Photo by Jeffery Erhunse on Unsplash


We get so caught up in the idea that for some reason that these major milestones in life are supposed to happen sequentially, and within every 3-5 business days.


If you’ve been hiding under a rock or if you’re a billionaire, then time has basically stood still since March. I feel like these next few (or several) blog posts that I write will have some level of me grappling with the idea of time. So, brace yourselves beloved. We’re in this together. With that being said, I was thinking to myself yesternight, as I was washing dishes and preparing for the week ahead, that I’ve basically been, “last off the bench” most of life, or so I thought. Meaning, that in almost every area of my life at some point, I have felt as though things do not either work as quickly or go as smoothly as I would’ve hoped for and I was the “last” to experience certain societal “milestones”. In my younger mind (literally 5 months ago), I used to think I was the “last” to get a boyfriend, have my first kiss, get my own place, get married, start my career and get a job, get a car, get funding for school and so forth. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “Loy how can you possibly say that, when you got a whole PhD?” Sounds like “First World” problems, right?

For one thing, my value is not based on my PhD, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t think that it did in the past. I’ve compared myself to myself most of my life, but every now and again, I would scroll through social media or even look through LinkedIn to see where my peers and colleagues were in their careers (judge yo mama, don’t judge me). A good number of us have all looked to our peers and other people to see how they have progressed in life, in relation to our own progression. I don’t do it often, but I’ve done it enough times, whereby I start questioning my own accomplishments and achievements. Let me also say, I was more prone to do this when I was more mentally and emotionally vulnerable and sensitive.

In some respects, there was a slight stall and delay in my professional and personal life. Whether that’s on my part on the professional side of things, for not “properly” and efficiently navigating the workspace, or more of the issues surrounding structural and institutional racism—most likely both. Like I’ve said before, having a PhD doesn’t guarantee you professional success, whatsoever.  However, a lot of my “last off the bench” reflections revolve around the most relatable human needs—love and partnering and then money and jobs. As human people, we want to feel loved, be loved, and if you are not a selfish mofo, you want to give love, but in the same breadth we also want and need income that allows us to meet our basic human necessities and also plan for the future.

What I’ve now come to realize is that I was never actually the last off the bench. Matter of a fact, there is no actual bench. My time to experience certain things in life, just did not happen yet. We get so caught up in the idea that for some reason that these major milestones in life are supposed to happen sequentially and within every 3-5 business days. A lot of it has to do with how the internet and social media has added to the pressure and the idea that struggle and challenge should be minimal as you journey through life, when in all actuality, it simply ebbs and flows. Good and great things will happen to you, and not-so-good and bad things will happen as well. Your goal is to ride the wave as best you can and enjoy the scenery during the journey.

Here are 4 things that you should keep in my mind if ever you feel like you were once like me in thinking that you were the “last off the bench”:


What’s yours is yours

In my time on this Earth, I’ve come to the conclusion that everything that was ever for me, was and is for me. Nothing of mine belongs to anyone else and whatever someone else has, is not for me. You want to have your own things and your own stuff, that way you will treat it well and appreciate it more.

Time is irrelevant

Wheew! This right here is a sermon. Time is generally a social construct that capitalistic ideals and entities have manipulated for us to believe that we are bound to it. When you let go of the idea of timelines and that everything needs to work a certain way, during a particular time, you really begin to live. That does not mean to not be conscious of time, but rather to be mindful of it and don’t let it control you.

Preparation is KEY

If you don’t prepare yourself for what you want in life, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. If this simply means being more disciplined in reading up on your interests, passions and career, then do it. At minimum it can only enhance your knowledge on the subject. You won’t know everything and you will never be 100% prepared, but you will have more confidence in what you bring to the table and in yourself. You will also be more ready for your time to shine, than you would’ve been if you didn’t prepare yourself for those opportunities. 

You hold the Power

I can’t stress this enough. We are living in a time where so many of us feel powerless and hopeless, but one thing that remains, is that we each hold our own individual power and agency, and at any given time,  we can do better for ourselves, our families, and our communities. Power does not lie solely in the material. The most impactful type of power is your inner peace, resilience and ability to commit to wanting to be a better version of yourself in all aspects of life. That’s real power.





Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash


Being present can be challenging and you are not required to do it 24/7 and it’s unrealistic and humanly impossible to be present all the time and to require someone to do so. Giving to your people should be a bilateral relationship, that can be mutually beneficial to whoever is involved, but giving of yourself requires you to be okay with doing it, but also be okay with the fact that you may not get the same back in return.

I titled this blog post “Giving to Your People” because I realized a lot of us don’t understand what that actually means. The act of giving in my opinion is a fundamental part of human interaction and engagement. In some ways it’s almost part of our payment to live life on Earth. Last week I wrote about needing, finding and choosing your people, but this week I want to focus on giving to your people, which to me is not only being present with your peeps, but also to be able to fulfill those friendship needs.

Different people need and require different things from you and vice versa. Most of us don’t communicate exactly what we need well enough, which in actuality is really because we don’t even know what it is, we need from people. Being present can be challenging and you are not required to do it 24/7 and it’s unrealistic and humanly impossible to be present all the time and to require someone to do so. Giving to your people should be a bilateral relationship, that can be mutually beneficial to whoever is involved, but giving of yourself requires you to be okay with doing it, but also be okay with the fact that you may not get the same back in return. Yeah, that part definitely sounds janky, but it’s the truth. You have to look at it as personally pouring into someone’s overall wellness, and positive energy you’re giving out and at some point you will get back.

There are several ways that we all give to one another. It’s a little reminiscent of the very popular book by Gary Chapman, “5 Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate”. In the book Chapman describes the 5 love languages as, words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Just like romantic partnerships, friendships and relationships in your social groups can fall into these categories. Personally, I believe that most of us like a little bit of everything and it is not a black and white thing. For example, some people in your social group might just like a simple text message, a phone call, getting dinner together, while someone else may like small gifts or sitting with them on the couch watching tv (couch-lounging is definitely showing up a lot in this series, huh?). It all depends on the person.

In all of this, it is vital to be present, but not to your detriment. I often do mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical check-ins with myself because what I realized is that if one of those four things are out-of-balance, I tend to suffer the consequences. I typically do check-ins daily and weekly, to make sure your girl is good. I am the queen of texting, “Hey guys, I’ll be offline for a couple days, to get balanced,” and I do this to be transparent but also to let my friends know that I’m okay but need to step back a little bit. You have to make sure you draw your boundaries and monitor your wellness.

As humans we desire and to some degree need validation from our loved ones in our social and familial circles. Giving to your people is a great way to show you care and also show support to your loved ones. Below are some elements of giving to your people that I believe can be helpful to the think about in order for you to be more present in your friend and social groups.


Giving to your people should not feel like a chore

When you give to your people and it feels like it’s a struggle, invokes some level of negative emotions, or you just simply don’t want to, then don’t. If it’s like pulling teeth for you to be present and give of yourself to your people, then please my friend, abort mission. The flipside to this, however, is that the more you give the more you get used to it, but also it makes you feel good.


Giving to your people should come from your heart

The act of giving should come from a place of honest and earnest human compassion, thoughtfulness and care for someone else. It makes it easier for you, when giving comes from your heart but also it connects you differently to the human experience.


Giving to your people means you give when or if you can

Sometimes you may not have anything to give, both literally and figuratively, hence why it is so important to check-in on yourself regularly. Don’t feel pressured to give and be present. I’ve had moments when I had to completely step away from my loved ones for weeks at time because I was emotionally and mentally drained from other things.  Other times I wanted so desperately to do more for them by sending a small gift of something I know they would need and like, but I didn’t have the money and had to prioritize other financial obligations.


Giving to your people is an act of selflessness

We all have had selfish moments and if you say you haven’t then you’re probably lying to yourself. Giving of yourself at any capacity should 9 out of 10 times be an act of selflessness, meaning your more concerned with the needs of other people, than your own. Selflessness increases your ability to love and show love to yourself and to people. I do believe it takes a particularly self-aware, strong, and kind person to be completely selfless, but certainly something we should all strive towards.


Giving to your people means you pay attention to their needs

Life requires and demands a lot from us on a continuous basis and sometimes you find yourself running on fumes, forgetting to take a break. That is where paying attention to the needs of your people is essential to be able to be there for them. This also means that a conversation needs to happen, asking what they need from you and what you need from them as a friend, as well.


Giving to your people should not be one sided

This is probably the one point that you were waiting to read. Yes, giving to your people should not be one sided, but sometimes it will be. There are times that someone might need you more than you need them because life has hit them so hard, that they can’t even be there for themselves properly. If your relationship is built on a solid and honest foundation, then in most cases that same friend will return the love and support to you eventually.


Giving to your people means you don’t keep track of how much you’ve given

One thing that many of us do, is we keep tabs of how much we have been there for someone else verses how much they have been there for us. This is a very human thing, but also can lead to an unhealthy level of comparison. If you get to a point that you feel you are there for someone more than they have been there for you, then most likely you might need to have a serious conversation with that person. However, when you give to others, you generally should not expect something in return because you are giving from the heart and showing that you honestly care for that person.


Giving to your people can help you with your own personal growth

Being there for people is an essential part of your personal growth because it stretches your capacity to care and love others. I believe one of the goals of this life is to be able to expand the level in which we connect with one another. This in turn can positively impact other areas of our lives, such as at work, school, and in our other relationships, making you more efficient and in-tune with those around you.


Giving to your people is a way to show that you care

A lot of people walk this planet, not knowing that someone out there actually cares about them, so for someone to show you that you matter and are loved in all your imperfect glory, is truly something beautiful.



Photo by Mohau Mannathoko on Unsplash


*Trigger Warning*: This blog post may contain triggering or sensitive material, especially during these times. Please be mindful when reading this post.


Have you ever thought about the people in your life and just felt so happy and lucky to have them around, or maybe the opposite? I definitely have, but it’s usually the former for me. The people that I’ve chosen to do life with, outside of blood relatives are a specifically curated, unique and loving bunch, that I’m rather blessed to have. Before I go any further, let me define what I mean by people. When I say people, I’m not talking about “Our People”, as in African descendent peoples, I’m talking about, Yoouuurr People. Your friends, plus your family or those who’ve become your family… your framily. Your confidants, your fellow couch loungers, your travel buddies, and whatever else you want to call them.These are not perfect relationships at all, but they are part of the intricate fabric that make up who you are. 

These are the people that you have shared some of your most intimate moments with and you’ve been there for each other in ways that even many family members have not. Although, I personally do not use this word, unless in very specific instances nor do I believe much in its usage (another story, for another day), many people call this, their tribe. If you think about the western definition of tribe, which is basically members of a community and society which can also include familial lineage, that essentially denotes a human social group that share the same culture, economic system, beliefs, language, dialect etc., then you can sort of understand why people refer to their own personal social groups as tribes.

Over the years I’ve come to cherish the community that me and my friends have built and the ones that I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of. Your people or community are an essential part of your growth and development as a person and finding and choosing your people is equally as important. Now I know it sounds a bit possessive and selfish-ish describing it as “finding” and “choosing” your people, but there is most certainly an element of being intentional about it.

The next few Well-Being blogs will be about Finding and Choosing Your People, Giving to Your People, and Losing Your People. In these very weird times we’re in, there are a few things that you can pay attention to when finding and choosing your people because we need them more than ever.


Your People can be found anywhere and in spaces you most frequent

A lot of times your people are already part of your community and the places you typically visit, but sometimes you can find your people when you randomly attend events, functions or running everyday errands. The people you naturally and organically connect with are often times the ones that you will have longer lasting relationships with.  


Your People enjoy your company and you have a good time with them

Who wants to be around people that act like they don’t even want you around? I know I sure don’t.  Your people give you good vibes, like having you around and like doing things with you, even when you all are just lounging on the couch, doing nothing.  


Your People show up and are present

Identify who has been there for you, showed up for you, and have been present. This is a really important aspect in finding your people. It is not easy to always be there for someone, it’s actually really hard to do because we are all so busy and have different daily responsibilities. However, it is always great, when people show up for you in the times you need them most or just because they were thinking about you.  


Your People wish you well and always want to see you win

Life is not easy but having a great and strong support system is vital, no matter the size. Your people want the best for you in all aspects of your life. They don’t wish you harm, but rather they want you to succeed and be the best you can possibly be. 


Your People Affirm you

They always let you know how great you are. Your people see the light in you and just how beautifully you were made, flaws and all. They see your potential  and affirm you.


Your People are concerned about your wellness and encourage and support healthy behaviors

When you’re not your normal self, your people notice. They won’t always get it right, nor is it their sole responsibility but when it comes to your wellness your people want you to live a healthy life, as much as possible. 


Your People don’t judge you and accept you as you are and where you are

They are people who you feel comfortable with sharing intimate things with and allow you to be your authentic-self. When you feel judged it can really impact your self-esteem and it becomes hard for you to share who you really are. Your People don’t want you to hide or play small.


Your People tell you the truth

They are honest, yet gentle in their truth-telling while giving you advice, their opinion and the support they give to you and your endeavors. One thing that people sometimes get wrong is that, when you tell the truth to someone it has to be told hostilely, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can communicate your thoughts and feelings without having to yell or belittle the other person. Your people will always keep it a buck with you and love on you in the process.


Your People challenge you

They are the ones that challenge you emotionally, mentally, intellectually, and also dare you to try new things. That does not mean that it’s always a mental exercise, but rather your people encourage you to see things from different perspectives and point-of-views that help you grow.





Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

As a black woman in America, it has always been hard for me to be seen and heard. Being in that store was reminiscent of a dream I’ve had before, when I am screaming and trying to get someone’s attention, but that person who is in the dream with me cannot hear me.


