Where have I been? So I took a year and a half hiatus. I went into a deep hiding. I hid from friends, family, peers, mentors…myself. And I got lost. Lost in my own thoughts and insecurities. Lost so paralyzingly deep within myself that my abilities to deeply connect, to freely express, to openly communicate, to unabashedly create, to fiercely love where also lost I feared permanently.
Why did I hide? Shame. I was ashamed, embarrassed of who I had become, or more accurately, not become: A grown-up. The pressures and expectations of post-collegiate life crippled me. Summa Cum Laude one day, completely clueless the next. While all my peers were applying to graduate programs and securing gigs, I was chilling hoping that one day soon I’d wake up and just know what I was meant to do. That day never came. So for a long time, I did nothing. (Well, I did some things as my growing resume of failed career attempts proves.) I was prisoner to shoulda, woulda, coulda. A slave to devastating disappointment and depression. Everyone else was growing. Everyone else was adapting. Everyone else was happy. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I do the same? Didn’t I deserve these things too?
What did I do? On the eve of my 23rd birthday in an effort to “fake it ‘til I make it,” I made a vow to myself that this year, my Jordan year, I’d start winning. I’d prioritize myself, my needs, my wants. A year of living selfishly. “23, drama-free” and “23, all about me” were the mottos. YOLO. I opened myself up to the universe and welcomed all new experiences: I created an OkCupid profile and went on dates; I allowed myself to have flings and crushes and buddies; I lost over 30 lbs; I freed myself from two long-term toxic relationships: one a friend for over eight years, the other an on/off again love interest of over four; I studied for and aced the GRE, just to realize that I really didn’t want to go to grad school…yet; I dyed my hair and pierced my nose; I got hired and fired from a “dream job;” I drank and smoked a lot; I lived.
What did I learn? So here I am just over 3 months away from another birthday, and though I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, I do know a little bit more about who and what I am today. I’m no longer ashamed to say that I am 23, live with my sister in a tiny apartment, and work part-time at Urban Outfitters while I try to figure shit out. I am a survivor. I’ve battled every challenge and obstacle in my life with determination and optimism (or naïveté, but whatevs): rape, a brain tumor, unemployment, depression, abuse… I am a walking anomaly. I am a lover and a fighter. I am a creator, an innovator. I do not see most things conventionally. I spent too much time waiting for the perfect opportunity to find me, instead of creating my own path. How could I ever have expected to live a traditional/ordinary/linear life when I am not, nor want to be, traditional/ordinary/linear? I live not in pursuit of material possessions or money, but in pursuit of the highest expression of self. I am an artist, therefore I will and must starve. And I’ve come to terms with that.
How did I do it? I haven’t had to do it all alone. I’m not a religious person, but I do believe in something bigger than myself that is also omnipotent and ever present. That which some may call God, I refer to simply as the universe. My connection to and belief in the universe has infinitely aided my healing process. I’ve also had the unconditional love, support, and encouragement of my parents and older sister. They have literally saved my life. Finally, a handful of beautiful and brilliant women have taught me that true friendship does not have to be draining, hard work. Friendship can/should be easy and fun and restorative. Friends accept you as you are wherever you are whenever. Period. This has been one of the hardest, but most rewarding lessons I’ve learned. Not everyone is my friend. The less “friends” I have, the happier I’ve become.
What now? In my darkest moments, I searched for safe spaces to share my struggles, to find solidarity, to create sisterhood. I didn’t find that space, so I have set out to create it. That was the original intent of hanaelujah, but at the time, I was wary of opening up and sharing so much of myself. I now know that it’s necessary. So from here on, you can expect to see the same random music and internet findings I stumble upon, but also you can expect to see a lot more of me. hanaelujah is how I will keep myself open, honest, and accountable to all of you, but more importantly to myself. I am also working on a new project, EV[O]L[O]VE, which is a site dedicated to women of color and finding the love, respect, and appreciation we deserve from ourselves, each other, our relationships, and the media. Part interactive, part informative, all candid.
So I’m back. And hopefully here to stay…for now. Have you ever felt lost or depressed? How did you get out of your funk? Please share your stories and comments here or hit me up on Twitter @hanaelujah.
Infinite Love. Infinite Peace. Infinite Soul.