish you’d gotten when you graduated from college? 25 TED speakers answer.