Come on 2020, Let’s Get SEXUAL!

I like sex. Fuck that! I love sex!!

I refrained from having any real conversation surrounding sex on my blog due to fear of what my parents and family would think of me. I also thought that people who knew me as someone who grew up in the church would judge me. But I am 22 now and should have complete autonomy over my story.

My sexual awakening first began with unlearning or relearning some of the things I was taught about sex growing up. The concept of virginity, saving myself until marriage, as well as seeing adults praise boys/men but condemn girls/women for their sexuality are all things that led to my misunderstanding of what sex is. I was conditioned to believe sex was only to be done between and husband and a wife who love each other very much. I was conditioned to believe I, as a young woman, should not express sexual desires. Because of that, it took a long time for me to become in tune with my body. 

My parents, as well as growing up in the SDA church, aided a lot in my confusion and my being naive. When my parents sat me and my 2 younger siblings down to give us the birds and the bees talk, sex seemed to be simply a way to make babies. I couldn’t even grasp the idea that sex was supposed to be enjoyable for all the parties involved. My dad made it a point to remind my sister and I that he did not want us to have a boyfriend until we were at least 18 and that we could not have sex until marriage. He told us that our virginity is something we should hold onto because it was special. On the other hand, he would joke with my 2 younger brothers, asking them how many girlfriends they had and seemed to hold them to an entirely different standard.

I stumbled upon porn around 4th grade and this sparked a whole new level of curiosity along with even more confusion. So sex isn’t strictly a penis entering a vagina? Wait, how’d she do that with her —OMG? I felt like Curious George and I was not comfortable asking my parents any sex-related questions. I feared their wrath or that they’d think I was sexually active but in reality, I just wanted to gain knowledge on this act I’d eventually be engaging in, in the future. My searches on Google led me to learn a whole lot and porn helped to paint an image in my head. 

After I started having my period, I began to watch porn less out of curiosity and more so out of personal pleasure. I could feel my body doing things I wasn’t used to and in my mind, I would picture myself doing the acts I was watching. Is this what being turned on feels like and what do I do with these feelings?? My understanding at the time was that masturbation was something that only guys could do. I’m a girl and girls weren’t meant to be sexual in any way… right?? This outdated way of thinking followed me for many years of my life, making me afraid to ever touch myself or explore my body on my own. 

By my senior year of high school, I decided that I did not want to wait until marriage to have sex — but I wasn’t rushing to lose my virginity either. I believed that my decision to lose my virginity when I chose to and not blindly follow the rules of my parents or my religion would make me an open-minded, sex-positive person. But in reality, I was nowhere close to that person at the time. I was still slut-shaming girls my age who were sexually active while praising boys my age for their conquests. It wasn’t until I lost my virginity at the end of my senior year that I realized how stupid and closed-minded this way of thinking was.

First of all, losing my virginity wasn’t this amazingly beautiful experience with fireworks and birds singing in the background as some movies depicted it to be. It kind of happened and then it was done. Emotionally and mentally I felt no different. I was mad at myself for truly believing my worth and purity came from this notion of “virginity”. I began to ask myself why did I label other women hoes but not the men for doing the same thing. I wanted to understand why parents teach their daughters to be ascetic but praise their sons for being sexual. My time in college truly opened my eyes to the world of sex in a different way.

I started having more frequent sex once I began college but it wasn’t the MOST enjoyable thing I was doing at the time. She was cool tho, and more so a distraction from other shit I was dealing with during that time. It wasn’t until 2018-2019 that I began to truly explore my sexuality and love sex tbh.

With my first lesbian relationship came my first orgasm, and that for me was what opened the door to real exploration of my body. Before then, I genuinely thought I was unable to orgasm and that I was doomed to have “meh” sex forever. But that was honestly because I didn’t know wtf my body liked and didn’t like. I never used free time to masturbate — I was actually kind of against masturbating. Once I realized I didn’t have a broken pussy (shout out to Issa Rae), I was way more inclined to dive deeper and explore more. And after my first relationship ended, I did just that.

Two of my best friends, who happen to be two of the most sex-positive people I know, pretty much took me under their wings. One of them, a dope ass dominatrix, allowed me to engage in some of my fantasies with her. As conversations blossomed into actual experimentation, I discovered my interest in the world of BDSM. 14-year old me would be shaking in her boots! Never in a million years did I think I would be that girl. As time passed, my intrigue for other sexual acts grew. Kinks that I was totally against just a couple of years ago began to sound more and more appealing. I now wanted to try using toys. Hey, a threesome sounds fun! What about cuckolding, I could be into that too!

And yet, I was afraid to have these types of conversations with people, especially potential partners. But I realized that was the problem. From our earliest years, we are conditioned to view sex as this scary, taboo thing that we shouldn’t talk about. Some people even feel weird saying the word ‘sex.’ This leads to a lot of kids growing up confused and misinformed. We’re all here because of it and almost all of us will think about engaging in it at some point in our lives. Why can’t we have open and honest conversations about it?  At one point I was too afraid to tell the person I was dating what I would like to do and have done to me during sex. Gone are those days! Because closed mouths don’t get fed and scared pussy don’t orgasm.

