The Adventure Begins!

So after the long 13 hour drive, my family and I made it to our vacation home in Tampa, Florida! This will be my first time here in Tampa so I am really excited for a relaxing and fun family vacation! And it doesn’t hurt that we will be stopping by Orlando to go to Universal Studios for Harry Potter World of course 🙂

Also I’ll be leaving vacation early on Thursday evening to finally fly out to London! It’s my first time flying and my first time traveling out of the country. I’m excited, nervous, anxious, and so many other things, but this is a dream come true for me and I absolutely cannot wait to begin studying abroad in Cambridge. Talk about a dream/goal fulfilled!

Here’s to a fun summer vacation and reaching goals!

New favorite fitness app: RunKeeper!

Overall health is still one if my main goals, and so exercise is clearly a big part of that. Recently, I decided to start running outdoors in the morning and/or evenings to see if I like it better than the elliptical at gym and I love it! I downloaded an app called Runkeeper which is available in both Google apps and the Apple App Store and it is great! It has a GPS so it traces and shows me what routes I take while running, it has different workout options including training programs for marathons (I’ve been doing the 2 mile interval training with rest), it lets me know whether or not I’m improving my time and distance, and best of all it’s really user friendly! It is officially one of my favorite workout apps, so if you’re into running or want to get into running check this app out! Oh, and I failed to mention, it also has the option to track a variety of activities from hiking, walking, and cycling to snowboarding! So basically there’s something for everyone! So track your calories and stay active with this awesome app 🙂
Sidenote: my times are so slow because I forgot to pause when I stopped!

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Helping yourself first.

“I can’t help you if you don’t help yourself first.”

The above statement is one of the most frustrating things I have encountered throughout my life. Is it a crime that I want the people around me to succeed? I believe in them so much because I know they can be great, but when they don’t know that, and when they don’t set themselves up to be great, not only do they get frustrated, but I’m frustrated because they’re frustrated! First and foremost, it is their life. I can’t force anyone to do anything, and success can only be achieved within yourself. But am I a good friend if I don’t say anything? If I see them struggling and frustrated at their situation, and the reason they feel this way is because they dug their own hole, would I be wrong to explain to them how it all can be prevented in the future? It’s hard to just sit back and see the people important to you not be all they can, especially when you know if they only changed their attitude or this or that they could be everything they aspire to be and more. I hate to be the friend that lectures, so I don’t lecture. I hate to come off as condescending so I hold my tongue. I realize that everyone is not the same. People do things differently, and I have to be understanding of that. Despite my desire to help, despite me seeing how easily they could conquer the situation they’re in by just doing or changing a few simple things, I can’t help unless they help themselves first. If someone was trying to help me but I was not receptive to it, then they are helping me in vain. People are going to do what they want to do. They are going to change when they want to change. They will step up to the plate when they feel they are ready to step up to the plate. And when they’re ready to do so, if they need my help, I’ll be there.

My Love/Hate relationship with College

You wait your entire life to experience the “best four years of your life.” You ‘fun’ your way through elementary school, torture your way through the awkwardness that is middle school,  and survive high school until you finally graduate and prepare yourself for entering the “real world.” Or at least the realest world you will have encountered thus far in your life.

I could not wait to attend college.

When you hear people discuss their college years it always sounds legendary. When you see college represented on television it looks legendary. So, when it’s finally your time, when you have finally arrived at your dorm on freshmen move-in day, you look up, you sigh, and you walk through that building thinking, “I’m about to embark on the best four years of my life…”

*five minutes later*

Shit. I’m a senior. Where the hell did these four years go?

The supposedly “best” four years of my life have also been the quickest four years of my life. Reason #1 of why I hate college: why does it go by so fast?! As soon as I get adjusted, as soon as I’m getting the hang of things, *BAM* graduation lurks around the corner. I mean seriously, sometimes I feel like I haven’t aged a day over 16, but here I am: a 21 year old college senior. Wow. Reason #2 of why I hate college: I’ll be damned if these last 3 years were the best years of my life. I still feel as though I have yet to live let alone have these past few years be the pinnacle of my entire life. I’m not going to say college was bad because it wasn’t, and honestly, college is what you make it. I’ve put a lot of focus on bringing my grades up in order to put myself in a competitive position for life after college, while also going to parties, events, and joining various school organizations. I can say that my college experience thus far has been pretty well-rounded. But, I can also say that college didn’t live up to my fantasized expectations that television and my imagination embedded in my mind. (College stories in movies and on television of course never mention the coursework, then again I attend a school that is academic heavy). Reason #3 of why I hate college: the academic STRESS. I love to learn as much as the next nerd, but I hate the stress that comes with testing! As a freshmen, I had serious test anxiety and psyching myself out would really hinder my test scores, now, or this past year, I have learned how to take tests and think about tests in a way that  minimizes my stress and I’ve done so much better. However, I can still do without the stress, period.

