It’s Okay to be Selfish Sometimes

Family, Mental Health

I have come to the realization that now is the perfect, and possibly only time in my life for me to be 100% selfish. Now I don’t mean selfish in the way of not sharing or withholding things from other people, I’m talking about being selfish with my time, with what I choose to do and who I choose to do it with.

Our twenties are the most confusing and challenging decade of our life because for the first time in our lives we have complete control over what we do. For the most part, we aren’t tied down with kids and family life, we have the liberty of finding a job where ever in the world we so choose, and we don’t have to answer to our parents anymore. (I’m not saying be disrespectful, but we don’t have to live by the “house rules” anymore.)

So I am taking this time to be selfish, I have a lot that I want to accomplish in this next decade, and I’m not going to let anything or anyone hold me back. My dream is to work in a PR or Ad agency in Chicago, and I plan on making that dream a reality in the next two years. But first, I need to graduate.

I’m also being selfish with the people I choose to let into my life. Just because you’ve known someone for a long time, or even if that person is a family member, doesn’t mean you have to let them be a big part of your life. Always be respectful, but the sun doesn’t need to rise and set on what they think about you.

I heard a great sermon at church a few weeks ago, and one thing that stuck with me from the message was a simple question; “what happens when helping you is hurting me?”

People are most likely going to get mad at you for taking care of yourself instead of taking care of them, you might get called names and you might lose some friends. But the truth is if they can’t see that you’re being selfish in order to better your self and regain control over your life, then they weren’t the kind of friends you needed in the first place.

I’m taking an oath to work on being selfish with my time and energy. I am too young to be stressing out about things that I have no control over. I don’t need to worry about what people think about the choices I make, as long as I’m being smart and the choice makes me happy, that’s all that should really matter.

I encourage all of you reading this to do the same, even if you aren’t in your twenties, find an area of your life that needs a little TLC and become selfish with it. Take time out of the crazy, hectic day for you. Your mental health is far too precious to be taken for granted.

If you have any helpful self-help/mental health practices that you try to work into your daily routine, I would love to hear about them in the comment section below!

Alive and Well

My Journey

Well, I’ve made it a week without social media, and guess what, I’m still alive. I haven’t broken out in hives or had thousands of mental breakdowns, my life hasn’t blown up in a ball of fiery failure and destruction. That may seem drastic, but let’s be real… we all think that’s what will happen if we totally disconnect from social media.

In fact, my life has improved. I don’t feel this constant pressure to post something perfect that captures only a small percentage of my actual life. I am not bogged down with the feeling of my life not being adequate. I feel liberated in some ways because for the first time since I joined the social media world, I am living my life for me and not for the likes, retweets, or comments from people I hardly know.

Don’t get me wrong, I do miss social media, I miss being connected in the talk around campus, I miss getting updates on current events (both political and pop culture.) But other than that, I don’t miss it that much. I think we (millennials) can get so caught up in feeling like our lives will end the moment we get off social media, but the reality is, our lives don’t begin until we do.

We are at such a formative point in our lives, we are shaping our futures, and creating our lifestyles. We deal with enough pressure from trying to get through college with the least amount of debt as possible and searching for the perfect job that will help us pay off that debt while not making us miserable.  The last thing we need to be stressed about is how our social media lives compared to those of our followers and “friends.”

We are in our twenties, we don’t have a lot going for us, we are all confused and lost, and just trying to figure out how to fully live on our own. And I don’t care how pretty your Instagram feed looks, at the end of the day, we are all riding the same struggle bus, so let’s get off the high horse and accept that it’s ok for our lives to be a mess.

I’m preaching to myself just as much as I’m preaching to whoever decided to read this post. I was trapped in the same endless cycle of refreshing newsfeeds and opening and closing different social media apps, feeling like my life wasn’t fabulous enough or that I was a failure for not having my shit together. But I decided to cut myself from the cycle, I’ve taken a step back, I’m focusing on learning about myself and what I want to accomplish in my life. I’m reconnecting with my true self, and I encourage everyone reading this to do the same.

