Little Girls Should Be Seen AND Heard

“Little girls should be seen, not heard” is a quote I remember hearing as a child. One moment that stands out was in high school when a female student was talking and laughing loudly outside of the classroom and when she walked in the teacher, a woman, said this quote and told her that she should never be able to hear a young lady before seeing her face. It “wasn’t attractive” is what she said.

Though the teacher used the quote in a different fashion, it had the same effect and represented something deeply rooted in our history: Women should silence themselves to be seen as more desirable.

Telling little girls that they should be seen and not heard is teaching them misogynistic views early on. As novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once said, “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: ‘You can have ambition but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you would threaten the man…”

It normalizes and enables patriarchal and sexist views in our society and holds little girls back from their true potential. Unfortunately, as this teacher demonstrated, little girls get it from both sides. Both men and even other women reinforce these trash values and push them onto little girls and young women. Ever heard a mediocre man say, “I like to break my woman down?” Or talk about how a woman should know her place? Same concept, same results.

Why are we so afraid of little girls standing up for themselves, believing in themselves fully, and focusing on success rather than getting a man?

This notion of keeping quiet, not standing your ground was prevalent throughout my childhood, as in most black families. Children are to obey their parents, never talk back, never have an opinion. This was especially prevalent in the dynamic of the little black girl and her mother (which would take an entire blog post itself just to unpack the surface of it).

As a child, I never understood why I wasn’t allowed to stand up for myself or speak my mind. I never felt that I should allow anyone (male or female,elder or child) speak to me disrespectfully because even though I was a child, I was still a human being and deserved respect. So of course, I got in a lot of trouble for having a “smart mouth”.

Though I held these views at a very young age (and still do) after experiencing the consequences of being a little girl and making myself heard, it began to slowly chip away at me. I started silencing myself a little more as I got older, and sometimes I’d worry about the repercussions of speaking up, especially with men.

I thought “Will they not be interested in me? Will they look at my outspokenness as unattractive or drama-filled? If I continue to speak my mind, will I lose friends or lose possible love interests? Will no one want to be around or deal with me?”

I eventually started dating someone who thrived off of making me look and feel inferior. I allowed myself to be silenced on most issues to keep him. I thought if I was too strong he’d leave me, and if he left me I had nothing. I was insecure and damaged to the point of looking in the mirror and not recognizing the person staring back at me.

When I was finally able to drag myself out of that relationship (and let me tell you, I had to DRAG myself out), I started working on building myself back up. It was difficult. It took years. Hell, I still struggle with some things… 

But I started this process of building myself back up with speaking my mind again. I became more opinionated, stopped biting my tongue. 

Eventually, I realized that if a man can’t handle me standing up for myself or speaking my mind, then is that really the type of man that I want to be with? The same goes for others around me. If shrinking myself to make them feel taller is the only way I can maintain relationships with them, then are those really the type of people I want or need in my circle?

So often we worry about how other people perceive us, we forget about the most important perception of all, our own.

(Now that’s a word!)praise

Although sometimes the repercussions of being outspoken haunt me, I don’t let it stop me from doing so. I’d rather die screaming than live in silence.

Some people may not like you for being a woman with a voice, but others… others will respect and cherish the things you have to say. Others will be inspired by you and follow suit. Most importantly, you will be proud to be that woman!

In America, though we have the right to freely and openly speak our minds (for now, at least) there are still consequences that come to women who do, especially minorities. But, we have a duty to speak up for ourselves and other women who don’t have the rights that we do.

So to those of us who don’t mind facing those consequences, we must act. We must continue to speak up and speak out and we must pass on this lesson to the little girls that come after us.

It is our duty to build them up, teach them confidence and respect and to always remind them that little girls should be seen AND heard!

 

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Anxiety, Attacks, and Acceptance

This piece is all about my experiences with introversion and anxiety. I found out that someone I’ve recently met goes through or reacts to things in the exact way that I do in social situations! I even emailed this piece to one of my sorors to get her opinion before posting, and she too has similar experiences. I decided to write this particular piece because I figured that there are others out there who have experienced something similar, and I was right! Remember, no matter your situation, you’re not alone.

It may come as a surprise to some of you, some of you may not even believe me when I say this but, I’m an introvert. Every personality test I’ve taken, s/o to Myers-Briggs (I’m INTJ), has confirmed something I’ve known my entire life. The reason say some people may not believe me is because they’ve seen me perform onstage in plays or musical performances, they’ve seen me compete (and win) multiple pageants, and they’ve seen me host events and lead the charge for equity and justice, hell I joined a sorority for crying out loud! But, that’s all a performance. Not saying I’m not actually passionate about these things, because trust me I am, but I’ve trained myself to react to these types of situations as if they were performances so I’m not as anxious.

