When we created the Keep Ya Head Up campaign, we had no idea just how much those words would come to mean in light of all that is going on in our world today, from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to the continued fight against police brutality and systemic racism that has led to protests that have spread around the world. As black women, one being a physician and the other a medical student, we have the unique experience of seeing firsthand some of the impacts that these events have had on both the black community and the medical community, as well as on friends and family across the globe.
With that in mind, it seems as if the goals of the Keep Ya Head Up campaign are even more important now than they were when we first began. The campaign was created with three main goals in mind: encouraging individuals to keep their heads up, helping to support those around us as we navigate these tough times, and reminding ourselves of the importance of staying aware of what is going on around us. Fulfilling each of these goals may look different for each one of us, and we would love to hear what you are doing to keep your head up in these difficult times. If you or someone you know is struggling to keep your head up right now, know that we are here, and we also have a link to mental health resources
The other morning, I was listening to the radio while driving to school. My radio was tuned to a popular morning show, and I caught them in the middle of a segment where they acknowledge people who are doing positive things in the world around them. I missed the part where they told listeners about the person, but I did manage to catch was one of the hosts calling an individual “legit” because “he has a lot of followers”. What a conclusion to come to. That statement really rubbed me the wrong way. How is it that a person could do incredible things for the world around them but only be “legit” if they have droves of social media followers to back that up? Is that really where we are as a society?
That statement made me question myself. If I’m being honest, I have a tendency to look at the numbers far too often. Since when did the number of followers or views have anything to do with the things that really matter? Some of the most incredible, thoughtful, giving people I know are not on social media. And I think they’re better for it. Instead of focusing on what the world has to say about them and the things that they are doing, they are out there defining themselves. I know that I could stand to be a lot more like them.
I don’t think that we will be able to see a kinder, more positive internet if we do not change our priorities. So much of my time is wasted putting too much value into the numbers. We cannot just pay attention to the people who have the followers. We should start listening to the people who have the heart, who have the new ideas, who are truly impacting the world. This is not a change that will occur overnight, but I believe the first step in addressing this problem is to acknowledge our bias. We have a tendency to use numbers as a metric for legitimacy instead of taking the time to look deeper. I am challenging myself, and all of you readers, to look beyond the numbers and start focusing on the things that really matter.
I’ve had ideas about this post bouncing around in my thoughts for the past couple of weeks, and I spent way too much time thinking about it instead of just sitting down and writing it. During that time, I kept running into things that reminded me of this post, so I knew that I couldn’t just let it go. I’m glad that I’m finally taking the time to blog about this.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my younger self and the role that she plays in my life today. Have you ever looked back at something that you wrote, posted, or recorded in the past and cringed? I’m sure the answer is yes. This is something that we often do. We look back at our younger selves and can’t believe how embarrassing, naive, or immature we were. We criticize our past fashion choices, hair styles, and a lot of other decisions that we made. Sometimes I think we miss the beauty of who we were then. Yes, there were bad decisions and negative experiences, but we often forget about the simple things that used to make our eyes light up, and the incredible dreams that we had before people told us that we couldn’t. Why is it that when we look back, we see the negative pieces of who we were and miss out on the positives?
I really hate the feeling of leaving things undone. I’m sure I’m not the only one. And do you know what’s worse? That point when it feels like its too late to go back and finish what I started. I realize that I have procrastinated or let fear take control for too long, and I feel powerless. I feel like I missed my chance to fix things, and I’m stuck living with the consequences. Most times I am the only person standing in my way. At times, I sabotage my own dreams and give them up in exchange for temporary comfort. I’m tired of giving up for the wrong reasons, aren’t you?
I wonder how much better off we would be if we looked back and tried to embrace some of the positive parts of who we used to be, if we dusted off an old dream and paired it with the new lessons that we’ve learned and skills that we picked up along the journey. Think about how unstoppable you could be if you combined your old dreams with your new experience. Don’t be afraid to take a chance, and don’t let your new found doubts, and past disappointments, keep you from being the person that you’ve dreamt of becoming.
British girl-group Little Mix recently released a song that I think is a perfect illustration of this idea. The song is called Little Me, and it talks about how much potential they now see in their younger selves. Their music video adds a new dimension to the song’s message and focuses on the “Little Mes” that surround them. Check out the video, it’s pretty incredible.
I have two things that I would love to see you do. First, I want you to work towards realizing an old dream that your younger self used to hold. This is your chance to do something incredible, so don’t hold back. Second, I want you to find a little you in your life and help them realize a dream that they have. Tell him or her, and yourself, that anything is possible, and watch both of you soar. I dare you!
P.S. It’s been way too long since my last post. I sincerely apologize! My goal for this semester is for us to upload blog/vlog posts bi-weekly. So stick around for more content coming soon :).
