5 Things Rihanna Taught Me

ROBYN “RIHANNA” FENTY.

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Beautiful, dope, crazily amazing artistry, iconic fashion sense. A majority of us know her as RIHANNA. She also goes by the predisposed alias of RiRi and the well-deserved nickname/social media handle, @BadGirlRiRi. My first connection with Rihanna was similar to everyone else’s. She was the new, Barbadian girl on the music scene with the pop song “Pon de Replay”.  As time has passed, Rihanna’s music has evolved since her fun and innocent debut. While she still carries a light-hearted, girl-like, sweet, and carefree demeanor, she has since then elevated into a superstar with ALL the bad ass qualities to match. From her ability to make record breaking, chart-topping music in EVERY genre she steps foot in, to her flawless and effortless style; I think it’s safe to say that Rihanna is one of the biggest stars this world has ever known.

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Here are some of her accomplishments:

  • 9 Grammys
  • 12 Billboard Music Awards
  • 12 American Music Awards
  • 8 People’s Choice Awards
  • Icon Award (2013)
  • Fashion Icon Award (2014)
  • Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award (2016)
  • Harvard University’s Humanitarian Award (2017)
  • Over 10 million albums sold in the US
  • Ranked the best-selling digital artist in the country, breaking a Guinness world record for digital singles sales of over 58 million
  • the ONLY artist to surpass the 100 million cumulative singles award threshold
  • 3rd best selling female artist this CENTURY
  • Named the second best-selling female artist in the country, trailing behind only Madonna
  • Second only to The Beatles for the most million-selling singles in the UK of all time and the list goes on. 

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After reading her accomplishments, you’d think that’s ENOUGH of a reason to be a fan. Not for me. True enough, her grind is admirable and one could only look at these things she has attained, and use her accomplishments as a tool to jumpstart their own #lifegoals, but there’s so much more to Robyn Fenty. She is multi-faceted in her stardom. Not only does her work-ethic, rule-breaking music, and star-studded name alone make her someone to look up to, but her UNAPOLOGETIC lifestyle and resonate beliefs really do it for me.  Even the name of her fan base has the deepest of meaning to it. The NAVY ain’t called “The Navy” for nothing. Rihanna, with a past as a cadet in a military program, leads this fanbase as THE NAVY because like herself, they are fighters. The name came about after the release of her fourth studio album RATED R. Now if you don’t know, let me tell y’all how #BLACKTWITTER (yes, it’s a thing) can get. One thing you don’t do, YOU DON’T ATTACK ARTISTS WITH A GLOBAL FAN BASE, especially if they’re Rihanna. They will digitally and socially behead you honey. Rihanna’s fans simply did NOT go for the backlash RiRi got behind her new sound. You better believe, the Navy fought for their H.W.I.C. (Head Woman In Charge). They drew blood and took names later. That’s what a navy sorta does right? Alright then. There ‘ya go.

I’ve followed RiRi for quite some time now and I can honestly say that I’ve applied some of her life philosophies to my own. Not only that, I’ve found myself in several situations in which I’ve had to come out of my own and adopt another persona that in the past I didn’t readily carry. That persona embodies a fearless, confident, life-grasping individual. As I’ve grown, I’ve come to know that in this lifetime, if there are things you want, you must GO AND GET THEM. There isn’t much time to be meek or mild, not when you’re trying to change your life! In my past life, sometimes now as well (depending on the situation), I was that quiet, timid, unprotesting individual that hated conflict or speaking too LOUDly. I hated being in the spotlight, still do more times than most, and I simply just didn’t know how to OWN a room, let alone own who I was. Ok, here’s a secret, Rihanna has been a major part of my “glow up”. While some may see this as sad, I see it as much needed brilliance that changed the way I view the world; the way I view myself. I’ve had SEVERAL W.W.R.D. (What Would Rihanna DO) moments and guess what, THEY ALL TURNED OUT GREAT. Yes, I’ve had other influences, mostly spiritual, that aided me in becoming who I am as well, but with Rih’s help I’ve changed several of my perceptions since I was inducted into the Navy. Rihanna taught me:

TO WORK, or WERK, if you will.

“When you realize who you live for, and who’s important to please, a lot of people will actually start living. I am never going to get caught up in that. I’m gonna look back on my life and say that I enjoyed it – and I lived it for me.”