I’m going to start this blog post with a little story, of a situation that happened to me recently. In February I had a rather unpleasant and confusing experience at a bridal boutique, within a major hippie-chic clothing store, in a very “affluent” side of Maryland. I was there to place an order for a bridesmaid dress for the wedding of my good sistah-friend and former dope roomie aka former-roomie-bride-sistah-friend. I knew the exact color, size, and style I was supposed to be ordering because my dear former-roomie-bride-sistah-friend is meticulous. I walked in wearing my Delaware State University (DSU)-HBCU 1842 baseball cap and told the sales associates what I needed. I explained to them that there was a discount that was given to the bride and I mentioned her name, as I was told to do via our WhatsApp group chat. The first sales associate looked at me dumb-founded and said they did not have that color, nor do they keep notes of reservations of the brides that come in to place orders. Mind you, I know for a fact that my former-roomie-bride-sistah-friend was just in there 2-3 weeks prior. I had all the pic receipts and I even showed them the dress that one of the bridesmaids tried on the day they visited the store the first time. Every time I would talk, the sales associate got visibly more irritated and was committed to make me feel stupid or from what I vibed–she thought that I was trying to get over somehow. She continued to say they do not know the name of the bride I am talking about, and that they did not have the color of the dress I was looking for. I told her to ask another sales associate. She asked about 4 girls–they all said I was wrong. One of the girls, I later found out was the Assistant Store Manager. Before you ask, yes they were.

I had texted the group chat and nobody got back to me and I began to think maybe me, my former-roomie-bride-sistah-friend had it wrong. So I ended up ordering and paying more for the dress in that same style, with the new color that the sales associates convinced me was the correct color that I was looking for. I walked to my car feeling confused and uncomfortable. I looked at the receipt one last time and knew something was wrong. I got out of my car and started walking back to the store and then called my former-roomie-bride-sistah-friend and she was livid. She is a spicy and takes-no-ish type woman. I told her what happened and she said, “Loy you’re not wrong. They’re wrong.” Before I could get downstairs to the bridal boutique, she had already called and had it out with them. She called me back and said, “They should be looking for you to fix it”.


There could’ve been a slew of different issues that were present that made the sales associates respond to me the way they did. The number three thing being incompetence and poor training, but it’s the number one and number two thing that are the primary issues. Race and Class.

Come to find out, I was correct the entire time, and I was not “crazy”. The boutique manager came out and profusely started apologizing to me and said that she does not understand why none of the sales associates in the store did not listen to me and still placed the order because now the wrong dress was making its way to my house. She literally showed me the iPad with all the notes from my former-roomie-bride-sistah-friend’s initial bridal reservation, including all the details of the color of the dress, the large number of bridesmaids (hence why we were getting a discount in the first place), and other details pertaining to the then future orders that would be made by the other bridesmaids. So now, my social justice-DSU hat was on  and I also proceeded to lay into them as well. I asked for the names of the sales associates and let them know the level of invisibility I felt, let alone the feeling that I was in the wrong, stupid and crazy. The girls scattered when I said I needed names. They were embarrassed, but the main sales associate I dealt with came out of the back and said, “It turns out you were right after all.” I told her, “I was never wrong, to begin with”. She mysteriously got off her shift right after that interaction.

When I got back in my car and on the phone with my former-roomie-bride-sistah-friend, I asked her what she said to them, she said, “Loy, I told them that, Loy was trying to tell you this whole time what she needed, but you did not hear her. I told the manager that my bridal party is made up of all black women, and you need to be more conscious of certain things regarding people of different races and cultures, despite what you are used to in that store”. The store manger told my friend that they would be undergoing extensive training after this.

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash


As a black woman in America, it has always been hard for me to be seen and heard. Being in that store was reminiscent of a dream I’ve had before, when I am screaming and trying to get someone’s attention, but that person who is in the dream with me cannot hear me. These types of dreams almost always frighten me and I typically awaken in an anxious sweat. Now let me be clear, the event at the store did not incite any fear or anxiety because I meditate too much for foolishness like that to impact my peace-of-mind, but what it did do, was bring to the surface the feelings of me often having to fight and force people to see me wholly.

At all times I am fully aware of my body and how I present. I’m tall, dark brown with gorgeous curves and a lot of times people have found it intimidating or unbecoming. The difference for me now at 30-something is I just don’t care what anyone thinks, but that does not mean I am not aware of it.

There could’ve been a slew of different issues that were present that made the sales associates respond to me the way they did. The number three thing being incompetence and poor training, but it’s the number one and number two thing that are the primary issues. Race and Class.

The sales associates just knew that I was wrong, despite my best efforts of showing them pictures of the dress taken in their store weeks before, showing them text messages with the reservation information, and repeatedly explaining myself. To them, I was an “uncommon customer” that had an “unusual set of requests”, so therefore my voice was not to be heard.

The dilemma of being African and black is that you are in this constant battle of refuting racial stereotypes, while also trying to affirm your own blackness and that of the collective. It is a very political existence. It is not seen as a human existence, but the experience of the other. Black women struggle to be humanized, to be seen as people who bleed, who cry, who hurt, who laugh, who feel, and who also have and are still greatly influencing and impacting humanity on a daily basis.

At what point do we begin to humanize black women? What does humanizing black women even look like? and Why do we even need to humanize black women, if all we get is the same old thing every single time?


Photo by  Kaylee Brayneon Unsplash


 …if we don’t find the sweetness in life, then we run the risk of living a very unfulfilled and unhappy existence. The thing about affirmations is that you have to believe what you are saying or rather, you repeat it enough times until you believe it.

It has been such a tough several weeks for all of us. I’m not sure if I have ever felt this uncertain about the future for me and my loved ones, and also the future of world. Everything is so up in the air because of COVID-19. Last week was up and down for me. I struggled to stay motivated and productive as news of the Coronavirus hit closer to home. I spent much of my time watching, reading and listening to news about the disease, while also trying to figure out how to get my family members who are abroad back to the States or making sure they’re taking the necessary precautions to keep them safe, all while fighting to keep my own sanity. Trust, this week I will not be doing that. It was a lot. Luckily, I had several virtual happy hours with my friends that really cheered me up.

When I am down in the dumps there are a few things I commit to doing despite how I may be feeling inside. Two of them being meditation and repeating my daily affirmations. I can’t tell you how much incorporating meditation and daily affirmations changed my life. For today’s blog post, I’m going to talk about affirmations; what they are, how I use them and why you should consider adding them to your arsenal of personal wellness tools.

Affirmations are not something new that sprouted out of nowhere. In various cultures there are oral traditions, sayings, scriptures, writings, stories, songs etc. that are used to encourage and guide people through life. Affirmations are a specific set of phrases and statements that are supposed to help you combat self-deprecating and negative self-talk and thoughts, that we are all guilty of. It is absolutely too easy to say and think negative things about yourself, especially with the way the world is set-up. The messages that we absorb from mainstream culture, as well as the historical periods that reinforced race, class, gender and other social forms of discrimination, have ultimately left us with obscured images of ourselves. Affirmations are meant to challenge all that mess, because it surely is a mess.

