Category Archives: Life

Andrea’s Book List: Winter Reads

Since I was young, I’ve always had a passion for reading. When you get into a really good book, you can learn, or get lost… maybe both. Reading opens so many doors, and I think it’s a lost art.

Now we’re still in the early stages of a new year. Maybe some of you noted that your goal was to read more. For you, I have a list of winter reads that will help get you started. Continue reading Andrea’s Book List: Winter Reads

sorry, your goals aren’t enough.

2013 was an interesting year for me. A number of things happened, which I won’t share too much of in this post, because over the course of the next few posts, I’ll be sharing some things in detail. Over all, however,  if I could give 2013 a theme, it would be: preparation.

In 2013 I turned 25. While I’m not necessarily sure that your life randomly changes at milestone moments like birthdays, I noticed that over the course of the year, I had developed a level of maturity that I didn’t have previously. I can now comfortably hold a mirror up to myself and fairly take a look at the things that I need to fix, but also, just as important, I can see the things that are really great about me. I’m grateful for that. Everything that happened to me last year was preparing me for the things that are coming my way in the near future. Continue reading sorry, your goals aren’t enough.

Staying In My Lane

keep calm and stay in your lane

Sometimes I sit back and think about all of the blessings I missed out on because I was either focused on what someone else was doing, or too scared to go after them myself. It’s probably not the most productive use of time, but… it happens and I’m sure I’m not the only one who does so.

It’s slightly ironic. Sometimes, we lose sight of what we have by looking at that which we don’t, when in actuality what we have is just what we need to gain what we’re seeking. It’s easy to get distracted by what other people are doing, especially in our all-digital-all-the-time lifestyle. We can scroll through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to take a glance at small squares of people’s lives, the squares that they allowed us to see. Of course, what we don’t remember, is exactly that… those are only glimpses of the entire story, and though a picture can be worth a thousand words, those thousand words may not be enough to tell it all.  Continue reading Staying In My Lane

4 Lessons I Learned From Gabby Douglas

It’s been too long since my fingers have touched the keys in this space. Plenty of reasons, but no excuses. The good news is, I’ve taken on a challenge which will keep me attached to this space for at least the next 4 weeks. 30 posts, in 30 days. That means I’ll have something to share… every single day. Challenging, yes. Impossible, no. I look forward to sharing with you all.

The Olympic Games are in full swing, and there are plenty of awesome stories coming out of London, however, none of them have been more inspiring for me than that of Gabrielle Douglas. The 16-year-old Virginia Beach, VA became the first African American to win a Gold medal in the Women’s All Around Gymnastic competition yesterday, effectively solidifying herself as a positive role model for young girls everywhere. Her story touched me, and caused me to reevaluate the way I was approaching some of the situations in my life. With that said, I’d like to share with you 4 lessons  (in no particular order) that I learned from watching Gabby Douglas do her thing. Continue reading 4 Lessons I Learned From Gabby Douglas

Thoughts On Frank Ocean + Hyper-Masculinity In Hip-Hop Culture

I sat on Twitter early Wednesday morning and watched the tides turn for a young man whose remarkable talent has gifted us with some of the best music we’ve heard in recent history.

Frank Ocean, a 24 year old singer/songwriter from New Orleans, LA is preparing for the release of his debut album on Def Jam Records. He’s already lent his pen to some of the biggest names in the music industry, earning placements with Jay-Z, Kanye West, Beyonce, John Legend and more. In other words, he’s made a huge impact in a few short years.. and with little fanfare. Known for his ability to take the simplest of feelings and translate them beautifully into lyrics, Frank is aligning himself to become one of our generation’s greatest songwriters. But on Wednesday, which also happened to be the day that America celebrates it’s freedom, he made his own declaration… one that drudged up the dark side of hip-hop culture. The one that we so often choose to ignore.

In a letter on his Tumblr page, Frank told his fans a story about how he was rejected by his first love. It was eloquent yet simplistic, making the emotion all the more real. His pain was evident, but so was his strength. The “shocking” part: that love, the object of his affection and quite possibly the inspiration behind so many of his popular songs, was male.

And with that revelation, the flood gates opened. At first, there was an overwhelming outpouring of support… but as the news began to spread…so did the hate. Slurs, expressions of disgust, and complete cancellation of fandom were common place. After about an hour, I had witnessed all that I could handle. I went to sleep wondering what had changed about his music that made people so adverse to him, a man whose work they were clamoring for just a few days earlier. I was baffled.

