Hello Old Friend,

I realize it’s been a whole year since I last checked in on a personal level and a lot has happened. I think the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the past year are around the importance of making space for yourself and that sometimes things have to fall apart so they can fall into place. I feel like I’ve probably said this before on at least one of my online platforms so I’m sorry for not being sorry that I’m sharing it again. It’s as if I learn every side of a lesson in waves- as if the lesson I’m learning is a cube that I’m uncovering, one surface at a time.

The surface I explored this last year has resulted in me having to let go of many things and people, and having many people and things let go of me. We unlearn to relearn, and hold on to let go, right? This last year also brought me some of the biggest blessings. I feel as if I’ve been breaking down and getting up to keep running with my heart on my sleeve all my life. I finally experienced some of my biggest breakthroughs (thus far) this year. I’m actually excited to be alive. I know that sounds morbid, and I am definitely grateful for the love in my life, but feeling purposeless and not having a sense of direction will weigh on you in a world where success is rated like we’re all living on Yelp or some shit. My process of unlearning and unpacking has become much less violent. It’s the difference between a storm that rips everything in its way to pieces for this ecosystem to slowly rebuild and undressing slowly and intentionally before sliding into a herbal bath. Does that make sense?

I came to accept that I internalize shit like my life depends on it. I also came to realize that I wasn’t (always) an angry child- I was triggered and had no clue what the fuck I was feeling, nor was I equipped to deal with these feelings. Victims of abuse who are children of victims of abuse aren’t often equipped to deal, let alone survive. I had to learn to be gentle with myself- cool it, and give myself the space to breathe and be. You know?

[TW: abuse]

There is someone who I once looked up to I felt extremely let down by. This taught me that people don’t belong on pedestals and even those who we look up to have human tendencies and should absolutely be given the space to be just that, human. I felt let down because I learned (in a very hard way) that someone in their close circle was a well-known predator in the online Tumblr community, and this individual was actively being an enabler by having said abuser in what were meant to be safe spaces. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I felt exposed and hurt in ways I can’t even verbalize. I tried reaching out numerous times to have a conversation and came to the realization that there wasn’t ever really a connection. I walked away and this wasn’t received well either. BRO, I felt like I was dealing with my dad and uncle all over again. But I’m not in the business of putting myself in spaces and places that make me feel like anything less than sunshine, so I walked away. The rest is really out of my control and quite frankly speaking, not a Janu problem.

I was speaking to my family last night and I distinctly remember saying: “Isn’t it fucked up that when someone chooses to not make themselves uncomfortable to fulfill the needs of others, they get shit?”. For example, if I am asked to accomplish A, B, C and D but I only have the bandwidth for A-C and express this, I would potentially get flack? I mean, this is an extremely vague example but think about the times you’ve done this in your life, even unknowingly. I dragged myself with this thought. I also gave myself some clarity with this thought regarding the sitch I barely covered in the last paragraph. I learned that I had been internalizing shit that wasn’t my burden to bear and that I’ve gone through life doing this more often than warranted.

I’ve been working on a project for a major beauty brand with a few friends of mine and I learned another hard lesson. That is, another drag from the Universe. Even though I was amongst friends and I equally contributed to this project, I felt like I wasn’t ‘enough of a creative’ to speak up about ideas for the sets…what the fuck am I on? I wish I could tell you. Watching my peers ask for what they wanted out of these sets explicitly and intentionally, as well as openly express their bandwidth taught me to speak up more. And when I did, I was heard. I’ll share more on that in due time.

I’m sure there will be instances where I won’t be heard, but I decided that in those moments, I will absolutely get on my soapbox and talk my shit anyway. I’m bound to be heard.

Life is as long as it is short. It is as fickle as it is constant. And it is as bitter as it is sweet. With this in mind, I affirm that the rest of 2018 will draw on these lessons to bring more breakthroughs and blessings.

Chat soon,

J.