Hey y’all (I say that now)
It’s been a long time since I’ve last written on this blog. It hasn’t been a long time since I’ve written – throughout the semester I’ve written papers. essays, analyses, short answers etc. But, I haven’t used this blog of mine. I’ve thought about it on occasion, but everything else seemed so much more important. I realize now (and probably subconsciously at the time) that that was not true.
This blog is my creative outlet. It allows me to process the stories of my life and present them in a way that is reader friendly. That processing is what keeps me an optimist – even the worst stories, when analyzed, have their silver lining. Whenever I hear someone telling a hilarious story about a day, week, or time when all kinds of crazy things transpired, I think, “I bet this was the opposite of funny when it was happening”. Life is up, life is down, perception is everything. This blog keeps my perception positive.
My first semester of graduate school posed a challenge to that positivity. I moved to a new city where I knew only a couple people. Right before school started, a close friendship abruptly and inexplicably ended. Throughout the semester we learned about terrible things that make up the fabric of American society: racism, sexism, the big business of incarceration, poverty, oppression, inequality, crime, the broken education system, under treatment of mental illness, political corruption, the list goes on and on. This new knowledge opened my eyes to the injustice inherent in American society. This knowledge also became a heavy burden.
I felt all of the following things during this semester: helpless, inspired, lonely, connected, oppressed, empowered, angry, energized, unwanted (by society), instrumental (to society), completely lost, and found.
The world that I view now is different than the one than I viewed in September, fresh off an amazing trip through Central America.
First day of school
But, it’s also a different world than the one I viewed during the semester, while being filled to the brim with social work knowledge. The world I saw then made me question my identity and my place in the world. It made me, as a black woman, hyper aware about issues of race and gender. It took away my carefree optimism and replaced it with seriousness and over analysis. On the surface, I seemed similar to the person who gallavanted through Central America, perhaps an exhausted version. But inside, I was undergoing an identity crisis.
It went a little something like this: So, this is how America feels about black people. So this is how America treats women. America considers me double inferior. Have I internalized this inferiority? Where do I fit in in this society? Is everyone racist? Can I continue my friendships now that I clearly see the micro aggressions and unconscious biases people make about race, gender, sexuality etc? What do I do with all of this knowledge? *walking down the street* Does that person think I’m going to rob them? Why am I now nervous when I see this person walking towards me? Have I developed prejudices? Can I live in a state with so many problems?
And so on and so forth.
Add in a hearty dose of meeting dozens of new people, two moves, a shady landlord, and trying to learn a new city.
My brain got the exercise of it’s lifetime. (I wish I could say the same for my body)
Now that I’ve been on Christmas break for a few weeks, with a healthy mix of socialization and alone time, and with no social work books in sight, I’m feeling like myself again. A wiser, more socially informed version of myself. I know about the injustices and the suffering out there, but I’m not taking it on as my own. I see the biases and oppression, but I also see the tolerance and connectivity. I am hopeful but aware. I know I can only do so much during my tenure on this planet. But that is enough. I am enough. We all are enough.
So, like I said, it’s been a challenging few months. It’s also been full of rewards. I love this new city of mine. I love being in school. I love my apartment. I love my new friends. I really love my cat. (I just bought her a toy called da bird and it’s incredible – first review I’ve ever written on Amazon). I’ve had friends from afar who have, during their brief visits, made this city really feel like home. Thank you Sammy, DJ Killa, Marsalalala, Sarapatweaver, Slarcks, Benny, Krysten, Dodobird, Momzie, Khary and Drewpy. It was so SO good to see you all. In those times, I felt most like myself. And while I was constantly exhausted, I also made some amazing memories. I am exactly where I want and need to be.
You know that old cliche’ parents always say about parenthood: “it’s hard, but it’s the best thing I ever did”?
That’s how I feel about my life.
Happy 2014, y’all.