Illusion (n.) A false idea or belief // A deceptive appearance or impression.

No such thing as a life that's better than yours . - J. Cole

There’s something bittersweet about a time without apps. You almost feel like when we didn’t have it everyone was more socially aware. Which is completely ironic, considering that social media connects us a lot better these days. I’ve always for the most part, tried to stay away from the pull that social media has. I don’t let likes consume me and I don’t let other people’s “internet lives” affect my real life. I do however, take into consideration that these apps in all of their downfalls, help you figure out who you want to be as a person. You can choose to be a troll and spew as much hate as possible before you either drown yourself in depression over the things others have or you can try to spread as much positivity as possible in hopes that at least one person catches on. I spend a lot of my time on social media because it’s interesting to see what other people define as happiness. Appearance, likes, and money seem to be the standard of satisfaction. For a long time, I couldn’t figure out what makes people happy, until I realized that a lot of these people aren’t really happy at all. Social media is an illusion that we’ve accepted as a principle in our society. We always hear people say, “If you surround yourself with good people and don’t constantly stress over uncontrollable events in life you can be happy.” The problem I have with this statement, is that everyone is flawed. I like to think of myself as a good person and that I bring nothing, but positivity to people’s lives; truth is I have a lot of bad days. I spend a lot of my time fake smiling to keep others from worrying. A lot of the time I’m scared and insecure, but you would never know because on social media you get to see the, “real me”. The me that always has something positive to offer you if you need it, the me that can joke around with you until you’re done feeling bad for yourself, the me that even though I’m breaking inside will always tell you yes if you need me. I know that a lot of you are reading this like, “okay we all do this because nobody wants to see you at your worst.” To me it’s like if that’s how you feel then why bother making friends or any connections really? I don’t need your likes at my good times if you aren’t comfortable enough to support me at my worst. If I post a video on Instagram of me crying, yes, you’ll comment and ask if I’m okay and for that moment you’ll care. What happens when I log out of Instagram? Are you going to call me and check on me everyday after that or was it just because I had to expose myself? The idea that social media has us so detached from real life is what I miss about a time without apps. During that time, we went to each other’s homes and ate dinner and played board games. We stayed out until the streetlights came on talking about everything in our own lives. We picked up the phone to actually speak and heard voices on the other side. I’m not trying to bash apps because in all reality they’ve helped me grow and socialize with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I’ve made friendships on all of your favorite apps, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Bumble, and even Pinterest. Older generations cannot comprehend meeting other people online for the sole fact that it’s not what they were raised on. Being an adult in this weird time where I’m experiencing the world change has me excited and nostalgic. I’m realizing as I accept the change, the people around me are having a harder time doing that. People I used to think had the answer to everything are finding themselves stuck. Meanwhile, I’m finding out what kind of person I am and who I want to be through these apps. For example, on Twitter I’ve found that I don’t always need to fake a smile because shit is messed up for everyone, and I can say how I feel and someone will relate to it. On Instagram, I don’t have to look like Kim Kardashian or Beyonce to get the recognition I deserve. Through Bumble of all places, I found myself making the first move and met someone who has been such a positive friend and support system. As fast as 2019 feels to be going, I’ve realized that social media is impactful more than it is negative. We sometimes focus on the unfavorable aspects rather than focusing on how we can influence a change. As I’ve said before we do not need to reach everyone, but there is always one person listening. Whatever app you choose to preoccupy your time, make sure you find at least one person to connect with. That one person that you can listen to and reassure them that they are not alone. That one person that will pick up the phone and listen to you. That one person that reminds you to say “no” when you’ve already said “yes” a thousand times. That one person that at the end of a long day makes you laugh, because that one person most likely needs you to make them laugh as well. Finally, as we are introduced to more apps that deceive us and pull us away from reality, remember that the person you want to be is not defined by a downloaded form.

-T

If you or someone you know is battling depression or suicidal thoughts please contact the suicide hotline:

1-800-273-8255

Someone is always listening.


