is i’m enough?

love, intelligence, & belonging

Nayyirah Waheed quote

I spent October frantic and reeling over the long overdue demise of my romantic relationship, a web of sticky grief and anxiety punctuated by bouts of longing and hatred. My nightmares trickled into November, now minted as the month of quiet rage and indifference and — on a more positive note — healing and reflection. I have a deep love of ritual and metaphysics, and this is that time of year, so I made a very short list of major goals using the 1–3–5 rule. I’m not gonna list my goals here, since they are a bit too personal, but I will say that I’m looking forward to 2017, even with a Trump presidency looming.

My relationship was a relief to finally let go of, mainly because the lack of quality communication and emotional intelligence on his end made me question my worth. I began to pick fights out of boredom and jealousy at any shred of attention he willingly gave to anyone else while withholding from me. The more distance I felt, the more emotion I gave. The more I gave, the more he recoiled. The long distance didn’t help and the lack of balance fucked with my ability to fully see myself. I second guessed every decision I made, including the initial act of breaking it off, which led me to make some really shitty impulsive choices and prolonged my suffering. There is something about my upbringing and subsequent experiences that has led me to (mistakenly) associate suffering with love. I have to get better at maintaining my gates.

I started this blog after all that. I have always been intelligent and addicted to the acquisition of knowledge. As a socially anxious child, gathering knowledge was mostly done by reading books and comics. After I left home, I became sort of an experience junkie, collecting a wide variety of moments ranging from positive to never wanna experience that shit again. This is my third blog and I’m aiming for longevity with this one. (Of my previous two blogs, one was fun but too dependent upon social validation, and the other just never got off the ground.) I decided this blog was to be a culmination of all these experiences and more, a space for women like me, who are black and questioning, who are Other, who think they are ugly, who are hoes, who are emotional and intuitive, thinkers and feelers. I don’t like making a tight distinction between emotion and logic, because it feels very… unnatural. It also feels very much geared toward the separation of sexes if we are speaking in binaries, with being emotional obviously marked as feminine, irrational, and therefore lesser.

My knowledge is pretty extensive; sex work, content curation and effective research, black feminism/womanism, afrofuturism, black women’s art and literature, and gender are my deepest interests. Most of the things I know I know from my own research, practice and independent study. The only useful things I learned through formal education are reading, arithmetic, how to annotate and study, and the importance of citing sources. Everything else was rote and repetitious. It took a lot of reading and late night college debates to dismantle a childhood of obedience and middle class schooling — to learn to think critically. I first did it by being a contrarian, taking on the opposite (usually radical) opinion in a debate on purpose in order to provoke a more interesting discussion. College was the first time I was truly able to speak freely and engage with my peers in a less judgmental way than in high school. I avoided cliques preferring to befriend people from different social subsets. I am forever a loner. Avoiding cliques helps me to mostly avoid groupthink, though I am certainly not completely immune to wanting to belong.

Still, I worry that my intelligence is not enough without a degree. In a lot of people’s minds a degree is what cements one’s smartness and worth. I prefer to prove my worth in more tangible ways. I also dislike the idea of being an academic. It seems too constraining and time consuming for someone like me who wants to turn ideas into comics and uses AAVE unironically in intellectual conversations. I am the epitome of ratchet intellectual, a low class artisan skilled in wordcraft, digital portraiture and the art of survival. Also, I really cannot afford to finish school. Hell, I couldn’t afford to go period. I have no idea how my loans are going to get paid. (But I have to figure it out because about half are federal loans.) Part of me always felt like I had to finish school in order to prove myself. But I realized recently that school was actually a comfort thing for me, preventing me from fully living my life the way I want to. I realized: I am afraid. I have allowed school to keep me from truly starting and pursuing my goals. It keeps me in the “aspiration stage,” and makes everything I do feel unfinished due to a lack of degreed confirmation.

I am not so desperate to belong to that elite section of society anymore. I used to think that I needed a degree and other people to validate my worth as an artist, scholar or partner. But I have realized that the only person whose approval I truly needed is my own. I am committed to growth and to my dreams. And I am enough for me.

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