May Flowers

Have you ever stopped to take some time to think about how far you’ve come? About how far you’ve grown? About how much positive changed has occurred in your life?

I have to be honest – I haven’t really. There are some pivotal life moments where I’ve reflected on all of that mumbo-jumbo…maybe graduations, big birthdays, or the New Year. And sure enough, with graduation in six days, I find myself looking back in preparation of moving forward. It’s the Sankofa bird. Moving forward, but using the past as a guide. I know I’ve blogged about this concept before, but I don’t mind repeating it, because I think it’s important.

sankofa

In looking ahead (post-graduation, new job, new city, new people), I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting of the past. On my first day in Buffalo I felt _____. Now, I feel _____. There have been so many ups and downs. I’ve complained that “this isn’t my place” or that it’s hard to find friends here. But you know what, Buffalo has really given me a run for my money. Because sure enough, as I’m preparing to leave, all these people who I really love and care about are popping up around me as little reminders, saying, “Hey! Don’t leave! Don’t forget about us! We love you!” And I love them, too.

I’m really going to miss this place. I’m going to miss the people I met. But I also understand that true friendships transcend geography. Still, it’ll be different.

But thinking about all this made me wonder, how many of us take the time to think about how far we’ve come? We are constantly living in the day-to-day stresses and struggles, or even the day-to-day joys and happy moments…it’s not necessarily a bad thing, living in the present, right? But at the same time, it’s hard to see any growth in ourselves if we forget about the past, and that can make us feel stagnant and stuck.

So today, I want to take a minute or two for all of us to reflect on how far we’ve grown. There’s always darkness before the dawn. After every storm there is a rainbow. April showers bring May flowers. The message is similar – there will always be some not-so-great times, but those times are required to move forward, to experience the dawn, the rainbow, and the flowers.

So today, ask yourself: 

  1. What are three things about myself that I love?
    • Yes, this is the typical, stand-in-front-of-the-mirror activity and force yourself to say it aloud
  2. Who is always there for me, no matter what?
    • Human connection is the #1 factor in human happiness. Who are your people?
  3. What is something that I am really proud of?
    • It can be big, it can be small. I’m proud I folded the laundry earlier today. I’m also proud that I have finally come to find a second home in Buffalo with some really amazing people around me.
  4. What is something that I have overcome?
    • Let’s not forget our triumphs. It’s easier to forgot the hard times, but with that, also comes forgetting about our accomplishments.
  5. What are my May flowers?
    • Looking around you and looking within, what are the things that have blossomed and bloomed for you?

And on this sunny May day, even though April showers, I am wishing you all the very best May flowers.

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The Twentysomething Roller Coaster

Hello people!

I am here this week for two very specific reasons:

  1. To write my weekly blog post, for without it, I don’t believe I would be able to maintain my sanity, and
  2. To follow up on last week’s blog post, which received the biggest disparity in comments yet.

In summary, last week’s post may have been a little melancholy, if you will, but I certainly didn’t mean for it to be an external request for any type of pity. I was simply expressing how I felt at that time. And how could you blame me, with this looking like my Easter Sunday?blog3
It’s okay though. I finished that paper, and in the constant struggle of grad school, I feel like I accomplished something. But as soon as I posted last week’s post, a multitude of reactions occurred:

  1. Friends started commenting, “This is so relatable!” …which I absolutely love because it makes me feel less insane.
  2. My mom sent me a Facebook message: “Honey, is everything okay? You have me in tears over here!” Yes mom, thank you for your concern, and
  3. I received a phone call from one of my best friends from college, as a check-in, not only about the post but about life in general.

I went to bed that night feeling much better, simply because of the reactions from a few hundred words on my page (so thank you to all of you readers). But it didn’t stop there. The next day, the encouragements continued to flow:

  1. First thing in the morning, a friend from work came into my office with a little metal Easter pail full of hand-dyed Easter eggs. I was in tears…such a thoughtful gesture.
  2. Later that afternoon, I came back to my office to find a bag of Lindt chocolate eggs on my desk with a little note from a student I work with. It said, “Not dyed Easter eggs, but chocolate eggs are close enough right?” YES! Yes they are.
  3. AND THEN fast forward to Friday, when I received a package in the mail from the same friend who called me last Sunday, filled with plastic shreds of green Easter grass, Easter candy, and a handwritten note.blog2blog4blog

The message here, people, is that love is all around. I just didn’t realize it. However, that certainly doesn’t undermine how lousy I was feeling last week, sitting on the floor of my apartment writing papers while everyone else seemed to be enjoying Easter hams and laughs with family and friends.

People say that life is a game. I see that. I’m going to alter the metaphor a bit and say life is an amusement part. And let me tell you, being a twentysomething is one hell of a roller coaster. There are constantly ups and downs, leaps forward and then miles backward. And after it’s all said and done, it feels like your stomach has been ripped from your body and you want to throw up everywhere. Yup, I’d say that pretty accurately describes this twentysomething life. Hopefully, as we progress into older stages of the amusement park life, we can enter more calm rides, such as the Ferris Wheel. Or the Merry-Go-Round. Yes, that would be wonderful.

But until then, here are some tips to riding that Twentysomething Roller Coaster:

1. Know Yourself
What causes your ups? Your downs? Being aware of this is the first step in losing the barf bag. For me, I know family and friends are my Ups. When grad school and work start to become too overwhelming, I can feel the Downs. Being self-aware is one of the best ways to be ahead of the game. You can prepare ahead. Playing piano is another Up of mine, so I know that if I’ve been sloping down for too long, heading to a piano room to practice is just what I need to be on the fast track back Up.

2. Going Backwards is Okay
It’s part of the journey. Sometimes, you have to go backwards in order to move forwards again. You may have to hit rock bottom (more than once), but then, there’s only one way to go from there, and that’s up. Those rides backwards are frustrating, and it sucks, but they are necessary. It makes you appreciate the better times, the times where you feel Up, the times where you don’t want to vomit everywhere. Reflecting back on the Downs, or the Backwards Times, I can now see that it was better that way in the long run, even though I wanted to jump off the roller coaster more than once during those times. It’s okay. Things will come back around.

3. Embrace It
There will be ups. And there will be downs. Accept it. Find a way that works for you. Make the ride your own. Going Down might be inevitable (so many things are out of our control), but why not live it on your own terms? We can anticipate life like a real roller coaster. The anticipation of climbing uphill, slowly and slowly with each tick of the metal on the track, for nothing else but to come whooshing down and curving around a sharp bend. Look forward. Know that there will be downs, but that eventually, things will come back to equilibrium.

4. Enjoy the Ride
You only get one. One ticket for admission: it can either be a general ticket or the best ticket in the park. My grandmother recently celebrated her eightieth birthday, and she has had one long ride. Ups and Downs for eighty years. She’s lived through a lot of twists and turns but I know that she is a stronger person for it. And we will be too…stronger people. So my last piece of advice for this roller coaster would be to buckle up, hold and tight, and live life to the fullest.