February, Valentine’s Day. You either love it or loath it. Sadly, a day of such beautiful color and purpose can be a treacherous nightmare for some. There are people who feel the need, on this day, to be loved by someone in order to feel validated or whole. This especially tends to penetrate deep for those who grew up lacking in the love area from their closet family members.
This five-part series is driven by chapter 19 of my book, Life in its Rawest Form - The Fallacy of Love.
I was inspired to write this chapter of my book by my misconception of love. I used to get confused by the type of love I was looking for or expecting in a relationship. I’ve been in relationships where I thought I was really into the person for who they were. Only to find out later that I wasn’t, resulting in me always aborting ship… It took me a while before I finally realized this was happening. I guess you can say I had an epiphany.
#WhatisLove. There are various reasons people look for or need love from others. Some use it to fill a void, mask pain, or because they feel it is the only way to be whole and happy - hence why Valentine’s Day can be bittersweet for some.
Can love truly be recognized and felt if you are broken? I have yet to find the answer to this question. I suppose, like anything else, one would need to know what love look and feels like in order to recognize it, I think. If one’s first encounter with love, which usually occurs at an early age, is that of trauma (neglect, abuse, sadness, or completely lacking it all together), then that may be one’s perception of how love is (I could write a book on this one statement alone, but I’ll save this topic for another blog).
Growing up, I had an insatiable hunger for love. It’s hard to know which type of love I longed for and wasn’t getting enough of. Back then, I thought the love that I longed for was in the form of a relationship with a male companion. I thought in order to feel loved, it meant having a significant other that provided that. So, days like Valentine’s Day would suck for me if I weren’t seeing someone at that time.
As I matured, I’ve learned that love actually comes from within. The love that I have inside of me is the first and foremost love that I need in my life on any given day. Knowing this makes days like Valentine’s Day feel like any other day, whether I’m involved with someone or not. Valentine’s Day should be a celebration for all love (self-love and love for others), and Valentine’s Day should be celebrated every day!
Today we honor Black Girls Code Founder Kimberly Bryant as a #BlackButterfly. There is still a cultural isolation in the Tech Industry. I applaud Kimberly Bryant for her vision with Black Girls Code, and hope to be of service to her mission one day.
In the past, technology wasn’t a common field or career in most African American households. There were very few people of color working in Computer Science fields than there are today. Especially, for women of African American decent. According to a study done by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), in 2015, women held 57% of all professional occupations, yet they held only 25% of all computing occupations. And the numbers are even lower when considering women of color; for example, Latinas and Black women hold only 1% and 3% of these jobs, respectively. With the help of people like #KimberlyBryant, we can help shorten this huge disparity of African American women in IT careers.
As a child, I wanted to become a teacher when I grew up. I really enjoyed learning and teaching others. I thought it was fascinating. But, life, be it as it may, changed for me when I became a mother at 15 years old. At that point, I had to reconsider my career goals and strategize to come up with a plan where I could earn a quality living to support my son and me. I had to pick a career that would afford me opportunities to excel, rapidly. It was no longer about choosing a career that interests me, but more so one that would allow for rapid growth and higher compensation. My circumstances at the time caused me to completely alter my goals and ambitions of becoming a teacher.
One day at school, I attended a career fair. I was in my 12th grade year of high school. One group of guest speakers/career professionals were IT Professionals. As they talked about their day-in-the-life as an IT professional, I was intrigued. They got my attention! Shortly after, I was fortunate enough to go on an informational visit of their company. I got to see firsthand what went on in the world of Information Technology. I left feeling inspired and empowered to take control of my destiny and follow my dreams of becoming an IT professional, in particular, a Software Engineer. I did more research on the major itself and learned how competitive IT can be, and how broad it was in terms of growth opportunities - the compensation wasn’t too shabby either. I later applied at a local college and obtained an Associate’s degree in Networking and Administration. Shortly after, I transferred to a University and obtained an undergraduate degree in Computer Science/Information Technology. I started my career in on the hardware side of technology where I supported servers, LAN/WAN, PC’s, helpdesk support, etc. Later, I transitioned to the software/information side of technology where I started as an entry level programmer. I quickly learned to program in various software languages and continued to progress. Today, I am an IT Leader in Software Engineering, and I continue to thrive each day.
