My Grad School Story – The Truth.

homemade recipe # 5

In an effort to be transparent and truthful about my journey to graduate school. I felt a blog post was in order, I tried twice to condense everything into an Instagram caption, but there was too much left out. I know, popular culture right now says to “move in private, live in private,” but that’s not me. I wanted to share my story in efforts to help someone else who is going through or about to go through the same process.

So, this story actually started in May 2017. I shared this tweet. I wanted to start speaking into existence this goal that had been on my heart for years now. Peep the date (and follow me on twitter!).

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Shortly thereafter, like 2 months later I was accepted into my Post-Baccalaureate program in Pittsburgh. Which has literally been the greatest opportunity ever. I have learned so much and gained so much knowledge about graduate school that I would’ve never gotten otherwise. One of the main purposes of this program is to “bridge” students into a graduate school program preferably a Ph.D. program.

I applied to 12 Schools, 10 of which were Ph.D. Programs. I was feeling pretty good about every application. I recognized that my new application was MUCHHHH stronger than the one I submitted during my senior year at Hampton. Next, I had to play the waiting game, waiting for interviews. For most clinical psychology Ph.D. programs, you have to interview to even be considered for one of their spots. In this field, there is a very limited number of spots available each year. No interview = no admission chances. The waiting game here was pretty alright. I figured I would at least get one interview invitation. The interview invitations started rolling in. 1 here, 1 there… then by the end, I had 8 offers to interview. 1 for a master’s program and 7 for Ph.D. programs. I was feeling pretty good at this point, I had definitely exceeded my expectations.

After all the interviews began the REAL waiting game and this is the part I felt like no one really prepared me for. Everyone was telling me and encouraging me that I would hear back in about a week or so after the interview. But I wasn’t, it was just silence – on all fronts. So naturally, I started getting stressed out about it, because I should at least get one offer, right? Wrong. I start getting rejected instead. Being rejected from schools really hit my self-esteem as a person and as a researcher. I also was being waitlisted and for several schools, I was 1st alternate. I was basically everyone’s second choice and it made me feel really really crappy. I was borderline depressed, to be honest.

The month of March was so hard because nothing was coming through for me Ph.D. wise. It was a very very very sad time for me (ask my parents). It was like I was grieving the loss of potentially going into these Ph.D. programs. I cried a lot, almost every day. It felt like a crushing blow, like being hit in the face with a brick. I pushed people way fearing that they would not understand, and even when I did open up to them – they didn’t understand. “Oh Tanesha, just do the master’s program. That’s okay too.” I felt like everyone was pitying me. I was overcome with shame like I had let everyone down who was rooting for me – my mentors, advisors, parents, friends, everyone.  Which wasn’t true, I am sure that they would’ve been supportive of whatever I chose to do. But it hurt. It hurt like hell. I felt like a disappointment, to be honest, I didn’t have the problem of having all these offers like I believed, and my peers believed I would have.

After the 5th rejection, I figured the Ph.D. life was not going to be for me. There was no way, I had just been rejected basically everywhere and was still waitlisted at two programs. I decided to throw in the towel. I had 3 master’s program admissions in my back pocket that I was holding. I started making arrangements to go into a social work and public health joint program. Let me note here, that even though social work was my back up plan – but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think that social work is super amazing because I do. I kick it into high gear with trying to get everything together to learn as much as I can about social work and public health. Essentially, going into both programs blindly because my focus has always been on psychology programs. I just wanna add here, shout out to all the Hamptonians that I reached out to about MSW programs and that helped me decide that this was going to be my next move. Also shout out to Dr. Duncan, who helped calm me down on several occasions.

By this time is the first week of April, I was fortunate enough to meet a woman who put me in contact with all these public health professions and set up meetings with them. And I was able to finally really see myself in these programs. I had a game plan, it might not be the straight shot for my goals that I thought it was going to be; however, it was nonetheless a round-about way to getting to do everything that I wanted to do. I was ready to transition my goals to this new journey!

