“You’ve been through worse than this.” That’s what you tell yourself as you stand in the mirror in your bra and panties, feeling unmotivated and uninspired. You don’t want to grab your dress from the closet. You’re not ready to start the day. You just want to stand there in your undergarments and coach yourself through this moment. You want to say that “You’ve been through worse than this” over and over until the words are stitched into your DNA.
You, my sweet and easily affected love, have definitely been through worse than this.
You miss the mornings when you woke up and felt wildly enthused to tackle another day. You miss feeling fortunate to seize another opportunity to hone your craft. Those days weren’t too long ago, but now it feels like they’re never coming back. Those days feel long gone in the rear view mirror as you drive away from the life you had with miles to go before hitting the life you’re headed for.
You are used to seasons of change leaving you shipwrecked. The moments of transition that you’ve survived were stormy. Those moments of change knocked you out of the ring, and you had to claw your way back in.
But this moment doesn’t feel quite like that.
Things feel uncertain. And the anchors you thought you had drifted away. The allies you relied on no longer exist. The mere comfort of an old friend you could kick it with, laid up in bed naked until noon, is even now gone. All of your security blankets have been stored in a bin, forcing you to grow up. Change. Mature. Let go of the life you had and lean in to the life you’re headed for.
This is the moment when you show what you are made of.
This is the moment when you are forced to summon all of the faith you have. This is the moment to believe that everything God does is for your greater good. This is the moment when you hold tight to the conviction that you are who you are and you were made to do exactly what you’re doing. This is the moment to show the fuck up for yourself, independent of the validation you once had from others. This is the moment when you clutch your core and believe in the strong, smart and good woman you know you are.
When shit happens, a shift happens. You can’t change the shit. You can’t rewrite the script. You can’t live with regret. You can’t ever do anything with “What if?” “What if?” is an abyss of a statement, a black hole approach to life. You can’t change what was done or what was said or the tidal wave that followed. It is done. It was said. The tidal wave followed. You can’t change the shit. But you can accept the shift.
You can accept that things are happening for you, and not just to you. You can accept that something wildly beautiful is being cultivated in your favor. You can accept the shift. You can ride the wave. You can heed to the call.
It won’t necessarily feel good. You’ll feel abandoned and unstable. You’ll keep looking at your old life with a gnawing sense of nostalgia and an insatiable longing for familiarity. You will feel like you’ve lost your mind, lost your tribe, lost yourself and lost your shit. But, it is all a shedding so God can make room for whatever comes next. You didn’t even know that you needed this space, and you don’t yet know what you need it for. But you need it. So what feels like loss is incredible gain, and only retrospect will affirm that for you.
The next time you look in the rear view mirror, you will be looking at this moment. And then you will know with every fiber of your being that this, my sweet and easily affected love, was all for your greater good.
What people don’t tell you is that greatness doesn’t always feel good. And that’s precisely why greatness is not for everybody. Everybody isn’t built to endure the pangs of growing pains in order to reach a higher rung on the ladder.
But, you are built for just that.
You always were. You always will be. The hot coals you’ve walked on, the tightropes you’ve traversed and the pouring rain you’ve stood in have all prepared you for this very moment. This is your path, and it wasn’t ever going to come easy. For awhile, you thought it would. You got high off of a little bit of success. You assumed the worst was over. But, it wasn’t. And it’s not. However, you should know that every teaspoon of bad promises a shit load of better. You just have to be patient enough to see it through.
The shit has happened.
Now let the shift happen.
When you go quiet, people should be worried.
When you are on timelines a little less and inundating Instagram feeds with fewer pictures, people should assume that you are in the lab. You are in the war room. You are prepping for the next match, ready to return as the heavyweight champion. When you have gone undercover, it’s so that you can work and write. Curate and create. Cultivate and produce.
When you go quiet, people should be worried.
They should take notice. They should expect some sprinkling of your magic dust to appear. When you go quiet, you aren’t telling the world you have left. No, when you go quiet you are telling the world that you are getting ready to conceive something that is next-level. You are preparing to unveil something powerful. You have traded in the noise of daily chit chat for the boom of a longer, more lasting monologue.