I’ve worked in IT for over 18 years and I realize that technology isn’t gender or ethnic based, but more so individually driven. It is a field where ideas, mathematics, and science emerges into something world changing. Regardless of race, gender, or creed technology is a place where everyone belongs. Organizations such as #Blackgirlscode are a stepping stone to bridging the gap between African American girls becoming Software Engineers. Growing up, I never would have imagined myself here. There were very few Kimberly Bryants where I’m from. All that this has taught me is that Anything is possible!
Our Ancestors would be so proud.
#Blackgirlscode #QianaHickscode #codingchangedmylife #KimberlyBryant I solute you!
Today we honor Dr. Maya Angelou as a #BlackButterfly.
Suffering sexual assault as a child, Maya Angelou went years without speaking. In time she found her voice and the world would be blessed with her words
Have you felt silenced, or reverted into a state of hopelessness? You too can speak and live again.
Writing can be your voice, as it was for Dr. Maya Angelou. Writing allows you to put down things that have been trapped inside with no way out. For me, writing was that voice. It gave me a sense of freedom to express how I felt, and it allowed me to reflect on the things that were going on internally. As I got older, I realized I had been harboring trauma from my past that had never got addressed or dealt with. Somehow I was able to suppress them for some time, not realizing they were growing with me. Eventually, those things came to surface and affected me in different ways.
Writing became a form of help or therapy in that it was a light in dark places. With writing, I’m able to see things I hadn’t been able to discern before. It has become my saving grace and I can only imagine this is the case for so many others.
Your story, your voice may be the help that you or your loved ones need. It can also be a voice of reason for others facing similar circumstances. #MayaAngelou paved the way for all of us to feel inspired to use our voice. This can be done in many forms. For me, it was writing. I was able to capture my full story in my book Life in its Rawest Form.
What will be your story? How will you use your voice?
Today I would like to honor THE Black Butterfly (quite possibly the monarch) Ms. Oprah Winfrey.
My personal childhood closely mirrors that of Oprah’s – both suffering abuse, neglect, and abandonment.
The poor, urban lifestyle had its negative effect on Winfrey as a young teenager
Winfrey said her father saved her life. He was very strict and provided her with guidance, structure, rules, and books. She would also have to go without dinner until she learned five new vocabulary words each day.
There should be more fathers like that of #Oprah. Creating a strict learning regimen creates a strong work ethic that will set children up for success as they go through school and life. Like so many #BlackButterflies, I wasn’t as fortunate as #Oprah. I had to create my own strict regimen that helped me successful get through school, graduate from college, and build a successful career. It wasn’t easy, but it was very rewarding. I taught myself discipline and it paid off. I also enforced the same strict regimen upon my son.
For the #BlackButterflies that aren’t has fortunate to have a father like #Oprah, you can create your own strict learning regimen that will help you be successful throughout your years in school and life. And hopefully some day you will pass these same principals and values down to your children.
Kudos to #Mr.Winfrey for the values he instilled in his children. We know what a great impact Oprah has had on our society. Looking at her raw roots, you would never know what she overcame to be who she is and where she is today.
Oprah, #QueenMonarch Butterfly, I salute you
In honor of Black History Month, I am honored to highlight Black Butterflies. Black Butterflies are women of color who overcame hardships and blossomed beyond expectations. To kick things off, I’m going to start by celebrating myself. We women don’t do that often enough.
The Black Butterfly Series is close to my heart, because there was a time that I thought I would always be stuck in the trap or cocoon, and dreamed of the days I would be free to flourish.
As I was running to the gym one day, I almost ran over a little caterpillar. Thankfully, I didn’t as I wouldn’t want to impede on this beautiful creature reaching its full potential. Something that we all have in common with this little fellow is, as we start out on our path to creating a brighter future, we go through various transitional phases before we reach our destination or full potential. Just like this caterpillar, we, too, will blossom into something even greater, if we stay the course.
This inspired #BlackButterflies. Today, I can look back on my metamorphosis, and am proud to be the Black Butterfly I am today.
My journey is one of poverty, neglect, and abuse, to healing and triumph.You may be somewhere on this scale, but wherever you are, remember each new day brings a new beginning. You too can fly.