This break from social media is amazing, I have so much more time to dedicate myself to my school work and other hobbies that I usually ignore. So I still have a few more weeks of this break from the social world, but as of now, I’m not dying, my vitals are fine, and I feel a lot freer.

Turning Over a New Leaf

My Journey

As I look back over the past year of my life I have grown tremendously. I have accomplished things I never thought possible, I have overcome various obstacles and hardships. I have made friends and lost friends, I have laughed and cried. Through all of this though, I have found that I haven’t fully been living for me.

Yeah all of my accomplishments have been about something I wanted and something I went after to achieve, but I haven’t been living in the moment. I’ve been chasing after some far fetched perfect reality, and have been caught up in living in a daydream land about various hypothetical situations that I lost a sense of what my true reality is.

I’m a naturally stubborn person, and sometimes I ignore what people tell me because it doesn’t fit into the reality I can have in my head. I am very much aware that this is a dangerous place to be, and because of it I have caused myself pain and heartache that could’ve been avoided, but alas it wasn’t. Even through the pain, I have learned a lot about myself, and I’m amazed each day at how strong and resilient I am.

So right now, on this day I have taken a pledge, I am going to turn over a new leaf. I am going to practice living in the now and work on not taking myself as serious. I am going to continue to dream, but I am also going to accept the reality in front of me. I am going to look for happiness within myself before I look to others to make me happy.

I am going to practice going with the flow and let go of the need to plan out and control every aspect of my life. I am going to work on not shutting down and feeling rejected when plans change.

But for right now, I’m taking a break from the outside world. I’m disconnecting myself from all social media. I am going to take time out of each day to meditate and reflect on myself. The people I communicate with during this time are the ones who are close enough to me to have my phone number. I am going to focus on cultivating relationships with the people who genuinely care about me.

During this time I am going to take chances and try and break out of my comfort zone. I’m going to face my fears (except mascots, mascots will always be scary) and do things I wouldn’t normally do. I’m going to do these things for myself too, I’m not going to try and find an “insta-worthy” moment that would generate hundreds of likes. I’m going to explore and experience the world around me and look at the unfiltered, not cropped beauty of the world.

So, as always, even though I am not on social media right now, you can follow me on my journey through this crazy thing we call life.

 

My Anxiety and Me

Mental Health

For the longest time I have thought that anxiety was this big scary thing and if you truly had it then there was something very wrong with you. But hey, guess what, anxiety is not that. In most cases, anxiety and stress are normal (almost) everyday things humans interact with, but in other cases, it can pose a problem.

I’m here today to tell you my story. It’s not some fantastical exciting story, this post is just going to be the raw, real truth.

College is stressful, there is no denying that, and anyone who tries to tell you differently did not do college right. But at what point does normal college stress become something a little more serious? For me, it began during my sophomore year, I had an interesting set of roommates, and I was dealing with some other personal issues. Every day I woke up, it felt like I was walking on eggshells. I was so terrified of saying or doing something wrong that I honestly became a hermit kind of. I went to school, I did my homework, I worked out occasionally, but other than that, I stayed to myself mostly because that’s where I felt safe.

For those of you, that know me well it might surprise you when I say that I am a very shy person. I’m usually that person hugging the wall at a party, but it doesn’t take much for me to get out of my shell. My sophomore year pushed me further into my shell, however.

I started losing hair, I was having a really hard time sleeping, and it just felt like my mind never stopped thinking. I was always deep in my thoughts processing and planning my next move.

It wasn’t until the middle of my junior year that I decided to seek help. I came to this decision fairly easy. I had a few breakdowns and panic attacks and after talking with my mom and a few other family members, the idea of therapy sounded really promising.

I began therapy about two months ago… I think, but that doesn’t matter, what matters is that it’s helped! I never expected to see the results come so fast. My therapist is amazing and makes me feel really comfortable whenever I come in. She has helped me realize that the things I struggle with are normal, but the way I was handling them was not.

She has helped me find healthy coping mechanisms and if one ends up not working for me, she always has another idea to help me reach the other side. I can confidently say that since I’ve started going to therapy I have seen a dramatic improvement in my overall mental health. I’m happier, I’m not nearly as scared of approaching certain situations, and I feel like I’m back in my natural element.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this. Since May is Mental Health Awareness month I decided I would take the time and use my platform to share my story. I also want to encourage you all to not be afraid to seek help if you need it!

Dear White and Black People

Mixed Girl Monday, Race

First things first, if you haven’t watched Netflix’s new series Dear White People please find the time to do so. If you have watched it, then you are aware of how the context of this post is going to go. So let’s get this thing started.

Dear White People, I am biracial, I am American, I am human. Please stop acting like I’m an exotic species.

Dear Black People, I am biracial, I am American, I am human. Please stop making me feel as though I’m less than any of those things.

Dear White People, for the love of all things holy please stop telling me how bad you want to have a baby with a black guy just so you can have a “cute mixed baby.” Mixed people aren’t some special breed you can just pick. If you want to adopt, adopt because you want to give a child a loving, safe, happy home. Do no adopt because you just want to have a mixed baby, we are not dogs.

Dear Black People, I am very much aware of my light-skin privilege. I know how colorism works in society and the black community. Do not assume that I think I’m better than others, get to know me first before you make rash judgments.

Dear White People, I wake up and wash my hair. That’s how I get these curls. That’s all.

Dear White and Black People, stop trying to put me in a box. I am biracial. Being biracial is a thing, do not make me discredit half of who I am just so you feel comfortable.

Dear White People, stop telling me I can’t get offended when you make a racist comment “because I’m not really black.” And to piggy-back off that, I have the right to take offense to any prejudice or racism I see, half of who I am is black and if you feel that way about black people, you feel that way about me. There is no “oh no I don’t think of you that way because you aren’t really black.” Yes, I am. So just think of that next time.

Dear Black People, I know I will never understand the full extent of your struggle, but just remember that there are people in the world who think I am you and treat me the same. Just because I’m half white doesn’t mean I’m protected from the racism and ignorance of some people.

Dear Black People, you can be racist too. Racism is not just limited to white people. By assuming that all white people are racist and out to steal from the black community, you are conforming to the same mindset of those white people who assume all black people are illiterate thugs.

Dear Entire World, until we can all realize that no one is their stereotype, there will continue to be racism and hatred in the world. Until we can all accept each other for our differences there will be no peace. I understand that there is deep rooted institutionalized racism in our world and that may never go away. But we can not continue to turn a blind eye when we see someone become another victim of an unjust society.

Dr. King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman, they did not sit quietly and wait for someone else to do something, They got up and fought for what they believed in. They didn’t just sit around and complain about how unfair the world was, they got up and fought to make it a little more fair. We have come a long way from then, but there is still much more to be done.

Dear White and Black People, will you stand with me? Can we put aside our differences and accept that God made us all different for a reason. Can we work on respecting each other’s culture and not appropriating it for fame? Can we learn from each other?

Sincerely,
A biracial millennial trying to find her voice

El Fin *deep sigh*

My Journey

Guys. I did it. I survived my third year in college. There were times where it seemed like I wasn’t going to make it to this point. This has by far been my most challenging semester, but knowing that I only have one year left is such a satisfying feeling.

So much has happened in such a short time and I honestly feel like I have grown so much. Over the course of this school year, I battled with getting over my first heartbreak, seeking help for my anxiety, gaining and losing friends, balancing a full class load and working all week. Needless to say, I’ve been pretty busy, but I wouldn’t trade any of these experiences for all the money in the world. I can tell that I have honestly gotten closer with myself and have learned that it’s ok and really important to create alone time.

