A Howard Homecoming: Hello, 2019.
The holiday season, I must tell you, is my favorite time of the year.
Why? Because I’m home. I’m warm. I’m in my own bed which seems far away now that I have started my Master’s program and will be in Washington DC for one more year.
But, this isn’t the first time I’ve been back to Howard since my graduation.
It doesn’t seem nearly as long ago as it was, but last year in May I returned back to my alma mater and watched Chadwick Boseman give Howard graduates and my old peers one of the most timely commencement speeches I have ever had the pleasure to hear. And yes, while my commencement speaker was Barack H. Obama—who is still my president, I don’t care what anyone says—Chadwick's message still resonated with me on a very personal level. Despite graduating in 2016, his message was poignant for anyone in their twenties, for anyone wishing to make life changes and not knowing how to, or anyone being too scared to take their first steps toward that monumental change in their life. Post-grad depression is a real thing, which is why I was so moved by Chadwick Boseman. I wanted to go home and watch all of his movies. I wanted to move to Wakanda. His message actually has become the reason for this article, because he stressed the importance of purpose.
“Purpose is an essential element of you,” he said. “It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”
Some doors are meant to close and others are meant to open in their places.
As a twenty-something year old, societal expectations suggest that we should be adults. I know for a fact that I
definitely have days where I ‘adult’ more frequently than others. The rest of the time? Yeah, I feel like a kid. I still rely on others to reach the goals I have set for myself, and in the midst of these sometimes failed attempts at ‘adulting’ and my personal aspirations, mixed with the Instagram effect that somehow always makes the lives of others a lot shinier than my own, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s easy to feel wrong. It’s easy to feel like we are wasting our time chasing after false impressions of what life should be, rather than the small daily happenings that truly make up what is.
I would be remiss to go without bidding farewell to Kate Spade. When news broke of her passing, I spent the day reading the tweets by loyal customers and fans, all of them recounting their first 'Kate Spade' bags. Women and men shared stories of where they were when they bought it, how they felt when they first wore them, and so on. And I thought this was amazing simply based on the sheer numbers of the testimonies. Thousands took to twitter to express their condolences, and it suggested the importance of our impact. This impact becomes our legacy. Through her own struggles with mental health, I wonder if she knew just how many lives she had touched, all through the execution of her creativity; her purpose.
And yet, life goes on. Wheels turn. Things change.
And we must adapt.
Our mental and physical wellbeing must be our priority. Our happiness must be our priority--in happiness, I believe we find our purpose. And I wish this for all of us, for everyone.
Which brings me back to Howard.
clothespetals is my child. It began as a means of spotlighting the black people often forced into the shadows of the fashion industry and has become a means of personal expression. I'm here because of the men and women who have made strides before me. Without their contributions and without their visions, I would have no accomplishments about which to write. And for the people of color wishing to make waves in an industry that often does not reflect those who look like them, I wish for this to be a reminder that there is always an example. Often times we do not strive towards heights we have seen no one else reach. What we see we can be, and I started this blog because Howard opened my eyes to that unlimited potential within me. It opened my eyes to the examples of young black talent tossing their stones upon a campus that have rippled into waves once they have left. And I set out to follow in the footsteps of that greatness; that legacy.
My own self-esteem, my self-love, I let blossom while at Howard. If you didn’t know, we are the second-best dressed university in the country. We don’t just dress to go to class, we dress to slay in class, and this has created a mindset that can be applied to everything; to more than fashion. It’s not about just dressing well, but the act of putting forth our best efforts in order to be our best selves. It’s about waking up each morning and knowing that our appearance is as polished as our performance--that nothing, even despite the constant bombardment of negative news and images of our people that we see daily in media outlets, nothing can stop us from achieving our goals. We need nothing outside of ourselves to reach unimaginable heights. It is from this mindset which clothespetals was birthed, because the self-love instilled in me after my four years of undergrad is the same concept I wish for all other men and women of color. And so, this post is a ‘thank you.’ It’s a thank you and a showcasing of a school that has truly changed my life for the better.
I hope everyone reading clothespetals is inspired by the achievements of others to pursue their own passions. I hope everyone reading clothespetals is inspired enough to make their own impact; to establish their own legacies. Nothing is impossible, and whether or not you are driven to pursue a career in the fashion industry, I hope that the stories of others--from business owners to models to the many others beating the odds against them as men and women of color--becomes an example of success for everyone to follow.
“Everything that you fought for was not for yourself, it was for those who came after you."
Don't wait, go. Take that leap of faith and jump.
Howard is forever, and happiness is key.