The Spectacular Now is one of those strikingly rare stories that always disappoints you in the end. No matter who reads it or how many times it is read, the ending never fails to break your heart. Not because of a weak plot or poor writing, but because the lovably flawed protagonist can’t help but be who they are.
In 2017, reading became one of those hobbies I struggled to make time for. I could try to make excuses for this, but to be frank I can’t afford to keep up with my own demand. It also hurts that after you buy a book, it’s worth little to nothing on the market. Honestly, the economy’s rooting against readers.
Masters of comebacks conjured years too late, enemies of instinct, and the bane of decisive folk, over-thinkers are inevitable in this choice-filled world. However, considering all that could occur in life, it is absurd to contemplate all the if's and but's. Even so, I know avoiding overthinking is easier said than done.
As someone who used to get stuck planning and thinking and stressing through my thoughts, here are a few bits of motivation to help you stop overthinking and start doing.
These tips may not apply to serious decisions like buying a house or deciding whether to start a family, but they can help you rethink your approach to life. Sometimes, life's not that serious.
I was young.
We were dumb. That’s usually how the story unfolds.
In our case,
you were new to me.
And in a way, I was new to you,
we were lonely and craving each other.
Side by side bound, not by love or attraction, but
because together we could, and because no one else would.
We watched the sun set from the side of a roof,
when it happened:
on the roof.
in the grass.
again and again.
Moments fade, leaving messy hair and the bitter taste of religion.
First we kissed, then we coupled.
Unsure how it happened,
obligation made it hard to say no. Though I wish I’d known,
a kiss is not a commitment,
and morality is not a silken bond between the two.
For days, we continued,
again and again. Without good reason to leave,
though I had little desire to stay;
I was stuck, until I saw no need to explain.
We were destined to end as we’d started.
no way to reconcile
the connection ruined
by forsaken first regrets: a chapter left unfinished,
on haste and sloppy firsts
I refuse to entertain our over-reliance on labels.
While I understand their capacity to consolidate and convey meaning, labels allow for unwarranted assumptions.
Research dating back to the early 20th Century indicates that the words we use to describe others, determine what we see. Otherwise stated, our perception is shaped by our beliefs. Psychologists understand this phenomenon as a predictive bias, also known as stereotyping.
As individuals, we are limited to perceiving the world from our unique points of view. This provides for a number of cognitive biases, many of which we unconsciously use. For instance, stereotyping stems from our expectations of others, based on their relation to identifiable social groups. When combined with categorical labeling, this bias transforms classifying words into critical, or criticizable, traits.
This being said, through the classification of people, places, and things, labels invite judgement. For instance, if I were to describe myself in a few words, you would begin to develop ideas about my personality, based on each description.
Consider the following fragments:
Liberal black woman.
Bisexual digital native.
The list could go on, but my point is clear. As a person progresses through this list, they begin to form an image from implied information about my cultural background, social status, and personal interests. By the end, have they gathered a comprehensive picture or are their ideas merely disjointed thoughts?
Who did you see?
My greatest struggle lies in beating you to the punch. It’s almost impossible to do. In person, the 100-meter dash becomes a 5-kilometer course, and as the path morphs, I begin to stumble over my feet. Rather than adding to my complexity, factors such as the way I dress or wear my hair, and the shade of my complexion come into play as defining traits.
I am a person, not to be bound by superficial elements.It becomes harder to convey the full picture, when your bias concludes that you know me, based on parts of my whole — when I am defined by words that fail to capture my entirety.
In the same way, labels affect my self-perception, which is why I seek to define them as they fit in my life before allowing them to define me.
I am Black but not Black enough
Growing up, I was immersed in a black community. Most of the kids at my school were black (or other POC). Everyone who attended my church was black. And accordingly, all of my social experiences were fueled by black culture.
I didn’t really know where I belonged. I can’t remember if I felt this way in elementary school. Probably not, because the only obsession I can recall concerned tubes of overpriced petroleum from Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret/PINK.
However, in middle school, the feeling grew increasingly pronounced. Unpleasant experiences made me aware of the disconnect between myself and the community to which I belonged. Overtime, I felt like an outsider. The thing is, I wasn’t sure I wanted to belong.
Ninth grade marked the start of a new chapter in my life. I entered an environment where I was introduced to a range of personalities I hadn’t believed to exist. There were different activities to explore, including hiking, volleyball, and independent art. Best of all, there weren't many limitations on who I could and couldn't be. So, I created absurd music videos with my friends, joined compelling clubs, and celebrated Halloween.
Once I returned home, I understood that I didn’t belong. I wasn't sure why, because for me it wasn’t about color or culture. I still had little understanding of the depth behind both. From my point of view, I still had friends who were black. So even if I had the darkest complexion, and our group was relatively diverse, the difference would never amount to color. It was about freedom, expression, and being — the nature of who you are.
