Friday Reflections

1.) Merry Christmas Eve! And Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS tomorrow. 


2.) Let's do one Friday Reflections for Christmas. A special Christmas edition haha.





3.) The hidden cost of black hair.


4.)Seth and his family celebrate his newborn daughter. This is the wholesome content you didn't know you needed. 


5.) Why didn't God answer your prayer?


6.) It is time to let go of celebrity relationship goals. "Not only do Relationship Goals fetishize an image that’s curated and not real, they also glorify a type of Black love that prioritizes staying together (aka building a brand) over anything else." 


7.) TIME heroes of the year are the vaccine scientists that quite literally changed the world. You already know how I feel about one of them. Oh and another one.


8.) Life is what you make it. Make it what you enjoy. Wear/use all that "special stuff" today and feel extra special. After all, tomorrow is not guaranteed. 


9.) Anti-inflammatory foods you should consider incorporating into your diet. 


10.) "Emotions make us humans. Denying them makes us beasts" - Spirit Science YouTube Channel.  So, what exactly are emotions?


11.) I think it's completely despicable that we live in a world where people get sick and have to worry about how to pay for healthcare, despite the vast and grotesque amount of wealth in said world. America, I'm looking at you. Because of this, there are soooo many people on GoFundMe seeking financial help as they battle all kinds of diseases, worst of all cancer; so much that even the CEO of GoFundMe expressed serious concerns. Anyway, to that end, every now and then, when I come across someone fundraising on GoFundMe, I will share here on Friday Reflections and if you can donate, please please do.

Here is today's: please help Taiwo pay for chemotherapy

Book of the Month: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

It's the happiesttttt time of the year! It's the most wonderful time of the year. Welcome to December, people! One thing about me, I will help you manufacture joy and cheer for the Christmas season. First, check out this playlist to help you get into the Christmas spirit. I have decided to not be retrospective at all about this year because...well, completing this sentence would be me being retrospective, no? I reserve the right to change my mind about this by the way. 


Another book of the month! Shall we just make this a book blog altogether? NO. Lol. The book of this month is lighthearted, witty, breezy, and fun. It's called "People We Meet on Vacation" and it's by Emily Henry. Most books I bring to y'all on this blog are often heavy and with depths that may even discourage you from reading sometimes (I may just be assuming this). NOT this month's book. It is especially fitting for the holidays, as you get cozy and settle into a mood that screams "ready to chill". In sum, this is basically a romcom in a book form. I struggled with how much I should say about the book because I knew nothing about it going in and I think it improved my reading experience not having a clue about the book, the characters, or even the story.  In any case, it tells the story of Poppy and Alex. 



Book of the Month: What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal] By Zoë Heller

Another book of the month, yay! Now, if you already are an ardent reader of Book of the Month on this blog you may know this, but I don’t want to assume so I will say anyway that the books of the month I feature do not necessarily have to be new or recent books. As a matter of fact, they rarely are. I can’t tell you there is a rhyme or reason with which I use to select. It could be the tiniest thing about that book that would make it book of month. As long as I read it that month and I like it, it could very well make it into book of the month. I say all that because today’s book of the month is really old.





Now that necessary caveats are out of the way, I’m super excited about the book of this month. What a fantastic book. Wow, and if we are doing fiction of the year for this blog, this is hands down among the top three (His Only Wife and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine are great contenders too). This book, What Was She thinking by Zoë Heller, is about a lonely schoolteacher Barbarra Covett, a sixty-something-year old woman who led a very solitary life (no friends, no family) until Sheba Hart, a beautiful young woman, joins the school as the new art teacher. Barbara decides to become Sheba’s friend and after lunches and invitations to meals at Sheba’s home with her husband and kids, it looks like a friendship is formed. Except on the side, something else is brewing: Sheba begins an illicit and passionate affair with an underage male student. When this affair comes to light, Sheba finds herself thrust into a media sensation, and Barbara decides to write an account of the story. It is through this that so much—more than Barbara herself realizes—comes to light. 

Friday Reflections

 1.) I'm super excited to be blogging, especially about  Friday Reflections. I've been all over the place (quite literally) recently, traveling, doing a bunch of stuff etc. and wow I'm exhausted, so blogging is my reminder that I'm getting back (albeit slowly) to my equilibrium. 




2.)This gentleman quit sugar for an entire year and I already know it could never be me.


3.) Life lessons from 100-year olds. The common thread in that video is love, joy, and taking the good with the bad. Not one complain from any of them. NOT one, even after literally living for an entire century. That's a damn fine way to live.


4.) "I don't have many failures. If I'm making a cake and it fails it becomes a pudding"- Clifford Crozier, aged 101


5.) A 75-year old Harvard study (yes, the research has been conducted for over 75 years) examined a group of men over 7 decades to understand what makes a good life. Hint: it's not money or fame or power or a good education. Instead, it's relationships, social connections....more specifically, the QUALITY of these relationships is what matters.


6.)  My true feelings about this interview with the wife of the Pulse night club gunman cum mass murderer are so long and so complicated that I will just share the interview with you (and spare you my opinion) so you can form your own thoughts. But know that I have THOUGHTS. 


7.) Y'all please, that one child that harasses other kids, and throws scary tantrums and throws women on walls in the 3rd grade, let's not ignore them. GET THEM HELP because they grow up to be monsters. Selah.


8.) I didn't know Kumail Nanjiani's body was such an internet sensation.


9.) I don't know how I feel about this. I LOVE Kumail but this profile showed a lot of worrisome behavior: extreme food restriction(no carbs, can only have desserts on Fridays), working out obsessively, knowing his weight to the tenth decimal, weighing himself every single day. I'm worried that it would be normalized. And boy does he need therapy, lots of insecurity. Whew. Hollywood is something.


10.) Huma Abedin, on the moment her private life went public. I always feel so terribly for excellent women who...just married scum (that derail their life), especially in cases where they just couldn't have prevented it. Like, how was she to know that she was marrying a creepy pervert who was "perpetually horny" and derived specific pleasure from...wait for it...sexting minors. **barfs**


11.) A somewhat accurate rank of the men on Insecure. The Jered one is an absolutely false assessment. Ladies, you have every right to your preferences and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Also, Molly is so messy. WHY?


12.) Is it possible to be proud of an internet stranger cos I'm super freaking proud of this badass woman


Book of the Month: Paper Gods by Goldie Taylor

Finally, a book of the month! I can NOT believe the last book of the month post on this blog was in MAY. May, ya'll! First of all, let's do black church praise dance for a second. *cue shouting, screaming, and stomping the floor*. That, as you will see below, is a little aligned with the book of this month. Okay, now that we're back, I'm very excited to bring you the book of this month titled, "Paper Gods" by Goldie Taylor. I first heard of the book from Joy Behar on The View.  Actually, I just double checked and it was in fact Sunny Hostin who mentioned it as one of her summer books recommendation. 




It's a political thriller about a fictional Atlanta Mayor Victoria "Torie"  Dobbs, a Harvard and Spelman College-trained attorney and politician whose mentor, a congressman and civil rights activist, is gunned down in her presence in a historic Atlanta church. The book journeys through how Victoria and a washed-up journalist, Hampton Bridges (both of whom can't stand each other) take their individual paths to investigate a series of assassinations. When Victoria's mentor is killed, she finds a  piece of origami, a paper god, tucked inside the congressman's bible. These paper gods continue to turn up again and again, always after someone is killed. She and Bridges (though not together) each uncover a conspiracy that reaches deep into the city's political machine. 


Goldie Taylor gives us two compelling protagonists in Victoria Dobbs and Hampton Bridges. Dobbs has this seemingly perfect life: married to a surgeon and two beautiful daughters, and on a political ascent that is almost a coronation, if there ever was one. She is the protege to the murdered congressman and seen as the obvious candidate to succeed him, but Atlanta's white money in the form of a group called "The League" has decided they no longer want her.  On the other hand is Bridges, the flawed but complex character who takes on bigger than himself but remains committed to his passion for journalism. But of course, as we turn the pages of the book, we soon realize that it's all a shimmering facade and there is much more than meets the eye. 





It's a story about faith, politics, money, entertainment. Y'all know how we all know Atlanta is MESSY. Yeah, exactly. This book brings out all that messy glory raised to the tenth power. Let's start with what I liked about the book. Number one is, I appreciated the story. It's rare to see this type of story that infuses important social issues but is not preachy at all and does not take a stand. In fact, hardly do the characters themselves really take a stand. That's not necessarily good, but is a more realistic portrayal of human beings as inherently selfish. I love how the author displays her knowledge of Atlanta and the city's politics. You can tell she KNOWS the city. This can be a double edged sword and we'll come back to this below. Her political knowledge is what makes this book shine, which is not surprising given the author was in fact a campaign strategist and political news analyst.  This is a gripping book that portrays characters that feel so real, you'd actually think you know them. Hello, fierce Torie Dobbs! The dialogue is astute. The political speeches thrive and bring life and inspiration without trying too hard. That's what makes it a brilliant book. Dobbs' speeches are so good, I think the author should look into a career in speechwriting, tbh


Okay now to the other side. I think it is a little slow at first and although it does pick up the pace gradually, I have to say it may be a little lukewarm for you, depending on the type of books you like. I always say about my books of the month that I had a hard time putting them down. I didn't have a hard time putting this down.


One of the most annoying features of this book is the amount of characters embedded within its pages. Chileee. It definitely needs a character tree or something similar. The author addresses many characters by their last names, which is fine given her journalistic background, but then in the dialogues, of course, people use first names so it becomes all the more confusing.  I can't say it enough how frustrating it is to deal with so many characters in one book, most of whom had a major stake. Just before you get fully acquainted with one character, she drops another one. Related to that, why are there so many names in this book? I do not mean the sheer amount of characters. I literally mean names. Like one person could legit have like 5 different names including nicknames. And these were not names like John, Jack. No no no. Delacourte. Overstreet. Loudermilk. Overstreet-Dobbs. Prentiss. Chips. Clearwater. Haverty. Patsy Jo.  Hyphenated names. Pseudonyms. One person went by like 5 names. It all gets rather complicated.


That's not the only confusing aspect of this book. See, this book IS great. I know that. It has all the important elements that make a book....well, great...you know, murder, race, politics, secrets, intrigue (God knows these are the things I watch on T.V.), BUT something happens along the way and it sort of feels less engaging than it should be. I just..found it a little lacking of...something. Someone said, "it didn't stick the landing" and that's exactly it.  I think it's because there was a lot of build up about a huge conspiracy and a little bit of whodonit and it is a little bit of a let down when we figure it out. I will say though that there are  other unexpected bombshells that kind of make up for it. Yet, the main conspiracy ends up being a little underwhelming. If you can read it without that build up and just ignore the idea of a conspiracy, you'll see it's a fantastic book.


Now, the actual writing. I'm again conflicted here. I enjoyed it. It's brilliant AND creative. But perhaps, a little too creative? Let me explain. It sometimes gets too flowery. I for one do not like when a book is too flowery. I find it insulting.  Actually, even when I write at work or on this blog or wherever, I try really hard to keep things simple and straight to the point.  But here is an example from this book:


Honey, you know black don’t crack, but it shole do move around.


WHAT? NO MA'AM. Just no. 


I think for me, the less flowery and the more to the point the story is, the more I like it. I am just a sucker for good storytelling without all the weird language. 


"As drunk as a henchman on a southern road in a summer."


Okay, that's enough simile to last a lifetime in one sentence. NO. let's just get to the story, please.


Now, her knowledge of Atlanta. Like I said above, it's quite nice until it isn't.  Too much knowledge can come off as esoteric when writing fiction. In this case, it is not esoteric as much as it feels like a painful excursion of Atlanta. There's just too much details about every street corner, every drive, every county, every intersection, every road. Too much. Combine this with the insurmountable number of names and then you almost lose your mind. It's worse for me because I don't skim novels, I  literally read every word and line. Imagine adding the names of churches, of buildings, of hotels, of highways, of streets, of centers. My God. At one point, she tells us the name of the trauma center within a hospital and tells us who this center is named after. That's WAY too much information getting in the way of the story as far as I'm concerned. 


We don't need to know that, "the facility situated along the downtown connector on Jesse Hill drive was less than a mile away from downtown Hyatt, a brisk walk across Woodruff Park, and through the Georgia State University campus on a pleasant day." This is an actual sentence (word for word) from the book.


COME ON. And this is not even the worst. She tells us every single street everything happened lmao. I know you know Atlanta but there's gotta be a limit. Yes, situate your novel or your story  in a setting and show us a good knowledge of that setting but you don't want us getting bogged down in unnecessary details. Give us enough to go with.  Maybe if it was somewhere else I've never been to, perhaps, but I've been to Atlanta and no shade, but I don't want to rehash the history of Atlanta. 


As a political fiction, I like that she does her best to not refer to real life people but one thing I find a little tacky is how she uses the Congressman John Lewis (may his soul rest in peace). Nothing salacious, but she does all this work to sidestep using real political figures altogether except for him and she even lumps his "character" with one of the main characters of the book, more so in the beginning parts of the book where this character has, in the words of the author, "questionable ethics".  And then John Lewis comes on the campaign trail and gives a speech. It's a little weird to me but perhaps I'm being unnecessarily protective of John Lewis? Why not make it purely fictional? Why cross that line and make it blurry, even referring to Lewis' history as a civil rights icon and leader?  Why not at least use a fictional version?  It's especially strange considering that for every other person, she doesn't refer to real life people. 


I will say I did enjoy some of the suspense towards the end. In fact, at some point, I start getting anxious for the characters. Towards the end, I also start to know the characters even more and this is something I look out for in a book: a sense of familiarity with the characters; feeling like you're part of everything going on; worrying about characters and their fate. Thats how you know it's a good book. There are also  twists and turns you could not have seen coming or predicted. It's  definitely a good book.


This story will SHINE as a TV show, because we would see more about what makes the characters tick. I really hope it gets made into a TV show, which I will certainly watch.  


In sum, political thrillers and even dramas are hard to nail down, so even attempting it the way this book does is already quite brilliant. I remember when Scandal started so powerfully and went downhill lmaoo.  Anyway, Paper Gods is an interesting story, it's complex, it's beautifully written, and I like it. And for these reasons, it is the book of this month.


Love,


I


If you made it all the way here, you're the real MVP and your attention span deserves an award.  Look, it's been so long we had a book of the month, you had to know the next one would be really long. Haha.



Friday Reflections

 1.) Beloved Montreal neuroscientist, Dr. Nadia Chaudhri, has passed away after dealing with ovarian cancer. She shared her journey from when she was diagnosed last year till when she was in palliative care, in between sharing difficult aspects such as how she told her son she was dying as well as sprinkling joy and inspiration every now and then. In her final days, she continued to raise funds for under-represented students and raise awareness for ovarian cancer.  I'm absolutely devastated.


2.) One thing she inspired women to do was take charge of our health and speak up at the doctor's. Do NOT less any doctor dismiss your pain. For so long, she was being treated for a urinary tract infect and by the time the cancer was discovered, it had spread. hmmph


3.) Whew.


4.) Life is so senseless. So meaningless. Ah. 



5.) A brother’s obituary for his ‘Special Sister’ became a poignant internet phenomenon.


6.)  TFD has been trying out a four-day workweek and have been really successful. Man, I would give anything to actually have a 32-hour, 4-day workweek. It would give me so much time to rest and pursue my other passions. But then again even 40 hours is actually way more than that already sooo knowing our culture, even the 32-hour workweek would somehow spill over. 


7.) The unmaking of biblical womanhood.


8.) How to use what's in your hands.


9.) This week's New York Times' ethicist column is filled with fascinating quandaries. Like would you, after years of taking care of your ailing, abusive father, grant his request to let him access toxic web feeds that push conspiracy theories like Sandy Hook was fake, sToP tHe StEaL and other nonsense? 


10.) How to stop languishing and start finding flow.


11.) That's it folks. This week's Friday Reflections is not as cheery but I guess that's life. Have a safe, restful weekend. Try not to take things too seriously and not to take too many things to heart. Let love be your guiding force.


Love, lots and lots of love,


I


Summering in Philly AKA Things To Do in Philadelphia

I know it's officially fall but I still have some old posts about summer to share so...sorry? Lol. In any case, a few weeks ago (sometime in August), we visited Philadelphia and here are some pictures from the vibrant, beautiful, colorful, sometimes rude (yes.) city. Ladies and gentlemen, the city of brotherly love. 



The city at night. By the way, please note that this is quite picture heavy so brace yourself and your thumb or index finger or...ya know, whatever you use to scroll. 

Friday Reflections

 1.) I'm back, people! Not that you asked, but I'll tell you anyway—I was on vacation. 



2.) Ten thousand women die in car crashes each year because of bad design. 


3.) "There’s no quick way to measure someone’s intelligence. Every single instrument we have has been debunked. Intelligence exists in too many forms. It’s too culturally situated. It’s open to bias." - Jessica Wildfire 


4.)The real way to find out how smart someone is. [note this is a similar link to number 3]


5.) John Mulaney tells Seth about his eventful year.


6.) About four thoughts on that video in number 5. First, SETH is such an amazing friend. THAT, is the true definition of friendship. Love to see it. 


7.) Next, I can't imagine the pain his ex-wife must be in (after dealing with him and his issues all these years) hearing him talking about someone he literally just met (and is HAVING A BABY WITH) be this one savior who helped him through his issues.


8.) Then, in less than one year, he has checked into rehab, separated from his wife, moved out of his house, relapsed, had an intervention, back into rehab, out, met someone, dated her, divorced his wife, and is now expecting a baby. All of this in like 10 months or so. Even for someone with no addiction and/or mental health issues, this is TOO much.


9.) I'm sending him love though, I can't imagine the courage it must take to be so brave and so vulnerable like so. 


10.) Brené Brown, on empathy.


11.) A fantastic essay by Gabrielle Union on the hard truth about her surrogacy journey. Wow. 


12.)   Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is in a different place now. A brilliant profile of a brilliant person.

How to Prepare for the Academic School Year

A couple of weeks ago, Cohort Sistas and Black Women PhDs invited me to be a part of a panel on how best to prepare for the academic school year. Let me start by saying it was such a fantastic experience and I came out of it so energized. I learned that I love passing on knowledge and advice like that. So, invite me to more panels, people. I can speak on a myriad of topics and to a myriad of people, but especially to black women.




Okay, so as I mentioned, the conversation was about PhD students can prepare for the academic school year. I decided to blog about this based on some of what I said or planned to say because I don't think there is enough of this type of advice out there. I do realize that the academic school year has already begun but I still thought to codify this because much of what I say below will apply in subsequent years and throughout graduate school. By the way, it is certainly not too late to apply these principles towards this academic year. 


Now, how do you best prepare for the academic year? Let's get to it. Please know that I  will frame most of what I say below  based on my own experience, and as you’ll see this is much customizable based on your own needs and circumstance.  I will start with much earlier stages in grad school and then up to when I was much advanced, even though there is some overlap.


Going into my first year, while I learned a lot about broad plans and overviews of phd programs, and even read books about getting the most of your phd program, I didn’t nail down the specifics. And that’s one thing I certainly could have done better.  It was not the worst thing in the world but I was very disorganized, often overwhelmed, and just getting by day to day; so much that after just the first year, I started getting burnt out.  So the summer after my first year, I decided to change my approach. Two things really solidified that decision for me. I was very broke that summer. I also realized that my first year was done, and apart from the grades of all the classes I took that year, I didn’t really have much show for it.


So that summer [before my second year] I started with writing down everything I needed to achieve in a year. There are, of course, broad goals and somewhat vague ideas of what you want to get out of the phd program. But then there are specific goals that you need and that are attainable but that you need to plan for. And that’s what I did that summer. I made all these plans and further broke them down into how to achieve them. Each semester had its goal, what should be achieved, and by what month.  So for instance, I planned to present at conferences, work with professors, get fellowships, get started on publishing, get an internship, or other non-academic experience.  I also got a planner, a physical literal planner and I still use planners till this day. I can't imagine my [professional] life without my planner. It helps tremendously. Those semester goals I mentioned? Each week I would go over them and ask, what can I do towards achieving these goals? And then plan each day based on that. It also meant that nothing came as a surprise, I didn't miss meetings, or miss deadlines etc.  Having that plan the summer before the year began was helpful.

 

As the years passed, of course, I tweaked and adjusted, but the goal, the foundation was the same. Plan for what you seek to achieve in the academic year, but not vaguely, and write them down. Or If you’re more of a technology person, then yeah type them up. But they should be very visible and there should be tangible plans to achieve them. So the first way to prepare for the academic year is to do some planning.


It also helps to think a little bit further ahead. Circumstances will differ of course, but planning that early in advance, allows you to know for instance, when you need to start applying for dissertation fellowships or any other fellowships especially if you're going to do field research. It means the summer before the academic year begins, I look for fellowships I’m eligible for. Then you note information about them like deadlines, requirements, eligibility. And start planning. If it means I can start drafting essays, then it will mean I have a little less load when the semester starts and I’m being a RA or TA or writing my dissertation proposals or working on papers. 


Speaking of proposals, depending on your program requirements, the summer before the academic year begins is a good time to get ahead of some requirements of your program for that year. I'm not saying to get them done, but you can get started. Each program will have requirements depending on the year.  For instance, in my program we had to do a qualifier in our second year (and I think one comp), and then our proposal was due in the third year. It’s so much easier to work on something like your proposal during the school year if the summer before you’ve drafted or scribbled what you think you want to work on or even created a draft template to work with. This is all very customizable depending on your eventual plans of course, but you get a groove of things as the years go on. Now this all depends on how busy your summer is. Maybe you have to get a full time job, that’s okay. I would advise getting a day or two off before the school year starts to get in the frame of mind and make this plan. But the plan is essential. 


I was lucky to go to the field twice. Once in my third year before I had a fully drafted proposal. The summer before that year allowed me to set this in motion.  As you advance in your program, some may advise collecting data during summer. I couldn’t do that; both times I went to the field was during the school year. Yet during the summers before the school year, I took the time to plan almost every aspect of my field research including reaching out to people in the field, planning where I would be collecting the data in the field and other logistical aspects. 


The summer before the school year starts is also a good time to write papers or think of ideas for papers and get started. Once the school year starts, it can be so hard to be creative and to think. But If you already have the plans, executing during the school year is a little easier. So before the school year starts, apart from planning for the upcoming year,  the second way to prepare for the school year is to do some groundwork


Now if you’re really advanced; that is, you have collected data, published at conferences, have a draft of your dissertation (depending again on your program), and you’re think about graduating, the summer before the school year starts is when you put your application packages together. In my discipline, they start posting academic jobs as early as July and can go into maybe even March. So it’s a marathon,  but again, if before the school year starts, you have put mechanisms in place to help along the process, you’ll have an easier time. So that when the school year starts, and you’re working on your dissertation, being an RA, trying to publish and also flying out for interviews and campus visits if you’re lucky, your plan helps you be a little more efficient. Before the school year starts, have a good teaching statement draft, research statement draft,  a good cover letter, and diversity statements (most schools are asking for this now), and polish your job market paper. Of course, these are not the finished product, but editing is always easier than writing from scratch. Immediately school starts, you can send them to your advisors and professors and others to help you review. Because they are not in the weeds of midterms and such, they can also get it back to you on time. I know this sounds like a lot, it’s why I roll my eyes when people think professors or phd students get summers off. Because we know that’s not true! But yeah, this point is mostly similar to the previous one about doing groundwork but just on a more advanced level now.


One other way to prepare for the school year is to just hone your skills. We learn a lot by doing, that’s true! But sometimes, we need to create time to actually learn the skills we use. Again, to give an example from my field as that’s what I know well, quant/data science/analytics is a HUGE thing in my discipline. We were mandated to take three quant classes  throughout our coursework years. However, the summers before the school year, I would take some time to  learn more quant and/or software skills so that during the school year I can put these skills to practice whether it's by writing papers or just running analysis of my data. In sum, one way to prepare for the school year is to hone skills that will help you.


So much of the above is about planning towards your academic progress. But before the school year starts, it also time to think about how you plan to take care of yourself during the school year. You have to be intentional about this. Do you want to exercise every day? Do you want to make plans to go see family every month? Do you want to eat better? Whatever that means for you, plan for it. But you must take care of you. 


To summarize, set goals and make a plan on how to achieve them, lay some groundwork, hone your skills, and take care of yourself.


Have a great academic year ahead. Good luck!


Love,


I

Friday Reflections

 1.) I don't know why Friday Reflections didn't happen last week like it was supposed to. Oh, I know. I decided that after working for unbelievable hours during the week, that Friday evening was the time to try an entirely new pasta recipe AND bake an entire chocolate cake. Current me is looking at past me like she had to be crazy.


2.) Okay let's go.





3.) An important statistic struck a chord in my heart today. Loneliness rivals smoking, obesity as some of the biggest killers out there. In fact, loneliness can be as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.


4.) People who are lonely are more likely to have heart disease, stroke, immune system problems, and have a harder time recovering from cancer. Whew. My own research shows that people who display cohesive behavior (have more connections) are less likely to participate in political violence and less likely to justify it. Start making connections, people!


5.) This woman asks a very important question, where are the shepherds?


6.) "Take a look at this, because you're unlikely to see somebody like this again in your life time" The commentator said after Allyson Felix wins a gold, her 11th Olympic Medal, at her final Olympics. Amazing. 


7.) A couple of weeks ago, I read the most extraordinary, heart-wrenching, gripping, and powerful story of life, love, and grief on The Atlantic. It's about Bobby McIlvaine, who died in the 9/11 attacks, and how his loved ones are still grappling with that loss twenty years on. Even just writing this again, whewww, the emotions are coming back. What a story.


8.) That story moved me so much; in ways I can't even put in words. I cried, and marveled, and wondered, and sighed, and cried again. 


9.) Beyonce's evolution


10.) Living with anxiety and holding strong.


Much Ado About Hiding Your Significant Other Online: Should You or Should You Not?

We haven't had a book of the month SINCE MAY. And none of it is my fault. For some reason, everyone is interested in reading the same books I want to read.  There are 194 people waiting for a book I have on hold at the library (they only have 24 copies). And then, another book I have on hold has about 150 people waiting (they only have 20 copies or so). I really don't want to buy a new book so here we are. I will admit that the past couple of weeks have been really busy for me so maybe it's good? I don't know. I plan on going back to really old books that have never been featured on this blog so watch out for that. 


Alright here we go. What are we ranting about today? Nothing really. I wanted to write about billionaires and the obscene idolizing of rich people. But quite frankly, I'm too tired. While this post will be published on a Tuesday, it is being written on a Sunday morning so yes, I am too tired to rant about that on this beautiful, peaceful day of the Lord. Instead we will rant about something else.





I am bringing you a topic I already talked a little about on Instagram. 


A few weeks ago, Issa Rae got married. Yay her. Good for her.  But it was apparently a surprise wedding? I'm not entirely sure about that because I know we all knew she was engaged but Issa Rae has always presented an allure of extreme privacy; secrecy, if you will. Apparently, that's something people respect a LOT. Because all over the interwebs, people started preaching about the virtue of "moving in silence"  and how much better Issa Rae is for not showing us her boyfriend/fiancé/husband all this time. Even though her posting this man (AND her wedding) is what prompted this conversation. Even though this man has walked red carpets with her. Even though she had talked about him in interviews. But all of a sudden, people started talking about the virtue of secrecy, how you should never share, and how social media is not the place to talk about the good things of your life. Weird flex.


Wait a hot minute. By the way, before we move on, this (right here, what is happening in this post) is why I can't have a niche for this blog because I talk about too much nonsense. But moving on. 


I had been entirely confused and thought I was alone in this confusion before people started posting my thoughts and basically articulated what I was thinking. Someone said,


"Before you start projecting your own relationship onto Issa's and going on about 'moving in silence' and 'popping up married' please remember you're not famous and literally no one cares about who you're dating and you should probably post your partner if it makes them feel good." - @austinxwill on Twitter.


LISTEN.


I preach against social media A LOT but like most things, it is a tool. And it is one that can be wielded for good and for evil. However, using social media to celebrate the people in your life doesn't seem like the worst thing in the world to me. I should know, I do it a lot. And I can tell you for a fact that people LOVE to be celebrated. They may not be as generous as to celebrate others but it doesn't stop them from receiving it or even desiring it. So what is all this nonsense about hiding things? As with most things, it can be traced back to fear. 


I think, like @judnikki on Twitter said, it is extremely pathetic that you're afraid of showing off your partner because of other people's opinions. It is in fact cowardly. Even if it does not work out eventually, so what? Why should you be embarrassed because you were IN LOVE. It doesn't mean you failed and frankly, it doesn't mean the relationship failed. It just ended. We have to change the conversation around stuff like this. For most people, the fact that things went sour doesn't mean it was never good nor does it take away from the good and amazing times you had.  


Now, most importantly: WE DO NOT CARE. At the core of most people, they don't care. Yea, sure they talk about it for a minute, but they don't care. It's not even up to a WHOLE month that Issa got married and everyone has moved on. That's right; we have better things to do (this is awkward, since I'm quite literally basing an entire post off it. I swear, I also have better things to do😔😔). I love what Denola Grey tweeted:


"Post you boo. Don't post your boo. Reveal them on your wedding day. Don't reveal them. But if you're following an inaccurately perceived blueprint from a public figure who you have no access to personally, you might want to try some autonomy. There is way more scrutiny, on a large scale in celeb couplings. Which is why some certain precautions and dedication to privacy are taken and tailored to the individuals involved in a celebrity coupling. if you're not a public figure, the scrutiny is objectively less."


He didn't stop there:


"The obsession with how people hide their SO or whatever logistics are involved in perceived extreme privacy is so weird."


Most people really do not care as much as you think. I will give you one better, most people do not have the time to care. So please, if you want to share, please share. Ignore this nonsense "move in silence". I am a little nosy, yes, but more than that I love good news. I want to see the joy on your face with your partners, your babies, your friends, your families. Joy. Love. why would you not want to share that? Do you think we only want to read about racism, depression, anxiety, wickedness every single day? Come on.


For me particularly, I don't think anyone gives an eff whether or not my picture is online. For better or worse, I don't have a sense of self-importance AT ALL. I am not deluded into thinking some "hater" somewhere cares how I move or whatever. I have realized that people are dealing with wayyy too much to care about random nonsense. I don't know if this is good or bad. I used to assume everyone else was like this. And me being me who loves to celebrate and cheer people on, whew it HAS been a thing  (is all I will say). I am learning that people move differently. I don't want to be seen as too much so now I just post me and me alone. But anyway, no I don't really believe in the concept of the "hater". [Alright, there is this one babe lowkey obsessed with me and my family. Otherwise, meh.] 


Let's be honest, privacy has an allure; all that mysteriousness, there is a seductiveness to it. Beyonce is a global power for many reasons, including she is one of the biggest pop stars of this generation (and generations to come), BUT one of the many reasons she is so adored is people just can't figure her out. It could work either way: people couldn't figure out Hilary Clinton and so they resorted to despising her. I'm saying, when people don't know you and they really want to, they obsess about you. 


If you genuinely want to keep certain aspects of your life hidden because you're  a little shy (which I get since I can be like that); or  maybe because you just actually suck at expressing yourself; or because you feel like your motives are wrong (perhaps you are also like me, chasing humility); or because you just honestly want to be considerate of other people's feelings (yes that's a thing. I can relate to it too cos I have decided not to post on certain days to protect people's feelings); then good, that's all okay and fine. You do you.


But if you don't want to post because you think using social media makes you uncool, you're lame. Or if you don't want to post because of fear, then you need to work on those feelings. You cannot let fear drive your life; whether that's fear of what people will say or fear of failure. And yes, I too, have been too afraid to post sometimes—though this is more about my radical opinions than pictures or my "private" life. 


Congrats to Issa. The rest of us: you don't have some moral high ground because you're "private". You are not curing cancer, sweetie. You fell in love. In the words of the legendary Ellis Grey, "anyone one can fall in love and be blindly happy..."


So should you or should you not? Well, it all depends, doesn't it?


Love,


I


Friday Reflections

1) Hello people! Welcome back to another installment of this.




2.) In Washington, Chasten Buttigieg is still a stranger in a very strange land. Can I just say how absolutely adorable they are!


3) I recently promised myself to always show up for me and it's been working well so far. That sounds more complex that it is but it basically means investing in myself, doing what I like, and taking care of my self. Simple.


4.) "Is Dave Ramsey’s empire the ‘best place to work in America’? Say no and you’re out". This is definitely the wildest thing you will read about this week. 


5.) Thanks to that story and others like it, I found out that Dave Ramsey fired an employee for having premarital sex, brought a gun to a meeting, he would ask for your family's budget before hiring you; and also interviews your spouse before hiring you. It is the worst story on toxic workplace culture and cult like worship I have ever read. 


6) I had been getting really uncomfortable with him because he comes across as a bully. I was right. 


7) “I’ve got a right to tell my employees whatever I want to tell them,” he wrote. “They freaking work for me.” - said a Christian  man claiming piety.  What is wrong with Christians?  I am one of them so I guess, I gotta ask, what is wrong with us?


8) Speaking of, see what happens  when God visits a prayer group.


9.)  A father nearly killed his son in  a gruesome crime. One of the detectives on the scene later adopted the child.  I brought you some feel good story today. Aren't I so kind? Haha


10) That's it folks. Have a good and relaxing weekend. I know I'm planning to. [well, after I get some work done on Saturday, that is. UGH.]



Who is Kati Kariko and What Can She Teach Us About Chasing Glory and Fame

Today's story is actually quite old, and it would normally have been a line in Friday's Reflections. But it was too good, too phenomenal to be a single line post.  A few months ago, New York Times reported the story of a 66-year old researcher and immigrant who never got any grant, never made more than $60K, never got her own lab, but who for FOUR decades kept working on the mRNA (a path many considered foolish) but which ultimately led to the basis for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.


I recently realized that I don't cry easily, but this story...this story brought tears to my eyes when I first heard about it a few months ago.


Alexa, show me a hero.





It got me emotional for so many reasons, more than I could adequately articulate in one post. I have said over and over on this blog that know what it is to fail and to fail and to be rejected and to be rejected. So that hers resulted in quite literally saving humanity is probably the best story of this decade. 


Before we go on, let this serve as proof as we have been shouting from the rooftops that the vaccine was not made "very quickly".


Now moving on.  


A few months ago, Forbes released another of its list: 30 under 30. When are they not releasing list upon list that quite frankly serve no other goal than to be ego boosters? Anyway, I was saying to my friend that sometimes only the limelight is celebrated. Most times, only the limelight is celebrated. This brought to mind one of my most favorite quotes. 


"In this world of relentless self-promotion, we have all been raised to think that the limelight is the only light worth seeking...some of the greatest things have been done by people you've never heard of: quietly dedicating their lives to improve your own."  - Matt Mahoney


It's funny because this IS the reality of things. Everyone hypes themselves. People celebrate mediocrity. People embellish their skills. We call it branding. We call it celebrating yourself. We call it knowing your worth.  It is the world we live in. People value the huge following, fame, and popularity. I have actually always struggled with this. If, like me and a lot of people I know, you don’t like calling attention to yourself, it means in a world that only likes noise, they will drown you out.


Culture says boast, be arrogant, toot your own horns, make noise about how you are the baddest bitch. 


Yet, my Christian faith says, be humble, don't care what others say, don't try to impress others, think more about others than yourself, lift others up, care about how what you do affects others, don't take yourself too seriously.


"Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too." - Philippians 2: 3- 4.


Honestly, if you take Paul's advice in these verses to heart in Corporate America, you will probably not succeed.  Literally, at one point, Paul even said all his achievements were rubbish compared to the joy of knowing God. That's the focus, the goal, to bring glory to God.


So which to do? I don't know. Sorry to you if you thought I had an answer.


Here is my take though. Never ever do stuff just because of the glory it will bring to you. Because you will chase a high that you can ultimately never catch. You will have the adulation of millions and the worship of millions, and it will never be enough. You will find yourself on a Saturday night feeling completely empty and lonely despite being so great. Or the inverse: no one knows who you are no matter how hard you try to get them to care. You chase and you chase. You seek attention. You tweet crazy things and post nonsensical things that don't even align with who you are, and the more inauthentic you come across as, the more people turn away. So again, here you are on a Saturday night wondering why no one, not even strangers on the internet, cares about you.


I say focus on your work. Do the work and forget about accolades, and hype, and all of the noise. Do what you can. Be diligent. Be hardworking. But don't give up your soul. Paul later writes to Timothy that soon, people are going to be "...self-absorbed, money-hungry, and self-promoting" (2 Timothy 2:3).  And WOW, I feel like this describes this generation perfectly. When I say generation, I don't mean a particular age group; I mean literally this cohort of humanity on earth, especially those in so-called Western, developed, high-income (or whatever egocentric classification we have assigned ourselves) countries. There is a pervasive greed  that is vicious, selfish, and all around ruthless. But it's allowed, because if you couch something as "self-care" or "looking out for me" then no one sees any fault in it. 


Back to our hero, Kati Kariko, who that New York Times article was about. I have been in so much awe of her brilliance and hard-work. In thinking of her place in academia, in so many, many ways, her story is also a story of how incredibly broken academia is. One might even say how broken our society is.  


Academia (our society in general too?) no longer rewards ingenuity but  in many ways, caters to gatekeepers and over-exaggerated egos. We love fluff, and grandiose facades that are never ever what they claim they are. 


I am hoping this is a helpful reminder (lesson?) to us all. I think with the advent of social media (God bless us, but for how long are we going to keep blaming it for everything?) it has never been easier to achieve virality and fame and popularity of some sort. Everyone wants to be a YouTuber or amass followers on—oh boy—the Tik Tok (as the elders say). But maybe it's okay to release that thirst for the limelight. I think what's more important is impact; or at least that's what I am focusing on. We have to learn how to disconnect impact and success from popularity. 


Although if we are being honest, I'm also a little too lazy for the whole self-promotion and branding thing. So there is that.


This woman was literally demoted but nevertheless, she persisted. She was diligent even when there was no promise of ever "hitting the bag" and frankly, I don't know how she managed to do that.  


Interestingly, when you stop chasing the numbers, the high, the popularity, you not only experience peace but I think you also get to enjoy things more. It means you understand that sometimes, something is just a passion or hobby and you don't need to monetize it. It means you don't have to debase yourself for whatever reason. You just are. Don't you deserve that? For instance, (allow me to be vulnerable here), this blog (and its other equivalents) is just an aspect of my life. And true, there was a time I cared a lot about people reading and you know every creative's dream yidi yada. I don't really care about that anymore. Maybe people will read. Maybe they won't. I like it, I can do it, and so I will keep doing it. I just do me; within the confines of my values and principles, of course. So give yourself some peace today.


With all that said, give this woman her Nobel prize immediately! What a badass!


Love,


I


Friday Reflections

 1.) Hi again, people!





2.) Don't buy into the chlorophyll shots hype. There is so much information at our disposal because of the constant barrage of 15-second videos everywhere, but they can be so damaging. It can be so so damaging when people act like they have knowledge about [anything really] because they have a million followers and go on to spread nonsense to their unsuspecting followers. Please your favorite influence is not a doctor or expert of any kind, if we are being honest.  


3.) Related to the above: STOP DETOXING! It's a waste of time and energy. Instead, eat balanced diets, sleep, and (true talk?) maybe ditch the alcohol. And oh, those supplements you never stop taking could be killing you even (especially) if it's sold to you as self care.  


4.) A BBC profile on our fave,  Chimamanda Adichie.  


5.) So apparently Cat Person (an infamous story) has always been a thing and I completely missed out on it. It turns out it WAS based on someone. Here ya go. In my opinion, the original author violated Cat Person in more ways than one. And no matter how kind that man was, a 33 year-old dating an 18-year old IS predatory. 


6.) Six signs you're at the wrong job. 


7.) I'm not even going to dignify Bezos and his billionaire contemporaries and their joy ride with a comment :-)


8.) Okay, I lied. I want to say one thing and it's that, although these rich people are the wrong faces for it, space exploration (Scientific exploration) is never a bad thing. Some of our most practical inventions today happened because people explored, because science worked. Now, should we monopolize space so that it's some sort of joke for bored, old white men? No. Nay. Nein. Nope. Rárá. Nopity. 


9.) A millennial’s guide to growing your salary. 


10.) Don't ever turn your passion into work. 


11.) Okay that's all for now. By the way, you know you can bookmark this page and then click on every link whenever you get bored at work, right? RIGHT? I keep yelling today. What's the deal with that? Okay, bye for real now. See you next week!

How to deal with rejection in academia [as a Ph.D. Student]

Rejection in academia.


Hooo boy.


As we head into the academic job market season (in America), things are ramping up, people are getting confident, some are getting nervous, and others are just plain terrified.  Given the competitiveness of academia, it is almost certain that most people will get rejected.  That is, most people will come out of the season with no job, no funding, and more uncertainty than they can deal with. Sorry for this harsh truth. But hey, that is why such a post like this is relevant. 





First, a little back story for those who don't know about the academic job system or the job market, as it is so often called. So let's say you have been toiling away in a Ph.D. program for years. You have taken course works; presented at conferences; taken the qualifier; written comps after comps (I did a total of three including two written and one HARROWING, HORRIFIC oral); done the dissertation defense; started doing the research (for some this involves experiments, for others field research, and for a few unlucky ones like me, both); and then if you're lucky (with great mentors and an extreme amount of sheer luck), you get published; then things are on the right track to some extent. At some point in this process—specifically somewhere after you make substantial progress in your dissertation or— perhaps when your advisor realizes they have used you enough* and they are tired of your old ass and need fresh blood, he or she will decide it is time for you to get out; to graduate. He/She will tell you this, you will feel your stomach flutter, eager and excited to join the ranks of professors. Only, no matter how much you have been told about what is coming, you will still have no idea of the world that awaits you in the job market. It will almost always be brutal and inhumane.


Normally, this (your advisor's decision to get you out) is one year out from when you actually graduate. The beginning of the academic year is August, so that summer before, in July or August, universities start advertising positions that don't start till August the following year. Are you following? So, say you (your advisor, really. Because you have NO power in academia as a Ph.D. student) want to graduate in May 2022. July 2021 is when you actually start looking for jobs. Now, this does not necessarily mean you're done with your dissertation. Though it could also mean you are in fact done because as you will come to realize, people spend years on the market (I know someone who tried out for five years, literally, so almost a decade as a Ph.D. student). Anyway, starting in July, you start applying for tenure-track jobs, for adjunct positions, for visiting positions, for postdoc positions. Explaining the difference between each of these will take an entire post on its own but I'm willing to do it if you are curious. 


So you start to apply and apply and apply...and apply. Mind you, because it's academia you must be willing to move anywhere for this job, so you are told to apply broadly: Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Arkansas. No shade to these places but what is my black behind looking for in Boise or Iowa?????


What? 


I digress.


Yeah, so you start applying. You have put in so much work for the past few years and you're expecting to get some good response. Except silence. You are not invited for a Skype interview (Skype is used loosely here but after hundreds or thousands of applications, search committees pick about 10 or 15 students for a video interview and then from that bunch, pick about 3 or 5 for a "campus visit" which is the most exhausting job process that consists of job talks, meeting with deans, other faculty, and every other tom, dick, and harry).


Where did I stop?


Yes, silence. No Skype interview, no visit days, nothing. Or maybe throughout the entire cycle, only one school calls back but instead of you, they decide to yet again hire the white dude from Harvard or MIT because he knows how to do some jiu jitsu on R and/or Python. 


If all this sounds specific, it's because it's the truth. I will stand by it anytime, any freaking day. 


Now, of all the problems academia bestowed upon me, the rejections were not the worst of it. I guess I have just been rejected so so many times that I know the playbook now; I could literally write a book on rejection.  My problems were of a different beast, as you very well know now.


But what is this post about? This post is not to teach you how to finesse the system to get a job—though I want to write on that too since *shhhhh* I was somewhat successful with that lol.

This post is for that inevitable rejection you will get as a Ph.D. student. It's for when you apply for tenure track jobs for the umpteenth time. It's for when you apply for Fellowships after Fellowships, year after year, and nothing. It's for when you have been submitting the same paper for years (literally) and it keeps getting rejected. Or—and by GOD, this is the worst of all—when after slaving away and toiling for six years as an Assistant Professor, your tenure application is denied. WHEW. 


Because it will happen. It does happen. 

 

It will be especially worse because on Academic twitter: everyone and their mothers will be "happy to share that...'' or will broadcast their "some personal update..." very loudly because there is nothing academics love more than bragging while couching everything under "I know I'm so privileged", "I am so lucky" or promising to "dismantle the system" yidi yada, òjé màrínà. Announcement upon announcement, everyday, about people getting their dream positions and negotiating the dream package.  It will be lovely to see for those of us who have no stake in the game. But it will sting you if you're getting the rejections or the deafening silence. If you are in this latter category of rejections (and you probably will be given the beast that is the competitive nature of academia), please know that it does not and will never define you. The first step to dealing with rejection in academia is  to know that it does NOT and will never define you. Academia is your job. It is not some regal calling for a select few. It is just a part of who you are. You have an identity outside of academia and whatever anguish you may be feeling will also pass. You WILL be okay. 


That is a promise. 


I want to acknowledge what you feel seeing people (even outside of academia) get matched (hey medical doctors!), or get prestigious Fellowships, or postdocs, or TT appointments, or in one of the WORST  features (bug, to be honest) of academia, when one person accepts both a postdoc and a TT when so many others are left hanging. What is that about? There will never be a rational explanation for that, in my opinion. In any case, it is nerve racking to be the one getting the rejections. Yet, you must realize that it does not mean you're not good enough. It doesn't even mean your application is not great. Yes, it could mean you need to work on something in your application package, but true talk? It most likely is all due to chance. 


Yet, there is an "other" side to the anguish, and you will get there.


Promise!


Other people's success or even their failures is not a reflection of your value and will never be. You have to remember this idea before proceeding to any other step or suggestion mentioned in this post. So let it sink very well. Selah. 


Rejection, interestingly enough, is not just a part of academia. It is everywhere. I say this because it can be easy to have a tunnel vision perspective, and not realize that whether you are a carpenter, a politician, a chef, a salesman, you will get rejected. This is another important thing to help deal with rejection: remembering that it is happening to everyone around you. Yes, even the hotshot, rockstar your department brought in with millions of dollars after telling you summer after summer, that they have no money for grad students. Yes, shade. 


The next important step for dealing with rejection is to take a step back. For the job situation, I get that you probably need to make a decision immediately because once the cycle is coming to an end and you still have no job prospects, you have to decide what to do if it means graduation is not happening. Again. Yes, I understand the urgency. But still, take a minute to breathe. To forget. This applies to all forms of rejections; whether Fellowships, or journal publications. Take a minute, whatever that is for you.


Along these lines, give yourself a specific amount of time to be upset about the rejection. Before, when a journal rejected my paper, I could be in the dumps for weeks. Now? One hour max lmao. Frankly, I'm too busy to actually give a crap about whether some ridiculous journal publishes my work. I will confess that *very* recently, when a reviewer was extremely vile in their comments to me, it got to me a little more than I expected. Even with that, I talked about it a little and then moved on. I will never give them that much power over me. This is not and will never be a life and death situation for me. I do understand this is easy for me to say since I'm not the one who needs to publish 3 (4? 6? 8?) papers per year for six years to get tenure. 


Next, ask for help. A closed mouth will not get fed. Think broad and wide as you ask people for help. I will never advise being one-hundred percent stuck on academia. Whatever it is you want to do as a professor, there are a million and one ways to do it. It does not have to be in the four walls of a university, and this is where help comes in. Talk to people about opportunities that exist. Tell people your predicament.  Let them help you however they can, even if it's just by encouraging you. Ask for help reviewing your resume, or your grant applications that got rejected, or your paper that got turned down again. Always ask for help, and yes, even from strangers. There is only so much your advisor knows and only so much he or she can do. Leverage your connections or send cold emails (here is where LinkedIn is a tool to wield). You would be so surprised how kind strangers are; unbelievably kind and typically willing to help. I KNOW this for a fact. Just persist (don't badger them or be a stalker) but follow up. Even if academia is the hill you have decided to die on, you can still ask for help. Reach out to professors; they love the public show of kindness anyway so they might more likely help you, the stranger, than their own Ph.D. student in their department. So ask them for help on how to improve your chances or again, for encouragement, for opportunities that exist which you don't know about. They are everywhere on Twitter these days and if they are not there, no one is quicker to pop open a personal website than an academic so they are easier to stalk.


Please know that I will never make light of your dreams, or your rejections, or just your plight. Know that I acknowledge that feeling having been there myself. It is why I feel the most qualified to tell you it will all be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it is not the end :)


Love, 


I



*because as you complete all of what I wrote above, you are also working for your university/advisor/department either as a research assistant or an adjunct

Friday Reflections

 1.) After randomly chatting in their workplace bathroom, two women found out they were a match for each other's husbands who needed a kidney. 




2.) If women ran this world, it would be so much better. Alliances would be formed over a shared love of shoes, and the sky, or red lipstick, or pockets. ANYTHING. 


3.) It's funny that just a few weeks ago I was praising Wendy as a consummate professional. If I didn't know better, I would say she saw it and let it get to her head, and then she went downhill almost immediately.  I don't know what happened but with her recent performances, I have not seen anyone more unprepared, rude (to their coworkers), and just altogether disheveled at their work. I am hoping and praying (desperately) that she is not back on drugs. 


4.) Retinol and Retirement: two things you can never start too early 


5.) Inside William Barr's breakup with Trump. 


6.) So many people are trying to rewrite history like it was not before our very eyes they were conniving with the most fascist administration this country had seen in  a while. We must never let it happen. 


7.) There is so much about "cancel culture" out there. I, for one, think most of it is garbage. Is there really such a thing as cancel culture if almost everyone that has been purportedly "cancelled" is still out there earning big bucks. That said, we do need a conversation about the extreme lack of nuance, and tyranny of ideology overpowering the American Left.  Newsflash: everyone is not going to think like you and you're going to have to deal. 


8.) I, for one, am sick and tired of the performative and public performance (yes one and the same but repeated for emphasis) of ideals and identity. 


9.) Like Chimamanda Adichie said, "too many people are choking in sanctimony and lacking in compassion". To me, a true progressive ideal must lean on compassion, and kindness, and yes, inclusivity. 


10.) "I’m old enough to know there’s a difference between denouncing bigotry and demanding everyone march in lockstep with you. If you’re more interested in performing your own purity than understanding people’s plurality, you’re not looking at progress, you’re looking into a mirror." - Hadley Freeman


11.) If more than three entries in one Friday Reflections post are pointing towards the same thing, that's my cue that I have to write about that stuff. But, I'm lazy. Meh.


12.) The reason there have been no books of the month is that I haven't read anything interesting. It's not that I'm not reading. It's that I just have been so unlucky these past two months or so with the books I am reading. Wow. So dead. I'm about to start a new book and honestly, I think it will be better. *fingers crossed* 

I won't say the title so I don't jinx it. I gotta tell you, the only thing all them wack books have in common is that I announced on IG that I was about to start reading them. So go figure.


13.) Now that Instagram has basically confessed to wanting to become a video platform and denounced the very purpose that brought us here—photos—where do we go from here? Because you know I'm not into reels and stuff like the cool kids. 

Vulnerability Online: How Much is Too Much?

After not posting on the blog and on the blog's Instagram page for a while, I posted a quote by Cyril Connolly:


"better to write for yourself 

and have no public

than to write for the public

and have no self"


I had recently watched Julie and Julia for the first time. In the film, Julie is a blogger and at some point, her husband calls it narcissistic/self absorbed. I was like uh oh. Lol. I started to think about how much of what many of us do—blogging, social media etc—how much of it is extremely narcissistic. But that's the thing, it's hard to think of it as narcissistic when we couch it in nice terms like "building community", "authenticity", and my favorite "vulnerability". 


Vulnerability.





Before I continue, know that I'm not trying to spite anyone in particular. After all, I have an entire blog where I just talk talk talk, all day, all month, all year. I call it writing and I truly love it. I do.


Yet, it is important to ask the why. I have done that on this blog or tried to. If you don't share your thoughts, your opinions, does it make it any less valid? For me, whether or not I write on this blog or on Instagram or on Twitter, I know for sure that I will always write. 


That is how I deal with [what may be termed as] my sporadic presence on social media (working on this!).


The truth is sometimes you have to process, think things through, be angry, be joyful, be inspired, and you don't have to share all of this with all of us. We have been told that being vulnerable is amazing; it's human, it's humane, it's genuine. Therefore, people will vomit all sorts on their Timeline. They will tweet their most private thoughts, they will share and share and share and share. Don't get me wrong. As someone who uses social media (my personal social media) a lot , I'm not one of those snobs who looks down on people because they are on social media. Neither do I engage in all that nonsense talk about "I aM aCtUaLlY pRiVaTe. I oNlY sHaRe WhAt I wAnT yOu To SeE." 


Duh.


What I am saying is so much more deeper than that. This is not about whether you shared your vacation pictures or pictures of your baby or another picture of your lunch. This is more about the fact that everyone should not be so privy to the core of who you are and to your innermost thoughts. You can't share every single thing with every single person in the name of vulnerability. I get it. It has never been more important to be transparent about mental health issues, to normalize therapy, or to give us a peak behind the rose-colored glasses. It is okay to remind everyone that there is life beyond the tiny squares of your Instagram page, and that just because you post happy pictures of yourself doesn't mean you don't also go through challenges.  That's all fine.


What sucks, is telling us every single minute how you feel. You shouldn't share everything with all people. Not everyone deserves that type of access into your life. This is why we have close friends and family: it is their job to listen to that. THEY deserve all that access to you, not us. Sharing every single thing doesn't mean you are authentic or that you're vulnerable. I recently listened to two faves (Brene Brown and Adam Grant) talk about vulnerability at work. Brené Brown said you CAN be vulnerable without disclosing a ton about your emotions or about your life. Honestly, we don't need to know that much. To be clear, we DO need to share. Just not with everyone. 


I share a LOT on my personal Instagram's story, not so much about my life, but on my thoughts about issues affecting us (mostly politics and social justice and how they interact). But you know what, on some days, I tell myself not everyone deserves access to my thoughts. Sometimes, less talk and more listening, more learning,  and more doing. Why do I need to post this? I ask myself. What do I have to prove? 


Not to mention, beyond your own feelings, it is also okay to not have an opinion about every.single.thing. There are some typical folks on my Timeline that have an opinion about everyTHING. Do you ever take a minute to actually think through and ask yourself, okay what are my actual thoughts rather than parroting what everyone else is saying or what you think you should say, you know so you can measure well on the liberal or conservative thermometer. This is worrisome because when there is an issue, you almost always know what some people would say. Because there is no critical thought to it, just vibes. 


The point is not to tell you to not be vulnerable at all. Because trust me, I am actually learning to be more vulnerable. You do need some level of vulnerability to succeed in this culture. For instance, Brené Brown mentioned curiosity, a much needed trait to thrive in the workplace and frankly, in the world. 

So the question is, how much is too much? And of course, she nails the answer:


"Vulnerability minus boundaries is not vulnerability."


Ultimately, it goes back to the why. Why are you sharing this? For vulnerability at work (and I do think this can apply to social media), you should ask, according to Brown: 


"Are you sharing your emotions and your experiences to move your work, connection or relationship forward? Or are you working your s—t out with somebody? Work is not a place to do that."


Believe it or not, social media—an audience of a bunch of wild, crazy strangers—is not the place to work your ish out with yourself or anybody else. 


"We always have to interrogate our intention around sharing and question who we’re sharing with and whether it’s the right thing."


In other words, there is a nuance to vulnerability. People share for all sorts of reasons; whether it's for attention or for validity or because of boredom or to educate or just for sharing sake. Yet just as you would not want all 500 of your followers in your bedroom, I don't think we have deserved front row seats to your thoughts or frankly, your life. 


"Look, some of the most vulnerable and authentic leaders I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with — truly authentic and truly vulnerable people — personally disclose very little. And some of the leaders I work with disclose everything, and they are the least authentic and vulnerable people"


This part. Some of the people who share the most are the least authentic people. And that's saying something because sometimes what people call vulnerability is just being manipulative and needy. I have a superpower: I can see through BS real quick (though, I must say my power has been waning in recent times). That said, normally, that power combined with my cynicism means I scroll past a LOT of nonsense online. I almost always (or used to? hmmph) know when people are not authentic. They could have hundreds of thousands of followers, crack the funniest joke, preach the silliest motivational talk, and I would roll my eyes. Because they lack true vulnerability and/or authenticity. Sometimes it's not even hard to recognize: I mean, turning your own (or someone else's) pain into opportunities for popularity? Commodifying every single thing just because hashtag ad. Lying through your teeth for sympathy? Come on. 


I also worry that this is all easy for me to say since I [normally] HATE vulnerability anyway so is this just an escape for me? A way to relinquish all forms of responsibility? I don't know for sure. I will keep working on how to be vulnerable. In the meantime, I am certain about what matters. What matters, it seems, is practicing compassion, empathy, and true kindness.  

Let's take responsibility

Let's apologize when we are sorry

Let's understand that our actions have consequences and affect other people

Let's acknowledge that sometimes our unformed opinions are just that: unformed, not immutable fact. 


Love, and a little vulnerability,


I