I am For You

Something happened when you left me alone in your room that day. Pacing the ground as I lay on your floor. Knees to my chest, head down and forward.

Your shrine became mine; I pray. With tears storming in the crevices; I lay. Still, I lay. I pray that you don’t find me here, in here; on your floor begging myself for forgiveness.

Something magical happened that day and before. The night became ours, I became yours. We play.

Rejoicing in the seconds that build the hours. Succumbing to a desire I don’t deserve.

Nevertheless, I’m yours.

Until time freezes. Until space decreases. Until the sun turns blue. Until the stars touch the moon.

Til dirt slowly evaporates. Til air quickly suffocates. Til love burns like hate.

Something happened that day when I left. Empty feelings of possession filled my essence. Universal suffrage brought partial happiness.

Longing. I long for something I’m not sure existed. Longing, I hold tightly onto non-existence. I suffer in happiness. I die in bliss. You die in vain. We die in pain.

You left me alone.

In your room. On your floor; in your space. Time turned absolute. My tears turned into streaming thoughts of truth. Here, you left me alone. And yet, here I am,

Still yours.

Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

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Is “Overworked” the new “Sexy”?

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of my girl friends out there doing their thing. Most women I know are juggling one or more jobs, school, and attempting to have somewhat of a decent social life (which oftentimes are nonexistent). A good percentage of my social media timelines show the glorification of exhaustion through status updates-whether speaking on the work overload during the week of a huge test, getting little to no sleep from working two full time shifts in a row or working two or more jobs back-to-back, or a combination of all three.

Getting a glimpse into my friend’s seemingly busy lives always take me back to my undergraduate days when I had to balance classes, work, clubs and sports. I desperately tried to make it work, and I probably made it look easy like most women I know. But by the time the last semester of my senior year rolled around, I was a hot mess. I lost interest in almost everything; I spent most of my time in my dorm room sleeping or crying, or at the gym. The weight of trying to take on more than I can handle eventually took a major toll on my mental health-and that was just during college!

Now I’m not judging anyone for having a busy work and/or school schedule; I admire women and people in general who work persistently toward their goals. But, speaking from experience, when I see people who are exhausted and draining themselves both physically and mentally, I feel an adjustment needs to be made in order to maintain sanity.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with working hard. I do believe working hard towards a goal is an amazing thing-especially when you see the end results. But as black women who oftentimes ignore  mental health issues, it may be a good thing to slow it down a bit. Finding the perfect work/life balance is not always easy, but sitting down with yourself to go over what works and what doesn’t, and with a little bit of trial and error, it can be obtained. I believe in the saying “work smarter, not harder.” If you can find a job or career where you can pay all of your bills and still manage to be able to store a percentage into your savings, then please by all means stick with that job. It’s better to have one well paying job than multiple low-paying jobs and run the risk of burning yourself out.

Statistically speaking, black people as a whole have been known to conceal any issues pertaining to mental health. In general, we have been told by our family members, friends, and by the few black women in staring roles that portrait the typical hard-working business women, that black people don’t suffer mentally; that any problems that shall occur can be easily prayed away. That couldn’t be any further from the truth.

“Overworked” as the new “sexy” has taken on many forms in pop culture that are affecting black women in particular. There has been a noticeable contribution to the black women trope in today’s rap and hip hop, with the infatuation of women who are seemingly superhuman. There are an abundance of songs praising women for grinding and hustling hard, all while putting down women who aren’t as busy. Women are called “thots,” “hoes,” or “bitches” if they enjoy going out for drinks and having a good time; but are called “baddies,” “wifey,” or any other term of endearment if they are overworked to the point of losing sleep or having poor eating habits. The strong black woman trope has begun to surface even more, and it’s hurting our community.

The “I’m a strong, independent, black woman, who don’t need no man” narrative has become something so normalized, that we oftentimes overlook what these strong, independent black women actually go through to obtain that status.

As black women, we are told to always be strong, to never ask for help, and to never show weakness. While this makes us one of the hardest working groups of people- Black women have been named the most educated group in the U.S. and are also leading the game when it comes to entrepreneurship- it also leaves us vulnerable to developing serious mental health conditions, and can also prove to be detrimental to our physical health.