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When I know I’m about to give a speech or host an event on respectability politics, I put on my activist hat and “perform” as Keyla, the Activist. When I’m in a pageant I’m Keyla, the Pageant Queen, and so on. If that makes sense. I remember I was at a rally in the quad at LSU, protesting the Muslim Ban enacted by the 45th President of the US. I decided I was just going to sit and listen, I didn’t want to speak over anyone this ban was actually affecting. But eventually I felt compelled to speak. It took me about 15 minutes to convince myself to get up there and say something. Heart racing, wiping the sweat off of my hands. I hadn’t prepared for this at all. But I finally decided that what I had to say needed to be heard, so I shakily got up and went to the middle of the circle we formed. After I started speaking, I found my groove, took out my “Activist cap” and finally felt a bit more comfortable.

In everyday life I am very awkward and anxious. I typically don’t speak in class, unless participation is counted in the grade.I don’t speak to others in the class unless it’s to ask for a pen if I forgot mine or if I’m forced to work in a group. Lots of times I try to avoid walking in heavily dense places like the Quad or near the Union so I don’t have to speak to anyone, lol, and if I do my earphones are in so no one disturbs me. I typically don’t like socializing for a few reasons: 1) I overthink… ALOT. I constantly wonder if the person I’m speaking to thinks I’m stuck up, or bitchy, or sad, or weird. The thoughts flood my brain and make it difficult to keep up with the conversation. 2) I suck at small talk. If I don’t know the person that well (meaning if I don’t speak to that person on a regular basis) and the conversation starts to lag (which usually happens with small talk) I get really nervous. My entire body gets hot. My hands start sweating. I have to find something to play with, whether it’s my hair or my phone or my fingernails or hands. I usually do my best to move on (as in leave, lol) once I run out of things to say, but I also don’t want to come off as rude. I’m just uncomfortable and I feel like my whole body is a deep shade of red that everyone can see (there’s that overthinking again). 3) I just find it hard to convince myself to go out to where people are because of reasons 1 and 2. I literally have to force myself to do things like go to the store or the dining hall or even hang out with friends because of this. Even if I actually want to go out and hang with friends, I still have a lot of anxiety about it and have to force myself to go or else I’ll make an excuse to stay home.

Sidenote: For those wondering about my process and becoming a member of my sorority while having these [issues?], yes, it was very tough. Now, the good thing was that you didn’t really have much of a choice but to get close to your LS’s, so that helped a bit, but it was hard dealing with my own issues and everything else I had going on, then throwing Zeta into the mix, but the light of love of Zeta was well worth it. S/o to the Sorors!

One huge thing that a lot of people do not understand is that I can ONLY be around others for a certain amount of time. After that I NEED to be alone or I may have an anxiety or panic attack.

I’ll give you guys an example, true story btw (as all my stories are): I had been out after a long day of events and being around lots of people and was invited to a get together that night. Everyone else was planning on going to the get together, whereas I went directly home and got in bed, haha! My boyfriend called and asked me to go with them. I said I didn’t really want to, because I had been around people all day and needed my space, but he kept saying he really wanted me to be there and used the “please, do it for me?” line, which I hate! So I asked him to assure me that we wouldn’t be there for too long. He said we wouldn’t. Y’all… we were there for HOURS. I think until around 4am! At around 2 I felt the attack coming on. So I lied down and tried to think of something, anything else. Eventually I went in one of the bedrooms and curled up in a ball. I was rocking back and forth trying to keep it together. It literally felt like my skin was on fire and my heart would burst out of my chest. I felt like I wanted to rip my hair out, I wanted to scream! I can’t even truly describe the feeling, it was like pure agony. FINALLY, we get dropped off at home, I was quiet the whole ride. We get in my apartment and I think my boyfriend asked if I was alright.. I just went off on him! Like if ANYONE should have know about my anxiety and understand it, it would’ve been him. (But at least now, he definitely knows!) He just kept apologizing and I asked him to leave. I went in the shower, literally curled myself into a ball on the bathtub floor, and bawled my eyes out for at least 30 minutes, until I convinced myself to calm down. I’ve had attacks before, but that had to be one of the worst ones, I can’t even describe the way I was feeling it was so terrible! After that incident I refused to go anywhere if I wasn’t feeling it. Whether it was with my sorors, my friends, anybody. No matter how often they asked. I couldn’t go through something like that again.

