In a little under a week, I will be graduating from Georgia State University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism (woo-hoo!)
It only took a school transfer and an extra year to get to this point, but nonetheless, I made it to the finish line.
If the version of me at 18 could see the version of me at 23, I believe that she would be utterly shocked about the journey that was undertaken.
If you were to ask me at 18 where I would be right now, that life would not like what is now (in the best way to be fair!). At that age, I expected myself to be in school getting my MBA with the intent of pursuing a career with ESPN as a sports broadcaster. I also thought I would be with my soulmate at this point too (I wanted to be married by 25 or I felt doomed to never be married- thank God for growth and proper self development!)
As time continued, the journey of becoming Joi looked more and more unlike any I had ever since before. I was exposed to what felt like many trials and few celebrations. In my third year of undergrad, I started to develop a pessimistic mindset that drastically affected every aspect of myself. Recognizing that this was mainly because of my environment, I decided to transfer schools in hopes of a new beginning. Thus began my journey at Georgia State University in January of 2019.
The change in my environment was just what I needed.
Coming to Georgia State gave me the chance I needed to clear my head and reframe my priorities. It wasn’t always smooth, but it was always necessary.
Facing the end of my undergraduate career, I am happy to say that the 18 year old version of myself would be happy about the 23 year old version that I am today.
Here’s a list of the things I would tell my 18 year old self if I had the opportunity:
Find confidence in your voice. Over the years, I struggled with standing up for myself in various social situations as a result of my low self esteem. I feared that I would lose friends if I went against the grain or spoke up about how I truly felt. It took me a while to realize that there’s nothing wrong with advocating for yourself, and whoever has an issue with that should not be considered.
Please ask for help. You are not weak for needing assistance! That chip on your shoulder is going to be the death of you if you do not humble yourself and allow people to help you get to the next level.
Prioritize yourself before everything else. I love to give and be there for others in any way that I can be. However, it becomes a problem when you give at the expense of yourself. Also, it can be exhausting standing up for yourself and dealing with the ‘guilt’ that comes from choosing to not pour from an empty cup. Now, I am learning how to pour into myself FOR MYSELF so that I may be able to pour into others.
Your worth is not determined by a man or any form of a relationship. Do I even need to explain this?
Learn to let go. Growing up, forgiving myself and others was not something I was taught to do. I was carrying all kinds of grudges and resentment towards people and allowed that pain to turn into baggage. Once I learned about the importance of forgiveness, it changed my understanding of myself as well as others.
While I am aware that the past cannot be undone, these are still viable lessons that can be taken into the next phase of life that I will soon enter.