with a grain of rye
Have you ever wondered why we are here, what the human purpose is, or what constitutes what is good and what is evil? I believe these universal and controversial questions, based on how we answer them, are the core fundamentals to uncovering the truest version of ourselves and our true moral character. Recently, I attended the Imagine Music and Arts Festival in Atlanta, GA to break away from personal struggles and emotions I was dealing with back in Tuscaloosa. This spontaneous trip opened my eyes to the positive energy I needed in my life, of which these moral fundamentals began circulating through my inner thoughts, helping me discover my own moral character.
My goal for the trip was to find clarity through the music to heal my soul from the negativity and the rejection I faced with regard to relationships, classes, work, and other campus organizations. Upon arriving, my mood was immediately elevated and I felt more in tune with myself and my emotions than ever before. Being a big fashion, trend-setter/follower, I sported the festival girl look, which featured the basic black fishnets, comet one piece with a black long sleeve mesh covering, and the Gucci fanny pack (of which I got in Rome for festivals). I felt liberated wearing this outfit, as I was expressing my own interests and being true to myself in what I was wearing, as no one cared or was judging anyone for anything that was going. The environment and atmosphere of Imagine is one I cannot fully express in words, but it was as if I was in a Holy Garden or a mystical paradise, as the lights, dancers, effects, and design of the entertainment space radiated such positive vibes. With such positive vibes, however, one must acknowledge the absence of the negativity.
In a fast-paced society filled with immediate access to technology, it is hard to find yourself isolated from the media and outer influences, which usually bring negativity in the form of stress or social pressure. This spontaneous road trip to ATL opened my eyes, my heart, and my soul to my inner voice and conscience, allowing me to further find myself and my own beliefs on the nature of good and evil.
While the line between what is good and what is evil is extremely fuzzy with new laws, insight, experiences, and testimonies being voiced in our modern society, one thing remains certain: We have the opportunity to feel the good and choose it. Positive vibes radiate and attract positivity, they even uplift those people in a time of need to inspire them to share the light and radiate it. After the festival, I decided to re-dedicate my life to be a vessel of positivity, illustrating the good in the world. With such a personal reflection, I challenge anyone reading this to also take my stance on this subject and vow to radiate positive energy and uplift the world instead of having the world weigh you down.
my walls being torn down.
shut out once again.
your eyes were cold.
yet i felt warm with you.
i gave my time to you.
needing the high once again.
-the unspoken thoughts of a college student
Entering slowly, He came like a thief in the night
Sharing His thoughts and feelings, Childhood memories
Creating a story She could only wished to have been apart of
Building Himself up, Tearing Her guard down
Embracing Her body, but never Her soul
Loving the high, but never the girl
Ruining Her innocence
And breaking Her trust
The cycle repeats
Holding hands with Yet another
Sharing a kiss with a few
Breaking Their hearts, His insecurities
He calls Them crazy
They call him drunk late at night
When will She know She is worth more
When will She love Herself the way She wants Him too
Since arriving home from college, I have embarked on a financial journey, working two jobs to prepare for the new college semester and my future travel plans abroad. Working from 7 am to 4pm as a nanny has brought many joys and childhood memories back into my life, helping me realize how far I have come, and who I need to be thankful for. For example, I have a newfound respect and admiration for my parents, as growing up many children overlook the tiny sacrifices and acts of kindness they do for you everyday. From doing a basket of laundry for me, to randomly filling my car up with gas, to sacrificing their own plans so that I can pursue my own, my parents (& most parents) do acts of kindness everyday for their children and families without ever receiving a thank you, praise or recognition. The amount of patience one must have with young children is also unmeasurable, and I have realized the true sainthood of my own parents through watching children this summer. My other job is the night shift at a local grocery, which has not only opened my eyes to new people and life circumstances that make me appreciate the life I live now, but they also offer a new perspective on how to engage with the world around me and my perception. While I thought I would dread coming home from the summer because I have truly found my new home away at college, I have actually cherished my time here with my family and will miss them more than I thought I would. Before my eyes, my sisters and family are growing up and it is the hardest thing to know I cannot be there for every special life moment or event since I am hours away. Knowing I leave for Italy in 9 days (July), and then return in August (only to have 3 days before I go back to school), I am spending as much time as possible with my family since I know the next time I come back will only be for a short while. Overall, I have enjoyed seeing old friends from high school, family members, and neighbors, along with re-visiting all my favorite spots in Memphis, as this place will always be dear to my heart because the people I surround myself here are the most genuine and loving people I have ever met. Wish me luck in Italy, and do not forget where you come from or what makes you who you are because at the end of the day those are the things that matter most, Ciao!
There is a joy and a sense of accomplishment, a sense of tiredness and exhaustion, a sense of pride that One can only feel when they learn the value of hard work. Therefore, only the truest humbleness and realization of reality comes to One who submerges herself in such a reality--a reality of the workforce, human relations, and an understanding of the fundamental value of money and effort. No one can show her these things, no one can feel them for her. She must feel them for herself. She must go and experience the reality of the world.
