“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”  Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry's "The Giver" is my favorite book of all time, and whenever I have lost touch with the people of the world I reread it to remind of how people, their stories, and sharing them is what makes life vibrant. There are people in my life who have just been there but I have never taken the time to figure out how they got there. Someone being proximate to me should mean that I take the time, make the effort, and create the space to strive to understand them. People must be more than their utility to me. If I truly believe people are inherently invaluable, why then have I long treated those around me as static characters serving me in my life story instead of dynamic character with their own stories. I have spent so much prioritizing me, my plots, and navigating the chapters of  my life that I have never quite paused to read the stories of oth…


"It's not that I dislike many people. It's just that I don't like many people." Bryant Gumbel

No one likes to be disliked. It's sewn into our DNA that we just have a general disposition and a need to be liked. We want people to want us. We want them to like us, get excited when we're around, love us. We spend so much of our time devoted to getting people to like us. We shouldn't have to convince, beg, or plead with people for them to like us. We don't owe anyone ourselves. We don't have to give the entirety of who we are, or pretend to be someone else in a futile search for the approval of others. If we have to persuade someone to accept, tolerate, value us then maybe those people truly are undeserving of all that we are. And, and, and, we ourselves do not have to like anyone if we don't want to. "Like" should an enthused, jovial, and benign feeling we have for another person whether friendly or romantic. We get to reserve to righ…


"Awkward' is a ubiquitous teen word to denote socially unsanctioned behavior. It usually implies first- or secondhand embarrassment when you or a friend step outside the rules. Awkward doesn't sound overtly judgmental or negative; it's deliberately vague." Mary H.K. Choi

I'm awkward. I'm nervous. I sweat a whole lot. I talk to myself way too much. I'm constantly in my own head trying to appear comfortable on the outside but I'm internally screaming. Why am I so awkward? Do other people notice how awkward I am? What can I do to be less ... well - awkward? These are the questions that play over and over in my head. I don't know what to do with my hands. I'm not really relaxed but I'm hoping other people perceive me to be. What should I say? When is my moment? Will anyone notice me? Does anyone care whether I'm here? Why does this look so easy for everyone else? Why not me? Social awkwardness is this self-induced purgatory of most debi…


"Beauty is power; a smile is its sword." John Ray

The process of becoming "pretty" or at least "prettier" has been fascinating for me. I vividly remember how people used to look through me, as if I wasn't there, as if I was invisible, as I wasn't even worth a passing glance. Now I get stared at, people do double-takes, and I feel too seen. Couple that with the rarity of my deeply rich blackness in predominantly white spaces and its impossible for me to separate out what's the discomfort or fascination of me being black with me being aesthetically pleasing. Either way, I'm getting a lot more attention because of the way I look and I don't quite know how to deal with it. It seems like a fluke, a practical joke, or some kind of cruel prank but people are genuinely taking an interest in me. The compliments whether it be on my clothing, my smile, or my everything in general just come from every which way. I'm having difficulty accepting …


"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them." Ernest Hemingway

There are people that love going out, and there those that absolutely hate it. I'm somewhere towards the middle of those two extremes. I have this tumultuous relationship with going out, with trusting other people, and with being able to relax enough to actually enjoy myself. I'm uptight. I like things to be planned  - complete with an itinerary. I flail against spontaneity. Maybe it's because I'm an introvert, partially controlling, or inherently wary. Maybe it's because I've never felt welcome/included in spaces where rowdy young people reveled. Maybe because my biggest worry is about getting into trouble, especially with law enforcement, and being on high alert at all times. Who knows, it's probably a mixture of all three and more. Either way, there are so many factors that derail my attempts to thrive in the vibrancy of the young adult social landscape. I…


"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

What a gift it is to love and to be loved. There's something profoundly distinct about having the love you give to others be reciprocated with the same kind of passionate fervor. It's this almost overwhelming sense of peace, mixed with joy and comfort. It's an indescribable sensation. It's like being in the comfort of your own home, but home happens where you make it. Old friends are home personified. I have come to believe that undoubtedly as I've spent time away from my people, my legion, and my comfort. Every time I separate from them it's like leaving home for an extended period of time. Then, I see them again and I'm met with the warm embrace of a place I've seemed to always lived in - a place that welcomes me with open arms, cheek squeezing hugs, and big laughs. It's a place that has long felt both surreal to the point of being …


"You don't get older, you get better" Shirley Bassey
Birthdays are these odd days that remain seared into my mind's eye representing this arbitrarily significant repeating 24 hour span of my life. I can remember almost all my birthdays and each one remains important, even when it didn't go according to plan. There is this surreal aspect to your birthday coming around. It's a demarcated day dedicated to the celebration of you. For one day the world does seem to revolve around you. People come out of the woodwork, well-wishes pour, and suddenly you're the center of attention. It's as if the regular rules of the world are suspended. I don't know, there's something exciting about it but simultaneously it seems disingenuous. I want people to care about me year round, and to be able to articulate that consistently, not just on the special occasion of the day I was born. It's wonderful, and I appreciate it but I want that same kind of energy throu…