Vulnerability is a B*tch

I struggle with vulnerability. The word itself makes me uncomfortable. The idea of having to subscribe to “the state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally” is not a comfortable feeling. I always believed I spent enough time with someone or in place, it would ease my customary anxiety but just a comment, an action, or even a location can send me back to a space where I felt nothing but vulnerable. I have seen how the distance I create causes others to feel weary of me . It causes distrust, resentment, and ultimately avoidance. I may try to explain all but it never seems quite enough. I write this at a time where I feel more exposed than I have in years but I lend these words to images that made me feel seen positively. Hopefully, they balance each other out.

Images by Asiyami Gold

JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out

The clock on the laptop struck 5 and I felt the pressure from my clenched jaw lessen. The small pain that seems to live in my left temple during work hours, magically went away and I could feel my Arthur curled fist release in a sign of relief.

I quickly passed my coworkers, ignoring any attempt to make plans or talk about dumb shit.

All I wanted was a bottle of wine and a good romantic comedy on Netflix.

In my late teens and early 20s, my FOMO was out of control. I didn’t go out but I’d kicked myself envisioning my friends partying, drinking the night away, and making bad decisions we were supposed to be indulging in at our age.

Now in my mid-20s, I can’t be bothered to go out if I’m really not in the mood. Cheap liquor doesn’t go down as smoothly and I prefer to wear sweatpants over any tight ass bodycon dress any day. In following my own advice, I have tightened up my budget and my budget really doesn’t acknowledge tri-weekly happy hour or $50 dinners every weekend anymore.

I really admire the people who are willing and able to go out but that’s just not my life currently. I wish we could all come to an agreement to stop shaming one another.

If your bank account isn’t upset that you’re consistently abusing it every weekend then who am I to judge. Just don’t complain that I’m home every weekend, standing ass naked in front of my exhausted and overly opened fridge.

Please keep all comments about me and my friends making homebody decisions, especially when we do decide to show face at the function. I can’t count the number of times that people have just stared and pointed as if I owe them money.

I know, I’m outside. This wasn’t initially my plan but I’m here now and trying to make the best of it.

We are all trying to navigate through this dimly light and overhyped space of adulting. There may be days, weeks, and months in which happy hour regulars turn over their last shots glass in exchange for a Power marathon in an incensed filled room. This shift in the social universe may lead, I and my fellow aunties, to electric side to Beyoncé’s Before I Let Go in some overcrowded and poorly cooled establishment.

But until then, please don’t kill my vibe.

All photos by Tatyanna Chamere

Money Clueless

Processed with VSCO with ss1 preset

Image by: Morgan Daniels

Picture this, it’s a warm Sunday afternoon. I and a few of my millienal friends are enjoying a bottomless instagrammable brunch. The drinks are flowing and the bacon is crisp. It’s like the apartment scene of The Great Gatsby.

Suddenly, the bill arrives. I look around the table to see my peers contemplating that dreaded question

“Should I move my some of savings to my checkings?”

I furiously refresh my LGE credit union app, while the deja vu of opening and closing my refrigerator door in hopes that food would magically appear dances in my head. In the end, brunch won and I drove home full and slightly defeated, arguing with myself about whether I really needed cheese on those eggs.

Growing up my father had one simple rule, a mantra rather; Cash is king. A simple and annoying reminder to spend less and save more. Anytime we would pick up a pair shoes or purse that was a “luxury” he would wipe away any shopping high with those three simple words that would make the simplest purchase seem like a shopping spree at Saks. He became so relentless that my mother and I would often hide our shopping until he fell into a deep Sunday nap. Then, quickly and quietly smuggle them into the house.

To be honest I wasn’t broke; I mean at least not as broke as I have been in college.

My humble bi-monthly freshman year allowance never seemed to come and go fast enough. Between late night food truck runs and constant Sassy’s dress shopping, I always managed to have approximately $.25 in my account every 13th and 28th of the month. I now appreciate my father for being so strict at the time. It made me creatively broke. I miss the days when my friends and I would take a collection of $20, cook an entire meal, get a huge bottle of cheap wine, and enjoy each other’s company and Netflix accounts.

These days, adulting makes it a lot harder to get the girls together so the experiences happen less and cost a little more.

Here are a few of the tips to making your money work for you.

4 Tips to Making it as a Broke Millennial

There’s rice at home.

