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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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:
Select out the issue I want to deal with or achieve (ie. hyperpigmentation, dryness, brightening…etc)
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)
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.
What great products (brands or forms like toner vs serum) have these ingredients (Sean Garrette, Susan Yara, Dr. Rattan & Dr. Stephens)
Where in my routine should I incorporate it in/ how should I layer ingredients/ which combinations work well or don’t (ALL)
Naruto’s storyline and growth. Whenever I am going through a hard time in life, I always think about Naruto. He literally overcame so much darkness but did not allow that to affect his kindness or outlook of life. Often things can be so hard, it is easy to be negative and take your frustration and anger out to your surroundings. However, Naruto does not do that. He allows himself to feel the emotions (because hey toxic positivity is real, everything isn’t shiny, life can really suck at times) but ultimately remains himself, still shows kindness and tries his best to life better for himself and others.
Villains. I mean the villains in Naruto are tough! Sometimes I am really on my toes, because these individuals are truly STRONG! Many have succeeded in killing some favorites and important characters. Additionally, they are all so different, given distinctive personalities and arcs. They also have complex storylines, sometimes making it hard to not low-key root for them. I mean from Zabuza to Orochimaru to Nagato, these villains are fantastic and often fan favorites.
Itachi. And that’s all I need to say.
The Akatsuki. I know I already spoke about villains. Can please take a moment to appreciate them all for a second. Who can top them? I mean they gave our heroes a run for their money. Destroying entire villages! They were all formidable opponents and kind of funny. Some best moments and fights on the anime was with Akatsuki members. Kisame still kind of creeps me out but yet intrigues me at the same time.
The Great Wars. Wars are not great per say. However, what I like in Naruto is how the display of these great wars gives the audience a sense of timeline and story to the Naruto Universe. They illustrate the background for many of the older (often dead) characters and allow the audience to see their strength in full display. In Naruto, past hokages and heroes are often talked about and have a huge influence on the current characters, so it is good to get a sense of how their lifetime was. Also they illustrate the intricate history among the different villages and towns, allowing us to understand more of the dynamics and politics in the Naruto universe.
Redemption. A lot of people commit some really twisted acts that deeply harms others. A lot of characters are awful people at the beginning of the anime. However, a key message I get from the anime is that no one is unforgivable. We are not above anyone to judge them as unredeemable. We get to witness people grow, they are given space and understanding to grow rather than being stuck with their mistakes. Yes, you will pay for consequences however you are not defined by it. We get to see so many characters being challenged and change their perspectives on life and are given that support and love granted to anyone else. It’s never too late to save yourself.
Comedy gold and heartfelt moments. I think Naruto has a good combination of serious and light hearted moments. Some dynamics themselves are just a laughter relief where you experience nothing but joy, even during serious moments. For example, every time Might Guy and Kakashi interact. Naruto’s dumb moments with Jiraiya, Killer Bee’s awful rap, every inappropriate moment Naruto uses the Harem jutsu. I mean we have some funny characters and moments in the anime. At the same time, there are so many moments that have literally brought me to tears. Like when Kushina and Naruto meet for the first time. C’mon! I know you were crying too. When Itachi told Sasuke he would love him forever! OMG! When Shikamaru avenged Asuma, I know you got the feels! Whether it is sad moments, celebrations, funny moments, you feel them right along with the characters.
The Tailed Beasts. I honestly wished we got more interactions with all of the ten beasts and their jinchuuriki. I don’t know why but I felt like I needed that. But I am going to settle for one the best things ever: The Jinchuuriki and Tailed Beast Song. Whenever you’re feeling down just put this song on and try to sing along lol.
Jutsu/Techniques. There are a wide variety of techniques possessed by the characters in the Naruto universe. Some more powerful and difficult to maneuver more than others. All interesting and fitting to each individual. There are so many kinds, it’s hard to keep up but it honestly never gets boring. It is also unique to see some characters grow into their skills, improve their abilities, or even watch jutsu navigate through different generations.
Overall, I love this manga/anime series. I’m happy to see it continuing through Boruto and too see many people, including the younger generations, appreciating it online.
Hearing stories of how people overcame a situation I find myself in always helps me reinforce my motivation and faith. However, these stories often come when that happy ending has been achieved, and while there’s comfort in that, it makes it difficult to know what really goes on in those moments when the happy ending is nowhere in sight.
I know my success is coming. My God is greater than anything on this earth, and what He has meant for me, no one can take away. And that’s on what? Mary had a little lamb.
