Is anybody home?

I know, it has been too long. I am sorry. But honestly, I have no idea where to begin. Too much has happened in such a short of period of time that I kind of let myself drown in. Maybe it was fear, maybe just an overall exhaustion of always trying to control things. So these past five months, I simply withdrew into myself and took life and events one day at a time.

I am not sure whether this post will make much sense but I will try. So what happened? I guess life would be the most appropriate and accurate word to describe the past months. A succession of feelings and emotions, coupled with the daily occupations and responsibilities. Quite an explosive cocktail, especially when overall, you feel like the spectator and no longer the actor.

I simply felt like I had lost control over everything – though I still feel the same. The worst part, there was never a pause button to catch a breath. That is not how things work in life. You get one test after another and, eventually have to make it work, to the greatest extent possible. And the truth is, I had absolutely no desire nor motivation to post content that did not feel authentic. I could even care less whether I was losing followers or viewers because “I was going through some s***t” and I still am.

I needed a break but I did not even get to have it. Life kept its course, I still had commitments to fulfill. So I shut down and escaped into my deepest parts. At least there, I could let out all the refrained emotions while I continued to act “normal” outside.

So this post is to remind myself that it is okay not to feel okay. That sometimes I need time off to focus on myself and,  figure s***t out. I could have deleted this blog but then I realized that it was also part of the coping process. I want to keep my promises and continue blogging to improve my writing. This time, I am not going to set unrealistic goals like “posting every monday and Wednesday” but something more on the lines of “stay true to yourself and do it when the time is right.”

Blurred-Heritage will be back. Stay tuned!

 

Intercultural Relationships: For Better AND For Worse

Dating and Relationships overall, are challenging experiences. It becomes even more complicated when you are involved with someone from a culture or race different from your own. I used to think that “sticking with my own kind” would ease my life decisions towards marriage, having and raising kids and, the place I would settle in. Well it was, until I realized that I was not the typical “Congolese” girl and, might have a hard time finding a man of my culture and race that could handle my outspoken, stubborn and independent self. Blame it on my father.

Expectations 

Like any teenage girl, I have had crushes, flings and flirts which allowed me to experience and venture out of my culture (ethnic group) and race. Even though my parents taught me cultural sensitivity and how to appreciate everybody to their true value, they never really believed nor imagined that I would marry a non-Congolese; while my brothers dated girls from everywhere. Well, my mother probably started having doubts after my last breakup, three years ago.

I gradually distanced myself from my “people” because of the hypocrisy, and the prevalent and obnoxious culture of recycling boyfriends. I never was the type to share a man so, settling for someone who couldn’t appreciate being solely with me, was a NO. Furthermore, I hated the idea that one day, I could be in a room full of women that had either slept or, been in a relationship with my husband. That was not for me. Overall, I was tired of the ethnocentric culture where a good wife/husband was determined by his/her regional affiliation. Nope, Nope, Nope.

Game Changer

Moving to New York was reality check. It changed my conception of relationships and marriage. While I did not agree with the U.S. “dating” idea, I loved the idea that here I could get a clean slate. I could finally get to really “know” a person without outside interference. I must admit I was scared, a lot, because that meant exposing myself to a stranger and, opening myself to a new culture and different traditions, with no guidelines.

However, Regardless of whom I married, I needed it to be someone who understood my special connection to Congo and Africa. Someone that would respect it because I cannot spend a whole year without flying back home. It is part of me. You can take the girl out of Africa but you can’t take Africa out of the girl!  

Language barrier

I was born and raised in Congo Brazzaville which makes French my first language. I also speak Lingala, a language we share with the DRC. Though I now am fluent in English, starting and building a relationship in a language that isn’t yours is difficult. There have been many instances where I couldn’t seem to find the right word or expression to describe  or express a feeling/situation. I get why people wouldn’t venture out of their circles because it is stressful and terrifying.

The main fear however was the difficulty to communicate with my family and friends. Expressing oneself in a foreign language is challenging, uncomfortable and sometimes discouraging, to a lot of my entourage because they don’t want to sound or look stupid. That also implied that a genuine conversation would always be ruined and altered by a third-party. It takes away the spontaneity and creates a disconnect between people. Plus, I hate translating. I get bored and tired after five minutes. It is annoying.

Tradition & Customs

Family always comes first, and sometimes, at the expense of everything else. That is something that almost all cultures share, especially African. My family and I are extremely close and stay connected regardless of our locations. That’s how we maintain our bond. I am a true African. My continent and country’s values run through my bloodstream. I will always have a pied-à-terre either in Congo or in Africa. And I cannot see my kids growing up without knowing nor having a connection to Congo or Africa.

 Marriage

I believe in monogamy. While Congo allows two different status of marriage – monogamy and polygamy, I could never see myself build a life nor bring my child in a different environment. A relationship is hard enough in itself to bring multiple actors into it.

I don’t believe in divorce. As a Christian, marriage is a life commitment and, I strongly believe in “till death do us part.” While it is easy to call it quit in a relationship when one of the partner is unfaithful, in marriage, there is only one option plausible: working it through.

Reality

With all that being said, I ended up falling in love for someone who had always considered “dating” the norm. He was raised in a polygamous family and envisioned his life the same way. When we met, he was still “talking” to other girls and, had no desire to learn or speak French.

This was probably the greatest of life lessons. You see, God has a way to force you to grow by sending your way, situations and people who will have you question yourself. My husband definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was his first African girlfriend and he, my first African-American babe.

He is the demonstrative and touchy-feely type, I am not. At least, not in public. He believed in polygamy, I did not; which became our #1 argument. He is first generation American, of Ghanaian descent, but born and raised in the Bronx. I am from Congo, lived in Paris and settled in New York. That however, didn’t stop us from falling hard for each others and, tying the knot.

Step by Step

I never had that “simple” type of love where you just take it one day at a time. Our story should have ended after a couple of months but we are now going towards our 3rd year together. He taught me how to be patient and how to trust men again. Though I disagree of his “friendly” manners, he is the cutest and most annoying human being ever. Well, my most annoying human being.

I don’t think people see how difficult and pressured intercultural relationships are. Adjusting to one another while remaining “yourself” is the greatest of challenges. You both want to fit in each other’s worlds but at the same time, fight that natural instinct to “colonize” the other. Learning and embracing someone else’s culture are two things that require time, patience and a strong commitment to your partner.

The stereotypes also seem stronger and harder to overcome. Although we might both be Africans, there is a huuuuuge gap between Central and West Africa that goes beyond the language barrier. The Francophone and Anglophone Africa had different experiences through and post-colonization and, that in itself, greatly influenced their people and culture.

For Better AND for Worse

Just like any relationships, there is a lot of work required, even more in an intercultural one. Spending time together, mingling with each other’s family and friends was crucial to understand each others. Until you have seen your partner in his/her natural habitat, you cannot really see their true self, without inhibitions.

We are lucky to be both Africans because our eating habits are very similar. That makes it easier for me since “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I do plan on learning and speaking his language (Twi) and his, mine (French and Lingala). When? At some point. But definitely before our traditional wedding. Once we have kids, we will definitely emphasize on their rich cultural background. We want them to have a solid understanding and a strong love of their ancestry. Who doesn’t love a polyglot child?

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Cul-de-sac

For the past couple of weeks, I have experienced lots of stress and frustration. The reason is: I feel stuck and, this is no new feeling. I have actually been feeling that way  for the past three years. So this is something I am familiar with, except that it has become unbearable lately because I’m starting to doubt myself.

My frustration stems from my inability to secure a job. It just seems like things are “blocked” for me – like my opportunities are benefitting someone else. Although I have always been successful in my studies, I never seemed able to fully transform that potential into a full-time job. Watching all my friends around me succeed and gradually building their careers is definitely not helping. Don’t get me wrong: I AM ABSOLUTELY HAPPY for them but at the same time, it leaves me wondering when will be my time.I am a human being and jealousy is a natural feeling.

While I am still a full-time graduate student, I had hoped that my first two degrees would have been enough to demonstrate my qualities and potential in the marketplace. Maybe I just have no idea how to sell or brand myself? Maybe I need to be more patient? Maybe you’re not all that special Isis and you need to face it? This frustration has become so invasive that it is starting to impact my relationship. While it is all happening in my head, my body as well is starting to feel it and this is not a good sign.

