Thanks for Mourning

When we talk about the horrors of capitalism, some people laugh because they don’t believe there is any other way to function. When we talk about Northern American Genocide, some people belittle us to being “sensitive” and “too liberal” or worse, claim that it didn’t happen. When we speak about how today you celebrate with food that puts you to sleep rather than give you energy, some disregard and continue old habits. When I speak about you being so thankful this Thursday, most people will be fighting next Friday for material things they don’t need (things that have been marked up and then marketed as a discount).

When I tell you that today is a significant day, it’s not because of Turkey or Family. Today is a day in U.S. history that many U.S. Americans ignore. Across the country there will be discussions held about the relationship that indigenous people have had and currently have to a land that was and is always theirs. However, due to capitalism, hegemony, and apathy, this group has been silenced and their stories devalued.

Today, I was going to write a post about why people choose a childfree lifestyle or what single life is like or how to apply for grad school. But everywhere I go, today is being branded as a holiday to celebrate and that, my friend, is very problematic. A couple of weeks ago, I attended a spoken word and writing workshop. The presenter asked the group why we write. My answer: ” I process things differently than others. ” Rather than arguing with family, friends, and Facebook followers, I chose to write my thoughts down here.

I believe that today has been spun into a commerical holiday and others are okay with it because the horrors of the harvests of the 16th and 17th centuries have been taken out of context. I challenge you to ask questions today. When we speak about equality, equity, and improving our society that includes everything and everyone. You don’t get to choose which stories deserve attention over others.

So instead of a thanks for giving, let’s call make it a thanks for morning. Let’s pray that others see the light and start helping out our indigenous families. What do you stand for? Who do you stand with? Ask some questions.

Best,

Cayla Jae

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Raise Hell

Today, I spent 12 hours listening, talking, thinking, and learning about present day activism. With today only being pre-conference, it was amazing to think of how inspiring and energetic the rest of the week would be. We defined black girl magic, strategized how to weave activism into the classroom, considered the transformation of women’s studies over the past 20-40 years, and discussed activism in the era of the 45th. The final kick off for the national women’s studies association conference was a keynote presentation with Alicia Garza and Angela Davis.

Seeing as I promise a new post every Thursday night, please excuse typos and I now have exactly 12 minutes to tell you 12 commonalities during the meets. I will expand next week once the conference as ended.

Self love/ care: minorities (of color, ableness, gender, etc.) Often do not see self love and care modeled within their community. As Angela Davis even commented, activists during her time spent their time solely on the movement and often making sacrifices when it came to food, family, etc. For black women, this is even more important in that we have this super woman stereotype/ weight on our shoulders to take care of everyone before ourselves.

Visibility: this is a challenge for many minorities and radicals. Finding a way to give voice to the marginalized and muted becomes challenging. However social media hashtags have helped bring life to things like black girl magic and black lives matter. However, many of the older feminist worry that there’s no substance in the hashtag/ trendy.

Art and words as tools: they’re in conversation with those who craft to give visuals to the movement.

Interdisciplinary: we have to remember that everything is interconnect. One teacher taught her science class by teaching them about Harriet Tubman!

Intersectionality: not the same as multi cultural. It’s recognizing different aspects of a person’s identity. For example, black and woman, and the life experience from that.

Freedom seekers: as opposed to saying slaves or the oppressed, positive word choice is a more acquire depiction of those groups.

Personality: you have to bring yourself to the space. Instead of coming in and trying to blend in, don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Context: learn your history… The world’s history answers so many questions for us.

Politics: our whole life is political. And it’s not about parties anymore, but what people stand for and what we’ll continue to accept or discard.

Comfort: real change comes from discomfort. Alicia Garza talked about how she’ll have meetings about things that matter and watch those on the opposite side get uncomfortable. “But I kinda just like watching them squirm… They act like it’s something new. We’ve been here the whole time, you just chose not to see us.”

Humility: Angela Davis reminded us of the importance of being Hubble enough to not be so ego centric and learn from the world. We don’t always have to be the first to speak. We need to listen more and learn from the successes of others.

Raising hell: Y’all… Davis, “if you don’t do the work, there will be no change. Now on the other hand, there’s no guarantee of change if you do the work. So work as if it’s going to change.”

 

Gap Year: Romance for the 20 Somethings

You were my smile for every mensiversary complimented with an handmade card. You wrapped me in tales from the past, gazed forever into my soul, and escorted me home through the night. You were my home manifested into the skin of an imperfect human. You were the best friend that I wished I were not afraid to loose if I uttered that one four-letter word. It was as if God themselves had made a copy of everything that was me and changed my sex. It was as if they knew I needed someone to talk to about what all I questioned. It was as if I needed a night of mint chocolate chip ice cream before meditation. It was as if I had to know that I could develop feelings so quickly. For you were the only one who I was brave enough to trade numbers with while on the clock, because you are my Sunday morning.

And somehow, you were more than my sunshine. You watched my every move out of fear that you could not keep me. You didn’t listen to me when I said no. You lied to me about accidents and stood me up three times. You preferred the company of alcohol and cigarettes than me. You were always searching for something else or someone else. You suffered greatly of fernweh. Your heart was preoccupied. And unfortunately for me, you need time to work on your own holistic health.

There’s nothing more that 20 somethings like to talk more about than love. It is this fascinating mystery which is televised as high school sweethearts and uncontrollable foot pops. It takes a while to get through the myths and learn from mistakes, but once you get here, you question everything. While some found one of their soul mates and live in the butterflies every day, others have been let down and hurt. At this age, I am surrounded by young adults who are learning what adulthood means which includes how to develop and sustain relationships. We talk about love, because we all want to believe that it still exists. We want to know that it doesn’t have to be toxic, painful, confusing, forced, or just not right.

My first two paragraphs were statements about all of the boys and men I have encountered thus far. We remember people through emotions and experience. While the details may not remain, I remember who made me feel that I was never enough and who reminded me that I was a Queen. Against everyone’s advice, I have never let go of those relationships, because for me they define romantic and platonic relationships. Although these memories circulate within my mind as I date new men, I still allow for a new slate. However, I am still triggered by certain words or movements which remind me of those from my past. I honestly think there’s no way to avoid it either.

For us 20 somethings, many of our relationships are measured and outlined according to our past experiences. I’ve recently ventured into the territory of online dating which I wrote about in an earlier blog post. While it is fairly simple to find decent people to chat with, it is so much harder to find someone who’s a great match. Also, a good number of people online opted into the dating sites, because they find it difficult to find and talk to people in real life. After trying out a number of sites, I discovered that it was not going to me my path to a lasting romantic relationship (unless you want to be married asap, because there a plenty of people who can’t wait to get to the altar). I also realized that I have just as great of a chance going out to events and finding people. Even when I do that, I still get people who like the idea of love, but are too afraid or not emotionally available to dive into something new.

This reality makes me reconsider my own priorities. What is my goal? Do I want a romantic relationship? Do I just want friendships? Do I just enjoy flirting and the chase? Do I want more or will I accept having access to only a small piece of someone’s heart? But most importantly, do I even care? Right now, I have so many other things that are more important than figuring out who will buy me chocolate for Valentine’s Day. In short, Romance for the 20 somethings is confusing, exciting, ever changing, emotional, and different for everyone. It is defined by moments in life. It has new perspectives. It is a wondrous mystery which we dream about.

 

Gap Year: How to Plan Your Life

I’m no stranger to having a plan and setting goals to achieve. While scrolling through journals, speeches, or posts, I noticed that I always select captions geared toward planning your life. I’ve always been curious about how people got to their dream job or found this content/ happy median between work and home life. What I’ve discovered is that the majority of advice for figuring out this world is summed in 4 statements:

  • Audit your life and determine what needs adjustment
  • Find your passion and listen to your heart
  • Rely on Mentors and Network
  • Schedule time to build on your skills or achieve your end goal

However, you have people that will tell you that none of that matters. The truth is that for some of us, if every step is over calculated, we will spend the majority of our lives trying to figure out what we want to do with it, rather than actually living it. Another thing that is tough to accept is that finding some passions and goals are easy for others to decide on, while the rest of us linger in the grey zones. For those of us in the grey zone, we have to remember that the standard advice above may not apply to us. Of course, this isn’t the most comforting advice, but we all have different plans to take us on a unique journey.