When you go quiet, people should know that is exactly when your vision is being fully executed.
Maybe they won’t know the vision. But, they should bet their ass that whatever the vision is, it is being brought to life.
You are a blogger so you’re expected to live out loud. Every little thing you think is supposed to reveal itself in 140 characters or less. Or on an Instagram photo. Or, above all else, in a blog post. You’re supposed to write your goals on pastel stationery notes and share them with the rest of the world so they can validate shit that you’ve already been convicted about. The nature of what you do as a blogger is public. Accessible. Communal. Reachable. Attainable. People are supposed to be able to leave their sticky fingerprints on the things you think. The ideas you believe in. The work you have set out to do.
Except you have learned that everyone can’t know everything.
Everything isn’t for everybody.
Dreams are very private things. Your vision is a very sacred thing. The work you have been put on this planet to do is cherished, and it isn’t always meant for everyone to know about.
You don’t want to write your goals on pretty stationery. You don’t want to share what you’re conceiving with just anyone. You want to protect your vision because you know how spoiled it could become if it’s handed off to the wrong person. Few people are good at following through on their own dreams, but many are adept at assassinating the dreams of others. Few people are capable of conceiving their own vision, but many are skilled at stealing someone else’s. If the wrong person catches even a glimpse of what you’re doing, the entire thing could be ruined. The sacrosanctity of your beautiful plans could be demolished. The beauty of what you’re creating could be destroyed.
Your dreams have been planted on holy ground. Not just anyone is allowed in that place.
You have spent sizable fractions of your life living out loud. Confessing your plans. Letting people know what’s in the works. Divulging your dreams. Sharing your blueprints. You have made so many chunks of your life accessible that sometimes you have to fight your instinct to blast off an idea to the Twitter airwaves. There was a point where you were addicted to the likes, drawn to the validation of strangers cosigning ideas that you already believed in with your whole head and entire heart.
That time has come and gone. Now, you know just how much you must protect the vision.
You know just how patient you have to be in order to protect that vision. You know that some days will come and go without you even saying what’s up to Twitter or scrolling through Instagram. You know that it’s not always fun to put your head down and work. You get antsy and maybe even insecure when everything you’re doing isn’t prime for the rest of the world to see. You worry that maybe people have forgotten that you and your work still exist.
But, “protect the vision” is the proverb you live and create by, even at the expense of your impatient heart and antsy spirit. You have come to trust your gut and the wisdom of your inner tribe. You have learned to rely on a select group of friends and mentors when you want to filter your thoughts. You know that your most significant ideas are often times the ones that you can’t ever reveal until the final product is ready, until you have seen the idea through its final trimester and birthed a masterpiece.
When you go quiet, people shouldn’t count you out. No, when you go quiet, people should anticipate that you have aimed your missile at something that it’s sure to destruct. When you go quiet, people should get every single one of their ducks in a row. They should cross all of their t’s and dot every single one of their i’s. When you go quiet, people should remember that your steps are ordered and you are focused as a motherfucker.
When you go quiet, people should be worried.
During high school, Jazmine was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune diseases that causes an overproduction of thyroid hormones. Read more about her incredible Learn how she has transformed tragedy into triumph with her upcoming charity event Inspired 4 Change.
Tell us more about your journey.
Right after my senior year of high school I lost a drastic amount of weight very quickly. I went from weighing 145 to 100. I was constantly sleepy and had no social life; my hair began to fall out as well. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me and my mom thought I was depressed. One day a doctor finally tested my thyroid and discovered I had Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that causes an overproduction of thyroid hormones. It causes extreme fatigue, weight changes, heart complications, tremors and sometimes bulging eyes. I became insecure about my physical image and I felt like I was living the life of a 50-year-old rather than a 20-year-old. Due to the severity of my condition, I suffered heart complications as well. After my last procedure I decided to become an advocate and help educate and inspire others through my passion and my story.
You conceived Inspired 4 Change after being diagnosed with Graves Disease. How important is it for young people to turn misfortune into action?
