As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in the first-person narrative as told to a writer.
This is Paige Mariah's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.
My last relationship was a whirlwind.
And not in a bad way. But in the best way possible.
When we met, he told me upfront that he had applied for the Peace Corps and would be leaving in a year to serve in The Gambia for 27 months. Though I had my reservations, I allowed myself to let my guard down and really fall in love for the first time.
Man, we had such an intense romance. It almost felt as if our love was on a timer, so we were always looking for new and exciting experiences together to make the most of the little time we had left. Sometimes we would even take sick days together from work, just so we could be in each other's presence longer.
As his time in the States began to wind down, I knew that I had to start to figure out what was next for me, before the heartbreak completely consumed me. My relationship became my primary source of happiness when everything else around me felt so unsure and complicated. What was I going to do once he left? He was choosing himself and I felt like I needed to do something big and exciting that would benefit my own life as well.
If he was able to drop everything to follow his dreams, why couldn't I?
Courtesy of Paige Mariah
I'm a digital content creator by trade, hailing from the suburbs of Chicago. I attended Hampton University and returned to Chicago to begin my career once I graduated. Though I had a 9-5, my 24/7 was digital content creation—from written blogs to YouTube videos to building my social media presence. I've always been passionate about sharing my experiences in hopes of helping others.
After four years at my job, I was feeling extremely stagnant and my love life was just as unfulfilling. I just felt something was missing in my life. Though I wasn't happy in my career, I was slightly convinced that once I found true romantic love, that emptiness would begin to be filled. Then, it felt like all of my prayers were finally answered with my last relationship.
So, to feel this way, suddenly meet the man I prayed for, and have it was all ripped away from me...I was destroyed.
But even though I dreaded losing him, a major part of me always felt he was very brave for making the decision to leave everything to pursue his passion. He seemed so sure of himself and his decisions, whereas I overthink and often second-guess myself. How can I not admire that? He forced me to realize just how much I was holding back in my own life. And although London always had been the city of my dreams, actually living there never felt quite possible or realistic. But I didn't care. I stripped myself of my fears and decided to go for it. I applied to grad school and prepared to move to London.
We broke up about two months before I was scheduled to leave, which I thought would be enough time to heal and get over him. So when I arrived, I started dating almost immediately—probably like the second week of being here. I got into a new situation with a really great guy, but then the honeymoon phase quickly ended. He had no idea what he was getting himself into and neither did I. I found myself acting so out of character. I was mean, snappy. Everything he did just seemed like the opposite of what my ex would do and it would irritate me. I told myself that maybe this was because I hadn't given myself the opportunity to "multi-date" and really enjoy the single life.
During my spring break, I went on a 10-day tour around Europe. I climbed to the top of a mountain in Switzerland, did paragliding in Austria—basically having the experiences of a lifetime, but yet I still felt so incredibly sad. I was convinced that I just missed my ex, my home, my comfortable life. I finally accepted that there was some much-needed self-work that needed to be done. Immediately.
It was time to work on my relationship with myself.
I took an official hiatus from dating and ended things with any guys pursuing me romantically. I stopped relying on "good morning texts" for comfort or being "chosen" by a guy as reassurance. I needed to figure out why being alone was so scary.
To combat this, I spent a lot of time alone; taking walks, listening to audiobooks and podcasts that focused on manifestation, positivity, and self-love. These forced me to face deeply-rooted issues and insecurities that I never even realized that I had. I knew this was the best thing I could have done for myself.
When you lose control of the reasons someone is no longer in your life, your mind is filled with millions of irrational thoughts. I would frequently ask myself questions that negatively affected my mental health.
"What are you going to do with yourself when he leaves? Will you ever find anything as good as this again? How much longer will it take for me to start over with someone else to get married and start a family one day? Will he fall in love with someone else who can relate to his experience in a way you will never be able to? Would people think I wasn't good enough to make him stay?"
Ladies, we have to stop doing this to ourselves.
After my little hiatus, I developed a totally different perspective on dating. I now feel less pressure and stress when it comes to finding "the one". I don't settle anymore. I once felt like I had to come off low maintenance and agreeable to find love. Now, if I realize that a guy isn't what I want, I just move on.
Courtesy of Paige Mariah
I am complete by myself.
Of course, I will always enjoy and desire companionship and love. But approaching dating this way just feels so much lighter.
Things are looking up for me and I feel the happiest, and sometimes even emotional, when I'm doing something as simple as walking down the street or grocery shopping. I still look around and can't believe that I really live in London. I just feel so grateful for how far I've come, how blessed I am to be living this dream, and how much I've been able to grow over the last year.
I feel closer to my purpose than I ever have in my life. And honestly, couldn't ask for anything more.
To keep up with Paige, you can follow her on Instagram and subscribe to her YouTube channel.
Featured image courtesy of Paige Mariah
Originally published on January 14, 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood