Monday, April 24, 2023

I'll stick to being me

On Oct. 12, 2000, at 10:45 p.m., a queen was born. Just kidding it was just me.

I’m the queen lol.

Five minutes into being the youngest sibling, my lavish lifestyle of being the youngest was stripped away when my twin sister was born. That meant $10 instead of $20 on birthdays. It meant sharing cakes, and it ended up meaning being forced to wear the same outfits until I could dress myself. Let's just say I started dressing myself rather young. 

My entire life being compared and being asked “Can you read each other's mind?” Actually, yes. Yes, we can. I was also considered “Mimi’s sister.” My sister is gorgeous and so outgoing, and everyone loved her so much. Making friends came so easy for her, and I had to rehearse 20 times about potential conversations I would have so I wouldn’t sound awkward. Believe me, it still sounded incredibly awkward.

The thing is I didn’t mind it. I didn’t mind being in the shadows because that meant if they were watching her, they weren't watching me. Mimi found her voice rather young. If she thought of something or wanted to do something, she was going to do it. I love that about her. I envy her for it because after four years of college I sometimes still wonder if I’ve found mine.

In college I finally became Jamilia, but who is that? I had no clue. Who am I when I’m not Mimi’s sister, or the Pastor's daughter, or someone's girlfriend? I had to relearn everything I knew.

Unfortunately, my idea of learning wasn’t as educational but more on the destructive side as I finally got a taste of freedom. But the weekends became the same. Party. Dance. Repeat. I was surrounded by “friends” but never felt more alone.

I realized the things that made me happy had nothing to do with other people. Honestly, I didn’t like being around people. People hurt you, but something I had to learn is they also love you. But as people walked in and out of my life — and love slowly turned into hurt — there was only one person who stayed. In times when I didn’t deserve it, I left him stranded and forgot how great his love is for me. There he is with his arms open … Jesus.

I’ve always known him, but because of what other people told me. I had to go to church every Sunday and bible studies on Wednesday. It was forced on me, but as I started to experience college and life worshiping Jesus became something I wanted to do instead of something I had to do.

As my time in Bloomsburg comes to an end, I can’t help but remember how amazing he is. Taking my senior portraits and wearing my cap and gown in a time when people who look like me don’t make it to graduation, especially not graduating from college.

At times when I'm walking back from school, and I look up to see the amazing painting on his canvas called earth, you can’t help but be in awe of his creation. There are a lot of things I’m not sure of, but the love he has for me is not to be questioned.

Four years later ...

I’m still that loner girl you see walking around college with her headphones on 1,000 wearing her personality as clothes — but instead of her head being down like when she was as a freshman — she struts like college is her runway (and it is).

I’m still that awkward, shy girl who only has to rehearse conversations twice now; but now I’m not afraid to say what I want and don’t want. I dance in the middle of the bar even if I’m the only one like it’s a late night in my bedroom.

This time I’m not afraid to be me without the embarrassment of not being cool. Maybe finding my voice isn’t about making friends or being outgoing, maybe it’s about finding me. I found my voice in my writing, in my amazing sense of style lol, in my faith, and in things I love and loved too much.

Maybe being cool is overrated ...

I'll stick to being me. She is me; I am her.

— Jamilia Hall, a senior communication studies major with an emphasis on organizational communication, is interning with the Office of Marketing and Communications this spring. She is a native of Darby and is a fan of the Vampire Diaries.

#BloomOnward #HuskyLife

Thursday, March 30, 2023

When you look in the mirror

In my marketing class, we’ve been talking a lot about “the self.”

When you wake up in the morning and take that first look in the mirror, who do you see? The actual self. Who do you want to see? The ideal self. And the gap in between? The fantasy self.

All these versions stare back at you simultaneously with the gaze of society, the male, and yourself. Society says skinny is in, but the boys say you look curvier. Your mom says you need to eat less, but what do you want?

I want to be strong.

Fitness saved my life more times than I can count. Working out was never about changing the way I looked. It was about changing the way I felt. Changing physically was just a bonus.

Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw someone I didn’t recognize. I saw someone that was displaying society's gaze of what I was supposed to look like instead of displaying my gaze. When I was by myself, I thought I was the most beautiful person but still I would find myself:
  • skipping meals when someone commented on my weight,
  • wearing a certain hairstyle because everyone “loved me in it’” even if it meant I’d have a headache for the next three days,
  • waking up early to shave my armpits because people said it was “un-ladylike” to have hair under my arms.
Like seriously?! I guess if men find out we grow hair they’ll riot lol ... I say let them.

With each rep I’m gaining confidence, releasing anger that’s been trapped in my shadow for as long as I can remember because I was so exhausted from looking like someone else, I was afraid to let my hair down metaphorically and quite literally.

When I tell people I work out the question I get asked immediately is “How do you stay motivated?” This question doesn’t just apply to people who are trying to get started on their gym journey, this question applies to life.

Motivation wasn’t what I needed; it was self-discipline. My problem with motivation was that she never wanted to stick around, especially when things got hard and because of me being a full-time college student and also a full-time person who has no clue what she is doing, life was hard a lot.
Once I became friends with self-discipline I realized motivation was nice because motivation helped me, but self-discipline was going to make sure I got to where I needed to go.

We hear a lot about who we are and who we want to be, but not a lot about the in between. The fantasy self.

The fantasy self plays a bigger part in my journey than I’d like to admit. On days where I’m not out of class till 9 p.m. and every inch of me is crawling to the bus stop, but my brain forces me to keep walking towards the gym and most of the time I listen. Don’t get me wrong, there's times where I’m taking my butt onto the bus with no hesitation or remorse and the word “gym” is nowhere to be found in my vocabulary.

When in the gym I spend a lot of time getting to know myself. It points out every inch of my weaknesses with the biggest foam finger. But with weakness also comes strength. The strength of me starting when everyone is saying I/m not able to stay consistent. The confidence when I walk to my workout station in my all pink workout set in a place that’s dominated by men, and the glow of finally finding something that feels real in a world that’s content with being fake.

As a senior in college, there is an assumption that I am supposed to have my life together and a plan of what comes next. I have an idea of what comes next, but there are so many of my answers that start and end with I don’t know and honestly, I don’t know is okay and I don’t know is real.

I'm in college, in my early 20’s and nine times out of 10 I don’t even know what I'm having for dinner, but all this figuring it out is the fantasy self, the in-between.

I thank my fantasy self as it connects me to who I want to be and who I am. Without me not having all the answers it would not be a journey. I wouldn’t have anything to learn and no process to embrace. Even the smallest compliments wouldn’t be so impactful and so worth it especially on days where everything in front of me is dark but the spark of a small building that connects me, that brings me back to who I am.

The girl who is a beautiful disaster and doesn’t have all the answers, but that is why she is in college, that’s why she is trying to embrace all parts of herself in and outside of her room.

So, I ask …

When you look in the mirror, who do you see?

— Jamilia Hall, a senior communication studies major with an emphasis on organizational communication, is interning with the Office of Marketing and Communications this spring. She is a native of Darby and is a fan of the Vampire Diaries.

#BloomOnward #HuskyLife

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Authentically, unapologetically me

There may come a day when you realize the life you want isn’t the life you have despite listening to so-called society's rules of what to wear, how to act, and who to be.

It could happen when you’re a teenager or young adult, maybe even later in life. For me, it happened in college.

It starts with you walking the narrow line of perfection. You know … don’t speak unless you’re spoken to. Keep your head down. And most importantly do not under all circumstances, fall in love!!! Well, they were right about that one, lol.

I get why they call it falling, and boy did it hit hard when I landed. It was one of those loves that came when you least expected it — really at the most inconvenient time if you ask me — but still, it was a love that fought to be seen, felt, and heard.

Heartbreak is such a weird thing, one day everything is fine, I'm laughing with my friends. I’ve finally finished the work that my professor assigned two weeks prior, things are looking up! I can finally breathe without him. Then I am walking home and something so insignificant like someone who looks like him and just like that here I am again, Missing him.

