Finding My Inner Strength

Finding My Inner Strength

Spoiler alert: nobody else was involved in it.

"Strength" has varying definitions when looked up by the Merriam Webster Dictionary. My favorite, however, is "vigor of expression." The past few months have torn me apart, while simultaneously building me up. They have tested my strength both mentally and physically. However, it is through the trials and tribulations that I have found my own inner strength.

The 2016 election showed me just how different society sees me. As a liberal Democrat living in the Bible Belt, it can be extremely hard to find my own majority. I was a part of the outspoken majority of Americans against Donald Trump. My words commonly got twisted and blown far out of proportion as the election progressed into the circus it became. Expressing my political opinions showed me how different I was.

Being the "different" one is nothing new to me. Growing up, I was called the "ugly duckling that never turned into the swan." From the start, I was not destined to become the next Miss America. It was not just my looks that sent people away, but my passionate stance on politics and how the world functioned. A combination of those things meant that I was alone for the majority of the time. To quote Glee, "When you are different, when you are special, sometimes you have to get used to being alone." I spent the majority of my childhood in front of the TV alone, with my imagination as one of my only friends.

It was in the times when I was alone that I subconsciously found my own strength. I think that strength has allowed me to find my purposes in life, whether they be to empower people, or to be the next ceiling breaker. Whatever they be, I know that I will continue to leave my lasting impact on the world.

I am not writing today to ask for a pity party, but I am here to use my story to inspire people everywhere. If I can fight my internal battles and still at least appear strong on the outside, so can you. No battle is worth your livelihood, whether it be inside of you or with another person. Do not let other people, their pettiness, or their words deter you from finding yourself. Or, better yet, don't let those things define you as a person. You are more than other people give you credit for.

Let's face it, life can sometimes suck. Find a role model. Whether they are fictitious characters in a small town, or real women inspiring the world, does not matter. The fact is, find someone whose message you can adhere to. Or maybe, create your own message. If you have a story, tell it. The world is waiting for your voice that will emerge from the inner you.

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The Beauty Of Our Queens: The Importance Of Powerful Black Women

In a world influenced by Oprahs, Alicias, and Yaras, tell me… What kind of queen will you be?

What is it in human nature that sees something beautiful and wants to consume all that it is? To find any way to exploit that beauty to our own benefit until there’s nothing left; until our satisfaction runs out, taking us along with it to seek something new? Why do we continue to flex our insecure superiority when our perception reflects a threat to our power-hungry egos?

The essence of the determined black woman is an effervescent force rivaled by the gluttony of a world intent on stripping her of all that she is.

She’s told that she’s too loud and that she must lower her voice and silence her emotions. That she can only succeed by being the foundation behind a great man. She’s told that her skin is not light enough, that her hair is not straight enough, and that her greatest contribution is through the use of her body.

Claude McKay noted how she is “devoured” by an “eager, passionate gaze” in his poem, “The Harlem Dancer.” A century later, she still succumbs to sexual desire in the likes of Kendrick Lamar’s laments: “Keisha’s Song” and “Sing About Me/I’m Dying of Thirst.”

Ironically enough, she is shamed when she takes control and liberates herself. The fulfillment of her own desires gets her labeled as promiscuous, and her assertion of her needs gives her an angry demeanor. These biased images of women of color are nurtured by mainstream media. From the oversexualized music industry to the impoverished, petty, or otherwise oppressed portrayals in Hollywood. No matter what she does for her advancement, she is met with criticism. Complacency to the commands of man seems to be her only saving grace.

But the tides are turning with ferocious force. Just two months ago, we received one of the top ten most successful films in the world. The beautiful and powerful female leads in "Black Panther" displays the effectiveness of teamwork—rather than a hierarchy—between men and women. Freeform’s television show "Grown-ish" resonates with young audiences for its social activism and strong female portrayals without coming across as a sermon.

I’m writing because of the strength of my Mother, the determination of my Nana, and the advancement of my baby sisters (no matter how grown they think they are.) I always want them to believe in a world that still believes they’re beautiful and can do any and all things through a matter of their mindset.

To all the queens coming up in this movement: you never needed permission, but now more than ever is the time to embrace your power. Just remember that you’re not alone. There’s a lot of people on your side that believe in all that you are, and all that you have the potential to become. Surround yourself with those that are going to encourage you spiritually, emotionally, and physically as you build yourself up.

In a world influenced by Oprahs, Alicias, and Yaras, tell me… What kind of queen will you be?

Cover Image Credit: Jalani Johnson

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My New Found Party Crowd

I will forever be thankful for the uncomfortable nights that turned into complete comfort thanks to y’all.

First off, I want to thank you for making me get out of my comfort zone and making me life live again as a 22 year old. I want to thank you for attacking me anytime you see me walk into the bar after a long night at work even though I told you I wasn’t coming out. I thank you for all the long hugs, the slow dances we endure together, and all the heart to heart talks we share with each other.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for y’all I would still be lost and confused. I would be depressed everyday because I don’t deal with change very well.

You and took me under your wings and taught me how to fly again, and for that I will be forever thankful. Without you, I wouldn’t know myself again and I wouldn’t love myself. Without you I wouldn’t view myself worthy.

You’ve taught me that I deserve so much more than what I allow in my life, and you’ll never know how much that means to me.

Growing together is something I haven’t had with many people, especially not recently. My ex took that from me. And to know that people do accept me for who I really am brings a whole new light into my life. Moving to this small town has shown me a lot about life, and most of that is happiness isn’t always about yourself, it’s about who you surround yourself with. Y’all are my happiness. On my darkest days, I know atleast one, if not ten, of you are just a phone call away. You bring me joy, peace, and happiness. You bring light to my darkness. You bring calm to my madness.

I will forever be thankful for the uncomfortable nights that turned into complete comfort thanks to y’all.

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