Friday, July 7, 2017

Are you good enough? Nope!

If I haven't said this before, I'll say it now - my blog posts are 85% for me, and the other percent (you can do the math) goes out to anyone who happens to read them. They're a public journal, you could say. A very public journal. If I'm feeling some type of way - sad, frustrated, "shook," as the kids are saying now - best believe I'll put it into writing.

So let's talk about something that definitely plagues my mind and might bother you, too. Being enough.

Are you enough? Short answer, yes. Long answer, no.

Despite how perfect my life seems (that was a joke), I often feel inadequate because that's just how life is.

Sometimes I don't feel "woke" enough. I'll share videos and articles, and I'll write about my frustration and exhaustion regarding oppression and police brutality, because that's what I personally feel capable of right now, but somehow I still end up feeling like less of an activist and, subsequently, less "Black."

Sometimes I don't feel positive enough. I follow a lot of new age-y, holistic, and health-minded people on social media, and I'll find myself feeling like I should be out hiking more or going to yoga more, or talking more about how "present" I feel and how beautiful life is.

Those are just a couple of examples. There are a few more insecurities and inadequacies - trust.

There are a ton of things out there and people out there that will make us feel as though we're just not doing enough and we're just not enough, period. So back to my first question, are you enough?

In the grand scheme of things, no. If we continue to look for the next thing, the better thing, the thing that will supposedly make us happy, strong, interesting, or good, then no. We will never be enough. (This isn't to say that goals aren't important.) Chances are you won't have the same quality of life as that person who's loving life and smiling on Instagram, because they're them and you're you.

I also said that you are enough, though. "Enough" is a word that probably has some Latin root, meaning something very meaningful, I'm sure. But the thing about "enough" is that it's immeasurable. And if you were to measure it, someone else would be holding the ruler, not you. So let's take "enough" out of the equation (and let's stop with all this math talk).

Since we can't measure whether you're good enough or strong enough or smart enough, why bother worrying about it? This is a legitimate question that I'm asking you, anonymous reader, and myself. When the standards are infinitely high, why worry?

This is going to have a really cheesy end to it, and I halfheartedly apologize. What is "enough" is 100% up to you. And if you take "enough" out of it, you just are. We need to realize that we're probably never going to be (x) enough and just deal. Just live our lives. You're doing what you're doing, you are who you are, and where you're at is where you're at.

'Til next time,
Christina

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

23.

Habits don't have to always be bad. They can be a place of growth and stability (as ironic as that sounds). They can be a starting point.

I've had quite a bit of time today to sit, meditate, read, laugh, cry, and reflect. I've been able to look back at this past year and acknowledge both the challenges and moments of resiliency. Both considered, I'm still here and I'm still okay.

That being said, I want to continue some habits and start some new ones.
I want to continue living as honestly as possible. I want to continue pursuing and sharing my truth. The most powerful thing that I've done these past couple of years is reclaim my voice. A voice that has felt, for too long, awkward and unimportant. I've shared parts of myself and written more. I'm so grateful to have my writing, my insight, my ability to reflect.

I want to continue living my truth.
I have allowed others to diminish my feelings too many times. My awareness, my ability to feel so deeply that it burns...although they feel like burdens, they are beautiful gifts. I no longer hide my emotions to please others; rather, I live without shame and will continue to do so. Others may catch on, but if they don't or can't, it really can't be any of my concern. That's their truth.

Let's do more moving forward. The same good habits, but more.
Self-care for me has too often been a last resort, a place to turn when the ship has already sailed. Let's, instead, embody self-care. Every word, action, and effort should be made with self-care in mind, with self-love in mind. And not as a means to be selfish, but to care about myself so much that I, in turn, encourage others to do the same. With self-care we are also caring for others and our communities. We're making a commitment to ourselves to just care. To grow.

I'm happy about where I am and where I'm going.
Habits can be good. They're agreements to stand up for ourselves. To put ourselves first.

'Til next time,
Christina

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dear young black girl,

Dear young black girl,
Go ahead, buy the black doll.
She may not be Barbie with the good hair,
But among the tufts of honey
And the creamy complexions of your peers,
She's the only one who looks like you.