A journey is something I never want to stop taking, for life itself is a continuous journey. A journey can be an educational pursuit, a romance, a long-desired trip, a newfound spiritual purpose, accomplishing an emotional or physical barrier, or just becoming a better you. No matter what journey you take, each one prepares you for the next phase in your life. Phases—there are numerous phases, stages, or cycles in one’s life—are implemented through a change one encounters. After this past year on my journey post-high school, I have entered the phase of my college years. While I am learning new material, living on my own, providing for myself, and becoming an adult, it is important to recognize the huge milestone this year has been as I have transitioned into a new phase, a new year, and a new me. With this new beginning in college, while also learning the military culture for the first time, I have grown up in many ways maturely, but I have also learned what is expected of me and how to become the truest version of myself. With more self-discipline, more responsibilities, and more finances, I have learned to balance my education, my work, and my own personal life, along with learning when to say “no” and focus on my own well-being. This past year in college has been an amazing journey, to say the least, as I have developed some of the best friendships of my life. My roommates were challenging at times, but ultimately my new family away from home, and I could not have asked for a better experience. They not only opened my eyes to the new fashion trends, habits, and ways of life from the different north-eastern states, but they have also taught me how to be real to others and to myself. Little did I know I would end up meeting my best friend, of whom I went to Cancun, Mexico with, who has encouraged me to strive for the best and never settle for less than what I deserve, whether it be with boys, grades, or with life experiences. She has truly inspired me, which is one of the reasons I will be studying abroad in Italy in the following months. I truly believe everyone’s life is in a constant journey, as mine has unfolded in ways I never dreamed possible. While this is a personal reflection of my past year and journey in college, I believe other college-aged students and/or young adults would be able to relate as everyone encountering life post-high school for the first time has embarked on a life changing journey, one of stories, memories, and amazing experiences.
When did we grow up?
When did you and I grow up?
When did you and I lose our innocence
It was just yesterday we were sitting in the gym bleachers.
It was just yesterday I passed you notes during class.
It was just yesterday we had our first kiss.
It was just yesterday we watched the sunset overlooking the city from a rooftop.
I made you promise to buy a house for me,
So that we could be one of the lights’ off in the distant skyline, twinkling like stars against the moonlight.
The promises we made,
The memories we kept,
They all seem so distant now.
When did we grow up?
When did you and I turn so cold?
It was just yesterday we were laughing at nothing, but laughing at everything.
It was just yesterday I made you pinky promise to always be mine.
It was just yesterday you taught me to skateboard.
It was just yesterday you drove me home in the back seat of your mother’s car.
I made you promise to always love me, and that I the same.
The promises me made,
The memories we kept,
They all seem so distant now.
When did we grow up?
When did you and I become two different souls?
It was just yesterday you knew me more than I knew myself.
It was just yesterday we were at the airport saying goodbye.
It was just yesterday I saw you for the last time.
With so many firsts, it is hard to imagine a last, as it was just yesterday you were mine.
See you later, or see you again, I know not
When did we grow up?
Growing up, it seems we know not when.
Growing up, it seems we know not how.
Yet one day when one wakes he realizes his habits have become old,
His old dreams have been replaced by the new,
His happiness is no longer valued by others, nor by himself.
It is in this awakening one realizes he has grown up.
We ask, “where did the time go?”
Yet, our memories together fade.
Time and distance pulled us apart, yet now new lovers, new thoughts, and new songs dance in our minds replacing both Our good and bad times.
So here’s to us, for what we were back when we were young and carefree.
When we so valued love for all it could be.
Here’s to the past, may it ring truth to the present
And never let us forget the memories of innocence so long lamented.
So see you later, or see you again,
My heart will always remember you my dear friend.
May life treat you well as we struggle together,
Hand-in hand, like brother and sister.
As time has changed, we have changed too.
Please tell me, as I plead and ponder,
“When did we grow up?”
Do you ever feel like you are stuck in Time, or yet merely existing in a fantasy? Some say Time has no hold on you, yet I say Time is the most controlling factor in my life. Time dictates my actions, my motives, my milestones, and my accomplishments. Certain times in your life make or influence you to carry out certain mundane and traditional activities such as going to college, getting married, having children, buying your first car, getting a job, and investing in the future. All these milestones are great security blankets, or easy life fillers, protecting individuals from discovering their true interests, values, and life plans. Each milestone protects the individuals from loneliness, homelessness, and from being a dependent individual throughout life; however, if we as a society were not so afraid of the unknown or loneliness, then would we partake in the completion of said milestones? Are we finding joy in experiencing the milestones, or are we finding the joy in assimilating with society, becoming replicas of our parents, teachers, neighbors, and friends? I propose as a society, we answer 'yes' to both of these questions unwillingly, as they prove to be the motive for such activities. We are told what the next step of our life will be; Thus, we are programmed to derive joy from obtaining such an accomplishment. We are told these milestones bring happiness, yet when I recall happiness or my happy, cherish able moments, I do not remember my milestones. Instead, I remember the small, irrelevant memories that could have been easily forgotten. Why do people, we, hold onto such small fragments of Time? Because it is in these fragments of time, these moments, that we are embracing the moment and embracing the day. Contrasting the moment to the accomplishment of a milestone, we are not seizing the moment like we do to complete our milestones, yet instead, in these small fragments of Time, we are letting the moment embrace and seize us. With such liberation, we release the confinements of time, breath by breath, and experience life for what it really is. So do not seize the moment, but let the moment seize you.