I wouldn’t have made it to the end if it wasn’t for my wonderful roommate Skylar. We have had so many crazy adventures this year; from random late night talks to comforting each other when boys do stupid things, to late night food runs, to playing rock, paper, scissors over who went to talk to the RA, she’s been there for it all. She’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly (seriously she has some good blackmail on me lol.) We pushed each other to finish strong, and here we are. We survived.

If there is one thing I have learned this year, it’s that I am 100000% in the right major. I have been working as an afternoon teacher at a daycare this year and man oh man, those kids are crazy. I have a whole new level of respect for teachers everywhere. It truly takes a special person to work in education, no matter the age.

But I love my job, I work with the best group of people and even though there are days when my kids make me want to pull my hair out, I have grown to love them all so much. If anything, they’ve taught me the true meaning of patience. My class ranges in age from 18 months to 2 years and most of my day is spent saying “get off the shelf” “We don’t sit on our friend’s head” “no don’t eat that!”

Ahhh my internship this summer is going to be such a refreshing break, but I know I’m going to miss those crazy kids. I could go on and on about stories from the daycare, but I’ll save those for another day.

As I look back on this year it all seems like such a blur, it seems like life keeps moving faster and faster and I’m just trying to slow it down before the real adulting begins.

21 Lessons Learned

My Journey

My 21st birthday is finally here! This Saturday, Feb 4, I will officially be able to drink…legally. So I thought a great way to celebrate my day of birth with you all would be to share 21 lessons I have learned so far.

  1. Nothing in life comes easy
  2. Friends come and go, and that’s ok
  3. High school was nothing like High School Musical
  4. College is much harder than they make it seem on TV, but it is still loads of fun
  5. Classic Disney songs never get old
  6. Don’t stress the small stuff
  7. If you want to try something new, do it, YOLO
  8. Just keep swimming
  9. Hakuna Matata
  10. Do what makes you happy
  11. Mac and cheese is always the answer
  12. Don’t put goldfish in warm water… They’ll die
  13. It’s better to go with your gut… it’s usually always right
  14. Workout because you want to, not because society tells you to
  15. Your vibe attracts your tribe
  16. This world was made for right-handed people
  17. Don’t go chasing waterfalls
  18. 90’s music is truly the best
  19. Books are the best way to escape reality
  20. Sometimes life hands you major Ls and you have to deal with that
  21. There is no such thing as “too many shoes”

So that’s my list, some of them are funny, some of them are serious, but they have all helped me get to where I am today.

To Whom it May Concern…

Race

To whom it may concern,

Eight years ago on this day, I sat in my 7th grade homeroom class. We were all in our seats watching history take place. At the young age of 12, I didn’t know what was going on, to be honest, I was pretty bored but glad that we weren’t doing work. I never would have guessed that for the next 8 years I would grow to love and become inspired by that man on TV.obama-family-inauguration-big1.jpg

Yes, I am talking about President Obama, the people’s president, my president. I grew up watching this man and his family serve and run our great country with nothing but grace and dignity. I can remember wanting to be friends with Sasha and Malia, mostly because I wanted to see what the White House looked like, but now I genuinely would like to meet them.

Over these past eight years, I have grown into a young woman, I’ve graduated high school and completed half of my college career. Through all of that President Obama was there, not literally of course (I wish), but he was there. He was working on making this country an even better place for all of us to live and work in.

For the past eight years, I have not had to worry about the future of this country. I have been empowered and inspired to reach for my dreams because a nobody from the southside of Chicago, where half of my family is from, showed me that anything is possible.

January 19, 2017, will not be the last day for my president. Each and every day following I will continue to respect and honor the man that showed me that “yes we can.” Why do we need to bother making America great again? We are blessed to live in a country where we have the freedom to voice our opinion and worship whoever or whatever we feel like.

