''Life isn't about finding yourself. It is about creating yourself '',
George Bernard Shaw

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November 08, 2018

3 Huge Mistakes I Made My in Teens That I Will Avoid Making in My Twenties And So Should You

The seventeenth day of July of this year marked the day I bid my teenage years goodbye. I know, I cannot believe it either that I am finally a twenty year old. Although, deep down I do feel like a 16-year-old.


Turning twenty has come with its fair share of nostalgia, which has prompted me to reflect on the past. Sure, there is plenty to miss about being a teenager. Like the volatility, intensity, and innocence of it all. But in the same breath, there is plenty I could do without. Like the profuse mistakes I made along the way. But this is not to say I would have it any other way. As a matter of fact, I would do it all over again. Because were it not for the three following mistakes, I would not be walking into my twenties with the wisdom I currently possess. 

Photo Credit: Halima Abokor Sheikh 


So, without further ado, here are the three mistakes I made in teens that I will avoid making in my twenties: 

Trying To Conform 


To be quite fair, I suspect that we have all tried to fit in our teens, one way or another.  In retrospect, it sounds inevitable. After all, this is the time where one is coming to learn who he/she/they are, and how the world perceives him/her/them. Personally, it came as a shock when I came off age. Because I was  robbed of my childhood oblivion. And as a consequence, I began to notice what set me apart from the rest of the crowd including my physical features, quirks etc. And instead of embracing them, I was eager to do anything in my power to alter them in order to fit in.



Chasing Pavements 

Not literally. But as Adele can be heard contemplating in her hit song of the same name, whether to continue pursue something that could prove to be completely hopeless or purposeless. Or to just give it all up. This is something that definitely rings true to who I am, innately. I am so slow to change; to the point I do not know when to walk away from anything that no longer serves me. Be it my personal relationships, or any career endeavours. Nevertheless, I am learning to loosen my grip. I am gradually learning to let go. 


Not Holding Myself Accountable For My Actions 

There was a time in my early teens where I was extremely toxic. And instead of acknowledging my wrongdoings and trying to make up for my hurtful behaviour; I would make a habit of placing the blame onto others by victimizing myself.  It is not until I began to love myself that I began to grasp the significance of owning up to my actions especially when other parties are involved. Now, when I do find myself in any situation where I am in the wrong, I do not hold back with admitting and apologizing for all my wrongs. 

ARE THERE ANY MISTAKES YOU MADE IN YOUR TEENS THAT YOU WISH TO STEER CLEAR OF IN YOUR TWENTIES? IF SO, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW. 
October 22, 2018

A Sensual Playlist To Walk You Through The Stages Of An Intimate Relationship

According to bestselling author and psychologist, Doctor Susan M. Campbell, each intimate relationship goes through the following five stages. The romance stage, the power struggle stage, the stability stage, the commitment stage, and the co-creation or bliss stage. She based the aforementioned theory on numerous interview of couples that she had conducted. Which she later compiled into the bestselling book, The Couple’s Journey: Intimacy as a Path To Wholeness.


Photo by Serrah Galos

The more I delved into Campbell’s theory, the more I could not help to feel as though each stage could be easily paired up with a complimentary song. If anything, I was quite convinced there are plenty of love songs for me to curate into a playlist. After going back and forth with the endless possibilities, I settled on the following choices. Here they are:

The Attraction Stage 


The first stage of love, the attraction stage, is where that deep, burning desire or interest in someone begins to manifest. Feelings are fresh, so lovers begin to experience what is known as a ‘magnetic pull’ towards the subject of their affection. Valerie Kimani’s Ngunga Ii is an embodiment of the desire to be close to someone. The songstress who sings in Kikuyu, a Bantu language spoken in Kenya, kick-starts the tune by asking the name of her potential lover. She continues to dote on him. And she further expresses that she is ready to say yes to love in spite of her fear. When translated into English, the title of the song becomes, I Will Say Yes.

The Infatuation Stage



”I don’t want nobody else
Baby, all I need is you
You’re the one I want
And I don’t want nobody else
Baby, all I need is you
You’re the one I want”

Lovers get to know each other in the stage of infatuation. And the more they do, the more it feels like pure bliss. And understandably so, because this is the point where they overly-romanticize every single detail about whomever they are falling in love with. Since reality has not really kicked in. At least not yet. Hence why it is often called the honeymoon phase. Where euphoria is at an all-time high, and everything is oh-so-pleasant. And no one describes it better than Tamar Braxton in her The One single from Love & War album. She starts off the song with the following lines; You know very well who you are. You’re the only one, you got my heart. She later goes on to express how she desires no one else.

The Power Struggle Stage


Lizz Wright sings of this post-honeymoon phase in her jazz/blues ballad, Speak Your Heart. The song is about a conflict ensuing between lovers because of their fight for control. She wants to know where they stand because of her lover’s refusal to open up. She later gives him an ultimatum; either he lets her in or lets her go.