I was ready, I was preparing to submit my deposit for the MSW program and submit my application for the public health program. For some reason, I got distracted and had to take care of something that was away from the data lab. I was gone for like ten minutes before I realized that I left my phone.  So, I run back to my office to grab my phone and there was an email from one of the advisors at the two schools I was still waitlisted at. I just figured it’s just another rejection email, so I decided to wait to open it.  Rejection hurts, and I wasn’t about to cry in the data lab. So, finally, I decided to go ahead and open it. And Y’all guess what –

I WAS OFFERED ADMISSION INTO A CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY Ph.D. PROGRAM!

Have you ever seen the Pursuit of Happyness? I literally felt like this scene below. I sat at my desk and cried with such happiness and joy. I finally felt like someone was taking a chance on me and my academic abilities. There are no words to describe that feeling. Just an overwhelming amount of happiness and relief. I literally just cried, I couldn’t do anything else for a few minutes just sit there in awe.

 

After basically a month of crying, and rejection a program that I was waitlisted at offered me a spot of admission. I wrote all this out to say, if you are on this journey to graduate school – it is not going to be easy, but don’t give up! It’s super messy, emotional, expensive and it will challenge you in many, many different ways. This was my second cycle applying and honestly, I would not have done anything differently, as a matter of fact; I was considering applying again after I finished those masters programs. I posted this quote on Instagram, but I think it applies here as well: “If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but NEVER the goal.” I think that even if you have to take a roundabout way to accomplish your goals – you should still do it. You deserve to still do it. You are smart enough to still do it. Be persistent. You (and your goals) are worth it.

Blessings & XOXO

-Tanesha Renae

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Drowning & How to Stay Afloat

Hello Beauties, I’ve missed you all so much and I know this blog post is coming to you late and I’m sorry about that. I am entering (well almost done with) my sixth week of my graduate school fellowship!

Connection

About two weeks ago on Tuesday, I became extremely overwhelmed about the upcoming application season, my research project for the fellowship, and all my “adult” responsibilities. I’m not sure why but application season this time has become an extreme source of fear and anxiety. I really want to get into a specific PhD program – like more than anything. And as the time to apply gets closer and closer – I was just feeling so scared. I literally feel like I was drowning in my own created stress.

But I realized that it’s because I am trying to handle too much all at once. I am not superwoman and I don’t know why I try to be either. Its truly baffling. But I came out of that week of stress and figurative drowning knowing a lot more about myself and who I want to be. I realized that as I get older and more advanced in my career that the stress is just going to increase. Also, the way that I am handling the stress now will influence how I handle the future, more intense stress that is bound to show up.

What I need to do is stopping letting these stressors and fears get the best of me. First of all, I refuse to let these stressors and fears cripple or stop me from achieving my goals. Sure, they might cause me to pause for a hot second, but it wont hinder me from getting everything I need to get done, done.

So here are some new ways I am conquering my stress levels especially within the world of academia and I hope that they will help you conquer yours as well.

  1. Get the stress out of your head. This is actually something my mentor suggested here at school. She said, “instead of having all that stress in your head, write it all down. Every little thing that is stressing you out on to the paper. Once its all out of your mind, take a few moments and reflect on the items. Are these things you can change? If they are, change them. If they are tasks, finish them quickly so you won’t have to worry about them any longer.”
  2. Prioritize. One of the main things that helps get my stress when I have a lot to do in check is if I put tasks that need to be done into categories. I normally do three categories: urgent, can wait, postpone. Urgent means the task needs to be done first or within 24 hours. The Can wait category is for things within that week that need to be done, and postpone is for things that can be put off until the following week.
  3. Take breaks. I was told once that for every 55 minutes of work you do, you should take a 10 minute break. I really try to follow this unless I am on a roll in a project. During my breaks, I often go outside to walk my dog or sometimes I’ll watch an episode of my favorite show or just sit there with my eyes closed (just be careful not to fall asleep!). Also with taking breaks, whenever I feel like my stress is bubbling up out of control – I literally stop everything I’m doing and take a few moments just to breathe and relax. This stress is not the end of the world.
  4. Consider the stressors from your past. Thus far, you’ve conquered every stressor and problem thrown your way. You’ve survived every bad day, every bad situation that you thought you would never get out of, every negative interaction – you have conquered them all. I try to always remember that I have overcome a lot of stress and obstacles in the past so this one before me is not going to ruin my record!
  5. Talk it out. Take caution with this tip, but I’ve heard that talking about your stress to someone often helps. However, for me, sometimes when I tell people about my stress I feel like they diminish my problems and that stresses me out more. Find people in your life that you can go to about these stressors and that can help. For example, my grad and faculty mentors at school have been great sounding boards for my stress, but my friends not so much…

