Running to & away from the Future

FEELTHEFEARThe feeling in the pit of my stomach...

Monday night, I submitted my first graduate school application. Hours before then, at noon, I submitted my first fellowship application. Earlier this evening, I submitted my second fellowship application. Monday night, there was nausea and tears. Tonight, jitters. And I have a feeling all three are not going anywhere anytime soon. And the feeling I have in the pit of my stomach, is beyond fear of rejection, it is rather the combination of recognition and terror. Recognition that I am graduating from college in 4 months. Terror at the fact that no amount of planning mixed with dreaming can truly measure up and prepare me fully for whatever the future has in store.

Excuse my melodramatic tone, but I think today I just realized that this phase of my life…the college phase… is coming to an end. The phase that seemed oh so scary four years ago, is on this weird conveyor belt-like stage until the next phase begins…

Plans can only do so much.

You can plan and plan and plan for everything. You can work hard and be patient. It pays off, it does, but there will always be phases in which you realize you cannot run away. Ironically, we praise the future. We talk about how great it’s going to be. If I had a dollar for all the confidence people have in the future, for themselves, for myself… well I’d have enough money to cover some of these application fees coming up…

We run to the future, thinking that being grown means something easier, fancier, shiny, and bright. We want to make a difference, and yet when those graduate school applications ask us, we tend to draw a blank… Pouting, we fill out how we want to save the world and begin to try to give our hopes and dreams justice in just 500 words, or for the real stressful occasions 1 minute, 250 words, or an elevator ride. And so we find ourselves stuck, applying, studying, waiting, pursuing, stressing, applying, and rinse and repeat… we are strung up in this weird limbo, running away and towards the future at the same time.

Run me back through time.

Writing a dozen essays about your plans for the future will make you reflect a lot about the past. And for the past few weeks of my restful/not so restful winter break, I keep thinking of 10 year old me, and 15 year old me, and 17 year old me. I think of 10 year old me, awkward and growing out of a tomboy phase and into the early stages of womanhood, with no idea of what was going on, and I wish I could appear as myself to my younger self and talk her down from feeling so low and awkward and out of sync with her own spirit. To 15 year old me, I would to her to protect her heart with ferocity. I would tell her to love herself sooner, because the 21 year old would be grateful for it later on…I would tell her to keep her head up… and to rethink the whole bangs idea. To the 17 year old me, I would tell her to talk to her dad more… it would’ve saved her a lot of awkward talks in college.

Running back through time almost feels surreal. You’re running back through the movie that is your life, and then all the sudden you feel like you’re at the credits because you can’t see into the future you don’t know what’s next so it feels so so so so much like the end… and it’s just the beginning… but we don’t get that until after we’ve crossed that line.

But I’m rambling now…sorry….

My point is, whenever a huge transition in our lives is upon us, we get stuck in this limbo.

spendtherestofyourlfie

 

And I wish that here I could type to solution to solving that feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes you want to run away and towards the future at the same time…but alas I’ve got nothing.. Only the thought that I think it happens a lot more than people would care to admit.

And maybe if we were more honest with how terrified we all are, it’d be more bearable to get through.

Or maybe if we stopped running for a second, and took a moment to reflect, no word or time limit, on everything that has happened to get us to this very moment and place in time… we would come to have a little more faith in the idea that we’ll make it through.

So to all my readers, whether you’re in my boat applying for future jobs, schools, or new opportunities… hold steady, as steady as you can be. The struggle is real, but we all ultimately have to, and will get through it.

Much love,

SWC

P.S : For my college seniors out there, here’s a really cool bucket list from Thought Catalog “13 things to do your last semester of college…”

My Rollercoaster year: 2014 in Review

Earlier this week, I began flipping through pictures form this year. Pictures of friends, family, places, and experiences. And it made me realize, what an incredible year 2014 has been. I say incredible to try and capture the true magnitude of everything that happened. This year was one of the most difficult years I’ve endured in a while. I was hurt, I was ecstatic. I was let down, and I was encouraged. I was productive, and I was lazy (resting really), and I did so much this year it’s hard to believe it’s already over.

And so, to recap what happened on SWC Chronicles, with some entries about what was happening out in the world as well… I give you the rollercoaster ride that was the year…

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January 2014

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The snow was everywhere, snow snow snow. I remember being cold constantly, but excited at the same time. That type of excitement where you know you’ve seen too many Gilmore Girls episodes, but at the same time are hopeful that anything can happen, because this beautiful magical class-canceling substance called snow is here.

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February’s have always been this weird bittersweet busy type of season. Especially since going to college. This year in particular, it was especially busy because of the million things all the organizations I’m involved in happened to be throwing on at the same time on the same week (it felt like it at times). Additionally I remember it snowing on Valentines Day as well… I knew exactly who I wanted to be valentine, however that person of course, in true SWC fashion, had no idea my thoughts ( or maybe he did, and i’m the oblivious one). It was February when I found out I’d made Homecoming court as well, and all the festivities were going on.

In Feb 2014 on SWC Chronicles: https://swcchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/let-me-tell-you-about-my-best-friend/

March 2014

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Another hectic month. There was Homecoming (March 2). Big South Tournament in a dreary Myrtle Beach, but our Bulldogs played their hearts out. She’s the First *UNC Asheville* put on our first 5K & Carnival. Was able to go to my 3rd SROW conference.

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And on SWC Chronicles I admitted defeat, failing my Thankfulness Challenge:https://swcchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/thankful-challenge-easier-said-than-done/

April 2014

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A month of academic and personal triumphs. This month was huge on a number of fronts. I presented my research on the State of Black Asheville for the very first time, began expressing the internal struggle I was having with expressing myself as a multi-racial woman-woman of color. I also semi-poured my heart out this month (semi, in fear of rejection) and for the first time in a while unrequited was not the outcome.

On SWC Chronicles, the identity project had begun:

https://swcchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/introducing-the-identity-project/

May 2014

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A month of saying goodbye, seeing you later, moving up, and realizing that change truly truly is inevitable. May was an emotional month. For the first time since starting college, I was ecstatic to be going home. I wanted to be as far away from the school setting as possible, and I had two weeks to refresh before going right back to work. Literally. Little did I know though at the time, May wasn’t just the time of goodbyes, but it was the beginning of new phases in friendships. And the friendships that solidified in the whirlwind of Spring 2014, are one for the books.

On SWC Chronicles, the identity project was still in full swing: https://swcchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/identity-project-part-1b-let-the-braiding-begin/

 June 2014

June

The month of Orientation! Freshman, Transfers, and office life galore. June was an interesting month. Just when I though my matters of the heart were calmed and settled, what would end up being another lesson, and evidence of how I already felt in the first place came rolling on through. My favorite part of June however, was the bonds made with two women who I came to love and admire, and laughed about 80% of the summer away with.

 

On SWC Chronicles, the Identity Project was came to a close: https://swcchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/identity-project-conclusion/

July 2014

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A month of goodbyes, and see you laters. I truly learned how much I hate saying goodbye this month. It was moment in time where I was beginning to realize that it was a summer of lasts, more than I was already putting on that it was… It occurred to me that i’d never be in the particular position I was in last summer, ever again. Not in a doom and gloom end of the world kind of the way, but in a this is the ending of an era, and end of a phase kind of way. July I learned more about being alone and being lonely, more importantly I learned the difference. I struggled with the push back of pouring my heart out in the first place, and of how I was going to have the ultimate senior experience.

In the World, this happened in July: http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/20/justice/ny-chokehold-death/  #ICANTBREATHE

On SWC Chronicles I embraced caring too much as a strength rather than a weakness: http://swcchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/why-it-happens-caring-too-much-inspired-by-hannah-b/

August 2014


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Words can’t express how happy I am to be a senior. And the beginning of the year was no different. It was like a new weight was lifted off my chest and a new weight (much much heavier) was placed on it in return. The weight of the future (okay i’m done being melodramatic). August was filled with travel, and family, and work, and preparation. The clock was ticking and I was closing in on deciding what path I was going to pursue this year, and little by little it started falling into place.