Disillusionment 


In the previous stage, lovers had just begun to become more unstable and prone to disagreements. But at this point, it worsens to a greater magnitude because masks are peeled off. And those in love begin to see each other for who they really are. Not for who they thought they were. And this devastating discovery can lead to pondering on what happened to the good old times. And most of all, what happened to the person one fell in love with. This stage is perfectly articulated by Toni Braxton and Babyface in their duet tune, Take It Back.

The Stability Stage 


Commonly known to be the calm after a storm phase. In this stage, lovers are known to liberate each other. Because a sense of security and comfort exists. Validation is no longer needed. This is when people are more certain of what they feel and how they go about making it known. And with that in mind, have a listen to Mariah Carey’s Always Be My Baby. Because it perfectly encapsulates the emotions that come with this stage.

The Commitment Stage


This soulful Grammy-nominated hit, By Your Side, is a perfect example of a lover’s relentless loyalty and devotion to his/her subject of affection. Sade sings of a lover who vows to be there through the thick and thin. And through the highs and lows. As it should be between lovers who have weathered the storm and triumphed. Only for their love to remain strong.
Disclaimer || This article was originally published in Face2Face Africa






October 10, 2018

World Mental Health Day: My Mental Health Struggles+ 6 Reassuring Quotes To Remind You That You've Got This

For the past week or so, there has been a lot of much-needed conversation on social media regarding mental health. Due to the fact that the annual World Mental Health Day is finally upon us, which happens to fall on October 10. Also, Americans are in the midst of Mental Illness Awareness Week , which started on the seventh day of October, and will draw to an end on October 13th.

During these past few days, I have seen people I follow open up about their own struggles with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Which in turn has prompted me to reflect about my own personal journey and struggle with mental health.

To tell you the truth, my mental health began to deteriorate at the age of sixteen, which I have briefly opened up about in the past. After graduating from junior high school, I enrolled in a pre-senior high school programme for a year. Within that time, I began to succumb to the pressures of the world. On top of that, I felt as though I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, at least career wise. Feelings of inadequacy, and the need to be in control of all situations had become a constant. Also, I could not help but to worry over the fact that my teenage years were drawing to and end. I was not ready to let go of the shape shifting that comes along with teenage hood. In exchange for the sombreness disguised as responsibility that comes with growing up. 

Photo Credit: Valeriia Bugaiova

Although nonsensical, such worries began to take up a lot of space in my mind; to the point they began to consume me. Later on, they progressed to become ongoing panic attacks. Usually, it would begin in the early morning as a sharp pain in the centre of my chest. Then it would develop into a constriction that would leave me barely breathing.  When able to, I would reach out for my phone in hopes of searching for calming music on the internet to listen to. Playing it for some time would work, but not always. Other times, I would just lay in bed and cry it away. How I wish I had gathered the courage to seek professional assistance to equip me with the tools with which, I could have used to cope with what was anxiety. But had failed to perceive as such.

Although, I am no longer in that headspace as of late, there are times when thoughts of anxiety insist on creeping back into my mind. I find myself feeling not good enough or failing at this thing we call life. And when they do, I usually go back to re-read specific reassuring quotes taken from published books. Because there is something soothing and comforting, when someone else out there has best articulated what you need to hear most. Usually, I repeat the words to myself until I comprehend and internalize the message. Here they are: 

For self-assurance... 

The point is, you have family and friends who love you. You have a world out there just waiting for you to conquer it. You have a life that will be anything you make it. That's the point'', Malory Blackman.

For combatting analysis paralysis...

''Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don't stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just...start'', Ijeoma Umebinyuo.

For learning to accept what you cannot change...


''So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them'', Stephen Chbosky.








For dealing with heartbreak...


''This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something'', Elizabeth Gilbert.

...and dealing with challenges


''Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does'', Margaret Atwood.

For understanding that you have a say in living a life you love...


''For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you have never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have strength to start all over again'', F.Scott Fitzegerald.

August 31, 2018

How To Get Back Into The Habit Of Reading In 3 Simple Steps

It is no secret that I am trying to get back into the habit of reading. In fact, in my previous post, I recounted my memories of growing up as an avid reader, yet almost giving it up all together in my late teens. Now that I am twenty, I have decided to give reading another go. And to be quite honest, it has proven to be harder than I thought it would be. But thankfully, I have figured out three simple steps to implement in order to lessen the struggle . Here they are:



DECIDE ON A GENRE

Before proceeding any further, you need to ask yourself one important, yet often overlooked question. What kinds of books do I want to read? Not only does the answer to this question give you an idea of where you should start from; it also narrows down the endless alternatives. And in a world where it easy to get overwhelmed by the number of options, it is better to come to a decision. Otherwise, you will risk getting stuck due to indecision. However, deciding on a genre does not mean that you are limited to reading books within that genre. Quite the contrary. 