I strongly believe that stress is a necessary part of life but that it doesn’t always have to be a negative experience. Sometimes, at least for myself, stress propels me forward into success that I didn’t even imagine before.

You are a strong, stress handling boss and I believe in you! Share below some of your stress handling tips!

Until Next Time,

Tanesha

Tanesha’s Guide To Back To School (Tips & Tricks)

plan the perfect

I don’t know about you, but I am super excited for this new school year! Not only am I in an amazing grad program, I am able to get back to my first true love: learning (in school)! For some, I know a new school year causes a lot of anxiety because you want to be organized and want to start the new year off on the right foot! I would like to say that I am generally a SUPER organized person, at least when it comes to school work. I am going to share some of my best tips and tricks!

  1. Time Management is the MAJOR KEY to success! I attribute all my success in undergrad at Hampton University to having great time management! I wrote about time management before on the blog (click here). But I wanted to recap and add some other things I’ve learned since this post.
    1. Set A Schedule (and stick with it!). There is literally no point in putting together the perfect schedule if you don’t follow it or if you don’t put everything in it. I personally like to use my iPhone calendar because it syncs across all platforms. I have multiple calendars going at once. For example some of my calendars include: Tanesha’s Calendar (for events), Pittsburgh things (for school), Family Calendar, Ladies&Co Calendar, Renae’s Calendar Schedule, and even one for birthdays!
    2. USE A PLANNER. It really doesn’t matter if your planner is digital or an old-fashioned handwritten one. It helps to have a planner so you don’t forget assignments. No matter how amazing you say your memory is, be sure to write down assignments and things you need to do. Not only will this keep your organized but it will help to physically see all the things you need to do. I used to put my assignments in my phone calendar but it began to get to cluttered, which is why I switched to this system. However what I will do is schedule time to study/do homework on the calendar which would be based on my assignments/things to do in my planner. Get it?
    3. Self-care and Rest are apart of your schedule! You cannot run on empty you must set aside time to just relax and get yourself together. If you are running at 100% all the time, your body will literally give out on you. Trust me, mine has done it before. Your body giving out might be you getting sick a lot more, headaches or fatigue. Everyone is different – some people need just one day a week, while others need a little time everyday. Listen and care for your body! Just be sure to have a good balance of being productive and taking care of yourself. Also, during this self-care time – be sure to set aside time to work on the things you’re interested in. Work on knitting, video games, blogging, vlogging, etc.
  2. Take Effective Notes! For me, I like to take physical notes in class and then as a study method I go back and TYPE my notes on Microsoft Word or Microsoft OneNote. When I type my notes, I use the textbooks to supplement my notes and fill in any gaps or things that I wasn’t understanding. When I am writing my handwritten notes in the margin I often write questions and if I don’t ask the teacher, I will use my textbook/google to find the answer and put it in my TYPED notes. But I suggest you use a note system that works for you! For me, Microsoft OneNote has literally become my lifeline! I absolutely love that I can use it across multiple platforms: my MacBook, my iPad, and my iPhone. Especially if I want to study on the go or on the bus, I don’t have to whip out the huge laptop. Just a little tip tho, make sure you are paying attention in class and taking really great notes! This will make studying a breeze!
  3. Make an assignment check sheet. What I do when I first get all my syllabi, I like to write down all my assignments in Microsoft Excel (or Microsoft Word) and sort them by due date order. So I normally make a table with Assignment Name, Course, Points (or the percentage it’s worth), and Due dates. I then print out the list and put it in my planner and remember to makeGo thru your syllabi and write down all your assignments in excel, then sort by date! Mark off as you go so you can see your accomplishments!

