So as it’s starting to draw closer to the end of the semester, I find myself constantly reflecting on things I need to work on as a person and as a content creator. I am human, and I realize that, but I also realize that I have not been holding myself to the same standards as a person as I do as a student. I strive myself to be best in everything I can, and I completely understand that’s not possible, but I do aim for always improving myself. This past week has given me time to reflect and understand that what I think I can do is more than what I have been doing, and that it’s not a bad thing for this to be the case. Coming to Duke, I automatically lowered my standards for myself, and I resigned myself to believing that I was not going to do well otherwise. What I have come to realize is that in the past, I was stressing myself out by trying to force myself into majors that were literally sucking the life from me. Since I have figured out what my major is and am now about to officially declare, I have noticed that the way I feel about myself is a lot better than I did last year. I feel more confident, a little bit more like I belong, and like I can do more.
There comes a time when you have to consciously raise the bar for yourself, which is a terrifying thing. As an overachiever, I always aim to excel. This hasn’t been happening for the past few weeks, and to be honest, for the past few months. To not excel means that I’m simply achieving, which the academic in me hates, especially at Duke. Sure, that means I’m doing alright for myself, but in that mindset, I don’t want to simply be alright, I have this craving to do great. So here I am working on new goals for myself, which also means branching out of my comfort zone which also terrifies me.
I was always the girl who would stick to the safe side, answer the teacher when I knew the answers, and always keep to myself. Sure, I have had my little group of friends, but other than that, I didn’t try to much. High school was an obvious nightmare, especially having to spend most of it in braces and glasses. So it was a nice surprise when I found myself coming to college, on my own completely, where I had a chance to reinvent myself and come into my own. I have loved some, had some good laughs. And though I have come to one of the top universities in the nation and in the world, I have had quite a few failures. This is how life goes, some ups, some downs, you learn from the mistakes, so on. But in the living that I have done, I realized that I have let some parts of myself get away from me.
- I have come to terms that I am not at the weight where I want to be. Sure, I love myself no matter what, and it has taken time for me to get to that point, but I feel that I need to do better for myself. I feel as if this is someone else’s body, and I am definitely ready to give it back to whoever owns it. So I have started working on goals for me. Not necessarily to diet, because I know that any diet I take up, I will literally quit in .5 seconds. But I do need to hold myself to higher standards as to what I am putting into my body. This won’t be without a few slip ups at the beginning, but I know if I start now, in March when it’s getting to be spring break, I’ll feel a lot more confident about going out and wearing cute things that I want to. I know that’s shallow, but that is part of what keeps me going, so I’m going to keep working til I get to my goal.
- Another thing I know that I have to work on is the time I allot myself for just myself. I realize that since coming to Duke, I have definitely been neglecting myself. Sure, I’ll go and do what I need to, but my days are so boring. I’m not entertained. I know that the time I’m spending on myself is not enough for me to be mentally healthy, and I know that simple study times with friends aren’t truly “me” times, because I’m still focusing on the academics. And while I am in college and am fully aware of my priorities, as I have said before, I have not been giving myself the time I need. The other day I went out with my SLG off campus, and I realized that it was the first time in a very long time, perhaps even since the beginning of the fall semester, that I have gone off campus and done something just for the heck of it. Taking pure time for myself and not having to think about money or the way I see myself is something I really have forgotten how to do, and I’m glad that I have come to this realization that I really need to do better.
- And of course, last but not least, I have learn that I can do more than just what I have resigned myself to do. I have always known myself to be a writer, but that’s all I have thought myself to be. I also believed that I live a very uneventful life, and that it is very normal for students like me. Through this first week of vlogging, I realize that I’m not just a writer and not just a student. I am someone who is actually doing things, and am capable of doing so much more, whether it’s in the realm of academics or activism or myself. It’s totally possible, and I need to stop doubting myself and letting that change show up gradually.
Being who I am in a world of Duke, I always am trying to find the positive side of things. And I’m not going to lie, it’s really hard sometimes. I have had many times where all I want to do is break down and cry. There are times where I have honestly considered packing up all my things and begging my grandfather to come and get me. I have certainly been ready to accept defeat. It’s not an easy life, especially when understanding that everything that is constructed in this society is literally designed for you to fail. It gets tough, understanding that you have to go through a life where you know that your experience is automatically going to be less than everyone around you.
Being a young, black, queer woman in America is a stressful struggle that I have to face every day. It’s not something that gives you release. The cards are obviously not in my favor. But it’s very possible to have positivity. I’ve had some critics to believe that through my blog and through my discussions about race that I only focus on the negatives, and that I don’t have any positivity in my life. I tend to be on the cynical side at times, and i can understand when people believe that I’m being negative. But i have other positive sides to my life. I do have things that keep me going and stuff that pushes me. I have a life, friends, and fun. I am a regular human being, when you get down to it. There’s going to be negativity, naturally, because in the “real world,” we have things that are negative, and I can’t always evade it. But I focus on surrounding myself with things that build me up rather than push me down. I only hang out with a few friends because I know that they have no ulterior motives or attempt to be fake. I have an amazing job on campus that I probably won’t leave until I graduate, and I’ve managed to support myself for the past two years, which is not something a lot of students coming from the ghetto can truly say. I have accomplished a lot in the past two years. I have lived a full life, and from here on out, it can only get fuller, bigger, brighter.
I have people who question my reasons for starting this blog, and why I have decided to vlog. For a long time, I have felt so bad about myself. I believed the narrative that was supplied to describe my life: angry black woman who speaks too much and doesn’t know her place. Coming into my own, I have realized that I can no longer accept that narrative for my life if I expect my life to continue on this overall upward trajectory. I know that great things are coming for me. Not out of luck, but because I’m pushing myself and I’m working to make these great things happen. I am able to speak out because I’m creating the narrative for myself, and I’m in control of who people perceive me as. That has always been a given for me. What has been a part of my realizations is that I am also in control of how I see myself. By no means is this going to be an easy process, and I know it isn’t going to be something that I can see immediately. It’s going to be hard, I’m going to want to quit, and this time, I’m going to see some type of pay out. I deserve to be happy in every sense possible, and I’m going to make this happen, little by little. Allowing myself is something that I know I need to do, and I know that I need to stop holding myself from. I want to be able to go into my second decade of life comfortable in my body, in my skin, and in my mind,and this year is going to be the year that I work toward that.