Could things be improved? Of course. Nothing is perfect, but that doesn’t mean we need to condemn our country and say it’s not great. If anything the Obama’s have shown us time and again that this country is awesome.  1280_obamas_october_cover-essence

I refuse to live these next four years in fear. I have learned a lot from the POTUS and FLOTUS and one thing we all need to remember is that when “they” go low, we go high. We can’t get sucked into this vortex of hate. We must rise above. We must fight to be heard.

“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.” -Michelle Obama

I refuse to lose focus on my goals. I refuse to be silent. I will make an impact, whether it’s just within my circle of friends and family or within the community or God willing something larger than that. If we want change we must demand it.

We have to be smart. We must not be angry. We must present ourselves with the same amount of grace, dignity, and composure that the Obama’s showed us for the past eight years.

We can not get caught up in the theatrics of this new political system. We must continue educating ourselves. Educate yourself on things that interest you. Become involved within your community, speak up at school board meetings, town hall meetings. Write letters to your senators and representatives. Be active.

The worst thing we could do in these next four years is to become silent. President Obama and his family are not going to stop fighting, so why should we?

Sincerely,

Jasmine Conley
A millennial who will be heard

The Power of “X”

Race

“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.” -Malcolm X

If you asked me a few weeks ago who I thought Malcolm X was, I would’ve told you he was the crazy, brash, hate filled antagonist to Dr. King during the Civil Rights Movement. I would’ve told you Malcolm X advocated for violence “by any means necessary,” and that he hated white people.

My mindset has totally shifted. In part, I am angry at my educational system (I’ll elaborate more later) for not educating my fellow classmates and I more on Malcolm X. Everything I was taught up until college was that he was the bad guy. Well, I don’t think it’s possible for me to disagree with that any more than I do now.

I just finished The Autobiography of Malcolm X written by Alex Haley. I went into the book with a hunger to learn more about this man I felt I knew very little about. I expected to dive into a book that was full of negativity and hate. Don’t get me wrong, that was definitely in there, but there was also mystery and brilliance.

young-malcolm

A young Malcolm Little

Malcolm X never went further than the 8th grade in his education because his teacher told him that his dreams of being a lawyer were “no realistic goal for a nigger.” Now I know that if someone told me that when I was in 8th grade I would’ve broken down in tears. Not Malcolm.

He went on to become one of the most influential civil rights activists during his time, and even still today. Now the road there was bumpy and not one of a Disney hero. I mean honestly up until he discovered the Nation of Islam, and even for some time after, he wasn’t the most upstanding person, but he was driven.

It is true that everyone is the way they are because of the experiences they’ve had throughout their lives. Malcolm X is no different. I believe his true hatred for white people was solely based on his life experiences and how he was taught to think.

We all know the saying “too much of a good thing can make it a bad thing.” To me, that’s what happened with Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. I am in no way an expert on Islam and their practices so I won’t go too in-depth on this, but I have a perspective.

421311I feel that Malcolm X discovering the Nation of Islam and joining with the Black Muslims is the fundamental reason he became as well known as he is. However, the Islam he learned and practiced for many years is also why he is known as the bad guy.

It wasn’t until he broke from Elija Muhammad that he started making real progress towards helping the Civil Rights Movement. His trip to Mecca was a huge eye opener to what Islam truly is, and from that point forward the narrative he preached changed.

Sadly, his life was ended entirely too short. I feel that he was on the brink of really igniting a change and starting a movement within the black community.

mlk_and_malcolm_x_usnwr_croppedMalcolm X was never going to be like Dr. King, and Dr. King was never going to be like Malcolm X. Their differences are what made them both so important. To me, they were the “good cop” “bad cop” roles. Malcolm X brought a fiery and explosive approach, whereas Dr. King was more logical and thoughtful. They both had a deep passion and dedication to the issue and neither lacked in drive or willpower.

