22 Things I Learned The Hard Way Before I Turned 22

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My Uganda Family

For those of you who kept up with me on social media…know that I spent the last two and a half months in Uganda, conducting summer research. I could go on a banter here about the incredible things I learned in global health along the way…or how my ten weeks made me question my “black” identity….or how I became a goat mommy in the matter of four weeks. I won’t. Instead, I want to share a few things…well 22 things…that I meant to share on my birthday. But, hey…better late than never. The 22 BIG things I learned the hard way before I turned 22. I can image this isn’t everything….But, I tried to recap from as long as I can remember…which goes back to about five or six years old. So, listen to me….These are lessons. Hard lessons derived from strife, derived from grief, happiness, joy…and pain. Enjoy.

  1. No…means NO.
  2. Every door of opportunity that opens…doesn’t mean you have to walk through it. Sometimes…it’s just a door.
  3. It really does take a village to raise a child.
  4. You are not “acting white” for liking things out of the ordinary…or reading….or writing….or wanting a good education.
  5. On the contrary….you are not “more black” by trying to subscribe to the hood, hip hop culture, or acting “ratchet”.
  6. Words do cut deep…but remember…they’re just words.
  7. Having a boyfriend is NOT everything.
  8. There’s more to life than being pretty.
  9. What good is popularity when the people around you have no loyalty.
  10. Loyalty and kindness…are everything.
  11. You can “inspire” a change in people, but you will never change someone who is not mature enough or does not want to change.
  12. Some things and some people….are actually worth dying for. Choose wisely.
  13. If you’re lucky enough to go about this life with at LEAST ONE true friend…hold on and never let go.
  14. Life is and can be a party. Show up, dress up, and don’t leave the party too early.
  15. Don’t confuse a soul mate with a sex partner.
  16. Furthermore though, the worse thing the world can do is raise girls to believe in a “soul mate”, or “the one”, or “prince charming”. Love is intentional…and a decision. It comes…and goes. And sometimes “your one” is not meant to stay forever. Pick wisely….and indulge when you have it.
  17. The road to success is YOUR road…no one else’s.
  18. College is literally the best four years of your life. Don’t rush it. Stay out late….AND graduate.
  19. The transition to “adulthood” ain’t no crystal stair.
  20. The harsh reality is…what my grandma loved to tell me. Some people DON’T love you. Or as she liked to say, “People don’t care about you.”  They love and care about the “idea” of you. Once that idea is shattered….once you’re left with imperfection, that’s when you see what’s really real.
  21. Feelings are only temporary. You let the bad feelings in for too long…you’re in for a hell of a ride.
  22. “Beautiful”….is just like happy- a state of mind.

 

BONUS: It’s okay…..to walk away. 

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28 Quotes from 28 Wise, Black Women

I told myself today I wouldn’t let the day end without at least acknowledging a part of my identity-my black identity. Black History month kinda went something like this for me-I posted a few pictures of public figures that resonate with me (Tupac, Michelle Obama, Trayvon Martin,  Michael Jackson and Emmett Till), I wore my nice, printed skirt to church,…and that was me channeling the “black” me. In a way, that’s sad. My own lack of my own identity…the lack of acknowledging my own history…the lack of acknowledging a grander purpose than “me”…Well, I believe it plays into what’s prominent in our society-the downfall of our people, the downfall of our women…the downfall of our black women. And for this, my queens…I am sorry. Forgive me? On this night…this very last night of Black History Month…at 11:33pm…I see you. And I hope you see me. And below are some quotes from 28 kick-ass, smart, intelligent, gorgeous, fierce, bold, intelligent, sexy, magical, amazing, WISE, BLACK WOMEN. From my fingers to your hearts, let these be more than just quotes…more than just words. February was not only a month to reflect on black history…it was a month for love…Self-love. So, here you go. I broke my own heart this month and these quotes below…these quotes from WISE, BLACK WOMEN, allowed me to ignite the process in gathering the pieces.

