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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Waits

#DEEPTHOTS: Alexa, Play NDA by Meg Thee Stallion

For New Years 2022 I decided to open myself up to my partner’s biological family, specifically their mom. I had remained pretty distant with their mom up until this point on purpose. Don’t get me wrong, parents love me (unless they're mine). I wasn’t afraid of building a new relationship so I could get to understand my partner more. But I don’t really know what it means to be a part of a whole again. It’s been so long since I’ve spoken to my own family. Just a month prior I had agreed to let my Dad come visit me at school after two years of no in person contact. The last time we met didn’t go very well. We ended the trip agreeing that it was best I take space from him and that we worked on our relationship via video and phone calls. Well two years passes and he says it’s about time we see each other again. We both felt like the calls were going well enough; I had just bought a house and no one in my family had seen it; and I was about to reach the 3/4 way point of my PhD program. “He will finally come and see me. Something must be going well.”

Spoiler Alert: It did not go well.

I left the interaction getting up from dinner, crying in my car, blocking him from my phone, and determined to never speak to him and a bunch of other members of my family again. I’ve kept the promise to myself so far.

So when it comes time to do the thing: be a family - I’m scared. I’ve tried before. Time and time again. It never aligns. Never feels right. But I already paid for the hotel. We spent New Years walking around the nation’s capital eating good food, walking around outside, and taking cute pictures. We argued, reminisced, and talked a lot of shit - as all families (chosen and biological) do. It was nice. Refreshing. The experience taught me not to bring my old baggage to new destinations. But so many things are easier said than done.

Moments in 2022 that hold space for joy

  • After terrible experiences with mentor relationships I was finally able to pass my proposal and my compositional exams (and snagged a Master’s too). When I was an Orientation Leader I always used to tell my students that college is all about them! My PhD program is about me - and it’s going to go my way. In order to get your way you will have to step on toes and ruffle everybody’s feathers. The real ones won’t see you as an obstacle.

  • After a year and a half together my partner and I moved in. I’ve met their family and they've met my mom. I always say that they are my parting gift from Pennsylvania. I don’t want anything else from this damn state.

  • I’ve booked several jobs in the curriculum and instruction lane that have expanded my teaching experiences. I was initially really afraid of not being able to find other competency instructors that worked exclusively with Black children but alas she finds community.

  • Despite my wildly bleak financial situation I have been able to go to the DMV area, New York, Texas, New Orleans, Detroit, New Jersey, and California. I continue to have an ever changing relationship to seeing new places and spaces!

  • I’ve stepped my music and deejaying game up to throwing my own parties and releasing original music. I’ve spent more time in my studio perfecting beats I’ve had for years. I’ve been sharing my music with more friends without fear.

  • I ‘graduated’ from going to therapy for four years straight. I was so scared to let go and rely on myself but it was time. I received so much amazing advice, keen insights, and practical answers. I feel lighter, more knowledgeable about myself, and able to communicate my boundaries and emotions.

“I aint say excuse me cause I did that shit on purpose.”

My therapist was so proud when I told her about the way I upheld my boundaries with my family, my colleagues, mentors, and close friends at the beginning of the year. So much so that she slowly started to help me see that after four years I might be trusted with understanding my own emotional regulation - go figure. She’d be happy to know I happily spent the rest of the year telling freeloaders to get out of my house. Telling entitled white women to stop playing devil’s ally and actually get some shit done. I told a few professors that I don’t agree with their teaching methods or with the way they handle graduate students. I told former friends to respect my boundaries or get the fuck on. And I told myself to get a fucking grip.

I am trying to break out of being a people pleaser. I have finally reached my boiling point of harboring other people’s issues. My patience is beyond worn thin. Someone on Twitter ranting about their own therapy sessions had ended up making a really good point. If you have to sacrifice yourself in order to get it - it’s not meant for you. Whether it was with housemates, biological family members, mentors, and budding relationships - I was keeping my feelings a secret. And as all secrets do, they come out. And in my case they often blow up in my face. And the faces of others. And that’s actually ok. You don’t have to accept people’s apologies, you don’t have to beat yourself up for coming to conclusions ‘too early’ or ‘too soon’, and all relationships are conditional. Maybe you don’t fit into other people’s expectations, sometimes the people you grew up with don’t end up being the people you grow old with, and sometimes…people literally just suck. You live, laugh, love as long as you can and work on yourself in the inbetween.

2023 Dreams

In 2023, I’ll work on my dissertation project, travel to far places, prioritize my wellness, make huge jumps towards my life goals, release some much anticipated writings, and continue to make my therapist proud. I’ve spent the past couple of years doing what I need in my program - I’m ready to start reaping my rewards.

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