Those W.W.R.D. moments I mentioned earlier? They changed the course of my life and how I make decisions. I used to make decisions based on what I thought people would accept or not accept about me.  I began to think for me and only me. I began to do things based on how I felt about them and how I would feel about them later, NO ONE ELSE. With that new attitude came a new me. To follow suit, I began to  wear that lipstick that I thought would be too bright for my skin and I ROC’d IT OUT without worry. I’ve gone into venues, whether it was a night out with my girls or a job opportunity with a potential employer, and I was confident about who I was. See, Rihanna taught me that it’s not JUST about who you are, but the way you carry yourself in knowing who you are. And to carry yourself in a way in which others will respect, you HAVE TO BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR OWN. You have to know what you’re willing to accept and not. You have to know what things you’re great at and you’ll be damned if someone told you differently. You have to know that there is nobody who does YOU better than YOU. Even if the next can do something similar to you, she’ll never be able to do it quite like YOU. This is what you have to KNOW. And once you know these things, you find yourself living for you, and that being confident in pleasing yourself is FIRST. Watching Rihanna, I learned this and I’m damn happy I did.

In my glow up process, I knew that if I truly wanted to love myself, I’d have to learn…

TO EMBRACE MY SKIN.

“Thank you so much for celebrating us in a world that doesn’t celebrate us enough.” 

“The minute you learn to love yourself, you will not want to be anybody else.”

“All girls rock. Black girls… We’re just on another level.”

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A few of her words from her acceptance speech at 2016’s Black Girls Rock. There was a time when I found this very hard to do. Being a little dark-skinned girl from the south will do that to you. Especially when you’re surrounded by a community of others who look similar to you but are brain-washed by the poison that is COLORISM. It took me a LONG time to get here. But dear God, I’m HERE! (In my Celie from the Color Purple voice) Rihanna has spoken against self-hatred in the black community and has even gone as far as blocking a fan on Twitter who tweeted her with an enhanced photo of herself, except it had been filtered to make her appear about 5 shades lighter. The caption said something about she was more beautiful that way or something within that same line of insanity. After one block on Twitter and NO MENTIONS from Rihanna about the lady years later, she is STILL embracing all shades of her part African descent. And what better way to embrace your lineage and ethnicity than to create a whole makeup line designed for girls that look like us? As a girl who swears by beauty both inner and outer, it was heartbreaking not seeing any major, sole-proprieted, commercialized beauty lines made for black women. I’M ESTATIC THAT FENTY BEAUTY WAS BORN! THANK YOU RIH.

Major right? As if that wasn’t DOPE enough, RIH taught me to..

LIVE OUT MY DREAM, UNAPOLOGETICALLY.

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“I always believed that when you follow your heart or your gut, when you really follow the things that feel great to you, you can never lose, because settling is the worst feeling in the world.”

Once upon a time, I thought there was something wrong with me. I thought I had an inability to be grateful for any job that the good Lord had helped me to get. I say this because I hated 80% of them. With time I’ve learned to be content with anything I had that helped me to supply myself with my wants and needs. Aside from that, I also used to think that ‘being more realistic’ was the only way I’d survive in this world. Let me just praise the fact that I’m no longer BOUND by that LIE. The things that lie within you that constantly scream at you, begging you to let them out into the world, is not a mistake. It’s called PURPOSE. Although I’ve never denied the fact that I wanted to write and that I should, I placed everything, SCHOOL, JOBS, INTERVIEWS, in front of the one thing I knew I could DO without hesitation, insecurities, over exhaustion, or hatred. I got tired of putting it on the back burner. Although I’m still not a place where I can say my passion is my source of profit, I can say that it’s no longer hidden due to the fact that “I have more important things to worry about.” THIS IS MY IMPORTANT THING. Writing to inspire WHILE making a profit will one day be my reality. And because of Rih, I’m a firm believer of this.

Life has called me to be hard a number of times, simply because being soft wouldn’t have worked in those moments. Being hard almost ALWAYS couples with the idea…

TO GO HARD.

That’s all I could ever hope for, to have a positive effect on women. ‘Cos women are powerful, powerful beings. But they’re also the most doubtful beings. They’ll never know – we’ll never know – how powerful we are.