  1. “She ready!” – Tiffany Haddish
  2. “I am strong. I am powerful. I am beautiful. If I will it….I can have it all”- Regina Hall, “Girls Trip” (2017)
  3. “When they go low, we go high”- Michelle Obama
  4. “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness”-Oprah Winfrey
  5. “Them jeans, they must be uptight mama…You need some get right mama…And go Gina, go Gina” – SZA, “Go Gina”
  6. “Foolish of me to compete when you cheat with loose women…It took me some time, but now I moved on…Because I realized I got Me, myself, and I, that’s all I got in the end….That’s what I found out….And it ain’t no need to cry, I took a vow that from now on I’m gon’ my own best friend” – Beyonce “Me, Myself, & I”
  7. “You heard she gon’ do what from who? That’s not a reliable source. So tell me, have you seen her? Let me wrap my weave up. I’m the trap Selena ¡Dame más gasolina! Skrrt!” – Cardi B
  8. “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” -Audre Lorde
  9. “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” – Audre Lorde
  10. “‘Cause I love you just how you are…Hope you never find out who I really am
    ‘Cause you’ll never love me….You’ll never love me, you’ll never love me…But I believe you when you say it like that”- SZA, “Garden (Say It Like Dat)”
  11. “I am Moana of Mata Nui. You will board my boat and restore the heart to Tafiti.” – “Moana” (2016)
  12. “There comes a day when you’re gonna look around and realize happiness is where you are” – , “Where You Are”, Moana (2016)
  13. “I’m not the average girl from your video, and I ain’t built like a supermodel. But I learned to love myself unconditionally…Because I am a queen”- India Arie, “Video”
  14. “No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow. ” – Alice Walker
  15. “A crown, if it hurts us, is not worth wearing.” – Pearl Bailey
  16. “Give light and people will find the way.” – Ella Baker
  17. “I need to see my own beauty and to continue to be reminded that I am enough, that I am worthy of love without effort, that I am beautiful, that the texture of my hair and that the shape of my curves, the size of my lips, the color of my skin, and the feelings that I have are all worthy and okay.”- Tracee Ellis Ross
  18. “Here is my wish and my desire and my pledge as well: that we remember our true nature and our womanhood. That we own and know that we are more than our bodies and yet our bodies are these sacred, beautiful, rhythmic houses for us.” – Tracee Ellis Ross
  19. “You cannot let your father’s actions define your life. You get to decide what kind of king you want to be.” – Lupita Nyong-o (aka “Nakia”), “Black Panther” (2018)
  20. “So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “Me too” again.” – Oprah Winfrey, Golden Globes, 2018
  21. “We are women who marched from cotton fields into fields of medicine, entertainment, and the White House”- Jada Pinkett Smith
  22. “I don’t know everything. I know a fraction of what there is to know and I don’t think I will ever know everything, but it’s important to me to constantly challenge myself, to understanding different viewpoints, really understanding nuance in topics, so I can feel qualified in what I say, so I’m not preaching falsely of what I’m unaware of.” – Yara Shahidi
  23. “It’s handled!” – Kerry Washington, Scandal
  24. “I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise.” -Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise”
  25. “Hard days are the best because that’s when champions are made.” – Gabby Douglas
  26. “We all have to let go of the Prince Charming complex and realize he doesn’t necessarily exist in the package we assume he’ll come in.” – Gabrielle Union
  27. “Don’t take no wooden nickel”- Kimberly McCullough Davis (My Aunt)
  28. “Shoot for the moon…and you’ll ALWAYS land among the stars.” – Bobbie Louden (My Grandmother).

 

Congratulations. We made it to March 1st, my friend…and if you’re reading this…you’re growing, by the second…by the minute…by the hour. And I don’t know what February was like for you, I don’t know what you went through..but take these quotes, say these quotes, BELIEVE these quotes…and know you were NOT built to quit. You…were…built…to…win. Stay magical. Be magical. WIN.

Condom NEGotiation

Hey there pretty lady…what’s it like to sit in silence? With a voice as bold as you are, a body as beautiful as you yours…you deserve every right in your bones to speak up. Without any fear of stigma or endless thoughts of “Oh, I trust him”. It doesn’t always have to be infidelity…what happens if the test popped up positive in a life full of sin before he even met you? let’s talk about condom negotiation and what it means to do what’s best for YOU. Because while you may not want to make him uncomfortable, what is more un-comforting than a virus wrecking havoc on your temple that the universe has blessed you with? What is more isolating than sitting when you know you’re worried? What is more bonding than being succumbed to a disease when you could be free? … if we wouldjust spoke up. If we would just wrap up with latex…there’d be no “I think I’m late” text or no “Should I get an HIV test?” I remember the first time I got tested last year, I was supporting my friend. Kinda something like 🗣 “GO BEST FRIEND… TAKE THAT SHIT.” Because it takes strength to protect yourself when you’re with these men…after all, even Khia said… “Don’t trust no nigga, no”. But we do instead…when we know we’re not the only one, when we know that tomorrow night we’ll be with another one…I mean, I get it… “Girls just wanna have fun”…but girl, I ain’t tryna see you DONE…for. So here’s a little empowHERment for your desiHERment…baby girl, here’s some condom tips:

He says, “We already did it without a condom once.”

You say, “And that was a mistake. I worried about being pregnant all month!”

He says, “I always pull out in time, don’t worry.”

You say, “I know, but when we use a condom you don’t have to pull out. It can feel even better.”

He says, “I can’t keep a hard on with a condom.”

You say, “I can’t relax and enjoy sex without a condom. So I’ll help you stay hard.”

Read more about condom negotiation and why it’s important to get HIV tested at: https://www.ippf.org/blogs/condom-negotiation

How to Handle Rejection

How to handle rejection? *Presses Staples Button* “THAT WAS EASY!” You don’t. What do you mean ‘You don’t” Dia? I mean just what I said…you don’t.

It took… until a few weeks ago to realize one of my “hidden issues” (Check out my previous two blog posts!) was rejection. I didn’t…and don’t know how to handle it. In fact, I hate it. And as I sit in a Biostatistics class now where I should be paying attention…my thinking is…and bear with me. I can’t do anything about it. I shouldn’t do anything about it.