New Book!!

Hello Readers,

For the past year, I have been away writing, editing, and creating a book cover for my new book, Don’t Give Up On Us. This new book is the sequel to my first book, Don’t Give Up On Me, which garnered much interest from many of the youth I was honored to meet throughout this journey. As I continue writing this series, I would like to further a conversation about bullying, mental health, and body image issues in the communities where people of color reside. I understand that these are universal issues, but along with struggling to come up as a person of color we still have to struggle with societal pressures to fit in a world not accepting of us. Don’t Give Up On Us, picks up a year after Thea Blackwell left Edendale to recover from her suicide attempt and drug addiction. Upon returning to Edendale, Thea discovers that her leaving affected more than just her and now she has to rebuild the trust and relationships she broke. I hope you guys enjoy Don’t Give Up On Us and I look forward to reading your comments!

Thank you for all of the support,

T

Birthdays (n.) The anniversary of the day on which a person was born, typically treated as an occasion for celebration and the giving of gifts.

“There are two great days in a person's life - the day we are born and the day we discover why.” - William Barclay

Dear younger Tanya,

Happy 24th birthday! At the age of 12 you had just come home from a bad day at school and you were wishing that everything would just end. Coincidentally, 12 years later you’re alive, happy, and have a lot more going for you than you thought you would. Every now and then you hit a low point, but when you get back to the high you’re incredibly unstoppable. As I reflect on the past it feels bittersweet we’ve been through some stuff, but some of the greatest people have. There are goals we’ve met and some we haven’t just yet, so stay tuned. Something hit me a little over a month ago and I felt like it needed to be shared. When you were 8, you lost somebody so important to you. Somebody who said she didn’t have to worry about you growing up because she saw you in her dream and said, “your life is going to be filled with nothing, but bountiful blessings.” So Grandma Carmen you were right. Ever since I hit adulthood I’ve had nothing, but life changing experiences. I lost some friends, but gained a few great ones. I got proposed to, but it made me realize that I deserve more than what I had. I got diagnosed with an incurable chronic illness, but it’s taught me to revel in the beauty of the smallest things. Most of all my plans got a little messed up, but thanks to that I found out who I am and that’s the biggest reward. In this moment I am the happiest that I have ever been and I owe it to all of the downfalls and my guardian angel. Little Tanya we’re going to be just fine and we’re going to have the best time growing up. Even though I still believe this is one of the worst things to say on someone’s birthday, but here’s to 24 more bountifully blessing years!

Happy Birthday,

Older Tanya

P.S. We’re older, but we don’t look like it. (;

Ambivalent (Adj.) Having or showing simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings toward something or someone,

I’m a complicated girl, not because I feel like being difficult, but because I know what I deserve. If what I deserve overpowers my thoughts of you I will walk away, but not without saying, “Thank you.” - Tanya Hazelwood