I remember the cool thing in elementary school was buying lunch from the cafeteria. I never wanted to be “that girl” who pulled out rice and stew for lunch. However, I have no in shame in bringing in homemade jollof rice and chicken wings four times a week for lunch. The only person who can judge me is my bank account.

It’s just you and your vices tonight.

Bars are fun but tabs are not. In an effort to have a YOLO night, a simple drink with the squad can turn into a frantic call the bank for “unrecognized charges”. There is no shame in staying in and inviting your people to wine down or liquor up.

Cash is King.

No matter how much budgeting is done, life happens. It’s doesn’t take much for a tire to bust or a must see artist to drop tour dates to ruin even the most planned out budget. Keeping an extra $40-$100 stashed away from yourself and your account can come in handy for life’s inconsiderate moments. Apps like Digit help to make saving money digitally and virtually painless.

Be Honest.

As much as we would love to be at every function, sometimes you just don’t got it and there should be no shame in saying that. Try to keep an honest dialogue about spending with your people. Real friends will understand.

The Waiting Game

Photography by: Morgan Daniels
Styled by: M. Ansah
I vividly remember the day I started waiting for love, or rather on it. A friend’s church had organized a women’s conference. It was three days of getting to understand how to be the woman that God had called you to be.
Being an angsty 14 year old, I embraced the thought of God being able to help me deal with pimples and missing homework assignments. We prayed, laughed, and cried as we talked about the insecurities of womanhood. I felt heard and seen, as I saw older women confess to feeling less than beautiful in their younger years. I absorbed every question brought up and discussed, while furiously and meticulously taking notes to apply to my real test of life.
Then, this woman stood.

“I’m intelligent. I’m accomplished. I’m beautiful and yet I’m 30 and alone. Is God punishing me?”

Our eyes, and exposed hearts turned to the speaker, anxious to hear her insight pour forth about love and God.
“Just pray and wait.” She replied and moved on to the next question.
We all sat in shock and I knew the collective thought in the room was “Girl wut?”
We had dissected almost every question. Pouring through the Bible for answers about everything from body image, to being a good friend to others, even mental health. But when it came to love and marriage, We were told to wait.
That message never sat well with me but it definitely stuck with me. I remember mentioning to my mother that I could and would date in college.

“Just wait Maame, there is no need to rush into that part of life.”

College came and went with two interesting relationships and a handful of situationships under my belt.

And I was still waiting.
I thought I was waiting for my crush/favorite rapper to put me in a song. But when it did, the song didn’t move me like the rest of his music. Then I moved on to waiting for my lil business man boo to explain to me what our future looked like together but his proposal was depressing and not as romantic as he has lead me believe. The picture the artsy LOML made of us just wasn’t in focus. So I just kept waiting.
It wasn’t until my parents a few months ago, so lovingly asked

“So Maame. Why aren’t you dating?”

I replied that I was taking a break. And they asked me what the wait was for.”
I calmed looked up from my phone and replied,

“I dunno, the speaker never went into that part.”

Faux Reality

Photography by: Tatyanna Chamere

I looked up from my phone completely unaware of what I’ve been going on for the past two minutes only to catch the last bit of a conversation from two very chic women.

“I mean her life looks interesting but we all know that can’t be true she’s probably just super unhappy and super miserable. I mean look at her? Nobody can look that amazing and be that happy all the — wait, she’s coming up. She said she’s here.”

The two quickly adjusted their faces just before an equally elegant woman, LV’d down to the socks sauntered up and embraced them with an excited giggle and a big smile. They mirrored her with the same enthusiasm before they both linked arms and walked up to the café like a scene from the Sex And The City movie

In my mind, I immediately began to criticize. How could these women have been so terrible? And then just smile in her face like they had not just come for her entire life? Firmly perched on my pedestal, I turned my attention back to my phone and started scrolling casually through Instagram. Before I knew it, I had fallen off my holy than thou art throne into my own shallow pool of hypocrisy.

“Wow, must be nice to be rich when daddy is footing the bill.”

“Her Loubs aren’t even all that. I know them sh*ts hurt.”

“He ain’t even that cute to be shirtless like that all the time.”

