In September 2011, I frantically packed blue suitcases with my start-over items. As I prepared to attend Stanford for the next four years, I gathered objects that I hoped would be fitting for a new journey: the most memorable being my journal and beloved iPod Nano (which, in my opinion, had an untouchable collection of ’90s R&B and Hip-Hop). These items would help me process freshman year and retreat into nostalgia whenever I became homesick.

Like a memento that I was too reluctant to dispose, though, fear also compartmentalized itself inside my luggage. Tucked in between tightly rolled clothes and hidden underneath zip-locked toiletries, it traveled thousands of miles to stay with me. With my chronic permission, it unpacked itself and decorated my life.

Over the course of my time in college, I thankfully learned how to continually take chances even when I felt incredibly fearful. I learned how to share my thoughts in class, lead initiatives, and guide others. I gained wisdom about the power of vulnerability which led to meeting wonderful friends and mentors. I traveled to Cape Town, twice, and performed my poetry to large and small crowds. Most importantly, my faith deepened and anchored me during seemingly hopeless seasons.

My days at Stanford are over, and I am not sure if fear will ever become a bygone existence. It still clings to me like a haunting souvenir. However, I have learned that to choose courage is to actively combat fear, and that is an ultimately difficult and meaningful endeavor.

Being back home in Detroit (shout out to the Westside) means so much to me. My heart never left this city, and now that I have returned, the journey continues.

Be cognizant of holistic stories, do good work, and refuse to let complacency pen the plot.

These are some of my goals.

Every day, I hope to do my best in my fight against fear. Sometimes, it is the simple act of getting out of bed when the day ahead seems dauntingly overwhelming. On other occasions, it is making small, conscious efforts toward melting myself in God’s definition of love, like writing as a form of self-care.

My hunger for writing lies in its ability to sharpen my memory of hope, and inspire others to be kinder to themselves by trusting that their authentic presences matter. This blog will exist as one platform for sharing real-life stories and affirming the gift of dreaming.

It is now four months shy of a year since I have graduated from college. My blue suitcases are presently submerged in fresh dust and idle in my mom’s basement. I am learning how to simultaneously be an adult and a child of humility, taking missteps that are frequent but never without purpose.

If you are reading this (so upset that I couldn’t write that without thinking of Drake), I am optimistic that you and I can grow together through an exchange of stories. Too often, we ask folks, “How are you?”, without the expectation of ever receiving a real answer. Let this blog be a space that validates genuine community as a fundamental element of the human experience.

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