On the other hand…

Those same reasons I gave for hating college: how quickly it passes, the false hope of experiencing the “Best” years of my life, and the stress, all contribute to my love for college as well. I’m sad and in disbelief that it passes so quickly, but I’m also happy about the time that I have spent there. Even though at times I’m like “Forget this school I can’t wait to graduate and move on” I know that when I do move on I’m going to think back and wish I could go back if only for a day. I wouldn’t call these past few years the “best,” but I have grown up and learned so much about myself and others through this experience. So, despite these years not being all party filled and care-free, they have taught me so much that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Finally, the stress. I don’t love the stress, but I do love coming out on the other side of it. I love accomplishing things I worked so hard to accomplish, and I love seeing the fruits of my labor and seeing all my hard work pay off.

No matter how much I say I hate school, no matter how much I say I can’t wait to graduate. Truth is, I hope this final year goes by as slow as possible. I hope that I get the absolute MOST out of this final year because there is no going back. You only get one shot at undergrad, fresh out of high school, in a new environment, with all new people. I hope to make this last year the best year of the four years I’ve spent in good ol’ college.

Finances!

So here’s a short post on my finance goals:

I mentioned in a previous post about how I am going to start reading more starting with Suze Orman’s Young, Broke, and Fabulous. After reading that book, I have actually learned so much that I can apply to my finances right now as well as in the future! One of them being how to build credit and  save money

I am an upcoming senior in college and before I know it I will have graduated from undergrad (even though I feel like I just got there), and I do not want to graduate college young, fabulous, and broke. I mean, of course I’m going to graduate with the first two adjectives, but that third adjective I can do without ;-). Anyway, the saving money portion of the book really got my attention! So, I looked into my bank and found that there is a savings account program catered to young people under the age of 24 that is basically designed to build up your savings account fast. (Sidenote: many banks have these savings account options that cater to young people these days.) The dividend rate begins at 4.91% for  $0-$500, goes down to about 2.75% for $500.01-$1999.99, and finally goes to 0.25% for anything above $2000.00. The book had a chart in it that described how much your money would grow if you placed $100, $150, $200, etc. per month into a savings account with a 2% interest rate over a span of 3 years, 5 years, 7 years, etc., and it really put into perspective for me how to grow and invest my money so that I can make big purchases on my own without having to rely on my parents for the rest of my 20s! 

I am very excited to open up this savings account this week and start investing into my future! My goal is to be financially dependent by the time I am 26 years old, which only gives me 5 years and may seem very ambitious, but hey, if I shoot for the moon maybe I’ll land amongst the stars? More importantly, stars in the form of currency. Happy savings everyone!

Dark Girls (A documentary)

Earlier tonight on the OWN  Network (Oprah’s network), there was a documentary that aired called “Dark Girls” that addressed the issue of colorism mostly within the black community, while briefly addressing the issue in other communities such as Asian communities and the tanning phenomenon amongst the white community. Throughout the documentary, I experienced an array of emotions from sad to amused to grateful:

Sad: It really broke my heart to hear those women’s testimonies about how they truly hated themselves at a young age, and over something as superficial as skin color. Although I describe skin color as “superficial” I am not belittling it because even though it shouldn’t be a big deal, I know that it is. Children are impressionable and vulnerable and to hear women saying that as children they would ask their mom to put bleach in their bath water just…troubled my spirit to say the least. Self-love is one of the most important things you can learn in this lifetime and it is imperative that the foundation is instilled into children. So to hear and see that young, beautiful little girls were wanting and willing to harm themselves just to lighten their skin is a disgusting representation of just how far we have to go as a community. There is a deep rooted history that was touched upon in this documentary, unfortuantely they barely scratched the surface. [For one example of colorism at work in literature see “Plum Bum” by Jessie Fauset]

