great things that happened in 2018

2018 was very long. I’ve been sleeping in until 11 for the past two weeks and I’m still tired. I’m going into the new year feeling a bit drained, a little cloudy, and somewhat heavy.

But if there’s anything this year taught me, it’s that the presence of pain doesn’t invalidate joy. Sadness and happiness can coexist. In that spirit, I made a list.

Great Things That Happened in 2018
1. I graduated from Emory and so many family members came to see me and celebrate me. I felt loved.
2. I began pursuing my master’s degree at Harvard.
3. I went to LA with my best friends! I finally got to hangout with my big cousin and see her new stomping grounds.
4. I fell in love with writing (again).
5. Noname dropped her second album! Both my mind and my ears were blessed.
7. Baby bro graduated from high school and started college at Penn. He’s a whole Ivy League scholar.
8. I went on so many trips! I became less attached to place.
9. I became fiercely independent.
10. My brain healed from the concussion I got playing flag football (yes, this happened. we’re doing better now)
11. I made so many new friends, and my closest friends became more like my sisters.
12. I went whale watching! Whales are such serene, magnificent creatures. I cried at how beautiful they were.
13. My parents officially became empty-nesters. They are happy and healthy. I’m excited to see what they do next.
14. I spent so much time with family. We made new memories together.
15. I went on a road trip with my grandmother and learned more about her and took care of her and loved her well before she went to Heaven.
16. I stepped out of my comfort zone more times than I can count.
17. I taught and learned from so many incredible kids.I studied teaching more intentionally and practiced my craft thoughtfully. My purpose (one of them!) was solidified.
18. My 22nd birthday weekend was a MOVIE. Period.
19. I “made it” and realized “it” wasn’t all that great. I was humbled.
20. I learned how to love myself well.

2019—let’s go.


cognitive dissonance

I was a psychology major. I didn’t particularly like my classes, and I often wish I would’ve switched to sociology or English or linguistics or really anything else, but I stuck with psychology. As a result, I find myself in this constant feedback loop between theory and practice. I apply psychological theories to my 7th grade students, to my 50-something year-old parents, to my 18 year-old brother, to my 20-and-30-something year old peers, and (if you know me, you saw this coming) to myself. I’m constantly trying to make sense of human behavior. I think understanding our psychological motivations gives me a little more hope for humanity. And somehow, it makes me feel like I have more control, too.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about cognitive dissonance. I remember learning about it freshman or sophomore year. Psychologist Leon Festinger coined the term in the early 1950s. Essentially, Festinger’s theory contends that conflicting ideas or opinions about our environment or ourselves leads to this icky feeling (paraphrasing) that challenges us to find a more comfortable mind-state. If we incorporate another theory, fight-or-flight response, we can think of it like this: we either rise to the occasion and fight until we feel zero dissonance, or we succumb to the pressure and book a flight away from whatever’s disturbing us (again, paraphrasing).

I’ve been using cognitive dissonance to think about my own mind-state a lot lately. I have days where I feel powerful. I have days where I feel defeated before I even begin. I’ve been trying to “sustain the work,” been trying so ardently to be a good student, teacher, friend, peer, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, granddaughter…and failing. Fairly miserably, I might add. The amount of work—both professional and personal—I’m expected to do feels insurmountable. So insurmountable, in fact, that, a few weeks ago, I had my first panic attack in over six months. And I really, really hate those.

I’ve given myself time to think about why they came back.

One, I do entirely too much. I’ve never met a workaholic with chronic anxiety and honestly I find myself a bit hilarious. What a conundrum I am!

Two, I don’t always treat my body the way I should. I drink too much coffee and don’t eat enough and then wonder why I don’t feel well. Again, I’m hilarious.

And three, I absolutely detest graduate school. Like really, really hate it.

When I first found out I was accepted into the program I’m in now, I was ecstatic. I felt like I’d “made it.” I felt like all my hard work had paid off. I felt like I deserved this. I’m approaching the half-year mark of my graduate school journey and all of these feelings have dissipated. Oppositely, the number of times I hear these kinds of remarks from those around me has increased exponentially. There’s something so off-putting about being celebrated endlessly for the very thing that frustrates you tirelessly. Graduate school is not at all what I expected and I’m slapped with that reality everyday. It is not warm. It is not inviting. It is not liberating. It is painfully isolating. And, as someone who came to graduate school to learn how to teach—to enter a profession where my literal job is to create warm, inviting, liberating spaces for kids—school feels like such a waste of time. And I have to grapple with this everyday.

I’m in a place of such immense power and privilege. I am told constantly that this is where I’m meant to be, that I deserve to be here, that this is such a grand opportunity. Simultaneously, I abhor the work that I came here to do and the spaces I enter daily. I hate that this place has made me resent what I love. And (let’s get into it!), I hate that I’ve allowed it to make me resent what I love.

I’ve worked so hard to practice gratitude, to choose joy, to prioritize growth daily…but all of that is so difficult to do when you don’t enjoy where you are.

I’m working through this one day at a time. I’ve got a few solid coping strategies under my belt. I write consistently. I go for walks and meditate. I’ve started reading (for fun!!!) again. I’ve begun curating playlists full of songs I know make me smile. I’m monitoring my news intake a lot more closely. I’ve been reading my Bible daily. I call people I love when I need encouragement or a good laugh.

I’m working on moving from dissonance —> peace. And I’m striving to be patient with myself as I do so.

I don’t expect graduate school to change much, especially before I leave in May, but I know I can change my own perceptions.

I am competent. I am capable. I am conscious.

I do deserve to be here. I put in the work to get here. Being where I am is a tremendous opportunity—one that I won’t squander. I refuse to block my own blessings.

I will keep going.



on change & growing up.

About one year ago today, I had one of my favorite days ever. I went to church. I went to the local coffee shop and read, wrote, and prepared for class the next day. And then, I drove myself across town to Piedmont Park. I left my car there and walked from the pond, along The Beltline, and to Ponce City Market. I snapped pictures and smiled at the sky as I strode. I people-watched. I laughed. And I ate good food. AND–I listened to all my favorite songs. All by myself. I was alone the entire day and didn’t feel lonely once. I remember 10/1/17 so vividly. I even remember what I was wearing. It was such a perfect day.

Two weeks before that, I had a concussion.

The next day, there was a massacre in Las Vegas.

And a month from then, the first full draft of my honors thesis was due.

And two months from then, my graduate school applications were due.

I was drowning.

I remember being despondent. Outside of the first of October, the month wasn’t that great. The rest of the year wasn’t either. I cried often. I was stressed out. I didn’t feel like myself.

It’s been a year since then and I know now that October of 2017 was when I first started grappling with anxiety. I didn’t call it anxiety then but that’s what it was. Everything felt like too much. In one of my old journal entries from April of 2018, I wrote how I felt like “an anvil was going to fall on my head.” I had my first panic attack later that week.

I’ve learned how to manage it a little better. There are still days where I hide and cry, but they are fewer and further in between. I’m grateful for that.

I created this site in November of last year. I wanted to talk about what I was going through. It’s been about a year since then. I’m just now launching it today and I’m glad I waited. I feel like I have more valuable things to contribute to this world now, much more so than I did then. I’m trying to step up to my own standards and into my purpose. I don’t want to hide anymore.

So, here’s this site. I’m still working on it, but I’ve got a few things on here for you all to read. I hope you enjoy 🙂