Apologies for not keeping up with this blog so well lately. This has been a garbage year. I went from writing something almost every day to barely writing a word for six months. I’m normally the type of person to have several projects going at any given time, but, circumstances being what they are, my creative energy just couldn’t maintain itself.
I guess that’s not so unusual in the middle of a pandemic (that has only gotten worse).
The truth is, this post is going to be it for…probably a long time. I had other ideas; I wanted to make this blog last as long as I could, but I’m just not up to it right now.
And that’s okay.
I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Nobody gave us a manual for adulthood, and even if they had, it wouldn’t have included a chapter on Surviving a Plague. Our lives got fully disrupted this year. And I can’t help but regret that. I had big plans. I felt confident in the course I had set for myself. My ducks were in a row. And then 2020 scattered them all over the pond again.
It’s not our fault that this happened, but it really goes to show how little control the average person holds over the way this world spins. As someone who tries to plan for every eventuality, this was a hard lesson to learn. No disaster I ever imagined could compare to the way things have actually happened.
I’ll tell you what, though, my New Year’s resolution for 2020 was to learn how to live for each moment, and damned if this year didn’t make me learn.
When the future suddenly doesn’t seem so certain anymore, all you really have is the present moment. And I have a lot to be grateful for. Nobody in my family has died of Covid. I’m not in danger of losing my house. I don’t have to choose between paying a bill or buying groceries. These are very common problems in America now, especially amongst my generation. Job security barely exists, let alone jobs with good benefits. I’m lucky and incredibly privileged to still have a sense of relative safety, and focusing on gratitude has been very important for my sanity. That, and having enough left over to help others, too. (I’ll list a few charities at the end of this post, just in case you’re interested in giving also).
Half of this whole ordeal has been pulling myself away from dwelling in my regrets. I’ve changed as a person since April. When 2020 first started, I was feeling really accomplished as a fashion blogger–I never expected to be a big name, but I ended up getting more readers than I ever imagined (and I really appreciate all of you). I exercised enough to feel limber. I had a good skincare routine. Overall, though I knew I was still learning, I felt more or less in my prime. I felt in control, at least of my little world inside of my little bubble. And the truth is, I was just about ready to start a family.
But things change.
For one thing, blogging fell much lower on my priority list. It’s frivolous. I think my work and my ideas have value; I think fashion has value, but nobody wants Trendy Tips: How to Survive an Actual Crisis in Style. I’m not here for that. The only reason I’m putting out this post is because I wanted to get the last word in. To make sure you all knew that 2020 didn’t break me.
What it did do was yank the reins from my hands, and, all of a sudden, life was about making choices for survival. It’s true enough that lots of people survive Covid, but seeing that over 300,000 have died before year’s end, there was no way, no chance in hell, that I was going to take this lightly. We have been living in a state of emergency for nine months, and I spent most of that time figuring out how to reconcile with my own fear–the natural, mortal terror of breathing in something invisible, and dying from it.
I still struggle, but the knowledge that masks work keeps me from crumbling.
The plague was just the beginning, of course. We then got to spend all summer watching live videos of police brutalizing and murdering unarmed civilians. And when there was a global outcry for the violence to stop, the police only doubled down and brutalized everyone harder. It was during this time that I learned the most, and these were 2020’s hardest lessons. It’s too much to talk about here, but to sum it up in its most basic sense, I learned that the world, and especially this country, is much crueler and bloodier than I’d ever been led to believe, towards Black people in particular. I feel like I’ve aged 5 years, but I’ve grown that much, too. I learned how to search myself like never before, how to understand my own biases, my immense privilege, and my responsibility. I learned how to unlearn, and I am much better now at discerning the truth.
This was the hardest summer of my life, as I’m sure it was for anyone with a shred of empathy.
The most difficult, but certainly the most valuable lesson of all came in the midst of all this: everyone started showing their true colors, and I got to see them. Everyone had something to say, and I listened, and now I know who I can really trust. Among my community, my acquaintances. And, most importantly, among my family. Because these terrible things have happened, I know who I can actually rely on, and who I can’t. It’s easy to tell, because I know who’s racist now. I know who’s cool with murder and oppression. It’s hard to know, because it’s meant I’ve lost respect for many of the people I love. It surprised me each and every time, and saddened me deeply, but it’s better to know. I would never want to be ignorant of the hate that people hold in their hearts. I’ve grieved, and I’ll continue to do so for as long as I need to. For me, it’s worth the tears and the heartache to know.
Racism, white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, and every other wretched form of hatred, I spit on it all, and it is easy for me to say so.
To say that I’ve changed since April is putting it lightly, but I like this version of myself better. I don’t compromise on the things that matter, and I never will again. I’m taking the lead in my own life. I’m making decisive choices, and I don’t need anyone’s permission or approval.
Am I happy? Am I okay?
No. Of course not.
Understanding what I have, appreciating the people I’ve been able to rely on, all of that has kept me grateful and sane, but practicing gratitude isn’t the same as being lighthearted or joyful. No, I’m not happy. Why should I pretend to be?
But I’ll find it again. Happiness is circumstantial. Things didn’t play out the way I would have wanted, but I have what I need, so I know my mirthful days will return. It’ll be when I’m not emotionally exhausted. When I’m not recovering from months of unending stress. Maybe when I can stand in a crowded room again without having a panic attack.
I don’t mind waiting. Getting better always takes time.
This year, I’ve gained at least 15 pounds, lost all my progress in terms of muscle strength, and I now consider wearing eyeliner to be the equivalent of a full face of makeup.
And I’m fine with it.