Think of it like this. There are those of us that are plagued with the intense desire to travel worldwide. But there is no way to do that all at once. Instead it is undertaken one travel destination at a time. And for that to happen we must constantly choose our destination of choice. But just because we travel within Europe does not meant that we cannot travel elsewhere such as The Middle East, Oceania etc. 

My point is, you have to start from somewhere. And in this case, it could be as broad as choosing to read literary fiction. Or it could be as specific as choosing to read a fantasy novel with a Black/Brown protagonist.



SET A GOAL

I take it that you have decided what kinds of books you wish to read. So, it is crucial to establish goals to give you an direction of where you are headed. If I may continue with the travel analogy, think of setting goals as planning out a travel itinerary. It consists of all the places you want to visit, things you want to do etc in order to get the ideal travel experience of the destination in question.

Well, the same goes for reading. Setting goals, be it long term or short term, will also give you an idea on how to go about achieving the end result. Personally speaking, my main end result is to read as often as I used to, and it usually involved at least two books in a month. That is why I take initiative in trying to read for at least 15 minutes a day.


TAKE OPPORTUNITY OF YOUR SPARE TIME

I remember complaining to my history teacher how I barely had time for reading anymore. And half surprisingly, she did not reprimand me. Instead she gave me a great suggestion. To make use of the time 40 minute commute to school.

This made sense to me because a) It didn't do much except be on my phone while on my way to school. b) Because of the fact that I had time to spare, and it did not feel like I was forcing reading into my routine. Instead of going out of my way to make time,  I was utilizing the time I already had.

CURRENTLY READING 

Never Let Me Go || Kazuo Ishuguro 
Ishmael's Oranges || Claire Hajaj 

POST DETAILS

Photography || Priscilla Osei
Location || Solo Sokos Hotel Torni and Helsinki Univeristy Main Library 

If you found this post useful, please pin it on Pinterest, so others can make use of it as well. Also, feel free to share it with your family and friends.



OUR

To embark on this quest is to know that it is continuous. And as multifaceted beings, we will always be in pursuit of ourselves because of our many layers. And as long as we are aware of that, there will always be something to uncover.



THREE

To embark on this quest is to embrace evolution. So we should not be afraid of either change or transformation. Nor should we get overly attached to a specific version of ourselves, or even our circumstances. Because it is through those moments of change and transformation, that we get acquainted with our most truest selves.



PHILOSOPHIES:

To embark on this quest is to understand that as much as it has to do with the opportunities we are given, our personal effort and conscious choices have something to do with it as well.




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Editorial

Zadie Smith

Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful. And decide what you want and need and must do. It's a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that's the deal: you have to live, you can't live by slogans, dead ideas, clich├ęs, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It's the easy way out.

MY STORY

I was only thirteen when I created my first blog. And to be quite honest, I do not remember what exactly it was about. But all I recall is I enjoyed the mere act of it; jotting down my ramblings and thoughts. I did so sporadically until 2014.

During the first half of 2014, I graduated from junior high school, and the plan was to proceed to senior high school. At fifteen, I thought I had everything figured out. From who I was to where I was headed. But it came as a shock to me when things did not go quite to plan. The truth is, I did not get accepted to my first choices. And when things do not go to plan, we as human tend to question our capabilities, worth and purpose. Especially when we are deeply invested in someone, or something . At least I do. As a result, I took a unintended gap year of some sort to figure things out.

At first, I felt like my world was crumbling. Looking back it sounds overly dramatic, but I have always had a flare for the theatrics. I felt miserable because I had put so much of my self worth, self purpose and self identity into this one arbitrary thing. But what had felt like punishment, later turned to be one of my most insightful, and eye-opening experience.

During that whole year, I began to dive into activities that I enjoyed. For instance, I took to singing. I have always been know to sing. But not in a way, where I had the freedom to explore my identity as a songstress. Reminiscing with my love for music led me to join a band, which in itself was unexpected.

Also, I would make a habit of stimulating my mind and satisfying my hunger for knowledge, by taking creative writing classes, perusing museums etc. But most importantly, I began to blog more frequently. I took it as an opportunity to pass time and it served as a great medium to express the whirlwind of emotions I was experiencing. And as fate would have it, the more time I dedicated my time to blogging, the more I fell in love with it. I never blogged about a specific niche per se. My then blog leaned towards the more personal side of blogging. Because I would blog about my daily life. But during its later days, it was more lifestyle focused.