For those who are wondering why I don’t just drive myself to these gatherings, if I know we are going to be drinking then I do not drive (ya girl’s a law follower, lol!) Nah, but I have anxiety about driving even slightly intoxicated, and I also have anxiety about driving at night for a multitude of reasons that date back to my childhood. For those wondering why I don’t just invite people over to my place to get together, that way I could be in my home and not have to drive: My apartment is my space. It’s the only space I have to myself (sort of, I have one roommate) and I prefer not to have anyone in it. I set boundaries that way. Obviously people can come visit me, but there are no kickbacks, parties, get togethers, NOTHING in MY space, period. And that isn’t changing. Not to mention, if I’m ready to be alone by 11pm, and people got there at 10:45.. You still gots to go, Lol, and I’m pretty sure that would start some problems.

It’s so hard to explain these things to people because you just feel like they wouldn’t understand, and many don’t. You feel crazy! I remember just asking myself, “why am I like this? Why can’t I just be around others and be fine? Why am I on the floor crying and rocking back and forth like a crazy person? Why can’t I be normal?” Even as I’m writing this, I wonder if you all will truly understand or just think I’m straight up loony tunes.

I’d like to see a psychologist or a therapist and talk through these things to understand them more one day.

Now, if there’s anyone out there that can relate, here are a few things I’ve done that seem to help.

  1. I started saying “No”. If your feelings get hurt, I’m sorry, but my mental health and stability is more important than your feelings. You gotta love and care about yourself FIRST. If I don’t want to go out, if I don’t want to be around lots of people, then I’m going to say no. I suggest you try it.
  2. I breathe deeply, as needed, in (or on my way to) social situations. For example, if I’m in the car on my way to a gathering, I’ll close my eyes and just breathe to calm and prepare myself.
  3. This one kind of goes with number 2. I try to always keep a pair of earphones with me. Music helps me to escape, so I’ll usually plug in and listen to music on my way to a gathering while I’m breathing. Sometimes even at the gathering, I’ll pop my earphones in for a little while to get a sense of alone time, even if it’s just for a little while. It helps me get through the rest of the event/gathering. (S/o to my mom and sisters who get mad at me for always having my earphones in, lol! This is part of the reason why, yall.)
  4. I eat/drink what I want when I’m feeling anxious. Going back to the attack that I described earlier: After I got myself to stop crying and get out of the shower, I noticed that before my boyfriend left, he poured me a glass of wine and put it next to my bed. I had forgotten I even had the wine in my fridge. I was able to watch a show on Netflix and drink wine to take my mind off of what just occurred.
  5. I have at least one person in my life that I can confide in about it, and that understands it which is my boyfriend, Jared. (I actually was nervous talking to him about it at first because I thought he was gonna be like “Nah this chick crazy” (overthinking!) I mean, he does think I’m crazy, for various reasons, but he has been so very accepting and after that situation he’s learned to be more empathetic during those types of situations)


Dealing with something like this can be a scary and lonely experience. Especially when you have no one to confide in, like I said, Jared is the first person I’ve ever really told anyone about my anxiety and attacks and I’ve been dealing with it my whole life. Just remember, you are not alone, (no Michael Jackson!) There are people out there who actually can relate and who can understand and accept you as you are. If you’re in the position to, I suggest seeing a professional about it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. They may be able to help you understand more about it and offer better ways of dealing with it than I can. If you aren’t in the position to do this, then I hope what has helped me is able to help you too.

Babyhairs, Blackheads, and Beauty?

 

So I know I promised you guys this post yesterday, but I ended up getting a stomach ache and leaving work/going to bed early, but while I was stomach aching (if that’s even a thing), I decided to trash the original post on hair and skin and go a different route (with a much cuter title, might I add).

 

Welcome to the Beauty Babble! Where I’ll be babbling all about beauty, focusing in on my hair and skin because that’s kind of what this series is about. Lol!

Let’s begin.

Clear skin has always been a hot topic in the beauty industry, but now I believe it’s taking over. In the past, women did some crazy, outlandish things to achieve anti-aging skin or stop wrinkles, then we moved on to covering up our imperfections with makeup, and now the ‘bare-faced beauty’ with perfectly clear and even skin is all the rage. But what happens if you aren’t that ‘bare-faced beauty’? I’ve struggled with this question for years! When I was a kid I had the most amazing skin. Literally everyone would compliment me on my perfect complexion… and then puberty hit. It was a little tougher for me to adjust because unlike many of my peers who began going through puberty in middle school, I didn’t start until high school. My period, growing boobs, and acne all hit me at the same time! Whew chile, the adolescence! PhotoGrid_1531423895984

Back then I thought, “oh, this is just a teenage issue. When I get to college, it’ll all be gone”. From 22-year-old Keyla to 14-year-old Keyla, we were wrong, girl!