Amused: The black men that were interviewed in the documentary describing their “preferences” toward either light-skinned women or dark-skinned women or both slightly amused me. I understand that a huge part of black women dealing with this color issue is the fact that black men will diminish darker skinned women. Often times via twitter I come across dark-skinned women hate that generalizes them as ugly and undesirable by anyone, and I know that is not true. What I found amusing were the bogus reasoning behind it: “They’re argumentative.” “They have lower self esteem (I wonder why)” “They would look weird next to me (says a dark skinned male)” There is nothing wrong with having a preference in who you are attracted to. Honestly, when it comes to men on television and movies I have a huge preference and attraction to white men (Hey Ryan Gosling 😉 ). However, why is it that it seems with black men they rebuke dating black women (specifically darker skinned women) at the expense of those women. I can love me some good looking white men…withOUT bashing my fellow black men, why can’t black men do the same? Also, another thing I found amusing was that I felt that by having the constant back and forth focus between what black men desire in women it portrayed an unnecessary message to those watching: that how others, particularly males, see you is very important when it comes to how you see yourself. I am not denying the importance of feeling wanted and desired by another, especially someone you may be attracted to, however, it gave me the impression that as a black woman, a big part of how I see myself is determined by how men see me, and I don’t think they made it clear enough in the documentary that what is most important and what truly matters is how one sees herself. The significance placed on the males who were describing their physical feature desires was a little over done in my opinion and should have been combated with more stories of discovering self-love without the justification from someone else, especially a male. 

Grateful: This documentary also made me feel very grateful that I grew up in an environment where I did not have instances early in childhood that made me come home and wish I were lighter or anything other than what I was. It wasn’t until I got older that I even discovered that amongst my peers and generation people still cared about what shade of black they were. It baffled me. I learned to love myself at a young age because I was surrounded by people who loved me and showed me they loved me for me, while my skin color was never a factor. In being grateful, I want to spread this same environment to younger children I come in contact with. I want it so by the time they do come across colorism they already are so sure of themselves that it is a concept and not something they are battling with. I am grateful that I was able to slip beneath the cracks of feeling ashamed of my darker skintone, and to show my gratitude, it is my duty to make sure more darker skinned girls do the same. Everyone should know that they are beautiful, and to those people who do not think you are beautiful because of the color of your skin: fuck you. Those people are not anyone you would want in your life regardless. 

Those are my thoughts on the documentary. I felt it was a good conversation starter because in order for these problems to be remedied, they need to be discussed. 

Reasons to have a Joint Bank Account with your Future Spouse/Partner

I think one of the major goals in everyone’s life is to be financially stable. No one wants to struggle financially, and not everyone has a desire to be rich, but I think everyone wants to be comfortable. To piggyback off that goal, even though I want to be financially stable by myself, if I were to get married, I would also want both my future spouse and I to be financially stable together. My parents have a joint bank account as well as my sister. My parents have been married for 33 years and my sister has been married for 7 years. To clarify, I find nothing wrong with having separate accounts with the person you are legally bound to, I probably would want some money in an account to the side and my future husband may want that as well. However, when it comes to paying bills, buying things that you both will utilize in living together, and children (if you have some or plan on having some) there should be one “pot” where you both can go to fund those things. I realize and respect the other side of the argument which would be to have separate bank accounts because it’s your hard earned money and not theirs, however, these are 6 reasons I would want to have a joint bank account with my future spouse.

  1. You are legally bound together, so in case of divorce (if you live in a Commonwealth like me) everything will get split down the middle.
  2. It shows trust. You trust your spouse to consult you when they want to make big personal purchases as you would consult them if you wanted to make a big personal purchase.
  3. The basis of marriage is that you’re sharing your life with someone else—finances are a part of life. It’s the idea of what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours.
  4. You and your spouse/partner are in a partnership with one another, and as partners you guys should tackle financial successes or burdens together. (Think Bonnie and Clyde without the crime part…)
  5.  It would eliminate arguments such as: “You used my money for this!” Or “I gave you money for that!” And “You owe me!”If there was a joint pool to pull money out of then there would be no need to be possessive towards the money. On the other hand, like I mentioned earlier, there is also a need to have a discussion with your partner or spouse about what you’re going to spend money on, especially if it is a big purchase. Plus, why should your spouse OWE you money?
  6. Two incomes are better than one. Neither of my parents makes 6 figures, but together…

I was inspired to write this post because I’ve heard of married couples going half on their bills, having arguments over who owes money for this and that, and it baffled me. It seems to me if you’re going to vow to share your life with someone, why wouldn’t you be willing to share a big part of life (money) with them as well? What are the reasons you would (or wouldn’t) share your bank account with your future spouse or partner?