Depression and Anxiety: An unexplainable story

Depression and anxiety are two best friends. You see one, you know the other is right behind.

They feel familiar but yet foreign. A part of you that you recognize, part of your normalcy…yet makes you unrecognizable to yourself and others. 

My opponents in a lifelong battle. A battle I’m not sure I will ever win but I know sincerely (even though other days try to convince me otherwise) that I’m not ready to call it quits. I’m not prepared to raise a white flag, but gosh do I want to some days. I want the overthinking to stop, the anguish to stop, the fast heart rate, the feeling of a pit in my stomach, and the constant doubt to stop. I don’t recognize those parts as me. I know that’s not who I am, want to be, or am meant to be. Yet I don’t know life without them. 

But I guess as Meg said bad bitches get anxiety too. (With a feature of depression at times) 

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


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.

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.

Skincare is Personal

I used to be the type that copied and pasted skincare routines. If something worked for someone, I would just buy the product without doing any sort of research to understand my skin or the product really. It always baffled me because I will literally research into everything I’m into, but not what I put on my face? MY FACE! 

Before 2020, I knew my skin was sensitive, and acne prone but overall it behaved, you know. At the same time, I knew I should be doing better. It wasn’t until last year that I (well my breakouts forced me to) finally decided to actually do the work to start really taking note of my facial skincare.  

Here is what I have learned so far. Please note that I will refrain from sharing my skincare products right now as I’m only an expert in my skin, I am still learning and there are too many (unqualified) people recommending products. The whole point of this is to encourage you to learn about your skin and do the work of discovering what is the best for you. This is a direction of where you can start to look towards and look out for. 

  • Be open minded. If you are not ready to unlearn and learn, just stop. Matter of fact stop reading this too and go by your day. I know it’s hard to read things that go against what we have been taught to be right for years. However, if you are not willing to listen, research, understand how something fits or doesn’t fit in your personal life and just want to find things that fit your notion of what it’s right…well then, good luck with life. It’s normal to dislike being uncomfortable, however that’s where growth happens majority of the time. Be open minded to unlearning past behaviors and learn to change your views. It’s okay, it’s called growth. 
Insecure GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY
  • Following these skin care experts (linked below) on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, truly contributed to  my knowledge. Now with these accounts don’t go barging in with questions. DO YOUR OWN WORK. It will be very likely that whatever question you may have, might have been answered already. Search for the persons name and the topic. For example: @person name: sunscreen. And then READ/WATCH! When it comes to truly getting to know your skin (for free I may add) you have to be willing to put in the time to search and watch/read the resources available. If not pay for the service. But even then, going in with the mentality I want this quick with fast results, is not going to get you anywhere. Patience is truly key. 
  • Know your boundaries when unlearning and learning. There are some tips about skincare like the “you don’t need to scrub or use body wash on all of your body” that go against every African bone in my body. But again that’s why skincare is personal. If it doesn’t hurt do what’s best for you. Trust your instinct. There may be great reviews about a product but it doesn’t work for you. You can feel it on your skin (literally), but you keep using it…why? There may be a lot of trial and error in this process, so it’s important to trust your intuitions. Respect your boundaries including your budget. 
  • Speaking of budget. You are going to have spend money, yes. You’re going to buy a product but then it doesn’t work for your skin. You will feel the pressure of buying expensive products. But how can you reduce these instances to the minimum? 1.First set a budget on what you will buy in a month and stick to it. Don’t impulse buy. Don’t buy a whole routine at once (also because you are suppose to introduce one or two products into your skin at a time to understand how and what your skin is reacting to). 2. Try with recommended drug store option for a product first. Usually these come cheaper but have the same effect. There are some really great drugstore lines out there (ie CeraVe) and cheaper lines out there (or Inkey List) that are highly recommended with great results. Also this gives you the option to test without breaking your pockets. 3. Ask for free samples. I know it can feel cheap, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Additionally, there’s nothing wrong with that. Stores like Sephora, often carry small testing size, especially for their more expensive products. It will not hurt to ask. Trust me. This has saved me so much money and really allowed me to make the best decisions for my skin and budget. The salesperson is there to help you, ask your questions, develop a relationship with one if that will make you more comfortable (yea that’s Jen my Sephora lady like yes, you have a eyebrow lady so why not!). Inquire! 4. Keep an eye out for releases. Some lines will release (limited editions) of their more expensive products in a smaller size or in a combo with another product. Two for one deals are awesome. 
  • Products don’t stop working. Your skin may just not need it anymore or may need something else for the time being. For example if your moisturizer is leaving your skin dry in the winter, it’s not that the product stopped working for your skin, it may be that your skin needs something more hydrating during the colder months. Which brings me to my next point.
  • Different seasons, different skin care. Sometimes a product cannot be used all year round. So don’t throw it away yet.   

