Where TF did Yelitsa go?

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It’s officially been a year since graduation and 2017 has truly been the year of realizing things. In the span of 30 days I relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio (I know, I know), bought my first car, moved into my first apartment, and started my first official job at a startup. That’s a lot of firsts, and I was tapped. One thing that apparently won’t stop out here is people asking me why I moved to Cincinnati, so I’ll break it down:

My senior year of RISD was HELL. You know that meme of that dog on fire? Yeah, that was me every single day. I was the definition of over-committed. I was a Resident Assistant, President of the Student Alliance, a MassChallenge Finalist, Brown Social Innovation Fellow, managing the follow up of a Kickstarter campaign, CEO of my own company, Healthy Roots, in a relationship, working on applying for jobs and, oh, a student. My education was put on the back burner in all my decisions. Additionally, I was constantly being expected to do labor around social issues on campus. I felt a lot of pressure and decided that I needed to unpack some things.

I stepped down as President of the Student Alliance and began to take more control of my life. That also meant removing toxic people. I think what happens to a lot of politically active black students on college campuses is that we forget to put ourselves and our mental health first. This is one of the rare times that I’m gonna say “do like the white people do.” Let them pick up the slack instead placing the burden on your back because “you know more” or have a “better understanding.” Practice makes perfect, so get to practicing bih.

But bitch how did you end up all the way in OHIO?!

Yeah, so about that. I ended up getting accepted to a fellowship for entrepreneurial recent college grads. I interviewed with a few companies and accepted a Graphic Design position with a startup out here. I no longer work at that company but have started a new job at a really successful company with a black CEO who is killing the game.

So many of the best things in my life thus far happened because I took a chance. I took a chance on RISD, I took a chance on a relationship, and I took a chance on launching a company. I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t take those chances. I saw moving to Ohio as a way to attain the space I desperately needed after being drained during college; accepting this job was my chance to get away from negative experiences and grow as an adult.

So, here are just a few things I’ve learned after one year post-grad from RISD.

1. The Adult world is fucking scandalous

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I can’t get into details, but imagine the most scandalous tv show you’ve ever watched. Now dial it back by like 35%. Ok, now double it. Yeah. Adults are messy. You don’t need to be a part of that though so just keep your eyes and ears open, but mouth shut.

2. I have no business living in the Midwest

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When they say everything hits the midwest is 10 years late, they are not kidding. I’ve never felt more black, female, or New York than when I had to explain in detail the uses of “Finna catch a body” and “That’s mad wild.” Also, maternity stores. Maternity stores everywhere.

I like to describe Cincinnati as a “Bar and Sports town.” Simply put, people go work their 9-5 job, go to the bar, watch the game, then go home. Except on the weekends, when they may start drinking at 2pm.

Hard drug use is very common. The gentrification in Cincinnati is the worst that I’ve ever seen. They’ve just built up around the poor and homeless so it’s not uncommon to see a homeless person sitting right outside a posh restaurant with upper-middle class white people dining inside.

At professional/startup events, I’m typically 1 of no more than 5 black people and usually the only black woman with natural hair. I’ll save the rest for another post though.

3. I needed to move to the Midwest

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Yeah, I needed to come out here because I needed this reality check. Back home I consider myself moderate compared to my friends who actually march regularly and chain themselves to banks. In Cincinnati, I’m considered a Black Panther by everyone, black or white.

I now see how 45 (him) won. We need to stop thinking that the rest of the country is as aware as those of us isolated in privileged intellectual spaces on college campuses. I never thought I would have to argue with a grown ass man about whether or not it’s ok to call a woman a bitch, referring to women as females or regularly confront the use of slurs towards trans people. The country has a lot of catching up to do, and while I may think that my ideas and knowledge aren’t new, it is to a lot of people. So, I am going to continue writing and sharing my experiences because there are still a shit ton of ignorant folks out there.

4. Entrepreneurship is hard af

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One day I just decided to launch a kickstarter campaign for Healthy Roots and a lot of people looked at me like I was a naive foolish black girl. Then I did it. It actually happened, but y’all, this shit has been so hard. I’ve never heard “no” so many times or been so discouraged by people who are supposed to advocate and support me. “No” has never killed my passion, so I’m still doing the damn thing.

I’m still working on Healthy Roots and excited that the dolls will be here in August!

5. You will fuck up, but you will be alright.

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I felt so good about life after I moved to Cincinnati. I was healthy. I had that fuckboi-free glow and was starting a new job. Then I got fired (startups are wild). I finally had time to focus and invest back into myself, Healthy Roots and my friends. It was that break that ultimately led to me launching this blog.

I now have a new job, found a co founder to work with me on Healthy Roots and a stronger group of friends. While I’m battling the highs and lows of life, I’m happy for the lessons I’ve learned.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that shit happens, but you keep moving because life doesn’t stop. It’s not really positive or optimistic, but it’s real and I feel like thats what we forget about the adult world. Social media is a vacuum where we post our happiest moments and we see other people’s highlight reels, but we need to constantly remind ourselves that life sucks sometimes. We also need remind ourselves that it’s okay to be upset.

I’ve walked away from my experiences this past year owning my emotions and being okay with being real cause shit IS real.

 

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