Dear young black girl,
Know. 
Know that the chemicals will burn
And the hot comb may leave a scar,
But with those straight locks you look like them.
No lye, no lye.

Know that growing up, we're all awkward
But you may still feel like Other.
When they speak of your history,
You'll crouch. You'll cringe. You'll wish it could be over.
They only show reels of shackled black bodies,
Of assassinated leaders.
They won't have a unit on Black Excellence.

Know.
Know that you are just as pretty as Sarah and Lauren
That your -iqua doesn't have the same ring,
But you can still wear the crown.

---

Dear young black woman,
Know your worth.
Know your place.
A place above the ceiling,
Shattering glass.
Above the murmurs of unprofessionalism,
Let your curls kink and your kinks curl.

Know. 
Know that the men who look like you
May not love you,
May spew filth as Black as your skin,
As their skin,
As their momma's skin,
But may not love you.

Know.
Know that you are a threat.
They judged you for your cranial size
But now pay for your lips, your hips.

Know that you are a threat.
To intelligence, to beauty, to history.
A history that has silenced the voice,
But welcomed the hands that kept the stables clean.

Young black woman,
We commend you.
You embody grace, strength, and yes,
Magic.
You are more than
You are more than
You are.

Dear young black woman,
When we say #BlackLivesMatter,
We're talking to you, too.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

These are not New Year's Resolutions. I repeat, these are NOT New Year's Resolutions.

As much as I would love to be edgy by saying that New Year's Resolutions are pointless and impractical, I think that a new year is the perfect time to make some changes in your life. Also, I basically consider this blog a public diary at this point, so why not just give the people what they want (more stuff about me)?

This post isn't about a long list of resolutions as much as it's about a confession - to myself, and to whoever is reading this. (If this were a YouTube video, I'd make a cut and play Usher's Confessions, Part II right now.) This post is about me surrendering and being vulnerable, because I'm tired. I'm tired of feeling how I've felt for so long, and I'm ready to take responsibility and leave myself accountable.

I'm a pretty insecure person, and I feel lonely and unhappy a lot of the time. I place so much of my own self-worth into relationships with other people that I've lost myself in the madness. At the end of the day, I feel unfulfilled by the many interactions I have with others, and crave a strong, genuine connection. I lean on my self-deprecating humor to make up for the fact that I'm actually feeling down, and I blame others for making me feel so lonely and left out. It's really not fair to anyone, including myself.

I don't trust myself or my journey. I don't trust my ability to live a life of love and joy by myself, so I turn to mindless online dating. I don't trust myself to be vulnerable with others, so I end up turning them away. I don't trust the fact that I have a promising future, so I choose to dwell on what I'm not instead of what I am.

So here I am, aware of the fact that I am this way. It's a start, right? This is where I start. This is where I start to trust and accept myself, where I am, and where I'm going. This is my surrender to end the self-sabotage and to leave room for love. Love for myself, mostly. Also love for and from others.

I tweeted this a couple of days ago (so Millenial~), but I truly think that we are all okay, and that if we don't feel okay, there are ways to get back. Counseling, writing, yoga, hugs, whatever. Whatever the tools are, we need to trust that we are already the person we aspire to be. Most of us have just fallen away from that person due to events, self-doubt, or other trying circumstances; even so, that person is always there. It's just a matter of finding them again.

So here's to 2016, and to being that person again.


'Til next time,
Christina

Monday, December 21, 2015

On being your Black friend (who, like, isn't even THAT Black)

I have a lot of White friends. That's always been the case, and most of the time it's so normal that it doesn't bother me, but sometimes it does. As you could probably imagine, it also creates space for misunderstandings and the occasional awkward situation. But that comes with the territory of being the only POC - person of color - in the friend group (although it shouldn't). Here's a bit of perspective about being the "only one."

1. You saying that I talk or act "White" isn't going to make me feel better. I'm not going to sigh and say, "Golly! Thank you for noticing; I've been practicing my White accent all week! What a relief." I understand that you're trying to say that I behave differently from the stereotypical image in your head of what a Black person "should" be, and that it's funny or impressive, but it's neither. It's hurtful.