  • Understand what you are treating, what actives (chemicals/ingredients) you need to treat such condition, and what form you prefer. For example, I have acne prone skin and salicylic acid is the anti-acne active that works best for me. However, solely in a cleanser form. Using it as a toner or part of a moisturizer or something that stays on the skin is too harsh for me and tends to irritate more and lead to hyperpigmentation (which I’m trying to avoid). Nonetheless I have discovered that salicylic acid as a cleanser, which I wash off after 60 seconds, and use not more than 3 times a week, works wonders for me. That’s why I keep stressing how skincare is personal and takes time to understand and develop. 
  • Have patience and have fun. Discovering what works for my skin, testing products, going to Sephora, watching YouTube skincare videos has been so enjoyable and a luxurious aspect of my life. I truly look forward to doing my skincare. 
  • WEAR SUNSCREEN. If you don’t take anything from this post, take this last point at least. 

I stated that I will not share my routine at this time (refraining from taking those nice pics of my products was really hard) but if you do ever need help in finding reviews on a product or (after doing your own research) want to see if I tried a product and like what has been working for me versus another, dm me! IG/Twitter: @simply_adjoa

Good luck and have fun!!

EXPERTS TO FOLLOW (Finding experts who are people of color and experts of dark skin made a difference for me!):

P.S: I can see that this can be overwhelming, to know where to get started. So here is usually what I do:

  1. Select out the issue I want to deal with or achieve (ie. hyperpigmentation, dryness, brightening…etc)
  2. Watch dedicated videos on that subject by these experts (usually Dr. Rattan and Dr. Stephens help me understand why these problems occur, the science behind it-which the scientist in me personally enjoys. This is also helpful with prevention and avoiding self blame)
  3. Find out which ingredients to look for that work with my skintone/type of skin (Dr. Rattan, Dr. Stephens, LaBeautyologist, Tiara Willis) *Note: ingredients are more like the actives like azelaic acid, squalene, niacinamide…etc in a product.
  4. What great products (brands or forms like toner vs serum) have these ingredients (Sean Garrette, Susan Yara, Dr. Rattan & Dr. Stephens)
  5. Where in my routine should I incorporate it in/ how should I layer ingredients/ which combinations work well or don’t (ALL)

32 Things I Love About Myself

  1. I love my smile, it brightens my entire face 
  2. I love how much I care about my family and friends, they are my whole heart 
  3. I love that I get lost in my books, my way of traveling to different worlds 
  4. I love my imagination, how vivid and real it can seem
  5. I love my overthinking mind, gives me great attention to detail
  6. I love that I don’t quit, because none of my favorite anime characters did, why should I quit on my goals
  7. I love my lips, “labbra da bacio” lips made to kiss
  8. I love that I’m there for others when need be, using my blessings to help others
  9. I love how organized I am, keeps me sane 
  10. I love that I always say thank you to the bus driver, because getting to your destination safely is an underrated blessing
  11. I love that I love God, my faith in him keeps me strong 
  12. I love that I can empathize with others, learning to put myself in other people’s shoes
  13. I love that I am interested in different cultures, a global citizen is what I am
  14. I love that I have a variety of hobbies, never bored
  15. I love that I’m always thinking about how I can be better, growth mindset is the way to go 
  16. I love my eyes, made to see the best in people 
  17. I love my resilience, because no matter how many times I fall I will stand back up
  18. I love that I giggle when I’m excited, expressing my joy 
  19. I love that I’m multilingual, allows me to say I love you in many ways 
  20. I love that I stand for what I believe in, no matter how what others think
  21. I love that I was the weird kid growing up, being different is not so bad 
  22. I love that I am consciously making an effort to love myself and others more, for God loves me why shouldn’t I spread that love
  23. I love that I’m a reader, reading is fundamental
  24. I love that I rather observe & listen than talk, it makes it more meaningful when I talk
  25. I love that I don’t hold grudges, don’t have space in my heart or mind for it
  26. I love that I’m nostalgic, missing those the good ol’ times makes you realize how blessed you’ve been
  27. I love that I cherish memories, no matter how long ago it was I always cherish the people I share them with
  28. I love that I’m not superficial, I think deep and see past the surface
  29. I love my hands, hands made to save lives in the future
  30. I love I have learned to love my body, body that gives me life 
  31. I love that I have dance parties alone, shaking off all negative energy 
  32. I love my legs, that like to walk everywhere 

