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Archive for the category “Grad School”

Top 20 Thoughts I Had The First Time My Student Loan Payment Came Out of My Account

So, I was blessed the first time around in undergrad with scholarships. But when I made the decision to go to graduate school, I said hey, I can do this. I can take out these loans. I work. I’m a good American. It will be well worth it to add a few fancy letters behind my name.

It’s soooo easy to take a loan.

However, paying them back, oh, that’s when you feel the pain.

Disposable income? What’s that? So long. Farewell.

I wanted to share with y’all my immediate thoughts when I noticed that my first major student loan payment came out of my account. Lord, it hurt. I started rocking back and forth like Miss Sophia from The Color Purple. All of the jokes and memes came to mind, and all of a sudden, they felt so real. So personal.

1. I’ve been robbed, let me call the bank.
2. Frantically looking for old emails warning me this was going to happen.
3. Profanity. Lots of profanity.
4. Panic. I will never do anything fun again until 2026.
5. Can I reduce the payment? I’m going to the site to FAQs to reduce the payment.
6. So, about that Uber thing… That’s not a bad side hustle right?
7. Short of getting married and having a two-income house, I’m never going to own a home anytime soon.
8. Profanity against my educational institution.
9. What can I cancel or stop buying?
10. The clothes I currently own will need to look good for the next 10 years.
11. Googling all of the meals I can make with beans.
12. Welp, I only have about 2.5 years left on my car payment, which seems like a blink in time, in comparison. I’ll get a few dollars back, then!
13. So, do I want to get back into school to finish, or just defer payments?
14. Current me needs a time machine to talk to old me who signed the loan papers. We didn’t exactly end up where we thought we would by now.
15. I REGRET NOTHING. I stand by my choice. I choose my choice, I choose my choice. (screaming in Charlotte York,)
16. Slow and steady wins the race.
17. Stay employed. Forever.
18. My boyfriend isn’t cheap because he occasionally vetoes splurges. He is used to paying student loans and is a responsible individual. I must absorb his ways.
19. Rethinking my stance on co-habitation. See 18.
20. Three things in life are certain, death, taxes and student loans.

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Failures, Set-Backs and Resets

As I get older, I’d like to believe that I’m gradually doing a better job of handling failures and set-backs.

Life tends to teach you that as long as you don’t give up completely, you’ll recover, you’ll readjust and a new unexpected path may open up, leading you to where you were supposed to be.

The failure or set-back is actually trying to put you back on track. It’s sometimes intended to stop you, and give you a chance to reevaluate what’s important, reset then forge on.

It hurts to write this, but I was placed on academic suspension from my grad school program.

I’ve spent the last two years working extremely hard, while working full-time, fighting each semester to avoid academic probation. The times I’ve failed to do this, I always missed the necessary gpa by a tenth or two tenths of a single point. It’s a feeling akin to being an olympic athlete missing out on a medal or the difference between gold and silver being only one point or a fraction of a second.

I’ve heard the saying that when people fail they should “fail miserably.” They should put it all out there.

But how do you console people who fail when they come really close to winning?

I’d already completed more than half of my program requirements.

Three math-related classes, one of which I had to take twice (which resulted in a B+), one of which I got a C+ and finally the last that I’ve failed completely was keeping me from my Master’s degree.

In my heart I hoped that I’d squeaked by.

But the reality was, taking two classes while working was too much for me. An hour commute each way, was taking its toll. The burn out was real as other projects for work began to increase and deadlines loomed.

I found out this information only a day or so after being shaken from a car accident, during which I was not injured or my car damaged.

I attempted to log into my new class that just began and I was locked out of the system.

After making some phone calls and finding an email from my advisor, I was given notice that I was suspended and dropped from my current class.

The feeling was overwhelming. The tens of thousands of dollars in debt that had already accumulated felt like the weight of several large rocks on my chest. It was hard to breathe, the backs of my eyes began to warm and sting with salt-laced tears.

This degree was supposed to be my victory lap.

It was supposed to be my fuck you to the depression I felt in previous years, and the sense of accomplishment I was longing for.

This degree and program represented me returning to a person I once knew. A woman with purpose who was motivated and could face any challenge.

I got used to this identity and the way people would express their admiration for my ability to juggle work and school and go after a dream.

And it felt like it was all taken away.

