Emotional Maturity?

I’ve been at this blog for two years now, and I’ve seen some personal milestones so far. I traveled alone for the first time, I learned to own up to my musical talents, and overall, writing publicly has helped me understand myself in a deeper way. But recent events have thrown my thoughts back to one of my earliest entries which I titled “I’m Not Emotionally Mature Enough To Work At A Hostel“.

Two years later, turns out I am.

It’s really, really funny how things change.  I AM emotionally mature enough to work at a hostel.

Here’s what I mean: back when I was traveling through Brazil in the fall of 2014, I was bouncing from hostel to hostel. I’d be sharing a room with 8 to 14 other people I’d never met before from all over the world. One relatively small common room. Shared breakfast. And a small, personable, fun staff to take care of everything.

For some, this sounds like a nightmare. For someone as sheltered and as eager to “get out there” as I was, it was the perfect situation to meet cool people and explore new cities together. And that’s exactly what I did. I connected with dorm-mates, hostel-mates, sometimes even staff workers. We’d gallivant about, learning about the city together, having crazy adventures, with deep conversations all the while…and at the end of all of it, there’d be a goodbye. And by the time that goodbye swings by, I’m already attached. This person (or this group of people) has become my person. My “best friend forever“, in preschool terms.

The goodbyes would be painful. Yes, I’ll try to make it to your country. Maybe you’ll make it to my country! Don’t forget to send me those photos! I’ll send you a postcard from my next destination. Don’t be a stranger now! Add me on Facebook/Instagram/…!

I wrote that initial blog post two years ago about not being emotionally mature enough because I didn’t know how to move forward after making a deep connection with someone who I’d probably never see again. I didn’t think I could live through a constantly revolving door of awesome people. At the point, my paradigm was that any great person who I had a phenomenal time with was meant to stay in my life forever.

But now, that’s not my worldview anymore and it’s jarring to realize this. I’ve traveled a lot since those days, mostly on solo adventures. Also, I’ve had to uproot my life several times since then. Point is, these past few years have been an intense season of meeting or having great people in my life, and having to let them go in significant ways.

I’ve learned that it’s very special to meet someone and connect with them right away, especially with the added bonding experience of traveling through a new place.

I’ve also learned to be okay saying goodbye and never see that person again. It doesn’t mean that our time together wasn’t special. I’ve grown to find satisfaction in the memories. We can meet again in the realm of memory. We have the experiences. And maybe we’ll actually meet again. That would be great. And maybe we won’t. That’s okay, too.

I don’t believe in forever anymore. I used to. But now I don’t. And I think that’s the lesson. Life is a constant revolving door of people. And…it is what it is, isn’t it?

~Feroza

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Stop #3.5: Midway Encouragement

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Not many people know this, but I spent most of my time in Los Angeles in the library of my alma mater, studying and stressing, and studying some more, and crying. No lie. There was a lot of pressure that I put on myself.

But on a lunch outing I went on with my cousin, I saw this on the bathroom wall and, in reading it, I felt this huge release. Man, I love randomly discovering words of encouragement and affirmation!

~Feroza

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Note: This is part of a series of posts in which I share snippets of my Easter sojourn. Thank you for reading.

Pictures and Memories

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Dangriga Town, Belize

There is nothing as sobering as death. It makes you cling to life in a way that you didn’t before. It makes you reevaluate things. It’s crazy to think about how someone who has always, always been around…is suddenly not. And when they’ve left this world, all they leave behind are pictures and memories.

Pictures and memories.

In February two people that I knew died. One who was a member of my faith community back at USC, and the other was my near and dear grandaunt who served as my mother whenever I was in our hometown. With my aunt, it was expected. We’d been preparing ourselves as a family for months now. But with my friend, it was completely out of the blue. Despite the different circumstances of their deaths, it’s put me in a more reflective mood than usual.

I’m thinking about how uncertain life is. I’m thinking about how settled I was beginning to feel until life threw me a curveball. I’m thinking about whether there is anything I would change if I knew I’d die tomorrow or at some fixed date in the future. It makes me think, “Am I satisfied with my life?” And if not, “What can I do now to start changing that?”

When I first typed this, I was traveling to Belize to attend my Aunt’s funeral and to be there for my family. I’d had no plans to travel for a while, but it seemed that my homeland beckoned. And, despite my misgivings and my own plans, I’ll always respond to the call. Family is important.

Since then, I travelled to six other countries in the space of six weeks–A totally unplanned for sojourn that just ended up happening as I went along. The next series of posts will be tidbits of reflections of my time in those different places and spaces. 🙂

Thank you, readers, for hanging in there with me.

~Feroza

What I Believe

I’ve been reflecting a lot about what I believe, and why I believe what I do. I don’t think I could trust another who has not been through this process. Because, if you don’t know why you stand for something, then there’s someone you’re fooling–either yourself or someone else.

