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.

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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. 
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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:

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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.

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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.

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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. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

So, About Your "One True Love..."

"You're my one and only."
"What would I do without you?"
"They're just my other half!"
"You're my soulmate."

We see it on social media all. the. time. (Or maybe it's just me and I spend way too much time on Twitter and Instagram.) Many, many people our age are convinced that they are utterly head over heels in love with their "soul mate." And maybe they are in love, or maybe they're in love with love; either way, it's really none of my business. *Insert Kermit sipping tea emojis*

I read this article by Elissa Sanci a while back on Thought Catalog, and it really got me thinking about the idea of soul mates and the possibility of having multiple [platonic and romantic] soul mates, each one coming into - and out of - your life for a specific purpose. 
Platonic soul mates come when you need them most...These kinds of soul mates overlap each other shamelessly.  
We're so conditioned to think of soul mates as romantic beings that it's easy to ignore our platonic soul mates. The ones who know your weird side, your sensitive side. The ones who you can send weird Buzzfeed quizzes to at odd hours of the night and will laugh and send another one back. Obviously, friendships don't last forever, but that soul mate always serves a purpose, even if that purpose is to help you let your guard down and enjoy life for a little while.
Romantic soul mates are trickier...Your first soul mate will show what love is. And once you know, once you truly know how great and breathtaking love can be, they'll leave. They have to. Try to forgive them. 
Well, shit! If that quote doesn't resonate with you then I don't know what will. (It honestly may not, but it did with me, so obviously it has to resonate with you too.) It sounds kind of messed up, right? Like, you're in love, everything's dandy, and then you break up, because you were supposed to?? Whaaa?

(Your inner dialogue probably goes something like this: "But he was my soul mate! He understood me like no one else did! How can I move on from this?!" *tears tears tears*)

In retrospect, it's actually kind of...comforting, I guess? Yes. It sucks. You lost your first soul mate, but they didn't leave you empty-handed, right?

It's wonderful, this concept. You can have more of these soul mates, more of that love. And the next soul mate(s) will teach you more and more about yourself and the world. You may be miserable and heartbroken and disgustingly single, but at least you'll have faith that there are more great people ahead. And, even when you do meet your last romantic soul mate, the one that you are with forever, you still have the ability to have more platonic soul mates! So. Cool.

I also have to play Devil's advocate, because it's my blog and I can. Mwahaha. So, when you are with that last soul mate (I am clearly not at that point yet, no need to remind me), I wonder how you know. You know, like know know. People say that you just know, but I would like to see the science behind it.

And even when you do walk down the aisle or commit to be with each other forever, it must be interesting to know that this person is just one of many soul mates, and that there are others out there who may be even more compatible with you, and able to show you even more love. (Although I'm sure that when you are in this kind of love, it doesn't matter because you want to be with that person and that person only.) It's unnerving, almost.

Or maybe that's just me. Is that just me? Lemme know.


'Til next time,
Christina