I do have options. I can and will appeal to the dean and if my appeal is accepted, I could be back in class as soon as the summer under the academic probationary conditions. I probably would not be eligible for financial aid, because I’d been on probation before and was granted an appeal on the condition that I wouldn’t be placed on probation.

Or, I can wait the entire year-long suspension period and reapply to the program only 15 credits shy of graduating.

I was also told that I could try to transfer to another program.

Failure hurts. There’s no getting around it. But being an adult, you don’t have much time to lick your wounds. You have to get creative, and figure out alternative ways to reach your goals, or understand that circumstances may delay your desired outcome. Above all else, you have to protect your sanity and your health.

I’m very disappointed, and I’ve been spending the last few days wondering about what it is that required this abrupt halt in my plans. What is it that I have to reprioritize and reevaluate? What do I have to go back and learn or do just for me?

I asked myself if I deserved to be in the program or if I reached too high. I didn’t study any of this stuff in undergrad, and yet I had the audacity to pursue a Master’s degree.

But I had to stop myself from that level of thinking. I did deserve to be in the program, I did deserve to pursue a masters level degree in this area. But it did make me think about the school and the feeling I had been feeling along the way.

Is this abrupt stop a moment to let me figure out if my current institution really fits me or was I more concerned about the brand name? There were some things about the program and about the lack of connection I felt between myself and the faculty and students due to the nature of it being online and a highly competitive program.

Is there another place where I could transfer and get the type of education that I really wanted and the connection that was important to me, that I thought I could do without? I still have a lot to think about. A lot.

You all know me. I’m not a quitter. But on the other side of 30, with bills and debt, how you execute not quitting, has to be realistic and strategic with self-care at the forefront of every decision.

It was hard for me to write this post, because I have an image of me that I like to present to the outside world. It’s an identity I’ve shaped for myself, that I’m proud of. And in most cases, I’ve always been able to back it up.

I’m still me. And if anything, what happens next will be more of a testament to my true identity. And at the core of everything I am, there lies and will always lie a woman of resilience.

 

 

One of the Toughest Questions

The toughest question people have asked me, that will shut me up or make me stumble is when they look me square in the eye and ask me, “What do you want?”

To me, it seems like such a huge, massive question. I mean, maybe I’m not used to people asking me that, and now folks are asking me this all the time.

I’m being asked this when it comes to my career, what I want to do after grad school and in my love life and I often find myself completely thrown off guard and tongue-tied.

The craziest part about that is, I used to know. I was a person who knew early on what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be.

When I was a little girl, I had no problem telling people I wanted to be the “first black woman president of the United States.”

I found out that when I’d be old enough to go to college, in order to be president, I’d of course have to study political science. So boom, I had a major set up by the third grade.

Things changed. In 8th grade I was working on the school newspaper and fell in love. I was going to be a journalist. And that’s what I had set out to do, and I went to college for it, I had my internships with magazines and newspapers and boom, I was working as a journalist. I’ve covered a lot of very cool things and met amazing people. And when people would ask me about my future, it was get to the big newspapers and eventually become a beloved columnist, writing until the day I died.

Well, the industry changed.
And that change, changed what I wanted and changed what was going to make me happy. Mainstream journalism wasn’t making me happy, not living in DC anymore wasn’t making me happy.

So I got another job, and I moved back. I knew I loved health and medical reporting so great, I got a gig doing that, I also loved learning about websites and incorporating technology to tell stories in creative ways, so I worked my way up, until I got bored. I told folks what I wanted, a new title and to lead the junior editors and I needed more money. And those things happened, but once I taught the junior editors all I could, I wondered what else was there for me to learn. So I went into government consulting.

What I wanted changed again. What once made me happy, got old.

So I decided to go to grad school to work on my Masters in Public Health.

I love how the random pieces of my life really do set the tone for the things I eventually realize I want, but there are these moments where I truly don’t know. Where I need to explore.

I’m supposed to meet with someone a friend recommended I speak with, but I’m really afraid of that person asking me the inevitable and not having what I think is a “good” answer.

This same friend asked me if I’d ever be interested in launching my own business. I had told her that I love being creative and if I did, I’d need a business manager who would gladly take care of the details that I hate when it comes to running a business.