 

And so you don’t forget, on August 9th, this happened

APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri

On SWC Chronicles I summarized the feeling of leaving my (hopefully not) last STF leadership summit as a campus chapter president : https://swcchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/this-is-why-we-fight-post-shes-the-first-summit-2014/

September 2014

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The thing about being super involved is that it never truly stops, but even more true is the fact that once it starts, the ball doesn’t stop rolling. September was an interesting month… I remember feeling stressed, much quicker and sooner than in the years before. I remember feeling sad, feeling hurt, and feeling anxious. The anxiety began settling in, and there was no doubt in my mind that it was full speed ahead, but the problem there is no real way to be sure of what, and that truly began to freak me out this month.

On SWC Chronicles, I’d begun my series Heartaches & Heartbreaks : https://swcchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/heartaches-heartbreaks-2-learning-the-difference-between-alone-lonely/

October 2014

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This October was the best birthday month a girl could have asked for. Although anxiety from September had been hanging over me like a dark cloud, I used the frustration I felt productively, and decided to make a few changes, both internal and externally.

Turning 21 felt great. Not just because I could now legally drink in every continent, not just Europe and South America, but because I felt like I’d been hitting the same social walls, same barriers over and over, and my birthday was the first weekend in a long time that I felt like I’d broken through the barrier for the first time since coming to college. A few more things began falling into place, even matters of the heart seemed to improve for a minute (shortlived, but it’s all good) and although Senior year, fall semester 2014 was not playing around at all work or school-wise, this month felt like a breakthrough period. Growing older felt right for a change (*commence all those who are much older than me to chuckle and think “Oh she has no idea”-I know… I’m getting there*).

On SWC Chronicles, I celebrated my birthday of course! : https://swcchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/another-year-another-dozen-reasons-to-be-grateful/

November 2014

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As the good times rolled, so did the funk, again. November was a true test of my strength and self esteem. In the past 8 months, I’ve gained weight. Simple as that, and I’ve struggled with loving my body and appreciating my curves now that I’m not in such a strict environment (majoring in ballet and performing multiple times a year in tight leotards and tutus), I’ve had moments where all I want to do is enjoy life, and by life I do mean food included. And yet, I’ve also been faced with the reality that I can’t eat whatever I want, health matters, and the issue of my weight should not be based upon a concern of an image, but one of my well-being. And I will probably ALWAYS struggle with that one.

In addition to low times, good times kept flowing in. I was very honored to be one of the 2014 North Carolina Campus Community Compact Award winners. Being recognized for doing things you love to do and would do without the promise of anything is one of the best and most conflicting feelings I’ve ever felt, but it could not have come at a better time, and I am still extremely honored to represent by school and the communities I’ve served.

Calvin Allen at Asheville, NC protest. Photo Cred: Citizen Times

Calvin Allen at Asheville, NC protest. Photo Cred: Citizen Times

In the world, this happened on November 25th, the fires were stoked once again with this decision.

On SWC Chronicles, I tried to look away from the present for a moment by looking towards the future : https://swcchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/when-disappointed-in-the-present-look-to-the-future/

 December 2014

And so here we are. The last day, last hours really of the year as I’m typing this… and December as been a blur. A blur of tears, over the injustices that plague the society and country I was born and raised in. Tears spilt over the fear and sickening feeling that one day if I have a baby boy, that boy will grow up a young man of color and I will have to give him the “existing while Black talk”. Tears over the men in my life that i worry about. Tears over the pain I see in the mothers of the young boys who have lost their lives recently, and who have sons of color who are alive today but who they are terrified for. Tears were spilt because of a truly LIVESMATTERdraining frustration being in both a supportive but at times culturally incompetent where all you can do is shake your head at some of your classmates, and wish some of the adults would try and understand your pain.

 

In the World, this happened: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/03/eric-garner-grand-jury-declines-indict-nypd-chokehold-death

December has also been a celebration. It has been a stepping stone. It has been a growing period. My best friend, one of the first people I met in college, graduated along with several other amazing people who have made this whole journey bright and colorful and worthwhile. I’ve filled out graduate school applications, typed essays, filled out job and fellowship applications… and today I even took the GRE. It has also been a time for me to self-reflect, and get closer with family. As the time for major change approaches… I want to make sure the people that created me and raised me and made me into the woman I am today, know I love them and I eternally grateful for everything they’ve done.