My two major issues are clogged pores and dark marks, actual pimples only pop up every now and again, usually during that time of the month. My skin problems are not severe in the slightest, but there have been a few times where my skin just seemed inflamed with clogged pores! Like, y’all, it was bad! Well, I think it’s clogged pores. It’s these little tiny bumps all over my face, especially my forehead. When I researched it I saw something similar, but also something that looked like literal tiny dents in people’s faces (if that makes sense) so I’m not 100-percent sure which it is, but for now we’re going to say I have clogged pores.

I bought a few different things to try to deal with these issues but nothing’s given me the clear skin I strive for. Let some people tell it, all you need to do is drink lots of water. Well, this water drinker is here to say, don’t buy that! There isn’t one single thing that works for everyone. For some people, they can eat and drink whatever they want and have clear skin, because genetics, for others they need a healthy diet and water, and some others need a prescription from their dermatologist. Whatever the case may be, don’t forget to try new things to see what works best for you!

Now, let’s get into this hair! I’m not going to get into how I went natural because it’s a long, sad story, but if you’re interested in hearing it, I’ll be performing in a play this fall on natural hair, and my story is in it! I’ll give you guys more details in the coming months.

I’m also not going to talk about what it’s like having natural hair, my experiences, etc. because that’s a post on its own, which I may do in the near future.

What I will babble about are my current issues with my hair (like I did with my skin) and in the end talk about different ways I’ve been trying to overcome those issues.

Now, let’s get this straight, I looove my natural hair, to the point where I truly cannot imagine it permanently straightened again. It’s a little difficult to work with because of the different textures, lengths, and areas of thick and thinness, but it’s beautiful all the same! The issue comes in when I start comparing my hair to other people’s hair! I spend more days than I’m proud to admit just binge watching natural hair videos from some of my favorite natural hair YouTubers. Then, after being super hyped up and inspired to try something new, I race to the bathroom to get started and feel discouraged. Why? Because I look in the mirror, and instead of seeing Naptural85’s hair on my head, I see my own (btw I loooove Naptural85, she’s been doing this natural hair thing since before it was mainstream, y’all check her out). Her hair is so long and thick and healthy, why can’t mine be that way? Her twistout is so defined, mine’s always so frizzy! So and so had like 15 inches of hair growth last month, where’s my growth???

Instead of appreciating my hair for the growth it has achieved, I focus on what it hasn’t done. How’s that healthy?

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Left: 2015/2016; Right: 2017/2018

 

It’s important for us to remember that we don’t know anyone’s journey but our own. Like I talked about in my “Relationships are Hard” post (if you haven’t read it, hop to it!) leave #Goals alone if they are negatively affecting you in this way! We have no idea what a person had to go through to get the life (or in this case, the skin or hair) that they have, and if we find out, we may not even be willing to do what they did! One girl could’ve big chopped after years of being natural to get her hair to where it is. Another person could go to a salon every single weekend, faithfully. Another person could eat a strict, plant-based vegan diet to see their results. These are all things that I am NOT willing to do, haha!

So how did I start to become more confident about my hair and skin, and what can I do to improve them?

For my skin, I stopped wearing makeup. Not that makeup is bad, I just 1) am not consistent with cleaning my tools and brushes 2) refuse to replace my makeup every few months, because I didn’t use it often in the first place 3) I could never take off the makeup properly. No matter what I did there was still some there the next day and that equals breakouts and lastly 4) I wanted to work on feeling confident without it.

As I said, I didn’t wear it often, just for going out, going on a date, or if I was hosting an event for one of my orgs. Other than that, I don’t do much. Most of my days consist of school, work, home and watch Netflix/Hulu, so there was never a point for me to wear makeup often. But when I did wear it it was because I was usually going somewhere “nice” and wanted to look pretty. So, before spring break, I decided to go without makeup because I should feel like I look pretty with or without makeup, right? Let me tell you, it was ROUGH at first! I had to hype myself up, stop myself from putting on ‘just a liiiittttle foundation’ or ‘just a liiiittttle mascara’. But, eventually, it evolved into just not feeling like putting on makeup, then to not caring, then to a little bit more confident.

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It may be a little hard to see the dark marks and pores, but they’re there lol!

 

My birthday, which was Saturday, was one of the first times I wore a full face of (very light) makeup since Spring Break, and it was nice, but I didn’t feel a drastic change like I used to, which I look at as a win! I’m going to continue with not wearing makeup until I just feel like it, randomly, and also trying out different cleansers during my nightly and daytime facial regimen every now and again to see what works. I also need to learn how to keep my hands out of my face! That’s a big one!

For my hair, I want to try different things in my hair. Not necessarily products like curling creams, but different oils and things. I recently started using aloe vera juice and I’m trying to get a sweet almond oil and maybe even a JBCO(Jamaican Black Castor Oil) because I’ve heard great things. Do you use them? If so, what do you think?