It is extremely important. Every major accomplishment in my life has been produced from a misfortune. I wasn’t able to attend the college of my choice because of lack of financial support and rather than give up the dream of college I went to community college and ended up attending a university that I never thought I would (James Madison University). There I learned about my passion for event planning. I learned the importance of being a leader in a population where you are the minority. And it was there that I gained a true understanding of what it meant to be a sister and the importance of helping your community through joining Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. I recently experienced my first heart break and it tore me up; I felt my life was over and I felt the lowest I had ever felt in my life. But it was through that I was able to examine who I really was and what type of woman I wanted to be. It pushed me to follow every dream for myself and to be confident in who I am as a woman.
Is there a lot of advocacy in the medical community for Graves Disease? How will your event help further that advocacy?
There sadly is not just because there are so many autoimmune conditions and Graves’ isn’t considered to be life-threatening. Many people overlook the severity of autoimmune diseases which is why they are termed invisible illnesses. Most people think you are fine because in most cases there are no physical symptoms but the internal toll it takes on your body is significant. I believe my event will help spread awareness because most people have never heard of Graves’ disease, and when I share my story people are always shocked. Also my hope is that more people will know the importance of getting every body system checked out because most people never get their thyroid levels tested.
What do you hope attendees at Inspired 4 Change get from the event? How do you want them to feel when they leave?
I hope they gain an understanding of you can’t judge a book by its cover. The most annoying things people say to me are “You’re too skinny, you need to eat more” and “You look fine there’s nothing wrong with you.” I eat all the time, but my metabolism is in overdrive and my body is constantly going at 100 mph. And just because I look “fine” doesn’t mean I’m not hurting. I have to take medication every day for the rest of my life. I may never be able to have a child of my own. At least one a week I struggle with the symptoms of my condition. But I don’t allow this to defeat me. I want the attendees to feel inspired and say “Wow, I can do anything I put my mind to in spite of what my obstacles are.”
What advice would you give to young people who want to become advocates and raise awareness about certain diseases or issues?
I would say do it and don’t be afraid to be truthful in what you have experienced. It’s difficult opening up and sharing your story because people always judge and someone will always find something negative to say, but it’s your journey and story. You never know who you may be helping through sharing your story or sharing your gifts of song and poetry or whatever your passion is. There is only one you so even when you feel like there are a million people doing this same type of thing or talking about this same issue, it doesn’t matter because no one has a story identical to yours.
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?
My grandmother and my godmother are by far my greatest inspirations. My grandmother is a strong woman of faith and she never lets that waiver. She is loving and has dealt with adversity in the most beautiful of ways. My godmother was the one who always pushed me to chase my dreams. She gave me the confidence I needed to become a woman. She always told me I could do anything; she always reassured me that I was beautiful and kept me encouraged and in prayer. Both women have inspired me in every area of my life.
Inspired 4 Change is an event created to inspire, spread awareness and showcase talent. The event will feature local DMV poets, musicians and singers all coming together to display their talents for a great cause. All proceeds from ticket sales will go the American Thyroid Association to further research and support for Graves Disease. To purchase your ticket to Inspired 4 Change, click here and visit @Inspired_4_Change on Instagram to learn more.
I’m at the point where it’s hard to remember the person I was in college. Old Facebook albums are the only vestiges left of the girl who stuck her tongue out too much in photos, dealt with a lot of bullshit from her older boyfriend and assumed she would now be a successful writer in NYC.
I don’t know that girl anymore. But, I know that girl is somewhere in the shadows of the woman I am now–a woman smack dab in the middle of her twenties reflecting, freaking out and fucking up.
Reflecting. Freaking out. Fucking up. And somewhere in between all of that, trying to steer my ship the best way I know how.
“Do Not Surrender Your Twenties” has become an emblem of Twenties Unscripted, as has my annual commencement post. Both provide me with a chance to pause and ruminate on the lessons that have jilted me, jolted me, jaded me, jabbed me and jarred me. Both provide me with an opportunity to funnel the lessons that have rocked and refined me into something better than just scars and battle wounds. This year I decided to combine the two missives. Class of 2015 (and everyone else) here it goes. These are the lessons that have made me half of who I am and 1/10th of who I will become.
