Is It The Hair

Although I’m only three months into my natural hair journey, I’ve realized just how uncomfortable I am and have been with being my authentic self. It’s an awkward thing to admit, but it’s the truth. Embarking on this journey has made me increasingly aware of the fact that I, too, have yet to conquer the metaphysical dilemmas of being a colored woman. My initial decision to go natural wasn’t based on any profound reasoning; I simply wanted my hair to regain its health and grow back to its original length. Surprisingly enough, this process has led to some unsettling realizations, deep introspection and, unfortunately, some internal conflicts that I’m learning to deal with as each day passes.

To put it frankly, this transitioning process has exposed just how afraid I am of embracing myself. The very first day I decided to wear a flexi rod set to work, I stood in front of the mirror for a good 20 minutes trying to reassure myself that I looked fine and office-presentable with my curly fro. After a few, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important” pep talks to myself, I eventually managed to drag myself out of the house and to work. I wish I could honestly say that I walked into that office bold, confident and unabashedly black, but it was more of a defeatist “Oh God, please don’t let these white folk gawk at my hair” type of entrance. After receiving a bunch of compliments, I was so frustrated with myself for all the angst I experienced in my bathroom that morning, and annoyed for feeling so insecure about my hair not being bone straight. I was even more disappointed with the fact that it took getting compliments from my (white) co-workers for me to feel comfortable with my own hair.

I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I have a high level of self-esteem, but that one flexi rod set gave me a quick reality check, and helped me realize there are some things I have to work on internally in order to truly say I love myself, and to get through this natural hair journey. This process has become more than just me trying to grow long, healthy hair; it’s become a journey to learning how to love and accept myself despite other people’s expectations of how I’m supposed to look.

As a teenage girl, getting a relaxer was more about me wanting to feel and look “mature” than it was about me hating my natural hair. As an adult, I’ve observed how that innocent desire for a mature look turned into me becoming dependent on relaxers and straight hair to feel beautiful. I have absolutely nothing against straight hair (I love me a good Dominican blow out), but I do take issue with being fearful of embracing my natural, God-given appearance. I will never be at peace not knowing how to be comfortable with who I am and how I naturally look, which is why this journey is necessary for me.

These first three months have been exciting, frightening, frustrating, and beautiful. There are days when I wake up and feel “flawless,” and there are days when I have absolutely no idea what to do with my hair and the tears start rolling. But on the good hair days and on the days when my twist out attempts are just that- an attempt, I look at myself in the mirror and see someone I love, despite how her hair looks. I can’t lie, this hair journey has me feeling naked and uncomfortable, but growth is rarely ever comfortable, and I’ve made peace with that. Long-term transitioning isn’t for the faint of heart (this is my third attempt), but I intend to embrace everything it entails, and I am determined to follow through with this commitment to loving myself and loving my natural, curly, black girl hair.

– See more at: http://www.urbancusp.com/2014/03/conquering-metaphysical-dilemmas-embracing-natural-hair/#sthash.N2w6gfjZ.dpuf
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Previously Posted by:

Ashlee Wisdom
Managing Editor
UrbanCusp.com
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Is It Picture Perfect (Do It For The Likes)

With the endless advancements in technology and social networking it’s become easier to lose sight of our true identities. Social media allows its users to mask their insecurities and depression with the click of a button! However; while we are posting pictures for social validation, a piece of our self esteem is being uploaded and exposed to open criticism. For some folks relevance and purpose to society can truly become based on the number of followers, likes & re-post they receive. With each post to social media we become hyper detached from human interaction and immersed in digital criticisms.
Studies have shown that the rate of depression and anxiety have risen in the age of social media. This is 100% contradictory (give or take a few bitter scorn men/women post and subliminal) to what we’re bombarded with on a daily basis from our timelines. Its become a trend I like to call the “For The Likes” (FTL) competition. Now the competition is simple and we’ve all been a participant at one point whether you want to admit it or not. I thought it’d be fun to examine some of the top ten categories of #FTL posts and explain my logic for this designation, so here we go:

10- The “exotic meal or just a meal that most do not usually indulge in” post.