Good news is that views on mental health issues among blacks are making positive strides. Historically, blacks, in striking numbers, have ignored any issues pertaining to mental health, where the active search of mental health services had been viewed as a sign of weakness. While this stigma has been challenged more in recent years, many people are still in the dark about this problem that is affecting our community.

According to Mentalhealthamerica.net, adult African Americans are not so quick to acknowledge their psychological problems, but are, however, more open to seeking help.Given the history of disparities in the socioeconomic statuses between blacks and whites alone, mental health issues has always been an issue for us. And so to add on the pressure of  being superhuman, that adds even more to our plates. Without an effective work/life balance, and without the proper tools, such as therapy or even talking to a trusted friend, grinding to the point of exertion will quickly burn us out, making the hustle counter productive.

So before taking on that third job, or maxing out the number of credit courses in one semester, try sitting down to come up with a realistic way of meeting your goals without causing significant harm to yourself both physically and mentally. Chances are, you’ll see an improvement in your work, and you’ll also most likely live a much happier and healthier life.

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Have a Love/Hate Relationship with Solo Traveling

Solo travel is one of the many things in this world I believe everyone should try at least once. Traveling alone not only takes you out of your comfort zone, but it’s also a great way to get to know yourself a little more. You’re forced to do certain things you wouldn’t otherwise do- one of the main things is going out on your own without having the security of having those familiar friends there with you. You have to find the same joy you have with them , with yourself and that’s sometimes not easy to do.

I recently discovered this love/hate relationship with solo traveling through a recent trip to San Francisco with my niece as a graduation present.

I originally began traveling alone not because I wanted to teach myself these awesome life lessons, but because I never had anyone to come with me. It all began after my senior year of college. My sister promised me a trip to Hawaii as a graduation present, and to my dismay, she did not keep her word. I spent months with built up anticipation and excitement for the trip only to be let down in the end. I had began planning early with my sister, and when it came time to buy the tickets, she’d always come up with an excuse. After a while I realized that maybe the trip was never going to happen. And the thing that upset me the most was that I was going to buy the ticket myself and then go alone, but she talked me out of it, telling me to give her more time.

Fast forward to a few months after that particular incident.

My best friend and I, while venting our frustrations about needing to get out of Connecticut over a drink, planned a trip to California. And of course, when the time came to buy the tickets, she came up with excuses as to why it wasn’t the right time for her. However, it was just the right time for me; the tickets were dirt cheap, I had the time off from work, and once again I had this built-up excitement about visiting the west coast. In avoiding another Hawaii incident, I went ahead a bought the tickets. I did have a fear of going alone, but I refused to let that fear paralyze me. And so my first solo trip began and I had an amazing time! The thing I liked most about it was that I did things only I was interested in. Because I’m not one for doing only touristy things, but to actually get a feel for everyday life for locals, I knew I wouldn’t have been able to do half the things I did without a complaint from a traveling companion whose sole interest was to vacation on a beach in a resort (not that I’m putting anyone down, it’s just that my natural curiosity and frugality won’t allow myself to pay out of pocket to do the same exact thing I can do at a local beach in my hometown.)

The Love 

The thing I love most about traveling, and traveling alone, is that you never know what you’re going to experience. All of the books in the world will not prepare me completely for what I would be in store for during a trip- and that’s the awesome part! Reading up on a place is helpful and all, but until you actually get out there and see for yourself, you will go through life expecting this and wind up experiencing that.

Now even though I’m a late bloomer when it comes to traveling so to say, I did have plenty of opportunities to get out there and see different parts of the country while I was growing up. For instance, I went to many family reunions in the south during summer vacations. We would take family trips to North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, etc.

And during my freshman year of college, I would have to make the 16 hour greyhound trip from Winston Salem, NC to New Haven, CT by myself. The trip, of course was uncomfortable as one can imagine- the bus was always either too hot, or two cold; the babies sitting not too far away from me would cry all day and night; the smells of the toilet would make its way to the front of the bus, escaping the confines of the small bathroom; the lack of sleep-the list goes on. But when I was able to block all of those things out, I found an escape in reading, people watching at the different terminals, or engaging in conversations with the people around me. Just because your surroundings aren’t glamorous, doesn’t mean it can’t be glamorous within!

