#DearMe: 25 things I’d say to my younger self

N.B.: I started writing another post last week and the introduction is my explanation for being away for 7 months. While it won’t be posted before this one, we’ll just pretend that it has. Cool? Cool. 

Months ago (and I mean moooooonths ago, maybe even years), Youtubers made these videos entitled: “DearMe.” They are video letters to their younger selves, things they wished they had known and pearls of wisdom they’d like to share. And because I’m always one of the last ones to hop on board the “hip and cool” train, I’m only now discovering this and taking advantage of it. But instead of a video letter and because I don’t have that kind of equipment, patience and no one wants to see me make a video in my bonnet, I thought I’d write a list of 25 things I’d like to say to my younger self in honor of my 25th birthday. Some of these apply to my younger self from 2 weeks ago, others to my 12-year-old self.

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So here goes:

  1. Making an “unpopular” decision by some subjective standards doesn’t make it the wrong decision. It just makes it tough. So if you’re thinking about moving to Niger, being celibate or spending $1000 on a purse, evaluate your reasons for doing it. If you can live with it, then go ‘head girl!
  2. He’s asking you out/into you. I need you to be better at recognizing that. It will save you some awkward moments.
  3. Also, if the gentleman you’re seeing tells you that he really likes you and wants to be together, don’t say “That’s nice” in a weird tone. Even saying nothing is better than that. Oh, and don’t dump someone on their birthday. That’s just cruel.
  4. When people tell you that you’re beautiful or smart or funny or talented, believe them!
  5. If people tell you that you’re ugly or dumb or boring, tell them to kick rocks. Clearly that’s a personal problem and they ain’t shit.
  6. Cross-country moves are exciting. They are also daunting and exhausting. Let’s try not to do that twice in less than 2 years again.
  7. Speaking of moving cross-country, being in a new city can be really lonely sometimes and that’s OK. That feeling doesn’t last forever. It also teaches you to stretch your comfort zone, have new experiences and that’s fantastic.
  8. You remember those last months of grad school? Girl, I know you’re trying to forget that whole graduate experience but it taught you a very valuable lesson.
  9. On that note, graduate school is expensive AF. Make sure you really want to go. (Watch me write about attending a PhD program in the next 2 years because I don’t listen and might be a masochist)
  10. Spending that year in Ayiti with your mother was one of the best decisions of your life. Thank your uncle for encouraging you to do it. And on days when you doubt that, I’ll try to remind you.
  11. Your college friends are treasures. Hold on to them! They made you a special Senior week because you weren’t 21 and couldn’t participate in the official Senior week activities.
  12. About not being 21 in college, stop stressing homie! You’ll regret thinking about it so much and letting it affect your experience. Also when that person calls you “jailbait” freshman year, google what it means before thinking it’s a cool nickname. #Immigrantprobz
  13. Put credit on your phone while in Talloires. White that sketchy night, hitchhiking with strangers and your roommate, will make for a good story, it scared the crap out of you. If you having calling credit that night will save you from that “I might get murdered and never found” feeling, it’s sooo worth it.
  14. At 18, you’re going to go natural. At the time, you won’t do it because you think it’s a political statement or because of styling preferences, but because you wanted to challenge yourself to appreciate your beauty. Because you wanted to stop hiding behind hair. And because of that, I admire you so much. We lost that along the way, but I promise to try to get it back. P.S.: Making a decision to unapologetically love yourself and your Blackness is a political statement. We just weren’t as “woke” (kinda hate that term fam!) yet.
  15. Go to class. Skipping those classes in college was not the smartest decision. And for what? To watch extra episodes of True Life?!?! DO BETTER!
  16. Drinking on an empty stomach is NEVER A GOOD IDEA. DO NOT DO IT!
  17. That “I’m not good enough” feeling is more or less normal. What’s detrimental is wallowing in it and being so hard on yourself. You’re your harshest critic. Be gracious with yourself. You deserve it! Also the devil is a liar!
  18. That guy you like, just tell him. I know you can think of 1,000 reasons to not say anything but they’re all B.S. Rejection stings, it really does. But you know what else stings? Feeling dejected in front of ZBT, feeling like a coward and “what if”. I’m not a fan of “what if” so if you want to reduce the number of those, just tell homeboy. It can go 1 of 2 ways, and either way “we gon’ be alright!”
  19. Family (and people who become family) over everything!
  20. Go to therapy. Everyone needs it and it’s not a sign of weakness. We all need a little help sometimes.
  21. You’re stronger than you give yourself credit. This feeling of helplessness won’t last forever. I wish I could show you all of the amazing things/moments  you’ll experience and the people you’ll meet. 2010 was a crap shoot year but you made it. And as I sit here typing this, I know that the best is yet to come. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be challenges along the way. But we got this! So take a breath and chill.
  22. You’re dope. Point blank period.
  23. You cute. Like real cute. Own it. Those insecurities (unfortunately we still have some at 25, screw the patriarchy!!!) are impeding you from living your best life. Shed them! Also stop dressing like a grandma. There’s modest and just plain tragic. Guess which camp you fall in?
  24. DO NOT DO IT! It will just create some unnecessary drama and make your life more complicated than it has to be. You’ll know who/what/when/where I’m talking about.
  25. Allow yourself to be happy. We all have baggage. But recognize that you have some dope sister-friends (special shouts out to MG, KK, TH, CM and many others), the dopest sister from another mother, but kinda the same mother (<3 u Beat Rice), a wonderful support system, a job you enjoy, a roof over your head, the ability to move and shake your body at dance class (that’s real able-ist of me. Guess I’m not as “woke” as I thought), and breath in your lungs. So enjoy life because… (string of clichés coming up) the world is your oyster and every day above ground is a good day.