Before I even knew that there was an American term for what I called positive thinking and speaking life into myself and the situations I found myself in, I was exposed to my Luo cultural fables, stories and proverbs though my mother.  Just like any African or Black parent, she would use these proverbial expressions when I didn’t complete a chore, got bad grades, but specifically when I was sad or disappointed about something. In high school I started writing in my journals about how intelligent, beautiful and capable I was. I would either printout the words and phrases in big font or write them out on manilla paper and tape them on my closet door. Growing up as a taller, bigger, dark brown girl in an area where it wasn’t appreciated, you had to make sure to protect yourself the best you could.

The power of affirmations and why so many people stand by using them, is in the ability to change your perspective.

When I got my first job after college working at a call center on the non-profit side at a clinical research organization, processing applications for patients who could not afford medication for aggressive illnesses, I would take Post-It notes and tape them all over my computer with affirmations. The job was stressful because I had to reach daily metrics for processing applications and if we did not meet them, we would get reprimanded. I remember my favorite Post-It being, “Positive thinking, gets positive results”.


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The power of affirmations and why so many people stand by using them, is in the ability to change your perspective. A lot of things in life are out of our control, but the few things we actually do have control over are how we treat, think and feel about ourselves. Changing your perspective from a lack and deficit mindset, to a positive and abundance mindset will literally shift the way you see the world. We’ve all heard the adage, “Is the glass half-full or half-empty?” and it is the same exact concept. People’s perceptions shape how they see and view the world. This doesn’t mean that you live in la-la land and avoid reality, but it does mean that regardless of the outcome of whatever situation, you are committing to see the lesson and the positive aspects in everything you encounter. 

Life can absolutely suck sometimes, and we might be currently living in one of those very sucky moments, and finding sweetness when everything tastes sour is hard. However, if we don’t find the sweetness in life, then we run the risk of living a very unfulfilled and unhappy existence. The thing about affirmations is that you have to believe what you are saying or rather, you repeat it enough times until you believe it. It will take some time for you to get to a point whereby you actually believe what you are saying, but it feels so good when the words you repeat actually become powerful to you.

Here are some ways to start practicing and incorporating affirmations in your wellness routine and also some examples of affirmations I have used.

How to start using Affirmations:

  • Take some self-inventory about how much negative talk you say to yourself throughout the day. Jot it down each time you catch yourself talking down on yourself. Do this for one day or a few days. At the end of each day, count up the number of times and begin to reflect on why you say those things to yourself.
  • Write out and reflect on all the positive things that make you feel good about yourself and what you accomplished at the end of each day. This can be that you folded your laundry right away and didn’t wait to do it a week later, or you consistently drank more water throughout the week. Starting with these small things will help you see just how amazing you are. Not every accomplishment has to be big, but those smaller ones are some of the most important. 
  • Start formulating your affirmations with “I am…” and “I will…” statements, in areas of your life that you want to change for the better. This can be wanting to be a kinder person to yourself and others, or wanting to perform better at work or school.
  • Place your affirmations where you have easy access to them and you can see them daily and you can pull them out whenever you want.
  • Repeat them in the morning, during lunch, heading to work, before a meeting, during your workout, while washing dishes, before a date etc. Say them throughout the day, especially when you find yourself feeling low and thinking negatively.
  • Be patient and be kind to yourself. Commit to saying and repeating your affirmations daily, weekly, and monthly.



Examples of Affirmations:

“I am where I am supposed to be and I am learning valuable lessons and skills.”

“My body is beautiful as it is and everyday I do little things that contribute to my total wellness.”

“I am enough and I deserve to be here.”

“Everything that is meant for me is mine and is coming towards me and everything that is not, was not meant to be.

“I am not the things of my past because I am ever-evolving and growing.”

“Challenges are temporary and are designed to make me stronger and wiser.”

“I am prepared to give the best of myself in everything I do.”

“I let go of all the thoughts, things, and people that cause me pain and I am whole as I am.




Have you ever wondered why some of the people you know or come across give you bad vibes or you just can’t connect in a real and genuine way? When I was younger I didn’t even think that bad people existed, and there were people who simply did not like me or we were just unable to be friends. Clearly, you can see that I have had a lot of one-sided relationships, in which I was often trying to convince people to be friends with me. Definitely don’t do that. I’ve learned so much about how to best navigate those types of relationships and place boundaries, where need be. Since the Coronavirus has forced so many people to self-isolate, it also gives rise to necessary and in some ways unnecessary reflection. One of those personal reflective conversations people have is the idea of not being liked and feeling like they are not enough. We all want to be  liked by other people, or at the very least exercise the ability to formulate strong and healthy relationships.

I’m not a trained psychologist, counselor or psychotherapist, but I spend a lot of time studying, researching and observing how people connect with each other or what makes people not want to connect with one another, at different capacities, in my work. Personally, I’ve always been one that is excited to get to know people on a deeper level. How we connect, engage and interact with one another is essential to the individual and collective wellness of humanity. Within that same thought process, there are people that you will inevitably not get along with. This can make you feel down on yourself, as if something is wrong with you. I can be an idealist sometimes and I used to get in my feelings when I would finally realize someone did not like me, especially if I felt that I did not wrong them. A lot of times we do not actually know how we might’ve wronged someone else, so we walk aimlessly thinking everything is all good, when it is not. That is where good communication comes in.

My mother told me, if someone does not like you, and you are certain you did not hurt them, then it has less to do with you, and more to do with them. In reality, you can’t really know for sure if you have not wronged them, unless you have a serious conversation. How you choose to handle situations and relationships with people that do no like you is solely up to you, but in my opinion, it is the way you respond to them that is the most important for your personal growth. I always try to be more understanding with people when I know for a fact they are not feeling me, but that does not mean that I have to continue to interact with them and allow them in my space. This might be hard for some people that may find themselves in more challenging circumstances with someone, in which case I always suggest to seek professional help and look into local resources through your county or city that are available and can help you, get out of a bad situation (Links are below to a few resources).

Nonetheless, from my perspective there are three major reasons why people may “not like you”. Humans are complex. Don’t you worry, I know you are not a saint and not perfect either, but I do believe it’s important to identify these things, not only for them, but also for you. 

They have No Idea

Even though this list is in no particular order, I do believe when it comes to people “not liking you”, it sometimes boils down to, they have no idea. It’s a bit comical, if you think about it. As humans, we scour for information and signs that affirm our personal, collective and societal convictions. We throw out things that don’t make sense to us and don’t fit in how we believe how society should operate. We attempt to find meaning in almost everything we do, which I believe is a key tool of humanity. However, sometimes we try to force meaning and explanations on things and people that don’t make sense. The vast majority of people do not necessarily conduct deep-dives into why they may not like someone, it usually is a very surface level analysis.

From my experience conducting research, working with and interviewing people on social issues, I’ve realized for real human connection, it requires depth, trust, security, communication, and commitment. I’ve been in situations where I had this preconceived notion of someone and I wasn’t feeling them upon first meeting and then when I started to talk to them and connect, I found out how intriguing they really are. This doesn’t happen every time but it has happened on occasion. Sometimes folks are looking for a reason not to like you and they really don’t have any.