Do not surrender your twenties to being a jackass. Tact goes a long way. Kindness goes a long way. Niceties go a long way. The world would have you believe that everything is about the bottom line. The world would have you believe that you can and should sacrifice feelings in favor of business, emotions in favor of paychecks and relationships in favor of results.
Sometimes the world is frighteningly, madly and immensely wrong.
Do not surrender your twenties to him. Yes, him. That him. The italicized him. The romanticized him. The overly sensationalized him. The you-aren’t-going-to-change-his-mind-so-do-not-try him. Your heart will play tricks on you that your mind can see straight through. Sometimes it’s more fun to listen to your heart because then you can blast Beyoncé or Taylor Swift, think about him and feel completely justified in your tortured feelings. But, days become weeks and weeks become months. And then years will pass. And when you look at the long and short of it, nothing has changed. Not a damn thing. He is always going to be that overly sensationalized him–beautiful in your mind, reckless in your reality.
Do not surrender your twenties to working too hard, too long or too much. It’s graduation so everyone is telling you just how much you are going to take over the world. Except even world conquerors require rest, recuperation and reflection. All engines need fuel, and you can’t gas up when you’re flying 80 miles per hour. It’s cute to run around believing you can do it all, handle it all and conquer it all. But you can’t and you won’t. Listen to your body. Heed to your spirit. Lean on your friends. Tomorrow is not promised, but if you run yourself ragged, neither is today.
Do not surrender your twenties to listening to everyone else but yourself. Your gut is your greatest, strongest, smartest and most pointed guide…unless it’s speaking about the italicized him. Then that’s not your gut, it’s your vagina.
It’s OK to listen to her every now and again, too.
Do not surrender your twenties to believing the hype. Likes never paid bills and retweets never kept the lights on. Take everything you see on social media with an enormous grain of salt. I know social media superstars who can’t make rent and people living comfortably who don’t even know what Twitter is. Some people are hype masters and some people are hard workers.
Do not surrender your twenties to a dying need to be coddled, comforted, validated or loved. Sometimes it will just be you in the middle of the ocean, forced to swim without a life jacket. Swim. Paddle. Splash. Tread. Stay afloat. Stay alive. You can because you have to.
Do not surrender your twenties to a chase for perfection. You are imperfect, fragile, dynamic and complex. You are a blindingly beautiful mess. It takes too much of your energy, time and sanity to pretend your shit is always together when it is absolutely, unequivocally and undoubtedly NOT together. So, be a mess. Cry. Be ugly. Wear flats sometimes. Go without a pedicure. Contrary to what Beyoncé said, no one ever woke up like “this.”
Do not surrender your twenties to your past. Let go. Forgive. Build the bridges. Mend the fences. Say sorry and really mean it. Don’t say sorry and deal with the repercussions of your absent apology. Stop pretending your bad childhood or that really awful thing that happened to you are excuses to treat people like garbage. They’re not. Yes, they sucked and they will always suck, but you have to summon the spirit to be a good person.
Do not surrender your twenties to the future. Calm down. Breathe. Have a drink. Do the work. Find a force beyond yourself to believe in, a force beyond yourself to trust in, a force beyond yourself to anchor you when waters are choppy and friends are few.
Do not surrender your twenties to wanting to have it all. “It all” is a subjective, amorphous and potentially unattainable acquisition. There is no “all.” There is only what you want and what you do not want. Decide and carry on.
Do not surrender your twenties to tradition, convention or a framework for your life that simply doesn’t fit.
Do not surrender your twenties to bad people, bad vibes, bad relationships, bad jobs, bad sex, bad weaves, bad jokes or bad television. Some things are just awful and shouldn’t be allowed.
Do not surrender your twenties to self-pity, self-deprecation or self-hate. Stop despising yourself in photos. Quit always asking to see the picture one millisecond after it’s taken and then requiring another one because you think your eyes look weird or your ass is small. Listen, your eyes do look weird and your ass is small. And it’s perfectly OK because you’re beautiful. Except I’m not the one who has to believe that, you do.
Do not surrender your twenties to the people who don’t respect you, the relationships that don’t ignite you and the careers that don’t excite you. This decade is where you’ll ripen. This decade is the motherfucking metamorphosis. And you will still have time after this, but you’ll never again have this time. Do not surrender it.