50 Shades of Jasmine.

Hi My Name is…….

Who am I? Well, as of today I am just Jasmine Jolly, a young girl, or shall I say woman who grew up in a small privileged predominantly Caucasian town in Michigan. My family was the modern day Cosby’s. We were the only African American family in our neighborhood and in our town.   Sure, you may think that this was a tough way to grow up, but not for me. I loved it! Where I grew up people were not concerned with race and ethnicity it was more about the importance of family and morality. But, the disadvantage of growing up in a small town is we forgot about the rest of the world. In 2006 when I went away to Hamilton College in upstate New York, my perception of the world changed.

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Hamilton introduced the world of diversity to me and opened up my eyes to new things and ideas. In the beginning I felt like a deer in the headlights, but later once the lights dimmed, I realized I had lived a very sheltered life, and it was time to explore like Dora. So, if you are thinking about going to college try and look outside your comfort zone.  When I was applying to College I knew I wanted to go out of state, or to a school that everyone I grew up with was not going to. I wanted new experiences.  I believe college is truly where you grow up and change. But, going to a college where all of your friends are going to, does not in my opinion allow you to grow. Think about this, “ How can you grow if nothing around you changes?”

After I graduated from Hamilton I was ready for another adventure. I decided I wanted to go to graduate school to become an Interior Architect. But, my question was “where”. I again wanted to go somewhere different. The majority of Hamilton students were from Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.  Though it may seem like I am constantly running away from people, I am not. But, I enjoy learning how to adapt in new places by myself, like a chameleon. So, in my search for the perfect graduate school I chose to attend Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to get my masters in Interior Architecture and Design.

The day I graduated from Hamilton I couldn’t wait to get to Philly. But, what I hadn’t anticipated was the struggle of adapting to the city life. Living in Philadelphia was and still is a trying time for me, some times I love it and others I hate it. But, what I have learned from this experience is when there are super hard times you have to push through them harder than the last. Philadelphia is the first place in my life where there is no type of shelter; it is the introduction into the real world for me. Here I have grown into a young adult and an even stronger woman than I was before. I know that from this experience after I complete my final year of graduate school, I can then conquer the career world and move forward with my life.

So far, at 24 years old I am proud of my accomplishments and success.  Success is something that is different for everyone. My idea of success is that I complete the goals that I have set out for myself. Success to me is not about having a financial reward, but rather an intrinsic reward from myself. To know that I worked hard and completed something that in the beginning may have been challenging. This is my definition and you are welcome to use it as many of my friends have and still do. The interesting thing about our successes in life is that everyone has their own driving force behind what motivates them to succeed. I personally have two factors behind my journey towards success, which are my family and myself.  The key to staying on your path towards success is to always remember the keys behind your motivation. It is like driving a car, without the keys you can’t go anywhere.            

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If someone asked me today what my dreams are, I would say I have none. For me to dream is to live a fantasy. When I close my eyes at night I dream and when I open them I prepare myself for the journey of the day. I believe that a dream is something unreal and that cannot be reached. I think the more appropriate term is what are my “goals” in life. A dream is fictional and a goal is tangible and concrete. One of my current goals is to receive my graduate diploma from Drexel and then finally, after 24 years, start my career. It will be the most rewarding feeling in my bones when that day comes.

As I integrate myself into my career I hope that one day I can stand next to some of the most influential people in the world and tell them thank you. I know you are probably thinking, “that’s it?Yes that is it for me because something as simple as “thank you” says a lot. I admire other peoples work and character and it has helped me look at myself and think about my own skills and my own talents and I hope that one day I can be one of those people for someone else. So, for that I would again like to thank them.

Being that I am a music crazed fan, I do not enjoy reading books, and therefore I do not have one I would recommend you to read. But instead of reading books I love listening to music and learning the lyrics to some of my favorite songs.  So, today I am going to recommend that you take some time, and listen to Beyonce Knowles' song, “I was here”. Even if you are not a fan of hers, the song is very touching and is encased around the idea of leaving your footprint before you leave this world.  Have you ever thought about what you want people to know about you when you are gone? I have. I want to know that I helped change peoples lives even if I did not know them personally. Beyonce’s song is beautiful just like her.

The key to staying on your path towards success is to always remember the keys behind your motivation.

The ugliest things in the world I find beautiful. In my undergrad years I had a photography class and our assignment was to take pictures of things we found beautiful. My perception on beauty was not the typical image of a 6’0 model from Australia, but instead it was of the rust on water drains and the drifting of leaves in the fall breeze. But, when it comes to the beauty of a human being, I think societies norm is depressing. My definition of beauty is, “the purity of ones self in his/ her natural state without the impurities of life’s influences”.  I do not believe that someone is prettier with make up or plastic surgery etc., but when you can walk out of your house and not think, “Oh my gosh I look horrible without my makeup”, but instead know that you look great.  But, physical beauty should be considered a minute sensibility because I believe someone’s inner beauty is more important. Have you ever heard the phrase, “ Pretty on the outside, ugly on the inside?” I live by that. I think it is sad when someone appears beautiful, but their inner self is so dark and cruel that to me, they start to appear ugly on the outside. So, just because people may consider you pretty on the outside, make sure that when you open your mouth you are just as pretty on the inside.

If today I were to stand nervously in front of the entire African Diaspora crowd, I would tell everyone to own who they are. It is important to own who you are because if you do not, then you are not being truthful to yourself. If you own who you are, then you can help someone else who is struggling with his or her personal ownership. And if we as individuals know who we are we can help to bring the knowledge to the world about our community. I think our community needs help in this area; it would be great if we as a unit could educate more people, and even ourselves.  Today go think about who you are as a person, brother, sister, etc. and figure out what you want to do with your life. Most importantly remember we only live once so enjoy it, conquer it, and in the end own who you are.

Jasmine Jolly

50 Shades of Black is proud to partner with Tamaji Magazine.  The column features personal interviews with men and women from the African Diaspora whose voices reflect a unique perspective.  This week’s feature is Jasmine Jolly from Michigan.  Be sure to tune in next week!

Posted on April 28, 2013 .