When I first started this list, I thought I’d have a hard time writing 25 things but I now realize that there’s so much more that I’d like to tell my younger self. Apparently my younger self is a real hot mess. However, I’ll stick to these 25 for the interwebs.

I love you and Happy Birthday queen!

Shout out to VOIS for this video! I recycle it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I have to wish someone a happy birthday! You can also spot me swinging uncontrollably in the back (face palm)!

What would you tell your younger self? Share in the comments below.

“Your card has been declined”

Welcome back wonderful people. Happy July!

And now, for our usual song and dance (the one in which I give some half-assed excuse for the lag time between posts and you do not care). I’ve actually been writing quite frequently lately. It’s just all been rubbish. I wrote something about Sean Penn’s paternalistic, egocentric almost nonsensical string of GRE words article on Huffington Post but that was actually quite awful. I have complicated and strong feelings about international aid work but based on my current career choice, I would be remiss to not acknowledge the slight hypocrisy in some of my statements. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

Then there was the article inspired by dear old Trump’s presidential announcement speech; a speech which was not only INCREDIBLY OFFENSIVE, but was just a HOT ASS mess.  On a scale of 1 -10, Trump’s speech ranked as “this shit was written by a blind, three-legged, one-eyed skunk’s asshole”. What I wrote only made slightly more sense so it didn’t make the cut. Honestly, the only thing I’m proud of was this gif of Donald getting ready to go on stage:

(Courtesy: CBS)

(Courtesy: CBS)

Then, there were the articles to satisfy my sociopolitical activist proclivities. Do you know how much research goes into writing an article about current events with deeply complicated historical contexts? No thank you. I’d rather stick to what I know, great gifs and mildly amusing stories.

Which brings us to….

The time I almost fought a Whole Foods cashier.

If you’re unfamiliar with Whole Foods (WF), it’s an establishment where you can get bread-free bread for $45/loaf. This stuff is AMAZING. It’s gluten-free, salt-free, sugar-free, fat-free, calorie-free, water-free, air-free, everything-free. Come to think of it, it’s actually a bag of nothing but it’s totally worth the price. You definitely feel the difference. Some haters would call it hunger or starvation, but I know better.

Whole Foods be like

A trip to WF may result in sightings of “earthy”, “natural” folks, yoga pants (specifically Lululemon, because why wear workout pants if they’re not going to be poorly made and extremely expensive), chakras, auras, Vegan, vegetarian, Prius-drivers etc… There’s also a small minority of people who go to WF because they believe that if you buy pizza from there, it’s somehow healthier and the calories don’t count. Ok fine, that’s just me but I feel like that’s an accurate train of thought so LET ME LIVE!

Now I’m not sure why I thought this was a place that I could afford as an unpaid college intern.

stupid

Fine, you’re right. I was stupid. But you’re so impressionable in college. You’re surrounded by all these people who rock their Northface fleeces and Ugg boots in the winter while talking about their vacation homes on Martha’s vineyard. I obviously had nothing to contribute to those conversations (I’m not wearing a fucking shoe whose very name suggest it’s ugliness. Also I’m POOR). So I refused to be left out of the daily WF trips for lunch.

Isn't going to end well

Right you are again! But…how do I put this delicately? I was a…..

