“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the same horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do accordingly.” – Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
If you’ve ever read Their Eyes Were Watching God then you know that the above quote opens the book and sets the stage for the story that Zora is about to tell. It foreshadows Janie’s journey and articulates the idea that women can control their wills and chase their dreams. Well, that is exactly what junior year has been for me – a battle and struggle in the direction of my dreams.
And now that the semester is over, I’m proud to say that I feel like Janie did at the end of the book. I have been to the horizon and back and I’m comfortable sitting with my soul now. It’s funny because even though a full school year of trials, tribulations, and triumphs has passed I can really only remember Thailand and this semester. The fall is all a blur. I think it’s been washed out by how amazing and how hard this spring was. In the words of Mr. Michael Ceaser (heyyyyy bestfriendddd!) “This was a make it or break it year, and we made it.”
From spending Winter Break in Thailand to my grandmother’s death in February (and my resulting 2 week leave of absence + future therapy sessions), to becoming a member of my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., I’ve had no time to breathe. At various points this semester I truly felt like I was drowning and wouldn’t make it. I was so incredibly burdened by everything that was on my plate and on my heart. But, somehow, someway, I’m writing this as a senior at Cornell. I don’t have some glorious tale to tell or grand story about how I managed to survive what has been the roughest semester of my undergraduate career. I just did it and actually managed to do well. (I guess acting and doing accordingly pays off, huh? LOL)
Sometimes, making it to the other side is really just about having the guts to continue to slug it out in the trenches. It’s waking up every morning, acknowledging the BS that is your life and continuing to keep on keeping on because you know that one day it will get better. And I think that’s what happened here because as I write this – I don’t feel so heavy anymore. In fact, I feel free. For the first time in my life, I feel defined by no one but myself (not family, not friends, not males). My existence is tied to whatever I want it to be and is a result of the creation of whatever I decide I want. The world is my oyster and I’m just getting started.
When I reflect back on where I was this time last year and where I am now, I almost think I’m looking at two totally different people. I’ve never felt more confident, secure, and comfortable with myself, my gifts, and my life than I do right now. I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. I’m here. I’m me and that is what it is. I’m okay with ambiguity about the future. I’m living for right now.
The physical representation of this inner growth is my lovely TWA (teeny weeny afro). I cut my hair in April and cut the remainder of the relaxed ends off May 1st and I have to say I’m in love. My hair prior to cutting it just felt like dead weight. It came to represent all of the things I had been dealing with and struggling against + doing it was getting to be laborious. If you know me, you know I’ve been talking about going natural since before I even came to Cornell. Wellllllll, this semester I finally did it because #everythingcango. [AND the fact that I even felt confident and secure enough to cut my hair speaks volumes about how far how I’ve come this year- really how far I’ve come since I started Cornell]
Anything that does not serve me, help me grow, make me happy, advance my dreams, or fuel my passions – it. can. go. Because this Gabby that’s here today, she’s come into her own. I found my freedom through hair cuts and “singing bees”. I know that life has more in store for me and I’m excited to continue on this journey towards the horizon. I hope I can continue to act and do accordingly.
PS: I can’t believe I’m a senior and I can’t wait to see what the coming year of my life has in store for me. I feel like I’ve already accomplished all of the things I wanted to at Cornell so (hopefully!) things can only go up from here.