I think that is it! If you have any questions or even have some tips of your own – Share below in the comments! I would love to see your tips too!

XOXO,

– Tanesha Renae

Live Better, Feel Better

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Back at the beginning of the year, I had decided that my only New Years’ resolution was to be a better person all the way around – mentally, physically, emotionally.

For years, I’ve experienced low self-esteem as well as many years of verbal assaults. “Fat girls shouldn’t wear this.” “You’re too big to wear that.” But, I decided that I didn’t want that to be who I was. I didn’t want to allow other people’s thoughts and opinion to play such a huge factor in my life. I wanted to gain back control of how I view myself and now allow other’s opinions to taint how I view myself.

So on April 16, I decided to start back hitting the gym. I am a plus sized girl, so hitting the gym came with a lot of anxiety. I was afraid of what people would think about me being a bigger girl working out, not really knowing exactly what I was doing, or people thinking that I’m just doing this to get skinny. None of that is the case, I am literally just trying to gain control of how I feel about myself.

So, I started working out. It’s not about the weight-loss or getting skinny, it is more so about me gaining control and loving who I am. I was afraid, but now I feel more empowered. Which has made me want to live my best life. So getting healthy has made me start living my life a little bit better. I don’t worry as much about what I am wearing, or how I look.

Once you start living your life to your fullest potential, unapologetically – you will ultimately feel so much better. Your insides will begin to be reflected in your outward interactions and life.

In what was are you going to start living better – share below in the comments! I want to start improving other aspects of my life as well (such as my living in love (with actions), or spiritually, mentally, etc.)

Love Always,

– Tanesha J.

SoapBox: Don’t Take It Personally.

Dealing With A Loss-2

People sometimes suck. Being the kind-hearted person I am, I am always expecting people to treat me the way I treat them. But that’s not always the case. People will hurt you, slander your name and not even think twice about it. Which is so strange to me because in school growing up we were always taught – “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

But maybe that’s how they pull it off – the people who treat you poorly, never expect to be treated badly or are ever actually treated badly. When people don’t treat you with the same decency, respect or kindness that you have shown them, you could get super angry, irritated and upset. OR you could not take it personally. The way people treat others has everything to do with them, and hardly anything to do with the people receiving the actions. For example, if my friend Sally treats me terribly, that says more about Sally than it does about me – especially if I know that I’ve continually treated her kindly or with respect.

At least that’s how I look at it. So continue to treat people kindly and with love – it’s honestly the only way to live with a clear conscious and also it just feels better. 🙂

Love you all bunches,

– Tanesha J.

 

 

I’m Dealing With Loss…

TW: SuicideDealing With A Loss

 

So recently, about two weeks ago on Wednesday (On May 17), my dearest and most beloved friend took his own life. Literally to know this young man was to love him. He sort of had this magnetic pull about him, where as soon as you met him – you just wanted to be around him more and more. That’s exactly how I felt in high school when I first met him – and even to a week or so before he died and I saw him at the gas station. The feeling never goes away. It’s hard to explain to someone who has never felt the pull of him.

The days following when I found out, I literally stayed up until four am crying and almost hysterical. Why is my friend gone? Why couldn’t he stay here on earth with me? Why couldn’t I save my friend? Why wasn’t my love enough to reach him? Questions that have no answers – the only person who could possibly answer them is now gone.

My Heart was and is very broken over this. I was so fond of this young man, and as were so many other people. At 24 years old, he was/is so loved. Every day, multiple times a day – I find myself wandering back to his Facebook page and reading through every single post that has been made. “RIP my battle buddy” “I cannot believe my friend is gone.” “You were such a great friend, and definitely gone too soon“ “You were so loved…” etc.

After my “hysteria” of losing my friend, I’ve since calmed down and attended both his funeral and wake. But deep down, I’m still hoping that this is some bad dream that I am about to wake up from. As I looked at what used to be the body that housed the most beautiful soul, I felt sort of at peace. The young man in the casket was not my friend, it was just a body… A body that used to hold the spirit and soul of the most amazing person. Everything that made my friend who he was, was gone and what was left was this body. The body didn’t hold the love I felt from this young man, or the happiness he gave other people – it was just a body.

The sun lived in his smile – so I’m often wondering where do I go now without his sun anymore. Grief is a crazy thing. It’s made me lash out at people I care about, become closed off and emotionless and even feeling like my life is meaningless without him. But I know that’s not true, and more importantly, my friend would have been so hurt by that fact. My heart is slowly but surely healing and I know that God has a plan for my life. And within that plan, that this experience was necessary.

If you know someone who is experiencing deep hurt – make sure you are absolutely there for that person. Even if you feel like your efforts are going unnoticed or unhelpful – trust me your efforts are valued. Especially if that person is grieving a loss of a loved one. It means so much to me that so many people have reached out (called and texted), prayed for me, and just had me in their thoughts over the loss of my beloved friend.

If you know someone or if you are suicidal – please reach out to someone. Suicide is not the answer. If you are or someone you know is struggling with depression – Reach out to me, someone you trust or love or call the suicide hotline they are so very helpful and are there 24/7. The number is 1-800-273-8255. They handle both suicide and depression. If you don’t want to talk on the phone try the crisis text line – just text this number 741741.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4 NIV. 

Love Always,

– Tanesha J.

(This post is sort of all over the place – but that’s exactly how I feel, all over the place. I slowly but surely I’m getting back into the swing of things.)

if you are interested in hearing more about my friend, I posted a video on my youtube channel. Click here.

 

3 Tips On Spring Cleaning Your Life!!

3 Tips On Spring Cleaning Your Life!!

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Spring time is a time to start new! Flowers are blooming, new little animals are being born, pollen is everywhere in the air and it just such a happy time. Many people (including my mother) love this time of year because it means spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is not just for the physical things but you can also use it as a time to clean up some of the non-physical things in your life. Here are three quick tips on spring cleaning your life!

#1 – Evaluate friendships. Now, this doesn’t mean get rid of every single person in your circle – but rather evaluate the people you’re calling friends. Consider the following questions: Does this person have my best interest at heart? Do I have their best interests at heart? Does this person tell me the truth or comfort me with lies? Do we encourage each other to do the right thing? Do I trust this person without hesitation?

#2 – Declutter your social media/spaces. I personally love to change my phone background as a way of “freshening” up my phone. Lately, I have been into bright and airy photos for my phone background. I also would suggest clearing out old apps that you no longer use, or just cleaning up how apps appear on your phone/iPad/whatever device you use. I would also suggest clearing out some of your old things on social media, such as that old photo album you created on Facebook when you were 16, old tweets about a fling, or even IG pictures that are more than three years old. Take time to also purge your Facebook friends list – I hardly ever do this, but this year I am really going to evaluate the people that are coming up on my timeline and decide if I really still want/need them around.

#3 – Physically clean up! For me, this not only means to clean up your surroundings such as getting rid of old clothes and junk but also for me to clean up my act. Maybe you’re perfect, but I know that I am not and there are areas of my life that I want to clean up. Such as I want to stop allowing so many things to trigger my emotions as well as I want to love people the way that God loves me. So in order to do that I have to intentionally focus and work on changing these aspects of my life.

What are some ways you are going to spring clean your life this year? Share below in the comments because I would love to hear other ideas!

Love always, XO

–  Tanesha

Sunday Soapbox: Watch How You Speak To Yourself.

Sunday Soapbox: Watch How You Speak To Yourself.

Your inner monolog  or the voice you use to talk to yourself will literally make or break you. You have to be especially careful how you talk to yourself. I am a firm believer in whatever it is that you think about anything will manifest itself into your life. Your body responds to whatever it is you’re saying to yourself. If you’re always looking down on yourself, saying you’re not good enough, or pretty enough, or smart enough – you won’t be. If I’m being honest, some of the things I say to myself, I would never say to even my worst enemy. I’m a bully in my own right, to myself, and even just thinking about it makes me sick. Especially considering all the kind things I’ve said and how gentle I am to others about their feelings, I don’t even give myself the same in return, but I should. You and I both deserve to talk to ourselves kindly.

