Where I am and how I've been

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

A drawing of me and a quote from the article

After a year and some change, I'm finally back to my blog. It has taken far too long. There are many reasons why I've been gone; school got too busy, I had more important priorities, I felt like there was nothing interesting to share, etc. The list could go on. But why don't I start with why I'm back. I'm back because I love it. I love writing. I love sharing the thoughts and ideas that I talk to myself about (no, I'm not ashamed to admit it, I know y'all do it too). It's nice to tap into my creative side because it brings me joy. This is the person I want to be: the Jada Kissi who continually follows the things she enjoys and lives life as authentic as possible. This, by the way, is going to be the main theme of this post - loving what I do and being who I am.

Why did I stop? Simply put, it was a cycle of forgetting I even had this blog and getting yearly subscription notifications that briefly inspired me to get back to it, but eventually forgot about it again. We all know 2020 was a sh*t show, but my 2019 was a personal sh*t show. That the year I stopped blogging. I think of 2019 in three parts; the spring semester of my sophomore year, that summer, and the fall semester of my junior.

That spring I was incredibly overwhelmed with university-related things. There was a point in time where I was putting more time into my student organizations than my classes. Crazy right? The pictures below are from a conference I spoke at in Philidephia for the Cornell chapter I led of an advocacy organization, and the other one is from the fashion show I organized on campus. Both happened on the same day; I flew to PA in the morning, flew back, and did our $12,000 show. After that long crazy day, I walked back to my dorm at 3 am on a cold Ithaca evening, wearing heels and that yellow getup because I forgot to pack flats and a spare outfit. When I got back to my room, I sat on the floor and cried.

me speaking at a conference

Me speaking on a runway

When the semester finally ended, I was accepted into a summer research program in Austin, Texas. So, I only had two weeks at home before heading over there. A couple of days after getting there learned I made the dean's list.

Now, this is an important part of my self-discovery and realization process; I didn't feel anything when this notification arrived. Now you might be raising your eyebrows in shock, squinting your eyes in disbelief, or rolling them in irritation. But I ask that you take me seriously. I saw this marker of achievement and I didn't feel successful or proud of myself, I felt a mixture of nothing and anger. I was angry because I realized it wasn't worth it. I made the dean's list in exchange for my physical health, my mental wellbeing, and my joy, and I realized it was a bad tradeoff. I was sad and tired and tired of being sad.

So I spent that summer chasing things that made me feel happy, trying to discover new ways to feel courageous, and of course participating in my research program which I genuinely enjoyed because of the research I chose to do. I also made a new best friend (who a year later became my boyfriend). I went to Colorado for a family wedding and later to Florida for a family vacation trip. In summer 2019, I was starting to become the Jada I wanted to be; I was so happy and I loved it. (See fine girl, looking like a million-dollar Princess)

Me dressed up in front of a garden
Me biking in a forest

Junior fall was not as nice to me. The weight of school and my student organizations came back, and of course, I forced myself to carry it. Except in addition to that, I was carrying the stronger burden of my worsening physical health condition. I have epilepsy, which is a neurological disorder that makes you have seizures. I have temporal lobe seizures - they usually last under five minutes but they can get awful (can't read or speak afterward, spit uncontrollably, intense migraines, etc). That year, I had two tonic-clonic seizures for the first time (convulsions, loss of consciousness, foaming at the mouth). I was not well. I was visiting doctors trying to get help, but the toll on me just made it much worse because they were not helpful. I hardly told anyone what was really going on with me; I didn't want anyone to look at me differently. I was less happy, I wasn't eating as much, and I barely got a good night's rest because I would have a panic attack when I tried to fall asleep. There were moments and times of joy of course; I went back home to Ghana and saw so many loved ones. But it was a dark era that just reminds me of feeling sad and alone.

In order to keep this post short and on topic, that year taught me a valuable lesson, and those three chapters (spring, summer, and fall) went far better in 2020, especially since my new doctor finally prescribed me seizure medication. In the spring, I studied abroad in Switzerland and visited Belgium and France. I experienced living somewhere else on my own, taking in the beauty of a stress-free environment, and feeling incredibly free of the traumas of 2019.

A view of lake Geneva
Me at a podium at the UN

The pandemic ripped that away of course, and then I was back home. The extra-long summer of quarantine was stressful in its 2020 way. It was also the longest time I spent with my family since I was 13. We got on each other's nerves, but there were so many funny and loving moments.

My family on a hike in front of a waterfall

In the fall I lived in an apartment off-campus and had another form of freedom because it was a virtual semester and I had a car for the first time. After three years in Ithaca, this was the first one where I visited the lake, the park, and went apple picking. Even simple trips to Target, and Moe's gave me excitement. It no longer felt like school dictated my life, I had a real-life outside of my own. But I do want to acknowledge, it was an awful year for the whole world and for millions of families across the world. I just found myself finally fighting for an enjoyable life. My health wasn't the best but the people I love made me feel better about it; they took care of me and it made me feel safe.

Me picking apples

I am praying I keep fighting for joy and love this year. And so far, I would say I'm doing a pretty good job. I want to especially thank my loved ones who inspire me and care for me. They remind me all the time how important it is for me to follow my joy. So in conclusion, if you see these blog posts aren't rolling out feel free to message and remind me that this is the year of loving what I do, so I better hop back onto it. If you see me in distress or overly anxious, tell me to take a deep breath, and to remember: I am not defined by my worries or fears, but by who I really am, who I choose to be.

me smiling and holding a flower

Pictured: A Happy Jada Kissi

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