I say all of this to say, we NEED to talk about sex on a deeper level than what we have been doing. This goes especially for parents and adult loved ones whose children are coming of age. We need to eliminate the gender biases and double standards we’ve placed around sexuality, and the idea that sex is solely for bringing life into the world. Sex is supposed to be enjoyable but it won’t be if we don’t understand our bodies to be the sexual entities they are. It can’t be pleasurable if we continue to treat sex as this off-limits topic that should never be spoken of. Everyone deserves to have great sex, and that all stems from knowledge and insight.

New Year, Old Feels

I’ve been trying to stay afloat but it’s been difficult, to say the least. I started 2020 off with so much optimism and positive energy, and each day that enthusiasm has diminished little by little. However, I’ve been doing a pretty decent job at keeping my emotions in check until last night that is. I didn’t realize how heavy my heart and mind were until I laid in bed restless, tossing and turning, unable to ignore my thoughts and feelings any longer. 

Coming out to my family may have been the bravest but most senseless thing I could have done in 2019. Especially knowing my parents’ views on this, I decided to let the world know a part of me I could have kept hidden. My mom has been supportive and we have been working on strengthening our relationship. This is something that has made my decision somewhat easier to process. On the other hand, this news has driven a bigger and more agonizing wedge between my dad and me. Some of the hurtful things he has said to me over the past couple of months decided to hit me like a wrecking ball and I could not push them away. I was being called things such as disgusting, a demon, and being told that I was hated by my own father. And it hurt, even more, seeing the look in his eyes when he said those things to me. I could tell he meant every word. It angers me that he doesn’t realize how his words can leave such nasty scars. My heart is completely broken to know one of the people who helped bring me into this world hates me because of something that is out of my control. I chose to accept my truth in order to finally be comfortable with who I am. But he used it as a gateway to takeout his hate for the things he chooses not to understand or approve of on me. This feeling is all too familiar. A similar situation with my dad back in October 2018 catalyzed my first major depressive episode. I do not want to go down that dark and lonely tunnel again. 

As the Spring 2020 semester is underway, I can’t help but think about how this should have been the semester in which I attain my bachelor’s degree. Last week, I watched as many people I went to school with updated their insta-stories with the famous “Last First Day” post. Knowing that graduation pictures will be posted soon, I contemplate deactivating my social media accounts so I won’t end up viewing their posts with jealousy. I should be right along with them, getting ready to walk across that stage but sadly I’m not. Instead, I am here struggling to figure out how I’m gonna reach my goals without school. Last week, my girlfriend gave me the idea of applying to different internships within journalism, media studies, and social media fields. I thought it was a brilliant idea so I looked into various internships. Scrolling through these different applications, underqualified is pretty much all I read. Most of them required their applicants to be in college and studying journalism or a related field. Not only am I not in school right now, due to financial reasons, when I was in school I wasn’t even a journalism major. I was so unsure of what I was actually passionate about that I settled as a psychology major. It wasn’t until January 2019 that I realized how much I truly enjoy writing and would love to make a career out of it. I try my hardest not to but I can’t help but beat myself up for not having found my passion sooner. Everyone keeps telling me there is no time frame for getting my degree. But those are the same people who are on track to graduate on time or who have already graduated on time. Still, I try to stay positive, continuing to write consistently, and perfect my craft without school. I don’t want to become stagnant or end up working a minimum wage job for the rest of my life. However, lately, it has been super hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I have been super discouraged. 

Usually, I end blogs like this on a positive note but today I don’t really have one. This piece is super raw because it’s a description of how I currently feel and what I’ve been dealing with as of late. I invite all who read this to send word of encouragement as well as much needed advice. I know I previously wrote a blog entitled “I’m OK Now” but I don’t want to simply be ok. Being ok sounds like the bare minimum and I want to exceed that. I want to be consistently happy with my life.

I’m Coming Out – Part 2

Loving and being loved by another woman is an indescribable experience/feeling. It’s delicate and emotional but yet so beautiful. Yes, I’ve been in “relationships” (not really) with guys in the past but it doesn’t compare. At the moment, I thought maybe my feelings are just specific to this one girl. Besides, I’ve only been with one girl. How can I be sure that I’m actually attracted to girls in general? But in hindsight, it was definitely the lesbian in me. The level of comfort I felt being in a relationship with a girl was incomparable to any other relationship I had been in. Even if this relationship doesn’t work out, I could only see myself being with women in the future.

I hadn’t told anyone that yet though.

January 2019

It’s the middle of the month and I find out I can’t return to school for the spring semester (financial issues). This is literally the worst news ever! I need to go back to campus! How am I supposed to live my best life? How am I supposed to see my girlfriend whenever I wanted?? The answer to these questions was LIE SIS! I lied about where I was going, who I was with, etc. I didn’t want my parents putting 2 and 2 together before I was ready for them to know the truth.