On SWC Chronicles, I gave a little piece of my mind on breaking down privilege before talking about police brutality: https://swcchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/checking-your-privilege-conversing-about-police-brutality/
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And so SWC Chronicle readers, it has been a truly truly wonderful year. And I want to thank each and every one of you, no matter at what point you hopped on or subscribed, for reading my blog. It truly has been quite a journey, and without your support/comments/suggestions/words of encouragement after a lot of these posts, who knows if this blog would still be here. It started off as a way to seek catharsis and now has developed into something I truly love to do. So thank you! I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your New Year’s Eve. Be safe. Cheers to you, and as always…

Much love,

SWC Chronicles

 

Checking your privilege: Conversing about Police Brutality

In a time where I have never felt more frustrated, scared, and amazed. I have to say, the protests, the die-ins, the walk outs, the vigil’s… are something that I used think I’d only get to read about, never participate in… This civil rights era-esque movement that’s started back up (because it never left) has allowed me to see a lot. It has allowed me to see several sides of different people’s’ stories.

I’ve seemed to have heard a dozen sides…

There are those that think the protests should not be about race and that the rulings have been fair.

There are those that think the rulings have NOT been fair but that the protests should not be about race.

There are those that solely believe that police brutality is an attack on African African Americans.

There are those that see it as a perpetuation of discrimination against people of color in general.

Some have been silent. Some do not care. Some sit back and say “well this doesn’t affect me”.

There are people who agree and disagree with any or all of the statements above even. And they have every right to, but what truly matters at the end of the day is that the silence stops. That the conversations continue, and that action happens.

Check your Privilege. PLEASE.

No matter what side or what argument you’re coming into the conversation with you must admit first and recognize that lives have been lost. Then you have to take a moment to do something I think EVERYONE needs to do more, and realize.

Check it by asking yourself what do you think cops are supposed to do, ask yourself if you’ve ever felt profiled by cops, or if you’ve ever been given any reason to fear the police, or if the police would be the first people you’d call in an emergency or dangerous situation. Now this is by no means a science, and I am not an expert. But one of things that tends to affect conversations I’ve been able to be a part of is the difference in privilege and the inability of one or both parties to check themselves and truly think about where they stand in all of this.

Don’t think just because you’re down for the cause that you are exempt.

There are so many allies to the fight against discrimination in the form of police brutality and it is beautiful. Let me start with that and put that there. Now, let me also say that it is important to remember that just because you are down for the cause, does not mean you will ever know what it feels to be part of the group that is ultimately feeling discriminated against. And this ties to privilege again. So many folks think that because the read the books, go to the protests, plan the protests, hold up a sign, or whatever it may be… solidarity does not mirror empathy. Solidarity means standing together, and realizing that if you are not a part of the oppressed group, standing in solidarity will never make you a part of that group.

Don’t think that just because you feel that this doesn’t affect you, that it doesn’t.

It amazes me the density of rude political posts about both sides of the spectrum during election season. I mean people are posting and posting and posting, it doesn’t stop. Low jabs about Obama calling him trash, and Low blows to the Republican candidates calling them all bigots when I hope that people know that isn’t always the case. And yet, when several Black youth are killed. A Black man is placed in an illegal chokehold (not illegal by the people protesting’s standards, but by the very law the police rule by’s standards) and the man who does it doesn’t get indicted even though its caught on video …. There’s silence from those people. There’s silence from those Obama-haters, and Republican-bashers. People are losing their lives at the hands of police, some of the same police meant to protect YOU and your family…and people are silent??

I’ll leave that there.

Existing while Black

(taken from Associated Press)

(taken from Associated Press)

From the perspective of women and mothers of color, these attacks have disproportionately been on young black boys, on men that they see as their fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, nephews, and even worse, their sons. The killing of young Black Youth, not only makes youth scared, but their families and friends.

Tamir Rice was 12 years old.  I have a little cousin that isn’t 10 yet. I tutor little boys that are his age, and Tamir’s age, and Trayvon Martin’s age. They enjoy and do things that little boys do, football, video games, running around with their friends etc…How are we supposed to teach them to trust and be cautious of police at the same time?

 

One day, I dream of having kids. In my head, and in conversation I always talk about how I want to have a boy. And in light of the recent tragedies dealing with African-American boys and men, I can’t help but be scared, because no matter who I marry, if I have a little boy, he will be a person of color. He will be, at least partially Black. And so how do I go about looking my baby boy in the face and giving him the “Existing while Black” talk?