I also need to do more protective styling, massaging my scalp and making sure it isn’t dry, and keep my hands out of my hair as well (yall, I have a SERIOUS hand problem!) Also, I need to stop comparing my hair and my skin to others. We aren’t the same so we’re not going to have the same hair or skin, and that’s okay! It’s okay for me to want longer, thicker, healthier hair, but when I start to look down on what I have right now, that’s when I need to remember to be appreciative and loving.

What are your favorite protective styles? What do you use in your facial regimen! Let me know. Thanks for joining this week and stay tuned for my next post in the series about spirituality and positivity!

Journey, Pt. 1: Body Image…

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. Again, this was inspired by Eunice Koomson’s post on the Odyssey: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/society-body-standards-toxic

Whew.. this is kind of hard, but let’s jump right in!

I’ve always been very shy to talk about my issues with my body because 1) it’s very sad and embarrassing for me (like honestly I started getting really anxious and embarrassed just typing this on Word! Let alone uploading it!) and 2) when I do muster up the strength to say something about my experiences, I’m almost always very quickly and harshly shut down.

“But you’re so skinny, you don’t know what it’s like” “You don’t deal with people talking about your body all the time” “You don’t have to deal with body shaming” Au contraire, I actually do!

When I was a kid, my mom used to tell everyone that I ate like a man, because for dinner I’d get two, sometimes three helpings. What she didn’t know is that lots of times I did that because I thought eating so much would help me to gain weight. Sometimes I’d go to bed at night with stomach aches, not being able to sleep because I ate too much, but it was okay, because I’d finally gain weight, right? Now, for some people, hearing that a skinny person actually wanted to gain weight may sound utterly ridiculous, right? Skinny is the beauty norm, it’s the beauty standard. But where I’m from, and from what I have experienced curves like Beyoncé or *insert curvy but not fat or skinny celebrity here* is what’s seen as beautiful. So, if you’re considered “too” fat or if you’re considered “too” skinny you aren’t a part of that crowd. I also didn’t realize how Eurocentric the ‘skinny is beautiful’ idea was until I did my very first pageant.

I was around 11 or 12, and for the interview portion of the pageant, we spent 2-3 minutes with each judge. They ask us questions and we’re supposed to answer confidently, but at the time, I didn’t know the difference between an honest answer and a pageant answer. One of the judges, a white woman, asked “If there was anything you could change about yourself, what would it be?” Now, a perfect southern pageant answer would’ve been something like, “I believe God made me this way for a reason, and God sees all of his children as perfect so I wouldn’t change a thing.” But the honest 11/12 year old Keyla answer was, “I’d probably change… my size.” She looked at me, her face got a little red, then she asked me to elaborate, and so I did. “I think I’m too skinny, so I’d probably change my weight.” The remainder of my three minutes with that judge was spent with her reprimanding me for being ungrateful and telling me how there were “so many people out there who wish they were my size!” in a very annoyed and pissed off tone.

Needless to say, I did not win that pageant.

But, what that judge, and many others didn’t know (or didn’t care to ask) is why I felt that way about myself. I didn’t just look in the mirror one day and decide that I was too skinny, it came from somewhere.

It started in elementary school with other kids calling me things like twig, or stick, and it got worse in middle school and high school which is where my body issues really began and shaped the way I viewed myself. I was called anorexic and bulimic (which was really messed up in my opinion because there are people who actually suffer from these disorders!) I was told that I’d never be loved because “men like meat not bones”, I was told I’d never be a real black woman, because real black women had curves. I was told that I looked disgusting, and eventually I began to believe it. It didn’t matter how many times I was told that I was pretty, that one “you’re skinny AF!” that one “you’re shaped like a 12-year-old boy” could knock me off my high horse so easily. Low confidence, low self-esteem, led to needing to be affirmed of my beauty by literally anyone, which led to allowing myself to be treated as less than what I was, which probably led to my first relationship.. which was EFFING terrible! Yup, I said it.PhotoGrid_1530641049781

I faked my ego, faked my confidence for YEARS. And don’t get me wrong, there were some days when I just knew I was the cutest thing walking, and nobody could tell me anything! But other times, LOTS of other times, I literally refused to look at myself in the mirror for days at a time out of pure disgust.

So let’s bring it back to present day. Present day Keyla is nowhere near as unconfident and self-conscious about her body as she used to be. Present day Keyla KNOWS that she’s beautiful. But present day Keyla still has a lot to work on. Present day Keyla doesn’t go to the gym because it makes her feel good, no matter how many times she tells herself that lie, she goes because she’s always been chastised about the size of her butt, so she hopes it’ll get bigger. She goes because her arms are so skinny, almost skeletal, and she wants to gain just a little muscle definition there so she won’t look like a walking skeleton. She goes because she refuses to let her stomach be anything but flat, because she doesn’t want her stomach to be bigger than her behind which would not be a tough feat.