Personally, I’ve been trying to combat my negative self-talk. But it’s hard.  My favorite strategy currently is redirecting. If I notice myself becoming too negative about myself, I’ll immediately stop that thought, do 5-10 circle breaths (like in through my nose, out through my mouth), and rephrase the thought. For example, if the thought goes like this, “I am really screwing everything up, my life is never going to be the way it should,” – I rephrase it like this, “God’s plan is perfect and even if I don’t see how it’s working out right now, it’ll work itself out. I am still discovering who I am and how everything works, but it will be worked out in the end.”

I have been focusing on changing the way I talk to myself and think about myself for about a week now, and it has honestly been so worth it. I found that my mind is starting to go straight to the positive thoughts – this isn’t to say that I don’t sometimes fall short, but it is a work in progress.

What are some positive thoughts that keep you going when you get into a negative rut? Share below in the comments – I would love to hear them!

XOXO,

– Tanesha

Define Life Yourself

How often are you allowing others to define your life? Stop and think about it, like really think about it. Subconsciously, we all do this. We allow others to define what our success should look like, what it means to be in a relationship or what being a 20-something year old should look like. But honestly, the only person who should be defining what our lives look like, what our success looks like or relationships look like is ourselves. You as the individual should define that, not your parents, your friends, the lady on Instagram who you admire, none of them.

Many times, we allow what other people are doing and what is trending right now to define what things are for our lives. For example, people think that their relationships aren’t real until they’re on social media – which isn’t even the case. Or we define what success is by looking at somebody else’s success. Think about how life was before social media, where we couldn’t see every single thing about everyone’s life, where you didn’t know what other people were doing – how would you then defined your life, your success or your relationship?

I feel like we think about what other people are doing and how other people are living their lives – as the “template.” However, the “template” might not be the correct fit your life. God has a specific and unique path and plan for you and it might not look like everybody else’s. You have to be ready to just accept whatever it is.

This weekend I encourage you to really sit down and define your life and figure out exactly what defines YOU. What does success look like to YOU? What do YOU want your relationship to look like?

Share below how you define your life, your relationships and success! I can’t wait to hear about them.

XOXO,

– Tanesha

Sunday Soapbox: Standards for Life

I am one of those people who have super high standards in dating and I am unashamed! But when it comes to other aspects of my life – such as how I allow people to treat me – I am much much more lenient. You need to have standards for literally every aspect of your life not just dating. Having standards in dating is great and really necessary,  but your whole life is not focused or based on dating, you’re much more than who you date.

I feel like if you don’t have standards in your life, especially for your social circle – you’ll just allow people to treat you any type of way and then they’ll be able to walk all over you thus break your heart and hurt your feelings. And you don’t deserve that. Yes, in a perfect world people would treat everybody with kindness, but that doesn’t always happen so you should have the standards in place so that people do not treat you any type of way.

Think about in your workplace, if you’re just putting out mediocre or half-ass work – people aren’t going to want to hire you or want to promote you because you’re not doing anything above and beyond. You’re not making the company or yourself look good. For example, I pride myself in the type of work I produce. I’ll make sure to give the project 1000% and ensure that it is the best work that I’ve ever produce, even if I’m feeling lazy. I do this because I want people to associate me with having an excellent work ethics and producing amazing work.

Imagine if you had a standard of how you present yourself and how you dressed,  how people treat you, what type of work you put out, what type of people you entertained in your social circles and much more. People would then HAVE to (or at least be more inclined) to treat you by the standard you have set. If you have a standard of how you look, how you carry yourself and how you interact with people – people always associate you with those things. If you’re always super kind, super positive and happy person – people will always associate that with you (and that will become the image they have of you).

Standards are for you alone to make, and whatever standards you choose – make sure they make you happy.

What are some standards you already have in place in your life or planning on incorporating? Share Below in the comments.

XOXO,

– Tanesha