However, in 2015, I made the decision to shut it down for several reasons. Firstly, my gap year days were soon coming to an end. And I was about to begin senior high school in the fall of 2015. And to simply put it, there was no way I was going to have as much time to spend on blogging as I did before. And for the record, I am painfully meticulous with my work. So it should not come as a surprise that writing and editing alone can take me up to 6 hours, or even more. And it later proved to be impossible, when I tried to add tasking school work, and blogging to the same equation.

Secondly, I wanted to refine my craft. And as I have mentioned before, I am a perfectionist at heart. In addition, my then blog did not feel like it was a reflection of who I was gradually becoming.

Shortly after beginning senior high school in the fall of 2015, I deleted my former blog permanently. By then I had just turned seventeen, and as much as I was excited about what lay ahead, I could not help feeling apprehensive. Apprehensive about who I was becoming, where I would end up in a few years time, what career field I would end up choosing etc.

As if the stress of school was not bad enough, this feeling of apprehension began to weigh me down through my academic year. As soon as I turned eighteen that feeling completely heightened. I began to suspect that the cause of it all was the fact that my teenage years were drawing to an end, which meant that adulthood was approaching. (And also due the fact that worrying is in my nature).

Instead of preoccupying my mind with anything else, other than such weighty thoughts, I began to learn how to care for my afro-textured hair. With time, I became so consumed with the world of afro-textured haircare. How eager I was to read every blog post, and watch every YouTube out there. Through learning to nurture a part of my identity that I had disliked for way too long, enabled me to not only accept myself, but to love myself as well.

Additionally, I took it upon myself to participate in creative courses such as music, and drama that were being offered at school. And as fate would have it, it was in those moments that I became acquainted with a side of myself I did not think existed. This determined and creative self, although unsure and fearful, she kept at it. Even if that meant getting in front of a whole class to act out a skit in a language that she is not fluent in. What was meant to be used as a means to bring me peace of mind happened to teach me a great life lesson.

I learnt the power and the gift that is the present time. Or as Eckhart Tolle describes it, The Power Of Now. Before, I was too focused on what tomorrow brings, yet I had not done anything to prove myself worthy of that tomorrow. Also, I learnt about actualization. What is it that I am doing today that will bring me closer to where I need to be, by tomorrow? Or a month, year from now. Were it not for learning how to take care of my kinky hair, I doubt I would have been able to pen down my viral celebratory poem.Were it not for me taking those courses, I would not be graduating from senior high school with not only an academic diploma, but two from the performance arts. One in music, and another in drama.

My overdue epiphany led me to figure out why the mere thought of being an adult was sending me into a state of constant worrying. Because unbeknownst to me, I was going through what some may call an existential crisis. So, instead of consciously living and actualizing my future into existence. I was just wasting away my days brooding about my identity and the future. Because I did not have the slightest idea of who I was, my purpose and importance; outside of people's definition of who they thought I was, or who I should have been.

Luckily, I broke free from that. After tirelessly immersing myself in all that life had to offer, I began to receive the answers to my daunting questions. Which in turn enabled me to stop dreading adulthood, and to actually begin to embrace it. If I must say so myself, I have really come a long way. As I bid farewell to my years of being a teenager, I can gladly say that I am walking into my twenties knowing a few things to be true:

1. I have a say in who I am, who I become, and what I do.
2. It is necessary to shift my energy from worrying about the future to actualizing it.
3. This is my journey, and how I choose to go about it, is for nobody else's comprehension but my own .

But on the few occasions when the feeling of apprehension kicks in, I make a habit of going back to a passage taken from the bestselling novel, White Teeth, by British author, Zadie Smith. As seen above!

WHY CURLFRIEND SUOMI?

Curl...
Because through the realm of afro-textured haircare, I became acquainted with a part of myself that has always been dormant. In turn, it solidified my sense of self.


Friend...
Because I am a great believer in friendship. The mutual connection, and sense of community amongst individuals. As much as there is something to be said about being a friend to others, and having a friend in them. There is nothing quite like being a friend to oneself. But that is not to say we have to go about this alone. For me, being on this continuous quest has taught me to not only share myself with others, but myself as well.


Suomi...

Because a huge part of self discovery is being aware of where one is coming from, which gives one a sense or and idea of where one is headed to. And for me that has been Finland. As much as I am Kenyan, and as much as I spent most of my childhood in Kenya. I also identify as Finnish because I grew up as a pre-teen and teenager in Finland. And consequently that has influenced me, and how I relate to and perceive the world, my worldview.

ARE YOU UP FOR THE QUEST?

If yes, please make sure you are subscribed via Email or Bloglovin . I would not want you to miss a single post. Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Lastly, if you are new here which I presume you are, check out my Start Here page to know your way around the site.

If not, thank you so much for your interest and for stopping by. Remember, you are welcome to visit whenever you feel like it.

Regardless of your answer, thank you for your time. All the best in your journey,

Acquelline

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