As of this past Wednesday, I am officially done with my first semester as a PhD student. They say the first semester is the hardest- check back with me when I am finished and I will confirm or deny that. What I can do is give you a couple highlights and low lights of the semester.
1. I decided to focus my final project in my Dramaturgy class on The Black Theatre Troupe in Phoenix. Upon contacting the Executive Director of the theatre company he provided me and my friend with comp tickets to see their season opener, Fences. That night, Asantewa and I not only saw an amazing show, we met two really cool people. One of which, was Nitty. Over the course of the last three months she has become a valuable asset to my life in Arizona. Her mother has officially adopted me as her third daughter and her son has decided he “loves” me. She has a really beautiful and amazing soul. When I actually got the chance to interview the Executive Director of The Black Theatre Troupe, he offered me the chance to work as the Dramaturg on their upcoming production of Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs From The Table of Joy. This is an amazing opportunity to work on a professional theatre company’s production in Phoenix.
2. School is hard. It is a doctoral program -it should be hard. I like challenges, so my initial attitude was bring it on. Most days I was good, but there were some days where the pressure was intense. My confidence took such a hit this semester. I keep asking myself why was I here. Was I smart enough? I am a 23 year old black woman, I barely take myself seriously. Why would anyone take what I had to say serious? I was always reticent to discuss articles in class because what if I didn’t get the right meaning? Or understand it in a way that everyone else did? I study different, I think different from these white people who are my professors and classmates. I discovered that the remnants of my speech impediment as a child continues to make me self-conscious about my articulation as an adult. At points I didn’t think that my world and academia were at all compatible. I would get so nervous about assignments. I would know what I wanted to write but I would get so overwhelmed that I couldn’t think or write. I would just go to sleep. Shower. Do anything not to think about the task at hand. Then I would wake up and somehow get the motivation or encouragement to get my work done. I always have to fight the voices telling me I can’t do this because I am young, black and woman. But those are the reasons why I have to do this.
3. Phoenix has a ridiculously small Black population and I really like Black people. Unlike Philadelphia, I can go up to people here and say “Hey, you are Black and so am I. Let’s be friends”. As crazy as it sounds it works and I met a lot of people. One of my favorite people that I met this way is a boy name Courtney. I saw him at Target and as he walked out the store I approached him. He gave me his number so we could hang out. The first time we hung out we watched Beyonce videos at his friends house before hitting up the club and discovering we had the same birthday’s (Dec 26). Living here has made me very friendly. I am starting a blog PhxBlkSwag in dedication to all the Black people I will encounter in AZ.
4. The Friday before school started, I met a wonderful person. Over the course of a month we became really good friends. Intense and fast friends. So we all know how that ended, right? Sometimes friendships and relationships can act as mirrors, not everyone is happy with their reflection. My ability to be an open and honest individual made her feel some type of way about her ability to do the same. At a point I thought she was a person that I could trust and who cared about me. Lesson learned: someone who does not love themselves cannot love others. That was a rather painful lesson to learn, but a valuable one. I wish nothing but love and the best for her. “Remember that the universe has bigger plans for you than those you have for yourself. You can’t take everyone with you. Send them off with love and well wishes and access to their own plans but send them off nonetheless. Not everyone is a friend but nobody is an enemy. Not everyone belongs in your heart but nobody is heartless. Just hurting. Allow them their hurt. Don’t let them hurt you”.
5. My support system has been amazing. I have two other friends who started PhD programs this fall, their support from the East Coast has been invaluable. Inside the School of Theatre the other PhD’s have been awesome and really provided encouragement and shoulders to lean on as well as great advice. My friends outside of academia- have been a welcome distraction from the Ivory Tower. Of course, my parents have been great. My little brother has been a standout. He provides an outlet for my frustration, so much support and the kid believes in my abilities so much that I start believing in them myself. I am so grateful that he came and visited me in Arizona. I barely complained about cooking and cleaning up for him. And of course, my girl Isis- she stays up with me during my all nighters. She begs for walks while I am trying to get my reading done for class.
I am home in Florida. Relaxing. Seeing my family. While also preparing for my next adventure…
Living and Loving life. Living my life. Loving who I am.
I don’t want be any one but