March 2019

Here’s where your girl got a little sloppy. I found out that my girl at the time cheated on me. I was extremely heartbroken and I didn’t know any better way to sort through such negative emotions than to write about it. So I wrote a blog about me working on things I’ve imagined and promoted it on my Facebook account knowing damn well I have my parents and other family members as friends. I didn’t think much about it at first because there was no self-incriminating information in that specific blog. But I didn’t think that my mom would take it upon herself to read my other blogs. She definitely did.

I wrote a blog a couple of months before (in January)talking about my relationship with my girlfriend at the time and I specifically used she/her pronouns. Good thinking LaRelle. Initially, neither of my parents came straight out and asked me about the relationship but they sure did find a way to let me know they knew.

My mom began to ask me why my ex dresses the way she did (she’s more of a masculine-presenting female). That was her way of asking me if my ex was gay without actually asking. I just told her everyone has their personal preference for dressing and left it at that. My dad, on the other hand, decided to flat out ignore my existence but definitely not the situation at hand. He made it a point to broadcast around the house his feelings towards the gay community. One night he called my sister into his room, yelling at the top of his lungs, “Being gay is a sin! It’s disgusting, it’s immoral, it’s demonic, it’s devilish!” I wanted to confront him, tell him we both knew who the gay one is in this house, ask him why we couldn’t just sit down and have a logical conversation about this like adults. But I didn’t.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

It’s early in the morning. My mom wakes me up out of a deep sleep calling me into her room. “We need to talk”. The gut feeling in my stomach told me today was the day I’d be forced out of the closet. I was right.

She started the conversation by saying “Sometimes this world tries to make us believe that certain things are right or that they’re ok even though we know they aren’t”. I immediately knew where this convo was going but allowed her to continue without interrupting. She added that it’s against the laws of nature for two men or two women to be in a relationship with each other. Of course, she gave me “in the sight of God that lifestyle is immoral” speech. But then she did something I didn’t think either of my parents would actually do. She flat out asked me “So LaRelle, what exactly is your sexual orientation?” I was shocked, confused and definitely not ready to tell her the truth. I really hadn’t told anyone at that point that I was a lesbian. Only my personal journal knew the truth. “Well honestly, I’m not really into guys,” I responded, unable to look her in the eyes. When I did finally take a glance at her face I could see the hurt and disappointment as clear as day. “It’s breaking mine and your father’s hearts that you chose this lifestyle for yourself”. I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs “This is not a choice!!!” But instead, I sat there in silence, allowed her to continue as I fought back tears. My mom explained that my dad is truly pissed and wants to kick me out. At that point, I was over it. I didn’t care what happened. I had been taking underlying disrespect from him for months and even though I had nowhere to go, I would rather be anywhere but under his roof.

Weeks went by and it was like that conversation never occurred. My mom acted the same towards me, loving and caring as usual. My dad continued to act as if I did not exist. I was ok with that, for now.

June 30, 2019

NYC Pride 2019. This pride parade meant much more to me than the previous pride parade. I finally knew and was comfortable with my sexuality, although I hadn’t told any of my friends yet. I was ready to live my true gay life. On the way to Newark Penn Station, I get a call from my dad. So many emotions and thoughts flooded my mind. “Why is he calling me?? LaRelle you know exactly why he’s calling you. Are you gonna answer?? Maybe I should just ignore it. Nahhhh, I’m a big girl. I’m gonna answer.” So I did. Here’s roughly how the conversation went:

Me: Hello

Dad: Is Jadon(my brother) with you?

Me: Yes

Dad: Where are you guys?

Me: At Penn Station

Dad: Why?

Me: We’re going to NYC

Dad: Allyuh going to that gay thing again??

Me: …

Dad: Yuh see you?? Why are you dragging your siblings into this gay lifestyle with you? You’re a blight bringing everyone in this family down

Me: Renee and Jadon are both old enough to make decisions for themselves. They’re going to the pride parade because they want to. Not because I forced them to.

Dad: You have a demon on you. I want you to gtf outta my house, you and this gay demon you have on you. Blah blah blah *click*

I wasn’t shocked by the way the conversation went. Nor was I gonna allow his negative energy to ruin the amazing day I knew was ahead.

2 days later it was back to reality and I had to face my father head-on. I honestly never thought the day would come where I’d have a face to face conversation with my dad about my sexuality. Well, it really wasn’t much of a conversation. More of a screaming match with me crying uncontrollably for most of the time.