I admire business owners, I love their guts and their confidence and their ability to win people over, and in turn, give other people opportunities. It’s so cool to me, but sometimes, I wonder if I have enough in me to pull it off. I get very impatient. Sometimes, I have to just quit temporarily because I get overwhelmed. I’m a worry wort. I appreciate stability. I have a serious fear problem.

And these same fears carry over into my love life. Right now, there’s nothing going on. Nothing. No signs of life. And if a really great man looked me in the eyes and asked me what do I want, well, I might do a better job of listing what it is that I need and want than career wise.

I’ve been so used to knowing, then mapping out a plan to get there. That’s another reason why grad school has been so fulfilling. I knew I wanted my MPH, but two years would be enough time to figure out how to Frankenstein together my perfect career that still allowed me to bring my experience and skills as a reporter, writer and editor, while also giving a nod to this growing techy side as a content consultant. I’m certain that I want to work in health communications, but the questions my friends raise about me stepping out on my own has me wondering.

I have a combination of unique skills. How do I build a business out of that? I know great people over the years who I’d love to work with and who I’d love to give opportunities to and just let them do their thing, but how would I make that happen? But I wouldn’t want to drag people into something and let them down.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m lying to myself and deep down I do know what I want.
I’m just terrified of it.

Counting the Mile Markers

If you’ve ever done a lot of road tripping, as I have– especially alone– you constantly find yourself establishing mini goals along your trip to just get through it.
Sometimes you do it by exit numbers because they’ll either go up or down, depending on the direction. Sometimes your landmarks of where you are going to stop are based on places your parents or other people like to stop when you travel with them and it’s just a habit. It’s familiar.
Either way, throughout a trip, especially when we are tired or hungry or have to pee, we say, let’s go just a little bit further down the road.
I’m feeling like that as of late.
I’m just shy of about three weeks left of this module for school and of course I feel like I’m hungry, running out of gas and about to pee on myself, but I have to keep driving because we haven’t gotten to my favorite Waffle House yet.
Maybe I’ll pass two other Waffle Houses on the way, but getting to that specific landmark means something in my head. From that landmark, I can establish that I only have but so much further to go. When you stop sooner than you’re supposed to, you’re still further behind than you wanted to be.
That’s what this journey through school as been feeling like. To others where you stop and take a break may not matter at all, as long as you take a break before you end up in a wreck.
But for real specific-minded people the break isn’t just a break. It’s a marker, it’s a goal. It allows you to calculate if you’ll make your destination ahead of schedule, right on time, or a little late.
Markers give you an emotional boost the closer you get to them. Mile-by-mile. Inch-by-inch. We need markers not only to guide us, but to show us we are making incremental progress. I love seeing the distance between me and a destination get smaller and smaller.
I love the relief and excitement of getting there even if you’ve driven all through the night and made very few stops.

Grading Yourself

It’s no secret that I suck at my epidemiology class.

I’ve spared yall most of the gory details of how horrible the last 9 weeks have been. I look forward to this module coming to a close for a variety of reasons. Last week, when I was at the worst of being sick, I gave up. I said forget it and didn’t even bother to show up to class. The week before I looked a hot mess and proceeded to go to bed and not go to work the next day. I digress.

Residual I don’t give a fuckness was all over my work ethic for school last week, especially that class. So, when I had an assignment due on Friday night, I threw up my hands and said it was something I couldn’t face or couldn’t deal with and I’ll accept a zero. I’ll be a grown up and accept it.

As my health started to improve especially by Sunday, I found myself drawn back to the material. I took the pressure off of the deadline that I’d already missed and I sat with my books and notes and I even went back to watch the recording of the class I missed. And I took notes.

I wasn’t doing this for a grade, I already made the conscious decision not to try and by default fail that assignment. I was learning for the sake of learning. I was learning for myself because I didn’t  want to feel defeated. I found that I was getting it right and when I got it wrong, I knew why I was getting it wrong. There was a certain level of self-satisfaction that came over me.

So as I sat in class tonight and she mentioned the assignment and how she’d grade them by the end of the week, I said even if I didn’t understand the rest of it, I wanted to hand in the section that I worked so hard on. Again, Damn a grade, I want proof that my hard work and practice paid off.

So after class, I handed it what I did. It’s not finished by any means, but I sent my professor an email basically saying contrary to my lack of participation in class and my horrible grades, I’m not a quitter. I’m handing this in for me and I just want to see if I’ve improved. So whatever penalty comes with handing it in late, I accept. What I can’t accept is knowing I worked so hard over the weekend to improve on something and not show myself or my professor that I actually did put in the work to improve, even if it’s a small part of the assignment.