However, sheesh, sometimes my doubts and fears get to me. So I wanted to write this to acknowledge those moments when the darkness is overcoming the light, those moments that even though I keep going, I feel dead inside. Because those moments deserve the same acknowledgment as the celebration.
I know we live in a society where it is often emphasized to “not let people see you sweat,” to “build/suffer in silence then post only the happy endings.” But the grass ain’t always green, unfortunately. Sometimes it is a little grey dry, and that is okay.
2020 broke me, lol.
And I laugh because if you had ever told me that the security, confidence in certain things I worked so hard to build would shamble at the face of this obstacle I’m facing, I would have been like that could never be me. 2020 said “Sis that’s you.”
My happy ending is nowhere in sight I don’t know if it’s going to happen at all this year either, I don’t know when it’s going to happen. I wake up thinking about it, I go to bed thinking about it. It is like this heavyweight constantly sitting on my chest, and sometimes I find it hard to breathe, so I just sleep. At times I feel like I shouldn’t be living my life, doing anything that doesn’t add to that particular goal, other times I indulge in other aspects of life but mainly as an escape.
Therapy has been teaching me a lot in seeing value in other parts of me and my life and I’m so grateful for that and the progress I’ve been making. My faith that my happy ending will come, (maybe not at my timeline or way but God’s) keeps me going (drives me crazy not knowing but it keeps going).
But to be honest, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. As a planner, I can’t plan anything about my life right now because I’m just waiting and that’s driving me insane. It’s no fun and I hate it here. Yet I know one day my happy ending will come. Until then if you’re in the same boat, feeling like this or even worse (as I have and can’t put into words), know that you’re not alone. Keep moving forward.
PS: An unpopular opinion: this emphasis on suffering in silence, or not letting people see the hard parts of life, this constant toxic positivity, continuously creates shame and loneliness when experiencing hardships in life and also sets an unrealistic reality of how long and non-linear successes are in life.
Book of the month: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. Marvelous book series, also adapted into a tv series on HBO. Worth the watch!
St. Louis to Newark: I haven’t had the time to really sit and think about this trip. So much happening around me, trying to live one day at a time, I hadn’t allowed myself to think ahead or plan as I usually do, with fear of being disappointed or just not trying to set any expectations going into the experience. After taking a much deserved nap on the flight, as I open the window and stare the sky seeing the landscape of New Jersey beneath, it dawned on me how excited I am to be going home. To be home and see my family. I indulge in fantasizing about hugging my little sister and my brother who I know will push me away but still embrace me. I missed them, and soon I know this fantasy will be a reality. I smile looking outside the window. Thinking about my father, who I can’t wait to see and bother with what he calls my too much questioning as he shows me the new additions he has made to our home. I realize how much I have missed traveling. Excitement finally sets in.
New York to Accra: the beautiful landscape of Ghana brings tears to my eyes. I can’t believe after 14 years I’m finally returning to Ghana. Excited can’t begin to explain the overwhelming emotions I’m feeling. This honestly ones of the smoothest flights, given that I slept all but one hour. But I’m in mother freaking Ghanaaaa. The national anthem starts playing in my head.
Between continuously hugging my mom who haven’t seen in a year, reminiscing over past times, and preparing for upcoming events for the weekend, I haven’t had the chance to just sit and dwell. First let me say I hadn’t realize how living in a fast pace society and my privilege with quick access to certain things had made so impatient. I mean I just have to wait til tomorrow to get some Wi-Fi to connect to my social media and Netflix and I’m going crazy. Tragic. But as I sit here with my uncle and enjoy some kelewele, I coming to realize that I am a different country. Things work differently, at a different pace. Acknowledge, accept, adjust.
If you know me in real life or follow me on social media, you know that I am a big anime fan. I have been watching anime since I was young, actually one of my first memories is watching “Hamtaro.” Also fun fact I low key cried when I read the last Naruto (Shippuden) manga chapter and cried again during the anime like I didn’t know what was gonna happen.
Anime is really popular in Italy, and is mainly what is shown on TV for kids, so I basically grew up watching it. I would say my love for this form of art/entertainment started due to mere exposure, however it did slowly develop into genuine interest. I think it is because I started to see in anime some important messages towards self esteem, inspiration, understanding to life, that I was not getting in other visual media at that age.