Dissatisfaction with their Lives

We have all been here. One of the greatest human flaws is thinking and believing that we do not have enough. I have been around people with access, power and money and I have been around people who live on one meal a day, with no shoes on their feet. Every single time, the people with less means, are the happiest and most optimistic about life. This does not mean that as long as you’re happy and smiling, lacking access to socio-economic resources does not matter because we all know it does, in this capitalistic world. However, both groups mostly believe that if they had more, they would be happier and life would be better. It is very human and natural to believe that you are always lacking in some way. The issue with this becomes when you stay in that mind-space. We all wish we could change something about ourselves and our lives or if we had the chance to gain access to more resources, then our lives would drastically change.

People who don’t like you, many times, if not most times fall into this category. Life is not easy for most people, and the everyday struggles, hustle, and unpleasant circumstances can weigh us down. When we find ourselves being completely dissatisfied by life, we take it out on other people, especially people who we believe have it easy or have gotten it easy in life.

Fear of Real Connection and Intimacy

Ah, now we get to the juice. It took me a very very very long time to get to a point that I felt comfortable with being intimate with people. Intimacy is not just shared in romantic or sexual relationships, intimacy is the ability to develop a closeness with another person or group of people. There are many types of intimate relationships and they are necessary. You can find them at work, in school, church, or even within your hobby/activity groups.  I had deep and intimate relationships in my life, but they were definitely far less growing up than the amount I have now. My college friends would always call me “Thick-Back”, because I did not share easily in the beginning. I also did not hug people or liked to be called “Honey” by my peers (this is still slightly a thing though, sigh). In my household, we weren’t raised to be emotional or even show emotion for that matter. We were in constant survival mode, all day, everyday. College meant freedom and exploration from what I was used to back in my childhood home. It hadn’t hit me until my mid-20s that at some point I had developed a fear of intimacy. A lot of it stemmed from my trauma with sexual assault as a young girl and I carried that baggage with me everywhere I would go for a long time. I refused and rejected to make connections with people I did not feel safe with, regardless if they created a safe-space for me to do so. Childhood trauma often surrounds ideas and experiences of safety and security, and as child, if you experience insecurity, you search for that as an adult, or you don’t.

Fear of establishing and maintaining intimate relationships can be a real barricade in connecting with people. What tends to happen is that due to this fear, we reject anything and everyone that wants to show us a different and elevated level of connection, one that allows us to be open, honest and our authentic-self, with no judgement. This often comes off as showing disdain for other people, while really we are just scared to connect and get close. So people who don’t like you can also be dealing with this as well, and it is hard for them to get out of that, not to mention it takes a lot of self-awareness, self-work and many times, therapy to unpack these feelings.


I know this post was a bit different, but I think that sometimes we forget that we are all trying to do the best we can, with what we got. This doesn’t mean that you excuse, bad, selfish and poor behavior though. Someone not liking you, is not a determining factor of who you are as a person at all, but I think it’s important to recognize those aspects within other people or within yourself that impedes how you interact with others, in a more healthy manner. 

Links to Domestic and Child Abuse Resources:

National Domestic Violence Hotline



Administration for Children & Families/Family & Youth Services Bureau




I am a doctor but not the medical kind of doctor, so information and content presented on Akullu (“we,” “us” or “our”) on (the “Site”) blog is purely to share my personal experience and for educational and entertainment purposes only. As always, check with a medical doctor or specialist before making any fitness or nutrition changes or a trained professional if you are seeking to achieve personal and professional goals. Read More






I wanted to wait a bit to write this blog but I think it is beyond timely because of everything that is going on concerning the spread of the Coronavirus, which has a lot of us who are able to, practicing Social Distancing. Fear, panic and anxiety are extremely high on a global scale. This also means you have a lot more time to think and be in your head more. So in an effort to help where I can, I wanted to share and add to the conversations that are happening in our personal relationships, communities and through the interwebs about self-kindness and gentleness. It is a very interesting time we are in, and possibly a good time to remember to love on ourselves.  

Now that I’m comfortably in my 30s, I’ve worked [expletive] hard to get to a place that I don’t talk down on myself, my body, or my talents as much or at all for that matter, not that I get it right every time. Getting to a point of true self-love and self-acceptance is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences that a person will have to go through.  My hope is that if there are any younger women and men in their 20s, in particular reading this, that you begin to recognize the areas of your life that you can ease up putting pressure on yourself. Remember, It. Is. A. Process.

Forgive yourself

I used to define forgiveness differently than what I now understand it to be. Just like many of us, my idea of forgiveness, whereby you essentially forgive wrongdoings that were done against you by others to allow yourself a chance to successfully move on with your life. This is still basically true, but what I did not fully grasp is the idea that you can and need to forgive yourself for experiences and things you participated in, that may have caused harm to you.

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to forgive yourself. Forgiving yourself is actually the true definition of being kind and gentle with yourself in my opinion, to be honest. Forgiving yourself means to let go of the feelings of anger, guilt, shame, resentment and any other emotion that negatively emotionally suspends you from developing healthier emotional habits.  This can include what you deem to be failures, mistakes, or the “shoulda-woulda-coulda’s”. A lot of times we carry things that are not our own, but rather projections of peoples and societies expectations of us. You’re obligation is to your wellness first and forever. 

Love your Body

Our bodies hold a lot of joy and a lot of pain. Our bodies are sometimes the physical manifestations of childhood and adult traumas, but also our bodies are vessels of inspiration, triumphs, and life creations. Regardless of what it is, our bodies hold all of that. I have a gazillion stretch marks that I think look awesome. I’ve had them since I was a pre-teen, so we basically grew up together. I can rundown the list of the body parts that used to cause me emotional, mental and physical strife. I forced myself to stand in the mirror daily last year and speak positive things about my body. It worked wonders.

The reality is we only have one body and it is our responsibility to take care of it, the best we can. This may be hard for a lot of people because of resource constraints, but it does not negate the fact that we should be more conscious of our physical health.  Feeling good about your body is hard, especially when messaging around beauty and body politics historically have favored and praised Eurocentric beauty and body types, virtually leaving 90% of the world’s population out of the discussion. Your body is yours. Uniquely made. It is perfectly, imperfect. The sooner you love on it and affirm it, the sooner life will begin to look different, as well.

Slow down your mind and block the noise

One of my personal challenges and struggles has been slowing down my mind and thoughts. I have struggled with this since I was a kid. I believe it has a lot to do with the uncertainty  and instability that my family experienced early on. I also have a tendency to want to fix or mitigate problems or potential challenges quickly, not to mention I was an infamously shy, nervous, and fearful child, going well into my 20s. I didn’t like causing problems or being a problem.

This caused me to have intense bouts of anxiety, insomnia, and my mind constantly racing. I learned to slow down my mind by taking one day at a time, meditating daily, and immediately stopping certain negative and harmful thoughts. I would literally say, “No, Loy. Do not go there. You have grown and you are amazing.” I worked hard on not replaying “bad things” or experiences from the past because those were the ones that had me up at night. There are things you can control and  things you cannot control. Everything is temporary. Slow down and breathe.

