August 8 marked the two year anniversary of The Girl with Black Pearls! I am amazed and sincerely thankful to be able to look back on these past two years and smile because of what I’ve been able to build from this platform. There is no way that I can say THANK YOU and it adequately express just how appreciative to all of you who have read, commented, shared, and encouraged me along this journey.
When I first started The Girl with Black Pearls, I had just broken up with my boyfriend of a little over two years, I had just been released from an employment contract because the school I was to work at had to institute budgetary cutbacks, I was very unhappy and feeling hopeless about many different areas of my life. I knew I had to do something to help me navigate this rough time because my livelihood depended on it. The thought occurred to me that I should start writing again.
I was very shy about starting another blog. When I was 18 and a freshman at Penn State, I maintained an online blog and in youthful ignorance, I used the platform incorrectly to air issues that had no business being on the interwebs. Though nothing I said was a lie, it was inappropriate for me to do this and once some of the members of my father’s church caught wind of my blog, my actions were used as a way for people to come against my Dad. For a long time, I was very grieved at how my actions caused my father to have to deal with a slight fall out and so I vowed to not do any writing outside of academic writing for a while. And I was serious. I didn’t do any writing outside of school papers for the next two years.
When I studied abroad in 2008, people asked me to maintain a blog so that I could dictate my experiences and people could read about them in almost real time. I was very nervous to do so but I reluctantly started The Beautiful Facade on Blogspot. That blog served its purpose and while I had every intention to keep that blog going even after my study abroad experience, my desire to blog waned about a year or two after coming back.
Then 2013 happened. I should have known it was going to be a crazy year when the tears started on January 2. To be honest, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the roller coaster that I would be on that year and by the time my 26th birthday rolled around, I could barely have a moment to myself when I wasn’t on the verge of tears. I remember Mrs. Janice Parker, affectionately known to me as Mama J, told me before I left Dallas the year before right before my 25th birthday that 25 would be the year that would teach me so much. If no one had ever spoken the truth to me before, she said so much truth in that one statement.
On the other hand, I was going through some subtle [at the time] faith shifts and was struggling with what I believe about God, the love of God, and God’s intentions towards me. I was angry at God, some of it perhaps from the ways I believe God was misrepresented to me by [well-meaning] folks and some of it by the ways I felt distanced from God. I had never felt so alone in my life, even in the midst of being surrounded by people most of the time. I didn’t feel comfortable explaining my spiritual crisis to my parents, afraid that they would misinterpret what was behind my anger and questions – hurt and confusion. Trying to navigate feeling abandoned by God, being abandoned by a significant other whom I thought I would marry, and feeling abandoned by all the other things that were going wrong in my life seemed to be a little too much. Some days the weight proved to be too much and I seriously considered whether or not I wanted to be here at all.
So when I say that The Girl with Black Pearls came at perfect time in my life (if there’s such thing), there’s no way that could be an understatement. I needed catharsis; I needed something to help myself get on the path to healing. I found it hard to journal because at that point, it seemed like too much to be alone with my thoughts and to just pour it all on to pages. I know that seems weird but that is the truth. I felt the desire to write but I wanted to put parameters to protect myself from a repeat of the episode when I was 18. My rules for this endeavor were that I would not write a post that was strictly focused on the negative (aka purely as a means to vent), the posts had to have some kind of lesson learned, and I had to use the platform to encourage, uplift, and challenge others as well. I decided not to continue on The Beautiful Facade platform because of the name. I was tired of living behind a facade; I was ready to walk in the freedom of who I am – imperfection, insecurities, incongruousness and all. I settled on The Girl with Black Pearls because that is one of the first compliments I could remember. Read more about the name here.
I didn’t know much about the process that oysters go through to become pearls before. When foreign objects enter into an oyster’s shell, the shell begins covering the foreign object with layers of nacre in order to protect the oyster. Eventually the layers form into what we know as pearls. Pearls are bred from a need for protection; beauty is just a plus. Such can be said for many of our lives. What we now see as beauty in many areas have been bred out of a need to protect ourselves, a need for survival. Much of what I have shared has been how I’ve layered the unwanted and foreign objects/circumstances/situations in my life, which thankfully have produced many pearls of wisdom and joy. I am grateful for this new revelation going into year two.
I have gained an incredible sense of community over the past two years. I have carried with me every comment, every message, every call regarding my posts on this site. It has been a joy to have people believe in what I am trying to accomplish and to push me to keep going when I have wanted to stop. I can’t even express what it has meant when people have reached out to say that certain posts have helped them or let them know that they are not alone. It has enlarged my heart to watch this platform grow from something I did to stay alive to something I do because I feel passionately about it. I love how it has stretched me to be more secure in who I am and what I have to offer and to be OK with my brand not being for everybody. When I say that this has helped me become a more confident and secure woman, I tell you no lies.
What’s next? I honestly don’t know. I’ve been spending much time thinking about this brand where I would like for it to grow and go. What I do know is that I hope to continue to be true to who I am and to give to you the best of what I have. I plan to bring on some friends to do some contributing blog posts and to continue to evolve this brand into a place for authenticity, vulnerability, and empowerment.
For every person who has ever read one word, THANK YOU. Stick with me – I promise I’m going somewhere! And I want to take you with me.
Special thanks to my parents who try to support everything I do. To #legirls who read almost every blog and are some of the best PR with the retweets and reposts (I luh y’all). To my fellow writers who inspire me with ideas and with their words. To Emil just because :-). And to all my family and friends who think I’m greater than I really am (lol)! Your support means the whole world to me. Thank you all!
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I love you all!