In Eunice’s post, she wrote down things about her body that she liked, to see if it outweighed what she didn’t like, here’s my take on it.

Keyla’s Positive thoughts on her body:

  1. I like my height. 5’2”. Sometimes it sucks not being able to see over people’s heads for Mardi Gras, and having to get on my tip-toes to get my food out of the microwave, but I think my height is cute, and being short comes in handy. I mean, who else is gonna crouch down to get the basketball when it rolls the porch at home? haha!
  2. I like my long legs. I didn’t like them at first because, obviously, they were skinny, and scarred up because I used to be a tomboy, but now I really like them
  3. I like my tummy, and my belly button (it’s an inny!)
  4. I love my skin tone. Whether it gets a little darker from the sun, or a little lighter from being inside majority of the time, I love its beautiful brown glow
  5. I think I have nice sized boobs… what? I do!
  6. This may be a little TMI, but I like the softness of my butt LOL! Sorry!
  7. My long neck and collarbone, I think, are pretty modelesque, so that’s cool!

After going through this list I realized I only disliked, and I use the word dislike very loosely, maybe three or four things about my body total, which is a lot less than I was expecting!

So, how can I improve my opinion of my body and move on to a more positive and self-loving outlook?

First, I can remind myself that beauty has no size or shape, and stop subjecting myself to societal beauty standards. If this were easy, then I would’ve done it a long time ago. It’s not! So it’ll take time, practice and self-reassurance. Self-reassurance is a BIG one! I can’t be affirmed by anyone but myself on this. When it comes from the outside it’s only temporary, but when it comes from inside, it’s everlasting!

Next, tell myself that it’s okay if I want to go to the gym to improve a few areas I want improved. I need to stop lying to myself saying that the only reason I go is because it makes me feel good as not to seem shallow. Be real sis! That ain’t the reason! But, I also need to remember that when I do leave the gym, though I am huffing and puffing, I actually DO feel really good, and I need to hold on to that feeling.

Lastly, I need to remind myself that I am not that little girl anymore. I’m a grown woman now, and the things said by those people in the past were said out of rudeness, ignorance, and straight up jealousy, NOT fact! But, I also need to continue to stand my ground, and not allow anyone to make fun of my appearance, as it does bring up those old memories and insecure feelings. I have NO room for negativity and body shaming on this journey!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s self-reflection post, it’s probably the most open I’ve been with anyone outside of my boyfriend and best friend.

My next post will discuss my Hair & Skin. Stay tuned!

(P.S. I hope you guys are enjoying the photos posted with the article! Not gonna lie, it’s hard to find pics of me from younger years because I swiftly deleted anything I find unflattering LOL! But I post them to make the articles more authentic, and I’ll try to do it with each post in this series!)

Welcome to My Journey!

Welcome back! My Soror and fellow blogger for the Odyssey, Eunice Koomson, wrote a very raw and relatable piece about her body, and body norms which, along with some self-reflection, and some hyping myself up to even do this, inspired a series of my own posts that are to come in the following days/weeks. But before I begin, check out her article: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/society-body-standards-toxic

With that being said, I’ve recently began my journey of self-love, self-discovery, and positivity. I’ve downloaded positive affirmation and bible study apps to refocus my spiritual energy and to begin rebuilding my relationship with God, because we (okay, fine, just me) really fell off. I’ve been reading fiction books, and some blogs by some awesome bloggers like: OrdinarilyExtraordinaryMom, ANaturalBeaut, and Eunice who’s mentioned above; I’ve been attempting to mind my own dang business in real life and on social media (harder than it seems TBH) in order to protect my inner peace for my mental and emotional well-being (because my anxiety is truly no joke), and after a week of being sick I’ve returned to the gym. I try to go M-F after work for about 45 minutes to an hour, and of course, that’s helping with my physical well-being. All of these things intersect to help me overall. For example, yeah going to the gym gets me physically fit, but it also helps me mentally, etc.

But, I tell you this to say, that I realized a big reason that it’s been hard for me to even begin this journey of self-love, self-discovery, and positivity is because I am not consistent with loving myself, learning myself, and being positive.

I’m constantly looking in the mirror wondering why my skin sucks and my why my hair hasn’t grown significantly since I went completely natural in 2015; I don’t go to the gym because I want to feel good or be healthier I go because sometimes I just don’t like the way my body looks; and any time something doesn’t go my way or times get hard sometimes I immediately turn into Negative Nancy and eat (or drink) my feelings.

