As the year comes to an end, my boyfriend and I have spent a fair amount of time assessing the changes we’ve made this year to ourselves and to our education as well as what we hope to accomplish in 2016. Maybe it’s early… but when a visionary and an idealist get together, the future is more often than not a topic of conversation. I don’t know how qualified I am to give advice, but I can certainly write a few points on some important things I’ve learned so far this year. Of course, there are two more months to go, so hopefully I’ll be able to learn much much more.
- Living a lifestyle you want is possible. Before writing, the idea of not working a 9-5 job had never occurred to me. I dreaded the idea of working a regular job and the idea of having to work 10+ hours a day to make ends meet in the U.S. What I really wanted was to make enough money to live comfortably, be close to my parents and have plenty of free time to pursue other interests. It was difficult and it took planning but in 2015, I’ve made that happen. I think the key here is not just saying what you want, but answering this question: “What do I have to do to make the lifestyle I want attainable”.
- You don’t have to engage with ignorant people on any level. This one is a difficult lesson to learn, but it’s one that I feel I’ve truly internalized. A lot of people who aren’t educated about historical context or facts love to try to start arguments either in person or on social media. Realizing that I didn’t have to jump into every single fight was so relieving. There are some people who are so ignorant that it’s not worth trying to change them.
- Keep your family as close as you can. West Indian families do have a deeper bond than many. The difference between how a family interacts here vs. what I’ve seen in the “First World” is like night and day. My boyfriend and I both have big Saint Lucian families. (His is much larger than mine I think.) This year, my boyfriend went through a major loss and in processing his grief, we talked a lot about what our families mean to us and how easily our connection to home could have been severed through choosing to live in the United States. We underestimate how much it helps to have a group of people rallying behind you and supporting you.
- Be “outspoken” and “radical” without apologizing. Moving back to Saint Lucia opened my eyes to how conformist this entire society is. My boyfriend’s hair grows 2 inches and people literally treat him differently for 2 extra inches of hair. It’s crazy! I also wear my afro (without combing it!!! gasp!!) down all the time. This is just a simple example of what it’s like to not to conform and it’s met with so much pushback. Not only that but I’m very outspoken about what’s considered “controversial”. It’s absurd how many people want the label of being a feminist etc but aren’t willing to actually BE controversial. I encourage people not to try political labels on for style and to try to live by these labels in their words, thoughts and actions.
These are just a few small lessons. I’m sure I have many more reflections about the end of the year on a large number of subjects from activism as a whole to how to live and survive as a woman in the world. Hopefully in these small tidbits you can find some helpful advice or a new way to think about how you live.