That was my fresh start.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? I began to learn more about myself, made new friends, and for the first time I can remember, I really enjoyed life. I loved being alive.
Even so, I still hadn’t found a community, or a place that I wanted to call home.
Overtime, I found myself lost in the midst of it all.
People from both communities often called me, "oreo"— I won’t begin to discuss the absurdity of that term. Then, there were those who told me I had been born the wrong color. I even had people imply that I was white in disguise, from my name, to my interests, to the way that I speak. Getting this input from a number of different people can be confusing, and as I now understand, alienating. I began to lose any sense of who I was, trying to understand who I was supposed to be.
Am I not black enough? What am I doing wrong?
At some point along the way, I began to reject the color of my skin. Not because I wanted to be white. Not because I hated being black. Because I was confused. I didn’t understand the logic behind assigning character traits to a skin color. More so, I didn’t want to be defined by a color, inside or out. Having yet to learn about self-love, I fell into a place of hate, and under the unrelenting Arizona sun, my self-doubt deepened with the shade of my skin.
My Black is Black Enough
Here, I end where I began, stating that life is too complex to be confined. Over time I learned that my likes and dislikes can’t, and won’t, be summarized by one syllable.
I love music from independent artists, and my skin glows in the sun. I often dance off beat, and I still feel like I’ve won. My Birkenstocks and a large men’s tee are, to me, a killer look. I love museums, afternoon naps, and getting lost in a good book. I have plump lips, and a pronounced nose. I’ve learned to love them as I’ve grown. I am me, and my black is enough because I say so.
I refuse to be limited by “but’s,” “should’s,” or “if’s” because no one else can define my blackness.
To those who led me to doubt my self:
I was black enough to be targeted as the only dark-skinned girl in class.
I was black enough to be called, “blackie,” a nickname no one cared if I condoned.
And, I was black enough to be called a n*gger by white peers.
I am black enough to face discrimination, and to fear the police.
I am black enough to be judged based on my skin color, regardless of my personal beliefs.
And, I am black enough for dating profiles to reflect the statistical colorism that many choose to ignore.
My blackness is not defined by the way I speak, the beliefs I hold, or the company I choose to keep. It cannot be reduced to a genre, or a personality. It should not be contingent on who I love, or where I choose to live.
My Black is Beautiful, and My Black is More Than Enough.
Transform Your Space into a Sanctuary in 5 Simple Steps
In college, your room is your only real retreat from school-related stress and social pressure. As such, it's important to transform your living space into your own personal sanctuary.
I didn't fully understand this as a freshman, so I had to learn the hard way sophomore year, when I had a roommate with an entirely different aesthetic and energy than my own. It's hard to live with someone who contradicts who you are.
Before college, I shared a room with my sister for years and attended boarding school, so I've experienced it all (almost): the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Here are a few tips for turning your room into a stress-free sanctuary, on a budget. You don't need thousands of dollars to transform your environment into the perfect space for you. At the end, I'll also provide advice about staying sane when you have to share your space with another person.
Two weeks ago, I went to my friend's place for the weekend. Now, I love bubble tea, and a few friends told us about this shop near her apartment that was supposed to great. Not only was it nearby, but also everyone and I mean EVERYONE, had good things to say about it. So of course we decided we had to try it.
The name alone was enough to grab my attention: Novel Tea? It's the perfect play on words.
Lesson #1: sometimes you have to be selfish, and that’s more than okay
1. Thinking and thinking some more.
I have spent months thinking about this blog. About starting it, about making it something great, about feeding it with all I have so it someday returns the favor. The problem is, I’ve been thinking so much, I haven’t begun. Not until now.
2. Zero hype and zero followers.
I guess I’m taking the name in full stride, because this is officially the messiest launch in history. Zero hype and zero followers.Few friends know I’m even creating this blog, but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it eventually.
I’ve entertained so many ideas about what this blog should be, that I haven’t thought about what I need from it. How should I shape this blog for myself? No one makes guides about that.
All the “great” bloggers tell you to write for your readers, but my ideal readers relate to the messy parts of myself. Either way, shouldn’t a blog extend from one’s self? I can’t abandon my personality for a profitable blog.
So, I have decided the only way to do this, is to reveal myself through my work. To ensure I enjoy writing each and every piece. To pour bits of my soul into all of the work I share.
3. Being selfish because I can.
My "messy" life, fuels this "messy" blog, which feeds our "messy" community.
Now that I’m taking a more introspective approach, in other words, being selfish because I can (and you should too), I’m finding myself more inspired to create work that will resonate. I have ideas for campaigns, and articles that introduce a different point of view. I am thinking of ways to provide help for you, where other sources on the internet lack.
This is starting to feel real. Should you find this, I hope you stick around, because it will only get better from here.