Sometimes when we can’t find space for our unique talents, we feel pressured to place ourselves into boxes that don’t represent who we truly are. When participating in blogging surveys, I always felt uncomfortable because I didn’t fit into the pre-defined blogger categories of “Beauty, Entertainment, Fashion, Lifestyle, Travel, Food, Technology, or DIY.” I was forced to place a check next to “Other,” without any opportunity to write that I am an inspirational blogger.
Today I kicked off my week long birthday celebration by writing inspirational notes on brown paper bags for the homeless. #HashtagLunchbagDC is a non-profit that meets monthly to assemble sandwiches and package them with fruit and water inside of bags covered in love notes. When the lunches are complete, half are delivered to a shelter in D.C. and the remaining is distributed by volunteers who walk a mile from Gallery Place to McPherson Square giving them to anyone who wants one.
These lunches aren’t only nourishment, they are happiness. Every person I met during the distribution expressed their gratitude through words or a smile. Unbeknownst to them, I was equally as grateful for them allowing me to serve and bring an ounce of joy to their day.
Since high school, I’ve always wanted to share the stories of others in hopes that they will be an inspiration to my readers. That goal encouraged me to pursue journalism in college.
My friends insisted that I should not only focus on stories from other people but also share my story because there was power in it. For years I neglected to own my story until creating Don’t Die Afraid. Even after creating this space, I still disregarded the power of my story. Lately, I’ve been prancing in my truth. I am literally unstoppable. Whether it is, standing boldly in front of large audiences, sharing ounces of it through Twitter chats, or curating events with intimate small groups- I am taking advantage of every moment possible.
Months ago I had the pleasure of volunteering for The Naturalista Hair Show under the leadership of Angela M. Walker. I love volunteering at events because I enjoy helping the vision of others come to fruition. In contrast to attendees who only see the masterpiece, volunteers get to see all the working parts behind it. I observed the way Angela gave directions, addressed unexpected hiccups, and executed the event. Let me tell you, it looked effortless! Angela was calm the whole time; I had to find out what her secret was so I scheduled a lunch date with her.
Your values and education are two possessions that cannot be stolen from you. Luckily for Malala Yousafzai, education is one of her top values and in spite of every obstacle she has encountered, she has made a clear statement that she will persevere.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with her courageous story, let me give you a five sentence summary: Malala was born in Swat Valley, Pakistan to parents who helped nurture her love for knowledge and learning. In 2009, the Taliban increased its influence in Pakistan and made several demands: a ban on television and music, women were’t allowed to shop, and Malala’s father Ziauddin had to close his school. Regardless of those demands, Malala and her father continued to speak out about the importance of education and her fearlessness enabled her to receive Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize.
Resilient Foster is a new feature on Don’t Die Afraid that highlights individuals who have a connection with the foster care system. These individuals will share with us their experiences as a foster child, parent, or advocate. This feature was spurred by a post about foster care on Monica’s page (the Monica, as in The Boy is Mine Monica).
The comment section was filled with stories from those impacted by the foster care system. I instantly knew that their stories couldn’t remain in the comment section, they needed a larger platform so people can read about their resilience and learn ways to get involved. After that, I reached out to all of them and a select view responded sharing their interest in my project; and that is how I gave birth to “Resilient Foster”, these stories are truly dynamic and will be debuting on the blog soon.
Happy New Year!
The best way to start this year is by owning your unique voice. Yes it sounds very basic and you may think, “I talk every day, how am I not owning my voice?” You might be talking every day, but are you owning every word you say?
I will be the first to admit that in 2015, I failed to own my voice. I allowed my voice to be trapped by self-doubt. The evidence of that can be easily seen on this blog, there are so many drafts saved because after I began writing them, I got distracted by school and thought to myself, “Nobody is going to read this anyway, so it is fine if I don’t finish it.”