From natural to relaxed: the struggle

Oh. My. Gosh. If there’s one thing that’s been a struggle for me for YEARS now, it’s been my hair. My hair is so thick and luscious, curly and kinky, and viscous on a weak comb or brush! The struggle started when I was a little girl, honestly. I didn’t like relaxers because I really just didn’t like the process of getting my hair done. When I reached adulthood, I would stop getting relaxers, only to go back- and eventually chopping off my hair several times. I kept it short til about 2015 because it was easier to manage and stuff beneath a wig. Fast-forward to present day, my hair is just a few inches from my bra strap and would’ve been longer if it wasn’t for stress and confusion on how to handle my new length. I’ll never forget August of 2016, my hair had just passed shoulder length and I wasn’t detangling or washing it regularly. When it was a TWA I didn’t have to do that, but boy was I in for a surprise. It seemed like that was when my hair “stopped growing” because the breakage became too much to bear. I don’t like to wear wigs or weaves anymore, I don’t really care for natural styles on myself, and I’m too cheap to go to a salon to get my hair braided. I miss my relaxed hair days, I do. I understand now why I was relaxed since childhood. I think it’s good that I went natural and learned about my hair and myself. I also learned a lot about hair care from going natural and I’ll be sure to nurture my hair once I’m finally able to get it permanently straightened out. It’s crazy how resistant my hair is to being straightened too. Oh how I wish I could enjoy my hair in its natural state, but after 3 years.. I just don’t. Some people on the internet would say that’s self hate. I don’t really care though because since beginning this journey of understanding my hair, among other parts of myself, I’ve learned to love every thing about the way God made me but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways that I think I could enhance my look, or in this case, make my hair easier for me to manage. Also, I used to wonder if getting relaxers meant self hate too. That’s one of the reasons I stopped getting them. I wanted to prove that I had strong ties to and love for my African roots. Then I met several colleagues and classmates of mine who were from various countries on the motherland- all with relaxed hair. They struggled the same way I do with managing their hair and preferred to just relax it. I chuckled when I found this out, but I still waited an additional year to try and relax my hair, juuuuust to be 100% sure that I don’t hate my blackness.

Growth

My babies are growing! And apparently, so am I.

For what seemed like forever, I walked outside onto my patio to look at the containers of dirt and I’d come back into my apartment feeling defeated. I just knew that they weren’t going to grow.

Because I don’t have a green thumb, I’ve never grown anything from seed before, and I am just bound to mess everything up. Not to mention, they aren’t growing at a rate where I can notice that growth is actually occurring.

Man, these thoughts so so… familiar. Perhaps because that’s my perspective on just about every thing in my life. I’m bound to screw it up and life has to prove to me that I am valuable and capable because I lack true self-confidence. I doubted my plants before they could even sprout from the ground. I looked at the soil they were in and simply dismissed it as “dead dirt”, not even giving myself the chance to see the beauty growing beneath.

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I tried to take a good picture, but my hands were shaking from excitement.

I was genuinely surprised when I came outside to see that little green things had sprouted up, standing tall and proud, in the soil… and I grew that. My time, money, hard work, and even the lack of patience I had… it all paid off. I am reaping what I sowed and it’s beautiful. I literally jumped for joy and squealed when I saw those itsy-bitsy green leaves popping up from the soil. And they’re growing bigger by the day. I’ve got to learn to be nicer to myself, to be more patient and understanding, and to believe in God’s promises. I can’t just look at everything as “dead dirt” when it doesn’t go my way. While I acknowledge some of this behavior as my defense mechanism for the daily paranoia and anxiety that I live with, I know that it’s also just habit- for now. I hope my little green babies continue to teach me life lessons, as other beautiful parts of nature has done. (Like the flowers I found wrapped around the barbed-wire.

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my plants on their way to their new home 🙂

 

Caring too much is a thing and I’m doing it

I always listed “caring too much” as one of those things that’s just not really possible. I thought if I was doing it, it’s because I’m just a “good person”. However, my recent walk near the graveyard left me with the realization that almost every thing I do (or did before then) was out of fear. The big “what if” questions drove me nearly to insanity with any and every action that I did. That includes how much I care about… well… everything. What people think, how well I preform in school, my weight, and anything else. It wasn’t the healthy kind of concern, as in I wanted things to get better. But rather, the negative kind of over-concern, where I am afraid that making the wrong move will cause my destruction. The fear of my imminent doom (caused by me), even with tiny things, drove me to anxiety attacks that would wake me up from my sleep.