So today, more than any other days, I finally found the strength to voice my feelings – something that I still struggle with. (Mother Nature might have helped a little here) At 25, I have a bachelor and a masters’ degrees but still no job. My biological clock is starting to tick which only adds fuel to the fire. I am no longer sure whether I want to have a baby now or wait until I have secured a job. Why should I have to choose? Why can’t I simply have both? Why does it always have to be so complicated? I mean, I got to be good at something else than studying right?

Although I have received many words of encouragement from my family, friends and professors to trust the process and be more patient, I am starting to doubt that “my time will come.” And this is unacceptable as a Christian because I know God has a plan for everybody. I’m simply asking for a sign. I know I promised to be more positive and to only see the positive but it is hard. I know I am capable of doing it but right now, I just feel like I have reached a dead-end and it is quite discouraging.

I pray that God gives me the strength to keep up with my job search. I have never been the type to give up anyways. I guess this is just another lesson that life is teaching me and that I should be working harder on my patience. Alas, they don’t call it the mother of virtues for no reason. What I know for sure is that the wait has significantly humbled me.

I Am… Sasha Fierce

The month of love is here with its famous celebration, Valentine’s Day! This is even more special as we will celebrate our sixth month marriage anniversary and, our second year of dating! It is exciting and definitely one of those times where I want to surprise and spoil my man.

For the first time, I can freely unleash my Sasha Fierce and what better occasion than love season. If you know me, I outdo myself when it comes to showing and expressing my love and care when in a relationship. From time to time, I like to switch up things and make sure that we do not fall into the ‘boring couple’ category. I don’t like basic. Never have and never will. Therefore, I make sure to spice it up when necessary, sometimes just because.

So what’s the plan for V-day this year: I have no clue, as usual. lol, I just let my man handle that day. However, I surely have a few tricks up my sleeve, to make sure that I am always ready at all times. Like every woman, I absolutely love feeling and looking sexy & attractive, for myself and for my man. There is no better feeling than that look your bae gives you when you’re smoking hot! Lust and passion are definitely two necessary spices to keep a healthy and exciting relationship.

In order to properly prepare for the occasion, I went ahead to my wax lady last weekend  to handle my business and got a fresh mani-pedi. Another thing that is absolutely important is lingerie. I love it, well actually I am obsessed with lingerie. I like looking good underneath my clothes but above all, I want my man to feel like he’s unwrapping a gift every time he undresses me so I always look for the cute and inciting sets. I have a thing for boudoir lingerie and a clear obsession with lace and bodysuits. My favorite brands are L’Agent by Agent Provocateur, Fleur du Mal and of course Victoria’s Secret, to only name a few.

While lingerie plays a major role this season, I am very excited about Fifty Shades Darker. I devoured the trilogy in two weeks when it came out four years ago and was extremely pleased to see that the movie remained as faithful as possible to the books. Like last year, I managed to get advance tickets for 2/9 except this time, I will be treating bae to diner. From time to time, it is good to show him how much he is appreciated and what better occasion than NYC Restaurant Week. I look forward to it because it will give us an opportunity to take a break from New York fast life and, focus on each others.

Until then, ‘Laters, baby.’

New Year , Same me

Happy New Year!

I hope everybody had an amazing time and that you all spent the holidays with your loved ones. Goodbye 2016 and hello to 2k17 – year of achievement. Although I must admit I was anxious about what the new year would bring, I have set myself into thinking and acting more positively!

The first week of 2017 definitely started off on a good note. I passed all my classes with As; I got my French visa and managed to visit my family in Congo and France. I can’t complain, God has been good so far.

It is obvious that every year, one must anticipate new challenges, redefine and refine objectives and, eventually, establish new ones that will guide them through the new year. Not for me, not this time along. I decided that 2017 would simply be another opportunity to focus on myself, my family and loved ones and on my brand.

This year I want to work on really taking the time to appreciate life, one day at a time. 2016 was tough. I almost lost myself, trying to fight against the wave of events and, I almost drown myself trying to fight the inevitable. 2017 will be the year of achievement and personal enhancement. I need and must trust in myself and into God because worry never brought anything positive.

So new year, definitely same me. Setting up surrealistic resolutions has become such a trend in my generation in the past decade that we all end each year disappointed at ourselves and reflecting on what-ifs. I just hope that this new year will be filled with nothing but love and joy for each and every one of us.

2016 you taught me the value of life, you took away the greatest of souls but most importantly, you humbled me. In 2017 I want to become the best version of myself, worry less of the things I have zero control over and, maximize on the achievable.