Book of the month: Still reading The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” (by William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer) but planning on reading “Still Me” by Jojo Moyes next

Article to read:The 3 core skills that every person needs for healthy romantic relationships” by Joanne Davila

Quote: 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” 

Believe It!

This year I graduated. I passed all my science courses. Some I am satisfied with, some I wish I did better, all I survived when I thought I couldn’t. Looking at where I am now, I think back to first semester freshmen year Adjoa, so scared of everything especially science.

I had known that becoming a doctor required me to take science classes, but I thought mostly anatomy and biology. At that point I was very ignorant about what was required for my path to medicine. I did not know much but I did know I was scared to take all that chemistry, biochemistry, physics etc. I never had to take science courses like those in high school. Hardest thing I did until then was AP Calculus. I was so terrified of taking on college science courses that I pushed them back to my second semester for bio and didn’t even try on chem til sophomore year.

I remember how lab terrified me. I wondered how something I could enjoy that much still gave me so much fear, anxiety and stress. I remember the late nights with my chem buddies (thank God for those classmates with whom I went through endless nights of lab reports and studying together!) trying to figure out how to solve a problem. I remember my first panic attack after my inorganic chemistry II final, in my room alone not completely understanding what was happening to me. I remember the trips to the bathroom in the middle of class to cry a little because I felt so stupid in class and then to come right back to my seat and feel more stupid.

As I remember these things, I become grateful that God strengthened me to never give up. That even when I thought I was stupid, he gave me people and opportunities that reminded me that I wasn’t. He gave me confidence to reach out for help when I needed it, to take risks even when I wasn’t completely sure. He helped me meet mentors and professors that helped me understand that I was made for this.

Now I’m here, full time in the place and doing the things that used to terrify me the most everyday. Yes it was scary, but it was so worth it. And even though I know more challenges are to come, I am choosing to take courage, to not be afraid and to just believe in God and in myself.

I want you to also do that. As finals (or anything you may face) come around, do not allow those little challenges in your path stop you from your goals. You’re not alone in feeling hopeless and scared sometimes. You’re allowed to be intimidated by hard classes (or new challenges), but don’t doubt yourself or give up. Our God is greater than any test or obstacle you may face. Take that hard class that terrifies you, take that opportunity that is pushing you out your comfort zone. Do it, and don’t let your fears stop you.

If freshmen Adjoa didn’t, you shouldn’t either, dattebayo!

Book of the month: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind  by William Kamkwamba (& Bryan Mealer)

Article to read: “Storytelling is a powerful communication tool, here’s how to use it” by Chris Anderson (TED Ideas)

Quote to read: Mark 5:36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” The Bible

50 Shades of Black

Moving to the states, exposed me to a different beauty of blackness. By that I mean, I was introduced to a different type of black people: the Black American. Before I moved here, I thought all black people were African, which in itself it’s not a wrong statement. We all are one. However, what I came to learn here, in the States, were the cultural differences between the two. I observed that my Black American friends were different from my African friends. I also found that some of my African friends, who were born here, shared some of same characteristics, behaviors more similar to the Black American than I (born in Africa, “straight from the boat”) understood or related to. It was eye opening.

But sometimes, especially during high school being surrounded by Black Americans and “African-Americans” (and I use that term as in 1st generation americans with african parents) sometimes I felt kind of left out. And not because I felt excluded by others (one thing I’m always grateful for is how welcoming people in my HS class were because I definitely thought I was gonna spend my first lunch in the bathroom like Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls); but because I did not get the references they made from their culture.