This is the part where I said it came at the most inconvenient time. Firstly, I'm in college, and I'm trying to make something amazing out of myself and heartbreak is on my shoulders as I have my assignment due at 11:59 p.m. A job interview on Thursday, and a team presentation on Friday. At this point heartbreak is annoying.

My problem wasn’t the tornado of love, it was the aftermath.

You know, the part where inside it feels like every part of you is torn but externally everything just keeps rotating. You still have class in the morning and the two assignments due that night and your professor doesn’t care that you’ve had your first heartbreak and your ex doesn’t care that your heart is broken.

The only thing that kept me going was the certainty that one day I would see someone who looks like him and feel nothing. I will have the degree that I so desperately worked on while every inch of my body was aching, and I will celebrate and laugh, and it'll be filled with love and hope.

I'll always be that girl who wants the “boombox over his head outside the window” kind of love and the “get ready we’re going to the beach" love, but this time I’ll make sure the sunglasses I wear won’t be rose-colored.

I thought I had to be loved by someone for it to be considered love, for me to think I was worth loving. I did have to be loved by someone, but that person was me.

I needed to find within me a love that was so empowering, unconditional, and accepting that within all the constant battles of juggling college classes, the inconsistency of boys and friends, and just the simple fact that life is hard that she would still be standing. I needed to find self-love because I want it all, I want the best life for myself and how can I receive all this if I feel like I don’t deserve it?

Life doesn’t stop and nor should you in your pursuit of happiness. However, sometimes you never get the chance to truly heal unless you intentionally choose to be that girl.

That girl who wakes up and realizes she’s a bystander in her own life and then decides to be the main character, to become the best version of themselves — physically, mentally, and spiritually.

That girl who doesn’t want to carry around hurt anymore. That girl who doesn’t really want to listen to society's rubric of who to be.

So that girl starts going to the gym, starts looking inwardly to heal the broken parts of herself. She starts trusting her faith instead of herself and learns to love with balance and clarity.

It's not an easy process. You’re constantly battling with who you were, who you are, and who you want to be — and of those all live simultaneously inside.

That girl — she is me, and I am her.

— Jamilia Hall, a senior communication studies major with an emphasis on organizational communication, is interning with the Office of Marketing and Communications this spring. She is a native of Darby and is a fan of the Vampire Diaries.

#BloomOnward #HuskyLife

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

We did it together!

Coming into my last semester, I was beyond excited to finally live with my four best friends. I think to myself now, with little left of my time here at Bloomsburg, where did the time go?

It’s times like these I wish I had a time machine and could hit replay. All my roommates live at least two hours away from me, and I’m going from seeing them every second of my days to parting ways to go back home. It’s a bittersweet moment, sitting down and taking everything in.

This entire year brought me so much closer to my best friends, which I did not think was possible. It made me realize that yes it is sad, but finishing college with my girls is a beautiful accomplishment ... and now, we'll smile and say “We did it together!”

I feel so proud of myself for pushing through the hard times and continuing college after taking my semester off. Looking back, I wouldn't have developed and grown these bonds with these girls if it were not for coming back. I could never imagine a life where I did not pick up these last two years of memories, laughter, love, and tears. If you have the chance to live with your favorite people, don’t pass it up.

To any incoming freshman, I promise you're going to meet your best friends here. Living in Elwell my first year, I was terrified it was never going to happen for me ... but now I’m blessed that Bloomsburg brought me girls I'll talk to for the rest of my life, way past graduation.

— Sarah O'Leary, a senior communication studies major with an emphasis on interpersonal communication, is interning with the Office of Marketing and Communications this spring. She is a native of Scranton and is an avid Harry Styles fan.

#BloomOnward #HuskyLife

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Always one FaceTime away


Dating is a key component of college life. And, it comes in many forms. There’s typical dating. There's a study date. And my favorite, a food date. 

This is where Kelly comes in. Kelly and I have always had a special bond, especially after we got to know each other more during our sophomore year. When I first met her, I could tell she had thick skin and was someone who would do anything for her closest girlfriends. 

