2019 will go down in history as the most trying and transformative year I’ve ever experienced. I cried more than I have ever cried in any other year. I felt everything: betrayal, fear, jealousy, love, longing, happiness and sadness. It got to a point where in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarter of this year, I’d feel ALL those things in one day, every day.
2019 was trying for me up until the Sunday before November when I started being open and honest about some life experiences that I’ve been in denial about. Since that day, I’ve felt liberated from a lot of things that anchored me down. But the testing didn’t stop there.
2 weeks after, I received unexpected news that a very important person in my life-a dear friend, a mentor, a sister to me and a colleague, had lost her battle to cancer. I was shook. Devastated. This loss is so profound and while the grieving period is nowhere near over, I know that her spirit, Jessica Ishikawa, lives through me in so many ways.
Today, I want to share with you some monumental moments of this year.
LEARNING TO SAY NO
I stood up for myself through a previous business relationship by saying no and cutting it off. It was hard because it was a hand that fed me, but I contemplated it for a while and worked to ensure I was prepared for any backlash. It ended fairly well, although, technically, I am still owed a couple thousand dollars from work that was done and have lost money because of that.
What I learned from it is to truly assess the person you’re potentially doing business with. I compromised a lot of my core values to only end up being tied to someone I was embarrassed to be associated with.
*I know that it’s not easy to say no to money when you need it. That’s particularly the main reason why I put up with this relationship for as long as I did. I didn’t have a lot of options and decided to exercise my survival mode by sticking around for as long as I could while growing myself until I no longer needed to JUST maintain, but to thrive.
DISCOVERING MY PERSONAL LEGEND
Last year, I talked about wanting to become more vocal about representation, culture, diversity and inclusion and I’ve done so mainly through API Curls. I started this without a true idea of where I wanted to go and have received positive feedback. It was very encouraging to see people participate by using the hashtag (#APICurls). It can sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about representation, culture, community and identity, but I believe in this and I feel confident being vocal about it.
What I’m learning is that more and more people have expressed to me that they feel validated because I take the initiative to talk about these things. 2019 was the beginning, and dare I say, the trial run, of what API Curls could be. I’m much more convinced now that I can’t leave such needed work at JUST a hashtag which is why I’m going to operate under the belief that my curly hair journey has led me to discover my personal legend.
FACING MY FEARS
I pushed myself mentally by being more proactive about discussing and analyzing my traumatic experiences. I’m much more vague when talking about it publicly, but those who are closest to me have insight as to what’s been going on as well as the specifics. Most of what made 2019 trying and transformative had to do with all of this.
A lot of things resurfaced. A lot of tears were shed. A lot of anxiety attacks happened. But I did make a very important breakthrough. I did reach a turning point. The last quarter of this year was when things turned around. I felt seen. I realized all my worth. And I was no longer afraid of being judged for all the wrong in my life and how it’s shaped who I am today.
I was at a “women’s wellness” appointment when, with a random doctor, I found the courage to speak my truth, and in doing so, I was given kindness and comfort I had been seeking for a while. I’ve been free ever since.