On Sacrifice + Feeling Like It Wasn’t Worth It.

Is everything I’ve lost worth it? I often have to sit and down and ask myself this over and over again while hearing the echoes of laughter in between class periods. Somehow, I always manage to convince myself that everything happened for a reason.

How have the last few years helped, hurt, and shaped me? Has it been for the better? Or have I only caused myself turmoil and confusion that I easily could’ve avoided?

I don’t know. But as I look back, things sure have changed dramatically.

As I float through time, and life begins to feel more and more like nailing jello to a tree, I wonder: did it ever have to be this hard? Was this always the plan?

Once again, I don’t know.

*sigh*

How many college kids I know have had to get up everyday and make the difficult decision between their identity and their education?

Why did I?

Survival is a bitch. It makes you do things you never would’ve done, simply to get through the day. At the end, it makes you bitter…and angry. Angry at the world; angry at all you’ve had to live through; angry at everyone else who sat back and nonchalantly watched your misery unfold. Just angry.

Life has a way of bring that out of us sometimes.

How has my view of the world changed? How have I become less..of myself?

Although I’m near the end of the road, I often find myself struggling and clinging on to who I could’ve been. I feel lost. I feel confused. I keep wanting to re-do the past and re-think the last few years.

Maybe that’s what life transitions do to us. Strip us naked and make us feel vulnerable.

But at what point do I name everything that I’ve experienced? At what point do I realize that waking up each day aching with dread and disappointment was not normal? That being only a shell of myself in the classroom was unique, but actually really common for a black girl like me?

At what point do I stop surviving and begin standing in the midst of all my experiences?

How do I say “no more” to faculty and professors while releasing the fear of angering them all?

How do I tell other kids to leave their identity at the door in order to be respected? To succeed?

Being a brown face in a white room for the last few years has been daunting, and most of all degrading. What was the point of it all? What did I really earn out of all of this? Was it all done in vain?

For the last four years I have been on thisreally lonely journey of trying to make representation possible. And I, more often than not, found myself extending my limbs out further than they could ever possibly reach for the sake of making space that no one wanted to save — for the “rest of us”

The “others”.

Sometimes I want to tell my people to stop giving in to who this world wants us to be..

But what could I really say to them anyway? Because I’m standing here now, fragmented, socially bruised, and psychologically broken… trying to mend the pieces of a painful fight that I’m worried I ended up losing anyway.

But as time winds down, I realize that sulking in my own confusion and “this” and “thats” can no longer be this quiet, silent matter.

It has always been a political one.

Today, I own my experiences, and I share them because…although I’m only one brown face in a sea of a few, my story matters.

And all I can say is “run, run, run while you can in one piece”.

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The school bell rings and I close my notebook and look into the faces of my peers as class abruptly begins. My consciousness slowly fades to a gray, misty haze as I find myself one step closer to…my diploma.

| Instagram: @careyjohnna

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| Carey is a senior at the University of Oklahoma studying entrepreneurship with a minor in african american studies and social justice. She is a founder, writer, and photographer. Clearly, she’s ready to graduate. Check out her personal site here.