We live in a world where society decides who you are before you’ve even been given the chance to decide for yourself. I recently sat down with a friend who is allowing me to tell you her story. Per her own privacy she’d like to remain anonymous. However, I’ve had multiple encounters with young people who have been in her situation. In middle school, she was the new kid, like all new kids they either end up in the “popular” group or bullied until they’re no longer new. Of course, at a predominantly white school a person of color is for the most part bullied. From the moment she stepped foot in this school she was targeted, but she tried to lay low. That was until a rumor spread that changed her school experiences from middle until the end of high school. When you are judged and essentially given a new identity by people who don’t really know you, it stirs up every emotion possible. The kind of bullying that followed her left her making decisions that would alter every goal she ever set for herself. Her story begins here, Nicholas Sparks makes billions of dollars portraying a small idea of what love should look like. Yes, these stories are good, but when you’re young it’s hard to separate what others idea of love is and reality. Let’s face it nobody is gonna build you a house and write 365 letters professing their love to you. As much as every hopeless romantic would love this it just isn’t real. In this day and age it’s not practical unless you did well for yourself and can afford this lifestyle. If that’s the case then proceed with your amazing life. However, if you live in California you can barely afford an apartment. This is why from an early age parents start grooming their children to come to a place where they can support themselves financially. We start taking classes that colleges can look at and be impressed. If you’re privileged your parents start signing you up for sports such as, rowing so you can be “recruited”. If you have to work hard to get good grades and at least make it to community college then you get yourself in after school classes that help you further your education. The problem with growing up that nobody warns you about is distractions. Out of all of the distractions in the world, hers was a young, full of himself, troubled boy who she would eventually find out she loved. Like all great love stories they met in class, though she wasn’t attracted to him at first. It wasn’t until she was introduced to him through a mutual friend that her attraction to him would grow. As they got to know each other their feelings grew stronger and would finally bloom into a relationship. The annoying part about planning out your life is that you never know what you are planning for. If there is one thing everyone knows it’s that plans change and people change it’s inevitable, but no matter how much changes you have to let life play out. After graduation, they would soon find themselves in an unbreakable love. When you’ve never been shown what love is in all of it’s true forms, you think that the first sight of it is the standard. Before she even knew who she was, she was found making the biggest decision of her life—Marriage. We’ve all been fooled by love at least once in our lives, we’ve been told to fall into it and fight like hell to keep it. Nonetheless, love is not one of the hardest games to play it’s deceiving and filled with lies. Throughout her relationship she would support them financially, but the respect she deserved was never given. She no longer wanted to be apart of this union so she left to find out what her life could be like if she had remained single. Upon returning home to live with her mother, she learned that she was pregnant and would soon have to change her plans once more. After telling the father of her child that she was expecting he didn’t believe the baby was his, and that was the moment she knew she’d be on her own. We hear stories like this from so many woman who put their faith in a man who wouldn’t reciprocate the same feelings. Motherhood if I ever come close to it, has always been portrayed as a beautiful and sacred experience. The idea that a woman can immediately shift her focus to care for a small being that hasn’t fully developed yet is unimaginable. Single parents deserve recognition based on the soul fact that they put their lives on the back burner to make sure their child is taken care of. My friend has gone through hell and back for a man that to this day denies his beautiful curly headed little girl. As she grows she will have questions about her dad, but through the heartbreak she will understand what it means to be strong, independent, and selfless. When asked what she would tell girls in her situation my friend responded with, “Never force something that will never happen, it’s not worth harming your child, and you gotta work your ass off girl.” It’s okay to believe in love and to go through as many changes as life puts you through. The main thing my friend and I believe is that you should never change yourself to fit into someone’s life if they don’t truly want you in it. The hardest decision to make is one that changes you from being the person someone perceived you to be. My friend is happy with her life because out of all of the darkness she received one of life’s most precious gifts and through that she’s found love. Love within herself and love for a child who surprises her every single day of the week. At the end of the day, to die in love is a goal we all have, whether it’s with yourself or somebody else to die in love is obstinate.

-T


Closure (n.) An act or process of closing something, especially an institution, thoroughfare, or frontier, or of being closed.

