Wash days are therapeutic for me. Restorative, really. The hour (or three…) that I spend washing, detangling, deep conditioning, and styling my hair is a time I take very seriously, and spend very introspectively. Even though my usual wash day is Sunday, I woke up this Monday morning and decided that I wanted to start off 2018 with a freshly shampooed scalp (SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Shampoo – $10.99), deep-conditioned ends (Carol’s Daughter Almond Milk Ultra-Nourishing Hair Mask – $14), and fully detangled hair (Tresemmé Flawless Curls Conditioner – $5) – which lasts for about two seconds after styling (Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker – $22) before it gets tangled again. So, the first thing I did this morning was spend a minimum of two and a half hours in a boiling hot shower, washing away 2017 and simultaneously running up my parent’s water bill.

2017 was a year that I do not regret. I started my second year of college, attained junior-level standing, opened up (more) about my ever-evolving struggles with mental health, and went to my first music festival. I got to be inspired by 49 strong, smart, beautiful women in my service organization, who saw the best in me. I walked the cutest dogs on some Sunday mornings, I made what felt like a million lattes (I’m a barista), and I learned to let myself embrace womanhood as I step out of my teen years. I straightened my hair for the first time in almost two years and it didn’t change who I was. I defined and redefined myself through my looks, my hair, my skin, my body… but recognized time and time again that all physical beauty and material things will one day come to pass.

In 2017, I realized it was okay to love myself. And I started doing it.

I cultivated relationships with those who saw the good in me. I lost friends. I gained friends. I started letting go of resentment I didn’t even realize I had been carrying for years. I learned the value in asking for help. I figured out exactly what it is I want to do with my life, and how to get there. I created. I met my role model. I got my first internship. I started this blog.

I stood shoulder to shoulder with thousands of women, men, and children embracing their freedom to protest at the Women’s March in Los Angeles. My eyes were opened, really opened, to everything that’s wrong with the world. That’s wrong with society. Politics consumed everything. “Did you hear what _______ did?” became a cue to brace myself. To remind myself that America is (or has the potential to be) better than what we are right now, than which person is in which office. To engage in the hope that one day, it will be realized that the core foundations of inclusion and freedoms, on which these United States of America were built, should be what we, as a people, are striving towards — not moving away from.

As for the first day of 2018? It was spent alternating between Black Mirror on Netflix and Degrassi: The Next Generation on YouTube. One, because it was too cold to do anything (it’s 21 degrees in Atlanta right now, but I’m sure any of my friends from up north would love to remind me that it is -323423 degrees where they live.) Two, because I don’t think there is a way I could binge Black Mirror and somehow remain sane.

Despite my anticlimactic start to 2018, I am excited to see what the other 364 days hold. May we each step into this new season, eager to receive the blessings that are waiting for us. But may we not overextend our season of preparation for said blessings (more on this later.) May we remember that we’re all moving at different paces, and may we recognize that the only thing that truly matters in this life is the relationships we have with one another – how we have loved, helped, (positively) challenged and supported each other.


Posted by:Manna Zel

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