It's funny how you can go from living your best life without a care in the world, to hitting rock bottom in one fell swoop.
In May of 2017, that's what happened to me.
For roughly a year and a half, I seemingly had all I ever wanted out of my young adult life. I was a wide-eyed, New York City transplant with nothing but ambition and opportunities within arm's reach. Not only did I have the fancy advertising gig with a buzzing social life to go along with it, but I was blessed to find a hip apartment in Bed-Stuy of which I had always dreamed. To sum it up, nothing could stop me.
Or so I thought.
Clearly, life had another plan for me because within just a week, everything was snatched right from under my feet.
I went from living a functionally independent lifestyle, to not having a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. Before I knew it, I was back at home, living with my sister in the small town I called home.
In the last year and a half, I've experienced changes in my finances, career, and even relationships that took a major hit to my confidence. If you've ever experienced shifting from having the ability to create a means for yourself, to suddenly having to rely on the grace of others, you may understand how humbling this change can be.
At some point or another, we all may experience a season where we fall on hard times or have to make major adjustments to the life we once knew. In most cases, it's not by choice, a result of "laziness," or the lack of ambition. Sometimes, unfortunate things happen to even the hardest working of people. That's life.
In my experience, it wasn't necessarily money and a handout from my friends and family. What I needed the most was for my loved ones to be kind and loving to me during that rough transitional period in my life. It's easy to say that someone "isn't doing enough" when they don't get back on their feet in record time, but everyone's path is different. Take it from me.
To say the least, your "broke" friends need love, too. Here's where you can start:
When you have a friend or loved one who has fallen on hard times, practicing patience with them is the kindest and most gracious thing you can do. You don't always know what God is doing in that season of their life, so rushing them won't make things turn around any faster. Someone who is experiencing a life shift like losing a job or being homeless can be affected on a mental and emotional level. They can go through depression or even withdraw from those around them and it's in those moments when they're going to need a friend and a sister more than ever. Be kind. If you see them slipping, give them a gentle nudge; but don't pry.
Give Only If You Can.
When dealing with a friend who has fallen on hard times, there will be moments when they may look to you for some assistance. It's completely up to you whether or not you want to supply your friends with funds, but in the case you do, no loans. Think about it: if you have a friend who is struggling financially, what is the logic in having them owe you when they didn't have the means to begin with? We don't want to add more debt to their name, now do we? Only give if it's not going to put you in a bind and you're confident that you can go without that particular amount of money without needing it back, ever.
There's nothing sweeter than having a friend open the door for another friend – both figuratively and literally. In fact, there's nothing wrong with a little nepotism if you have a sound understanding of your friend's character and work ethic. If you know your job has an opening that your friends would be a good fit for, use your leverage to pass their name along to HR. Even if you don't know of any opportunities, keeping the line of communication open by being a go-to reference for a friend during the tedious application process is a big deal. This will show them that you're in their corner and want them to win!
Love for Free.
We all want to live a little and have a good time, but it can be a bummer to miss out on social activities simply because you can't afford it. Although you have the right to spend your hard earned cash the way you darn well please, every now and again, it's nice to mix things up a bit so that you can include your "broke" friend. Try to incorporate some free fun or low-cost activities into the equation. Check out free events at the museum like "First Fridays," catch up over a cup of coffee on a discount day, or even use a Saturday night for an evening of binge-watching a new Netflix series (I heard Manic was good). Get creative. The coin-saving possibilities are endless and your friend will appreciate you all the more for it.
Featured image by Shutterstock
Aley Arion is a writer and digital storyteller from the South, currently living in sunny Los Angeles. Her site, yagirlaley.com, serves as a digital diary to document personal essays, cultural commentary, and her insights into the Black Millennial experience. Follow her at @yagirlaley on all platforms!
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.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood