What Summer 16' Taught Me

Summer 16' came as quickly as it is leaving.

As fall is approaching, I started thinking about all the things that summer 16' has taught me. A lot has happened in the past two months and I have learned more about the 'hard knocks of life' this summer than ever before.

The summer started off with the deaths of three of my childhood classmates. Two of them died within two days of each other and the third died exactly two weeks later. This was really tough for me to deal with because I couldn't wrap my head around why they would be taken from this earth so young. I felt like there were so many unanswered questions but then I had to remind myself that God does no wrong. There is a reason for everything. Dealing with their deaths made me value life more and appreciate my friends and family. I now make more of an effort to express my love and gratitude to the people in my life because that saying "life is too short" is so true. Having to deal with their deaths also inspired me to keep going after my dreams and goals and to take more risks. 

If you only get one life to live, why not live each day to the fullest?

Summer 16' had a lot of untimely deaths of black people who were killed by police officers. Hearing about Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and Korryn Gaines one after the other was heartbreaking. Being able to see video footage of their last moments on earth were both enlightening and scary. I was enlightened because I realized that America is still a country dealing with racism and hate. It's so important to 'stay woke' and to show compassion for others now than ever before. I have always been an optimist and I truly believe that there is a silver lining to every situation. 

I, myself, have never been depressed but this summer taught me that depression is real. I feel like most black people ignore depression and it's a subject that no one really talks about. However, it's important that we address it and help our loved ones that are going through it. This summer, I've dealt with a few of my friends being depressed. Whether it was career, money, relationships, etc.; they were feeling down and it wasn't a good feeling. From their situation, I learned the importance of being a good friend. Sometimes all a person wants is for someone else to listen to them. I learned to be a listener. A true friendship shouldn't only consist of hanging out, 'turning up' and talking about fashion. It should be one where you hold the other person down during their hard times and you actually listen to them.

I also went through a 'funk' because I started to feel anxious about the future.

What if I never make a living off of acting?

What if I never feel fulfilled?

What if my dreams never come true?

I couldn't help but to be consumed by these thoughts. My biggest fear is failure and I don't want to ever just settle. I had to remind myself that success does not happen overnight. It takes time. It takes dedication. It takes hard work. 

I started listening to podcasts such as The Great Girlfriends, Girl Boss Radio and Myleik Teele: #mytaughtyou. I was immediately inspired because they are all successful women who went through tough times and had doubts themselves. Listening to these podcasts motivates me to keep pushing and to never be complacent.

Summer 16' introduced me to other 20-somethings living in NYC going after their dreams. I went to a few events where I met like-minded people and were inspired by their drive and dedication. I learned the importance of surrounding yourself with other like-minded people. I really enjoy listening to other people's stories and learning from their journey to success.

Lastly, the Summer Olympics in Rio has been really inspirational and I am proud to be a woman of color. Seeing Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Simone Manuel, Michelle Carter and many more kill it at the Olympics is amazing. These women are making history and being positive role models in a time where young black girls need positive women to look up to more than ever. These women taught me that I can accomplish anything that I want to. No dream is too big.

While summer 16' started off shaky, it is ending with optimism, inspiration and a new outlook on life. I know that summer isn't over yet, but I am excited and looking forward to fall. This summer is definitely one that I won't forget.