FOR EVERYTHING I BELIEVE IN, I NEED TO GO HARD. I once heard a quote by Oprah in which she states, “I never did consider or call myself a feminist but I don’t think you can really be a woman in this world and not be.” Like Oprah, I don’t think I ever considered myself a feminist but I have adopted a duty to make sure that every woman I ever come into contact with will gain some sort of knowledge, strength, and value within herself. Hence, BEING VEEKAY.  That’s going hard. Taking what you believe and doing something about it. As a woman, I’ve visited and revisited the issues that come along with my gender. Most of them are issues that stem from birth, caused by insecurities and just down right disrespect from what we know as “The MALE.” Because I was born female, I am automatically made to make less than a man in the same field, even if I have more experience and/or education. But that’s another topic for another day.  Just know that Rihanna backs up my beliefs and I back hers. As a woman who’s disadvantaged in several areas of life simply because of my reproductive organs, I will always GO HARD for women. I hate to say this but there are some areas I could clean up before deeming myself a full-fledged feminist like doing away with demeaning rappers who spit woman-hating, misogynistic, lyrics. I’ve done away with most of them but I could do much better! When I learn to dodge the dance floor when stuff like “Taking over for the 9 9 and the 2000’s” comes on, I’ll then say I AM FEMINIST. HEAR ME ROAR. Lol.

Perfect time to say, BEING “Woman” comes with COUNTLESS, most times, silly insecurities. Rih helped me understand that as a woman…

COCKINESS, I should LOVE IT on me.

You have to just accept your body. You may not love it all the way, but you just have to be comfortable with it, comfortable with knowing that that’s your body.

Firstly, let me say that EVERY WOMAN SHOULD BE COCKY. To a certain degree. I know cocky is originally a negative term. But it stems from a very positive place. Cockiness starts with Confidence. It only becomes negative when one is OVERLY confident in themselves, coming off as arrogant and narcissistic. Oh how these type of people annoy me. DON’T BE ONE OF THESE PEOPLE. Nothing is sexy about it. However, to be confident is both beautiful AND sexy. And as we have seen Rih transform from skinny, to heart eyes THICK, she still loves every curve she’s gained. Because she truly loves who she is. I think that’s a lesson that all us women could learn. If you’ve seen any pictures of her from this past Grammy’s season (I’ve included some above), then you’ll see Rihanna flaunting pounds she didn’t once have. Too many of us go by unrealistic beauty standards that society has made us to believe and live by. Whether we were size 6 and now 16, or were once 16 and now 6, your body image is just that, an IMAGE. It doesn’t make who you are. Only you decide that. Not your measurements! Not your bra size! Not your pants size! And definitely not anybody who makes you feel bad for being whatever size you are!

Alright y’all. I could honestly go on with another 10 or 15 things this beautiful ICON has taught me, but I decided that these are probably the most IMPACTFUL. I hope this piece did you some justice. I hope this piece makes you feel better about who you are and where you’re going. These be the things that Rih has taught me. Now go ‘head girl, put on your crown, “SHINE BRIGHT LIKE A DIAMOND.”

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I want to hear from YOU! SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH ME! PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT OR TWO DOWN BELOW! Let’s have a discussion. I’m open to all suggestions and comments.

Thanks for reading y’all! Continue to #GlowYourOwn destiny until next time,

#LoveVeeKay.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Turning 21

#BEINGREFLECTIVE

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 REGRET. The picture you see is before I had any. I was just turning 21 and I had NO idea what was up ahead. Not only that, I had no idea that there were some things I could have done differently until I got a bit more experience under my belt. Although we like to believe that we are all free from anything that our pasts hold, we also know that’s the farthest thing from the truth. Regret is something we don’t like to discuss. WHY? Because regret causes shifts in a confident spirit. Things that you may have thought that you were relinquished from, things that you thought you had moved past, they somehow seem to surface. And once they penetrate your mind, those thoughts do a damn good job of destroying newly acquired peace and joy. NO ONE likes to bring up regrets. However, that’s sorta what I’ll be doing today. Let me be clear, I’m proud of who I am and I can say I needed the things that happened to me to happen, or I wouldn’t BEing VEEKAY. But, I can say these are a couple of things I REGRET not knowing before I turned 21! Lol.

1. To be successful, college is not required. Now, this is in no way to undermine the importance of a college education and the LENGTHS it can take you. As a college graduate, who didn’t truly know herself during her college years, getting a degree was probably thee most beneficial move I’ve made in life. I’ve been afloat (in a sense) ever since. But there’s an annoying stigma that has plagued Millenials by way of those before them. You know, the one that says if you don’t own a degree, you don’t have a future, THAT’S SUCH A LIE. Take some time to really get to know people in your community. You’ll see success packaged in various forms. A large percentage of them are entrepreneurs who either (A) never had a degree, or (B) has a degree that’s not being used. Before you think about what that percentage could be, that takes me to my second ‘shoulda knew this before 21’ point.