Okay here’s the caveat, maybe these folks are genuinely trying to put their followers up on game for a surprisingly good meal OR just intending to diminish the domesticated image of themselves and build up this culturally refined image through #foodporn. Do not worry we are not judging we just admire your indulgence in the finest cuisine 😉

9- The vacation post or I’m going out of town post.
Simply a post to brag Im here and your not… It is almost a way to either let people know that you are always on the scene or enjoying an experience that most do not have the opportunity of enjoying. You mad or #Nah?

8- The transformation
From transformation Tuesday to throwback Thursday and even on occasions flashback Fridays, these post are usually very revealing or highlighting a personal journey that someone has gone through (most likely some weight loss or ugly duckling to bad bish). We believe that this post is the hardest post to decipher because some of you share great testimonials that can truly serve as inspiration, but then you have the “flaunters”. Y U No Humble?

7. I’m going to the gym
Just like the transformation post the gym post can be very hard to tell if its #FTL or if you’re really putting in work. However for most health crazed freaks progress is supposed to be noticed not displayed.. So all of you with the “I’m in the gym” post but still look the same, you’re clearly not NOT doing it for the likes.

6. Fashion post
ANNOYING. This post sometimes truly shows how people are being trendy and not really embodying the actual culture of their dress. Hypebeast around the world please don’t take offense.

5. Social justice frenzied topics
This by far is the most painful post. This usually happens with sensationalized deaths or socials injustices causing the masses to briefly go into a frenzy and taking their support to social media. Now nothing is wrong with this tactic but sometimes its hard to asses how genuine folks are and how committed to making change they are instead of attempting to appear socially aware. More over if this the call to action transcended into physically standing up for social injustices, It would be the 1960’s over again (sit in’s, protests, marches etc). Action speaks much louder than 140 characters ever will.

4. Posting of babies or baby pictures
Pardon my masculinity for a second but can we say adorable. Now there’s two kinds of baby posters (those by the child’s parents and the look at me with someone else’s child posters) Both of these post lend to the idea that hey I’m “ready for” or “great” with children, I’m such a catch! Parents we know that you are enjoying your children but posting pictures won’t get you kudos around here. For everyone else put that child who doesn’t belong to you down and get that phone out of their face, replace it with a book or a leap frog.

3. Thinking of him/her pics
This post is the only post that you will never actually see a physical person but just know her/him post are knee jerk reactions that are in direct correlation with those of you who are posting your relationships on social media. When you’re in a relationship all your single friends are having fun but, when you’re single multiply that previous feeling times 10 especially on those solo dolo nights. Sometimes the feeling is so intense that a phantom him is created in the hopes of getting the attention of someone else. In other instance a him/her really exist and it is imperative to let your followers know you’re thinking of them…. instead of using the same device you posted with to text them. OH

2. Inspirational Quote or song
These post certify that most people of social media world are either certified counselors or really going through it in life. Either way inspirational quotes that are not clichés are usually pretty dope. Affirmations and positive thinking is important for anyone who is either going through a hard time or making that transformation to a better person. It is amazing what a minor changes and positivity in your life can do for your mind body and spirit. However, when your routine selfie has nothing to do with the content of your quote you my friend are inspirational-ly doing it “FOR THE LIKES”.

1. THE Sexually Provocative Post
Originally known as a “Thirst Trap” (the act of setting a trap for an individual to comment or like a sexually enticing photo or quote) These post take the cake literally, when it comes to doing it #FTL. If you go on the various social media outlets you will see that there is an overwhelming amount of post with women either twerking or strategically displaying their best assets in order to catch the eye of the people who do not necessarily respect you. Realistically, what are you really trying to accomplish when you upload yourself to the world in such capacity. What can you possibly gain, an ig modeling contract? Ladies you are not the only ones who are guilty of thirst trapping men do it as well it just society tends to overlook it more than men (yes unfair) we know we’re equal opportunist here though so *Drops a judgmental glance* .