Some of the epiphanies I’m having about grad school includes the fact that my education really is for me.

I’m spending all of this money, for me.

It’s not about what my professor thinks. Hell, I didn’t even have to explain myself in the email, but I wanted to. I wanted to get those things off my chest for me. The email wasn’t even for my professor, it was an affirmation to myself that she can bear witness too. I could care less as to what her response will be and have told myself to not even worry about it. I actually prefer she grade my work and not respond to the email. But she will. She’s aware of the difficulty I’ve been having, but she’s been pretty much hands off unless I ask her about something. It’s grad school, we’re grown. It’s my education and not anyone else’s so I own that.

I certainly care about my grades, but for a class with this much hardship, I do have to take it to the basics of celebrating small victories and learning for the sake of learning and not for mastery of a topic. I don’t plan on nor do I want to be an epidemiologist, but I understand how this information will inform decisions I make and how I analyze information in the public health arena. So I don’t pooh-pooh the necessity of the course. I just wish that circumstances allowed me to just take that class alone instead of with another class, as I had done this semester. Lesson learned.

I will say this, the difference between when I’d get frustrated in a math class in high school and undergrad and now is, I let setbacks in those classes make me question my entire intelligence, which is absurd. I’m older and I know better. My participation and enthusiasm in my policy class is like night and day. I’m sure some of my classmates are tired of hearing me talk in that class. Those classmates would probably get some pleasure out of my silent frustration if they saw me in epidemiology.

So, back to the point of this whole thing. This is for me.

A smart person once told me when getting your graduate degree, it’s a lie to call it yours. It belongs to the school. They create the rules and you have to jump through hoops they establish to get it. You have no say in the matter. You earn the right to hold the degree, but it isn’t yours.

While I get the point that person made, I’m going to disagree. My education belongs to me and recognizing that, I didn’t let the machine totally get to me because I did the work for me this week, not for a grade. I’m competing against myself. And I knew if I went another day willfully not handing in that assignment, I would have been disappointed with myself.

I would have been even more disappointed if the few pitiful points I will earn for it (with late penalty) would have been the exact amount of points I needed to barely pass the class. And I deserved to give myself that chance at earning that potential down-to-the-wire, millisecond, photo finish.

Am I A Jerk?

The older I get and the longer I’m single, I really struggle with whether or not my reactions to dating and relationships are unreasonable.
After all, there’s compromise and give and take and thinking of others besides yourself.
But after moving my very hectic schedule around for a potential date with a handsome guy who says that I “talk too much” (see, I let that one go) “But sometimes you say really interesting things. I love that about you” I decided since I needed some handsome male energy, I’d stay up til the wee hours to write a paper that’s due tomorrow. A girl needs a little fun.
Welp, after confirming our date, he asks me if any of the places I had to suggest had televisions. I told him they did.
Then I told him I was hoping his focus would be on me.
“I will focus. But I really want to watch the game.”

For some reason, handsome or not. That text made me livid. I rushed to text my best male friend to help me react or not react, but he took too long. So I told my date we should postpone.

He hasn’t responded.

And that further shows me he’s not really that interested in me. Even though he claims he is.

If I’m going to move my schedule around and stay up all night to get my homework done, it needs to be worth it, for someone who values me and my time. I’m not playing second fiddle to the NBA Playoffs today. I forgot about this guy’s obsession with basketball. But I’m in no mood to compete for his attention tonight. I enjoy sports, but cmon, man. I do feel my reaction may be knee-jerk and I may be a little inflexible, but I also feel like I put a lot of effort into even taking time to go out with him. So looks like I’ll be in my sweats working on my paper tonight.
#Priorites.

I hate fighting with myself about not taking this L and possibly ending up alone for the rest of my life because I couldn’t accept a little basketball with my dinner and drinks.

Oh well.

Undergraduate life Vs. Grad life

I graduated from undergrad 10 years ago, yes, if you read the blog regularly you know this fact.

However, this is important because 10 years ago, I was 22 years old. I entered college at 18 years old.

I’ve entered my graduate studies at 32.

