I’m a blackbird in the mouth of a beast. Tearing its throat. Still daring to sing.
Patience and acceptance and patience and acceptance.
The truth about today is I’m selfish.
exhausted and thankful
ADELE’S ALBUM IS KILLING THE GAME…. #rumorhasit & #setfiretotherain
Why do you ask?
How deep the Father’s love for us.
ANONYMOUS INTERNET STALKER….. SEE THE BLOG. YOU MAKE A LOVELY APPEARANCE.
Since you do not have the courage to use facebook (which is hilarious in and of itself) please kindly refrain from contacting me through all anonymous forms of social networking… ie. this blog and my formspring.I know it’s a recession but I’m sure there are positions open for a spineless gossip-monger such as yourself. Dealing with you is below my pay grade. Signed,
Just booked my trip to Canada to see The Favorite. :-)
WHO IS THE KING OF GLORY? THE LORD GOD STRONG AND MIGHTY!
RT @IbnNajeeb: - We are with #Libya.
(let us retweet to 1million)
Ummm the majority of it is on Youtube. Wings I, Wings II, Freak Show, and Sean Bell I think are all on youtube. but Josh and I have many more pieces together:
and thanks for the lovely compliment.
I wonder if you caught my breath inside your chest.
I wonder if that’s where its gone.
I wonder if light slips under your head at dawn
to be a pillow for your heaviest thoughts.
I wonder if the line I just forgot
escaped my skull and ran away to your mind
so you could write it down and have something to share with me.
I wonder if tomorrow you will read me exactly what I was thinking.
I wonder if you pray for me like i pray for you.
Don’t you know, that I am thankful for everything he put me through
just so I can stand in awe of you.
How did God find it fit to bless me so?
You are a joy without words.
You touch me like the weight of the atmosphere.
Goes on clear
Looks like nothing. Feels like everything.
Breathes like everything.
I trust the man you are.
I believe in the man you will be.
There are many kinds of success in this life. We attain academic goals, reach career milestones, master creative talents and experience financial stability. I have no doubt that you girls have already become acquainted to some degree with these kinds of success. I myself am no stranger to them.
I spent the last four years as a student at the Ivy League institution and oldest university in the country, the prestigious University of Pennsylvania. I spent the whole of my college experience engaged in two activities: studying, and writing poetry. School was my job and poetry was my reason. I was a member of 4 national poetry slam teams and won two national titles in 2007. In 2008, I was a featured poet on the HBO documentary series Russell Simons Presents Brave New Voices. I directed UPENN’s only and premier spoken word collective, the award wining Excelano Project. For the last 4 years, I have been touring the country performing my poetry at historic venues. I have shared the stage with the likes of Saul Williams, Carlos Andres Gomez, Buddy Wakefield, Anis Mogjnai, Joshua Bennett, Marc Joseph Bamuthi, illiteracy, and many others. Last June, I graduated from UPENN with a degree in Linguistics. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum laude with major honors. Currently I am pursuing my PhD in linguistics at Yale University, studying syntax and historical linguistics with an emphasis in comparative Semitics (basically I study the development of the Semitic languages Arabic, Hebrew, Akkadian, Modern South Arabian and Ethiopic). In addition, I am also part of the poetry collective The Striver’s Row, which just had our major showcase in January at the historic Le Poisson Rouge in New York.
Everything that I have wanted to accomplish in my life, up until this point I have been able to achieve. I have traveled extensively, visiting the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Curacao, and much of the Caribbean, Belize and Mexico, France and Italy, Russia, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. I have also lived in Cairo, Egypt practicing my Arabic and seeking spiritual growth. But with the exception, of my stay in Egypt and my time writing with the Excelano Project, these achievements, these experiences, these things did not define me as a person. Sure I’ve done a lot and seen a lot but who am I. Does my degree validate me? Does being on TV make me special? For instance I worked extremely hard to make sure I graduated Summa Cum Laude and once I saw the words in Latin printed on my diploma, I laughed at loud over how trivial it was. I stressed, pulled my hair out, cried, didn’t take a few classes I wanted to in order to graduate with a stellar academic record and once I had it, it didn’t mean all that much. I realized my academic career would never summarize or validate the complexities of who I am as an individual. After all, it was just a piece of paper.
So I want to talk to you today not about the kinds of successes I mentioned earlier. I want to talk about emotional and personal success. This elusive and often esoteric phrase “emotional health”, I think can be achieved by answering these two questions: How much are you worth? What measures your self worth? I can’t speak for everyone, but for me the journey to emotional health stemmed from an identification of self that is rooted not in the things I’ve done but in the things I believe. Self worth is something that should never be compromised; it should remain immutable. I was tired of basing my value on my academic career, which hinged on the degrees I earned. I was tired of basing it on unhealthy relationships and friendships, where I felt as though I had to earn someone else’s approval in order to receive love and affection. I was tired of having to earn my worth at all. I wanted it be intrinsic to me. It took all of high school and all of college, but I committed myself to understanding what I believed and living accordingly.
