Seasons of Change

The 20s are all about reflection. There's something about looking back that always has this uncanny ability over us. You think back and all of a sudden you're transported to another day and time. Everything you felt just comes rushing back and you are bombarded with those emotions in a tidal wave of epic proportions. So many cringe-worthy awkward moments, embarrassing incidents, and of course those things/peiople you just want to forget ever happened. I've always wondered why we vividly remember the bad times and I've concluded that it's so we learn from them to move forward. The past is the past. Nothing stays the same. These are seasons of change. 
2014 - the year of change. Wow. What a year! What can I say about the year that my life drastically changed forever? I guess there were several different phases I went though (key phrase there is through - as in, to move out of or passed). I started off the year with a severe melancholy personality shift because people had called me self-centered, selfish & egotistical. I worked with it and settled on choosing to be happy rather than have my heart shrouded in darkness. In there was the loss of the magic in my extracurricular work with the residence hall government stuff, my fraternity and the friends I spent the most time with. If anyone ever says that girls are more cliquish than guys they are vehemently wrong. Guys do all their dirty work in the most discreetly twisted ways. They subvert in the most oxymoronic brazen moves. They use, exclude, and subterfuge all while having an inability to actually say/acknowledge what's going on. Soon it all came to an end in more ways than one and I learned that I not only needed different/better friends but that I had demeaned the value of my friendship. I also realized that that me focusing on myself is exactly what I needed to do. I had spent way too much time caring for others at the detriment of myself and not having it reciprocated made it hurt worse. And so I say, be selfish it's necessary for self-preservation. Just another season of change.

The summer brought the new me with a mental and physical shift from the old Joe or Joteng to the brand new version fondly called Joey. People couldn't handle or accept it. Again I came to understand that it wasn't an inability but rather a choice for people to not accept who I wanted to be and who I was. Your know yourself before others get permission to know you. Orientation and the peer advisorship gave me a new appreciation for Burlington and it's unbridled beauty. The place really is a picturesque haven of natural beauty. Gorgeous sunsets, sparkling waters, and glistening greens made the summer one to remember. The summer season was glorious and all brand new. It took me out of my comfort zone and I formed some strong relationships that are bound to last well after this last year of college. Strive to see the beauty in everything and everyone, you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

With the start of senior year came my new attitude of IDGAF. I did and said what I wanted and boy was it was so freeing. Unafraid to say what I needed or what was necessary. I talked to people with confidence and found myself feeling more and more comfortable with striking up random conversations with strangers. That led to the great purge and the subsequent cutting off of toxic people from my social circle. I reassessed people and it was both one of the hardest yet most fulfilling decisions I have ever made. I backed my convictions with social justice too in attending events, rallies, marches, and lectures offering my voice when it was helpful and the space called for it. I also learned how to listen to understand with the intention of hearing, processing and applying what was said to myself. Joining my men's education group against sexual assault was well worth it and I made friends with some good kindhearted people. What I learned was that people like you most when you are honest and speak your mind. Things were changing were for the better season.

The final season may have been the most impactful for two reasons. There was the semester long search to figure out what I wanted to do with my life (or at least when after I graduated) and the advocacy work getting real. Somehow the two converged because I realized what made me excited, happy, and ultimately fulfilled was writing, and writing stories especially my own. It's obvious right? Isn't this blog a manifestation of my purpose, my gift? My advice is to really look at what you do - something that comes easy to you may just very well be what you're made for. Your resume is also very telling, especially your extracurriculars. It'll let you know what you're interested in. For me that was journalism and higher education. I also continue to struggle with the concept and journey of a nonlinear career path, an important lesson our entire generation needs to comes to terms with. Also having others put into perspective to take my life two years at a time instead of projecting so far ahead made the entire ordeal more manageable. So figure out what you love and go for it - there's ways to make it work.

Then there was the advocacy side which allowed me to use my passion for writing to speak the personal truths, the realities, and the stories I needed to people who were willing to listen. The feedback was out of the this world. I was inundated with praise, and confessions of the power my words had. I couldn't believe that I could have such a meaningful impact on people just by doing what I always did. I saw that my time was coming, that people were seriously moved by my writing. If people notice something in you, listen to them because it may be something important that you're missing. I was able to write a couple published articles, lend my voice to important discussions, and spark some much needed conversation around topics ranging from race to class, sex, gender, gender expression, religion, and everything else in between. Talk. Say something, say anything - there's not a perfect or "right" thing to say. Even if you say the wrong thing at least we can talk about what you may be getting at or better ways to say it; you have to work through your biases because we ALL have them. When you do that's when you can really change the world for the better, but know that it's a lifelong struggle but one well worth. Those are the seasons of  change.
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Lastly, if there's one thing you take away from my 2014 it's this. Learn how to apologize and how to forgive! I cannot emphasize it enough. We are a society that is incapable of not only taking responsibility for our actions/words (the inaction/silences too) but our impacts on other people. Learn to forgive yourself. Tell yourself you are sorry for your mistakes, your mess-ups, or for no doing what you said you would. Speak it out loud. And then breathe and let it go. Separate yourself from it, and accept your own apology. Let it come from deep inside and mean something. If you never forgive yourself you can never move on. We carry too much, it's time to drop it. The seasons change and so do we.

Forgiving other people - almost all the time people WILL NOT apologize (or even know they've done something wrong) but you must (it is of the utmost importance) that you learn to forgive them. Forgive them for not knowing what they have done, how they have hurt you, or how they have affected you. Forgive them because even though they are undeserving and may never acknowledge or even ask for it. You forgive them because you, yourself need it. You need closure. Forgive yourself for being hurt, and forgive them for causing it. Please, I beseech you learn to apologize. Say sorry and mean it. Say what you're sorry for and be sincere. Saying, "I'm sorry you feel that way" or "I'm sorry you may have been offended" or any of that stuff where the blame/shame is once again placed on the person affected is NOT AN APOLOGY. It needs to put the responsibility on you. "I am sorry that I hurt you. I am sorry that I did ...  or I am sorry for my impact." When you really apologize both sides can get real closure and move on for the better. That's that ultimate season of change.  

This year I have been the most "me" in all senses of the word than ever before and for that I am grateful. I am happy. I am loved. I am alive. I am well. I am success. I am going forward with the seasons of change.

My blog post question of the day is ... what did you learn from this year? If you care for someone you have to prove it, speak it out, and be real about it. Keeping it in your heart and head does no one any good.


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