Emotions. Many people experience an array of emotions throughout a day, throughout a week, throughout a month. This week particularly has thrown me back into some of my same old habits and ways, based off my emotions, of which I would never like to revisit again. Emotions can get in the way, and can cloud your focus, making it difficult to act in a rationally manner. I feel when it comes to relationships, romantic ones particularly, it is very easy to jump back into the same old feelings and emotions one had previously. I want to say that emotions have a reason and a purpose in your life, demanding you to act a certain way, but another part of me wants to inform you that they are also irrelevant. I say irrelevant because they cloud your focus.
I feel certain people come into your life for a reason, that reason being unknown. However, sometimes certain people that were in your life need to not be in the rest of it. Simply stating, sometimes an old 'friend' is an old friend for a reason and does not need to come back into your life and be your best friend, same with past relationships. Often, there are people that come into your life, despite the fact they are toxic for your well-being. I continue to personally let those that have hurt me back into my life, over and over again. I wonder "when will enough be enough?" or "what do they have to do this time to really make me cut them out of my life?" countless times when falling for the same lines and same tricks. I wonder, when will I give myself the respect to not tolerate such treatment anymore? I wonder when I will love myself enough to not talk or hang out with such people. Honestly, the people are not even vindictively trying to hurt others, they are just so focused on themselves that they cannot see the pain they invoke on others. I feel when one gets hurt they either learn a lesson or build up an emotional wall. Despite the walls I have built up over the years, Hope is my one weakness to such walls. I desire to believe everyone has good intentions and deserves a second chance; however, when conflicted with growing feelings for a past romantic interest, I grow naive and gullible, further hurting myself.
Surrounding the issue of relationship burdens, many girls have come to me for advice, mostly about boys and the drama surrounding an exclusive relationship, and I wonder why such girls allow boys to treat them with such disrespect. It appears as a society, we are all searching for love, for self-approval, and for others' to like us. With such unreliable foundations for our self-esteem and confidence, it does not surprise me many individuals go back to the same people that have proven to hurt them time and time again, just so they can have a self-identity, a group, and a feeling of belonging. What I propose in this message, is that we as a society treat others better, but also treat ourselves better. We deserve more respect than what we give ourselves, and we deserve more love than what we give ourselves. Do not every let anyone make you think or feel like you are less than what you are. As I usually do not include my own religious beliefs in my writings, so that everyone can look at them with unbiased eyes, I feel I need to include how even the Bible makes claims supporting this message. For example, in Jeremiah 29:11 the Bible states, "You are created with Purpose." Furthermore, in the next chapter, Jer. 31:3, the quotation, "You are Loved," is found in multiple references. Therefore, respect yourself and give yourself the best.
P.S. Girls, do not let a man make you feel less than what you are. You are beautiful. You are amazing. You are a creation of God. You are Loved. You are created with a Purpose. Do not forget these words of advice, and please know you are independent of a man's love, but dependent on God's love.
The first step to moving on and finding yourself is usually always the hardest. "Getting back out there" so-to-say is difficult because you have to get out of your comfort zone and break free of your conformities. This week I have decided to join a youth ministry through my sorority and through the local church, along with becoming a leading ambassador for "Be Positive," an organization dedicated to fighting childhood cancer. These outer activities have helped me break out of my shell and develop new friendships and relationships, although the number of new connections is still small (maybe 2-3 new friends), it is a start to a new environment, new life, and newfound confidence to find self-love and self-happiness. One of my friends, Ashley, has lived on my dorm floor since first semester of the year and I just now have been becoming friends with her. She honestly has opened my eyes that real friends don't always have to be met in conventional groups or places, real friends come into your life when needed most or when you least expect it, and she has proved to be a real friend to me. Another one of my friends, K, has also been the "low-key best friend" that I have always needed, but have never known I've had. He is always there for me, cleaning my dorm, lending support, and even bringing me food when I'm sick. He has shown amazing friendship towards me and I do not know how I would have survived my college experience and overcoming my personal set backs recently without these two friends. Ash and K have proved to be my family friends, my familial support basically, while away at college without my biological family or childhood friends. These past few weeks have been a difficult journey, as I am now realizing my goals and priorities were off-centered, focusing on a romantic relationship and temporary "friends," and now am self-motivating myself to become a better me and build a strong foundation of support. This foundation will be based on real friends, my morals and values, my faith, and the things that better me. I am filled with hope and joy that I have been able to find new friends and people to uplift me from these hardships faced over the past few weeks (of which I will go into in more detail when I have finally processed everything), and have brought me to higher grounds without negativity and insecure thoughts. Finding outlets that actually bring me up and represent my interests have enabled me more capable of spreading love to others and being the humbled faith-driven girl I have longed to be. I still have a long journey ahead of me, but as people say "time has all wounds."