2. I will act VERY differently depending on who I'm with. When I'm in New York with my Black friends and we go out to a bar that's predominantly White, I really have no problem rolling my eyes with them, like, "Ugh. White people."

However, when I'm in Boston, where most of my friends are White, I figure my roommates probably won't appreciate that? So I refrain. But White people can also be very frustrating. #NotAllWhitePeople though.

3. I mostly date White guys. THERE, I said it. And it's not because of internalized oppression, okay? I also like Latino, Asian, and Black guys, since we're on the topic. The race, sexuality, or gender identity of who you're attracted to really isn't anyone's business but your own, but let's think about someone like me contextually. I've grown up in predominantly White school settings, and live in an area where most of the people I encounter are White. So, most of the guys I've had crushes on have been White. Rocket science, really.

4. Sometimes I get upset, and sometimes I'm quiet. Maybe it's because I had a long day, or maybe I missed my bus on the way to work. Maybe it's because going to bed was tough and waking up was even tougher knowing that another Black man/woman/child was senselessly killed. It's physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting, and I feel the pain in my heart constantly.

5. I may not bring these things up to you. In fact, I probably won't, because who wants to hear Christina complain about White people and oppression? Just because I may be your only Black friend doesn't mean that I'm ONLY your Black friend. I don't exist to know the words to that one rap song or to teach you how to twerk. I don't want to hear how cute my and so-and-so's baby would be, as if biracial children don't deeply struggle with identity issues.

This isn't just about me, either. Appreciate your friends of color AND their identities. Remember that your gay friend doesn't only exist to go shopping with you. Remember that your friend with anxiety doesn't "just need to relax." Everyone has an identity that they carry with them every day, whether or not you choose to acknowledge it.

6. To everyone: it's okay to be honest. Let your friends or co-workers know that you've had a hard day because of what's on the news, or because someone said something strikingly offensive to you. It's okay to feel and to hurt and to ask for support. Don't apologize. The people you surround yourself with should be as supportive and as patient as you are brave.


'Til next time,
Christina

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

On 22.

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling like Taylor Swift ruined the number 22 for everyone forever.

------

Unless you currently live under a rock, you would've known that yesterday, August 3rd, was my 22nd birthday. (JK, I don't think I'm that important. JK, I do. JK, JK.) 

I know that 22 will be better than 21, because 21 was a bit of a mess, TBH - and not because I spent most of it being drunk (I know you were thinking it). I had a ton of self-doubt and insecurity with 21, as well as a ton of self-discovery, introspection, and joy. It's cute to be 21, especially when you're 21 and still in college. Especially when you haven't graduated yet. Especially when you aren't forced to adult in the ~real world. 

A lot of you probably know that I'm going back to school for a Master's. And as much as people may think that just staying in school is an easy out of adulthood, I will be the first to say that it is not, and I haven't even started yet! 

Graduating and taking any type of next step is a big deal, and most of us aren't prepared for it. (Being pestered about what you're doing post-grad and current post-grads telling you how much it sucks isn't exactly supportive, now is it?) I've spent this summer working and preparing for what I hope to be the influential years that will lead me into what I am most passionate about. It's been rough, and kinda lonely. The summer's had me feeling pretty meh about my birthday, and about 22. But 22 is another year, of being alive and being well, even though I may not always feel that way. Although I have no idea what's going on with my life, I am positive of who I am and where I want things to go. 
------
I would, one day, like to release my journal entries into the world, and expose the most vulnerable parts of myself, parts that may resonate with others' most vulnerable selves. For now, they're all too close to home. HOWEVER, I did want to share part of what I wrote the night before my birthday:

------

Everything is so temporary; inconsistent. I can't feel grounded in anything that I'm doing. I hate it...I don't like 22. I feel myself always doing the wrong thing and looking forward. Forward to when these moments will have seemed silly. Forward to when I'm consumed in joy, ecstasy. To be doing everything I want/am supposed to be doing. To be loved, to love so much that my heart could burst. To feel every second of life in its most beautiful state. To feel small, like it's all connected, all part of humanity, all part of existence. 