No one has to explain why they like something, you like what you what like. Nonetheless, you can still freely talk about it, but for a while I did not really share my love for anime past my close friends because:
Non anime fans can be very judgmental and tend to put anime fans into a certain label ( and I kind of really dislike labels; No one fits one label)
The anime community itself is incredibly critical of Black (especially female) fans and that has kind of turned me off from joining fandoms.
For a long time I was the only person that looked like me, that liked anime. Yea, I have guy friends who are big fans but guys can be so…guys. I knew there were Black girls who liked anime, but I couldn’t find them and they couldn’t find me.
Elitism and gate keeping in the anime community. Sometimes it’s like you either know everything or you’re not a true fan. There’s a constant competition to prove that you’re a fan. Like sir, I have to remember the structures of the 21 common amino acids for my BioChem class, I don’t have time to remember what Luffy did in episode 5 of season 13…
But I love anime and it seems weird to me that I hadn’t shared one of my favorite hobbies on my blog. So I’m getting over of all that, and let’s dive in!
The most popular genre for many, including myself, is Shonen anime (defined as “generally marketed towards young teen males between the ages of 12 and 18”), which I will speak more on later. However Shojo (“japanese word for young girl”) particularly “Magical Girl Anime” is what made me truly transition from “I don’t mind watching this” to “I want to watch more of this”. (I do have to say though the definitions for Shojo and Shonen in terms of target audience are definitely outdated, anyone can watch these!)
Shojo was for me, as a child and teen, where I got the message that girls could be as badass as boys, if not even more. With female protagonists who had special powers and fought crazy villains, or were striving for their purpose and worked hard to achieved their goals, I got the message that girls can save the world and decide their own paths. We are no lesser than boys, and even sometimes a bit better, not so egocentric, willing to teamwork, and still enjoy some love at the side.
Watching many, mostly 80s & 90s Shojo anime, I understood that it’s not a man’s world, we have the freedom live the life we want, we can be our own “prince” (for ourselves and other women) or whatever we like.
In the shojo genre, female characters are less likely to be that “useless” female character, that can often define female characters in shonen anime, and also are less likely to be at the end of sexist stereotypes. In shojo you are more likely to find female characters whose storyline is developed past screaming the name of the main character, or being a voice of guidance for the main hero or being in love with them.
With shojo we are the main entree, not the side dish honey.
With magical girl anime,as well, I get the best of both worlds: action packed fights with kickass outfits. Magical Girl anime taught me as a young girl that I’m the protagonist in (my) life. I can be fierce for myself and even though there might be a love interest, they are a side character, who I don’t have to dictate my life around. To love love, but not a man (if that makes sense). My first inspiration or realization of “girl power” and female solidarity definitely came from Magical girl anime and still influences me to this day. I deeply cherish my friendship with my girlfriends have been a source of unmatched strength, support,happiness, inspiration… my partners in crime. In other media, I often found the narrative that kind of dished on female friendships, presenting them in a more trivial way or basically a “a men’s discussion group”. Shojo showed me that there’s so much more love, strength and support to be found among girls.
Now some of my favorite animes are still Shonen. I mean the content there is just top tier, binge material. The first shonen I watched was yes, Dragon Ball. I feel like that’s a universal experience. Dragon Ball changed the game, even though I did have to ignore some racist and sexist portrayals to enjoy it.
My favorite anime is Naruto, I grew up watching it since it came out and when it ended I felt that was like a message saying my childhood was over. (I will do a post just dedicated to Naruto!)
I do have a high preference for 80s/90s shonen anime, and they get extra points if they have tournaments. I just love the dramatics and excitement from them. I mean you know the protagonist is going to win but it’s about the journey. During tournaments is when you get to see how much your favorite character has grown, they get to show the fruits of their hard work. Sometimes you get a backstory to the villain or get long speeches on the pursuit of justice etc. I love HunterxHunter just because it feels like a continuous show of various “tournaments”/“games”. Character development is truly evident is shonen anime, and even though there are similar tropes among many animes (i.e. dead parent or loved one) each individual has a unique storyline that truly defines them. You get diversity in the characters within one anime and each is given his own time to shine numerous times (well…for male characters most times).
Similar messages on the importance of friendships, resilience, overcoming hardships can be found in shonen anime as well.My experience with this type is that they are genuinely more captivating and with long complex arcs. Whereas shojo can focus sometimes be romance or sort of characterized as very girly and that can limit the kind of stories made in that genre, with shonen there is a bit more variety. (I have a lot to say on this, because why is that much more substance, focus & therefore funds goes into things dedicated to “male” audiences?)
