Don’t be bitter, dear. [A Thanksgiving Reflection]

At one point, my mother read a book called Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Clarissa looks at all the archetypes of women in mythology, especially that of what she calls the “wild woman” archetype, and discusses what modern women can draw from these mythologies in their daily lives. One day, my mother and I were painting and listening to the audio book when Estes said: “There is a time in our lives, usually in mid-life, when a woman has to make a decision – possibly the most important psychic decision of her future life – and that is, whether to be bitter or not.”

At first I didn’t get it, so my mom explained that there’s a point in your life when you realize that more of your life is behind you than ahead of you. Did you fulfill your dreams exactly as you pictured them when you were 18? If not, are you gonna be bitter about it?

Since my grandmother is the least bitter person I know, I asked her why she isn’t bitter. Surely, tough life experiences have given her license to be bitter.

She’s thinking about it.

I’m just 18. More of my life lies ahead of me than behind me (I hope), and my dreams – learning to illustrate and publishing a graphic novel in poetry about my life, making it to compete in Brave New Voices, moving to New York City – can still be as big as my imagination wants them to be. Yes, I have depression and anxiety and I can be a tiny bit grumpy sometimes when things don’t go my way, but some days I wake up just happy to be here in a place where Nora McInerny exists, and I can get up and bicycle through town anytime I want, and I have access to a world-class podcast studio where I can say and publish whatever the heck I want, and I have friends who will go ice skating with me.

Maybe I’m looking at this from a place of privilege, but to wake up and realize that I live in a world where people like Nora McInerny and R exist and smile because of it, though, is a choice even at 18. Sometimes I wake up and put on my leather jacket and Batman hat in 70-degree weather. I convince myself that the world is against me, so I might as well give up now. My life becomes a Lifetime drama, opera music and all. I reach out to people without being specific about what I need, but hoping for some kind of reaction of pity and shock. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if I actually were the victim, rather than the person who chose to react in a certain way to life events?

In the next stage, I get a sign from God or my therapist and the epiphany hits me again: I am the master of this ship, and I’m the one leading it straight to hell.

“So, don’t,” says my therapist, or some variation of that.

From now on, this one Maya Marie shall be the most resilient and joyful of them all, writing poetry, fighting for social justice, drop-kicking bad guys, and living her life to the fullest.

I recently had to make a tough decision and I chose the one that I think is going to put me in the best zone for my overall mental health in the long run using all the information I had at the time (pro-con list and all), but I sacrificed a lot and it hurts like heck.

My therapist says it be like that sometimes. She says that every choice is a sacrifice, but at least there is comfort in knowing that I exercised my power in making it. She says to claim my power and joy by accepting that life is not perfect but frequently painful.

So that’s my wisdom for today, future daughter: Life is not perfect but frequently painful.

Accept.

Commit.

And don’t be bitter, dear.

Watch this space.

Love,

M

I’m okay. And so are you. (a pep talk)

Without the dark there isn’t light. Without the pain there is no relief.

I have a confession to make: I routinely email my favorite authors detailing all the dramas of my personal life.

Let me explain.

Continue reading “I’m okay. And so are you. (a pep talk)”

The Gay Purge (insert ominous theme music)

The other day, four colleagues and I had a heated discussion in the VOX ATL podcast studio over whether sexism still exists and what it means to be a feminist. We covered everything from Meryl Streep bruising the egos of men everywhere to that NASA guy who wore a shirt covered in pictures of half-naked women to an interview and even furries. I’ll link to the podcast as soon as it comes out.

Continue reading “The Gay Purge (insert ominous theme music)”

A walk of privilege in which I end up in the front

Last Saturday, I got my official advocacy training for the Partnership Against Domestic Violence (yay!). I can finally get started with the internship now! I have started!

In case you didn’t get the notification from my Linked In update, PADV has taken me on as one of their Teen Prevention Interns, which means I get to go to high schools and after school organizations and whatnot and talk to teenagers about teen dating violence, the warning signs, and what to do if God forbid you find yourself in that situation.

The training was heavy and enlightening and I took copious notes (thank you, high school history teacher, for teaching me how to fill a notebook) and also took notice of how the facilitators facilitated and how the activities they used for a general volunteer training could translate into teen dating violence contexts (thank you, VOX adult guide-on-the-side, for teaching me to always be META meta).

And then.

Continue reading “A walk of privilege in which I end up in the front”

How to Stay Sane in Freshman Year: a Q&A with the Girl Who Didn’t

In the spring semester of 2017, when I was 16, I wrote an article of tips for how to get through your first year of college sane. In the spring semester of 2018, I was admitted into 72-hour-suicide-watch in a locked hospital for wanting to die too much. I figure that pretty much makes me an authority on college students and mental health.

In the article, I had written that suicide is the third leading cause of death among college students. That is still true, and it’s a fact I can now relate to personally. If you’re entering college soon, mental illness is probably something you or someone you know will be able to relate to as well.

Let’s talk.

Continue reading “How to Stay Sane in Freshman Year: a Q&A with the Girl Who Didn’t”

Gap year update #1: Dancing to Smells Like Teen Spirit. Or, August.

I get to start the day at 8am by kissing my mom on the forehead. I can proceed to open all the windows and light all the candles: Not Your Mama’s Fudge. Lavender. Sherlock’s Study.

If I feel particularly inspired, I sit down at my desk to pen this story. And why not? I have all the time in the world.

Continue reading “Gap year update #1: Dancing to Smells Like Teen Spirit. Or, August.”

Open letter to HB/Be Still and Know

Dear Hannah Brencher,

I’m opening this two days later and you’ve got my writing brain firing and I have to say: shave off ten years give or take, get a bit of sun, and convert to Islam and we’re basically the same person. And, apologies in advance for the soppy story. I’m gambling on the hope that we never meet in person so we don’t have to make small talk when you already know all this, and on the hope that you’re not actually an evil person who will post all this on instagram and tag me. Continue reading “Open letter to HB/Be Still and Know”

Project: Save Georgia from the Trumpness

Yesterday, at the top of the hormone roller coaster, I texted my friend/mentor, “I feel like a person today!”

Woohoo!

Whereas last week consisted of lots of tears and sitting in bed, this week consisted of colorful dreams, hope for the future, battles with estrogen, trips to the vet’s office, awkward conversations about vomit, and marketplace adventures.

So what does it mean to feel like a person?

I’m currently working on about four projects: keeping this blog up to date and wonderful, applying to at least 15 jobs before Monday, freelancing, and getting every Muslim in Georgia to vote by harnessing the power of social media. Continue reading “Project: Save Georgia from the Trumpness”

More than Coffee: My Life Between Black and White

When I learn about history, I see myself standing in Ghana with the bloody Atlantic washing at the backs of my feet, looking ahead at the white castles where my ancestors must have been taken. When I visit the castles, what will I feel? Guilt or grief? Vanilla or chocolate? Vanilla or chocolate? Since I have never met my black father or traced back that side of my history, are my roots forever snipped? Can I claim this story as my own? If I come from a white family that is comfortably middle class, does that mean I have white privilege? What if my ancestors owned slaves? Is this what race means? Having questions without any right answers and asking them anyway?

Continue reading “More than Coffee: My Life Between Black and White”