Be honest and vulnerable about your life as it is

Honesty is vulnerability and vulnerability is honesty. Do not forget that. It is easy to want to believe and live in alternate realities, that are different from your present day to day. A lot of us do it actually as a defense mechanism because if we come out of that mental space, we might unravel. It can be a survival tactic. Most things in this life are absolutely and positively temporary. It is important that you accept your reality and life as it is, now and continue to build and affirm your future and things you want to accomplish in life.

When you become more vulnerable and honest about your life, you also take back your power and you own your ish. Owning your ish is absolutely empowering, especially when you know you are striving to be a better person for yourself and the others around you. There is nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed about. Everyone’s journey is different and yours is uniquely your own. Own it.

Allow moments and experiences to be just that

Life is also a series of moments and experiences or how we experience and understand moments and events that happen in our lives. You have to enjoy the good ones for what they are, as they happen. Experience them fully.

Commit to feeling the good ones again and making sure that you can be your happy and authentic self as often as you can. The bad, harmful or not-so-good moments and experiences, will also happen, but your task is to not stay in those moments. Those moments can easily bring you down and impact your day. Just like I said before, everything is temporary. Nothing will ever remain the same forever. Life constantly ebbs and flows and you will have to find your rhythm. Embrace the moments that make you feel good, give you inspiration and feed your spirit.


What types of things do you do to be more kind and gentle with yourself?




I am a doctor but not the medical kind of doctor, so information and content presented on Akullu (“we,” “us” or “our”) on (the “Site”) blog is purely to share my personal experience and for educational and entertainment purposes only. As always, check with a medical doctor or specialist before making any fitness or nutrition changes or a trained professional if you are seeking to achieve personal and professional goals. Read Full Disclaimers



The thing that many people in the diaspora as well as non-immigrant people do not really get is how challenging, terrifying, and traumatizing the cultural assimilation process can be for immigrants

A couple of months ago I had a conversation with a good sister-friend of mine about dating and what qualities I think are important in a partner. My homegirl who is happily married, always gives me great insight on almost everything. She goes on to say that I will most likely end up with an African/Black American or white European partner (I may or may not discuss this “dating theory” in later blogs, depending on how I feel y’all.) This is not the first time I’ve heard this. People have said this several times throughout my 20s. Matter of fact, that was the second time I heard that same comment in that week. I. Kid. You. Not.

As we Facetime, my *screw-face* appears and I ask, “Why do you say that?” Her explanation was that my humor and how I dialogue is of the African American Vernacular English (AAVE) variety, amongst many other things. I’m not going to lie, I was puzzled, but also it really got me thinking about how I and many other African immigrant women, children of African immigrants, and African immigrant people communicate and present in different spaces, that are not African.

The facts are, AAVE and culture as we can see in almost every aspect of American society and globally has influenced pop-culture, fashion, art, music, social and political movements in tremendous ways. A lot of which have been irresponsibly culturally appropriated, but much of it is a reflection of admiration for the contribution to humanity that native Black Americans have made, not to mention inadvertently the impact on immigration policy and rights.

I can go in and out of accents at the drop of a dime and very quickly scan the room to know how I will have to “present” in any given space and audience, completely unapologetically.

When my mother, brother and I came to the US in the 90s, we came with a couple of small bags and our brown bodies. We landed in New York, and all my mother had in her pocket was a half-written address of her older sisters place, who lived in Maryland, with no phone number. We took the Greyhound to Silver Spring, Maryland and eventually located my aunts apartment building. Luckily her and my mom can be mistaken for twins and people at her apartment building recognized the resemblance. This was when my immigrant experience started and code-switching became essential to my survival.

Code-switching refers to the ability for a person or people to alternate between different languages, dialects and vernaculars in conversation. In America the most widely known form of this is definitely AAVE. It took years for my brother and me to get the hang of American English and culture, but we were young enough to master it and become fluent. At school teachers thought we were unusually quiet and had speech impediments, not realizing that there were levels of extreme trauma associated with our emigration to the U.S.

The thing that many people in the diaspora as well as non-immigrant people do not really get is how challenging, terrifying, and traumatizing the cultural assimilation process can be for immigrants. The uniqueness in the American immigrant experience lies within the plethora of peoples, nationalities, cultures, ethnicities and religions from all different areas of the world, that settle in the States. Being able to toggle between cultures becomes an art form of sorts, so to speak because if you are unable to effectively communicate or blend in with the dominate or native culture of a society and community, can possibly cause harm to you and your family. Notwithstanding, impacting your forward mobility. However, because the number one unifying factor of all Diaspora people is our varied and melanated skin-tone, we can not escape the political presence of being black in the world.

As an African kid growing up in America, I was Ugandan at home, African on the playground, and American on and in the streets. At any given time those identities merged with one another and frequently this happens. I can go in and out of accents at the drop of a dime and very quickly scan the room to know how I will have to “present” in any given space and audience, completely unapologetically. Personally, I strive to be as authentically and consistently myself, in both the private and the public areas of my life, but more importantly I am very much all of these identities as well.

Without a doubt, when I am with my African and Caribbean friends, there are similar and at the same time different cultural nuances and cues that are used in how we interact and engage one another. What my good sister-friend witnessed was another form of how I use code-switching in my everyday interactions. Admittedly, in the conversation she recognized that she had not been around me in other African Diasporic spaces enough to see how ya girl moves, but this just shows the differing, complex and the multitudes of the African and Black Diasporic experience. 




The reality is that “People, need people”, and there isn’t a truer statement. However, a lot of this life we live calls and demands of us to walk bravely and boldly by ourselves, as we often are walking into the wilderness of life. These are some of the most important times of your life that may have significant impact on the level of your success. Self-discipline and personal resolve can get you farther than what you know


I know you read the title and you were like, “Girl, what are you saying?!” Don’t get it twisted; I am all about community building, collective growth, and collaboration. At my core those are fundamental pillars that I live by, but there also comes a time where those things have to be put aside and you get focused, get your work done and demolish your goals, by yourself.

The idea of having an accountability partner is a great task management slash social mechanism tool that can exponentially increase your productivity while also boosting your confidence. I believe strongly in the concept of accountability partnering, but for the right reasons and the right times. If you are someone like me, who needs space and periods of self-imposed isolation for mental clarity to really get your work done and think through ideas, then having an accountability partner may hinder that. If you’re thinking that this sounds totally antithetical to what we’ve been taught or even what has been pushed through the modern self-care movement. You are absolutely correct, but it beez like that sometimes.

Before I get into why you might not necessarily need an accountability partner, let’s breakdown why in fact you actually may need one and you can likely benefit from having such a loyal comrade in the struggle to achieve your wildest dreams.By no means am I encouraging your introversion, but what I am encouraging is your ability to strengthen the belief in yourself.  Also, to be clear, I’m specifically talking about work-related and creative project development accountability partner scenarios. Here are a few of the vital reasons I believe accountability partners can be crucial to your personal journey.

Why you DO Need An Accountability Partner

Keeps you on track and accountable

The top reason most people have accountability partners is to have someone or a group of people, hold them accountable and responsible in setting specific goals, creating actionable steps and then following through with completing and reaching those goals. It’s easy to set goals, but the challenge always becomes getting them done and actually checking them off as completed. They also help in keeping the number one enemy of progress, procrastination at bay.

Ideal for Brainstorming and Idea Sharing

Personally, I am a big fan of a good Groupthink session, whereby a total idea and creative data dump is thrown on the table and we are able to breakdown whatever ideas that come to mind about a particular project or activity a person is trying to bring to life. For certain projects this is essential in developing and conceptualizing an efficient framework, and also a strong component of having accountability partners.

A Support System and a Safe Space

The biggest and most amazing aspect of being a part of an accountability partnership is the feeling of knowing you have a support system, personal cheerleader and a safe space to vent and share challenges and successes of your personal journey. Many times when certain work or activities need to be done, we can feel like we are in it alone, but having people who can relate and encourage you to keep going, is definitely the cherry on top. That is why it is crucially important to choose the serious and focused individuals.

So let’s get to it. Now, why don’t you need an accountability partner, you ask?

Why you MIGHT not need an Accountability partner

It can be a Distraction

For me and my personal journey, be it in fitness, academic/research writing, or even pursuing my creative endeavors, I typically have a ton of distractions that always throw me for a loop. For this reason, anything else that adds to that long list of unnecessary and unavoidable distractions I need to stay far far away from. Having an accountability partner or in many cases being in a group, can act as an added distraction to you getting tasks done. This can also add to the stress and anxiety of achieving your goals.

Strengthening Self-Discipline and Personal Resolve

The reality is that “People, need people”, and there isn’t a truer statement. However, a lot of this life we live calls and demands of us to walk bravely and boldly by ourselves, as we often are walking into the wilderness of life. These are some of the most important times of your life that may have significant impact on the level of your success. Self-discipline and personal resolve can get you farther than what you know. Essentially, these acts of self-actualization affirm who you are, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, leading to immense feelings of self-gratification, which you need by the way. In fact, building these aspects of yourself can equip you to be an even better partner to someone else.

Flow of Creativity and Protection of Ideas

This might not be the reality for many people, but there is something to be said about conceptualizing your own idea and seeing it come into fruition. I find that my creativity flows more smoothly and abundantly when I’ve personally committed to seeing it through. I am able to think clearly and go through my long creative process to fully allow my idea to grow and because of this I become very protective over my ideas and creative projects. Ultimately, I bring in people when I feel most comfortable and confident to share and inquire about input and feedback. This is also important for creatives because our creations are like our babies and idea theft is real.

Different Work Styles

Work style is something I just recently started taking more seriously. We all work differently and we all flourish in different settings and environments. That is why figuring out your individual work style is as important as knowing your social security number. Well, maybe not that important, but it definitely comes close. I work best by myself. I train and workout best by myself as well, and this is really because I take these things very seriously and I want to dedicate a specific amount of time to them, so I can go link-up with the homies for mango martinis afterwards. If you are like me, then having an accountability partner can possibly shoot you in the foot, in this regard.

Less talking, More Action

Have you ever talked about something so much that you psyche yourself out of it, or it just ends up not ever happening? Join the club. Life is an adventure to me and I get really excited about almost everything that goes on in my life. I’m the type of person that always wants to share and bring people into what I’m doing. Some of this is because I can get anxiety doing things alone, but more often than not, it’s because I think the more talented people that are involved in a project, the better the final product will be. But there is strength in shutting your mouth and not sharing every single thought that comes to mind about what you’re working on. Not to mention it also shows people you are about your business and you do not need to talk about every little thing your doing or get validation from others. You become self-reliant and your own number one fan.

Now listen, there is a time and place for everything, just like having an accountability partner. Everybody is different and everybody uses different tools to succeed. Whatever your reasoning may be for having or not having an accountability partner, just make sure you are making the best decision for you to achieve and reach your goals. Always take time out to think through your goals, develop a plan, and then put that plan in action. By no means am I encouraging your introversion, but what I am encouraging is your ability to strengthen the belief in yourself. As always, I’m rooting for you.



There are a ton of things in my life that I wouldn’t mind redoing or revisiting, but then again, I’m not completely positive that I would’ve had as much appreciation for my journey as I do now. My PhD experience for the most part was relatively “good”, but when it got hard, it was tough. In an effort to help you avoid some of the things I did or rather did not do, here are 7 things I wish I knew before starting my PhD. *Deep Sigh*

Networking, Networking, and MORE Networking

If you’re like me, a traditional introvert with extroverted tendencies, then, you can only be in large crowds for so long or even the mandatory small-talk that occasionally needs to happen can be extremely challenging. We’ve all heard how important networking is in your career, no matter what the field may be, however, in grad school this cannot be stressed enough. I’m naturally a pleasant and friendly person, so talking to people is not the issue, rather it’s the feeling like you are being a bother, a nuisance, and “begging” someone for something. I’m here to say, get over that, and get over that quickly.

Networking can literally make or break your career. Maybe not break it, but it can definitely slow down your professional mobility, and as a black woman it is doubly important. The thing about networking is, it’s not about what someone can do for you, but more about building relationships that can possibly go beyond just simple career talk, but true and honest connections. It’s also about learning from another person and filling gaps within your skillset that can be of importance both personally and professionally. That does not mean you will be besties with every person you meet (sometimes this happens), it means that you are expanding your network and growing your community. The reality is this, your end goal is to get a job, and to do that you need to be as well equipped as you possibly can, and that also means being able to reach out to people who may be able to help get you there. People need to and deserve to see your face, it’s the easiest way to remember anyone, even if you can’t remember their name. So show up, be present and get to it!



Pro Tip: Search local events around your interests both academically and leisurely and use apps like Eventbrite that help locate events, workshops, book-talks, happy hours etc., in your area. Print out business cards with all your social handles (they are still important in this digital age) and a few research interests. Then go mingle and challenge yourself to meet 2-3 new people.

Your health and wellness can and WILL decline

We are in a time now, where it seems that there is more health consciousness, especially as it relates to mental health. This is a very good thing. However, no one could’ve told me that my mental, emotional and physical health would take a turn for the worse. The doctoral process is already an unnatural process. The long hours of reading, studying, writing, teaching, field-work, clinic-hours, conferences, lab work, isolation, pressure of worrying about job placement post-graduation, getting into candidacy, immigration challenges, writing your dissertation, and FUNDING are no joke. Keep in mind; I haven’t even mentioned the challenge of maintaining your familial and personal relationships, let alone everyday life happenings and goings-on. With that said, there is a strong likelihood that at some level your wellness can take a hit. I’ve heard serious stories of grad students having life altering health issues while going through the academic motions. Not that the PhD causes these health issues directly, but it certainly exacerbates them.



Pro Tip: Make it a point to do the things and hobbies you love on a weekly basis. Just like you schedule your writing and classes, schedule hobbies, workouts, eat right, get checkups and stay on top of your health regularly EARLY on in your program

Your relationships may change

Grad school can really be an exciting time. You are exposed to new ideas, concepts, thoughts, people and experiences that will hopefully change and expand your worldview. With this new found YOU, almost comparable to an awakening of sorts, coupled with the demands and pressures of successfully matriculating with all your personal faculties still intact, your relationships will most definitely change. Some of them for the better and some of them may just completely vanish altogether. Many if not most people do not understand the grad school and particularly the doctoral experience and because of that, it can create tension within relationships that were once close.