About an hour or two before seeing my dad I sat down with my mom in the living room. I felt overwhelmed with emotions and my heart was heavy. “I knocked on dad’s door, attempting to talk to him but he never opened the door,” I said to my mom trying to hold back tears. “I just want to be able to have an adult conversation about this. It’s unhealthy the way we’ve been handling this situation”. Before I could even blink, I was bawling my eyes out, telling my mom how I felt like I was a failure in her and my dad’s eyes. She held me in her arms as I cried, reassuring me that she doesn’t love me any less and my being gay would never get in the way of that. She also explained that it was definitely something very difficult for her to wrap her head around but she’d rather talk things through then deal with them in the way my dad has been doing lately. After sharing such an intimate moment, I was on my way (along with my sister) to go chat it up with one of our friends at her house. On the way there, my dad called me. He’s yelling on the phone telling me to bring the car back home and how I’m not allowed to use any of the cars anymore. He then ended the conversation with the words “I hate you”. I immediately broke down. How could you say that to your own daughter, your first daughter at that? I understood him maybe not understanding or being accepting of my lifestyle but to flat out say you hate me?? My emotional ass couldn’t take it. I dreaded stepping foot into my house. I didn’t want to see his face. But of course, he waiting for me at the door *insert Scared Straight meme*

It’s taking a lot to talk about this specific night because it definitely goes down in the books as the worst night of my life. The look my dad gave me as I walked into the house screamed disgust and hatred. I felt uncomfortable, unwanted and unloved in my own home. Anger was oozing from his pores as my family and I gathered in the kitchen. He began yelling, pretty much reiterating the hurtful things he said to me just a couple of days before. Through tears and my own blinding anger, I tried my hardest to explain that this lifestyle is not a choice. “Why would I choose to be a lesbian when I know how you and mom feel about this lifestyle. I was raised in the church. I know what the Bible says about it as well. The only choice was my being honest with you guys about my attraction to females.” That’s definitely not what he wanted to hear. He cursed and screamed at the top of his lungs. He did not want me living under his roof “gaying up the place” more than I already had. In his eyes I was evil and a disgrace to him and he made sure I knew how strongly he felt.

I did not want things to go the way they did but I knew it wouldn’t have happened any other way. My father is stubborn and there’s no agreeing to disagree when it comes to him. I took my L, retreated to the comfort of my room where I wrote in my journal about the events that had just transpired. At that moment, the feeling was mutual. I, in fact, did hate him.

Over the course of the next month, I was finally ready to tell my friends that I’m a lesbian. Some friends responded with the “girl we already knew”. Honestly, it was a relief to get that response. Once all of my friends knew, it was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt free. Well as free as living with homophobic parents would allow me to be, but free nonetheless. I’ve made it to the point where I’ve learned to live for myself even if that means my parents don’t support. It hurts me to think that one day I’ll be ready to get married to a beautiful woman and my parents may not even be attending the wedding. But we will cross that bridge when we get there.

So where am I now in my journey?? I’m loving myself and loving those who support me no matter my sexuality. I’m choosing to remove those who blatantly disrespect the LGBTQIA+ community from my life as best as I can. I’m currently dating this amazing female who pushes me to pursue my dreams of becoming a journalist and is honestly the breath of fresh air I’ve needed after having such a rocky year. Although this coming out journey has been an emotional and confusing one, I’ve learned so much about myself and the adult I want to be in the future. I’m living for me, regardless of what others may think because people are gonna y’all regardless. As for my relationship with my parents, that’s a work in progress but it’s not something that bothers me as much anymore. I have found community and family in the people who I have CHOSEN to have in my life. Thank you to my closest friends (June, Dara, Renee, Jadon, Uti, Leshawn, Rea, Shari, Fajr, Talia, and Andrew) for helping me through such a difficult time in my life. It’s only up from here 🙂 I’m happy and at peace with finally being able to say I’m a lesbian and I’m proud.

I’m Coming Out – Part 1: IDENTITY CRISIS

I didn’t admit to myself or anyone else that I was even attracted to women until last year. It was honestly a part of myself that I was able to ignore until I just decided not to.

I developed my first crush on a female when I was in 6th grade. She was in the 8th. Recognizing it as a crush pretty much threw me for a loop. There’s no way I could be bisexual or a lesbian! I grew up in the Seventh Day Adventist church. I went to church every Saturday, prayed every night, and most importantly I knew the consequence for homosexuality was burning in hell for eternity. My dad made it a point to let my siblings and I know that he didn’t care if we grew up and dated outside of our race. But he’d be damned if any of his kids were gay. So I decided to do what I assumed was best, I tried to pray the gay away. That didn’t work for me so I chose to suppress those feelings until I disassociated myself from them.

I lied about being attracted to girls a lot during high school and even in college. Friends would ask me if I would ever be with a girl or if I liked girls and my response would always be “no”. I just wasn’t ready to accept that and damn sure wasn’t about to act on it. It was easy to lie about it because girls weren’t shooting their shots at me and vice versa.

May 2018

This is a month of some pretty big changes for me. On May 8, I got my braces off, on May 15, I cut my hair, and closer to the end of the month I finally told my friends Shawn and Rea that I like girls. At this time I wasn’t ready to label myself so I would always refer to my sexuality as me “liking what I like”. But even then it was like am I really “gay” if I’ve never been with another girl? If I never act on it am I even sinning? But as soon as I asked myself those questions I began to develop feelings for a friend who just so happened to be a female. Go figure!

I experienced my first NYC Pride Parade on June 24, 2018. This day was a turning point for me. I could say I was boo’d up with a girl and also at Pride participating in celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community. It was beautiful to witness but somewhat overwhelming as well. Everyone there seemed to be so unapologetically themselves and I was still trying to navigate through my sexuality. I wanted to be as free as the others but at that time I was confused about who I truly was.

