20 things i learned in my 20s

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turning 30 means i get to bid farewell to my 20s. was it awesome? absolutely. i mean, it was a fruitful decade. i played in college, took up my first job, played more in grad school, still drowning in student loans, collected unemployment, romance came and went, increasingly called my mother more, and meditated through a lot of sh*t. amazingly i’ve gathered so much good advice from wading through all the muck and confusion that i feel it’s my human duty to pay it forward.

the best part about leaving my 20s behind is that I get to check all these lessons off my list and take them with me into my 30s! i’m tempted to believe that it’s smooth sailing from here on out but it’s probably best to take it one decade at a time.

20 lessons (new) (10)

* finger snaps and share widely if you can relate *

“for women who are ‘difficult’ to love”

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all poetic credits go to the talented warsan shire, a 25-year old somali kenyan poet who resides in london. learn more about her background here. this poem speaks truths that resonate in the center of a powerful woman, while in its short prose navigates the sensual, destructive, and strange journey of love. dedicated to consciously awake women, and those who love them.

for women who are difficult to love 2 (3)

Student Debt on Al Jazeera America

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A TV segment I recorded with Al Jazeera America’s Inside Story discussing my personal student loan debt story, and the greater implications of student debt on Americans. Panelists include Natalia Abrams from studentdebtcrisis.org, David Bergeron from Center for American Progress, and Neil McCluskey from Cato Institute.

What do you think about student loan debt? Do you have a story to share? The forthcoming website http://www.ourdebtstory.is will offer a safe and open forum for you to share it.

my debt story

mydebtstory
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april is financial literacy month. all opinions about relegating an important topic to one month aside, here’s why this is important to me:
I owe $85,000 in student loans and i’m not really sure how i got here.

the news of the US student loan debt industry topping $1 trillion came coincidentally at a time when i was puzzling over mine (which, admittedly, feels as though it might as well be $1 trillion.) the slow unraveling of my student loan debt history reveals to me multiple layers of poorly-informed decisions, combined with inadequate information and resources, paving the way for what feels like a lifetime of loan payments.

so here it is, i’m coming out with my student debt story.

from conversations with mentors, colleagues, and friends, i know that i am not alone. what is your student debt story? what do you wish you had known or had access to when you made your student loan decisions? how do we better equip our youth with information and tools to make smart choices?

love is: complicated

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…the fall breeze blows her hair back as she lifts her gaze in perfect sync to meet his eyes, strolling past each other with heat, passion, and desire shared only in distance. instantly, time slows, noise fades, and love flares in the romantic union of two strangers. all in 3 minutes and 23 seconds, because that’s how long your favorite 90s r&b music video lasts.

my first impression of love was exactly that – passionate, flawless, instant, sexy, and easy – all the time. thanks to monica, erykah badu, avant, jagged edge, and the occasional salt-n-pepa, i inherited this fantastical perception of romantic love. what does your version of romantic love look like? #boysweepsgirloffherfeetandintoeverlastinglove

loveiscomplicated

so we go through life expecting love is perfect all the time; so perfect that we cannot live without it. we will know it when it comes. it will feel so right we cannot deny it. it will come so strong we cannot resist. it will not hurt or break us because nothing that is perfect or right should. it should not require work because perfect love should be easy. we experiment in relationships with such standards, often being fulfilled at the start, but time inexplicably throws a curveball, snapping us back to the reality that i am imperfect; more unsettling, he is imperfect?! and so we become gravely disappointed because as it turns out, our relationship is flawed, difficult at times, and permanently under construction.

in her workshop titled Romantic Love vs. Everyday Disappointment, dr. judith simmer-brown offers a deeper explanation of romantic love in the West:

Romantic love has become a kind of religion in Western culture. First of all, romantic love thrives on separation. The unattainable love is the most attractive one—someone who is married to someone else, living in a distant city, or in a nexus of the forbidden. The girl or boy next door is not a good candidate for romantic fantasy, and neither is one’s spouse. Separation makes the heart grow fonder and more passionate, because with separation the fantasy of the lover can be kept alive. 

Secondly, romantic love is frightfully impersonal. We are looking for our “type”—an intellectual, a jock, an ethereal blonde. Our typing can become very subtle, including our lover’s taste in clothes or way of walking. But we are in love with a fantasy; the person of the lover is absent. It actually helps not to have the person around too much, because they might destroy the fantasy.

gradually, the expectations of romantic love get out of hand, out of reach, and unrealistic. mom wisely cautioned that love is not about laughing at each others’ jokes all the time, at which point i scoffed, thinking how could he not find me funny, all the time?! (just kidding, i don’t think my mom ever cautioned that, though she did share something equally profound.) #howdomomsknowsomuch

turns out, the kind of love that sticks is a lot less romantic and a lot more real. the kind that hurts, breaks, makes mistakes, offends, apologizes, needs work, requires alone time, warrants self-help books, and mends with a deeper understanding of the self and the partner. the stuff so raw you just can’t make up. but really, if the obamas’ marriage is an ongoing negotiation, i can’t imagine who’s isn’t.

manifesting my life entrepreneur

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as I move into a phase of self- and career-exploration, and become more open to unconventional career paths, I am soaking up every story shared in this book and have learned the following three things:

1) the best way to discover your passion in innovation and your entrepreneurial spirit is to start with what frustrates you. no matter how big or small, ask yourself – what gets under your skin? for me, these came to mind – a system that allows young students to graduate with hefty student loan debts, lack of accountability for employers, a society that heavily favors extroverted personalities and ways of thinking, poorly designed road signs…I can go on and on. decided to delve a little further in the first one that came to mind. exciting things happened there.

2) moments of revelation come in the smallest, least climatic settings. the founder of cranium had a moment of revelation while playing board games with his wife and friends on a rainy day. the games were too one-dimensional and winner-takes-all for him, thus cranium was born. don’t discount any small revelation.

3) break away from our default state of “presentism” and dare to think of a world vastly different from today’s. instead of nibbling around the edges, think bold, think not how we could improve what we do now, but how we can do what we’ve never done before.