From the food, the music, tv shows, sometimes I had no idea what was being spoken about. Til this day, sometimes I still don’t get some references because I did not grow up here, I’ve never watched an episode of Martin or any Madea movie, when people say “they’re invited to the cookout”, I did not grow up with that barbecue outside experience, I never ate soul food (which I had to google what it meant, the first time I heard it). I have been told I don’t sound right saying some slang, mostly because of the accent, but also because sometimes I would not use it in the right context.

Nonetheless, throughout the years, I’ve come to understand more about the Black American experience, from learning about historical systematic oppression against Black Americans by this country, to the pride of the Divine 9 (fraternities & sororities), to the cha cha slide, the pop culture created by Black entertainers/influencers and the lit energy I find when I’m surrounded by Black Americans (or black people in general). It’s certainly different from experiences I share with people from other cultures.

All to say, I’m glad to be living among and learning about Black Americans. Black Americans and Africans surely have our differences (which I think are equally important to be aware of) but I think that just adds to beauty and complexity of blackness. Also, I made the commitment a couple of months ago to start watching shows that are considered substantial to the Black american experience. I completed this “survey” of black movies a person has watched and among more than 20 movies, I had only watched 2 so… I need to be cultured. I used to watch “My Wife and Kids” in Italy, and I loved seeing a black family on tv (the only one at that time, in addition to “That’s so Raven”, that was shown on Italian television actually); I just finished Living Single and I loved it. Let me know if there’s anything else I should watch (or read)!

Book of the month: Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd

Article to read: “Slavery and the Holocaust: How Americans and Germans Cope With Past Evils” by Deborah E. Lipstadt (The New York Times)

Be Kind to Your Body

I was going through some of my journal entries, and found pages, where I deeply criticized my body. Some pages from last summer made me stop and reflect on how hard I was on myself, the high expectations I had for myself that made me…well, concerned.

I began trying to think back to a time where I was truly happy with my body. Sadly, there were a few. Even in small moments when I would appreciate something about my body, my focus would quickly shift to the things that did not please me. I do that a lot, and I think it’s safe to say that unfortunately I am not the only girl (or actually person-because body image issues I found happen across all genders) to feel this way. I have been trying to understand where this pressure I have put on myself to have the perfect body comes from. The constant comparison of myself with others, the pressure from media outlets pushing a specific certain type of people as “beautiful”, the pressure from myself not allowing me to be satisfied with who I am because I’m not where I’m supposed to be. Also, “What is the perfect body anyway?”

Apart from choices made to improve my nutrition to include healthier options for my overall health, this obsession over obtaining the perfect body has not brought me anything but negative thoughts that promote negative thoughts rather than self-love. I cannot be kind to others, I cannot teach my younger sister to be love herself and be confident if I’m unkind to parts of myself. Yes it’s important to be critical of yourself to promote growth but that does not mean being negative about yourself.

I have been negative about myself, particularly my body. I’m starting to forgive myself for that and choosing to encourage myself (& others) to prioritize being in good health, and make sure that whatever actions we take for our bodies comes from a place of love, kindness and understanding.

Book of the month: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Inspirational video: TEDx Talk “Power of vulnerability” Brene Brown

Not Defined By Others

In the last few months I’ve been learning how to be emotionally independent.

What I mean by that is not just being in touch or more in sync with my emotions but also not allowing what other people do or say control how I feel, especially about myself.

What people do can lead you to feel some type of way however I recognized that sometimes I would let that dictate the way I felt about myself and allowed it to invade my entire day and life. I’m learning not to anymore.

Just because someone does not appreciate me or love me the way I want them to or the way I love them, does not mean I’m not good enough to be loved. Just because in a friendship, I’m investing more time and dedication doesn’t mean I don’t deserve the same kind of commitment or that there’s something wrong with me.

A friend of mine often likes to say that not everyone shows love (or handles issues-which I will write about soon) the same way as you. There’s truth to that as well. The way people act and deal with life may have nothing to do with the way they feel about you, that’s why it’s important to have a conversation to understand more of each other. Just because they don’t show love the same way you do, doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate you. However if you feel that you are being that for granted, let that person know. You’re never wrong to voice that.

You are never wrong to love and be kind; and if you feel like in any relationship you are not receiving the same level of commitment and appreciation, have that conversation and if necessary remove yourself. “We accept the love we think we deserve” and honey you deserve the world, don’t let anyone make you think otherwise or that you’re not enough to deserve that type of love.

Most importantly never let anyone  degrade the way you feel about yourself.