This year I have evolved. I have undergone a transformation that was not so much like metamorphosis, but more like a car getting a fresh coat of paint and new rims. I experienced so much within the span of 12 months as I am sure everyone reading this has.
Some of the most memorable events of my year were written about right here on the BCF blog. That included entering my sophomore year of high school, going from a buzz cut to afro puffs, opening the online store for the blog’s merchandise, and beginning my journey of learning to drive and manage a credit/debit card (I’ll tell you guys about this soon!).
In order to help you better digest everything I have learned, I have divided this into 4 categories: Self, Personal Relationships, Education, and “Politics.”
Lesson #1: Caring for your natural self is more rewarding than trying to uphold an image of something you’re not.
Nearly every year prior to this one seemed “simpler” because I was able to live my life behind a mask. My hair (check out my journey to natural hair here) was almost always straightened or chemically treated. I learned to ignore the broken ends of hair on my shoulders that had resulted from all the damage my hair had undergone. My diet was pretty bad because I let those around me dictate how I viewed my body. I wanted to have a flat stomach and so I ate like a “bird”, as some used to describe me. I was hesitant to eat in public, but I would binge eat in the privacy of my own home because I felt I needed to gain weight to be thick in just the “right places.”
This year I managed to cut many of the strings that were allowing others to control me like a puppet. After cutting my hair down to the roots and learning the proper techniques to detangle, nourish, style, and protect it, I felt a sense of pride and appreciation for myself and my heritage. As I watch my curls grow in luscious and strong, I feel empowered. I can run my fingers through my hair without breaking off my ends, I can go swimming without worrying about my hair reverting (going from straight to curly), and I have replaced chemical treatments with deep conditioners. I feel free. I feel renewed. And yes, wearing my natural hair, in the beginning, was hard. It was something I had to learn how to care for and style, but also something I had to become confident with. All my life I wanted what the other girls had, but it is truly liberating to now love what I already have.
Lesson #2: There are so many diets and exercise routines, but my body and lifestyle are unique. I do not need to be “slim thick”, “supermodel thin”, or “body builder-like” to be happy with my body. Find your balance.
I have never been a “picky” eater. I have always had a deep admiration for food, but was just afraid to eat too much in front of others. Not long after I shook those anxieties did I become a vegetarian, and then a vegan. Throughout my entire life, regardless of if I ate everything, stopped eating meat, or completely cut out animal byproducts, I have been questioned, frowned upon, and judged for my diet. Some said I wasn’t eating enough and others assumed my choices were uneducated ones and that I was depriving myself of necessary nutrients. This year was actually humorous. On a daily basis, I was asked: “Can you eat ___?” I am not deathly allergic to anything, to my knowledge, so yes I CAN eat whatever I like. My diet is my choice. I WON’T eat certain things. This vegan diet is not something I did to lose weight or keep a figure. I did it because I couldn’t understand how it was so easy for me to eat a cow, a pig, or a chicken, but not my cats or my Beta fish. I babied my dogs, cats, and birds as though they were human members of my family and it just seemed wrong to discriminate.This year I managed to convince myself that the right diet and exercise plan for me is whatever makes me feel good. I do not feel good living off of salads or working out 7 days a week, nor do I feel good binge eating brownies and chips and being immobile. Find YOUR balance, do your own research, and for the love of pizza, STOP FOLLOWING THESE RIDICULOUS DIET FADS. ENJOY YOURSELF!
Lesson #1: Love requires a delicate hand. Much like a fire, easy to ignite and easy to extinguish if you catch it early enough, love is a delicate thing that is still very capable of doing great harm. Be mindful of who you let into your life, but do not be so timid as to shield yourself from those trying to open up to you. Never rush it. Never take it for granted.
” I thought I was mature enough to have these types of relationships when actually I was trying to rush into relationships in order to feel mature. “
If you somehow missed it, I like boys. With such an attraction, comes curiosity. My curiosity didn’t kill me, as they claim it did the cat, but it did get me grounded (yeah, ouch). I allowed some boys to get under my skin and convince me to get involved with them when I was well aware I shouldn’t have. I thought I was mature enough to have these types of relationships when actually I was trying to rush into relationships in order to feel mature. My dad was big on reminding me that love will find me when I least expect it (check out that post here ). He pushed me to focus my energy on my studies, family, passions, and myself in the meantime. The way in which he explained this to me was impactful beyond explanation. I used to be a very insecure person. If someone did me wrong or took me for granted, I felt the need to fix something within myself to make them happy. That took a toll on me after awhile. Anyone who does not respect you or does not treat you as you know you should be treated does not deserve your time, and they sure as heck do not deserve your love.
We will all find someone who will love and appreciate us for all that we are, but don’t spend all of your time looking for or forcing relationships. Some of the best things in life come unexpectedly.
Lesson #1: The education system does not know what is best for us. They are quick to teach us how who Columbus is, but not who Malcolm X is. They make it mandatory for us to pass chemistry, but send us out into the world without teaching us actual life skills like cooking, doing taxes, buying our first apartments or performing CPR. Being educated is definitely important, and we should all try our best in school, but never let a letter grade or GPA dictate your worth.
” My grades were my identity, my worth, my being. “
I remember a time where I didn’t know what it was like to get anything lower than a B. My grades were my identity, my worth, my being. I was always the teacher’s pet, I was always helping others, and I was confident that I had it all figured out…until this year. Ever since I began attending this early college academy, I have met my match. Nothing comes easy anymore and school is now something I have to try very hard in.
Understanding what it is really like to struggle in school helped me to see how some kids have felt all their lives. We are required to remember so much unnecessary crap that we’ll never use again after our final exams, yet kids have given up their lives, dropped out of school, or are just living miserably each day trying to live up to the government’s bogus expectations.
There is a life after school. School is a major stressor for many and it is important to realize that it doesn’t have to be. It is just a letter. They are just numbers. School is important, but it is not everything.
Lesson #1: I do not understand how the government really functions, how our president was elected if no one even likes him, or why net neutrality was allowed by the decision of 5 individuals under a government claiming to be a democracy, but I do know one thing for sure: nothing is fair.
That is the lesson kids: nothing is fair. No matter what laws we set, there will always be people who get away with breaking them. No matter how great of a person you are, there is no guarantee people will be good back to you. You can eat healthily, but some random airborne illness can take your life away in a matter of minutes, should it possess that power. No matter what you do, try your best, fight for what you believe is right, take care of yourself and your loved ones, do what makes you happy.
We may never beat the system, we may never purify the heart of evil in this world, and we may never even fully understand why things are the way they are, but we understand right from wrong and we can comprehend happiness.
Look back at history at those who dedicated their entire lives to bettering this world. There have been countless massacres, wars, marches, and protests all dedicated to trying to change flaws in our system. We have made progress – please look at how far this world has come. However, making some progress is not an excuse for allowing there to be so many cruel and inhumane cases currently existing in our world.
None of it is fair. The good guy doesn’t always win. The princess doesn’t always get to marry her prince. The tale doesn’t always end with “happily ever after.”
2017 was a bit disappointing in numerous aspects, including my personal life and the general well-being of our world, but I have not completely lost hope. 2018, and every new day in general, is another chance for us to fix the mistakes of yesterday. When we begin giving up on or ignoring our problems, THAT is when I quit entertaining the idea of a better tomorrow.
Best wishes to everyone for the new year. I hope you all set and achieve your aspirations ( here are some tips on how to do so). It is because of you that I am able to keep chasing mine. Happy New Year! ❤
Image is not mine: source