When I woke up, it all clicked. Unfortunately, the reality was more cumbersome than I cared to admit.

Hyper-masculinity (and subsequently homophobia) in hip-hop have fostered a culture of untruths, where men are expected to be hard, stoic and with unyielding strength. Those of us not fooled by the facade, those of us who live in the real world, know that is the furthest thing from the truth.

Men feel. They love. They hurt… and they cry, just like women do. That is fact, not fiction… whether you choose to accept it or not. The problem begins when people buy into the idea that the expression of emotion is something that is only acceptible for women.

That’s also where the attacks on guys like Drake begin. As an artist, he’s been transparent with his range of emotions, but is often met with criticism from his male peers for “simping” or being too soft. As a result, he’s conformed a bit to the industry standard, more frequently speaking about f***ing b****es and catching bodies. I wonder, which is more damaging?

Frank is not a martyr, he’s just a guy who shared his truth. Frankly, I couldn’t care less about whether he’s bi, homo, or heterosexual. All I know is that when his album drops, I’m expecting the same quality of music that I’m used to from him.

How about you? Is this hyper-masculinity in our culture worth attacking? Can it be fixed? Or are we all just stuck living a societal lie. You tell me.

Elevators vs Stairs

Imagine seeing your success at the top of a set of 100 stairs. You want it, but looking at those steps… you find yourself getting a bit discouraged. You’re thinking to yourself that there must be another way…and that’s when you look to your right, and see an elevator. BINGO! You hop on, trusting that it will get you to where you want to go. Everything seems well and good, but you hopped on so quickly, that you didn’t notice the “out of order” sign on the door. You push that button, and it carries you to the place that you wanted to be, but…the door only opens wide enough for you to get a peek before they close again. Before you can figure out what’s going on, you’re back to the ground floor. You try again; once, twice, three times, until you realize that it just won’t work. And you’re back at the base of the stairs…where you started… begrudgingly lacing up your kicks to take on those dreaded stairs. It’s not the route you wanted, but… it’s the only sure fire way to get to where you want to be. So you do it, one step at a time, and keep your eyes on the prize the entire trip. In the time you wasted trying to take the elevator, you could have been at the top of those stairs…right?

Ambition.

It’s a nice trait to have. Great actually. If you let our culture tell the tale… not only is it a necessary key, it’s also an attractive one. They’re going to love you for your ambition, because everyone loves an ambitious girl, right? But what happens when that ambition is just not enough? What happens when that ambition begins to cripple you, where it should be the catalyst that propels you to success? If you can imagine, this happens more often than not. Having all of the ambition in the world with no real push behind it will lead you down the shortcut to nowhere land, and back again. Trust me, I know this first hand.

I have the vision part down pat. I see what I want. Anyone who knows me knows that I have always had big dreams… and up to this point, I’ve done a pretty good job of making them happen. To be honest though, I don’t know that I ever really, truly challenged myself. Success was what I knew, and I made sure that I knew how to attain it. That’s not to say that I didn’t work for the things that I have, because I did. I just had a tendency to choose things that I knew I would be good at…you know, playing it safe. Being naturally gifted in some areas made things a bit easier for me, but as I’ve gotten older, I’m starting to see that as one of the things that could be detrimental. I don’t by any stretch of the imagination believe that anything should be just given to me. I know the value of work, but… that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve had to constantly remind myself that anything worth having is worth the process. I don’t like to wait, and I want what I want.Patience. It’s a hard pill to swallow, especially when you’re used to things coming together with nothing more than a little brain power & finesse. When that doesn’t suffice, you have to switch up the game plan. In that moment, you’ll realize that it’s the work ethic that winds up being the last bit of fuel that powers your quest towards greatness.So, if you’re like me, and you’ve had to face the bottom of that stairwell after you tried to take the easy way out… just do it, and don’t worry about what anyone else has to say. Failure is humbling. It builds the character that you’ll need to tell the story of how you made it to the top. No one wants to hear a story from someone who’s always won. The most engaging and motivating accounts are from those who’ve fought back from adversity and rose to the top despite their odds. Which will you tell?

Five Lessons From 2011

This is me in Italy... May 2011

It’s been a while, but… I’m back!