For instance, I knew from an early age I was an artist and an eccentric one at that. Even in elementary school I would wear the craziest things I could find, baseball jerseys with velvet skirts and orange top hat, hippie headbands you name it. I liked Dolly Parton and Bone Thugs. I wrote unceasingly from the age of 8. I loved poetry and it was the way I expressed myself. By the time I was in middle school people thought I was just pain weird and that my obsession with poetry was nonsense. I remember our 8th grade fortunes in the yearbook. I was excited to read mine and when I flipped to the fortunes section, there it was: Alysia at age 25 finding out poetry doesn’t pay the bills. I felt like a mockery. The thing that I loved, nobody understood. But never once did it cross my mind to stop writing. Nor did I go on a rampage to try and prove my classmates wrong. Instead I did what I always did, I wrote. I continued writing because that was an intrinsic part of me. It was how I coped with problems. It was how I identified and explored my feelings. It was the way I got to know myself. I stayed committed to poetry because I believed in the value of words, the need for expression, and the transformative power of its aesthetics. And by the age of 18 I had two national poetry titles under my belt. And by 19, I received my first paid gig performing poetry in front of an audience 2,000 strong.
While middle school was rough, high school was MISERABLE. I had no friends. I felt completely ostracized and misunderstood by the rest of the students at my very affluent white private school. First of all, I didn’t have the money those kids had. Second of all, I wasn’t raised in a country club culture. I cared about hip-hop and social activism, and the arts. It seemed to me that their priorities surrounded lacrosse, disobeying their parents, drinking, smoking and having sex. I never engaged in those activities because I valued being a kid. I wanted to bathe in the innocence of youth for a long as possible because the real world…. IT SUCKS. Once high school is over, you have to start making real adult decisions. Or I’m sure you have friends now perhaps pregnant or perhaps in trouble with the law or living on their own who after shirking the wisdom of their parents have to make real adult decisions with real consequences. I wanted no part of that. I saw the way sex with random guys tore apart my classmates. I saw what they were willing to do to be liked by someone else. It was sad and I didn’t want to end up like that. I was lonely for most of high school; there is no denying that. But I refused to compromise my beliefs and take part in activities that I had real issues with just to gain friends I wasn’t even sure I wanted. When I finally went to college, all of that waiting paid off. I now I have a great group of friends that I know love me unconditionally not for what I do or don’t do but for the person I am and the values I hold. My best friend loves me not because we go to the same parties together but because I am an honest friend with fierce morals and a loyal heart. I consider the friendships I have maintained over the last 4 years some of my greatest successes. It isn’t easy to love people all the time, especially when they make you mad. It’s also difficult because as human beings we are naturally selfish. However, growing in love and commitment to the people in my life is the main way I measure my growth and my self worth. If my relationships are thriving then I know I am not stagnant. They are constantly reshaping me into a better person and that is how I measure success.
In college, defining self-worth took on an even deeper importance as I fell in love and embarked on two romantic relationships. I became so caught up in making sure my boyfriend loved me back that I lost sight of who I was. I was doing things not because I wanted to but because I wanted him to love me. Again, I was trying to earn my worth. I was trying to earn love. I thought that by cooking and cleaning, by always being present by always being supportive and by staying faithful that eventually he would fall in love with me. I looked at all my academic and poetic achievements and could not understand why those were not reason enough for him to want to be with me. I thought I’m sexy, I’m beautiful, I’m smart and I’m talented: WHY ISN’T THAT ENOUGH?! I lost sight of me. When those relationships ended, I was broken hearted. But more than that, I was exhausted. And even more than that, I didn’t know who I was anymore because I had let a relationship define me for so long. I let a man dictate what I was worth for 3 years and I believed him. I was unlovable. I was worthless. I was not pretty enough. I deserved what I got.
But instead of looking to another relationship to validate me, which we do too often as women, I decided to be alone. Even though I was lonely, and I could have taken the easy way out and sought companionship in men I had no business being with, I decided to be single. You cannot maintain a belief only when it is easy. You must continue to follow your beliefs even when it is difficult. Even when you experience opposition or pain because of them. If you don’t, you must ask yourself if you truly believe what you claim to believe. I believed I was worth a relationship full of commitment and reciprocity, full of deep conversations and mutual edification. If I believed that, then I couldn’t settle for anything less just to curb the sting of loneliness. I decided that I believed in the way I loved. I believed in self-less love, in trusting people. Sure I had been taken advantage of but I refused to become bitter. Becoming bitter would mean that I was changing the way I lived my life because avoiding pain was easier than living according to my values. Too often we look for other people to make us feel comfortable in our own skin. Too often we are looking for our other half to make us whole. This is a critical error. The largest fallacy is that relationships are like addition. But they aren’t. Rather, they are much more like multiplication. A half times a half will never equal 1. A half a person times a half a person equals a quarter of a relationship. No one else can make you whole. You can’t be happy when you sell your believes and ideologies, your identity, what makes you to buy someone else’s company. Keeping silent to keep a man or woman. All illusions require energy and maintenance. That maintenance generally comes at the expense of your joy and peace. Whether we’re talking about a romance or a friendship, when you compromise who you are to be compatible with someone else, you cease to be a part of the relationship. Worse than becoming ostracized from the person, you become ostracized from yourself.
Success can be summed up in the famous quote “Know thy self.” So again I ask how much are you worth? What determines your value? Are you worth love? Are you worth respect? Are you worth commitment? Are you worth the ideals you hold on to? My ideals are God, truth, love, and courage. I spend everyday in the struggle of living up to their demands. In the hope that I will one day look more and more like them. Know that whether you get into the college you want or not, whether you get the promotion, whether or not a relationship thrives or fails, your worth will remain uncompromised. That to me is success. You find joy by holding onto the truth, regardless of circumstance. And when you know who you are, everyone else will know too.
Need to write a speech
Valentine’s day passed without a tweet from me. In the airport trying to keep myself amused. Second flight delay.