I am not having a crisis of faith, but I’ve had to reexamine it, in light of some recent events. Here, I’ll merely focus on Trinidad & Tobago’s carnival celebration this past February.

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No, this is not me. But there were feathers, feathers everywhere

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I was delighted to find traditional drumming!

Carnival is a five day street party (though officially two days) in Trinidad, and the largest annual event in the country. Having just moved here a few months prior, I made it my mission to see different aspects of it. I was convinced that it would give me deeper insight into the culture and history of the people and nation.

Long story short, it did. It was fantastic, seeing the city come alive in preparation and with people. The electric feeling of excitement in the air. The academic conversations it sparked. Also, the more superficial conversations it sparked.

Some of my Christian friends, however, did not approve of my methods, and it turned into a situation where I was led second-guess myself.

The point is this, Christians in Trinidad and in the wider Caribbean shun carnival because of what it ‘represents’ and what goes around it and out of it. I use quotation marks because I acknowledge the dualistic nature of the event. Firstly, it began as a celebration for the freed enslaved to celebrate their emancipation from the British colonial masters. Over time, it has become an outlet for mainstream media to feature music, for liquor companies to make money, and for ordinary people from near and far to dress scantily and carry on in the streets with their “baddest behavior.”

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A float depicting stick-fighting

Bad things follow carnival. Just this year, a beloved Japanese tourist was found dead in her costume just days after the event. People get alcohol poisoning. Men and women alike cheat on their partners, fueled by too many drinks and the general sexuality of the event. Thieving rises. Prostitution rises. Unplanned-for babies are conceived.

Yes, indeed, I understand clearly why the Christians flee. Why they condemn.

However, I feel another point just as strongly: it is possible to enjoy and take part in carnival without subscribing to any (most) of those things. I had a really great time meeting new people, observing the costumes, listening to the music, and understanding that sexuality is an inherent part of the culture of the African diaspora.

I have my faith, but I am also a scholar and a traveller. I have learned not to condemn something that I do not understand. I have learned to observe and question. I know how to research (and I intend to do more of it). And I have learned, also, to have a good time without compromising my own principles. There is more to the story, of course, but I will not go into excessive detail about it. It isn’t necessary.

At the end of all of it, I have this understanding about myself, and I’m okay that it will offend some or make them uncomfortable. This is what I believe for myself.

Blessings,

Feroza~

Queen

This week, I celebrate the two year anniversary of going natural. I’ve been wanting to write about this and I’ve been struggling with it…because I didn’t want to be a cliche. You know, repeating what every other Black woman has said about it. Or even superficial, because what is hair compared to more substantive issues like politics, world hunger and climate change? Nevertheless, it’s been an important part of my experience as a young woman growing into myself. I must write.

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For me, my hair is a statement. I am my hair—wild and vibrant and passionate and tamed-ly untamed.

For me, my hair speaks freedom, independent thinker, and someone who will not bend to toxic manipulation.

For me, my hair reminds me of my truest self. Left on its own, it defies gravity. It naturally grows upward. It is skyward bound. By that virtue, I myself defy gravity by the mere fact of my existence and the desires I have for my life.

For me, my hair reminds me of my worth as a Queen: dignified, intelligent, creative.

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This is written as I ruminate over several comments I’ve received and conversations I’ve had with women in the past couple weeks about my reasons for going natural, and their own fears about going natural themselves. I’m struck by just how many people consider this courageous. And it is. In this Eurocentric world, it takes courage and inner strength to be oneself.

But the way I see it, I cannot and will not be anyone other than how I was born to be, and as superficial as it may seem, my hair is bound up in that identity.

Some have called me ‘unkempt’. I’ve received snide remarks about not having a comb. Others have hinted that it is unprofessional and draws too much attention.

But for every one of those comments, I’ve had far more conversations affirming one’s own natural beauty, and I’ve inspired so many in walking this natural walk as a living proof that it is possible and that it is worth something. After all, why it is a terrible thing to draw attention? Why should it be a terrible thing to be myself? It is not. Not a terrible thing at all.

I’m happy to have reached this point where I am. I’m honored that other women are looking at me as a model for what they could be, what they already are.

Queen.

~Feroza

Who Knows What’s Coming?

Early last year, I learned of a Bible verse that has stuck with me ever since”

“I am going to do things with your days, that even if you were told you would not believe”

And so it happened. I dove right into a grassroots ministry called Worship On Campus, I launched my SoundCloud page after years of self delusion, I graduated with my BA, I travelled to places I never dreamed of, I learned a new lifestyle while doing workaway in the south of France, I sparked a major music festival in my home village in Belize, I revived and re-wrote nearly half of a fantasy book that I began back in high school, I started law school and, above all, I fell in love with beautiful people. 2015 was filled with so many personal successes that I would not have believed even if I had been told beforehand.