The new year has arrived and, like many of you, I took a little time to reflect on the last year before the new one began. I am of the opinion that you can not stay the same year after year. There’s no way that you started 2011 in the exact same place that you started 2012. Things have changed, and experiences help you grow. I came up with this list of five lessons that I learned in 2011, that I hope will be the foundation to prepare me for even higher heights in 2012. Here they are: Continue reading Five Lessons From 2011

The Jordan Year

Michael Jordan is often regarded as the greatest basketball player to ever step foot on the court. Everything he accomplished in his career, from league leading stats and his signature style of play, to his footwear and trademark tongue wagging swagger, has been replicated by thousands of players with dreams of being the best…most of them, to no avail. Even the best current NBA player, Kobe Bryant (sorry LeBron fans) has not been able to escape being held up to the standard of Jordan. All of the championship rings, MVP awards, All-Star nominations, endorsement deals and multi-million dollar contracts, coupled with an innate knowledge and passion for the game made the name Jordan synonymous with one overarching theme: dominance.

Continue reading The Jordan Year

On Baby Mamas and Baby Daddies

Today as I was perusing my normal blogs for the latest news, I ran across a link to a blog written by one of my former favorite rappers, Bow Wow. A little back story: For months he has been adamantly denying rumors that he fathered a child with his ex-girlfriend, video model Miss Joie. In the wee hours of this morning, he posted a note on his blog, finally sharing with his fans that he does, in fact, have a beautiful little girl named Shai.

I was ready to applaud his decision to acknowledge his role as a parent, that is, until I got to a point in the note that gave me serious pause. Read it for yourself below: Continue reading On Baby Mamas and Baby Daddies

GUEST POST: Post Grad Experience

Hey guys! I felt like 1PBG was the perfect place to share experiences so I’m opening the floor to any young lady willing to share her story. Today, I’d like to present to you our first guest post at 1PBG, a piece written by my fellow Hampton Alumna Leslie Alexander about life post-grad. I hope you enjoy it. – Andrea


By Leslie Alexander​

Graduating from college brings upon mixed emotions, it can be a joyous occasion and it can be one of the most difficult moments in your life. The transition from college to the working world, better known as the real world, can be very tumultuous, and the job search can be difficult and discouraging. After the college experience is over young adults are expected to have a clear outlook on life. Unfortunately, many are still perplexed. This is when the “Post Grad Experience” begins to undergo its systematic stages. During the first 6 months new college grads begin searching for that dream job. This is the job that will bring them joy, fulfillment and a great starting salary. However, once reality sets in, the outlook changes. You begin to realize that you cannot pursue your dream just yet, you may have to start out as an assistant or even an intern and the pay is quite disappointing. Once you factor in rent, loans, utilities and other miscellaneous expenses, you begin to realize that your “passion” will barely pay the bills.

Then the following stage begins, you begin to look for a safe position. This position may not be your first option, but the salary is higher and the 401k, benefits and opportunity for growth within the company seems promising. What do you do? Should you follow your passion, or move closer to the money? Before you know it, you realize that a quarter life crises is right around the corner and you envision yourself as a sell out.

A wise woman once said, “There’s something inherently wrong with a society where individuals are forced to take on mundane occupations just to make a basic living.” In a publication titled “Rich Dad Poor Dad” author Robert Kiyosaki discusses the “Rat Race”. The “Rat Race” is a tedious process that Americans undergo day in and day out. We go to work and on the 1st and 15th 75% of our pay check goes to our various expenses, student loans, car notes, mortgages, utility bills, etc. How do we exit the rat race? Parents advise their children to attend college and get a good education. In return we are prepared to pursue a safe and steady profession. This is all well, but what happens to self fulfillment, what about our passion? How often are we advised to follow our passion? We are told to excel in mathematics and science so that we can get high paying jobs. All too often we are not advised to follow our desires, we are encouraged to conform and enter the rat race.

Regrettably many will choose the positions that offer more money over the passion. This is when the rat race begins. Sadly enough students prepare themselves to become society robots. Working to no avail, working to pay bills, existing and not living. Formal education affords people several opportunities, it encourages you to be a structured individual, but somewhere in your heart you have to learn to find self-contentment and inner peace.

Needless to say you should always leave some room for your passion. You may not start out exactly where you want to be, but dedication and perseverance will get you there. Frustration and rejection is just part of the process, but never leave your passion behind, it’s the one thing that will keep you sane in this ever-changing upside down society.

Follow Leslie on Twitter: @Leslie_Amira