Isis.

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Grief

At the beginning of this year, I lost one of the most important people in my life and, let me tell you this: IT FUCKING HURTS. Since then, survival has become my most important and vital human instinct.

Unlike relationships, grief doesn’t come with guidelines. You’re kind of on your own, trying to find a way to survive and continue living while deep down, you’re very close to dying. Coping with the loss of a loved one is the most difficult and challenging thing I have had to deal with in my young life and today still, I am not sure whether I am on the right path. But then again, will I ever be? I doubt it.

People said time will make it better but I am really starting to think it is quite the opposite. The pain is still here, stronger and unpredictable. The regrets, the anger, the hopelessness  and the sorrow, only stopping with tears falling down my eyes. It’s not pretty, especially when you are trying to keep it on the low. That is exactly what grief is: a profound state of loneliness and denial where the only relief is embracing it all.

So many things I wished I could still say; so many plans we made; so many dreams and projects we still had to accomplish but this is all gone now. All I have left are blurred feelings and memories that I keep replaying in my mind and dreams, wishing you were still here.

So, today I write about pain. The type of pain that will turn you worst enemy into your closest friend. The type of pain that makes you wish you would die yourself. Something that we all will have to face, sooner or later because there is one thing I know now: death does not discriminate.

Mourning is a hard and long process and it might take me a lifetime to overcome it all. 

 

Mid-Season Evaluation

Lately, I haven’t been feeling 100 percent, battling with constant fatigue and laziness while trying to maintain a healthy balance between school work and a social life. I guess my body is slowly entering hibernation as the temperature keeps dropping and I slowly realize that this winter will be nothing like what I have experienced in the past five years. It will be worst.

My last blog post was clearly dictated by frustration and a little bit of self-assessment of my expectations and time-management skills for this fall. Although I have managed quite easily until now to mix between school, my internship and my personal life, it was time for me to take a break and have a little introspection about my goals and objectives for this semester. I decided to end my internship because I simply could not manage to successfully juggle between that and my school work.

I think each one of us comes to a point, every season, where an almost natural selection happens where certain activities are dropped or pushed back, in order to maintain a dose of sanity in our lives. In an effort to rebalance my life, sleep schedule and workload, I had to take some load off my plate and make sure my grades were following as well. One of the important things in life is recognizing the signs when you are overworked and finding the inner strength to get rid of anything that adds on unnecessary stress and anxiety.

As for my personal life, the post-birthday season made me realize that I have myself been entering a new phase. I did not expect turning 25 to impact my morale this bad and have me reconsider my objectives and plans for the next couple of years. I am currently at this crossroad where I have to carefully pick my battles, select the people who will accompany me on this next journey, determine my post-master plan, both personal and professional, and, choose what types of tactics will get me there. I guess that is what adulting looks life. *merh*

I have also been slacking on my fitness routine, constantly and knowingly skipping my workout days and falling into a state of numbness when it comes to taking my ass back to the gym. Yes I have made significant effort since last March but that should not have stopped there. In my head, I am still in vacation mode, even though the world around me hasn’t stopped moving and obviously, did not care to wait for me. So it is time to put aside all the bad habits and find the inner motivation to finally get that fit and firm body I have been talking about for months!

So here is the plan for the rest of Fall-Winter:

  • Maintaining my GPA above 3.5 grade point average;
  • Exercising 3 times a week minimum;
  • Do regular cleanses to keep my body healthy and my skin radiant this winter;
  • Keep a tight schedule with my skin care routine: 2-3 facial and body scrubs per week;
  • Stay hydrated by drinking 1 gal of water a day, or at least 64 oz;
  • Step up my hair care regimen: take my vitamins every day + deep conditioning twice/month + low to zero heat use + protective styles;
  • Allocate more time for girls night and friends overall;
  • Be more serious at blogging and try to post on a more regular basis rather than ad-hoc;
  • Set up a weekly or monthly budget and stick to it, meaning stop using your savings;
  • Read more books, keep your brain active outside of school time;
  • Dedicate more time to training Storm and fix that anxiety problem of his;
  • Cook more, order out less: save money.

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This should keep me busy enough and I am sure more stuff will be added to that list with time. Making lists is a helpful way to keep tracks of achievements and is a great self-assessment tool for anyone. Staying on tracks is challenging but trying our best is what matters most.