The situation that occurred once my siblings and I returned to Jersey was just a preview of what I knew the future had in store for me. Sooooo my sister, Renee, who was 19 at the time and my brother Jadon, who was 17, and I returned to our house in Irvington where we meet our parents. We say our usual “good evenings” as our parents look at us strangely. My dad proceeded to question us about where we were and why we chose to go to the pride parade. “Why de ass allyuh going to dat gay ting?? Don’t tell me allyuh gay! Jadon are you gay??” thick Trinidadian accent. I was the first one to respond saying “no” and trying to explain to my dad that you don’t have to be gay to support the community. He wasn’t trying to hear it though. He stormed off in a rage, calling for my mom and youngest brother (I have two brothers) to hurry up so they could leave.

The rest of the summer consisted of me falling in love with my girl and lying to my parents about being attracted to girls. I was experiencing so many firsts that dealt with my sexuality and my overall identity if I came clean now my experiences would be cut short. Of course, I wasn’t ready for that to happen.

Sometime in July, my mom sat my siblings and me down to have “the talk” where she questioned us about whether or not we thought the gay life was ok. She also reminded us that according to the Bible and in the sight of God, homosexuality is wrong and most definitely a sin. Although I believe that love is love and everyone should have the right to love who they choose, I respected the fact that my mom was able to have a decent conversation with us without cursing or yelling. Randomly throughout the summer, my mom would ask my sister and me if there were any guys we were interested in at the moment. Of course, I lied and said no and that I was too busy at the time to think about guys or dating. But in reality, I was in a whole ass relationship with a female and I loved it!

Finally returning to school in Fall 2018, I couldn’t wait to live my true authentic life. I was completely bald and completely gay-ish??

During this semester I struggled a lot with knowing whether or not I was bisexual, pansexual, or lesbian. I just didn’t know yet. I felt a lot of pressure from my girlfriend at the time as well as from some friends to just hurry up and put a label on it. So for some months, I decided to just tell everyone that I was bisexual. It felt weird for me to consider myself bi. It didn’t roll off the tongue. There was no gut feeling that told me “yessss that is what you are!”. That label left me more confused than I initially was.

I was able to let that label rock for a while until 2019 rolled around. That’s when things with my family became way more complicated but I was able to find great comfort and relief within myself.

Part 2 coming soon 🙂

Made It Out Alive

Aokigahara, otherwise known as Jukai (Sea of Trees) or the Suicide Forest is a forest located in Japan. It received its nickname “Suicide Forest” since it is the world’s 3rd most popular place to die by suicide. And on May 24, 2019, I got the word “Aokigahara” tattooed on me. This may very well be the most meaningful tattoo I’ll ever have.

I’ve never truly understood the depth of despair one feels while dealing with depression until I experienced it for myself. During October 2018 to about January 2019, I found myself swimming in thoughts of grief, loneliness, hurt, and helplessness. In the beginning, I didn’t want to accept that it could be depression. What did I truly have to be depressed about?
My school life was going pretty well, my social life was prospering, and my finances weren’t completely struggling so I should have been great right? WRONG!

It first began with the excessive expression of negative emotions. I was always crying and could not pinpoint the reason why. Either that or every little thing would cause me to become angry at myself and/or others. Then it progressed to me skipping class constantly. Attendance was not mandatory for any of my classes and because I had friends in all my classes, it was easy for me to catch up on missed information. Later on, I realized either I was barely eating or excessively eating and I could barely sleep at night and only survived off of a random nap during the day. Then finally, it had gotten so bad that I would only leave my room when it was absolutely necessary. These reasons included work, org meetings, to get food, and to be with Uti.

I would listen to Jhene Aiko’s ‘Jukai’ on repeat for hours, truly pondering over the idea of suicide. The lines “I’ve made my way down to the forest. Way down to the sea of trees (the sea of trees).”, would play repeatedly in my head. That’s how I felt. I was honestly trapped in this metaphorical Jukai. The leaves were thick and dense, blocking me from seeing any logical way of making it through. There was no light at the end of this tunnel. There seemed to be only one way out…

I texted my mom on the morning of December 7, 2018 saying, “I’ve been thinking about suicide a lot… It’s more of the fact that living and feeling the way I’ve been feeling is really taking a toll on me…” I think the worst part about this whole ordeal was my inability to identify why I was feeling the way I was. It made me feel even worse like LaRelle are you actually over here sad for no reason?!

Thankfully there was that little glimmer of hope still lingering somewhere deep inside me. Jhene so beautiful sang that she “made it out alive” and I was determined to do the same. I believe what truly pushed me to make it out of the “Sea of Trees” is the unknown that is death itself. The fear of not knowing what happens after death was way too strong. Would ending it all end my internal pain and suffering? I wasn’t quite ready to find out. Besides, I have some amazing friends and family members who helped me through such a rough time in my life.

Somewhere between March and April 2019 I finally decided to get my “Aokigahara” tat on my sternum area. This tattoo is a constant reminder to myself that even when I’m in a dark place, I can and will get through it.