So after reading Eunice’s post about her body self-consciousness, it inspired me to do my own version. To break down the things I’m self-conscious about over a number of posts and take you all on this journey of mine. I will go over things that I’m self-conscious about with my body, my skin and hair, my mental and emotional issues, spiritual issues and beliefs (or lack thereof), and even the struggles I’ve had overal

IMG_20180702_090417_342

One of my favorite selfies

l as a 20-something trying to figure out her next step. Why? Because, even though it’s scary allowing people to see the other side of you, the side you typically don’t show on social media, I believe that this will help me on my journey and could possibly help someone else. Now, of course, I’m really big on not telling everybody everything about yourself, so though I am going to be telling you guys some pretty personal things that make me feel kind of iffy, I’m overall (more or less) comfortable with sharing this information.

 

Thank you for coming on this journey with me! The first official post will be centered around my body!

 

Are You Speaking Their Love Language?

As many of you know by now, a lot of the topics I write about tend to be inspired by what I see on social media, and this one is no different. Recently I’ve been seeing people talk about learning their love language; so naturally I felt compelled to research this and I came across information from a book written by Gary Chapman called “The 5 Love Languages”. In this book, Chapman explains that not everyone loves, feels love or processes love in the same way. He notes that there are five main love languages that people subscribe to: 1) Words of Affirmation 2) Quality Time 3) Receiving Gifts 4) Acts of Service 5) Physical Touch.

This isn’t saying everyone only has one love language, on the contrary, it’s possible to subscribe to multiple love languages, some even rank them in order which I’ll do later in this piece. Before I go into ranking each love language, I want to give more info on them using the what I’ve gathered through research and my own hypotheses. Enjoy!

  1. Words of Affirmation

Have you ever heard your significant other talk about needing reassurance? If so, it’s probable that Words of Affirmation is one of their main love languages. These people tend to need their significant other to confirm their feelings for them quite often. Tell them that they’re beautiful, or that you love them, even offering emotional support and encouragement.

How to figure out if this is your S/O’s love language:

  • Pay attention to how their mood, facial expression, or tone changes when you compliment or affirm them.
  • Recognize if they’re constantly asking your opinion on how the look or if you like something that they do. Ex. “Hey babe, do you think this outfit looks good on me? Do you like my hair this way?”
  • Listen to things they may say other than asking you questions. Some people tend to “fish for compliments” like calling themselves ugly or saying they don’t have a good personality. Even though they may not actually think this about themselves, it is likely that they’re saying it in your presence to get you to affirm that they are attractive and you adore their personality. Pay attention!
  1. Quality Time

It’s always important for couples to spend some quality time together, but some people need a lot more quality time than others. Going out on dates, choosing to hang out with them instead of your friends, and even having a little Netflix and chill time can satisfy those with this love language. Though, if this person wants you to spend all of your time with them and no one else, and gets upset if you don’t, that is bordering on abusive actions and you should think about looking in to the different types and signs of abuse.

How to figure out if this is your S/O’s love language:

  • They try to make plans with you often
  • Cancelling plans, even for good reason, really hurts their feelings
  • They are at their happiest just being around you, even if you aren’t doing anything extravagant
  1. Receiving Gifts

When I saw this was a love language, I thought it was extremely superficial. “So one has to buy these expensive gifts to be loved? That sounds more like gold digging.” Then I actually read up on this love language and realized that the gifts don’t have to be lavish. Randomly getting them their favorite snack, leaving sweet notes in their car, or even picking some flowers by the side of the road and letting them know that when you saw the flowers, you thought of them can really brighten up the day of someone with this love language.

How to figure out if this is your S/O’s love language:

  • Recognize their reactions to small acts, like getting them their favorite snack without them asking
  1. Acts of Service

I believe that this love language is highly found in people who have children or who work alot. Small acts of service like taking out the trash or cooking dinner not only takes some responsibility off of this person’s plate, but it also shows that you care about and love them. If you and your S/O have been together for some time and have children together, but your S/O is usually the one taking care of the kids, I’d suggest giving them some time to themselves by taking on kid duty for a while.

 

How to figure out if this is your S/O’s love language:

  • Much like #3, pay attention to their reaction when you do something like make dinner, or take the kids for the day
  • If they are usually stressed or tired, notice if they seem more relaxed after the act of service is done
  1. Physical Touch

Chapman is very clear about physical touch not necessarily being about sex. Physical touch can be anything from holding hands, cuddling, or other displays of affection like hugs, forehead kisses, or giving them a massage after a long day. If both you and your S/O’s main love language is physical touch, you are sure to have an extremely affectionate relationship.

