Braceface: My Braces Journey

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OK, so this post is for my readers with braces or readers who have survived braces. I know you will be able to relate. For those who don’t or never had braces, I hope you are able to learn something and sympathize with someone you may know who has or had braces 😩. This blog is well overdue, but I still feel compelled to share my journey. It was not as pain-filled or as agonizing as I imagined it to be but it was difficult at times. At the age of 23 I decided I was ready to do something I always wanted. It was something I always wanted, but it was also a major financial commitment. After having my braces off for the past few months, I am completely satisfied. It was the best investment I could have ever made.

I chose traditional braces, wires, brackets and all. I even tried colors a couple of times. It made me look like a little kid, but I couldn’t resist!I did get tired of kids asking me with a confused look on their faces, “How old are you?, or “If you’re really an adult,  why do you have braces?” Even more than that, I hated having food stuck in my brackets, or brushing my teeth no less than four times a day. Monthly tightenings were a pain, and I even lost a ton of weight due to the amount of food and candy I could no longer eat, I missed eating freely.

The question I got the most was, “Do they hurt?”  The answer to that is yes and no, sure my mouth was sore at times, but after a while i got used to it and it no longer bothered me. What did hurt was something no one warned me about…spacers. Spacers are tiny rubber bands that went in between my molars 2 weeks before my braces were applied to make room for the brackets. It hurt so bad I could hardly eat and I actually shed a few tears. In total, I had my braces for 14 months. I got them off 4 months earlier than expected! It was a quick and easy process. I havr an amazing orthodontist to thank for that.

There came a point when the pain subsided, and I could see a drastic difference in the way my teeth looked and the formation that was taking place. I could see the light at then end of the tunnel. My braces gave me a better self-image and a bit of a boost in confidence. Although, outer appearances aren’t everything, it definitely helps to be comfortable in the skin you’re in. Now since they’ve been off I even miss having them from time to time. I have removable retainers as well as permanent retainers bonded to my top and bottom teeth. Small reminders of one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve had thus far!  Smile! Comment below and tell me about your journey with braces! 👄

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“Can’t We All Just Get Along?”…25 Years Later

While watching one of my favorite shows, Bates Motel, a commercial for an upcoming documentary was played. This documentary was done to recap the events that surrounded the beating of Rodney King. The 2-hour documentary aired on A&E. I have seen the footage and other documentaries that detail the events of March 3, 1991, but this documentary was a bit different. This documentary not only focused on Rodney King, but also other individuals who were affected by the beating and the aftermath of the beating.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Rodney King was an African-American male, beaten by the police. His beating was caught on tape, yet the police officers were acquitted. Sound familiar?  Watching the clips from the beating were highly disturbing and evoked so many emotions. The events that followed the verdict made history. People of all races banned together and showed their frustration with the 1992 LA Riots, from April 29, 1992 – May 4, 1992. During the riots there was looting, gun fights, fighting, and burning of the city. Los Angeles became an all out war zone. People showed their frustration by destruction.

There is an episode of A Different World: Honey Moon in LA, in which Whitley and Dwayne are swept up in the madness of the verdict. Although, they add a bit of a comedic factor to the events, they also show the fear and danger that was highly prevalent at that time in all people. The riots resulted in numerous injuries, arrests, and deaths. Store owners lost their business due to the burnings, many people lost their vehicles.

But these possessions are nothing compared to what Rodney King lost. Even though the officers were then taken through a civil trial and King was awarded millions, the damage was done. He suffered some irreversible damage due to the beating.  His famous saying “Can’t we all just get along?” was recorded to act as a way to calm the anger that the people were feeling. He died an untimely death in 2012. His autopsy revealed numerous drugs in his system. That alone really makes me wonder had he not suffered these extremely traumatic events, would he still be here today? He struggled with nightmares of the beating well after it happened. He like many never fully recovered from the riots, and the effects of the police brutality.

After watching the documentary, I could do nothing but compare the past situation to our current events. The images of the riot reminded me of the images from the Ferguson 2014 riots. It seems we are watching the same tragic story over and over agin with the same ending. We have seen this with victims such as Mike Brown, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and so many more. It’s up to us to not only keep these names alive, but to teach the coming generations of the injustices and continue to fight for the justice we deserve.

Will Work for Bill Money.

“Thank you for applying but we have chosen not to move forward with your application at this time, but we will keep your application on file for the future.” Over the past 4 years since graduating with my B.A., I have received at least 200 or more emails like this. Or even better, “Thank you for interviewing, but we have decided to move forward with another candidate.”  

After so many of these emails, many thoughts begin to transpire. “Why did I even go to college?” “What’s wrong with me?” “How can I get experience, if people won’t hire me and give me a chance?” “Why am I trying to sell myself to these employers?” All of these thoughts and more bring on none other than, drum roll please… depression. I’ve had all of these thoughts and more. Even people around me who have gone to college and gotten degrees, have been forced into settling for minuscule positions. It is so frustrating to dedicate so much time to an education and earning a degree, only for it not to mean a thing in the real world. Even the fact that some people find jobs but are unable to work in their field, is a disappointment. Although, many millennials are facing this struggle, our parents generation have a hard time relating to it. See, there was once a time not long ago, where a high school diploma sufficed. People were able to get a job with only a high school education and keep that job until retirement. Sounds like a dream, right? Unfortunately, that is highly unlikely and it’s now more of  a dream deferred.

The societal view and expectation of millennials is also a bit unrealistic. You’re supposed to go to college, get a degree, get a job, get an apartment, get married, buy a house, have kids, and live happily ever after. While this is ideal and what most people strive for, it is a bit of a fairy tale now. Most are barely making ends meet month- to- month. It’s hard to add-in extras or even think to that point, when bills need to be paid, and student loan debt is up the wall.

But, if you’re like me you are trying to remain positive even with all of these other thoughts against you. Even though it is really hard at times to stay focused on the positive, it’s necessary to do so. So, keep this in the back of your mind, eventually the perfect job will come, and life will be perfect. But until then, don’t get sunken into misery or give into frustration. Pick up a side hustle, start doing things that can add and build up your resume and make you more marketable, and do things that increase your knowledge.  Keep applying, keep trying, and keep moving forward. 

Friends…How Many of Us Have Them?

Whenever I think of friends, I always think of epic tv groups of friends like Girlfriends, Living Single, Martin, or A Different World.  All of these shows, very different in concept had one great similarity, they were all focused around groups of friends. Friendship can be a beautiful thing, but just as any relationship can turn ugly at the drop of a hat, a friendship can too. I often wonder how and why friendships go sour. There’s always that saying “some people are in your life for only a season.” While this should be a comforting quote, it really does not stop the hurt or confusion of ended friendships. It’s interesting that some friends become like your family while others eventually become strangers to you.

The older I get the more I realize with friends it really is quality over quantity. There is no point in having numerous people around you that serve no purpose other than just taking up space. In hardship, it becomes clear who is genuinely there for you and who may only be around for the good times. Unfortunately, it is a sad realization when you figure out that someone you considered to be a friend is no where to be found in your time of need.

But, the most important thing about friendship I have learned is to be the friend that you want someone to be to you. There are many relationships that become one-sided. This can  be draining and cause a rift in a relationship. Once you notice that you are doing more for your “friend,” than they are doing for you, maybe you should reevaluate your “friendship.” Instead, start looking for friendships that leave you feeling energized and refreshed.

The amazing side of having a friend or even a group of friends that support, encourage, and cheer you on. Life, especially young adulthood can be very harsh at times. It’s always a plus when you have a person or people to lean on that will have your back. So I leave you with this, if your friendship isn’t mutually beneficial, uplifting, or progressive, you may need to reevaluate what you really have and let it go.

Latest Listens

This edition of Latest Listens is jam-packed. So much music has been released within the  past month, that I’ve been having a hard time keeping up! But here we go!

Kendrick Lamar- DAMN.: Top Tracks: HUMBLE.LOYALTY.FEAR. 

Kendrick did not disappoint! Every Kendrick album thus far has been filled with classics from beginning to end, and this was no different. I listened to the album 3 times straight through and each time got something different from it. The thing that makes this album so great, is the complexity. You can feel that he really poured his heart and soul into this work of art. Artists features include Rihanna, U2, and Zachary.

Notable Quote: ” I’m so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop
Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor
Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks”-HUMBLE.

Joey Bada$$- All Amerikkkan Bada$$: Top Tracks: Good Morning AmerikkkaY U DON’T LOVE ME (MISS AMERIKKKA)BABYLON

This politically conscious album left me somewhat speechless. It had the cool vibes that we are used to hearing from Joey Bada$$ but the lyrics were actually quite touching. He hit on so many current social issues such as police brutality, and racism. It’s was even a big risk to spell America with 3 K’s. It’s always refreshing to listen to rap that has more substance than talking about strippers, money and cars. So for that, salute to Joey Bada$$.

Notable Quote: “I know the end is near, but I just don’t know when
Turn on to CNN, look at what I see again
It’s another black man, died at the white hand of justice
To tell the truth, man, I’m fuckin’ disgusted
I fear for the lives, for my sisters, my brothers
Less fortunate than I, let’s formulate a plan” -BABYLON.

Rick Ross- Rather You Than Me: Top Tracks: Santorini GreeceI Think She Like MeScientology

Although it took me some time to listen to the whole album, Rather You Than Me has turned out to be one of the best Rick Ross albums in my opinion. It’s no Teflon Don, but it has some hits. Of course there are the usual features from MMG members Wale and Meek Mill, but also Young Thug, Jeezy, Future, and more.

Notable Quote: “The bank account done caught the holy ghost, 
I say the bank account done caught the holy ghost!”- Santorini Greece 

Drake- More Life: Top Tracks: PortlandTeenage FeverNothings Into Somethings

Unfortunately I was not really impressed with Drake’s album. I was looking forward to it because I was not too impressed with Views either. There are some hits but also some misses. I’m not really on board with this island sound he is shooting for. It was cool for One Dance and Controlla, but songs like Madiba Riddim, I don’t feel they are good for Drake.

Notable Quote: “Told me I’m lookin’ exhausted
You hit it right on the nose
I’m tired of all of these n*ggas
I’m tired of all of these hoes” -Free Smoke

Mack Wilds- AfterHours: Top Tracks: Bonnie & ClydeObsession Stingy  

This was a random download for me and ended up being well worth it. I have never really noticed Mack Wilds as a musical artist, but when I saw the release on DatPiff, I figured why not? The song that I started with was Bonnie and Clyde, I chose to listen to this first because Wale was featured. I loved the song instantly. I listened to a couple more and quickly realized why it’s named AfterHours. Loved this sexy album.

Honorable Mentions: GoldLink and Kodak Black both dropped projects that are definitely worth the listen. Until next time, happy listening! Let me know what’s on your current playlist in the comments below!

Angry. Black. Woman.

Angry.Black.Woman. Out of all the stereotypes that are given to African-Americans, women, and black women, “angry black women” is the one that makes my blood boil. I’m sure we have all heard the term and even thought of a specific woman as soon as you saw the title of this post. This stereotype is portrayed in all outlets of media constantly. Black women are often portrayed as having attitudes, loud, disrespectful, eye-rolling, neck-rolling, finger-pointing individuals. But why are these connotations acceptable.

It becomes a daunting task trying to keep emotions in tact to not be seen as the “angry black woman.” It makes it feel as though we are only allowed to smile and be happy or we are proving the stereotype right. This is a terrible feeling because like everyone else in the world, black women not only get angry, but sad, depressed, anxious, and much more. So must we be forced to ignore these emotions just to make other people feel more comfortable? When is it ok to stop the facade and let our emotions out without the look of, “I knew it, she’s just like the rest of them.” It is unfortunate that many black women have to search for validation to feel a certain way. This thought process is the exact reason why so many black women go through life with bottled up feelings, or get written off when they may be dealing with real life hurdles.

So, next time you see a black woman who you think may be angry or has an attitude”, stop and ask her how her day is going, say something to make her smile, let her know above all she is validated to feel any way she wants at any given moment without judgement.

“Nigga”

 

Within the past 2 weeks, I have heard the term nigga from many unexpected mouths. But there were 2 that had me looking around in anguish to see if anyone else had heard. The first incident occurred while I was in a local CVS looking for a drink in the refrigerator. With my back turned, I heard someone say “hurry up and pick something nigga.” I whipped my head around quick, fast, and in a hurry because I assumed the person was talking to me. Only to turn around and see that it was 2 young white boys talking to each other. I was dumbfounded. I had so many questions, and was in a state of pure confusion. But, I grabbed what I wanted and with an unsettled mind quickly walked away.

The second time, I was waiting to have my car serviced. The workers were Mexican and calling each other nigga. Once again I was thoroughly confused.

I’m not sure when it became acceptable for this word to be thrown around as casually as it has. Sure, I’m aware of the theory that it’s a term of endearment. But, is it really? How is the term endearing when our ancestors were called this as a way to insult and marginalize them. Why do we and even other races feel so comfortable using the word in public? Why do other races feel so comfortable using the word in the presence of blacks? Next time you use the word be aware of the actual meaning, be aware of who’s around you and listening to you use the word. I mean if we use the word and call one another nigga so openly and publicly it continues to give others the notion that it’s alright to say and use and even use against us. Let me know if the comments below how you feel about the term. Peace.