Let us know if we missed out on any other “For the Likes” post you’ve seen on your social networks.
Stay tuned for what we’ve got brewing we’ll drop and in case you don’t we’ll drop an #FTL to remind you! #AreYouVSOP

With Life Comes Responsibility

The holidays and all of its splendor have come and gone. This season has been highlighted with events ranging from ugly sweater and office parties to church musicals and family traditions.  As we get older we look at the holidays in a different light. When we were younger we could not wait to get gifts from our family. The older we become the more we look forward to the abundance of food and for most, the trivial family arguments. When did this change?  When did we grow up?

The fascination of growing and progression has always been on the minds of the young. We are often placing more pressure on ourselves than necessary. We rush everything, don’t you agree?

Let’s reflect! As a child we look forward to becoming a big kid, because big kids get treated much better than little kids. When we were pre-teens we couldn’t wait to become a teenager because then we could finally stay in the house by ourselves without a baby sitter. Besides, no one wants to be pre-anything, we want that experience now! Then we became teenagers, and during these years, we looked forward to two occasions; turning 16 so we can drive or 18 so we can either graduate from high school and then finally get admitted to clubs. Then we enter college and cannot wait to become 21! No more fake I.D.’s, no more begging or stealing your older sibling’s I.D.

After that something happens, its like something clicks in our lives and we want to slow everything down. We start to think of everything ahead of us. What is it about that 21st birthday that makes us think, “Whoa! This needs to slow down?” Usually by your 21st birthday you’re either on the brink of graduating or graduating soon. Maybe that’s it, maybe it’s graduation that causes all of this anxiety. No more looking forward to the breaks in-between semesters, picking classes, homecomings, spring weeks, cramming for midterms finals and random hookups. The closer we come to graduation the more we realize all of our ways of living are going to be disrupted and we have to start all over again! It’s almost as if life is constantly building us up just to push us back down! Don’t believe it, just look at the school structure in kindergarten. We could not wait to become 5th graders because they were the oldest and coolest kids in the school. The 5th graders knew this and enjoyed being on top until it was time to graduate and go to junior high/middle school where they had to start all over again, becoming the kindergartners of the school all over again. Then the 8th graders graduated and entered high school and could not wait to become seniors. See how vicious this cycle is? Then we enter college after high school and become the new kids again just so that in four years we can be thrown into the “real world.”

Well, what happens when we realize that we don’t want to enter into the real world? Like who wants to pay bills and wake up every morning just to look forward to weekends and vacations?! Why didn’t anyone shield us from these vicious realities? All our life we wanted the growth, but forgot what comes along with that growth. In kindergarten we had lots of nap time and not a lot of homework and the older we became, life worked in reverse; lots of homework and less nap time.

Do not rush life, just let it happen. We know, it’s easier said than done, especially when our parents/mentors drilled sayings and alliterations such as “Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance” in our heads to make sure we are on track repeatedly. We’ve let those sayings govern our lives to the point believing that it is truth. When in reality sometimes life just happens. In some occasions we can prepare for what life gives to us and the rest we try our bes to make due. The one thing we all should understand is with growth comes responsibility. Although we would love to pick and choose what part of life we want to grow and be responsible for, reality shows us it is a packaged deal!

HAPPY NEW YEAR form the VSOP Family we wish you peace and prosperity in 2014!

Stay Young My Friends.