Since my decision to get this ink, I’ve been through some pretty rough things that ranged from trying to overcome heartbreak to the fiasco that was me coming out to my parents. At one point, I felt as though my life as I had known it for so long had just crumbled before my eyes. But my tattoo is a symbol of my strength and my capability to persevere even through the toughest of situations. I’m OK now and I will continue being OK!

Skinny Legend Like Wiz Khalifa

“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” – Rupaul

I have been on this long and tiresome journey where my self-confidence/esteem is concerned. Learning to love myself, flaws and all has always been something I’ve struggled with. This was due to the bullying I endured at the hands of senseless kids, bringing light to the physical attributes about myself I had no control over. The most prevalent one being my weight.

I’ve always been a skinny girl but younger kids not knowing better would call me anorexic and tell me to “put some meat on my bones”. No, I am not anorexic but hearing those words every day took a toll on my self-esteem. I hated myself and my body and I questioned why God would make it so hard for me to gain weight.

As I transitioned from middle school to high school, the hype around “thick girls” became more prevalent in the media and that took a deeper dig on my self-confidence. I just wanted to be thick dammit! And no matter what I did and how much I ate, it just wasn’t happening for me. I truly disliked myself and the way I looked. I was so focused on this one aspect about myself I could not change that I ignored all the things about myself that I loved; My sense of humor, my intelligence, how kind I am, and much more.

But how do you accept something about yourself when a lot of people around you are continuously picking and jabbing at such a sore topic? At first, I wasn’t sure how to do this. I tried telling myself, “Some people would kill to be skinny like me” but HA that didn’t work. Focusing on others will never change your opinion about yourself. I tried the “get thick quick” plans by just stuffing my face as much as possible, eating late at night, etc but that was a fail as well. My metabolism just wasn’t here for that either.

It wasn’t until about a month ago that I truly found the solution. I began looking at myself in the mirror, I mean really looking. Staring at my face and body in the nude. Every morning I would repeat statements along the lines of “Wow, I am truly beautiful. I’m really a bad bitch both inside and out. I’m the skinny legend with the body we all love to admire”. Of course at first, I barely believed the words that were coming out of my mouth. But there’s so much power in words. Now I say those same sentences which such conviction and confidence. My body is amazing, my titties are amazing, my legs are long, and I have the body of a model lol.

Once I really believed in my beauty, the opinions of others did not mean as much to me anymore. But it’s ironic though, because now that my confidence is at an all-time high I’ve been getting way more compliments from people whether it be in public or on social media. I believe it’s because the universe rewards positivity and confidence.

Mannnnn, I’ve just been loving on myself more and this shit feels amazing!!!

Working On Seeing Things I’ve Imagined

Why did it take being disrespected on such a high level for me to realize what I truly deserve out of life? Maybe it was due to the fact that until now I was unaware of my worth. My self-esteem was low and because of that, I would simply sit back and take whatever life handed me. Shit! At least life was giving me something rather than me having nothing at all right? WRONG! This mentality of not placing myself on a pedestal as well as accepting mediocrity in every facet of my life is what drove me into a dark and dangerous place. A place where there was no room for happiness. A place where I did nothing but beat myself up and cry.

But all of the time I spent wallowing in that somber place prepared me for the mental and physical growth I am currently experiencing.

This advancement in my being first began with the acknowledgement of  hurt and the negative thoughts/emotions that have consumed me throughout these past couple of months. I first needed to understand that there is nothing wrong with grief and heartache and that it is in fact important to feel these things.

Secondly, I had to take a long and hard look at myself. What are the things I love about myself? This is a question that goes beyond the physical. Beyond my looks, what do I truly enjoy about the person I am? It took sometime but after actually sitting and thinking I came up with a very detailed list. This list included things like me knowing that I’m a great friend, a great listener, very compassionate and very understanding. I realized that these are some qualities that you can’t find in everyone and that I should be proud that I possess them.

Now onto the two hardest parts of this journey, knowing and speaking on the things that I am entitled to in this life and actually seeing the things I’ve imagined for myself. For me this particular section in my growth started with putting my foot down and speaking the fuck up! I chose to no longer doubt myself and abilities. I made it clear to myself that I would stop trying to force things that clearly weren’t working out for me. I would not allow people to disregard my thoughts and feelings. This last point is the most important to me because all we have in this life is our thoughts, feelings, and the things we know. I demand love and respect and in order to receive these things I must make it known that I want these things. Closed mouths don’t get fed!

Now that I know my worth, I have a vision of the person I want to become and the things I will no longer put up with. The last step in this journey is actually seeing these things come to pass. The seeing of the things I’ve imagined. I have not reached my goal yet but I will do so by any means necessary. Daily mantras are important in reaching this end goal. “What I desire is yearning for me. What I desire is solely for me…” I desire comfortability, true love, strong relationships whether platonic or romantic, and to reach the optimal level of complete self love. These things and more are destined for me and  I am speaking it into existence from this moment on!

Bad Religion

How do you move forward when you’ve been living in your own fantasy for so long?

