Friday, December 22, 2017

Home for the Holidays

Whew! The first semester of my college career is finally over. I am incredibly thankful for UNC and wouldn't change my experience in Chapel Hill for a second, BUT I've been on break for one week thus far and honestly, there is nothing better than 12 straight hours of guilt-free sleep. No stress. No all-nighters. No clouds of unfinished work looming over me. I've been totally and completely liberated. While I'm still scouring the web for internships this summer, the grind is a bit different.

I'll admit that coming home was a bittersweet experience. At first, I was apprehensive about leaving campus, but the change of scenery has really allowed me to revel in the simpler aspects of life and reflect on the ways I have grown in the past year. Most importantly, I cannot express to y'all how much I have missed home-cooked Nigerian food!! Thanksgiving Break was the first time in 4 months that I had eaten fufu - and I nearly cried out of sheer happiness. Now, Christmas dinner is right around the corner and what you wear is just as important as what you eat. I enlisted the help of my photographer/friend Zainab and compiled this look to provide you guys with a little holiday inspo. Enjoy!


Although the exact skirt is sold out, I was able to find a similar one pictured above. What are you looking forward to this holiday season? Family, friends, and food? Gifts? Movies? Sweaters? Feel free to let me know your answers (and thoughts on this outfit) in the comments below! As always, be sure to keep up with me on social media: 

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Serving Like It's Thanksgiving

Hey y'all! Happy Thanksgiving! It's been over a month since my last blog post (I know, shame on me...) and while I wasn't able to squeeze in any academic advice before November 1st, I did write a little something on the college application process for an organization called The Bridge. The Bridge is an online publication between Duke and UNC that celebrates the talents and beauty of Black and Latina women - and I am so grateful to be apart of it. Although the article isn't on my blog, I highly recommend that high school students check it out during the final stretch of application season.

Speaking of seasons, thankfully, we are WELL into fall. Yes, autumn is known for football and pumpkin spice lattes, but I always look forward to finally being able to wear layers, boots, and colors like burgundy, mustard yellow, and olive green. Before leaving campus, I decided to shoot this outfit with Alexis to provide you guys with some style ideas so you can serve looks at the dinner table tonight AND throughout the rest of the month.


With finals around the corner, I can't promise that I'll be writing more often. However, there will be some big changes coming to the B&B site soon. Slowly, but surely.... ;) As always, be sure to keep up with me on social media: instagram | twitter | pinterest | tumblr

Have a wonderful, restful Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 2, 2017

FALL: The Art of Letting Go

While this would be the optimal time for me to give advice on the college application process (which I promise you, I'll start publishing those articles before ED applications are due...), I'm still adjusting to college life! On Wednesday, I took my first-ever college exam and upon leaving the lecture hall, I kept thinking about how I could've studied better, should've broken up the content, etc. Then, I had an epiphany. Introspection is good, but what's done is done: let it go. Even though it was 91° in Chapel Hill a few days ago, last week marked the official beginning of fall. That being said, I encourage you guys to let this season serve as a period of growth - AND look good while doing so, of course.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find links to the blouse and skirt online, but they're both from H&M. I hope this gives you some seasonal style inspiration and let me know in the comments below which trends you're looking forward to this fall! Don't forget to keep up with me on social media: instagram // twitter // pinterest // tumblr

- Ruth

P.S. Be sure to check out my new blog photographer, Sabah, and all of her work!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Wyoming: Part 2

"I've got a homesick heart, but a long ways left to go. I've been doing my part, but I ain't got much to show..." - NEEDTOBREATHE, "HAPPINESS"

Was I having a pretty good time in Wyoming? Definitely. Did I get to witness a patient get his finger stitched up after a gnarly chainsaw accident? Yes - and it was glorious. Did I get to set up an IV? Yup! Were my practical skills improving? Sure. However, I couldn't help but feel…inadequate. Over the July 8th weekend, I spent hours at a local cafe with my head down, soaking up as much information as possible from a 5-pound yellow textbook. Sure, I made 100s on the open book quizzes, but it didn’t change the fact that compared to my other classmates, I was behind on everything else. In high school, "struggling" meant that all I needed to do was spend more time on the subject, go to tutorial, and I’d get back on track. While in Wyoming, I was stuck on this never-ending path of failure. 

For years, I’d been told, “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always gotten.” That, my friends, is only half-true. This wasn't something "more time" could fix; I was forced to completely reinvent my study habits and for someone as stubborn as myself, it was soul-crushing to say the least. A skill that had once come so naturally to me before was now my weakest asset. On the bright side, I was inadvertently forced to reevaluate the standards by which I found my happiness and self-worth. Why did I put so much of my personal fulfillment into academic gratification? A part of me blamed it on (what I believe is) naturally competitive human nature, but another part blamed it on my perfectionist complex. I would tell myself, "I have to get this right or else I’m gonna-" Going to do what, exactly? Cry?! At age 18?! You better believe I did. Numerous. Times. Eventually, I would once again come to terms with the sad truth: no matter how hard you cry/try, it may not be enough. You just have to take pride in knowing that you gave it "your all" (as annoying as that will forever sound to me). 

