So, before I fully jumped into my new quarter century skin, I wanted to take a moments to discover my self more with another challenge: #QuarterPieceOfMe. It's similar to #30DaysOfSELF in that it is a creative self-portrait challenge that I forced myself to stick to daily. But it's different in that the photos were the anchor, yes, for the Instagram series, but not the most important element. For 25 days leading up to my 25th birthday, I shared a little bit of myself with the faces both foreign and familiar of the digital space. What a ride it's been. As much as outsiders have learned about me, I've learned a lot about myself. What I'm conscious of and what I'm not so conscious of. Pretty and ugly. Proud and pitiful. All of it.
I present to you my personal countdown, #QuarterPieceOfMe, with select favorite photos.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 1 of #25to25: I thought everything would make sense by the time I was 25, but 25 days out from being alive for a quarter century, I see just how mistaken I was. In the prime of adolescence, I swore that by now I'd be some man's wife, some child's mother, somebody's well-established expert. What a detailed daydreamer I was back then! I didn't realize that 25 was in no way designed to be my ending or mid-point. The starting whistle blows now...
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 2 of #25to25: My heart and ability to create are the biggest things I have to offer the world. I already acknowledged that, like Sway, I don't have the answers to anything. All I can do is share the colorful questions, thoughts, ideas and other little somethings swirling around my noggin with the world through my visual crafts, simply in hopes that they'll inspire or spark that solution within whoever may see it.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 3 of #25to25: I'm easily inspired by others and I absolutely LOVE that about me. Well, most of the time. I'm like a sponge. Chances are that if you've ever spoken to me, passed by me, made eye contact with me, held me, smiled at me, hurt me, actively ignored me, encouraged me or attracted me, I've absorbed some part of it and it manifested itself into something I put out into the atmosphere. I keep it and hold onto the memory. No encounter is isolated or self-contained. I love that energy is transferable like that. It's a thrill because you truly put out what you take in. Keep inspiring me with your lives and see who and what I become because of it.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 4 of #25to25: It's almost ridiculous how many journals I have. Every year I'm either gifted or buy a new one, and I write in every single one of them. I love them dearly, my babies. I have one on me 90% of the time. There's a book for thoughts and ideas, one for journalism pitches, one for travel, one as a diary, one for regular old to-do list notes, one for sketches, one with encouraging exercises, one with poems. And then there are the ones from my youth that I STILL look back on. There's such a strength and uncanny power in writing. Actually using your hand and ink instead of a keyboard and a screen that can fail at any moment. Tangible magic.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 5 of #25to25: Thoughts become things, and if you still don't believe in that, you're a fool in my eyes. I'm often told I think about things too much, which often gets mistaken for worrying. I'm careful of the thoughts I put into the atmosphere, because feel I'm partly responsible for both the positive and negative things that happen in my life. (Hint: read "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne. It is SO real.)
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 6 of #25to25: Getting messy = making progress. Slowly but surely I'm learning to break out of some of my rigid habits and wing things. Get my hands dirty, attempt, fail, then attempt again. Eventually succeed. There's beauty in the process, no matter how uncertain and unpolished it may seem.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 7 of #25to25: I'm optimistic about the future and strive to live with nothing but positivity on my heart. Sometimes it can annoy people with how much of a Positive Patricia I can be, but what's the point of looking for the worst in a situation? Keep all that foolish negative energy from around me, I'm allergic. The bad will always be there, nothing to do about that. So be productive and focus your energy into seeing the glass half full (or just enough to get the job done) instead of half empty.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 8 of #25to25: I've come to the realization that I'm not "sexy." I'm cute, pretty or motherly to most. And I'm learning to just own that. Like it. See that nothing's wrong with that. For a while, I hated that the first thing people saw in me was my maternal nature or whatever. But then I noticed that trait is what makes me a good friend to my friends, and that's more important to me. Anyway, parts of that sweet natured appeal lends to the charm I'd like to think I have on some :)
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 9 of #25to25: I'm seriously working on the whole kitchen thing, but not for you, Sir. I may have been born motherly, but not so much with the whole domestic trait. I'm not a fan of slaving over a stove or by an oven (yeah, I certainly can't bake), especially specifically to be someone's "Cater 2 U" reincarnation. But as I get older, I'm making a conscious effort to expand in this area simply because it's one more thing I want to say I've excelled at. Cook on a whim without a recipe handy. Shoot, if The Lord blesses me with a "him," I'd totally swoon if he was excited me to school me in the culinary arena. You know, that corny cooking together sort of thing. I'm a sucker for things like that.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 10 of #25to25: There aren't enough words in Webster's dictionary to express just how much I love my hair. My kinks, my coils, my naps, my texture, the thickness of it. How it grows wild out my head and does what it wants sometimes, but people still compliment it anyway. Even on "bad hair days." I remember when I would cling to stringy strands of untrimmed hair during youthful permed days. Equating that with normalcy. Beauty. Glad that phase is over. Curls, in general, are ***flawless.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 11 of #25to25: I'm all about finding richness in life experiences. Happiness, joy and other emotional quantifiers. Money isn't everything, but it sure would help right about now. Real talk. I can't wait until the day when looking into my bank account doesn't cause me any anxiety.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 12 of #25to25: I long to see the world beyond my coast. Naturally, I'm a curious being. I'm always wondering, imagining what it looks like beyond my doorstep. By the year's end, I hope to feel like a world citizen as opposed to just a New Yorker. Take in the sights and smells. Feel a little lost only to soon find my way. Be the foreigner for once. Be humbled by a lifestyle that I, for most of my life, was just a spectator of. Pimp my passport out.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 13 of #25to25: I love mementos and markers of success. Maybe that's a light way to say I'm an emotional hoarder, but that's okay. Shouldn't the things that made you smile the hardest, overcome hurdles, reminisce the most and open your eyes the widest be allowed to be kept? I keep all my press credentials, medals, trophies, every single award since kindergarten, sentimental cards (just a few), friendship notes from junior high, gifts from relationships that didn't work out, love letters, movie and concert tickets, idle doodles. Whatever small piece of the experience I can salvage. That trip down memory lane is all the sweeter when you can hold a specific thing from that memory.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 14 of #25to25: I believe black is best. Sorry, I'm not sorry. No shade. And yes, for the color, but it's more than that. The state of mind, the confidence, the cultural nuances across the board, but fundamental feeling of deeply rooted family ties. I wear it across my chest with pride. I. Am. Black. And. Damn. Beautiful. True story: I went out to a medical school dinner with my friend, and we were two dark specs in a sea of mostly cream. That was the blackest I've ever felt; my chocolate skin and huge, fluffy fro paired with a short sequined dress, heels and legs for days, Shmoney dancing to the urban songs peppered in between Taylor Swift's greatest hits. The only one that looked the way I did. Danced the way I did. And I loved every bit of it. I was comfortable in my skin and with my "ethnicness." I felt the stares from time to time, as my hair swayed in sync with my hips on the dance floor. It was that of curiosity and admiration. Everybody knows what's up ;)
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 15 of #25to25: My family is my core and the reason I smile. They're literally my everything. Lately, I've realized that I'm luckier than most. The news is littered with casualties, missing people, prison sentences, bitter and broken unions, catastrophic mysteries and the whole nine yards. I have friends I know that would give anything to be able to hold their mothers' hands again, to know their fathers better, to not have an obituary of a sibling hanging on their mirrors, to have an elder that can't remember that they helped raise them, to undo the horror of losing their infant after months of preparing for parenthood. I can't imagine the ache in my heart that would come from not having my family with me. I give thanks every single day for them, happy that The Lord saw them into another day. Happy that they're out of harm's way. That if nothing else is going right in our lives, we always have each other to come back to. We don't tell our loved ones how much they mean to us in the present. I'm grateful for how they've shaped my past and can only pray to get more joy being with them long into my future.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 16 of #25to25: I'm a Pisces, so my emotions always get the best of me. I try so hard to bury that sensitivity, but to no avail. I love and feel harder than everyone else it seems. I'm a fairly quiet individual, but if you truly know me, you know when I'm buried in my emotions. Overreacting, thinking too hard. I'm working on it, I swear. Little by little.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 17 of #25to25: I'm terrified of being alone. One of my biggest fears is that I won't find completion or companionship like I've always dreamed about. It's not even always about love and relationships and all that jazz. I'm talking about the little things. Besides someone designated as my forever-friend/husband. I mean people moving on without me. Fading friends because they weren't make to be, or they don't see any importance in me anymore. Busy with an unsatisfying job, but too busy to make time for me. It's clearly not something that should be in the forefront of my mind. And it's not. But on some days, I can't drown the thought. It's a real thing, because I see people suffer from loneliness, and it's nothing I ever want to experience. Ever.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 18 of #25to25: I hate that I can't remember. That I'm a novice. Inexperienced, to say the least. I've been patient--I have no choice--but sooner rather than later, I want to truly experience that four letter word and all the stuff that comes with it. Its quirks. Its lessons. Its feelings. Hairs on the arm standing up. Flutters in the stomach. Heart racing. Staring at the phone waiting for it to ring. Grins that are impossible to wipe off. Cheeks stamped with kisses. Blended families. Blended friends. Seeing no one else in view. Palms longing to be held. Fingers interlocked. Random long stares of admiration. Jokes and laughter. Understanding and problem solving. Compromise. Comfort. Warm embraces. Idle conversation. Deep conversation. An escape from the world. Familiar. A safe haven. Trust and true friendships. Completion and enhancement in the same breath. A human diary. Writing a life story together. Deeper than lust. Love.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 19 of #25to25: Everyone has those few insecurities (sometimes hidden and sometimes not) that make them, well, hella insecure. How do you overcome them? Do you hide behind your best quality hoping no one notices anything else? Or do you poke fun at your personal "shortcomings" for kicks to try to lighten the sentiments? Do you try to spin them into a positive? Do you open up to share them and talk it out with a friend? Or do you simply behave as if they do not exist? Like you don't feel the magnifying glass hovering over your "problem areas"? Do you feel bad for holding onto them? Or do embrace that you, too, are a human being subject to flaws and feelings? Questions we have to ask ourselves. Or at least I do, anyway.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 20 of #25to25: When my loved ones are happy, I'm happy. There's just something so transferable about joy, even if it's not coming from within your own heart. When I see my family and friends smile because of a good grade, an internship or job offer of a lifetime, a promotion, the existence of love, witnessing humanity at it's finest, being the reason for one more ounce of positivity in the world, their happiness is as contagious as the common cold. I'm one of those people that gets off on feel-good moments. If I can be a fragment of the reason why one of them is happening, hallelujah.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 21 of #25to25: I've always been a big dreamer ever since I was little. From creating books and pictures for my parents and them treating all my creations like they were larger than life. They set the platform for my aspirations to be sky high. My current hopes and dreams all include papers and pens and prose and portraits. I want to be an author (turned screenwriter), features editor, editorial director or consultant, photographer, practicing artist. That's a lot but I want a lot. Like I've been taught by my extremely supportive family, the sky's the limit, and I'm only looking up.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 22 of #25to25: While I was at Howard U, I had the honor of being a part of Beacon Liturgical Dance Ministry, where we used our bodies to be a vessel for His word. It's not something I talk about a lot, but I think about it all the time. How happy I was to have been with a group of women who helped me to become more spiritual. To tap into parts of my heart I didn't know I could reach. To have the willpower to get up at 6am to workout with them and then come to Bible study on top of classes. And to do it with love in my heart. I miss my Beacon sisters and what they've instilled in me. I carry the most important piece of them with me: the scripture that defined our purpose and that I have memorized thanks to them, Matthew 5:14-16 :). "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." It is my favorite few lines of the Bible and it guides me not only in the spiritual sense, but in all that I do and I apply myself to.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 23 of #25to25: You know what, I'm one of those happy-go-lucky, hippie-on-the-inside, sunshine-and-rainbows, actually-wants-world peace kind of chicks. The second I found out what the word "pacifist" meant, I knew the term accurately defined me. I don't want to hurt anyone. I don't want anyone to be hurt. I wish suffering was fictional. I wish people only wanted to help each other just for the sake of helping each other. I wish there was no reason to kill. No carnal desire to see bloodshed. No ISIS. No Boko Harem. No damn Stand Your Ground discrepancies. No fear and hatred for the next man. Wishful thinking right? (This post is for yesterday)
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 24 of #25to25: As many down moments as I may have (or think I have), life is good. Somewhere in the world, there is someone praying for some sort of completion. I have all 10 fingers and toes. I have clothes on my back, a roof over my head, shoes on my feet and loved ones at my side. My bank account has never actually been/stayed at zero. My parents believe in my career choice. I have a degree from a great school. There are stamps in my passport. I can go out to eat and enjoy happy hour when I want to. I don't have enemies. My edges haven't left me (lol, only on Shondays). I have my days where Murphy's Law reigns supreme and I bitch and moan about it because nobody likes an off day. But at the day, I'm fortunate and blessed and can't be more thankful for my life right now.
#QuarterPieceOfMe, 25 of #25to25: Finally, I am 25 years old. Sounds and feels crazy. But most importantly, I am God's canvas and I can't wait to see what he creates with me in my 25th year on Earth. Thanks for joining me on this journey