When did I accumulate so many products?

I work in a field where I am lucky enough to get a lot of free products. Makeup, hair care, skin care—I have products in every drawer, on every available shelf, and scattered in several suitcases under my bed (not kidding). Does this stop me from buying the occasional new release when I made a drugstore run? It does not. So all in all, yeah, I have a lot of crap.

Well, not crap entirely. I'm happy to have a lot of the skincare products in my possession. From exfoliating serums to milky toners, many of them have become staples in my daily (morning and nighttime) skincare routine. Before I recommends any of them to you though, it would be helpful for you to know what kind of skin I have and my particular areas of concern.

My Skin Type 

  • Oily/Combination
  • Prone to hyperpigmentation after acne (because I pop my pimples, don't judge me)
  • Occasional chin, jaw, forehead breakouts + pms breakouts 
  • Large appearance of pores on cheeks
  • Occasional blackheads on nose 
Now, onto the products I use to (attempt) to control all of this.

The goods

When self-love and tough love collide

One of my favorite reality TV show moments of all time involves Tyra Banks yelling at an America's Next Top Model contestant who fell short despite everyone's support of her. The sheer ridiculousness makes it gold, of course, but also the relatability of it all. I relate to the model who was being yelled at, in case you were wondering.

"Now, I'm finding that I have to be my mom (or yelling Tyra) for myself—and that is a form of self-love."

You see, my mom yelled at me a lot. When my mom yelled at me it didn’t feel good for either of us, but I do know that even in those moments, she loved me. She wanted bigger, better, more for me, and my playing the fool was not going to stand. Now, I'm finding that I have to be my mom (or yelling Tyra) for myself—and that is a form of self-love. Self-love is not just about making yourself feel good, because love is not just about feeling good. Love is far more complex than just nice, fluffy feelings.

I am here for all of the self-love and self-care going around in the world, but self-care isn’t always getting a manicure or lighting a candle. For me, I’m understanding now that self-care is also forcing myself to write, even when I’m tired. It’s cooking my own food though it’s much easier to Seamless everything. It's not spending an extra $40 on something frivolous when I know I have a goal to save more money, no matter how badly I want it. I love myself enough to be tough on myself, and while it never feels as good as treating myself to a new dress, it is necessary and still very much an act of love.

The case against "focusing on me"

At several points in my life my friends and I have gone through a "you know, I really just want to focus on me, right now," phase, and it usually always comes after a pretty crappy experience. It's empowering to shut out distractions to power yourself forward to achieve your goals in the wake of of pain, disappointment, and general unpleasantness—and let's be real, we deal with a lot of unpleasantness.

"The right people will assist you, help you flourish, support you. The right goals will push you, challenge you, keep you motivated."

All that said, I found that completely focusing on myself actually never helped me in the way that I hoped it would. After much introspection and wondering why I hadn't become a successful millionaire overnight, I realized "focusing on me" was never  the fix. And that's because the issue was never that I spent my time focusing on people and not my own goals or well-being. It was that I focused on the wrong people and the wrong goals.

The right people will assist you, help you flourish, support you. The right goals will push you, challenge you, keep you motivated. I’m grateful that I have people in my life who ask me about my goals, my dreams, because they support me "focusing on me." We don't have to shut ourselves off from the world, as miserable as the world can be, to do great things, and I think that's just beautiful, baby.

This is not a drill. 

Not to be that person, but the same day it was announced that all seasons of Living Single would begin streaming on Hulu starting January 11, the sun started shining and the temperature in New York rose by like 15 degrees. Coincidence? I think not.

Living Single is one of the first shows I saw as a child (despite this NOT being a children's show), that shaped my idea of adulthood (it was also the inspiration behind Friends.) Khadijah was an editor at her own magazine—hello, journalism major here—and had 3 girlfriends who were colorful, funny, and fully formed women. They always gathered in their Brooklyn apartment (also, hi, me) to laugh, cry, and commiserate about life as ambitious single black women in one of the most hectic cities in the world.

I will be planted to my couch watching as many episodes as I can fit into my weekend, but until then, here are a few reasons why Living Single is one of the greatest shows ever made, if you don't know already.