The differences in my lifestyle and habits as a student often crack me up. I’d been wanting to write a post about it, but, alas. My 32-year-old, full-time working, three class taking arse has been tired and clearly busy.

I wanted to fight a guy who texted me this morning talmbout, “Where have you been, I haven’t heard from you.” After I went on my tirade about doing nothing but work projects and school and trying to eat, sleep and poop in between, his response is “Cool. Are you still single?”

I fought the urge not to take off my shoe and throw it across the room. I digress.

The point is, I’d like to point out some of the differences I’ve observed between my undergrad life and my grad studies life.

In undergrad, you may have taken two or three classes a day for three to five days a week. You may have had a job or an internship.

In grad school if you choose to still work your job/job… you know the one you got your undergrad degree in, the stakes are a tad higher. You likely have your own spot you are paying rent/mortgage on, car payments, credit card bills, food… either way, you have more pressure to produce and stay employed. You still have to have energy and brain power to do what you need to do for your job, and still bring it for your class discussions and assignments.

In undergrad, time management was merely a suggestion. Something responsible classmates and older folks tossed around. In undergrad, procrastination was the way of life. Instant gratification was way more important than proper planning. You’re young and beautiful and you have energy. You can live off of the McDonald’s menu and Mountain Dew Code red and pull a paper or project out of your butt crack only hours before walking into class and handing it in.

Not so in grown up grad world.

You set aside time in your planner to plan planning.

You plan when you pee. You plan when you are going to call someone back, like um your parents who want to make sure you are alive. You plan when to wash and twist your hair (2 hours). You plan the one day out of the week where you refuse to do any work, but if you’ve planned a concert or a dinner out with friends, you amend your planned chill day so you can get ahead on your work so you can enjoy the planned events on a non-planned open day. Whew.

In undergrad, there were days you just weren’t up for going to class. There were quite a few of them. And you didn’t go.

In grad school, you are all about those attendance and participation points just in case they will make the difference in the end. Because when you don’t show up and you realize those points kept you from your desired grade, you bang your head on things.

In undergrad, you don’t believe your professors when they say everyone does poorly on this test or this unit or this project. You think you are better, you think you are different and you think you’ll still ace this thing with the minimal amount of effort. You’ll show them.

In grad school, you not only believe your professors, but you freak out and spend two weeks before said test, project or paper trying to figure out how to at least do better than the worst folks.

In undergrad group projects suck. They just do. There’s usually only one really responsible person and they never stand up for themselves or call folks out on their bs. Folks depend on them, they carry it for the group and the wack people remain wack for another day.

In grad school, you are surrounded by the responsible people from undergrad. How do you think they got this far? Nobody is trying to even hear or entertain excuses. Everyone has a full-time job, are officially grown people with serious responsibilities and have sacrificed their time, energy, and hours of sleep to pursue this degree… throw in some kids into the mix… if you don’t come prepared with your share of the work, not only will you get the side eyes of death, you’ll get cussed out mightily and rightfully so. So yeah, if you in a group assignment for grad, you better represent. The professor is the least of your problem if you are a slacker. You will get jumped by your group for underperformance.

In undergrad, you had to go through the accumulation of friends, fighting with said friends, the loss of friends to only be whittled down to a special few.

In grad school, most folks kind of have the reality game show mentality of “I didn’t come here to make friends.” Since you don’t have a lot of time anyway, and if you are in an online program like me, making genuine connections can kind of be tough. But when people connect, they make their alliances count. They may compliment you in a chat or an email about a point you made in class, or you may thank someone for finding out some additional information. There’s really no need for fakery, because no one has the time. They just won’t mess with you.

In grad school, you’ll find yourself comparing and contrasting your undergrad experience. It’s pointless. It’s a different beast.

In undergrad, your teachers spend a lot of time teaching you concepts, then you read about em and take a test.

In grad school, you read about the concepts, you learn and in class you need to ask your teachers for clarification. They illuminate how to apply this stuff. No vocabulary lessons or definitions in the live class. Nope. You better already know the terms they throw out.

In undergrad, folks can tell when you are bsing and didn’t do the work.

In grad school, folks can tell when you are bsing and didn’t do the work.

In undergrad, you may sleep all day because you partied all night.

In grad school, you sleep all day because it was your assigned day devoted to sleeping. This will be the most consecutive hours of sleep you’ll get all week.