How to figure out if this is your S/O’s love language:

  • Do they seem to be electrified, warmed, or even relaxed by your touch?
  • Do they always reach for your hand when you’re out and about or pull you closer while you’re in bed together?

Learning your S/O’s, or even the person you’re interested in, love language can help you learn more about your partner, fix problems, and help you both to have a loving and happy relationship.

I believe that the order of my love languages are as follows:

Quality Time and Words of Affirmation would probably be my top two, followed by Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, then Acts of Service.

I believe one should try to love their S/O in all of these ways, because despite what your main love language may be, receiving love in other ways sometimes can truly make you happy, but always try to focus on their main love language(s).

Lastly, if you truly want to know about your S/O’s love language and it’s hard for you to decipher which one they subscribe to the most, then ask them. Communication, of course, is one of the biggest and most important parts of relationships, and simply asking your S/O “what would you like from me?” “Tell me how I can love you better?” will not only save time, but it’ll save a little effort and a lot of confusion on your part.

Don’t Let Finals Get You Down

With Finals Week rearing it’s ugly head here at LSU, the anxiety, depression, stress and overall feeling of “Kill me, now” is inevitable. We spend hours upon hours in the library, never to see the light of day (until the week is over). It’s truly one of the most dreadful times of year, so how do we escape those feelings? How do we study enough and stay confident without becoming stressed, sleep-deprived, underfed, over-caffeinated?

  1. Self Care:

People are beginning to take self care much more seriously. Putting yourself before others every now and again is imperative to living a happy life, but during finals week people tend to back track. I know lots of people who study so hard for so long that they literally forget to eat for the entire day, that is NOT putting ‘you’ first. A few easy self care ideas during finals week are knowing when to go home. You can study from the crack of dawn until dusk and then some, but it’s important to know when to put the books down and relax.

Putting on a face mask, taking a nice, warm bubble bath, getting a little cleaning done, even going to see movie (Bae and I will be seeing Avengers: Infinity War right in the middle of finals week, so excited!) can all suffice for self care, and let’s not forget the ultimate self care activity, napping!

2.  Take a Breather

Similar to self care, but not quite the same, taking a breather is something for you to do while studying. Some times we get frustrated or feel like we’re no longer retaining any information, that’s when it’s time to take a breather. Take a trip to the nearest convenience store for a snack (or a Monster). Take a little walk around outside to clear your head. My favorite ‘breather’ is just sitting back and listening to music, I don’t focus on anything other than the beats, instruments, and vocals coming through my earphones, then after a few songs I get back into my study groove. Breathers help to clear your head and calm you down so you can go back to study more refreshed and refocused.

3. Change Up Your Location

Sometimes staying in the same place can get annoying, boring, and even kind of distracting, think about changing up your location. If you don’t want too much change, think about switching things up every day or every other day. Maybe study in the library for a few days, then in a study room on campus other days. If you’re cool with a bit more changes, you can start off in your room and when you start to feel like your focus is shifting, get up and walk to the library (boom, you got your breather in and changed up your location), maybe even study outside if it’s a nice day.

4. Don’t Overwork Yourself

The above three tips are to help with things like stress and anxiety, which are caused by overworking yourself. Now I’m going to hit you guys with the stats. According to a 2009 article in the Harvard Business Review, “Working too much can take a toll on the body and brain in two main ways — by boosting stress and by getting in the way of exercise, healthy eating, and other good habits.” Though this article was written about the work force, the same can be said about school. In 2016, USA Today College reported a significant increase of college students reporting having trouble with mental health. In 2013, a survey done by the American Psychological Association showed that one-third of college students experienced depression. Obviously there are many factors that play into this like work, finances, bills, social lives, etc. But school work, studying and grades play a part in it too. Eliminate those by using the first three tips or just reminding yourself to take a chill pill might be able to help with overworking yourself and overall could help with other issues like stress and anxiety.

5. If You Don’t Know It, You Don’t Know It

I learned this at a very young age and it’s helped me throughout my college career. If I don’t know the information by the time the test comes around, then I just don’t know it. Instead of trying to pull an all-nighter before the test to understand concepts that I hadn’t understood the entire time I’d been studying, I was able to put the books down and get some sleep, causing me to be well rested and focused for my test the next day. Of course, going to your professor’s office hours, getting tutoring, or phoning a friend are good ways to help with information you just don’t know, but if all else fails and your test is in a few hours, it may be a better idea to get some rest instead of devoting even more time to something you still don’t get. I’m sure that people will disagree, but this has been something that has helped me in more ways than one.

Don’t let finals get you down! I encourage you to have a little fun during finals week, and to take care of yourself. Good luck Tigers, and friends!