Your Expectations Do Not Necessitate My Compliance

Gender based social expectations are a funny thing, inasmuch as they reveal a lot about the people who defend and perpetuate them. Growing up in a traditional Christian and West Indian home, I’ve become all too familiar with gender expectations. As a teenager, I grew up resenting the idea of me having to learn how to cook and clean, not because I was lazy or incapable of doing those things, but because of the reasons people offered to convince me I needed to learn to do them. In high school I barely understood what it meant to be a feminist or a womanist, but deep down inside I always felt a disconnect and a slight rebellion to the gender traditions of which my family and church continue to hold on. My argument has always been to teach me how to function, and survive as a woman who needs to learn to take care of herself first. I was never interested in anyone teaching me to cook and properly clean, simply because one day I was to become some man’s wife. Because first of all, where is he? Last time I checked I’m still single (and have been for quite some time now), so why was I being burdened with the responsibility of learning to care for a man during my adolescence, when at 23 he is still no where to be found? I’m not sure if my mother and aunts constantly telling me, “cooking and cleaning will keep a man.” was supposed to be some sort of incentive for me to learn, but at sixteen that intangible prize of a future husband did not suffice. To this very day I resent the idea of me being nurtured into a role I’m not even 100% sure I will be privileged enough to have. While I do hope and pray to become a loving, nurturing, responsible wife and mother some day; I refuse to make day to day decisions constantly contemplating an unseen man and my unborn child(ren). I am single, and childless and I believe that now is the appropriate time for me to enjoy learning, living, and doing just for me (and God of course).

Despite my frustrations with, and resentment for these gender expectations; I must admit that I often times find it hard to completely dismiss them. It’s as if the more I resist these expectations, the more people reinforce them to me, and attempt to force them on me. However, if I try hard enough to forget the literature I read, dismiss my formal education, and force myself into humility; I am able to conform to these roles (tis a very tedious task). During these humble moments I often think of the disconnect between my generation of women, and those of previous generations, who tend to naturally assume roles and feed into the expectations that my generation has become more and more courageous to question, and even bold enough to resist. In these moments of contemplation, I also find myself frightened by the many assumptions people make about my future because of my gender. Recently, a woman who use to take care of me as a child called to congratulate me for completing undergrad. She took me for a long, slow stroll down memory lane, then eventually told me how proud of me she was. She then went on to make the request for me to continue to hold my head high and make her proud so that, (wait for it…) the next time she calls she will be able to receive even more great news- the announcement of my wedding. Unfortunately for very single me, more great news to her is not me receiving a MD, a Ph.D, Psy.D, JD, or MS, but my marriage certificate. When I scratch my head and screw my face at those types of comments, I wonder if I’m being irrational, and snobbish for taking offense. However, I highly doubt young men receive congratulatory calls from loved ones on their graduation day with mentions of marriage. In fact, they’re probably getting just the opposite, seeing as they’re young, educated men with a plethora of options that they’re naturally inclined to explore, right? Yet, my next pursuit should be to find a man, and get him to propose to me. (I don’t know what to do first, roll my eyes or clasp my hands and beg God to send me my man ASAP.)

These gender expectations frustrate me, mainly because they make it difficult to want the things you want, when and how you actually want them. Yes, I want to learn to make gourmet meals, but I want to learn so I can have fancy dinner parties with my girlfriends and colleagues, and to be able to contribute something tasty to the office pot-luck. Do I want to learn how to properly do laundry? Why of course! So that I can preserve the brightness of my colors, and not shrink my favorite maxi-dress. And yes, I definitely want to get married, but not because it’s on the checklist of things I must do before I turn 30, and especially not right after undergrad. I really would love for people to realize that just because they expect me to want something, doesn’t mean I’m obligated to want it when they expect me to, how they expect me to, or any at all for that matter. I am an individual who has set expectations for myself, which were framed with MY benefit in mind. I’m still learning myself, my wants, my needs, and MY expectations for myself, and for those I allow into my life. I don’t need, nor do I want to be burdened with the expectations tradition has picked out for me, but don’t always quite seem to fit my current ideals. As a woman I would appreciate people appreciating me and what I want, above the roles they see fit for me. Yes, I am a woman, but that identity means way more to me than what others expect it to mean. Call me crazy, but I’d like to believe that I define my womanhood, and I refuse to allow its social connotations to define me.

By: A. Wisdom

Originally published on: UrbanCusp.com

Its Just A Generational Trait

 

It is said that the “millennial generation” is the generation that does not know what they want to do… Sound familiar? Well, you aren’t the only one. Your twenties are the most confusing time of your life. You figure if you do everything right or better than your parents, you “should” reach success at a faster pace. Well, in most cases that is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Most of you have no kids, no attachments, and most importantly, no limits. So why does it seem so hard for you to hone in and focus? 