I know it’s not healthy, but it’s the way that I’ve learned to live. And what’s sad is that I’m realizing that I’m not actually living at all. I’d even go as far as to say that I’m dying and fear is the killer. But how do I make myself care less, without becoming a selfish person? A friend of mine made a good example yesterday. She said I should get to a point where if someone were to tell me that my home burned down, that my response would be something like “Oh well. Thank goodness my grandma has a home that I can stay at.” It sounds extreme and almost unrealistic, but she’s right. I could focus on the (impending) disaster or spend my energy keeping my eyes set on the bright future that I know is ahead of me. God said “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) I had been trying to teach my kids at Sunday school to make scripture relevant to themselves and to talk with someone when they feel like they’re struggling. I should be taking my own advice.

Advice I gave someone else

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I went out for lunch with a younger friend of mine last week. She is preparing to enter university and her youth makes me wonder where all of mine is going. Sure, I’m young and she’s only about 6 or 7 years younger than me, but she’s more youthful and not burdened by adulthood like I am. I felt moved with joy by her excitement about the future and I wanted to give her some advice to preserve that. Advice that I really wish someone had given me. I told her to make sure she’s always focused on graduating and to make everything she does in college revolve around that event. I explained to her that, before now, I wasn’t really thinking of how my actions would affect my graduation timeline and now I really, really regret my actions. And as I spoke to her, I realized two things about myself. I actually think that it’s too late for me and I am not currently always taking the very advice I was giving her.

I know that I sometimes consciously think and even state that I feel like I’m too late. Too late to graduate college, to follow my dreams, to get married someday, to become a mom some day… etc. That’s not true! I know it’s not true, but I obviously don’t believe that. I found myself speaking with my friend as if I was 99 years old, giving advice from my death bed. I don’t believe in myself the way that I should, but I’m so good at tricking myself into thinking that I do. Then later, my lack of confidence shows in the things that I say or do… I’m really happy to say that I’m in a time in my life where I actually recognize that I’m this way because it gives me the opportunity to work on this mindset and getting rid of it. Perhaps my new mantra for the month will be “it’s not too late for me”.

I also pondered on whether or not I am currently focusing on graduating. I mean, I put energy into rushing graduation, that’s for sure, but am I actually putting fourth the right amount of energy to be sure that it’s going to happen? I focus so much on being “grown” or working to sustain a certain lifestyle (because I have too much pride to ask my parents for money), that I don’t really stop to think before I do something- will this push my graduation timeline back? Even coming to the school that I am currently enrolled at was a decision I made without really considering my timeline. And when I started at this school, I certainly was focused on everything but my actual graduation date. These days, I’m rushing to finish to make up for what I missed and I never stopped to think of how rushing will actually hold me back. I took so many credit hours, along with working, last semester and this semester that I got burned out and even had to drop a class.

Why is it so much easier to put myself down, give up, and forget the future? What’s that all about? And how can I do a better job and continuing to move forward with my life… or at least stop going in reverse so often?

Since I started this blog, I’ve said that I know that I have to find my own way. The summer is almost hear and the semester is dragging out so slowly. It seems that every other day is one filled with some more of mental anguish, yet I am continuing on. I look forward to giving my mind a break soon, though. I’ve got to take my own advice, which I have been doing somewhat recently, and only focus on what propels me forward.

Building ladders [Photo Journal]

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I recently heard the term “build a ladder” when talking about coping mechanisms for depression. It made a ton of sense, especially the idea of just beginning by getting out of bed.

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Today is my first time building a ladder and I’ve got to say, it’s might effective…! I began by getting out of bed and writing down 3 things that I will keep my mind on to avoid negative feelings. Then I showered and confronted all negative thoughts and dismissed them.

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The future is bright 😉

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A Disconnected Spring Walk [Photo Journal]

Could I be getting addicted to these walks? Because this might be the sweetest addiction I’ve had…

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These days I almost feel like I’ve disconnected from the world.. ever since my walk by the grave.

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Since my walk, I’ve been responding to the voice of fear with the truth. I have been quick to remind myself that the LIES being whispered into my ears are just LIES.

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I am determined to enjoy my life and take back my peace. I am determined to grow closer and closer to God. I am determined to fulfill His purpose for me and to make an impact on those around me who need me. Maybe I can’t change the world, but I can change a corner.

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And on a random note, is it weird that I find these to be extremely comforting to look at? Especially on a pretty day?

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Another week down [Photo Journal]

I’ve found myself immersed in nature again…

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This time I went down by a lake. It’s going to be a new favorite location for me.

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It’s not a blue water beach… but I’ll take it

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I’m so grateful for the suddenly good weather. I was getting sick and tired of the cold, dreary weather!

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I’ve spent a lot of time dismissing my fears and phobias and contemplating how I will chase down my dreams.

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