All while double tapping to show my social sign of approval and acceptance

From my days in college, the idea of being fake friendly was not foreign to me. My alma mater is known for people showering each other with praises and graces, only to turn around and slander each others names. To say that I didn’t participate would be a lie. It was extremely easy to get caught up in the mess. I would often sit in a corner with some friends, drink some wine in “kiki” about people on social media before turning around to collaborate with them on group projects about the dangers of sexual miseducation. **nervously clears throat**

My slight wake up call happened during a particularly difficult time in my life. Brooding over a bad break up and on going school stress, I posted a picture with a cryptic caption about being happy when things weren’t going well. The picture had been taken weeks prior, when I was happier and much more “in love”. I saw my notifications ring with words of affirmations and love. With an uplifted mood but head still down, I entered my apartment elevator and moved to the back. I barely lifted my head to see two girls enter the elevator, glued to their phones as well. I could hear their cackles through my Afrobeats blasting through my earphones and decided to be nosy.

“Sis, look at her brows. They look like enemies.”

“Flat chested ass. She thinks she cute because she cut her hair. Who cares?”

The picture was mine and the two girls were people I thought to be friendly acquaintances . It hurt and broke my already fragile state into pieces.

I’m much more aware these days of how critical people can be of what they see on social media. The likes and comments, though I like to think come from a place of genuine love and respect, can also just be nothing more than a socially normative routine done to hide indifference, envy, or simple distaste. The problem with this fake reality is that getting caught up in the mess of it has become normalized. What we don’t quantify is the toll it can take on people. Sometimes it’s better to go ahead and unfollow, unlike, and log off.

That Little Teal Monster

Photography: Morgan Daniels

I believe I clung to idea of wanting a super tight knit group of people because I didn’t want to or didn’t think I could correctly make my own hard choices. Decisions like ‘What to do you think I should eat?’ or ‘Do you think I can pull off these colors’ didn’t occupy my mind as much as ‘Do you think he’s worth all this trouble?’ or ‘Am I making the right life altering decision?’ And in that desire, I tried to align myself with people with virtues and values I admired, in hopes that being in their life would bring insight into mine.
But in the last six months, I have realized that my closest friends have branched into different phases of their lives that I’m no where near or more terrifying enough –  may never reach. As excited and proud as I was of them, I couldn’t help but feel that thattheir lives would strain our relationship and I would end up alone with no “guidance”.
All of this uneasiness sat in the back of my mind, making  it harder and harder to hide my disappointment and annoyance when busy schedules took the people I loved most away from me. I thought it was jealousy at first but I realized it was more selfishness that stemmed from a fear of having to sit and figure out my shit on my own.
No too long ago, one of my professors casually asked to speak with me after class. As reluctant as I was to go, the semester had just started and it was never too early to start academically ass kissing. I walked into his office, full of souvenirs and trinkets from every corner of the world. He began to rattle off students who had bestowed each gift to him and what amazing feats they had accomplished since leaving his academic care. I listen politely but was completely unaware of the relevance to me. Just as he began to lose me, he made a sharp turn into my psyche. I had never met the man prior to that day and he knew nothing more than my name and my face but he spoke so directly to my insecurities that I began to tremble.
His long winded but insightful stories about former students painted stories much like my own of uncertainty and mistakes. He bluntly told me I’d have to figure it out alone but not “alone” alone.

“Everyone will have a different idea for your life because of how they see you and not the way you see you.”

We all have a voice that pushes our best interest and intentions for our lives forward. Through the mess of life, it gets easier and easier to drown it out and avoid checking in to see if we are actually taking care of ourselves. Unfortunately, the more we drown that voice out, the harder it is to hear it when we finally stop to listen.

As hard as it has been to sit with myself and ask questions like ‘So, what do you really want to do?’ , I have found a that there is a quiet sanctification I have discovered from making my decisions on my own. Even when they are terrible, I’m able to sit with consequences rather than wallowing in self loathing. By no means do I have everything figured out but I certainly do feel more content in my process.

 

Why is You Here?

As I sat across from my gold cladden date, I couldn’t help but think to myself

Hoe, why is you here?

My eyes began to glaze over as he talked about his various business ventures and recent trips. I only snapped back as he expressed his desire for a woman who could “keep the house in check” but not hassle him about going and coming when he pleased.

“Why not just hire a maid?” I inquired. He shook his head furiously as if I’d made the most ridiculous suggestion. He tried to explain that every man needs someone to come home to at night but that person needs to be able keep him and home in line. Blah, blah, blah.

I could sense my attention drifting further and further from the delusional conversation so I excused myself to the restroom.

