When I turned 21, the blues of adulthood had me feeling depressed and hopeless. I was working at a coffee shop job in Beverly Hills that I thoroughly hated––every lady looked like a Britney Spears or Beyoncé rip-off while I was just chilling with thick thighs, a muffin top and jeans I could barely fit––and I felt like everything I accomplished thus far was meaningless.
Riding the 720 bus was the only time I sat and reflected on my life. For me, on that bus was the only time I had to think about where my life was headed. It was the bus when I saw rich and famous stars like Michael Douglas, Pete Wentz, and Brandy headed down Wilshire in their flashy cars. The 720 took me toward Hollywood, where I was in good company with other people who were depressed like me, yet they found their solace in playing the "which star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame am I going to piss on today" game.
While watching the palm trees sway outside of the bus window and crying to all 10 stinking minutes and four seconds of Erykah Badu's song, "Green Eyes," I pointed out several things about my life that were bothering me.
For one, my long distance relationship, which bore many promises of marriage, ended with my fiancé running into the arms of another woman. Then there were the hundreds of job applications that I turned in to companies in my field yielded zero callbacks. My Fox Sports internship ended with my coordinator throwing his hands up at me, and I was living with an aunt and uncle who sometimes acted like I was a huge burden on their lives. My telemarketing job had taken a perverted turn when my fellow employees suddenly started admitting to ripping people off, because let's face it, when was the last time anyone purchased a product from a cold call? And at that point, I felt like my college degree was just another piece of paper to throw on top of the rest of the junk mail on the table.
Life was rough, I was depressed, and had zero answers.
However, the 720 bus allowed me the time to figure out how I could turn my messy life into something meaningful: I decided to head to the Hollywood military recruiting station from Koreatown and dedicate my life to military service.
Yeah, I know. It sounds pretty stupid, but that's what happens when you're pulling strings out of thin air while trying to figure out the answers. In my mind, it was the best way for me to skip all of the headaches of adulthood.
So with tears in my eyes, I cut my hair, threw on my my big girl pants and caught that 720 bus to glory. It was my train to freedom from the depressive thoughts that were chasing me. It was my saving grace. It was almost the exact same thing that Katy Perry went through in her "Part of Me" music video except I joined the Navy, because the Marines were out to lunch when I reached the recruiting station. Go figure.
I was fully in the midst of a quarter-life crisis, brought on by the stress of becoming an adult.
While I treated Uncle Sam as my savior from this dark time, looking back, I realized that my impatience is what made my own quarter-life crisis last longer than it needed to. But I know like anyone else that being patient, or waiting for God to throw you a sign, can be tough.
Living life in your 20s comes with a lot of emotional highs and lows, and you're not really sure how to develop into a normal, functioning adult because you're relative new to the game. But if you're going through a quarter-life crisis, here are several things that can help you push through.
1. DO YOU, NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS ABOUT IT
One of the worst parts of my quarter-life crisis was the fact that I thought other people's opinions about my life mattered. Years later, I realized that making ymy own decisions was part of the process of growing as an adult. No one else has to walk a mile in your shoes but you, so don't allow someone else's opinions to run your life.
2.TRAVEL WHILE YOU DON'T HAVE CHILDREN
The best part about me joining the Navy was the fact that I had so much time to think while I was deployed overseas. Those nights on the ship where the sky over the Red Sea was so dark that I couldn't see my hand in front of my face was the perfect time for me to hear my inner voice loud and clear. But that all went away after I had my son, who made a ridiculous amount of noise every time we boarded a plane or took a road trip or even touched him.
If I had known then what I know now, I could have gotten a teaching certificate and taught English to students in China or Korea after graduating sans the military enlistment. I could have also volunteered at several African orphanages, or taken a job as an au pair overseas. I didn't need the military to travel. What I needed was a break.
Make a bigger effort to travel during college or right after graduating. You may be under the impression that since you were a broke college or post-college student that the cost of traveling is too expensive for you. But trust me, it isn't.
3. UTILIZE YOUR TIME ALONE
I realize that I spent next to no time healing from my childhood trauma or appreciating the woman I was growing to be while I was alone and single in my 20s.
I could have spent my 20s finding new ways to love myself and my flaws when I was kicking it solo. Or, appreciating how much fun I was having by my lonesome while learning Tagalog from those wacky and hilarious Filipino game shows that constantly played on my television during my deployment to a British-owned island. I could have appreciated myself as a free woman a lot more as I poured libations for the slaves who were buried at the plantation on the island. But instead, I allowed the problems I faced during my quarter-life crisis to distract me from living life.
[Tweet "Spend your 20s finding new ways to love yourself"]
So while you're alone, make the best of your alone time. Learn how to respect your life's journey, where you've been and what you need to work on when you're by yourself. Those are the times when the answer you're looking for falls on you like a ton of bricks.
4. GIVE BACK MORE OFTEN
When my ship went to port in Dubai, I had the opportunity to volunteer at a home for children with mental and physical disabilities. While I was there, I met some amazing kids who were so happy to see a "Nubian" person who served in the American military that they forgot all about their own problems. To say that I was touched by their genuine innocence would be an understatement.
Even though some people may not know you from a can of paint, just being around their joy can uplift your own spirits. Get out of your own way, so you can appreciate the blessings a lot more.
5. DON'T LET YOUR DEGREE DEFINE YOU
It's no longer surprising to me anymore to find someone who has graduated college, only to discover that they'd rather not study in their chosen field. Trust me, I know how frustrating it is to hear employers request 2-4 years of experience in your field of study, when you just got the dang degree 10 minutes ago. It's enough to make you ask, "What's the point of it all?"
If you find yourself in this situation, don't throw in all of the cards. Discover what it is that you'd rather do with your life instead. The fact is that there are many adults who are years older than you with the exact same problem. You were just lucky enough to have this problem while you were young.
Find out what it is that you want to do with your life, whether you decide to take a year off before going to grad school or you decide to build your own business. In the end, what matters is that you're doing what you're passionate about.
Honestly, I still don't have things all the way figured out, and I'm okay with that as long as I keep learning and growing. As long as you keep the same attitude and give the universe your undivided attention and absolute patience, you can survive anything. Even a quarter-life crisis.
Have you ever had a quarter-life crisis? How did you figure things out?
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Beyoncé's Renaissance tour stop in L.A.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
Dontaira with her nieces at Beyoncé's Renaissance tour stop in Miami.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Beyoncé's Renaissance tour stop in Miami.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood