Thoughts on Letting Go.

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..You must stay gone. You have an apartment just your size.. Don’t lose too much weight, stupid girls are always trying to disappear for revenge.. Heart leaking something so strong, they can smell it in the street..

I absolutely love this poem and I’m so grateful to the friend that introduced me to it. Letting go of things, people, etc. has always been one of the hardest things for me to do. This is because I don’t like change. It is also because when I love you, I’ll give chance after chance until a situation becomes detrimental to me. And, I finally get that it is- my energy should be being spent elsewhere.

So on that note..

We can’t begin to write the next chapter if we haven’t yet turned the page. Here is me doing that. Here’s to new pages, chapters, and stories- no matter how long, short, “good” or “bad” they might be.

As hard as it is and will be, I’m taking my power back. And, I’ll be taking it back everyday. I’ve only got this one life. I have to do what is best for me.

Xoxo,
Gabrielle

Waiting for Superwoman… but what if she doesn’t come?

Even when I’m a mess, I still put on a vest with an ‘S’ on my chest

Oh yes, I’m a superwoman  – Superwoman by Alicia Keys

SuperWomanGrowing up, I always thought that being strong, being “Superwoman” meant dealing with everything that comes my way. I was taught to never quit and was constantly told that “to whom much is given much is required.” This of course gave me a lovely perfection complex, the need to please, and the inability to say no or take a step back when I needed to.

Over time, this desire to be strong, to be “Superwoman” has manifested itself in many different ways. I’ve always been a person that likes to be busy, probably to what could be deemed a point of excess. But, I’ve also always been a person afraid to let people down or not be able to handle something that I said or initially thought I could. This makes being vulnerable and acknowledging my weaknesses hard because I have always thought and often said that being vulnerable, quitting, or stepping back from something that one committed too is weak.

I was supposed to be able to handle everything. I am supposed to be able to handle everything. Some of my thinking around this is a result of ideals instilled in me as a child, and some has to do with my larger cultural identity. I’m obviously a Black woman and overtime Black women have carried the load of not only themselves but those around them. We are strong. Well, we are supposed to be. But the problem with this ideal is that no one learns how to manage their load! We don’t always know what relaxing or delegating looks like because we are always carrying so much on our shoulders.

There is a reason why Superwoman (or is Wonderwoman the more correct term) is just a character in a comic book. She is an ideal to strive toward, but not a person that you or I actually have to or should be. I’m not saying don’t follow through on things you’ve committed to. I’m saying be honest about the expectations that you are placing on yourself, because as far as I am concerned those are the only ones that matter. I no longer think that needing to take a step back is weak. If I don’t give myself some grace then who will? If I’m not at my best as Gabrielle Hickmon, how I can be of use to those that love and need me? I can’t!

As much as I would love to be Superwoman, I’m not and no longer want to be. I’ve come to believe in the ideal and practice of giving and greeting life with grace. I find it works much better and I’m not having to call my mom because of a mental breakdown as often.

So, I offer to you the proposition of giving yourself and those around some grace today. It’s okay to not have the answers. It’s okay to drop a class if you really just cannot handle taking it. It’s okay to ignore everyone and just take some time to recharge. It’s okay to not be Superwoman. I think we’re all better as just ourselves anyway. 

xoxo,

Gabrielle

5 Reasons Not To Date A Girl Who Travels by Shafinah Neville via Thought Catalog

Yes, she is breathtaking and exciting, and she lives like she’s got life on a leash. She radiates an inexplicably magnetic charm whenever she enters a room, and her free-spirited attitude has got you wanting to jump off cliffs into oceans and hop on the next flight to Delhi for a selfie at the Taj Mahal. Her refreshing air of unpredictability will constantly keep you on your toes, and her sun-kissed skin and glimmering eyes will always leave you wanting more, more, more.

But what happens when time passes and you slowly get glimpses of the girl that exists underneath? After all, there surely must be a reason why she chose to walk the path of a traveler when she could have easily taken the gold-paved road of a tourist.

1. She has wanderlust.

You do know what the word “wanderlust” really means, don’t you? And no, we’re not referring to the whimsical new-age definition of wanderlust where one is perceived as this carefree, twinkly-eyed wayfarer with a strong innate desire to constantly travel or rove about. We’re referring to the truth, the one that lies unwritten between those lines but is still stark as hell if you look closely enough: She is a person who will never truly be happy in one place.

Yes, she will have a strong desire to constantly travel about, and yes, she will constantly yearn to explore new places and discover new things, but this also means that you will need to be more than the average Joe to keep her engaged. You will be killing the essence of her soul if you tie her down to the mundane rituals of regular dating, and as much as I hate to be the one to break this to you, she is highly likely to get bored of you if you lead your life with even the slightest tinge of complacency.

And yes, she may also be carefree and twinkly-eyed, but that will remain so only if she’s constantly on the go—often away from you. So if you have your own inferiority complexes, be careful you don’t end up the reason that eventually drains the spark from that very effervescence you fell in love with in the first place.

2. She is impossible to please.

Let me rephrase that: A girl who travels is actually impossibly easyto please, only in ways that will be utterly incomprehensible to you at first. If you think picking up the tab at a fancy restaurant or sending a few lavish gifts her way every now and then is enough to make her world revolve around you, you’ll be in for a good life lesson. She is not looking for everyday mundane experiences; she is constantly seeking out extraordinary adventures.

If you want to get serious with a girl who travels, you need to drop all the rules that govern the average dating arena. Wait three days after a date to call, and she’ll write you off as a douche because you have just exposed yourself as a well-polished and faithful follower of the game. Shower her with clichéd sweet nothings and lengthy love sonnets, and she will drop you as quickly as it took you to [Ctrl C+Ctrl V] your “poetry” from Google.

Chances are, a girl who travels will probably appreciate that handcrafted photo card you made for her more than any Tiffany bracelet you can buy from the store. And she will probably also prefer hours of walking to absolutely nowhere in mind as long as you’re beside her than to warm the front seat of your latest BMW convertible, much to the envy of various green-eyed onlookers.

I’m not saying she won’t enjoy the occasional stereotypical movie and dinner date every once in a while, but if that is all you have up your sleeves, buddy, you have yourself embroiled in a huge miscalculation.

3. She is independent.

Years of being on the road with little more than a map and bare essentials have molded her into this beautiful, tough, independent, and no-frills woman that intrigues you to your very core. She holds herself well and she doesn’t ever seem to get frazzled by daily existence, but guess what? This also means that she will never need you. She can carry her own bags. She can fix up her own furniture. If there is a fire in her house, chances are she’s not going to have a nervous breakdown because she probably already has a contingency plan thought out for that. Stay away from a girl who travels because you’ll be put through surefire hell living with the knowledge that she doesn’t need you and that her being with you is merely out of choice, not necessity.

And also, for the record? You didn’t choose her. She chose you.

4. She is flaky.

A girl who travels lusts for more than just adventure and discovery. She lusts for personal space, freedom, and escapism. She probably resents her full-time job because she sees it as something that ties her down to the day-to-day. She’ll probably resent you, too, if you make it impossible to travel—with or without you.

A girl who travels knows just how big this world is, and she will not be quick to succumb to social or peer pressure because she knows that her opportunities are boundless. She will change her mind a hundred times a day simply because she knows there are a hundred different options from which to choose. Sometimes, she appears highly selfish, careless, fickle, and even unstable, but know that once she makes her mind up about something, she will walk through walls if that’s what it takes to get to where she wants to be.

A girl who travels is responsible but not necessarily reliable. Place her in stressful situations, and she will take flight—simply because she knows she can.

5. She is not good for your self-esteem.

She travels alone. She speaks to strangers. She has a wealth of information and experiences that may well exceed your own. Unless you’re properly grounded in your years and have done your own adventuring, you will always be in sixes and sevens every time she’s out there exploring and you’re not there beside her. Is she talking to other guys right now? What’s holding her attention? Why isn’t she calling and how come she’s taking so long to reply to your text? And who are all these new guys she’s just added as friends on Facebook? If all these distressing questions don’t drive you into an anxiety attack, you’ll probably still end up feeling like you’ll never be able to catch up with her. Especially not when she comes back with pictures and stories of her climb up Machu Picchu or her latest trekking expedition to the Everest Base Camp—both of which you weren’t a part of. So unless you’re confident, self-assured, and mature enough to deal with a girl who’s probably stronger and tougher and more boisterous than any other girl you’ve ever dated,don’t even tread close to a girl who travels.

The truth is, a girl who travels is easy to fall in love with but not easy to stay in love with. Dating a girl who travels will either be the best thing that has ever happened to you or the worst nightmare you’ve ever allowed yourself to walk into. And while you may have read this article thinking that it was a helpful piece of advice in your favor, the truth is that this article was crafted for the benefit of her.

On behalf of all other girls who travel, I sincerely beseech you to stay away. Stay away if you know you can’t keep up with her. Stay away even if you refuse to admit that deep inside, you are starting to churn with resounding dread that you aren’t good enough for her. A girl who travels needs a boy who will help her fly, not one who cripples her and ties her down to Earth. She needs a boy who is secure and wise enough to let her go, knowing that at the end of the day, she can always find her way back to him.

For what she has seen and done, a girl who travels will love you more intensely and passionately than you have ever experienced. Because of everything she has been through, she encompasses the magic she needs to excite you, to make you see things in ways you have never seen. So if you are unyielding and tenacious enough to make it through loving a girl who travels, then guess what? Be prepared, for she will leave footprints on your heart in ways you have never imagined possible.

 

I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

Do not date a girl who travels — unless of course you can handle it ;) 

xoxo, 

Gabrielle 

Here’s a picture of my baby, in Ghana, that I miss everyday. 

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PS: I’m a girl who travels and this was spot on. 

Read it on Thought Catalog Here

Girl Rising: Reflections on Ghana, Cape Coast Castle, and my very own existence

IMG_0232I used to think that living in America was reparation enough. But, after visiting West Africa, by way of Ghana, I am not so sure. (I know that’s kind of a loaded sentence. Hear me out please.) 

I recently spent two weeks in Ghana. It was my first time on the continent of Africa. It was the first time parts of my soul that I didn’t realize existed felt at home. I began my experience in Accra, where I stayed for four days before traveling to Tanoso, Kumasi, Ghana. In Kumasi, I spent 8 days working at the John Williams Montessori School through Voices of African Mothers. I played with children, critiqued math curricula, painted sensory learning aides on walls, and fell in love with the town of Kumasi and the spirit of the Ghanaian people. 

It is an interesting experience to be a Black American in Africa. For the first time, I was in place/space where everyone else sort of looked like me-which doesn’t happen that often in America. But, I was at the same time the oddball out. I am not African. I am not even truly American (at least not indigenously.) I am a hybrid of the two worlds. I am a Black or African American.

This duality and the obvious ancestral connections to the continent made traveling to Ghana an especially poignant experience. I felt, and feel a kinship with the people I met there. I never felt unsafe, undesired, or out of place. The innermost parts of who I am knew instinctively that they were at home. But, I know that Africa, Ghana, is not my “home.” I was even told that I “was lucky to be a Black American.” An African friend I made during my time in Kumasi told me that. I’m just not sure that I fully agree. I would be lying if I said that I’m not glad to live in America, that I identify as an American and am proud of my country. But, there are parts of her past and even current policies or ideals that I have not made my peace with yet. 

The Transatlantic Slave trade took place officially for almost 200 years. In this time, it has been estimated that up to 26 million Africans were taken from their homeland to the Americas and Caribbean. I am a descendant of these people. I have benefitted from their suffering, from the immense cruelty they experienced.

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During my time in Ghana, I was able to visit Cape Coast Slave Castle. (Why a place that engaged in such abhorrent activities was deemed a castle I will never know.) At the Castle, you are taken on a guided tour through the structure. This means going down into the male and female slave quarters, the cells they threw them in if they were deemed “rebellious,” and walking through the “door of no return.”

As a person of untraceable African heritage, this experience was extremely hard for me. At first, I was not sure how I felt. At different points during the tour I was angry with white people. At other points during the tour I cried. I came to terms with my history, my very existence, on that hallowed ground. I wept for my ancestors who were kept in shackles and left to urinate and menstruate all over each other in cramped rooms with little to no light or ventilation. I wept for those who died, never making it to the “New World” and never again seeing their families. I wept for the fear they felt as they were marched through the “Door of No Return” to a foreign land where they were treated no better than chattel. I wept and I wept and I wept. I told my ancestors I loved them. I told them I was thankful. I told them I honor them. I told them I was sorry. And they told me they love, honor, are thankful for, and proud of me right back.

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For you see I am the dream and the hope of the slave. Out of the feces and cruelty of slavery – I rise. And by pouring libations for my ancestors at Cape Coast Castle, I honored them. I became their vessel home. And, in doing so, I will carry their spirit forward with me in all that I do in an extremely palpable way.