Hear me out. I could list all the things and people I was rejected from. I was rejected by a father who walked out on me…opportunities I thought would be PERFECT for me…boys I just wanted to love me, friends I thought would never leave, people I just wanted to like me…and somewhere in all of my quests for these things to ACCEPT me…The only results that I got…was rejection. And in all of these situations…I felt the same-like a failure. I felt like nobody loved me, nobody liked me, I’ll never get married, or that being me was…not enough. But, a while back…someone told me…all of these “rejections” had everything to do with the people who left, had everything to do with the men who didn’t love me, had everything to do with the people who doubted me…and it had nothing…ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with me. So, how do I handle rejection? I don’t. Because rejection is not mine to handle. Rejection is just word that means…it’s not meant to be.

Yesterday, I felt…defeat. I’m not ready to go into any details…but it felt like the relationship I had been betting on in 2018…just slipped away from me. It went right through my fingertips y’all. Me and the other party agreed on “space”…and as he said he needed space…I cried to myself “Well great, this space just isn’t for him. This space is for me”. And you know what I did y’all? I went straight to my phone to “blocking”. And I cried…and I cried…and I remembered something he told me…He said “The old you would be concerned about me abandoning you. That’s not you anymore Adia”. And I cried again. And I called my girls…and I called my family…and suddenly I didn’t feel so “rejected”…I felt so much love all around me. See, we only feel the need to “get an upper hand” on rejection because of what? Insecurity. And that’s what I had been doing all along. I wanted to play and play and play everybody…so nobody could play me. So, nobody could reject me. Of course…I ending up losing.

So, how do I unpack this? How do you unpack your heartbreak? How do you unpack your rejections…your insecurities? You don’t. You simply ACCEPT that it was everything to do with them…nothing to do with you…AND you ACCEPT your insecurity. Co-exist…don’t resist. In the moment, when you can CO-EXIST with where you feel inadequate and make room for self-compassion….is the space where rejection can’t exist. In the moment when you RESIST what makes you insecure…well, then life can be pretty ugly. Trust me.

Nobody has it together my friend. I still don’t. She still doesn’t. He doesn’t either. But, here we are…trapped in a world where we have no choice but to be rejected. It’s life. It’s love. It’s family. It’s friends. It’s significant others. It’s…inevitable. And I’m sorry. But, if you’re feeling rejected right now…it’s okay. You’re not alone. Truth is…you won’t ever be alone. Truth is…you’ll get rejected again. But, how are you going to handle it?

 

You won’t.

Breath

“Pause. Breathe. Repair YOUR universe….Proceed”

The purpose of this blog is not to “hide” from anyone. What you read is what you get…the raw-raw, cold, hard, and ugly truth. My truth. Because I’m not afraid of hiding anymore. I’m not afraid to admit that my insecurities are my love and my enemy at the same time. Furthermore, I’m also not afraid to admit…I realized this week-I was neglecting an essential need in order to keep “living”-breath. And here I was wondering why my heart was steady racing, why I had chest pain that often exacerbated, and why I was constantly panicking over the resting heart rate readings on my FitBit. Breath. I wasn’t doing it. I wasn’t giving it. I wasn’t loving it. And it wasn’t until this week that I realized I was literally and utterly…holding my breath. So now, not only am I holding back what I truly want to say to people…I wasn’t breathing. And my universe? It was crumbling. I felt under water again. I felt dependent on someone else to pick me up. I felt…un-pretty. I felt like God wasn’t hearing me. I was just an empty sarcophagus. There was not body, no heart…and no breath.

So, how’d you make it through the week Dia?

Simple. I started breathing. And I starting inhaling good air, too. I started breathing everywhere. In my shower. On my shuttle. Naked on my apartment floor. In my bed, sleeping at night while waiting on phone calls from a man that never came. In class, surrounded by more white than cotton fields. In the mornings when I was worried about what life would bring next. And even now, as I write and listen to the Carribean vibes of Sean Paul. Breath. That is what life taught me this week.

Once I started breathing this week, it was the other amazing results that I saw that mattered more than my heart rate lowering. God. The Universe. My Own Voice. The three became so much clearer, because for the past few weeks, I felt so utterly alone. And in my loneliness, I was leaning on so many other things and another person to make me “happy”. But my own breath this week filled me with my OWN happiness this week. I suppose breath brings clarity. I suppose breath brings peace. I suppose my own breath allowed me to start seeing my own passions. Breath. It saved me this week.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Life still brought it’s worries this week. Life still brought it’s trials this week. Life still has my heart wrapped in someone that I’m making it so hard to leave. But breath? Breath lets me know everything is going to be alright. Breath allows me to think rationally about the next step. Breath…allows me to piece MY universe the way I want to piece it and not based on what anyone else feels or wants.

Therefore, take this today. It is YOUR universe. And the vibes you attract…depends on your breath. The decisions you make….depends on your breath. So, breathe. Piece together YOUR world, and realize the atmosphere will work in your favor. And what you see today…doesn’t matter tomorrow.

Breathe…and be the best breathing Queen you can be.

 

XOXO and Cheers to the Weekend,

Queen Dia