In undergrad staying up till 2 or 3 isn’t a big deal, you’ll be distracted by friends.

In grad school, if you managed to get all of your work done before midnight, the day before your class, during the work week you count that as a win.

Does anyone have anything they’d like to add to the list? I’ve already gone over my allotted time for blogging. LOL

 

Let It Go, Keep It Gone

When I graduated from college (gasp) 10 years ago, I basically said as a journalist, I wouldn’t need graduate school. It would be a waste of my money and frankly anyone who was doing it who didn’t want to teach journalism was down right crazy.

10 years ago, I thought I’d be a journalist forever, working into old age and migrating to the editorials, sharing my wisdom until I finally died. And the world would mourn the loss of my great voice that led them through their days, that analyzed the issues and the moments we’d hardly forget.

I would be one of the great contemporary American voices.

Eh, that didn’t happen, or it just may happen. But not in the way I thought it would.

I thought that I’d never go to graduate school or even need it. The life I planned for myself seemed to suggest that, and for that life, coming to that conclusion just made a whole lot of sense.

It amazes me how life shifts. If you’re smart, you’ll take a step back, and look at the broader picture and how what you were doing ten years ago, or six years ago was leading you to right now, whether you are in a good place in your life or a bad one.

Three years ago I was miserable. I saw nothing but darkness. I was broken, I was sleep walking through my life and my job, collecting a check and just getting out of the bed each day was a major accomplishment. I was heartbroken and angry. I felt the rug was swept from under me when my relationship ended and my engagement was suddenly over.

Once again, I had made plans for my life. I thought I knew what it was supposed to look like and that’s what I was going for. That’s what I knew to do.

Out of one of the most lengthy painful experiences in my life, I had to be broken all the way down, to be rebuilt. I had to learn about humility, and the amount of control I truly had over MY life. No one else’s. I could only be in control of me. I could only be in charge of my emotions and how I reacted to a situation.

I had to learn that there is no dishonor in failure, but in truth there is strength. In my truth, in my self-discovery and in my self-correction, there was strength.

When you are broken down and in the pit, you have no one but you to look at, because let’s face it, your loved ones love you, but they don’t want to be in the pit with you. They can’t be in the pit with you. You gotta be like Batman and figure out how to fight fear and get out on your own; you have to want freedom beyond your fear of death or injury or discomfort or inconvenience in order to be free.

So I think about where I am now and what it took to get me here.
It took everything I had at each stage. The hope is that my arsenal of everything is continuing to grow, so each time I have more to give. But up until now, I had just enough “everything” to propel me to the next stage. I’ve said this before. “Love the emotion is effortless but the execution of love requires all of the effort you’ve got.” And that same, exhaustive execution of love has to be applied to yourself, first. I had to learn that and I’m still learning that. Love yourself to exhaustion.

There’s a saying that when you know better, you do better. At least you are supposed to do better. You will not grow without pain or discomfort. You have to stretch, you have to fall, you have to take a bump or bruise. If you do not grow, if you don’t produce new cells, you atrophy and die, you are more susceptible to injury and illness. We have to live up to the responsibility that comes with the knowledge our mistakes and bad choices give us. It’s on us to self-correct. It’s an ugly, lonely, exhausting work. No one is patting you on the back or holding your hand because this kind of work is not designed that way. It’s on you. And it’s brutal. It’s God saying, you have to grow up, baby. Live up to who you are supposed to be, I’m not going to magically do it for you. As Iyanla said, “Do the work.” We gotta do it. I’m still doing it and I get grateful for every bit of insight I pick up along the way. When it clicks, even when I realized I handled something the wrong way, I’m grateful I can see it. I’m grateful I’ve tapped into something that opens me up and allows me to see MORE, to see beyond what my little feeble mind couldn’t before. I’m grateful I can acknowledge when it happens.

The other night, I was in prayer and I was crying and thanking God for the people he had to forcefully remove from my life because I wouldn’t let them go otherwise. Then I thanked him for the people who have stayed and who he allowed me to grow with and the people who showed up when they were supposed to and made their exit when the season ended. It was a release. It was a moment. It was like that saying you can’t receive with a balled up fist. You can’t get something greater holding on to something you are so scared to lose. Some stuff, some people, you got to let it go and keep it gone.

You have to keep evolving to survive.
So that brings me back to grad school. Going back to school was something I thought for years I just couldn’t do, and had no desire to do.