Labels are such a big part of life. We as people stick them all over others, and others stick them all over us. Some of them we’re born with, like “son” or “daughter”. Sometimes we give ourselves labels. Other labels are merit or personality based like “winner” or “smart”. Yet some labels are lies, created to get inside our heads and throw us off. All of these labels have expectations and pressures that go along with them. Letting labels define us can be dangerous business. They can lead us to forget who we really are and who we want to be. When other people come in and try to define us, we can lose our true identity.
Stereotypes and the assumptions that come with them are also extremely dangerous. Just pause and take a moment to think about it. People can take one look at you and decide that your identity is in your skin or hair color. That doesn’t even make sense. How can someone decide all of these deep and intricate things about me because of one of those trivial factors? People can take one look at how others dress and somehow decide that it has something to do with how nice someone is or how well they speak. How shallow is this? We all do it at one time or another. We need take the time to see how petty and irrational this way of thinking is and how damaging it can be. We as a society need to move away from stereotypes and learn to embrace individuals.
What if we stopped trying to define others based on assumptions and let them define themselves for us by their character and their actions? Don’t you want other people to let you show them who you are instead of them basing their image of you on trivial things? Everyone is an individual. There is so much power in our individuality. Don’t let anyone stereotype you, label you, or put you into their mold. It will only trip you up and confuse you in the end. Know who you are. Know your purpose and your goals. Don’t let anyone take that away from you. Embrace the truths about yourself that make you wonderful and not the lies and assumptions that only exist to hold you back. There can be so much freedom in embracing who you are.
“That’s the thing with music. When it hits you feel no pain.” – Paradise Fears
Music is a huge part of my life. If I’m not listening to it, then there’s a song that I’m singing, humming, or that’s stuck in my head. I don’t know what I would do without it. There’s a song out there for every one of my moods. Even now as I’m writing this post I’m listening to music, and trying to get the right songs that will inspire me. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way about music. Even though it has this constant presence in our lives, we still forget how powerful it can be. Music has the ability to change the world if it’s given the chance.
I went to an Emeli Sandè concert last weekend. The whole thing was amazing, but the most important part of the concert for me was when she sang her song “Read All About It Part III”. I didn’t realize how much that song meant to me until she sang it right in front of me. The lyrics to that song have had a huge impact of my life and have greatly inspired me. When I first heard the song it felt like she was directly singing to and about me. I felt like she pulled a page out of my journal and wrote a song from it. I couldn’t believe it. That song will always have a special place in my heart.
A few weeks back V and I got to go see Paradise Fears, Before You Exit and Hello Highway on Action Item’s Resolution Tour. That was an amazing experience. I had never seen fans so passionate about music and lyrics. Each band and their fans had a type of connection I have never seen before. I loved every minute of it. I love seeing the unity that music can bring. Musicians have an ability that few others posses. It’s the ability to make others genuinely happy. Even if it’s just for the short time that it takes for a song to play or a few hours during a concert.
Nothing beats a musician writing from their heart. Yes, it makes them vulnerable. They end up showing parts of themselves that most other people keep hidden, but that means that they have this incredible ability to connect with people on an amazing level. Whether it’s like me with Emeli Sandè’s “Read All About Part III” or a Paradise Fears fan with Sanctuary, these songs and their heartfelt lyrics connect with listeners in a resounding way that can impact us all in in such a profound way. This is part of the reason why we started Inspirational Music Mondays. We want to introduce you to the music that inspires us, and we hope that it will inspire you too.
Some of you may be familiar with this video, and others of you may have never even heard of it. If you haven’t seen it I’d like to encourage you to take the time to watch it. I promise it’ll warm your heart. Warning: grab some tissues because it’s been known to make grown men cry.
In the ten minutes it took for me to watch this video I learned so much, and I was incredibly inspired. Like with anything else, there are times that I get discouraged. There are times where I worry that my work with TBYT isn’t effective and maybe I’m just wasting everyone’s time with this dream, but God always sends something like this to keep me on track. It’s amazing how one little boy’s dream has had such an impact on the world.
We would like to make something clear, we’re not just here to fight cyberbullying or to simply make people feel better about themselves. We’re here for more than that. We want you to understand that you have been given an incredible outlet and tool called “the internet” and when you use it in the right way amazing things can happen. This video is proof. One small idea, or a little dream can turn into a wonderful reality larger than life if you persevere and just keep on dreaming. Don’t let anyone tell you that what you want is impossible. Prove them wrong and show them that nothing is impossible. It doesn’t matter if your dream is an arcade, a campaign ,or to sell out arenas. Don’t ever give up. You never know what can happen.
One Direction has released a new album and one of their songs “Little Things” is raising a lot of controversy. Some people think that it’s cute and it makes the popular boy band even more lovable but others think that it points out a girl’s flaws too much. What do you think? Does this song help build self esteem? Or tear it down? Sound off in the comment section below!