As a first generation African immigrant woman and girl-child, expectations, responsibilities, and cultural obligations are always high. This can lead to big problems in the family when you no longer have the time to cater to every single request made by your parents, siblings, aunties, uncles, nieces and nephews. This makes for very unpleasant family gatherings, or if you’re like me, there were holiday seasons that all people got were text messages wishing them “Happy Holidays Love, Enjoy” and trust me you will have to draw boundaries, (and trust me they deserved it.)

How about friendships and coupleships you ask? Well, I can almost guarantee you that you may lose a couple of friends or the dynamics will drastically shift. I remember my therapist telling me this, and I fought her tooth and nail. Granted, I am not an angel or a saint, I have my stubborn-ish ways, but at the time I was not feeling understood by many of my friends. Ideologically I had evolved in different ways that I do not regret one bit, but it made my friendships increasingly uncomfortable for those friends and me. My therapist said that it would be unsustainable in the long-run because I would often find myself compromising my belief and value systems and it was imperative that I was able to be my full and authentic self with people. Not to mention the lack of personal time I had to pour into these relationships that I no longer had. This can also be true of coupleships and within marriages.I’ve seen those get sour too.



Pro Tip: It’s important to find community, so find it in people who pour into you and you can do the same for them. Stay away from “judgey” people. Real relationships will last, but they also ebb and flow. The ones that don’t, try not to take it personally, it is NOT a judgment on your worth as a person. Also, communicate with your partner, be patient with them and ask as well as demand they be patient with you. 

It’s Just a Title and You are Worthy of it

There are several perks of having a PhD. Access and visibility are the main ones. The PhD should ultimately be used for the service and advancement of humanity, so they say. However, getting a terminal degree from the long-loathed Ivory Tower can inflate one’s ego and their value becomes dependent on getting those three letters behind their name. There is a serious level of social and class stratification that is involved both in and outside of academia. We have all met PhDs with stank attitudes and they are virtually everywhere. Having received a PhD in African Studies, I am often in white spaces and my expertise and worth becomes questioned. These spaces can be intimidating, belittling and are often exhausting. I am here to tell you. YOU. ARE. WORTHY.

You are worthy of every good and amazing thing that comes during the process and every good and amazing thing that follows after you graduate. Getting a PhD can be a daunting task, but it is worth it in the long run, if not for the experience, network and career opportunities, but for the acquired knowledge of self. It is simply just a title. Don’t get me wrong, for black women it is vitally important we continue to peruse higher education and doctoral degrees. If not for us, for the culture, literally. However, It does not mean you are better than anyone else and it surely does not mean you are LESS than anyone else either. Your intelligence, abilities, and worth are not calculated by the degree, whatsoever.


Pro Tip: Do not get affected by not so nice people, it says more about them than you. Stay the course and detach as much as possible from academe and do regular-degular things, in regular degular spaces.

Get Experience & Publish BEFORE Graduation

If the ultimate end game of pursuing your PhD is securing gainful employment, then you also need to secure experience and dread I say, PUBLISH before you bedazzle your regalia (That’s a thing or should be a thing, *shrug*). Within my department there wasn’t heavy emphasis placed on post-graduation employment or even on the importance of publications and come to find out, this is true of many departments and institutions “high” and “low”. It didn’t hit me until I was nearing the final lap and finishing up those endless drafts of my dissertation. With that being said, you have to be willing to do internships, fellowships, and entry-level jobs RELEVANT to your interests and field earlier on in your program, if you are not already working as yet. Do not rely on the degree to open doors for you, because more often than not, it won’t. These positions and professional experience will speak volumes when it comes time to apply for jobs.

Make it a point to inquire about research assistant opportunities within your department and outside of your department as well. Seriously scour the interwebs for Open and Call for Papers for manuscripts and other similar opportunities. The easiest way to publish truly is to co-author with a couple or a few of your cohort or colleagues and submit a joint research article to an academic journal. Another way is to use research papers and assignments from your classes and also as you begin to write your dissertation, start thinking about publishing the chapters. Keeping in mind that research articles for academic journals follow their own formula and structure and this varies from journal to journal.

As a black woman, I know we get tired of hearing the adage, “You have to work 3x as hard, as everyone else,” but it is true. It is gospel. Until YOU and WE get into decision making positions that actually yield power, you will have to bust-yo-bum to get a seat at the table (or create your own *ding ding ding*). The process is long and tedious and surely there are structural barriers and biases that exist, but that shouldn’t discourage you, because remember YOU ARE WORTHY and YOU BELONG.



Pro Tip: Identify academic journals you are interested in within the first couple of years of your program. Clock em’. Clock em’ hard. Study how some of your favorite researchers and academicians write their work. Learn flow, structure and other technical aspects that make their work shine.

The job market for PhDs is BAD

So.This is where my head starts to hurt and I sip my red vino and just stare. Alright so boom, the job market is bad, like really bad and the PhD job market is no exception. After putting in all this work, 4, 5, 6, and 7 years of classes, research, and writing, and its now 4 years after you graduated and you are still unemployed, something is wrong, right? Simply, there are not enough academic jobs to go around and if you are in an area of specialty like my own, then you will find an even harder time getting a job. The reality is many departments and institutions have done a relatively poor job in preparing PhDs for the job market, let alone non-academic/industry jobs.

I remember applying to Sephora and I was excited because I love beauty and makeup and I really needed extra coinage. It was going to be a win, win. On the application I said I’m AVAILABLE ALWAYS, as in, EVERYDAY, EVERY HOUR. They sent my rejection email and said my time and availability did not match their current demands. Mind you, I removed all my degrees and just put my retail experience, which was quite a bit. I cringingly laughed and sipped my red vino.



Pro Tip: Don’t be scared to ask for help from trusted family and friends, if you don’t get a job right away. People are more kind and generous than you think. Remember to tell people you know, that you are on the job-hunt because you never know who they may know.

Academia is not the final destination

Finally dear friends, academia is not your final destination. As aspiring researchers, practitioners, scholars, and academics, it is so important to keep in mind that there is far more to life than landing an academic position, publishing, teaching and getting an industry job. Although, because of capitalism we spend more time at our places of work than with our friends, family, spouses, partners, kids and furry-pets. Inevitably this lone fact, should give you more of an incentive to look for happiness and things that fill you outside of it.

It’s also important to diversify and tap into those passion and creative projects and build those up. You never know where they can potentially lead you and can even be an extra income and revenue stream. These projects can give you outlets that keep you motivated to do the good work that the PhD calls for. I say all this to say, life should be spent with people you love and doing the things you love, so make sure to fill your time with these aspects as well.



Pro Tip: Create clear personal time and boundaries, whereby you do something that you enjoy outside of academia that you can be consistent with and do frequently. If that means weekly or monthly happy hours with the girls or guys or even sitting outside on a park bench for an hour a day reading your favorite romance novel, sketching/drawing, blogging, making music and singing in a band, designing clothes, JUST DO IT. Nike got it right.