It is said that my generation, generation Y (also known as the millennials) will have at least five to seven careers before retirement. Well, that just explains the reason for me not being able to commit to anything. I would like to apply this type of thinking to every aspect of my life, however, that is not the case.

Educationally

There is so much we want to learn about and eventually master. Fact is we actually learn and eventually learn things faster than generations before us. Think about it for a second…. We have way more information at our disposal than generations before us. Realistically it’s our internet versus their encyclopedia (we already know the outcome to that bout).  There’s one thing that preceding generations have over us; PATIENCE. I just think of all the possibilities of what I want can do educationally and it becomes exhausting; Not because it is a lot to do, but because I can actually do it. Think about how many degrees you wanted or at least thought would be good for you to attain. For instance I want to be an educator; I also know that dignitaries do not really respect your opinion unless you have a doctorate degree, whether I earn an EdD or PhD.  However, it is common knowledge that if you want to be rich, education is not the field to make that happen. Which leads me to my other interest; (this is where the lack of focus begins) I would love to earn a MBA/JD and work for a fortune 500 company, or maybe even create my own company. However, just because you get a MBA/JD does not necessarily mean that you are going to land one of these jobs; in all actuality nothing is certain. Now more than ever due to the current state of the economy, degrees do not equate success (this thought is also a struggle my generation deals with).  I also have a fascination with politics so getting a Poli-Sci degree would actually be a great idea. (Do you see where this millennial stuff is bad?) Whatever it is that we think we want to do, we will find something else we can possibly do.

The crazy thing about our thought process is that when we think with the right sacrifices made, we can attain all of our goals.

Okay here is where this millennial thing gets even weirder. It spills over into every aspect of our lives. As an example, I figured that I would reflect on my professional and personal life. As you will soon see the scattered brain patterns continue, so if you have done something like this please just know there are others out there like you.

Professionally..

I have a bunch of things I want to do before I retire and eventually die… (Here’s the list:

1. I want to some how some way work in the White House. In what capacity, I do not know I just want to work on Capitol Hill.

2. I want to open up a school strictly for low performing African American males. (I feel like I have the solution for them I’ll share that idea later in my blog career.)

3. I want to hold a political office position; governor or mayor would be ideal.

4. Coaching football at the collegiate or professional level.

5. I want to open up a nightclub or some type of entertainment establishment. (Kind of goes against my Christian faith, so I am really wrestling with this one.)

6. Last but not least, I want serve as a relationship counselor. I used the word serve because I feel like the black family is dying and I would be serving my community by helping these relationships.

These are six careers that I would love to somehow or experience over my professional career… No, I cannot commit to just one because I feel like each one of them will bore me for more than ten years, better yet maybe even seven. Of course doing all of these jobs means that I would have to travel and constantly be on the go.

Personally…

This is the one I struggle with the most. I mean different things to different people so I tend to forget who I am in the process, or even worse I just stop caring…

I have noticed that relationships are the hardest things for me to maintain. I gain interest then I look for something to go wrong and use whatever reason I find as a excuse to leave before I get attached. (I know cowardly) I have come across some amazing women and I either find a reason why I am not attracted to them or a reason why they are “too good for me”. (Yeah I know its a little crazy)

I mean I would love to start a GOD fearing FAMILY with the white picket fence, the 2.5 children, and the pet. However, in the same breath, the idea of that scares me. Think about that for one second… (Pondering moment) That means I would have to stick to a routine for the rest of my life!! I am a millennial though, routines are against the rules and the idea of five to seven marriages is just insane, along with tiring. So what’s a man to do? Just let each of these possible life changing women just slip from grasp without a fight? At what point does the millennial thing not apply?  I have been doing this for a while and it’s kind of pathetic, but I am not willing to do anything about it.

Should I have to though?

These are just some of my thoughts. It goes a little deeper, but I am not ready to get that deep. Tell me what you think or if you dis/agree.