I am so thankful to the people that I met along the way in 2015. People who illuminated new knowledge, who reminded me of who I really am, who encouraged me in my deepest confusion and who gave me such laughs that I’ll never forget. The people who opened their homes to me while I was traveling, those who lent a listening ear, those who held my hand and those who weathered my crazy. And most importantly, those who have always said yes to my dreams and schemes, despite their own personal reservations. It’s because of you all that I walk into 2016 with hope, with courage and with ambition.

New frontiers await this year, literally and figuratively. I will travel, I will do all I can to pour positivity, encouragement and light into others, and I will serve. Who knows what’s coming? But if I’m told, I’ll do my best to believe it.

~Feroza

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Journey of a Single Step

 

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Travel? All I need is a notebook, a guitar and a pocketful of soap.

Sometimes the universe will give you a helping hand in realizing you deepest passions or desires. For me, it was when I studied abroad in Brazil. Living in what was then an ‘alien country’ was necessary in providing the conditions for me to finally turn to music without shame. You see, despite all the travel adventures I had while I was there, between those bright moments and epic photos, I was deeply lonely. I had to face a kind of alone-ness that only my guitar could help me navigate through. What I didn’t anticipate in using music as my medicine were the perfect strangers and new friends who would affirm me in my gift. I needed that extra push. But I took that first step.

I want to encourage you to take a tiny leap of faith in going after what you’d only dream about doing this year. Wanna publish a book? Start writing short stories or poems. Start small: a sentence. Or start big: an entire book in one go. Share them with friends. Wanna dance? Maybe take a class, if you can. Or maybe start following those ‘how-to’ dance videos on YouTube. Wanna run a marathon? Start by running up and down your block. Wanna travel? Take a breath and book that flight. Or, find alternative ways to make it happen if you don’t have the money for luxury.

There are so many ways to make it happen. So many ways. Start small. Start big. Set those goals. And then work practically toward them.

You get the point. Over time, the jar will get full with tiny droplets of water. Start where you are, and do what you can with what you have. Soon enough you’ll find yourself free falling into something you couldn’t even imagine when you began. This is my wish for you in the new year.

The quote that made 2015 for me:

I am going to do something in your days
    that you would not believe,
    even if you were told. [Habakkuk 1:5]

~Feroza

Things Will Get Better

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I doubted that I would. See the light at the end of the tunnel, that is. Sometimes the darkness is so absolute and all-consuming that I start to believe in it. But just as the pieces break and scatter, they also come back together. It does get better. Bit by bit. Sunlight starts to stream through. Kind words stay with you. And purpose makes its grand re-entrance. It does get better.

~Feroza

Melancholy Is A Friend of Mine

I’ve been down in the dumps lately. I suppose law school will do that to you? But deeper than that, I’ve been having meltdowns so frequently that it has truly made me consider whether I should seek help to assess what is wrong with the chemicals in my brain. There is something wrong with me, and I’ve felt crazy and non-functional.

I confided this in a close friend, whose response was so unearthly encouraging and earnest. He told me that I was only just discovering what my brain was all about (“heck, you’re 23! You’re still learning about yourself”), and that it was a process that would train me to master all that I could accomplish. Most importantly, he told me that I was not crazy; I just have to work with what I have and, with patience, not let my emotions overcome me.

I know there are those who truly cannot get by without the help of medication. The struggle with mental illness is a rough one and we all deal with it differently. Most of us go through life undiagnosed, or unwilling to be diagnosed because of what it would mean. Family and friends would have to get involved. The money. The stereotype. The idea of having to go on medication.

Personally, it’s not that I want to suffer quietly. I would simply prefer to get by using natural means. And it’s turning out that finding the “natural way” of dealing with this is just as difficult as finding the right cocktail of drugs. I’m okay with that.

What is really helping me is the thought that there is someone out there who genuinely believes that I’m gonna be okay. What gets me is the thought of what it would mean to believe in myself the way that someone else does, to see myself the way someone else does, and walk in the confidence of that. I’m sorta like, wow, someone believes in me that much. I want to believe like that.

This song I wrote is my anthem right now in dealing with this. I want to believe that I’ll be okay. And if you’re dealing with something similar, I want you to know that I think you’ll be okay too. 🙂

~Feroza

 

Melancholy is a friend of mine, I decide
Ain’t it better to face the light
and learn to fly?
I know a sadness that won’t go away
I hope it eases with time
For all the echoing insanity
it’s like I’m losing my mind

I simply want to believe
in the things you say
I only want to believe
in me like you do
You have this clear reckoning
that I could be more than what I see
I only want to believe
I only want to believe

Things will get better in time
It will get better with time
No, I’m not losing my mind
It will get better in time
These dark emotions, I won’t let dictate
I swear I’ll learn to fly
Won’t let these chemicals decide my fate
I’ll use them when I fly

I simply want to believe
in the things you say
I only want to believe
in me like you do
You have this clear reckoning
that I could be more than what I see
I only want to believe
I only want to believe

Things will get better in time
It will get better in time
And then we’ll learn to fly