What do you do when you’re no longer able to ignore reality and you’re finally faced with the truth?

How do you come to terms with the fact that the one person you truly love isn’t able to accept or reciprocate your love?

In his song, Bad Religion, Frank Ocean sings about the pain and disappointment that comes with unrequited love, a love that is purely one-sided. He compares it to “a one-man cult” alluding to the fact that his relationship included the excessive and maybe even dangerous admiration of his lover.

When you fall in love with someone, your outlook on life shifts for the better. Your days seem brighter, feet seem lighter, and your smile seems to stick around longer than usual. But it can also cloud your judgments, making you blind to things that may be obvious to others.

I am currently within the clutches of this infamous love spell. For many months, my happiness and my entire world revolved around one person. She kept me afloat when everything around me was sinking. She was my breath of fresh air and my restoration of hope that I, too could find love in such a crazy world. So I poured into her; poured all my love, time and energy. I wanted to be for her everything that she was for me and more.

I began to picture our future together, filled with gumdrop fairies and happily ever after. But things don’t always work out the way you envision them too. And when the honeymoon phase ends and the dust clears SHIT GETS REAL.

“It’s a, it’s a bad religion to be in love with someone who could never love you”. It’s also a “bad religion” to be in love with someone who is unable to accept the love you so willingly give. Giving your all to someone who is not yet ready to receive it results in nothing more than a broken heart. You begin to question whether or not what you’re doing is sufficient. Am I not enough for you?

When I began to question myself that’s when reality slapped me in the face. I noticed I was losing myself in order to keep the relationship together. I wanted to be her world and as much as I tried, I could only be for her what she allowed me to be. Maybe she’s not ready for a relationship. Maybe my love was too overwhelming for her. I’m not entirely sure but it definitely hurts when you truly understand that what your heart desires may not be what you need.

So what do you do when the one you love isn’t able to accept or reciprocate that love? Well, first you have to acknowledge it. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that come along with this realization. Learn and grow from the experience but most importantly don’t give up on love. I was able to learn a lot about myself and what I require in a  relationship. There are over 7 billion people on this planet. There WILL be one person who’ll pour into you the same way you do for them and then some.

A Positive Outlet For Negative Emotions

Music is emotion, feeling, expression, and understanding and our conversations surrounding our music culture are so important. But writing about music and my love for music is not something that I’d ever thought would be such an important part of who I am. However, looking back, this outlet has helped me in ways I can not even imagine.

The transition from high school to college hit me harder than I could have ever prepared for. Coming from a school where it was easy for me to finesse assignments, tests, and quizzes, it didn’t fully process in my mind that college was a whole different ball game. I was truly in for a rude awakening.

Not only was the academic transition difficult for me but the social transition was a slap in the face as well. The first semester of my freshman year, I came to the realization of how much of an introvert I truly am. I barely spoke to anyone, barely attended parties, and pretty much went from class to the dining hall to my dorm every day. I also found myself going back home as much as possible to avoid how lonely I had become. Then came the semester of spring 2017.

During this semester, I realized how much I had lost myself during my short time in college. I was no longer the bubbly and optimistic person that entered college just months before. I had become melancholy and somber, taking “depression naps” every chance I could. I was engaging in activities such as drinking and smoking weed in order to feel something other than the negative emotions that filled my mind daily. Surprisingly, I still had a gleam of hope that things would turn around for the better. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I ended that semester failing a class, with literally no money to my name and began to doubt myself and my skills more than ever. Exactly a week before my birthday, which is June 15th, I found out that not only did I have appendicitis but that my appendix had ruptured. Before going into surgery, one of the surgical residents explained to me that if I had come into the hospital just a day later, I would have most likely developed an infection that would have lead to life-threatening repercussions. I spent 5 days in the hospital after my surgery. Those 5 days will go down in history as the worst 5 days of my ENTIRE LIFE. I was unable to hold down solid foods or even liquids such as teas or sodas. Because of this, I was placed on a strict IV fluid diet. This caused me to lose weight and become even more insecure about myself.

While I was recovering in the hospital, Sza dropped her album CTRL I listened to that album every day during my hospital stay. Sza’s voice and lyrics gave me such hope and saved me from spiraling into a self-loathing depression because of my current situation.

When I was finally discharged from the hospital, I still wasn’t back to my normal self. I could barely do things on my own because of my surgery and I was more skinny than I was before having been admitted into the hospital just a week before. Although my parents, family, and friends tried to comfort me, their kind and loving words were not enough. The only thing helping me through this tough time was MUSIC. I continued to listen to my favorite albums which are: Born Sinner, Channel Orange, Kaleidoscope Dream, and most recently Ctrl.

About a month later, Tyler the Creator released his album Scum Fuck Flower Boy. This album holds a special place in my heart because not only did it help me become a huge Tyler the Creator fan, it also provided me with such joy and comfort during a time where I hated myself and the person I had become. The album cover alone just filled me with contentment and the lyrics, although it was never explicitly stated, pushed me to make positive changes within myself.