As I looked at my self over, lip gloss popping and my favorite wig bobbing, I again thought:

Hoe, why is you here?

This sadly hadn’t been the worst date/ encounter I had with the male species. A particularly interesting one involved a hotep that slipped through the cracks of my vetting process with his beautiful teeth and washboard abs. Our time was quickly cut short after he explained to me on our first date that he was interested in marrying me but only if I give up my desires to further my education and my instagram.

I knew I was bored. My mundane routine of work, home, sleep had me left grasping any and every bit of excitement that could find me. Except, the excitement finding me weren’t even particularly interesting. To be honest, I had allowed “swit” words and fine dining to steal some of my Friday and Saturday nights. I never thought my time could be bought until I tasted the Côte de Boeuf from Marcel’s.

Damn me and my bougie stomach.

I started to think of all the things I could have been alone doing rather than sitting across from one of the most boring men on the planet. Ideas of pole classes, coloring books and actually writing about my feelings again danced in my head. All of sudden, I began to feel sick about how I had just wasted my time and this poor delusional misogynistic man’s time. I quickly texted my friend:

<<Save me in 5 min>>

I walked back to the table, feeling more nauseated with each step. He could sense my discomfort and asked me what was wrong. I played it off as a stomachache and anxiously waited for my phone to ring. I don’t think I even allowed a second vibration to pass before I picked up and motioned that I was stepping out to take a call. I explained my situation to my girl and we both agreed it was time to go.

I walked back into the lounge and bullshited an excuse about a friend going through a bad break up. He gave me his unwanted and unneeded blessing to leave and I dashed to the valet. Within 30 minutes, I was undressed and in my bed. Before I pressed play on Living Single, I looked around and realized I knew exactly why I was there.

Street Style: Les Jumeaux

On Maame: Top & Skirt: Forever21|Jacket: H&M | Shoes: Stan Smiths| Scarf: Amazon Fashion |Rings : Forever21
On Seynabou: Top: Forever21|Pants: Express |Jacket: H&M | Shoes: Stan Smiths|Rings : From Senegal
Photos by: Morgan Daniels

It’s very seldom that I ask for help. Being raised in a “Go and look for the answer and then comeback to me” type of household stunted my quickness to seek assistance at an early age. I eventually learned through so many avoidable but necessary lessons about the humility in asking for help. But it wasn’t until fairly recently did I begin to ask for direct assistance in anything creative in my life. In the past, I’ve always just tried to place myself in a creative space and hope and pray that I could be offered assistance without looking “needy” or “greedy.” And in a similar pattern, I made avoidable mistakes in my creative life. Losing out on certain opportunities and people were enough of a lesson for me to swallow my pride and reach out to people who have always been present.

Thank you to Seynabou and Morgan for being present and ready to ride in my creative journey.

Street Style: Black Friday

 

If I had to describe my daily style in one word, it would be black. For the aesthetic of the blog, I’ve tried to show off more colorful pieces in my wardrobe. As much as I adore those looks, nothing makes me feel more comfortable or confident than wearing all black. I’ve always wanted to be the physical embodiment of the color black.

Black is classic. It is not loud. It doesn’t scream or demand attention like other colors such as red or white. It quietly and calmly asserts itself, knowing exactly its place and power. It’s sharp and clean. It goes with everything. It’s timeless. And honestly, who doesn’t look great in it?

Dress: TJ Maxx |Jacket: H&M | Bracelets: From Ghana| Bag: Myth House| Boots: Dolce Vita |Rings : Pandora and H&M
Photo by: Morgan Daniels

Adopting Atlanta

Creating a life in Atlanta was never in my plans. To be honest, I had no interest in staying in Georgia past the age of 18. It always too homely and I longed for the sophisticated and fast paced life of a New Yorker. It seemed like nothing was here for me. So it surprised everyone, including myself, when I choose to stay in Georgia and attend Spelman College, located in the historic neighborhood of West End. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I let the outward appearance of West End deter me from venturing out of the gates of Spelman the first two years. Other than a handful of excursions to Lenox Mall and Little Five Points, I stayed close to the comforts of my hall. Even when my car rejoined me in the city, my friends and I were far more concerned with taking trips to other colleges and cities that we ended up neglecting our adopted hood. Now that the possibility of leaving Atlanta becomes more of a reality every second, I realizing how little I know of Atlanta.
So the question is, what do I rediscover first?