Do what you have to, until you can do what you want to do. – Oprah
Hey, y’all. Please forgive the delay. It has been a while, but it has also been a wild couple months. Let’s start with the fact that my body has decided it wants to act a fool. In all my years on God’s green, well actually, his rapidly browning and slightly overheated Earth, I have never experienced so many health complications. Whenever deliberating these complications, my mama would nauseatingly repeat “You’re almost 30. You’re officially a real life adult and real stuff is going to start happening.” And while she’s annoying accurate, she might also be unknowingly discerning.
I mean, I’ve always tolerated my asthma (probably just a byproduct of coming of age under L.A.’s smog chockfull skies) and my anxiety (probably just PTSD from being awkward, poor, female, and Black in America). Still I’d never had any real health issues. I’ve never spent time admitted in a hospital, been transported by ambulance, and I can count on one hand with some fingers missing the times I’ve visited an emergency room. I’ve been pretty fucking blessed. Excuse me, Lord. Last we talked, I explained how I’ve decided the state of Texas is trying to kill me. And while I described being faced with a bodily reaction, what I didn’t tell is that I was actually diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. Now before you start divvying up my possessions, let me set your greedy hearts at ease. It is not fatal. All $17 of my wealth will remain my own. Thank you for your concern though.
Anyway, an unknown and unfortunate series of events has caused my immune system to mistake healthy cells for foreign intruders and attack these perfectly good cells. I know it doesn’t make sense. Immune system attacking its own body? Isn’t the immune system supposed to protect the body? YUP! Textbook example of biting the hand that feeds you! Ummm, quick question though. How do you think my immune system even knows which cells to attack? Is it out looking for specific cells from a certain neighborhood or is it just out there swinging its arms hysterically and whichever unlucky cells are in the way end up becoming an unfortunate casualty? And is my immune system even remorseful or does it shrug in the direction of the dead cell’s weeping mama like “Well…she shouldn’t have been standing in my way”? There is a very real chance that my immune system has begun to model itself after another protection agency. Both are out here killing certain members of the same body they’re meant to serve and protect. I’m just saying. Hashtag, black cells matter.
So! During a follow-up conversation with the specialist who found and diagnosed the disorder I learned that anywhere from 7 to 15% of the U.S. population suffers from an autoimmune disease. I also learned autoimmune disorders can be onset by one or any combination of allergens, environmental toxins, dietary choices, bacteria, and stress levels. While mentally noting all the things in my life that it could have triggered this reaction, I recalled the way my stress levels have always affected my body. For the last 28 years, I’d pretty much been okay. While there have obviously been unpleasant times, I’ve always found balance. I began to wonder what had changed so much in my life, that my body found these new conditions unbearable. While no one can be sure of exactly what happened to activate the illness, I simply believe adulting happened. Not only did my responsibilities and experiences change, but my body has aged a bit, my hormones have positioned themselves to guide my body through its childbearing years, and I’m trying to climb this corporate latter. Life, in essence, has changed.
And in 2016, I have literally seen myself at my worse. In fact, it’s becoming a widely accepted consensus that 2016 was kinda shitty for everyone. But in 2016 I’ve had an almost non-existent workout regimen that’s left me 10 pounds too heavy, a diet that has included mostly empty calories, carbs and sugar, the constant rotating of jobs that demanded I deliver results on a condensed timeline, my home’s renovation, a new dog that Lomo and I are just now beginning to completely trust and a student loan that can’t seem to leave me the hell alone. And that’s just my shit! Let’s not forget the black woman’s curse: taking care of everyone except yourself. Add on issues of family, friends, a significant other, stomaching America’s political landscape, the hours clocked trying to explain why Black Lives Matter, the fact that the city of Dallas still hasn’t cleaned up the Trinity River, and the possible extinction of black rhinos. The struggle is real out here. Hashtag black rhinos matter.
Honestly, that is adulthood in the Western world. Full of processed food-like products consuming, over worked yet under inspired, drowning in debt, social security running out, Kanye prancing around Trump tower ass-citizens. Let’s us not forget to mention that the majority of our country elected Donald McSatan as its leader. In other words, this shit is stressful! And that stress mixed with the sum of terrible diets, fuckboy police departments, rising costs of living, gluttonous pharmaceutical companies and a do-nothing congress has led us to a lifestyle that could easily cause one’s body and mind to slowly eat away at itself.
My body, as healthy as it was, has begun to attack itself because, well, America. And because I know some of you will read this and think “you’re an idiot. You can’t blame the country for your misfortune.” I’ll be fair. This country didn’t make me consume gluten, ultra-processed and fast food, excess sugar, pesticides laced produce, or highly symptomatic birth control. Nor did it make me take on racism, debt, or filthy air. But then you be fair and acknowledge that this country doesn’t give the overwhelming majority of us any other choice. Especially those of us that are poor and unspoken for. We cool? Cool.
Yet, those of us who are still figuring out how to adult suck down the daily handful of bitter pills in the hope of one day enjoying and living comfortably in that adulthood. In 2012, my Sandz looked me dead in my face and said “do what you have to, until you can do what you want to do.” That surprisingly tough pep talk was in response to the fact that I’d recently quit a well-paying but dreadfully uninspiring job, moved to Washington D.C. only to get there and decide not to attend Howard University for grad school, and moved back to L.A. unemployed, disappointed, confused, and unwilling to admit that I’d made some questionable decisions. But in that moment, while Aisha was trying to get me to understand that I may not always be able to do all the things I want to do when I want to do them, I learned something. “Adulting” is literally doing all the things you have to do, so that you can do all the things you want to do. You have to go to work because you have to pay bills. But you also go to work so that you can buy the home, visit that country, and watch all the Netflix you want. I also learned later that Aisha didn’t say that, Oprah did. Good try though, sis.
I say all this to say, all the sacrifices we make are a part of adulting. And adulting is literally doing the things that are unpleasant in order to do the things you love. Holding down an interim and maybe even demeaning job while slanging jokes at armature open mic nights, living in a country that has lost its collective damn mind in order to enjoy the reliable and fast internet, and taking your mom’s 17 daily calls so she can rest assure that you’re alive and remain un-kidnapped. But by this logic, I’m literally going to work everyday to make money and keep my health insurance, so I can fight this autoimmune disease, so that I’m alive to eventually pay off a damn student loan, so that I can ultimately enjoy all my money. That would mean that I’m actually doing what I have to do, in order to do what I have to do, so that I can do what I have to do, that way I can someday do the things I want to do. FML. Delayed gratification is overrated. Oprah AND Aisha got that shit wrong. There are far more steps than they let on. You can tell em I said it. I ask that y’all pray that I continue to grow stronger in the Lord.
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My NelNet student loan statement as of 12/14/2016. $101,720.29. In the past 3 months I’ve paid off about $5,000. I’ve put all of my additional payments toward my Group C loan in an effort to follow the snowball debt repayment method. It’s my hope to be out of 6 figure range by January 2017.