I don't know if I'll make it to 23. We never know if we'll make it to tomorrow. I don't want 22 to be spent looking forward to 23 or 30. Because then I'll be 23 or 30 wishing desperately for 22. So for now, I'll take 22. Take these low moments, the uncertain ones. But I also want to take those "future" moments--connection, love, purpose. Even if they're fleeting, I'll welcome them with open arms.


'Til next time, 
Christina

Monday, June 22, 2015

I can, no longer, whip my hair back and forth.

This is a post about hair.* It probably seems like a silly topic to write about, and I totally agree! BUT, at the same time, it's a real topic. I feel as though SO many of us (especially those of us who identify as women) are obsessed with our hair.

How many times have you gone into the salon for a simple trim, and prayed that your stylist wouldn't cut off more than 1/8 of an inch? And if you were going in to get an actual haircut, forget about it. You lost it. You didn't know who you were anymore.

I'm talking about this nonsense because it is nonsense, and we all know it's nonsense, but we still have this sick attachment to our hair.

Most of you probably know that I've had box braids for a while, and I love them. They're easy to maintain, protect my natural hair, and I don't have to worry about using any chemicals on it. Those of you who have known me for a longer time have probably seen the many styles that I've rocked (rock is an overstatement, I know): relaxed, short, red, with weave, in cornrows. However, I've never had my hair completely natural.


Flashback to a year or so ago when QUEEN LUPITA NYONG'O stepped onto the red carpet and slayed all of us in her path. Not only is she an incredible actress with a warm demeanor, homegirl can rock alllll of the short, natural hairstyles. She's an inspiration, ya'll. After seeing her for the first time in 12 Years a Slave (and all over social media shortly after), I toyed with the idea of cutting my hair the same way.

And yeah, I'm scared shitless. We can hide behind our hair. It's a confidence booster, a security blanket. (The same could be said about makeup. We know how a solid wing of eyeliner can make us feel.) Without that, we strip away the vanity, leaving vulnerability and insecurity. On top of that, depending on your particular hair texture, natural hair can be SUPER difficult to maintain, which is part of the reason why (I think) many black women manipulate their hair texture. Even if you don't have really coarse hair like mine, letting your kinks and curls out among a sea of straight-haired beauties isn't easy.

------

Why, though? Why are we so obsessed with our hair? For most of us, hair grows back. (I get that many people also lose their hair without the ability to grow it back, so I get the distress there.)

I read this article a while back that a couple of my [beautiful, short-haired] Facebook friends posted. It speaks to the fear that we have around cutting our hair, which stems from the media (and society's) beauty standard of long, flowy hair.

Long hair = pretty, desirable, attractive / short hair = manly, undesirable, unattractive.
But it's bullshit! We all know it.

It's so true, though. I'm scared as hell that I'll seem unattractive to guys (being a black girl leaves me self-conscious enough, trust). However, I also know damn well that I can be just as cute with short hair. I know that it'll be liberating. The ability to shed a layer of vanity that I've found myself clinging to for years will feel...good. Great, even. It'll be a new chapter of my life, along with the whole "I-just-graduated-college-and-going-straight-to-school-again-omg-wtf-help-me" thing I got goin' on.

------

So, I did it.** I made an appointment a few weeks ago at a black hair salon in Cambridge. Everyone there was super nice and helpful, and I'm not gonna lie, my heart dropped a bit when the clippers were going through my hair.

I honestly didn't know how I felt after I left the salon... it was just so different. I woke up the next morning briefly forgetting that I cut my hair, but after picking it out a bit and putting on some makeup, I was definitely feelin' myself (I'm feelin' myself, I'm feelin' my, feelin' my...). It's weird, but I really love it. I love the style of it, and I love how I'm slightly uncomfortable about the change. But it's a change! And change is good. At least this one is.


As for the whole attractiveness thing, I could not give even half of a shit about how guys will perceive me. Bc I be lookin' cute and stuff, and if they can't handle dis then w/e

But for real, I'm really happy with this decision, and I'm even happier that I didn't chicken out after all this time. Also, I apologize in advance to everyone who's going to be like, "YOUR HAIR!!!" when I see them, because I will, without a doubt, be awkward about it.

'Til next time,
Christina

* Written on June 15th, before I chopped this ish off.
** Written on June 22nd, a couple of days after I chopped that ish off.