(Courtesy: Warner Brothers/Veronica Mars)

(Courtesy: Warner Brothers/Veronica Mars)

That’s the word.

Anyways, I got into this vicious cycle of heading over to the Whole Foods salad bar and making sure to only add 1 leaf and 2 (and no more) sprinkles of cheese. Oh did I forget to mention that the meal of choice of these basics that I was trying to impress was a salad which cost $12.59/leaf? So I was not only broke but I was ravenous 0.25 seconds after finishing my meal.

tumblr_inline_nespfbc3J71s7s52s

After about a month, week 2 days of this routine, I got a little notification from Bank of Evil (aka Bank of America to some of you) talking about “We’re letting you know your account balance fell below $25 on XX/XX/XXXX).” A sane person would have thought, “You know what? I’m gonna cool it on the spending” but nope, not I. That would have made way too much sense. I decided that I would do mental math every time I bought something (while conveniently forgetting to add taxes) and subtract the amount from the whopping $9.71 I had in my checking account. Again I ask, what could go wrong?

Feeling confident about my strategy, I went to Whole Foods on the 3rd day. I giggled at some basic jokes dripping with White privilege (again, we’ve all grown since college so don’t judge. Plus you try being the only Black/Brown/Native American/Hispanic/Asian intern. Apparently, when say that you’re “of color”, you can be the token minority and check all of the boxes whether you fulfill the requirements or not. Higher education in Boston isn’t exactly a representative sample of the population demographics).

I stepped up to the salad bar, grabbed half a leaf, 1/64th of a tomato and 0.4 sprinkle of cheese. It’s the lunch rush so all of the checkout lines were pretty full. I’m directed to go to the express checkout lane at the end by someone whom I assumed is called “Director of Consumers’ Potential and Kinetic Energy” at Whole Foods and “Manager” everywhere else. I mentally weighed my salad box and thought “This is probably about $7.89. I’m totally fine.” The cashier motioned for me to hand over my box. He scanned it and put a rubber band over it.

—“That’ll be $9.69

{Ok girl, that’s a little close but you’ve got just enough. Go ahead a swipe that card}

SWIPE!

—“I’m sorry ma’am. It says that your card has been declined

—“There must be a mistake. It does that sometimes. I’ll try again

This time a little louder:

— “Ma’am, you’ve tried 3 times. You even tried swiping it with a plastic bag. It still says declined

(Courtesy: FOX)

(Courtesy: FOX)

And that’s when shit popped off. See I would have quietly accepted my humiliation if you had whispered that the card couldn’t go through. But you really had to go and announce it to everybody in line. Oh hell no! This girl wasn’t going out like that.

I yelled even louder to make sure that people could hear me:

—- “Well, your machine must be broken. I have LOTs of money. I can’t exactly say how much because that’s an unknown number at this time, but it’s obviously a lot. So yeah….”

If I had to leave without my food, I was going to convince people that I was ballin’ and that this machine was clearly malfunctioning.

—“It actually says insufficient funds….”

At this point, there was no turning back. Homeboy had put me on blast and I had to save face. You know when you’re trying to convince people of a lie so you make up extra shit to make it seem extra real? Yeah……

—-“I don’t understand how that’s possible. I just sold a large shipment of oil to the U.S government. Are you sure? I need to check in with my exotic fruits exporter. We had a large sale recently. He told me that he would deposit the check this morning. It’s a giant check, has lots of zeros. I can definitely afford a whole salad but I’m trying the “barely eating” diet.

Pretends to call someone

—-“Hello, may I please speak to Damme? Oh he’s not available? Well he told me that he’d deposit my check this morning…..[awkward silence] Oh wait! He told me to ask for a Mr. Norris if he’s out? Which Mr. Norris? Hum…I think his name was Charles or Chuck maybe….

—-“Ma’am, you’re just naming action actors’ names. If you would like your food, you can pay cash or with another card?

—“First of all, you’re mad rude for listening in on my conversation. Second of all, my business associates are very real and don’t like people making fun of their names. You know what, I don’t like your attitude buddy. I’m not shopping at a place where the employees are so disrespectful. You can keep the salad. I’ve lost my appetite

Now this is a dramatization of what happened but he really did say the bit about “insufficient funds” real loud. And I definitely acted up and pretended like I changed my mind about the food. But we all know the truth.

Here’s my thing though, this is a transaction between you and me. Ain’t nobody else involved. Like Kevin Hart said: “It’s my fucking card. Tell me.” Why you gotta broadcast my business like you ABCNews? So I gotta head back to work hungry and humiliated? Not cool bruh, not cool.