I happen to eat, sleep, and breathe in the grey zone. One of my favorite professor’s advice was to find something we’re good at and something we like. Yet even that advice was tough for me.  I like a lot of things and my passions about those things shift with time. I know that I am artistic, creative, humorous, analytical, compulsive, and curious. I like visual and performance art, writing, and creating order to things.  I care about a variety of causes and issues. Overall, I spread messages of feminism and the Golden Rule which means that I believe in equality, humanism, and trying to be a good person. I have tested the waters with a number of fields. I can tell you my experiences working for non-profits, for-profits, film, theatre, pharmaceutical industry, teaching, writing, and more. I also know that I’m good at almost anything. I’m not bragging. I’m just confident in my abilities to complete a variety of tasks and do them well.

So as I read, hear, and watch all of these extraordinary human beings in their successes, I am still curious about how they made their decision. And now I’m starting to think that I’ve figured it out. I restructured the 4 step process for planning your life, even if you’re in the grey zone.

  1. So at the end of the day, you have to set your priorities. Aside from interests and job prospects, what is the most important thing for you to have or do? I need a beach or tropical climate and I want to be able to support myself well enough to live alone. Therefore, I am looking for what industries are most popular in coastal regions and have a decent cost of living. Because being financially comfortable is important me, I know that I will need a boring 9-5 job to get above the poverty line (seeing that I’m single with no children or debts). I will always be creating art, but realistically (based on my priorities) I need something to support myself and those supplies to create my dream pieces. I also know that I don’t have the drive of an entrepreneur to start my own business.
  2. In the spirit of being realistic, you have to do a mini assessment of your life. I am single, childless, and debt/ loan free. I am also mobile with a car that I now own, passport, and no other obligations once August comes. My options are to find a job, another service position, or a graduate program in a coastal city. Of those three, I would have to make sure that I get enough scholarships and would make enough for living off-campus or make sure I’m making at least 35k a year or more with a relocation package. So if I want to pursue either school or a new job, I will have start applying for schools now and wait a couple of months before August to start applying for jobs.
  3. Before making a final decision, do a happy check with yourself. Although I’ve discovered that adulting isn’t really about happiness, the goal is to not be miserable. Therefore, at this point revisit your priorities and skills. As I search for a degree program or job, I will be realistic about my past experiences (rather than trying to follow a passion). Basically, I just want to make decent money to support myself and be able to drive to a beach easily on the weekend. So I’ll apply to a few programs and jobs in good locations that connect to my undergraduate degree. During this time, I can build a portfolio or network for a decent 9-5 job which I’d be skilled at. For me, at this point, it’s not about having a meaningful position or solving the problems of the world. I’m just going to be basic and maybe every now and then I will have the chance to pull out my cape and save the world.
  4. Finally, think of some small goals to get there. You don’t necessarily need a big end goal (unless it’s an easy choice for you). So I’ll give myself two to three weekends to decide on at least 3-5 graduate programs (mostly in coastal cities) to apply to. After that I’ll put application dates on the calendar, call and email department heads with questions and start sending in paper work. If the universe wants me in that program, maybe one of them will say yes. If they say no, I will already be applying to jobs starting in May (maybe earlier but it really depends on when they want the positions filled). Again, if the universe wants me in those job positions, then I might get a call back and a chance to kill that interview. In the meantime, whenever I get stuck, I’ll ask more adulty adults for advice (or ecosia and google).

I originally took this Gap Year, because I had no idea what I was doing, what I wanted, or where I was going. I was also VERY exhausted from my undergraduate program. And now I see myself and what habits I want in the real world. Now I know how well I work with people, commuting to and from work on a daily basis, and how I maintain relationships. I am starting to notice patterns in my free time habits. I noticed that I actually can survive in the real world. Although tough, I have seen quite a bit to be more prepared in the near future. I’m also seeing that to be extraordinary, you do no have to be famous or unique. To be extraordinary you just have to be you and craft your life for you. So just remember, just do you boo.

Best,

Cayla Jae