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Black History Month: Growing Up Black In A White Town

Black History Month is important to me. Being black is part of who I am, it’s not something that’s going away. I’m proud to be black. Growing up, my family never really talked about things like that. I didn’t even learn anything about it until I was old enough to go to school.

For those of you who don’t know me, I grew up in Salem, CT. The easiest way to describe Salem to you is by calling it a farm town because that’s what it was, at least to me. One of the other things that is most noticeable to people about Salem is that the population is mostly white. Now, I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, but can you imagine growing up in a place where there was nobody that looked like you?

This is my kindergarten class photo. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m the only child of color in the photo.

The only other people of color I knew in town were my own relatives and a boy named Michael. I was young when we first moved to Salem, so it never really seemed like a big deal to me. When I got to middle school, I began to ask questions. Why were there no other kids that looked like me? I didn’t really have the answer for that, I still don’t. I didn’t know what it really meant to be black or white but I knew I had to “act white” to fit in.

There were so many things I did in middle school that I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had just been myself and loved me for who I was. I straightened my hair everyday. Honestly, I even tried to dress like the girls I went to school with. I thought it might make them like me more but that was never the case. Still, I continued to straighten my hair and wear clothes I didn’t like just to fit in.

Being black in a mostly white town came with more than just physical identity issues. Middle school was around when my parents split up. This now unfortunately put me in the “all black dads leave” category, and I hated it. Some of the kids in my grade at the time actually gave me a really hard time about it. I was miserable. Being black came with so many stereotypes like that. Kids asked me all the time if I liked fried chicken or Kool-Aid because that’s what black people like, according to them. I did love those things but not because of my skin color, just because I liked them.

Growing up in a mostly white town really made me hate the black part of my identity. It made me feel outcasted and different. I wish my parents had taught me to love all of myself. If only they had taught me more about black history and what it meant to be black. That those stereotypes aren’t who I am. I am proud to be black and I am even more proud of the history that comes with it.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” and I have that same dream for all the colored children and young adults in this world.

Read The New York Times’ article Teachers Tackle Black History Month, Under New Restrictions, it’s a really interesting read!

Read The ‘Other’ Aspect of Black History Month here on TurningPointCT.org!

Why Mirabel Madrigal Is My New Role Model

Yes, I’m starting this week off with another post about Encanto but that’s not a bad thing. The movie is full of wonderful life lessons and characters who remind us of ourselves. One character that stuck out the most to me was the movie’s lead, Mirabel. She’s a true role model for all of us.

At one point or another, we’ve felt the exact same way as she did throughout the movie. She grew up in a home where she felt like she didn’t fit in even though she tried her best to. Mirabel was made to feel unimportant and inadequate by her Abuela because she doesn’t have a gift like the rest of her family. But this is far from the truth, she’s the most important family member of all.

The Abuela was incredibly hard on Mirabel. She constantly made her feel like she wasn’t good enough for not having a gift. She did her best do her part as a member of the Madrigal family but everyone made her feel like she was just getting in the way. Her home then becomes in trouble and she tried to warn everyone but nobody believes her. She felt that saving the miracle would make her a hero.

Eventually she realizes that no matter what she does to save her family and their home, it wasn’t going to be enough. But she knows her worth. She loves her family and everything that it embodies with or without the magic. She was what her family needed all along. Someone to remind them that they were more than the things they could do. Mirabel shows us that she has what it takes to be a hero, magic or not.

Growing up I wish I had someone like Mirabel to show me that it was okay to be imperfect. I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. I felt like I tried to be someone I wasn’t. Everyone was so hard on her but that never changed the way she felt about herself and that’s something I truly strive for. To be wholeheartedly me, no matter what anyone has to say. She did what she did and fought for what she believed in because that’s what was right.

Despite our struggles, we can make it out on top. We may not have powers or special abilities but there is something unique about all of us. We have to remind ourselves that we’re enough, especially when we’re feeling low. Even when Mirabel was feeling low and inadequate, she made sure to always remind her family that they were enough. She taught Luisa that it’s okay not to be strong and Isabela that it’s okay to be imperfect. Though she has no real gift, she has the power of love and support and that is magic in itself.

Mirabel Madrigal is my new role model and I wouldn’t change a thing about that.

Here’s the song, All Of You, that Mirabel sings to and with her family at the end of the movie! In the song, Mirabel and her family sing about how they’re more than their magic. How what matters is their whole being, who they are as people. Check it out below! 🙂

Read USA Today’s article What Disney’s ‘Encanto’ teaches us about self-worth and overcoming intergenerational family trauma on their website!

Check out my post Reminding Yourself That You Are Enough here on TuringPointCT.org! 🙂

Don’t Be Someone’s Sometimes

Welcome back to 2022’s first Self-Care Sunday! Let’s start the new year off with a reminder. I wanted to remind you don’t be someone’s “sometimes”. This was originally presented as a quote but has become a life lesson for many of us. A lot of us have that one person we always run back to, regardless of how long it’s been. Whether they’ve treated us well or not, we always find ourselves right back with this person. I know that I have definitely been guilty of this. In fact, I spent most of my teenage years being someone’s ‘sometimes’. For me, that doesn’t stop at romantic partners. I was a lot of my friends’ ‘sometimes’.

I’ve had friends who only wanted me around when it was convenient for them and honestly, that hurt more than having a romantic partner who felt that way. I used to drop everything I was doing to help these friends with whatever they needed but they would never have done the same thing for me. How do I know that? Because it’s the absolute truth. I’ve even been with people romantically who only treated me well when it was for their benefit.

I am not someone’s “sometimes”. I am worth so much more than that. I deserve to be someone’s always. Do not bend over backwards for people who would never do the same for you. Please remember your worth and know that you deserve to be more than someone’s “sometimes”, you deserve to be their ALWAYS.

A great read for this week is Kate Burness’ article I Refuse To Be Your ‘Sometimes’ Girl on the Thought Catalog!

Also read our Project Coordinator, Kailey’s post Release Yourself right here on TurningPointCT!

Positive Self-Love Affirmations

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Positive self-love affirmations can have a huge impact on both our self-esteem and our self-worth. Now, let’s talk about the difference between self-esteem and self-worth. Our self-esteem is often based on how much we like and appreciate ourselves for who we are. On the other hand, self-worth is naturally knowing that we have some sort of value outside of our own abilities.

We know that there is power in finding people or objects that will boost our confidence. We can’t always rely on outside entities to do this for us though. Sometimes, we have to be able to do it for ourselves. Honestly, I think that we should be our own biggest fan. Positive self-love affirmations can really help with this!

Believe it or not, the negative self-talk that we engage in is a learned behavior. The use of positive self-love affirmations can change negative self-talk. I mean this in the sense that it can decrease, and even stop, negative self-talk from happening. These affirmations help us to rewire our brains to accept more positivity.

You can practice self-love affirmations in a variety of ways! A lot of people, including myself, like to practice affirmations verbally to themselves. If you’re not into that, you can even practice it by writing your affirmations down somewhere. Some people even turn their affirmations into mantras for meditations. How you choose to do it is really up to you! It’s all about making YOU feel good!

Here are 3 self-love affirmations that I love:

  1. My being is worthy of love.
  2. I am whole just as I am.
  3. I learn and grow every day.

You can find more positive self-love affirmations here! 🙂

Also check out my post Reminding Yourself That You Are Enough here on TurningPointCT.org!

Why Dating Yourself Matters

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Have you ever heard the phrase, “you should take yourself on a date”? I know it might sound kind of silly but it’s actually worth trying. Dating yourself isn’t just something you do because you aren’t receiving the affection or attention that you need from your partner or you just got out of a bad relationship and need to show yourself some love. You should be doing this regardless of where you’re at in life or your relationship status.

Dating yourself is a form of self-love AND self-care. This form of self-love and self-care focuses on showing yourself appreciation, love, and respect. By doing this you are teaching yourself metaphorically how to fill your cup before you fill those of others. Self-love is crucial in preserving positive, healthy self-esteem and emotional health. Self-love is so important and also rewarding, which is why I think dating yourself should be a part of your everyday self-care.

Taking yourself on a date can mean anything, it just has to be about you! One of my favorite dates to take myself on is a coffee date. I love pretty much every coffee out there so this is something I really enjoy. Sometimes, I like to go get iced coffee and enjoy my time alone especially when I’m not feeling so great. I take this time alone to reflect on my emotions and how they’re affecting me. I try to remind myself that I will be okay, even if it doesn’t feel that way. This time alone to reflect and appreciate yourself is crucial in maintaining our mental health.

As corny as it sounds, I urge you to take yourself on a date and really spoil yourself. You deserve it. You deserve to feel loved, appreciated and everything in between, even if those feelings have to come from you.

What kind of dates have you taken yourself on? I’d love to hear all about it!

You can learn more about dating yourself here! 🙂

Please also check out my post Reminding Yourself That You Are Enough here on TurningPointCT!

Practicing Self-Love On A Bad Day

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Tough situations and long, exhausting days can leave you feeling like you are undeserving of self-love, which is why it’s so important to practice self-love intentionally. Especially on your bad days.

Here are some signs that you might need to be practicing a little more self-love:

  • Yo’u’ve had a tough day and you’re feeling unworthy, unlovable, and less than good enough
  • Work has been overwhelming and you feel unappreciated and overworked
  • Social media has left you feeling jealous and sad
  • You’ve been arguing with a loved one and you feel unheard and lonely

If any of that sounds eerily familiar to you, then it sounds like you might need to be practicing a little more self-love.

I suppose we should start off by talking about what self-love is. I feel as though a lot of people don’t really know what that is and that’s okay. We’re going to talk about it together!

Self-love is allowing yourself kindness, understanding, and compassion. It’s all about valuing your own wants and needs as a priority. Self-love is knowing your worth. When you genuinely love yourself, you accept your strengths and weaknesses without giving yourself a hard time about it. You love yourself for all that you are and encourage growth instead.

I’ll admit, practicing self-love isn’t easy but it’s necessary. I had no idea how important it was until I hit what felt like rock bottom. We often feel like we are undeserving of self-love but that’s when we need it the most. That’s why it’s so important to practice self-love, especially on your bad days.

When you have a bad day, it can be really difficult to show yourself the self-love you need. You may find yourself bottling up your emotions or even beating yourself up over mistakes you might have made. Feeling this way can lead to negative emotions and negative language towards yourself, which isn’t great. Our bad days are when we need self-love the most.

Practicing self-love allows you to be more compassionate towards yourself when you’re struggling. It also gives you the opportunity to learn and grow as a person, rather than giving yourself a hard time. Self-love can help you move on in a more sincere and positive way.

Read Psychology Today’s The Power of Self-Love and Self-Compassion here.

Bonus self-care treat! Learn how to make a Positivity Jar with our Project Coordinator, Kailey! 🙂