The Bigger Picture

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The issue at hand is that police brutality is against the law. Whether people are guilty or not. Police are figures of society that have sworn to protect and serve. And there is a huge portion of the population in the U.S that do not feel safe. That do not feel like they can go to these people meant to protect them in the first place.

I have waited until the end to voice my opinion.

I believe that this is an issue that affects everyone. I do not believe you can take race out of it. I do not believe that whether the person in question has a criminal record, or is on probation, is from the hood, or was raised a certain type of way and that that somehow contributes and merits being treated brutally by police.

I think this is a conversation for everyone. So for those that have been silent, for whatever reason… wake up. Look around you. Just because this is happening more to people of color does not mean it couldn’t happen to others. It means that part of our society meant to protect EVERYONE isn’t protecting EVERYONE and therefore EVERYONE is at risk.

This conversation cannot stop because the deaths and mistreatment continues to happen.

How can we hold policemen accountable? How can we truly move forward and CHANGE things? These are the questions we need in the conversations we need to be having.

Now, to take a moment to respect and pay tribute to a few of the youth that lost their lives because of all this.

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tamir

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Now to pay tribute to the a few adults who have lost their lives recently because of this.

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There are so many different things that could be talked about in a post like this….please know the conversation isn’t over. If you want to contribute anything or have any thoughts please comment below.

SWC

When disappointed in the present, look to the future

I’ve always been a dreamer. Not because dreaming has necessarily been my main form of entertainment, but because day dreaming, and dreaming in general has been an escape for me for as long as I can remember.

When I was little I used to have an imaginary dance partner, his name was John and he could lift me in the air. I dreamed this partially because I was an only child in love with dance, but also because I wasn’t that great at it at first so I dreamed up a situation in which I was awesome, and even had awesome dance friends to join me.

Enough about 3-year old me, let’s fast forward…

Right now, some of the buzz words that come to mind to describe my present are along the lines of hectic, pained, and challenging.

I don’t like complaining about how hard life is, I don’t like complaining about how sad or angry or irritated I may be at something, but when it gets to this point, the point it is now, I tend to dream. And the older I’ve become since the imaginary-dance partner days, my dreams have turned into plans, passionate plans that aim to help me cope with the present no matter how wonderful or painful it may be.

The past week has been both awful and wonderful at the same time. From a hit to the heart out of nowhere, a verdict that has shaken me, my friends, a community, and I argue the country to it’s core about some of the dark issues it still has to battle with today, to an amazing 4 days with family that was much needed, and back to an environment that is stressful again, it has been one of the most perfect times to dream, and by dream I mean plan, because I refuse to let my present keep me down and ruin everything.

Thus the concept of:

-When disappointed in the present, look and plan for the future-

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The fundamental word here isn’t really dream. It’s hope. In the darkest depths of your present. You have to find the tiniest light. Find it, grab it, care for it, grow it, and let yourself hope.

I think the world would be an awfully darker place without hope. Not having hope is an indication of giving up I think…and I believe there’s that part of everyone that hates giving up.

And I’m not saying that by planning out your future it will in any way shape or form make the present better, or will it secure a particular order of things for your life, but it could be your light. Hoping and dreaming have been two of the things that have gotten through some moments I had no idea if what I was dreaming-hoping and planning for was even realistic and accurate, but so what. I did it anyways.

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The ultimate goal here is to remind you if you feel lost. If you feel insecure. Unloved. Unimportant. Tired. Drained. Stressed out. Any negative thing. Or have anything making your present not so bright? Dream anyways. Hope anyways, and plan. Go to bed with that mind that’s probably racing 500000000 miles per hour, and wake up as refreshed as you can with a purpose.

I do not intend to make this post seem like I have this down to a science, OR that I have my own mess together, because I don’t. And trust me, it is and feels like a true true mess… And if your present is as challenging as mine is right now, you’ll understand that even in this awfulness right now, it’s better to live-love-forgive-forget-try and hope for better, plan for better… it’ll be another piece of your artillery to get you through this long fight of life.

Much love,

SWC