My extracurricular activities in high school and college also permitted me to see more of the country. Because I was an athlete, I often had to travel often for track and cross country meets. My favorite part of those trips was when the team had free time to explore the area. I remember falling in love with Charleston, SC when my collegiate cross country team visited for a meet. The weather was perfect, and the city was absolutely beautiful. I also had a temporary infatuation with NYC until I remembered that I lived about an hour away and have always hated “the city.” But somehow, my team and I explored the city off the beaten path and I found serenity in looking out its nightly view. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have those specific experiences had it not been for athletics. Through sports, I also discovered that the best way to get to know a new area better is to run through the different neighborhoods (biking also have the same benefits). having the option to stay healthy while exploring at the same time is a set up for an ideal trip.

Because I was introduced to traveling throughout my upbringing, I think that’s why I love exploring different states and countries, getting to experience different cultures than my own. And as much as I love seeing different places, forcing myself to leave my comfort zone, pushing myself to be vulnerable to discomfort in order to understand a certain culture better, and meeting new like-minded people, there is also a downside to it.

The Hate

Safety is the number one concern when traveling away from home. In a new surrounding, it’s not always obvious of the crime rate and which crimes are more prevalent in the specific visited area. Although I do tend to follow my gut feeling, or go off of positive vibes, its always smart to take extra precautions. And as a petite black woman, I usually have to watch my back-especially while exploring at night.

The random loneliness that creeps up on you at any given moment is also a part of this love/hate relationship. Yes, I’ll advocate until my last breath that spending time alone is a vital part of living, but that doesn’t mean you can’t yearn for a familiar friend. With the California trip with my niece, I noticed how comfortable I was (despite worrying about her safety at all times.) I had someone there with me, which eliminated the task of having to make new friends. It was also nice to do thing I wouldn’t normally do. On our first day in the city, she suggested we go see the Full House house, or the famous Painted Ladies. It was something cool to see, seeing as I love the architecture of the Victorian houses in San Francisco. And had I gone alone, I never would have thought to stop there. And that’s just one instance.

Traveling is one of the greatest teaching tools, in my opinion. There are many up sides to getting out there and see different things. There are also many downsides to it. Traveling alone is not for everybody, but trying it at least once will not hurt. Even if you want to explore the next town over from you, you will still experience something new and hopefully you will find a better understanding of a certain concept, find peace within yourself, or even just make some new friends. In the scheme of things, the world is a tiny place. Getting out there and seeing what it has to offer can prove to be very beneficial.

I encourage those who have similar feelings towards solo travel or have a cool travel story to tell, to share in the comments below!

 

So You Think You Used Her For Sex, Eh?

Today, someone told me (rather proudly) they used a sex worker for a “quick fuck.” As fine and dandy as that may be, I had to quickly intervene and correct his statement. I told him that there’s no way anyone can ever use a sex worker for sex. Why? Well for starters, it’s their job to have sex with you. They, of course, pick and choose their clientele, but in general, it’s literally their job to have sex with you. You walk in, pay them, do whatever you two agree to, and then you leave. That’s that.

Now, to think of the actual act of “using” a person for something, there has to be some sort of persuasion or manipulation involved. To use someone for sex is to approach someone who had not been particularly keen on screwing you, (but is open to the possibility with enough convincing) and plant the idea of having sex with you into their mind. Once planted, you would then continue to say or do whatever you need to do (oftentimes involving making false or empty promises and playing mind games with someone’s emotions) to gain their trust so they will agree to consensual sex.

So I told him that you simply cannot use someone for sex who doesn’t even give two fucks about you. There’s  no type of persuasion, no strategy, no nothing. He then retorted that the use was mutual; implying that he used her for sex while she used him for money, which is completely impossible. Again, the act of using someone takes persuasion, manipulation and deceit. I don’t understand how someone can use a paying customer for their money; there’s no deceit in this case. She didn’t have to promise anything or try to convince him to cough up his hard-earned cash; he sought her. He paid for a mutually beneficial service.