1. These Women Were Real Friends

Even when they were annoyed with each other (Regine and Maxine, in particular) you always knew they had love for each other, no matter what.

2. Regine's Ultimate Doing the Most-ness

If there was ever a character that taught me it was okay to be as over-the-top as I wanted to be, it was Regine. Outfits? Impeccable. Bougie-ness? On one hundred.

3. My First Feminist Inspiration

Maxine Shaw was a tough as hell lawyer who could dish out sarcasm and wit rapid-fire. I remember seeing her take Kyle down (more on him in a bit) with just a few words thinking, "this—this is what I need to learn how to do to men."

4. The Love-Hate Relationship Between Kyle & Maxine

I loved the chemistry between Maxine and Kyle. They never held back from a good roast session and they both had tough enough skin to take it. It was their fictional relationship that taught me how to deal with having a crush—by completely insulting them at every chance.

5. Speaking of Love...

And when they finally admitted they liked each other, ugh, so good. I was too young to fully understand, but I understood, if you know what I mean.

6. Okay, Here's Some More Love

I totally shipped Synclaire and Overton before I knew what it meant to ship anything. These two were completely fine with each other's weird quirks. In fact, they loved each other's weird quirks. With them, love didn't have to be serious, and it made a little me hopeful that I would actually find my own weird, loveable Obie.

7. Yeah, Definitely the Love

I actually forgot how much they got it on on this show. I mean, I'm all for some good lovin', especially when the people look like me. I'm also here for the fact that Khadijah, Queen Latifah's character, got just as much action as the other characters even though she was a plus-sized, tom-boyish character. Skinny, blonde rom-com girls aren't the only ones who have romances, ya' know.

It all starts starts with a step

While I don’t have proper cable television, I was able to see some highlights from last night's Golden Globes thanks to the internet’s quick turnaround time. And by some highlights, I specifically mean Oprah’s acceptance speech as the first black woman to win a Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. Y’all, today, I woke up reinvigorated, rejuvenated, and revived knowing that I exist in the same time space dimension as this woman. As a lot of women, actually. You, even!

"It almost makes it feel like what I’ve done so far is pointless in comparison to what I have left to do. How can I celebrate taking one step when there are 50 million more to go, right?"

While there are days where the best thing I accomplish is inventing a new way to wear this fur jacket again so I can validate my purchasing it on a whim, I know there are many more days to come where I will actually accomplish something that I can be proud of—not that I’m not proud of this outfit. I absolutely am. Any time I can mix leopard print and stripes, I’m counting it as a win.

As of right now, all I’ve done is taken a step. A single step in that direction of something I hope to achieve, but knowing that there are so many more steps to go is pretty damn daunting. It almost makes it feel like what I’ve done so far is pointless in comparison to what I have left to do. How can I celebrate taking one step when there are 50 million more to go, right? This kind of thinking usually leaves me feeling completely unmotivated, and I’m trying to shut it down. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.

What I do need, though, is to remember that a step is still a step is still a step. I am closer to what I want than I was yesterday, and with every slow, scared, shaky step, I’m only getting closer. We’re only getting closer.

Good riddance, sayonara, see you never, sucker.

This year is almost over, and amen to that! I don't think I've ever been so grateful for a year to be on its way out. I've always liked the "fresh start" a new year brings, but this, this is a whole new feeling I'm feeling. It's almost, like, I don't know, I've finally exhaled after holding my breath for months and months and months.

"Truth be told, I had some really amazing experiences this year, but not without equally miserable ones."

I guess this is what people call relief? Yes, relief is it. That's exactly how I feel about 2017 ending. Every year has its up and downs (can you even imagine a year being completely perfect?), so I'm not so spoiled to think that this one was supposed to be completely perfect. Truth be told, I had some really amazing experiences this year, but not without equally miserable ones.

I've said it before, and I'll say it one last time: this year was exactly what it needed to be. Nothing more, nothing less. Now, I'm just ready to wash my hands clean of it and dance, dance, dance into 2018. Who's putting their party pants on with me?
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