When I say that living in America might not be reparations enough, I say that to say, that only by truly facing where I came from at that “castle,” did I come to terms with who I am and all that makes up my existence. So maybe instead of reparations, the US government should sponsor trips to West Africa for all African slave descendants so they too can come to terms with their place in the universe.

I am a Black American. I am West African. I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I have poured my libations. I have come home. I have made peace in my soul. I have brought my ancestors home.

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I have risen. I will rise. 

xoxo, 

Gabrielle 

From New York with Love: Goodnight and Goodluck

One’s life and passion may be elsewhere, but New York is where you prove if what you think in theory makes sense in life. Miuccia Prada

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I was offered my summer internship position in December and accepted in April. So, I knew that I was coming to NYC for the summer while it was still Ithacating and polar vortexing. Most of the time, when I thought about what my summer would be like, I was excited. But, in the last few days before it was time to leave home and travel to New York, I was so nervous. I asked myself so many questions. How am I going to figure out the subway? Will I have any fun? Will I like or be good at my job? New York is so big won’t I just get swallowed up? It got so bad that at one point I couldn’t really sleep I was just so nervous. But, June 1st came and I boarded my plane.

You see, I have been a lot of places and I have done a lot of things- but coming to NYC just felt like a bigger deal. I’ve been to Europe by myself, at 16 for peets sake, but was freaking out over New York City. (I don’t understand my logic either.) Anyway, I think it was such a big deal because I had all of these ideas about what New York City would be like in my head based upon what I had seen in movies and things my friends who live here told me. New York City is a place that makes or breaks people daily…I was afraid I might end up broken too.

photo 4(1)But, I didn’t! I survived. I thrived. I had a great time. I LOVED my job and produced work that will be used by national non-profits and leaders across the country. I helped facilitate a social media campaign. I went to the White House Summit on Working Families and saw both Barack and Michelle Obama speak in the same day. I laughed with friends. I ate Juniors & Magnolia Bakery. I went to the MET on a rainy day all by myself. I spent some days inside all day watching Netflix. I hung out with friends on rooftops. I got lost on the subway, but I eventually found where I was going.

Civil Rights Exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. It was focused on the intersection between Art & Activism.

Civil Rights Exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. It was focused on the intersection between Art & Activism.

I figured it out. I figured it out. I spent my summer in New York City, one of the world’s largest and greatest cities and I figured it out.

Make your mark in New York and you are a made man. Mark Twain

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They say if you can make it in New York City, then you can make it anywhere. So… I guess I can make it anywhere now!

One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years. Tom Wolfe

NYC gave me something this summer, a piece of myself I had lost or didn’t even know that I had. I’m not quite sure. I feel confident. I feel like myself. I know that the life I want to live is possible because I had a taste of it this summer. It’s filling on the one hand and makes me hungry on the other. I’m eager to get back to Cornell and to finish up my degree so that I can be one step closer to being the person I want to. New York City has made me believe in possibility again – anything and everything is possible here, anywhere really.

Washington Square Park's Arch. It reminds me of the Arc de Triomphe.

Washington Square Park’s Arch. It reminds me of the Arc de Triomphe.

So, I did it and now it’s time to be off to the next adventure. I have a few more days here before I board a plane to Ghana! But, I don’t think that my story with NYC is over. I think a few more chapters will be written in time.

Thanks for making me a believer again… I was happy here.

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xoxo,

Gabrielle

Make It To Me x Sam Smith

Why is it that moving on, or moving forward to so hard? It’s like the second you get happy in your new space you’re reminded of what you lost or left behind?

Anyway. I’ve been obsessing over Sam Smith lately so I thought I’d share one of my favorite songs by him with you all. I hope you enjoy. And, I look forward to the day you ‘make it to me’.

 

xoxo,

Gabrielle

Conscious Lover

“You deserve a conscious lover. Someone who will not only know your favorite color or flower, but when to offer words in your rage, or the strongest embrace when no words will do.

You deserve a conscious lover. Someone who will not only work with you but for you. Work for your happiness when you’ve forgotten how to create it.. work for your smile when your lips won’t curve.

You, my dear, deserve a conscious lover that couldn’t imagine being anything else.” 

 

A quote my friend shared that I love.

xoxo,

Gabrielle