FAST FORWARD TO WRITING MY FIRST EVER MUSIC BLOG

Spring semester 2018. I had registered late for classes due to having a financial hold on my account. I decided to pick this random creative writing class. On the first day of class, the professor explained to us that this class was entitled “Words About Music” and that we would be writing blogs about different topics in music every week. I was anxious but excited because who doesn’t like talking about their favorite music and artists??

For my first blog, I chose to write about one of my favorite artists of all time, Miguel. Although my piece wasn’t as good as I initially thought after submitting it, my professor ensured me that he saw great potential in the development of my voice as a music critic. Those words pushed me to write an even better piece the following week and I did. He commented on my piece saying that he could sense my love for music through my words and that after the semester concluded I should continuing blogging because of my diverse taste in and knowledge of music.

So why is writing about music so important to me? It’s because music itself is an essential part of the person I am today. Whenever a flood of negative emotions and feelings fill my mind and heart, I choose to write a blog. This helps to release these feelings in a positive way that doesn’t include drugs, alcohol, or any other toxic outlet. My voice has definitely developed since my first blog and I hope to continue my growth as a writer. A dream of mine is to transition from blogging to becoming a radio personality that provides a voice to the underrepresented female and hopefully imparts nuanced understandings of our societal relationship with music

Expressions of Love Through Music

Love is definitely in the air. Well, at least for me it is. As humans we have the desire to feel and give love to those closest to us. Whether it be through friendships, relationships with family members, or romantic relationships, the need to be loved and to love freely is one that is inevitable. Quite frankly, without love we would not be able to live a sound life.

Being that music is the one aspect of life that transcends cultural boundaries it goes without saying that the topic of love and being in love is discussed in every genre of music. But the way in which love is addressed usually differs from song to song or artist to artist. One song may focus on the artist’s significant other or the positives of being in love whereas another song may focus on heartbreak or falling out of love.

But for the purpose of this piece, I want to focus on the positives of love, being in love, and the feeling of giving love to others. To do so, I want to focus on three of my favorite love songs.

New Balance by Jhene Aiko

Hearing this song for the first time, I immediately felt the emotions that Jhene was expressing through her lyrics. The longing for someone, your better half, your “balance” in this crazy world is something I had felt for months before hearing this song. For a while, I had been feeling very alone, not physically, because I had my close friends and family but on a personal and emotional level I had no one I could connect to or call MINE.

In the second verse of the song, Jhene addresses our appetite and craving for someone to give our love to and to love us in return. This is something I can relate to and I know a lot of others can as well. She so perfectly ends the song by describing how this perfect love has turned her life around for the better. “It hit me like a tidal wave. Knew that I was in love with you right away, yeah. Turned all my days into brighter days”. This last verse happens to be the most important part of the song for me because it gives her listeners hope. Hope that eventually the search will come to an end and you will find that person who completes you, fights for you, and loves you the way no one has. The delicacy in her voice also adds to the sentimentality of the song. Her voice is very sweet and comforting but is also very effective in getting her message across.

The Way by Jill Scott

Have you ever been in such a great mood that you find pleasure and happiness in even the simplest tasks. Well imagine being in that great of mood because of the love you are receiving from your significant other. Jill Scott so perfectly describes this feeling in the first verse of the song. She explains her morning routine of getting out of bed, showering, making breakfast, and getting ready for work. She ends the first verse with the line “Beaming all the way down 3rd”. This line is then followed by the chorus which brings meaning to everything that was said in the first verse. “Is it the way you love me baby?” Is your love so powerful that it makes me wake up with a smile on my face even when we aren’t face to face? Is your love so wonderful that is makes me joyous to go to work?

Hearing this song for the first time, I immediately pictured myself in Jill’s shoes. It made me question whether or not I would ever find someone who’d make me eagerly reject going out with my girls so that I can spend time with them. It also made me question when I would finally feel a love like that.

My favorite part of this song starts at 2:53 and continues until the song ends. Here, Jill Scott sings the chorus until the instrumental outro brings the song to completion. The soulfulness in her voice as well as her adlibs portrays the passion she feels. I can even feel that passion and love flowing through my veins whenever I listen to the song.

Do You… by Miguel

This song focuses on the process of falling in love; learning about what a person likes and dislikes, opening up and letting your walls down in order for love to blossom. Miguel sings about the importance of trust, lust, and fun in a relationship. But the most important and obvious piece to this song is Miguel’s constant comparison of love and drugs. Throughout the song he interchanges the words “love”, “drugs” and “hugs”. This could be because love can be very addicting and it also stimulates the same parts of the brain as does cocaine.

I truly enjoy this song because it makes love seem like such an effortless and easing going experience. The song itself is very groovy and soulful with a hint of rock and roll which is a prominent factor in a lot of Miguel’s music.

So is love actually in the air or am I just in my feelings? No, it’s actually in the air. Love or the lack thereof is something that drives a lot of our day to day actions. From the way we present ourselves to how we act towards the ones we love or don’t love. Although it can be scary, love is a beautiful thing and I can’t wait until I experience a love like what has been so wonderfully described by the above artists.