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First Down!

One year down y'all. One year down!


Of course I have a couple more to go. But in a few days I'll be heading off to school to start off the first semester of my sophomore year of college. I'm proud of myself for finishing my first year off strong. It was not easy, at all! But it was definitely a year to remember.


I love the young woman I am growing into - one year of college has taught me so much about myself and life. And I figured now, since a lot of us are going back to school or starting new journeys in our lives, it'd be a good time to recap what the past year of my life has been like. It's a great time for me to reflect, grow, and think about new things I want to do, or things I don't want to do as before I start this first semester of my sophomore season. And you might be able to relate to some things or even apply them to your own life, no matter what season of life you're in.


Last year around this time, I drove down to Wisconsin with no idea of what to expect. Maybe someone else is in the same boat: starting a new job, an upcoming football season, your senior year of high school, or ever another semester of college - regardless of what it is, it's a new experience, at an entirely different (and unexperienced) time of your life. I'm here to tell you there is nothing for you to expect, just come prepared, as prepared as you possibly can. Get yourself in a positive and stable mindset to tackle anything that is going to come your way when dealing with this new territory. It's new, so just take things slow, explore and enjoy it.


Even I have to do the same thing. When I drove down to my "new home," it was different, there was no one I knew, no friends, no family, nothing. And being in a new place made me so nervous. But I just remained positive and open minded. Of course it wasn't home, but I've learned that when find ourselves in the most uncomfortable position, that is when we experience the most growth. Going through something new, is often uncomfortable, but it's not a time to lose our heads, instead just remain positive and take things one step at a time. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is good for you it helps you learn more about yourself.

Despite my discomfort, my roommate gave off some great vibes that made me relax a little. A cool girl from Cali, Aileen, was the best roommate ever. She always gave off good vibes, our similar personalities is what made rooming with her so great. 25/8 I was around positivity, good vibes, support, and love. All that good energy we shared made settling into my room, even though I was uncomfortable, so much easier.


After a while, I connected with some people that I knew were from Chicago, so that we could explore campus and just have some fun. We clicked immediately - Torrie, Sasha, and I have been making the greatest memories ever since. The people in my dorm were really cool too, I lived in a learning community of artists which was pretty dope, it gave me a chance to meet cool people and make good friends. We all got to see the things we were all working on, and I got access to a bunch of materials.


Finding a community of people, that you click with, is one of the best ways to make the best of the environment that you're in. So regardless of what new journey you are on - find other people who you can relate to and feel comfortable with, so that you can be even more at peace and have a good time regardless of where you are. The people around you are what makes the experience even better, or even a little easier to bear.

Once we all started to feel a LOT more comfortable, we made our way around campus. The campus is huge, so there was no way I was going to be able to just "wing it," on the first day. My friends and I got accustomed to the bus system, and just use to the surroundings. When in a new place, or on a new journey, get to know the area - explore the territory, the people, the places, etc. - just so that you have a sense of clarity and so you know who and what is around you. Exploring made me feel even more comfortable. But after all the exploration and getting comfortable, came the real work.


Classes started and I tried to get myself into a groove, a rhythm that would balance out everything. It wasn't easy managing it all but it worked out pretty well. I volunteered one day out of the week, bringing poetry and hip-pop to inner city kids in high schools where we taught them how to utilize outlets of expression (even in a professional setting) with the JVN Project, went to class, and participated in some extracurriculars. It was a blessing that I was able to do so much, and I wanted to do so much more, but I would advise us all, to just remember not to overwork ourselves too much. The grind is important, gotta keep hustling, but we also have to remember to take care of ourselves and manage our time wisely.


The only way I got through it was God, faith, and determination that I was going to finish well. And I had a lot of support from the people I love always giving me words of encouragement. Despite all my projects, design assignments, papers, test, quizzes, etc. I was still able do well that year. And it wasn't easy - especially because I wasn't the best at managing my time. With anything in life, it is important that we manage our time wisely. In order to turn our dreams into accomplishments, we have to set goals along the way. And a crucial part of meeting goals and deadlines is to prioritize what matters and utilize the time we have in the best ways possible. There are only 24 hours in a day, although that may seem intimidating - every second is valuable. Honestly, there is not enough time for us to be lazy. Everyday at least try to do something that gets you closer to where you want to be, even if it's small, it's something.


A quote that I've heard a few times, is one that I think can fuel anyone, no matter where they are or what they are doing in their lives right now:


"YOUR FEELINGS WILL NEVER COOPERATE WITH YOUR DREAMS. BEATING YOUR FEELINGS INTO CAPTIVITY IS WHAT DISCIPLINE IS." -T.D. Jakes

No matter what we've got going on in our lives, sometimes there will be things we've got going on that make us feel like we don't have the "time," or the "energy," to do or deal with certain things. But at times when we don't feel like doing things, we need to reach inside ourselves and pull everything that is within us out, to keep us going. When it comes to the things we are passionate about, the people we love, and the things that really matter, we always have time or energy to deal with it - even when we don't feel like it. Reaching within ourselves and finding that sense of hope, belief, drive, persistence, courage, passion, and anything else we need to push us forward is what helps so much - it is what reminds us to never, EVER, give up on ourselves, what we believe in, or what matters to us.

And on any journey in life drive and consistency our key, no matter how hard it gets...those two things are two of the most important keys you need to get places in life.


One thing that I regret not doing this last year, was networking and collaborating more. My schedule was so hectic it was hard for me to find time for projects outside of the projects that were required of me. I was able to do a few collaborations and network with people, do some fun stuff, but didn't do as many individual projects (and collaborations) as I wanted to. I'm not going to make excuses for what I didn't do - it's not done. All I know is that I'm right where I need to be, working to go where I want to go. Now is the best time to continue growing, learning, building and prospering.


To all my people starting on these new journeys in life in all your ways do you best, and give your all. Don't be to afraid or proud to ask for help, gain understanding, or just grow. Forgive yourself for any of the mistakes you've made, and forgive anyone else so that you can move forward. Pick yourself back up, get focused, and get to it. Acknowledge when you've done wrong or made a mistake and move differently, they not to keep making the same mistakes over again - or you'll get the same results. Manage your time wisely, get a planner or use your calendar - know what you've got to do and try not to let anything distract you from getting things done. If you can find some balance between your work and your life. A community of people that you can bond with and create good memories with is a great way to surround yourself with good energy. Keep in touch with the people who have been down for you and the ones that have a special place in your heart - check on them, make sure they're straight, and make time for them even though you're both on different paths. And no matter what journey you're on in your life, know that you are right where you need to be - no matter where you are, what you're doing, or what you've got going on all that matters is that you are moving forward.

In football the first down is sometimes the hardest. It is when you know the real work is only just beginning. You've got to get the yards you need to get down the line, then you can start putting the moves into place to continue down the line and eventually score. Just like anything else in life, it won't be easy starting. We might get set back, we might fumble and make some mistakes, anything can go wrong, but no matter what we've taken the first steps we needed to start progressing. The more progress we make, the closer we are to getting where we want to go. And in the long run, the first down, the yards that take us down the line, is the preparation for the greatest touchdown of our lives.


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