Moreover, here’s my advice to any guy trying to make themselves feel better by attempting to portray someone in a negative light: just don’t; or at least don’t come to me with that nonsense. You’re not using anyone for sex. You’re just trying to justify your act. Why you think it’s more noble to pay for sex than to (willingly) offer services, I’ll never know. But there’s probably a reason why the only sex you can get is from the sex that you have to pay for.

The Golden Age

Oh the fifties! The golden age. the time when men ruled the world and women were still trying to find and establish their own identities at home and in the workplace. It was a great time to be alive if you were a cis white male American. But unfortunately, despite their tireless efforts, women were still being treated like second-class citizens; especially women of color. Jobs were lousy, with the pay being even worse; and men were unapologetically disrespectful. Women’s virtues were always in question for the slightest offenses and quite frankly, between the scare of communism and people’s insecurities, the fifties might as well have been Salem, Massachusetts during the witch trials.  

But today’s day and age is terrifyingly similar. With the help of social media platforms, trying to shape a woman into the perfect wife has become quite easy. Where the fifties used advertising to tell a woman how she should dress and behave, we now have degrading memes and videos. Men will deliberately go out of their way to announce “shit bitches say or do,” all the while trying to prevent their future wives or partners from doing the same things.

Nowadays, I can’t even scroll through my facebook feed without coming across a video of a man dressed as a woman, parading around trying to capture what they believe are women’s flaws. Today, the internet is filled with videos of guys dressing like me, believing to have been acting in a way I do. They’ll throw on a cheap wig and some makeup, and think they know everything there’s to know about being a woman. But the humility doesn’t end there.

Just last week a saw a guy post a picture of himself with a gun, but not even 24 hours later write a status saying that it’s not cute to be a “hoodrat” woman. I was baffled. The same guy that would rather use a deadly weapon because he is too insecure to use his words when faced with conflict would look down on a woman with a colorful weave or is outspoken? I guess it’s more virtuous to play God and take a life than to be eccentric and creative.

I also often come across the bashing of the twerkers or the women who enjoy going out to bars and clubs on the weekends to have fun (which is underlyingly bashing black culture BTW. You don’t see people tearing down a white woman who dances off key, ballerinas, or any other type of dance from different cultures). We can’t even have fun anymore, ladies, without having a man try to make us feel bad about it. The same guys going out on their little outings are shaming the women who are doing the same things they do. So what if a woman feels more comfortable wearing less clothing than your average individual, or wear makeup to feel prettier or shakes her ass to show love and appreciation for being alive? Are those women any different from the women who stay in every weekend because of social anxiety, cover more areas of their bodies, or doesn’t wear any makeup? Does that make one woman any better than the next?

Oh, and don’t get me started on the college-educated woman vs. the non-college-educated woman. Having a degree does not make someone better than someone else. Because those people still have problems and obstacles in their lives just as they would if they had never gotten an education.

Truth is, unless you truly identify as a woman, there’s no way to actually know what is really is like to be, you know, a woman. And even if you do identify as a being a woman, there’s still no way to generalize the entire female experience. But I do think it’s time to reclaim our century. I think it’s time we finally acknowledge each individual’s differences that makes them unique, not better than anyone else. Everyone has a path they’re following in life. It’s not up to us to judge them or put them down just because we don’t agree with it or just because you want to mold someone to fit your needs.

So, I think it’s time to call men out on their bullshit, and stop entertaining these demeaning stereotypes of what women are like from the male perspective. You might get called a “bitch” for doing so, but whatever. I’m sure you’ve been called worse by an insecure, overly-sensitive male trying to nurse a broken ego.

Untitled Pantoum

He thought he was “Mr. Big Shot”

I had to quickly put him in his place.

He even tried to dictate what I wore;

he thought he could tell me what to do.

 

I had to quickly put him in his place

his ego was just getting too big.

He thought he could tell me what to do;

He wasn’t good enough for a woman like me.

 

His ego was just getting too big

and he’s such a small man.

He wasn’t good enough for a woman like me;

I had to move on to someone new.