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.”

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.

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?

Conceited

As a child, when I’d come home to my mom complaining about being teased about my body, she’d tell me I was “big boned. And it made more sense because I was eight and  literally bigger than everyone else. I was the weird African girl who brought rice and stew for lunch, but I was also the big African girl who brought rice and stew for lunch. As I transitioned through elementary, middle, and then on to high school, my size and height became far less interesting. It was my over-developing teenage hips and ass that caught stares. 

As confident as I am with my current body size, it’s simply rooted in the fact that I’ve maintained it since I was fourteen. I’m grateful that I fill out the clothes when I wear them now, but at fourteen I wanted nothing more than blend in. I didn’t look like all the Lilly Pulitzer’s wearing lacrosse playing Mattie’s and Skylar’s of my high school. Sure, you could put both of us in the same gym uniform of Sophie’s and school t-shirt but we unquestionably weren’t going to get the same reaction from the administration.

SN: I like to think I’m responsible for the ban of soffee shorts of 2011 at Northview High. I take pride in knowing that my ass lead to the substitute for longer and uglier basketball shorts.

In those moments, often brief and uneasy, my shape brought about disgust from guys my age and disturbing admiration from older men that no one should endure. All the new attention to my body made me more self conscious and it manifested many insecurities I had no business having at 15. I took the stares and inappropriate comments of others as facts rather than short sighted opinions. I held on to them and made them my own.

Oh, maybe I do need lose a bit of weight…

Should I really wear that dress? Nah, my legs are too pudgy for it.

Of course, I passed each insecurity as a stage. My alternative emo look turned into a clever t-shirt phase which turned into faux feminist “no shorts” phase. I’d be lying if I said I can now completely ignore people’s lingering stares. My mind immediately goes to times I was ridiculed by my classmates or gawked at by super creepy adults. But people will either love you for loving yourself or hate you for doing so. It’s impossible to constantly feed into the newest fads for ‘bigger this’ and ‘smaller that’. Beauty and body standards of society are fickle. Those that I followed always left me feeling bad or feeling hungry but never better about me. I was the only one who could look at me and love or change what I see. Okay, I got a little fat. But who told you I don’t like it like that?

Love the Energy

I’m a self proclaimed realist. I’ve created an image and life for myself in which I can give a graceful yet realistic take to almost anything. Of course, people rarely asked for my particularly harsh outlook on anything. It’s not exactly what anyone wants to hear when dealing with a difficult situation. But the line between realism and cynicism is extremely thin and paved with a few less-than pleasant encounters. One can easily slip into constant thoughts of misfortune and impending doom. And soon a mentality that was developed to help navigate in a sensible and logical manner can sour to expecting the worst from everything and everyone. It can seep into every part of oneself, only to be excreted out in shady comments, unexpressive stares, and an altogether unimpressed attitude.

Of course, I never noticed how toxic my energy became. I could hear the little comments and digs friends would make when I lend my particular style of truth but it wasn’t until I saw how my negative mindset began to manifest in my life. It wasn’t just advice that I was giving but the advice I gave to myself. I may have been real with others but I had been cruel to myself. From talking myself out of taking chances with jobs, school, friends, and relationships, I “cock-blocked” myself in every possible space and form. When I did allow positive things into my life, it took very little for me to “realistically” usher them out, allowing myself to believe that they would leave anyway. It wasn’t until I saw how nothing seemed to be going my way. Relationships seemed to dwindle and I found myself spending more time alone with my cynical thoughts.

I’d always heard statements like ‘Just be happy.” but I didn’t think it could be a choice. The greatest gift I have given myself in the last few weeks is creating my own joy. With the help of a journal, some patient friends, and one of my favorite new platforms, The JOYday Movement, I have begun to reclaim my positive energy. Positive energy is addicting and attractive. It brings people from all backgrounds into a space because they can sense the peace and joy that is in a person’s life. It’s hard to get out of the negative mind set but The JOYday Movement has been such a monumental space for me to rediscover my joy.

Aimed at helping people, especially of color, to really dissect mental health issues, the JOYday Movement creates safe space for people to share their stories and find their JOY throughout their journey. Their belief that choosing joy is choosing to know that no matter what may happen life, it will be okay has helped me to be able to project the kind of joy that I wish to put back into my life.

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves

Buddha

Make sure to check out the JOYday Movement at joyday.org , on Instagram, and Twitter.

The Road to Girlfriends

I have always been surrounded by the guys. As mini Maame, I quickly became the trailer to my cousins. They found me annoying but I got to tag along one way or the other. I spent most of my afternoons playing wall ball on my street and trading my older brother’s “vintage toys” for whatever I found useful that day. Most of the girls that lived nearby were just out of my age limit, either too young or too old. I knew I had my mom for girly conversation but every time I saw a moving truck on my street, I always prayed they had a girl just my age.

After a while, I got older and started to venture into activities that were meant to breed sisterhood like the Girl Scouts. It was an experience I detested at the time but it first sparked my desire for an organic group of girlfriends. Feeling let down by my troop to have the true American sense of sisterhood, I opted out of Girl Scouts and took the streets to find my own clique. I tried a few times in middle school and high school but saw how jealousy could quickly turn best friends into each other’s victims. I made mental decisions to leave the gabbing and clothes sharing to Joan and gals. The crazy part was that every part of my being still longed to have the right group of girlfriends. I had seen my mother build a group that laughed and cried together, as if they had been born to be in each other’s lives. With no biological sisters and uninterested extended family, I initially struggled to find women who felt like home to me. Many times insecurities and inability to communicate cost me the chance to build and grow with certain women. I thought I had been cursed  by the Girl Scout gods to roam the rest of my life without my Miranda, Charlotte, and Sam. It wasn’t until I was completely myself that I was blessed with some of the most beautiful relationships of my life. Women change your life. And the women in my life do nothing short of that.

I could write for days about the impact that each one has had, starting with my mother but my words could fully never express any of it. The women in my life are the smartest, most stunning, witty, ambitious, rude, petty, and selfless people I know. Dressed in grace, humor, and wisdom, I’ve gained the honor watching their brilliance while being in their corner. As overly emotionally as it comes off, it’s completely necessary and overdue. It takes very special people to pour into others without searching for anything but friendship in return. It sounds simple but it’s something a lot of people, including myself, forget to do. But when someone or something betters a life, the right thing to do is to pay homage.