Closure is a funny concept until the universe forces it upon you in the most awkward situations. This is for those of us who somehow manage to find those relationships that start out strong. Both of you have goals and are working very hard towards them until someone stops and life hits you both. For 4 years, I dated a guy who for the most part in the beginning was great. He said the right things, did the right things, was enrolled in college, and worked hard for his future. He was the type of guy who wasn’t going to allow anyone to say they were responsible for his come up. Contrary to what they will have you believe about Kylie Jenner, he was actually the Dictionary.com definition of “self-made.”  That is until about a year and a half into dating him when he got obsessed with a new dream. Soundcloud rapping. Now if you are a true millennial, you’ve had multiple encounters with soundcloud rappers. They follow you on social media so they can get their follower count up, and then they unfollow you. They slide into your DM’s and send you the craziest messages, “You the real MVP for following me (insert encouraging emojis) i hope you piss yourself laughing at my tweets annnnddd do me a huge favor and follow my music page @______ I’m just starting out so please support a brotha.” (insert laughing emoji) Yes this is a real message I’ve received. If you are of an older generation, this is how these new artists get themselves into the music industry. Now I’m aware that when you have a passion for something, you will put a lot on the line to pursue that passion. You sometimes have to stop your whole world just in case you finally catch that big break. I fully commend people for being able to give up their day jobs to pursue something that genuinely makes them happy. The problems did not start until, he quit his job, dropped out of college, and started living off his trust fund. I know, I should have been hella supportive because I was now hanging with a soundcloud rapper/trust fund baby. The issue with this is when you grow up with two hard working parents and you have your own dreams and responsibilities. You tend to not want to surround yourself with someone who thinks backup plans are stupid. We started to argue about stupid things and then he ghosted me for an entire year. It was safe to say that relationship was never going anywhere. About 6 months later, he came back and we were working on things. That is until I found out he was up in another girls DM’s talking about moving to LA and becoming this power couple. This kind of betrayal in my opinion is unforgivable, but like every dumb move you make when you’re young, or Khloe Kardashian, you choose to trust a guy on some technicalities. I learned a lot in 2016, don’t trust a guy who tells you, “When I’m big, I’ll bring you up with me”, because after two months this guy and his side chick moved to LA, and decided that he could just block out this whole life he had back in San Diego. I’m a strong believer in patience, people don’t just get to treat you like crap and not face the consequences. You will have your day to either have the last laugh or come up and show them what they’re missing. Those two lasted a strong two years, which I give them props. How you can start a relationship based on lies and deceit is beyond me, but I digress. Money doesn’t buy you happiness as cliché as that sounds it’s true, because about a year a go, I got a pretty interesting DM. “Hey, I know you’re not proud of my decisions, but I have this new song I’d really like you to listen to.” This is completely anonymous because I don’t need y’all up in my business, but let’s just say this song blamed me for a lot of things. I wasn’t supportive enough; false, I gave him trust issues; false, I got him running to other girls for love; BIG FALSE! There’s a lot of underlying factors that happened throughout this relationship, but for the sake of me not having to write a damn novel, I will just say this. If you have to constantly remind people of the sacrifices you made to support them, then they probably don’t belong in your life. This brings me back to closure. If you feel like it’s something you don’t need then don’t seek it, but if it continues to seek you follow through on it. A month ago, I was at friends dorm he had just moved in with two new roommates. I didn’t care to ask who these roommates were because frankly, it was none of my business, and I wasn’t there for them. My friend and I were hanging out in his room watching The Black Panther and unpacking his boxes. One of his roommates came home and said that my car was blocking his parking and then asked for help removing boxes from his car. I took this as my cue to leave so they could finish moving into their apartment. When I stepped into that hallway, the past 4 years of my life came right back to me. The cousin of the soundcloud rapper I had dated was standing in front of me and I just knew everything was about to become more difficult. I left immediately after having to explain to my friend what just happened. Let’s just say I have the worst luck with guys because about a week ago this guy came back to San Diego, met my friend and began to form a friendship bonded by the knowledge of me. I am no longer friends with that guy and nor did I believe I needed to deal with any of them. Until this week, I’ve been receiving nonstop texts and calls asking to see me. When people tell you the universe works in mysterious ways listen to them, because you will be caught up in it’s pull one way or another, and it is up to you whether you sink or swim. The kind of closure that I need is to close a chapter of my life I am no longer interested in, while the type of closure he needs is to apologize and finally right all of the wrongs done. I have been in contact with him the past two days so that we can communicate in person, but when that day comes I will be grateful to the universe. The lesson in all of this is, whether it is a soundcloud rapper, trust fund baby, accountant, or garbage man, if you don’t end things properly there are consequences you will have to deal with. Some people are luckier than others, but given that this is not something I want to test I will choose to deal with it now and laugh about it later.

-T