Quantcast
Shutterstock

Millennial Tings: I Spent $100K In The Pursuit Of Happiness

My energy was so Debbie Downer that I fully embodied sis.

Her Voice

Graduate school is where you go when you finally have an inkling what career is going to bring you closer to your passion (that spells happiness in a millennial's native tongue). Yeah, that's what they say about undergrad too … except this time it's for real. Though, grad school is also a test of patience and will. I know this now but no one had clued me in prior to beginning three years ago. In discovering this on my own, I built a more intimate relationship with myself, my faith, and learned how to find joy at all costs.

Really this moment in time was 'adapt or die' for me because I had already begun grad school on a shaky foundation--jobless with no savings--I relocated for my dual masters program one semester deep.

And while I did get a job here and there, nothing worked with my schedule. To get a job in my profession, I'd have to attend school part-time. And working as a server quickly began to interfere with my weekend classes which were as often as three times per month. Needless to say, there were sacrifices and tough decisions all throughout! Fully aware that the route I chose was one of privilege, it certainly didn't make it feel any easier. In truth, it was a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation--grad school, that is.

Shutterstock

I witnessed much of my cohort struggle maintaining full-time careers on part-time school schedules or hold down five rinky-dink jobs so that they had time to intern and attend school. There was no sense of normalcy and whatever any of us chose, we were all struggling. This is in part to academia being such a large scam (ethically speaking), especially in human services. It was really eye-opening to watch professors preach self-care and force us to read up on studies pertaining to human nature while they asked us to defy that nature every step of the way. "The human brain doesn't retain info after x hours of reading or class but here's a 10-hour weekend course and 15 hours of reading."

Higher education intentionally and unnecessarily creates obstacles for students and that's the number one issue. That's a hill I'm willing to die on.

Because of this I was met with ridiculous self-negotiations due to regulations that wouldn't allow me to work and intern in the same place, but required 24 hours of field hours per week from grown ass adults with careers, families, etc. I was drowning for three fucking years but by the time year one came to a close, I had learned how to tread water to keep myself from going too deep under -- financially, spiritually, and mentally.

And that sounds wild that I had become content with perpetually drowning, but it's as true as it is a part of the journey.

Shutterstock

In that first year, I was waking up in tears and having panic attacks in DAILY anticipation of my bank account being over drafted at a minimum of $150. I was constantly in fear of the day I wasn't going to make ends meet. My anxiety and stress had piqued and I began manifesting illness and disaster where there weren't any: Hives, spider bites gone bad, severe acid reflux!

My energy was so Debbie Downer that I fully embodied sis.

And it wasn't until I heard this quote, "Worrying means you suffer twice," that the clouds parted. That one quote helped me start to apply manifestation techniques that I had read about in the past, but found it rather hard to apply-- you know? Head under water and all. But that's when it counts, that's when putting into practice matters. So first I had to learn how to stop putting so much fear and anxiety into the situation. I would make a checklist of everything I needed to do/pay/have and ask myself if I'd done everything in my power to secure those things for myself and if the answer was 'yes', then I learned to release it.

Shutterstock

This also required me to unlearn some stubborn behaviors such as asking for help. My mom married into a family that is all about helping one another, but she was raised to do everything independently and thus expected the same from me. So, much of my struggles in that first year were rooted in a lack mindset that I had to do it on my own, even if it killed me but once I got out of that habit...even just a little...my world changed immensely.

Manifestation is equal parts personal effort and the universe or God or Allah or whoever. And personal effort included using all the resources I had readily available -- friends, family, a motherfucking village.

I learned to lean into that and trusted that they genuinely wanted to be there helping me through in any way. Then, believing I was worth the help because I didn't and still have trouble believing, at times. I stopped feeling bad for treating myself to meals or the occasional night out and not just in the name of self-care, but as an act of rebellion. Making these changes required in-depth introspection and brutal honesty from myself and those around me. It truly took the village to get me where I am today.

Shutterstock

And although I took out $100K in student loans to find that truth it brought me so many other truths like better understanding the systems I hope to serve with this pricey degree.

I understand how capitalism works, how systemic racism works, how life works. And because of that, I'll be a better social worker and eventually therapist. But I also learned how to find joy in the most dire situations and sometimes it was a splurge, but other times it was gossiping with my nana or talking big futures with my girlfriend. Sometimes it was treating myself to an Uber ride from the damn grocery store and saying to hell with the $10 if it provides even the slightest bit of solace.

So while I'd never spend another dime on higher education, I don't regret one cent. I'd do it all over again if it meant I'd come out as insightful and aware of both my privilege and my oppression, but better yet how sifting through that provides a better sense of self and happiness.

There's no price I wouldn't pay for that level of inner-standing.

Featured image by Shutterstock

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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.

Featured image by Getty Images

The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

Keep reading...Show less

TW: This article may contain mentions of suicide and self-harm.

In early 2022, the world felt like it slowed down a bit as people digested the shocking news of beauty pageant queen Cheslie Kryst, who died by suicide. When you scroll through her Instagram, the photos she had posted only weeks before her death were images of her smiling, looking happy, and being carefree. You can see photos of her working, being in front of the camera, and doing what I imagine was her norm. These pictures and videos, however, began to spark a conversation among Black women who knew too well that feeling like you're carrying the world on your shoulders and forcing yourself to smile through it all to hide the pain.

Keep reading...Show less

Ironically enough—considering the way the word begins—the love-hate relationship that we have with menstruation is comparable to the way in which we navigate the world of men. It’s very much “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” vibes when it comes to women and their cycles. But the older I get, the more I learn to hate that time of the month a little less. A lot of my learning to embrace my period has come with learning the fun, interesting, and “witchy” stuff while discovering more natural, in-tune ways of minimizing the pain in my ass (those cramps know no bounds) amongst other places.

Keep reading...Show less

SZA is no stranger to discussing her mental health struggles and her experiences with anxiety. In 2021, the “Good Days” singer tweeted about having “debilitating anxiety” that causes her to shield away from the public. Unfortunately, she still has those same struggles today and opened up about it during Community Voices 100th episode for Mental Health Awareness Month. While SZA enjoys making music, she’s not a fan of the spotlight, which may be surprising to many.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts