2015 was weird. A month into the new year and plenty of time to reflect, that is the best I can sum it up. Refraining from tagging yet another year as the worst or dismissing the life I lived over the last 365 days as if I have something to make up for in 2016. Last year was just weird. There were high points that were unbelievable, there were low points that had I still don’t have the answers for, in between points that leave me ambivalent. But I’m proud of the weirdness.
I’m proud of the mistakes I made, the lessons I learned, the things I spent too much time on and the risks I took that were worth it in the end. Proud of all the weird shit. I spent the last years of my 20s attempting to fit into the box of normalcy. Albeit my attempt at normalcy landed me with a faintly popular YouTube channel, it also had a hand in me leaving New York City then, in late 2014, leaving the East Coast for Houston, TX. I spent a year in a city where I was directly connected to no one.
I want to say that I met the worst or suckiest people ever in Houston, but that’s a lie I’ve met horrible people elsewhere, they were just balanced out with people who I revered as a true friend. But I made the mistake of making decisions through my insecurities, spending too much time fascinated by the negativity people projected at me and it then manifested in real life. I’m an online personality, I actively encourage women of color to embrace their own identity without concern to social norms via #SmartBrownGirl, and the stories people contort to justify their disdain for me, was fascinating to me. I paid it attention that it never deserved and the walked through last year with the most precarious of characters populating in my life. People who treated me like their personal soap opera and disregarded my emotional needs. I allowed a business relationship to wane on, because I didn’t believe in on my own ability. I gave too much consideration to those who refused to consider me in return, blinded by the negativity I was consuming and propelled by the insecurities I was making decisions through.
But I am grateful for the lesson learned. Grateful that although frustrating and emotionally wearing it happened in one swift year. I was banged up hard enough to be knocked into my senses, to stop wasting my time with people who weren’t worth my time and to whole heartedly believe in what I know I deserve. It’s fully up to me to attain it.
I dealt with grief, suddenly, harshly, and I still have no words to make sense of it, though I was prepped with a cushion of peace in reconciliation.
I traveled to Africa twice. Doing South Africa solo, and hosting a sold out #SmartBrownGirl event in Johannesburg. I returned to Ghana and survived the drive to and through Togo with some of my favorite YouTubers. I stayed in Ghana for a month after, soaking in the sun and the culture. I got a new wardrobe and drank too much champagne through the holidays in Accra. I stomped out shea nuts with women in Bissar, Togo. I went to a part of Togo, that few outsiders are able to visit. I sat on a panel for Google, in front of the parents of Jordan Davis, and aside Deray, Quinta, and Kat Blaque, amongst other influencers, to speak on the importance of Amplifying Black Voices. I was invigorated by the experience. I had a great year of #SmartBrownGirl discussions, as I embraced my vulnerability and opened up important discussions on the process via my YouTube channel. I was inspired by the personal stories that reaffirmed my words, gave me new perspective and just showed my how damn awesome my audience of #SmartBrownGirls are.
I made it through the winter with a tan! I sold a piece of my soul to Kim Kardashian after she sponsored me to play her game for two weeks. I worked with Google on the #DearMe campaign and over did it on the weave reviews, though I’m forever slaying with the kinky-straight ‘do. I turned down a reality TV offer because integrity is more important than the potential to sell a line of wrap-around sweaters on HGN (a la Nene Leakes). I launched the #PopSnark series, and talked the latest gossip while emboldening my audience to do a bit more on of their research about the happenings of the world around them. I kind of started a book club (it’s coming back) and a Word of the Week Wednesday (also coming back). Again, I’m always happy, always flattered and inspired by the well received reception each idea I produce receives.
Word of the Week Wednesday, so all my #SmartBrownGirls can have a #SpectacularVernacular: eviscerate
Posted by Jouelzy on Wednesday, August 12, 2015
I picked up more writing, addressing controversial topics for TheRoot and Ebony.com. Talked more about the African Diaspora, landing with an interview on BBCAfrica. I made my voice heard. I made my voice matter. And best of all I amplified the voice of #SmartBrownGirls.
I am grateful for 2015.