Chick-fil-A has always been our go-to for food dates, and now we're roommates ... two years later, it still is. These are little moments I’ve cherished since the start. These times have only brought us closer together. Kelly has taught me how to be confident, set boundaries for myself, and taught me how to have thicker skin too.

Kelly comes from Staten Island, a borough of New York City. Her heavy New York accent has always been something I love. I have never visited Kelly, although New York is one of my favorite places to visit. This summer after graduation, we plan on making a trip together to celebrate before we part ways. 

Kelly’s room is right next to mine in our apartment, which is so comforting, because I know she’s always there for me whenever I need to talk to someone. There’s been late nights where we have stayed up together and had conversations that have lasted for hours on end when either of us were feeling down.

Kelly has always given me the best advice, and I know she has truly shaped me into the woman I am today. I can say when we first met, my self-confidence was not there. I was constantly juggling something new with my self-identity while going through one of the hardest times of my life. By no means has our senior year been perfect. We’ve all had our ups and downs, but I could honestly say I'm so proud of us for who we have become today. I would call Kelly my therapist friend, because it's been proven countless times her advice has brought me nothing but self-improvement and love.

Now in our final year together, we’ve taken our Chick-fil-A dates to sushi dates at Oliran and make it a habit to do sushi Sundays together whenever we can. Kelly and I grabbing lunch together twice a month while at school is something I’ll always prioritize up until the day we part ways. We don't have to be together every second — but when we are — I know I feel safe and am with someone who will always have my best interest at heart. I’ll miss going out for food with her after we graduate but always know she’s one call or FaceTime away when I’m looking for someone to make me smile.

— Sarah O'Leary, a senior communication studies major with an emphasis on interpersonal communication, is interning with the Office of Marketing and Communications this spring. She is a native of Scranton and is an avid Harry Styles fan.

#BloomOnward #HuskyLife

Making Friends


Starting the Bloomsburg University College Student Affairs (CSA) program, I didn’t know anyone. Not in the traditional sense. While I technically got my undergraduate degree from Bloomsburg in Technical Leadership, my program was online and I lived 63 miles away from campus (a two-hour drive, each way).

Before my first day of class as a CSA graduate student, I stepped onto the Bloomsburg campus only twice. First, to return a book on a dropped class, and the second time, for graduation.

Moving to Bloomsburg was interesting. Everything was the same but different. Learning the campus was a trip. It’s got your daily exercise built-in if you start down near Carver Hall and need to get up to the new Arts and Admin Building or the Andruss Library, up at the top of the hill. This might mean nothing to you right now, but come to campus, and you’ll understand. 

Honestly, six months later, I'm still learning the campus. Buildings I’ve never heard of, rooms that seem to move around, but the town feels like home.

— Lizz Matias Clammer, #SAPro. Clammer is pursuing her Master's in Educational Leadership through Bloomsburg University's College Student Affairs (M.Ed.) program.

Adult Student Housing

I had hoped to live in Bloomsburg by the time classes started in August 2021. Covid-19 and the mortgage industry had other ideas for me.

You see, I lived two hours away from Bloomsburg University. Not only did I live in Reading, but I also had a mortgage on my home. In comes the dilemma. Without selling my house in Reading, I didn't have the income to support two mortgages.

Now you’re thinking, why not just rent in Bloomsburg? The problem with that is ... I have a dog. A big dog! A Siberian Husky named Maverick. I would've loved to live on campus, but they have no pet-friendly housing. Even if they did, I just got married and don’t think we should've to pay double the rent because there happens to be two of us in the same space.

While Bloomsburg has made the move to allow service animals and emotional support pets; what about our pets? Must we surrender our dogs to live in campus housing? Colleges claim to be worried about our mental health, so why not let us keep those pets that help bring us peace?

Long story short, my husband and I found a cute little house in Bloomsburg on Summit Avenue. It’s outside the flood zone and has a decent view. Our delivery drivers probably don’t enjoy our steps, but we found a reasonably priced home and we love it.

— Lizz Matias Clammer, #SAPro. Clammer is pursuing her Master's in Educational Leadership through Bloomsburg University's College Student Affairs (M.Ed.) program.