2. Know Yourself Before You Profit Yourself. Okay, in relation to this topic, the word “profit” will be used for 2 terms, both “losing” AND “winnin’.” To explain why profiting yourself may be a loss, I’ll just say this: If you invest your time, energy, attention, and money in the WRONG future, it can have what seems to be, never-ending consequences. For example, you go to school for 4 years, leave about 40K broker, land a job you absolutely HATE, and no matter what you do, you can’t seem to like it. You are most def. in a losing situation where mental, emotional, and maybe even financial woes destroy your best work ethic. However, there’s a huge possibility that can all be turned around, or prevented altogether. I learned that all you need to do is KNOW YOURSELF. Ok, I know you’re thinking, “How would I know myself at 18?” But you do! You know your ’18 year old self” at 18. Not even thinking in the grand scheme of things, all it takes is who you are in that day and time because that’s what it’s going to take. Essentially, we know who we are. We know what we’re going to focus on and what we’re not. We know what we like and don’t like. At 18, I LIKED going to school. I LIKED the idea of higher education. That was my motivation. Plus I had already been ruined with the thought that I had to go anyway lol. Whatever the reason, I knew I would focus on it because ultimately, I knew it was what I wanted to do. Even if you’re not for certain what you want to do, that’s ok. As long as you’re productive in your waiting, it’s fine. We all have the answer to those questions that can determine a long-standing decision. That’s my point. Before you go getting yourself into a situation of wasted resources (Time, Energy, MONEY) on something that may not work, try your best to understand yourself and your passions… That’s what you want to invest in. Yeah, yeah I know that’s called a learning experience. And yeah! We know that it STILL may not work out but whatever! Passions are still profits. That takes me to #3.

3. Never let ANYONE tell you that YOUR passion isn’t a profit because it most definitely is! There is a market for EVERYTHING, whether you think so or not. There are other like-minded individuals ready to take advantage of your products or services! Now, what I can’t tell you is if that market is a big one LOL. I’m sure it could make you money but I can’t guarantee that it’ll make you rich, let alone keep you afloat. Here is the part where you take your common sense and apply it to your circumstances. A regular job may be something you’d want to have on the side (more like in the front)! LOL. Ya’ll get my drift.

4. People are first and last priority. As a Christian woman, I have a heart to serve in any way I can. I’m a firm believer in giving and helping. For some of those very reasons that is why I chose a career in the health field. I think it’s humane to say that people are priority because we share this world and we should look after one another. While this may be true, people are crazy. Mean. Rude. Controlling. Over-protective. Clingy. Envious. Overbearing. Mentally ill. The list goes on but most importantly, all people are IMPERFECT. That’s all the reason to not listen to too many of them regarding the way you live your life. I’m not saying not to seek or take wise advice. What I’m saying is, never let anyone constantly impose on you what THEY feel is best. YOUR path in life will not be traveled by another pair of feet but your own. Constantly accepting someone else’s idea of you will scare away your own hopes and dreams. And ultimately lead you to resentment. REGRET.

5. Which brings me here to number 5. Before I turned 21, hell before I turned 28 LOL, I wish I had known not to REGRET. Yeah, my introduction was actually my #5. I wish I had known not to regret because regret is really what brings heartache. Yeah, the actual event of the let-down hurts. The fact that x, y, and z never happened, hurts. Yes, these things hurt but I learned that regret turns sadness into grief. Obsessing with ‘shoulda,’ ‘coulda,’ and ‘woulda,’ is a surefire way to keep you down. I’ve learned to live by the notion that we shouldn’t regret ANY of the steps we’ve made to become the esteemed individuals we are today. And even if you don’t believe that your past failures have done you a solid, I’m sure there are other people out there who beg to differ. My faith tells me that one day, when you understand that you went through your worst to become your best version, you’ll never regret again.

What are some things you regret not knowing before 21? I’m continuing this series so I’ll drop 5 more soon. The next post will be a bit harder to write, it’ll be more personal. Like, share, comment! The good, the bad, the ugly, the BEST! I wanna hear it all… until next time…

#LoveVeekay