But I had to keep living. Then I saw the necessity, then I saw the purpose. Then I saw myself on the other side, being way more than I originally imagined. On the other side, this new vision of myself, I’m really strong. I’m strong enough to be a better friend and mentor and leader, but not the kind of person who isn’t accessible. This better, faster, stronger version of me is frightening because of her transparency, her confidence and her rock solid belief in truth. The new vision of myself is scary, because it requires more from me and it may take more bumps and bruises to prepare me to ultimately be that person and be strong enough to help others. It’s growth, it’s evolution, it’s being proactive in my destiny. It’s listening to the inner voice and trusting it. It’s being shamed out of laziness and into action. It’s being shamed out of future regret. It’s knowing life is precious and we better do something with it. Studying biology and the environment in an odd way is making me even more in awe of God. You’d think it would be the other way around. How complicated the science of life is, but how perfect it is too. The systems put in place to regenerate and repair; the things always set in motion in an attempt to maintain balance– to keep things clean, to fight off negative forces.

I digress.

I’m not who I was 10 years ago. I’m certainly not who I was three years ago. I’m proud of who I was in all stages because I had to be that person to be who I am now. There were lessons those times taught me that inform my choices today, that shape my new voice that can help others to grow.

I had to go through the things I went through, I had to get mature, I had to change. Were some of my experiences drastic? Yes. My situations got more drastic when I wanted to hold on to something bad for me the most. God had to force me to let them go in painful, grueling ways until not only did I realize I had to let them go, I had to keep them gone.

Pushing toward purpose

I won’t even fake.

It’s been a long and emotional week. Me and my friends said goodbye to a friend who passed away, we spent time with one another, thankful we are still living and healthy and making our little way in the world. I spent time with my parents, I laughed, I cried.

I helped one close relative put an end to one chapter in their life and watched them step out on faith to start anew. I was scared for them, but also proud of them too. Life is really unpredictable and complicated and we are all on this path to trying to be happy and it’s one of the most difficult things to accomplish because you basically can’t be happy all the time.

I’ve started prepping for my grad school classes that start this week and I’ve already learned about a whole lot and the material is exciting to me. One of my classes started out talking about the cells in our bodies and how these cells do nothing but try to help us stay balanced. The world is made up of all sorts of stuff that is in fact, trying to break us down and disturb our homeostasis, and all our body and mind wants to do is maintain that, but the environment that is around us, the air we breathe, the food we eat, our stress levels, the things that stress us out they continue to wage war on us everyday, and our poor, brave cells are fighting non stop to keep us mentally and physically balanced.

Isn’t that wild?

Life. That’s what it all is, trying to maintain balance, being cognizant of a whole lot of stuff that inherently attempts to break us and stop us, but like those cells, we fight. On a cellular level, even if it seems like we’ve given up mentally, our bodies are programmed to still fight until it burns out (cell death– which leads to ultimate breakdowns in health and eventually our own demise).

See? I’m learning stuff.

So I was up late last night prepping for my classes after driving five hours back from NY, and meeting a younger cousin visiting from Mississippi for dessert, dropping him off at a friend’s house. I was up until one a.m. and was deeply engrossed in the material I was studying. There were studies about the “weathering” effects on black Americans and that a middle-aged black person has an equal amount of wear and tear on the body and emotions as a very elderly white person. Disparities and injustice are real. And to see studies, and documentation confirming things black folks felt like the world tends to ignore and that we just have to live with it first affirmed me, then it made me sad, then it made me furious.

There are even terms for how black people are high functioning copers. That black women, no matter their economic status are the most highly stressed even though recent articles have said we have now become the most educated group in the country right now at really high rates.

Reading all of this at first made me proud, like yup, look at us we still achieve we still go higher. But then I got sad and upset. Why can’t the rest of the world see what I see, and even what these academics have found? But instead a lot of people see something else. Something completely different.

I do like that these courses are asking people to look at the complexities of society and the implications of things like racism, and classism and how it does affect the greater good.

I found myself in the texts, my brain working and wondering how I can craft solutions to these problems, to this calling I have to help women and children and people of color and the disenfranchised. I found an energy even at one a.m. I knew I was tired, but I knew I picked the right path.

I’m going to be exhausted. This is going to be tough. But this certainly feels like the right thing to do.

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