A blog by Amanda Alcantara

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

20 Lessons I Learned This Year

I'm struggling to find the words to introduce these lessons. You see, I had an amazing year. Easily one of the most beautiful ones of my life. It was a year of adventures, blessings and growth. And it was fun.

Pero it was the inner healing that really made this year a memorable one for me. Because with those adventures came challenges, like deciding to go out the next day after almost being robbed in a foreign country; like letting go of whatever fears were holding me back. With those blessings came self-doubts about my worthiness to receive them, like having my article shared by two of my favorite authors or getting a promotion at work. And with that growth came pain, like reliving some traumas in order to release their hurt or finding ways to deal with high levels of anxiety. And there are countless more examples.

So here are my personal lessons for this year, take them or leave them. Also feel free to comment below with whatever you might've learned too.

1. Your value isn't measured by anything except for the reality that you are alive (or once lived). Somos seres humanos, no haceres humanos. (We are human beings not human doings).

2. It may be harder to forgive yourself than it is to forgive others, but you must. Do whatever ritual it takes, whether it's lathering yourself with coconut oil and giving yourself some love, writing a letter forgiving yourself, saying it in the mirror/singing it out loud. Let that guilt go.
Reading, PA

3. Being in love isn't as important or realistic as actively loving. Being in love comes from this idea of "falling in love", when in reality we need to love actively not fall in it. That's how relationships and bonds grow and are cultivated once we fall out of love--which can happen.

4. Love is about sacrifice. Unless that means sacrificing your integrity, your self-worth, your self-respect, your truth. Then it becomes about dependency.

Acción Poetica in Toronto, CA

5. The revolution is a jog, not a sprint. Self-care is important if you're in this for the long run. And so is commitment.

6. You can't lead others or give others love, support, and basic needs if you don't first do that for yourself. And this isn't a call for [capitalist] individualism, but a reminder for those of us who invest time in movements because we feel investing in ourselves isn't as important.

Running through the 6

7. Some people don't like getting called out. And they will resist, and they will block you, delete you, ostracize you, make fun of you... They might even be able to make you feel like shit once you do by gaslighting or getting defensive. These things happen specially if they are in a position of power or if they are more popular. And you will see them hanging out with other people in your crew and wonder if they talk bad about you even though you feel that you can't talk bad about them because if you do, people will pick sides and they might pick them. For that, I'll say what Rosa Clemente recently said in a radio interview, It's about integrity and consistency. If you're true and honest with yourself, you have nothing to worry about.

8. Some people will call you out and sometimes what they say won't be true, other times it will be. Reread what Rosa Clemente said on point number 7. Listen to them, learn, and don't do it again. Fucking up doesn't take away from your worth as a human being.

9. Always valuable: Friends are there for a season, for a reason, or a lifetime.

Villa Soldati, Buenos Aires, Argentina

10. Traveling is okay. So is the fear that might come with being a new place. Be patient with yourself when you try out new things. Be kind. But don't be afraid to push the limits.

11. Making yourself vulnerable is okay whether that be via your art, your work, or an adventure, unless your gut tells you otherwise. Be patient if your gut does tell you "not yet", the time will come to try again.

12. Fuck what other people think. That includes that little voice in the corner of your brain telling you that you're not enough.

Carnival at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

13. Talents need to be cultivated. If you love writing, don't just say it: do it. Same with dancing, singing, cooking, etc.

14. Something I learned from a workshop at the Sankofa Sisterhood Writer's Retreat: you see those people in your life that make you feel shitty just by thinking of their name. Yeah, cut them off.

15. Jealousy is a human emotion. There's no shame in having it. Let go of the guilt that comes with feeling jealousy, as long as it's not going to affect the other person. Don't be afraid to unpack it and understand it's roots. And don't let it get in the way of what might otherwise be a great relationship.

16. You don't have to fight every battle.

17. Actively search for tools to help you center yourself, calm down, or to simple feel good. Scents really work for me, so I carry around agua florida and keep a lavender spray at home and work.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

18. I heard this one somewhere and it's become my motto: The easiest way out is through.

19. Sometimes we hate on people for no reason. Challenge yourself to appreciate them, sometimes they're a reflection of you. (Also note capitalism makes it seem like we're always in competition, we don't have to be).

20. You deserve all the good things that happen to you.

New York, NY

That's all. What lessons did you learn this year?

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

20 Things That Do Not Determine Your Worth

1. What happened to you.
2. Your past
3. Your mistakes
4. Your successes/accolades/merits
5. Your lack of successes/accolades/merits
6. How you cope with mistakes (or don't cope with mistakes)
7. Your mental health
8. The amount of things that you do--To be clear, this includes how much organizing you do. How much writing or art you make. How much work you do. How healthy you eat. How healthy you don't eat. Etc.
9. The amount of things that you don't do
10. The amount of friends that you have
11. The amount of haters that you have
12. The amount of people you have sex with or have had sex with or don't have sex with or have not had sex with (AKA body count)
13. The amount of people who love you
14. The amount of heartbreaks you have or haven't had
15. Your relationship status
16. If in a relationship, the perceived worth of your partner--Are they cool? Are they hot? Are they
popular? Do people like them? What are their accomplishments?
17. Your looks or whether people perceive you as beautiful or not
18. Your gender or gender expression
19. Your favorite color
20. Your level of intelligence/expertise/talent/abilities/etc.

I'm writing this list because as a woman of color, I've been told by society from my baby days (literally) that I somehow don't have worth. I can give you clear examples and yet I will not name them because this blog is not about that; If you don't understand the ways that women of color are degraded, then this post isn't for you. If you don't understand the ways in which women of color are degraded, then you must not be listening to us. 

Sisters, femmes, friends, comrades. I have pretty much used all of the above as ways of determining my worth at one point or another, always to come out empty handed because the truth is that neither for yourself, nor others, will any of these determine our worth. For those of us at the intersection of femme and color and poverty, humanity is denied to us so we internalize this feeling that we must somehow prove our humanity.

But we don't have to. And of course, understanding the above will not change what others think, nor will it fix the systemic oppression against us. But it's good for us, on a personal healing level to know this. 

Like one of my mentors says, Es ser humano, no hacer humano. We are human beings, not human doings. 

Worth is something that we are born with. Que se jodan those who think otherwise.

Anything else that should be on this list? 

If it helps, pretend I'm drinking tea

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