Graduating university, or high school, gives us the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past and present. For me, I am reflecting on the last four years of college and what they mean to the person I am today. How have I changed and grown over the years?
If you knew me four years ago, you might be able to spit out some observations and guesses at how I've changed. I would hope you also see the glow up. Anyways, some things have changed far deeper than what meets the eye. If I could summarize it in a few parts I would label them under confidence, curiosity, and of course, courage (referencing my last post).
I am Confident
Yes, I have not always been confident, and I still have a lot of room to grow in it. But four years ago Jada, my freshman year, could not handle herself in the way I do now. I was usually the quieter one in a group, especially if I wasn't familiar with others. I didn't feel comfortable because I wasn't sure how I even felt about myself. For a long time, I would question my personality and behavior because I was afraid of not "fitting in." And that folks, is a key part of having no confidence - I refused to believe that my authentic self was good enough. I used to be so nervous about sharing my ideas (heavy on the imposter syndrome). I would worry about sounding dumb or weird. Oh boy, I was so afraid of coming off as weird or unlikeable. However, back then I did force myself to be outgoing in some circumstances. Hey, I (freshman me) did model in a fashion show and spoke publically four times. I do not want to mistake confidence and courage, so I'll clarify that I mean my ability to be certain of myself and my eagerness to show it.
Now, I feel more confident when I meet new people or go to new places. I don't shy away from putting myself into the limelight, in fact, I opt-in a lot. I get very excited at the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas. And of course, I love the way I dress and look. I have come a long way in that department for real. I am very confident enough to say that I am stylish and gorgeous. I doubt I could have said that back then. With the help of others, I’m ending my awful habit of self-hatred where I criticize myself and everything I do. I used to be really down on myself, diminish the things I was good at, and emphasize all the things I wasn’t good at. It’s an awful tendency and I've been working really hard to end it. Progress has happened and I’m proud of myself for how long I’ve come. Essentially, these days I am a lot happier and likely to just be myself.
I am Curious
They say curiosity killed the cat or whatever, but what if the cat was stupid (which they can be) and curiosity only played a minor role. Throughout university, I have found the importance of being curious, of growing my mind through areas or subjects that I am unfamiliar with. Sometimes I would walk into my own trap by getting stuck in conversations I didn't agree with or enjoy, but that's a part of growing. A lot of the time I pose questions and ideas to friends and family just to get new perspectives on topics I enjoy or ones that I want to learn about. I grew intellectually because I allowed myself to expand my mind past what I already knew. If I hadn't been curious, I wouldn't have added my second major and then discovered my true passion (global and community development) or my enjoyed and commendable research skills. Curiosity also came in the form of asking myself; “am I capable of doing this” or “what will happen if I do this?” A small but happy example is my hair journey. I did my big chop my freshman year. For non-Black women, this just refers to when we cut off our permed or damaged hair, to grow out our natural hair. As is the case for a lot of us, we had no idea what to start doing. I had to do one of the things I hate to do; watch YouTube tutorials. Four years later and I have many saved pictures and videos (non-YouTube of course) of hairstyles want to try. Curiosity is a door opener for so many things.
I am Courageous
Let me start with my newer found definition and perspective on courage. Bering courageous is the same thing as being vulnerable. When you think about someone being courageous you are most likely picturing someone doing something bold that could either go right and successful or very bad and maybe even traumatic. Either way having courage is just having the capability to make yourself vulnerable for a chance at your desirable outcome. This is a long-winded way of saying I’ve become a lot more willing to be vulnerable and go after things that I want. I’m still pretty introverted and need a push every once in a while but I’m much better at pushing myself to let my guard down. I used to hate being around groups of people because I didn’t want to make a bad impression or come off strange. I would actually opt-out of situations with large groups or people I didn’t know. I will always remember a peak pathetic and non-courageous thing I did during my study abroad in Switzerland. Even daring to write this is an act of courage. Basically, my program went on an excursion to Belgium and France. In one of those places, I was by myself at dinner time, so I got dinner alone at some fast food place. I didn’t really click with a lot of people because there were a lot of differences between myself and others (of course I was the only Black person). Anyway, boo hoo I was alone eating a foreign fried meal when I saw a group of girls from my program a distance away from me. I turned away and walked back to the hotel. Later, one of the girls in the group that I was friends with texted me and asked where I was because they were out looking for a place to eat. Of course I felt so ashamed for feeling ashamed because I assumed I wasn’t welcomed or something. Yeah, that was pretty sad. I’m much better now. I don’t look at situations, especially social ones, as a horrible opportunity to get neglected or ignored (however there are definitely some instances where that has happened, cough cough racism cough cough colorism). I’d rather open myself up and at least try before I turn away and miss out on an opportunity of something great.
Ok so here we are. Three little sections on yours truly. These just capture three things that I’m working on within myself for myself, for who I want to be.
I want to be confident, curious, and courageous. I want to be those and many, many more. So stay tuned :)