It is not fair to put them against each other. Neither one of them was a bad person. Malcolm X was not a bad person. Malcolm X was street smart. He was intuitive. He had charisma and charm. He knew what to say and where and when to say it. He was, in my honest opinion, brilliant.

I wish I could go on longer about my thoughts on who he was, but that would be a book in itself, so I encourage all of you reading this to do your own research and become informed. I highly recommend reading the book, but you could also read old news articles or credible information from the internet. Expand your knowledge beyond “Malcolm X was bad, and Dr. King was good.”

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” -Malcolm X

 

Distance Makes the Heart Grow… Stronger

My Journey

With the beginning of the New Year still fresh on everyone’s mind, I have decided to add something new to my “resolution” list. I think for this blog to be as awesome a10215906-202050554_1-s1-v1s I want it to be, I will need to become more transparent in what I am calling my journey.

I mean at the end of the day that is what this blog is about.. Jasmine’s Journey.. I am Jasmine so it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t share my entire journey with you all. So here we go.

Like most girls in their 20s, I have had a few crushes, and even a few relationships. This past one, I think, taught me the most lessons. When I say lessons I don’t just mean what I want in the next guy I date, I also mean the relationship taught me a little more about who I am.

After some thought, and time, I have decided to share my experience of a long distance relationship.

First, let me make this disclaimer, I am not against LDRs in any way. For some people it is unavoidable, and under the perfect circumstance, it can work out. Obviously, this post is about an LDR that did not work.

Lesson #1: Communication is Key
For starters, it is hard to make any relationship work if 90% of the communication is via text messages. I am a millennial and I will own up to that. Constantly texting your significant other is not healthy. Both parties need to be open to other forms of communication, and if your SO isn’t willing, or makes it seem like too much of a hassle to talk on the phone or FaceTime, then that should be red flag #1.

The key to making any LDR successful is communication. I can say that is something my LDR lacked. Even though we texted all day every day, we hardly ever really communicated.

In all future relationships, romantic or not, I am going to make an effort to always have a good line of communication.

Lesson #2: Nevgetting-over-it-quotes-get-over-it-quotes-letting-go-and-moving-on-quote-move-on-its-just-a-chapter-in-the-past-but-dont-close-the-book-just-turn-the-pageer Settle
Another issue I found with my LDR is that the entire relationship was always an LDR. We never had a chance to live near each other and just experience what a normal relationship was like… actually no I take that back, we had one summer when we both stayed in the Little Rock area, but that was after we had already been “dating” for months. Then, once summer was over we went right back to our LDR for the next year and a half.

I knew my personality wasn’t up for something like that, but I kept saying once we graduate it will get better. When I would say that, though, I didn’t realize I was settling on my dreams. Never settle.

I have always been a big dreamer, and I’ll be honest some of my dreams are pretty unrealistic, but I don’t want anything, or anyone to hold me back from at least attempting them.

I’m 20, basically 21 now, I’m too young to just sit down and commit to one thing for the rest of my life. This is the only chance in life we get to go out and explore and travel and do all the things we won’t be able to do once we get an established career and family.

Final Thoughts:
Now I was not the one to end the relationship. I was willing to hold on and see what happened once we both graduated, but by him deciding to end things, my life has honestly gotten better. I have nothing against him, but I have realized that by holding on to him, and our relationship, so tight, I was missing out on things that were happening right in front of me.

LDRs are hard. I will always admit and own up to that fact. The people that say LDRs are easy are liars. It wasn’t until just a few weeks ago that I became aware of the stress that the relationship put on me.

But I am thankful for the relationship. He served a purpose for a time in my life, and I appreciate that. I also learned a lot about myself and grew, not only from the experience but from the heartbreak.

Even though this past relationship didn’t end in marriage, I grew, and to me, that makes for a good relationship. I hope you all don’t feel like this is too personal. I want this blog to be a true reflection of my journey, and my journey isn’t going to be all rainbows and sunshine, sometimes there will be clouds and rain.