One of the first decisions I made–when I realized that quarantine was going to be (a lot) longer than 2 months–was that I was not going to live in perpetual guilt for the way this isolated and sedentary lifestyle would affect my body. I have been living in a cocoon this year, thinking, and feeling all my feelings. I’ve been surviving, just like everyone else. Of course I gained weight. Most people did.
Would I belittle a dear friend of mine for becoming sedentary during a pandemic? Jesus Christ, no I would not! So how would it be fair to give myself a hard time for it? Believe me, I’m glad I made that choice as I did. Mental health has been especially difficult to maintain in 2020. I can’t tell you how drained and worn down I am. But because I chose to be gentle with myself, I’m a lot better off than I might have been.
Honestly, I’m just glad to be alive.
So if this post has made any of my loved ones worried about me, no need. I’m fully determined to survive this, and to come out the other side stronger than before. I’m doing everything I can think of to get myself through it. And when it’s over, and we can safely go out again, I’ll recover. I might lose some of the weight I gained; I don’t know. My body will figure it out. All I know is that I’m going to be okay.
I’m just not okay right now.
And since I’m saying these things, I might as well update you all on my spiritual journey. It’s going very well. I’ve spent the last couple of years really questioning things like faith and religion–because it’s not in my nature to devote myself to something I haven’t investigated–and I have enjoyed (immensely enjoyed) learning, and listening to other perspectives, and expanding as a person. I was raised a Christian, and I would still call myself a Christian–in the sense of believing in the teachings of Jesus. You know, things like “love thy neighbor.”
I’ve said before that the Church and the Patriarchy hold each other’s hands, but it’s more than that. I see now that the “churchy” culture of American Christianity is wholly corrupt, completely devoid of the radical compassion and love that Jesus Christ stood for. Christian people throw their gay and trans children into the streets, but are only too happy to forgive things like sexual assault. Fascism? White supremacy? Evangelicals are on board. That, mixed with all the self-righteousness? The hypocrisy is vomit-inducing.
I will never go back to church, and it feels sooooooo good to finally just say it. To say all of this.
I want to be genuine. I want to be real. Life is passing us by, and I just want to live it (as authentically as possible) while I can. Every person deserves the chance to do that.
And I’ll tell you what, I am incredibly grateful for my upbringing. For having a strong foundation, all through childhood, built on love. I was diligently taught about how Jesus treated everyone with kindness. About how he spent time with the poor, the ostracized, the “untouchables” of society. My morals grew from the idea that we should be understanding and compassionate and helpful, like Jesus. Thanks for that. Thanks for instilling kindness into my heart. It has given me the strength to pick myself up and leave the Church far behind me.
I can’t even begin to describe how done I am.
Done with 2020. Done with worrying every day for the health and safety of my family. Done with hateful, ignorant people.
Lines got drawn this year. Really clear, defined lines about things like decency and humanity, and I gotta say, as difficult as it is, it also feels quite good to just know where I stand. I’ve planted myself, and I have absolutely no ground to give. No compromises about morals or values. No taking any steps back to make room for people’s excuses. And there is definitely something empowering about that.
I won’t be going back. This is the new normal.
The new year is about to dawn. 2021 is on the horizon, and I don’t know what to expect. I have hope, if for no other reason than at least a vaccine exists now. No idea when I’ll be able to get it, though, and I definitely think I’m going to “miss” another birthday. But I’m ready to charge forward. Honestly, I don’t see another choice. What was all that learning and growing about if I’m just going to give up? No, I still have big plans. I still have a full life ahead of me. It’s time to brace up and walk on.
No resolutions this year. I’m happy to just continue surviving.
I started this blog, The Makings of a Queen, with a very clear goal in mind. I wanted to be a source of encouragement, empowerment even, for other women. (I would love to encourage everyone, but I’m fairly certain that women make up the majority of my audience). And I’ve known too many, especially my own age, who don’t give themselves enough credit. Who struggle with confidence or with self-esteem. Who haven’t quite yet stepped into their own power.
The world needs powerful women.
My mantra is “I am the queen of my life.” That’s where the inspiration for this blog came from. My home is my kingdom, and I make the ruling decisions about my destiny. I want to carry myself through life as a queen would. That’s what I’ve been striving towards. Fashion is just a vessel, so to speak. It helps build up personal morale. If I’m pleased with what I see in the mirror, if I like the way I’ve put myself together, then I’m more likely to hold my head high as I go about my day. It’s never been about the designers–or the rich people who can afford designer–or the styling tips, or the trends. This has always been about creating positive self-image.
When we love ourselves, no force on earth can tear us down.
Do you know why 2020 didn’t break me? It was habit, in the end. I had gotten used to believing in myself, and so I just kept doing it, even on the days when I couldn’t get out of bed. If there is even one person out there, reading this, who has benefited from my encouragement, then all the hours of writing have been worth it.
I have no idea whether I will come back to this blog or not. If I’m being honest, it feels like an ending. In fact, the more I read over it, the more it feels like a mic drop.
Who’s to say?
But I’m proud of how far I got. And I’m proud that I found the strength to type up one last, resounding fuck you to the year 2020. Now there’s a thing I don’t regret.
Take care of yourselves, my friends, and take care of each other. We’re on this journey together, for better or for worse. It’s time we all sat on our thrones, put on our crowns, and added something good to this world.
Have a beautiful life.
(If you’re lucky enough to have a little extra money on hand, this is an ideal time to give to others. Buy from small businesses and local artists, support the post office, or donate to your nearest BLM movement. Keep an eye out for Go-Fund-Me’s as well; there are always plenty floating around. Some other organizations you can feel good about giving to are: the ACLU, Vote.org, and Planned Parenthood. These are hard times, and it can be such a relief just to know that your money helped someone in need.)