Lately I have been exploring more of the adult animation of anime (not that you nasty!). More like Akira, Cowboy Bebop, Black Lagoon,Berserk…etc which have darker and more mature themes; and I’m truly enjoying it.
Looking to expand into more specific types of anime, for example cyberpunk anime is kind of lit, I want to watch more of that.
There’s literally an anime for everyone. Find your niche and enjoy.
If you know me, you know I love FRIENDS, the tv show.
I love my real life FRIENDS too, even though they always make fun of me for watching this show way too many times, every year.
Like did I convince my brother to get us the HBO Max subscription just to watch it? Yes, very much indeed (but then I discovered other amazing shows like Lovecraft Country, which is wow, amazing)!
Anyways, as it happens when you watch a show over and over again, as you grow up, you begin to realize things that kind of escape you. I’m not just speaking about the reuse of extras and outfits, or changes to the setting over seasons, or finally understanding dirty jokes that previously went right over your head. But in a way, you start to realize some character development that may also speak to your current personal life.
Personality-wise, I am a Monica. No matter how many “Which FRIENDS character are you” quizzes I take (and people I meet even characterized me as a Monica), that is always the result I get. Except, the whole wanting kids and house in the suburbs thing, I agree, especially about the entire type A personality thing: the determination,overbearing, cleanliness, organization, practicality,level-headed, caring thing, and I love it. My absolute favorite character is Phoebe. Geez, that woman is amazing and hilarious! She is quirky, wise, does not take herself too seriously, incredibly kind with a mix unexpected burst of anger, honest, multifaceted, all things I (or wish to) embody.
The one character I never really connected with was Rachel, for many reasons. At first, I never liked how much of her story was so much about how Ross desired her. I hated how the showrunners depicted the first season that way. While we got to see Phoebe and Monica’s love life pursuits from their perspectives, their own choices, I felt like Rachel did not receive that same consideration. She was instantly placed into this box labeled “for Ross” since episode one, so most of what she pursued (which was not much in the first seasons) was regarding Ross.
Everything she did in her social life was reconnected to how much it affected Ross and I would scream internally “what about Rachel”! For sometime I blamed Rachel, but now I blame the writers. I did not start liking her, and seeing her as her own individual until season 3-4 when she and Ross broke up. I know everyone was incredibly upset by that breakup scene (which ultimately was) but I was really like ‘Yea leave his ass, girl”.
That’s because that’s when they finally stop placing her in this “for Ross” box and she begins to shine as her own person. And what an incredible person!
Over the years after rewatching, and also going through some changes in life myself, I find Rachel’s character development to have been one of the best in TV history and personally she’s grown from my 5th favorite (Ross, you are always still last) to almost heading it with Phoebe at times.
I also never quite related to Rachel, because growing up I did have a hard time seeing myself as the pretty or “girly” girl.
But, as I have matured to see the bad bitch that I am and also embrace my more “girly” tendencies, I have also come to appreciate those things in Rachel. She has shown me that is okay to be best dressed at any event if you desire so. It is okay to embrace and show off your beauty assets, indulge (responsibly!) in your skincare, makeup, clothes, and other luxuries. Not just materialistic. Indulge in other luxuries of life like pursuing and enjoying your career wholeheartedly, even if the men (or other people) in your life may not approve.
Rachel is incredibly resilient, funny, emotional, supportive, not afraid to stand her ground when necessary, and most importantly brave. As someone who has recently left everything behind to embrace life in a new city I can understand how frightening that must have been for her. Yet, she stuck it through.
She did the same with her unexpected pregnancy as well, and reflected that bravery many times through the show. Rachel has taught me that you can be independent and still enjoy being spoiled (or spoiling yourself). You will have a lot to learn throughout life but always persevere and be brave.
Bravo, Rachel, bravo.
Shows to watch (if you have HBO Max): FRIENDS duh. But seriously watch “Lovecraft Country“. Great horror story centered around Black characters. Insightful on how abuse, racism, magic, love transcends over time. Bravo Misha Green.
Book of the Month (more like monthSSS): “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.
(Quick note I am reading this so I can read the next book of the series The Testament,because I do not know when the show is coming back on. I will do a book review on these books too. Yikes, I am behind on my book reviews lol but they are coming, your girl is struggling right now. xoxo)
P.S. I do not own any copyright to the images included. And, Joey, Chandler and Ross are cool too.