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When life gives you lemons...make kool-aid!

Unless of course you are the family member who is never designated to make it (stop being so afraid of a lil sugar and a second packet). But for the rest of you, you betta make it like your cousins are headed over! Anywho, I am sure you are wondering why you are here. Well my dear, you have been cordially invited to embark on this exciting journey of giving with me. Let's take a few steps back, and allow me to introduce myself. My name is Suhailah Waheed, I am a 23 year old college graduate who, like many of you, have found yourself taking a very different course in life than you imagined. I remember being 17 and knowing IT ALL! I was loud, free, bold and everything in between. Then life sorta caught me by the wig or hijab, and it seemed as though everything I thought I knew was actually week old curry. Yeah, it wasn’t a pretty sight. Until one day, all that confidence I used to skip around with kinda broke up with me. In short, life sat a mirror in front of me, and forced me to take a look at all of those things about myself and all of the struggles that I had chosen to ignore. I called that confidence, but really it was just a weightless filler that I gave to myself to make it through. But, sometimes that’s what you gotta do right? Wrong. There is nothing like lying to yourself about the occurrences of your life, and its struggles to create the perfect hurricane. Honestly, that's what I was. While I was very funny, and warm, a social butterfly, I also had an angry side that was like no other. Now mind you, I’m only an inch over five feet, so I was a sight to see. But, I thought that I was happy. When truly, I didn’t know what else I was supposed to be.

So as I let myself sit in front of this mirror, and we began to have a conversation about my displacement of happiness and those unnecessary replacements. It started to all come together. Yes, I have friends, a HUGE family, my grades were good so I should’ve been okay. Wrong again. Being this wrong, left me in a state of silent disaster, anger sweeping through the cracks in my walls and until it washed over this entire home. It wasn’t until I was forced to swim along side those waves, did I understand their source, pattern, and was even able to predict its path. As I continued this conversation with myself , I realized that I allowed my bright personality and the people around me to compensate for everything I felt I didn’t get the chance to claim as mine. Those God given blessings, that I felt like I missed out on. I was a short, dark skinned black girl, with vitiligo and too many siblings to count. (Oh yeah, I was convinced somebody set a sista up).

From a young age, I filled my life with unstable Jenga pieces of things I thought people around me would love, things that would help them remember that I was important too. So faulty structure and all, I keep nodding my head, agreeing with everyone all the time. I soon came to understand that since the framework of my youth wasn't balanced, that tower would come crashing down very soon, and piece by piece I was going to need to re-build it but this time in honesty. Growing up, like many other families, mine became accustomed to looking past our issues instead of confronting them head on. Which brings me to the foundation of my home which was terribly weathered due to all of the grief, depression, incarceration, death, poverty, friction, and not to mention the constant issue of racism outside the home. Here, I will inject the fact that I was raised a Muslim, which to many people of the Islamic faith means that you should be removed from any racial prejudice. Nope! Not only was I afflicted with vitiligo at a young age, but I also had to run through the constant racist comments by those kids, whose parents condoned their belligerent criticism, and in fact encouraged it. So to sum it all up, my childhood was rough…honestly I’m surprised I made it. This is where the very hard exterior came in handy, I turned into “Try Me Sue-Sue” and honestly it got me through a lot. But after childhood ends, I started to notice that “Try Me Sue-Sue” didn’t fit that great anymore, and I began to outgrow her. I started to walk through that old neighborhood I used to live in, and acknowledge all of the condemned homes with broken spirits, and abandoned emotions. As tough as that was, it was the most riveting part of my 23 years. I saw myself at 7 years old crying in the bathroom about "my life" and having no one to ask for help, but then I saw my brother and I in the kitchen as he is teaching me how to make Kool-Aid, and named me the best Kool-Aid maker in the house (don’t touch my crown). So as I pulled from those dark experiences when I was a child, I also had to pull the corner of each page to see the consistent blessings in life that God left me. Like crumbs leading to a castle, I was feeding off of grace I wouldn’t take the time to acknowledge. But within the past few years all of that has changed. Today is my late brother Rasheed’s birthday, he would be 30 right now but instead of picking apart my heart. I have chosen to showcase his. In his kindness, helpfulness, fear, struggle, courageousness, and in his resolution, I will move forward. We didn’t always know how to communicate properly with each other but that taught me how to and not to communicate with others. He was a thoughtful soul so I give all my love to you, you beautiful lion. May Allah allow me to show kindness, the way you showed it to me. May He allow me to give to the world, the way you gave to me. May your beautiful daughters see your image not only in our faces but in our actions, Ameen.

It’s funny how I spent years worrying about how God didn’t give to me, when each breath I took should have showed me that I was indeed BLESSED! So why am I here? I am here to talk about those struggles as hard as they are, and push positivity back into those experiences, and lay light where I saw none. I have had to re-learn how to enjoy the most precious layers of life and love. Since I was given that opportunity, I want to return the favor to you. So let’s get to these lemons, the kids are waiting…

P.S. My little brother Ibrahim is now the reigning king of Kool-Aid!