In the midst of another one of the many existential crises I had, I thought to myself, "Nothing a FaceTime session with my best friend can't fix!” So, Sunday evening after clinicals (and before writing Part 1), I called Tarab after she returned from Europe and vented for a few minutes until the wi-fi connection gradually worsened. Considering the fact that she’s “Little Miss Optimism” of the friend group, our chat was exactly what I needed to keep going. Quiz 5 would be the following Wednesday (July 12th) and mark my words, I would be ready.

Annnnnd I played myself. On Quiz 5, I not only reached a personal low, but also achieved the lowest grade in the class. Yay?! "Make-it or Break-it" week had certainly broken me. On top of that, AP exam scores were released and I received numerous messages from people I had not spoken to since May 20th (i.e. graduation) asking, “What’d you make on your exams?” To which I responded, “New phone, who dis?” There was no more time for “coulda, woulda, shoulda". The only option I had was to pivot and try to salvage what little dignity I had left. After toggling with my grades a bit, I found out what I needed to make on the next two assessments in order to get the WEMT certification: an 88 and 89. "Definitely doable!” said my instructors. “But not realistic,” I mumbled to myself. Encouraged not to freak out until after Quiz 6, I spent the next few days primarily focusing on Friday’s big scenario.

“By a show of hands, who’s been on a hike before?”
*Everyone raises their hand, except me*
*I, 5’11", try to make myself invisible and silently sink down in my seat*
On Friday July 14th at 1 PM, the 28 of us were split into groups and given items one would bring/find on a hike (like sticks, ropes, sleeping bags, etc.) and create makeshift litters for our “patients". FURTHERMORE, we'd have to use those litters to lug our fellow classmates through the hills on a mile-long hike to a helicopter zone where they’d eventually get picked up in the case of a real emergency. After that, we had some time to unwind at the Popo Agie River, then my roommate and I had to rush to our final clinical rotation 45-minutes away in Riverton.

For the first 5 hours, it was probably the slowest, most disappointing clinical rotation Haley and I had ever gone through. That being said, I had time to think. Time to think about the large Native-American population I had seen in Lander, the alcoholism, smoking, and diabetes prevalent in their communities, the future of their youth, etc. Time to think about their place in this nation's history, their pain, their suffering. Initially, I couldn’t understand why some of these patients were so reluctant to take their daily shots of insulin or stop smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day. Then, I realized that these issues are so multi-faceted; whether they’re attributed to distrust of authority, lack of education, or poverty, it sparked a fire in me. It reminded me of why I chose to major in public health as a little bright-eyed, eager freshman. I quickly snapped out of this pensive state when a teen boy who had gotten into an ATV accident was rushed into the ER. Haley and I finally got in on the action and cleaned up his lacerations with iodine, but once the clock struck 11 PM, it was time to go. When I finally woke up Saturday morning, the weekend consisted solely of studying and practicing. Monday (July 17th) was Week 4, Quiz 6. Redemption. 

It was when I took the final L on Quiz 6 that I knew I’d end up settling for a lower certification. I’d walk away from this course with something I didn’t intend to get (a Wilderness First Responder certification), baggy eyes, and an incredibly bruised ego. One of my classmates, Sean, called it “freshman syndrome”: you get behind too early, too quickly and you just have to roll with the punches. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I had a close encounter with death that same day. On Monday night, we had our final big scenario at the Popo Agie River. We split up into mock rescue groups and our student-leaders, Zoe and Emily, instructed us to survey the land and do a quick sweep of the area to check for potential patients. Somehow, I walked past an area of brush, turned around, and saw a snaked coiled up by the bushes. I quickly ran away, but that wasn’t the issue. The issue was 1-2 hours later when the scenario was coming to a close and I was at my wit’s end. Tired. Annoyed. Frustrated. Despite the pretty sunset, I wanted to be anywhere but outside. At dusk, I hurriedly tried to clean up the area and throw away any trash, so I walked to the restroom and just so happened to look down. Less than 10 inches away from my toe was this rope-looking bundle. When I saw a snake's head peep out, I heard this haunting rattling noise. I was SO shook that I bolted silently, then screamed “SNAKE! SNAKE!” about 5 seconds after. Soon, the class and instructors huddled around the the outhouse and said, “Yup, we got a rattler!” A few yards away, there I was hyperventilating. Jaw tingling. Hands shaking. Mrs. Marina (my mother away from home) and Haley tried to calm me down by coaxing me with Chick-Fil-A and other happy images, but I just could not manage to get my breathing under control. Charlie, a literal gem, eventually had to drive me back to campus in his car.

I don’t know if it was because I legitimately almost died or the fact that I only had 4 days of the course left, but I no longer cared about the Wilderness EMT cert. My priorities had changed 100% and I had to channel my energy into obtaining something that was actually feasible. I became the little cheerleader, gleefully watching everyone complete their practicals, encouraging them through testing, and even volunteering to be a patient. The best part was that they did the same thing for me. Not once did they ever look down on me, knowing that this was completely out of my comfort zone. Rather, my classmates were proud of me in the midst of all my failure. On Wednesday July 19th, we took our respective exams (I took the WFR exam while everyone else took the WEMT exam, casual) and after everyone passed their practicals on Thursday and I passed my WFR evaluation, one of our instructors, Jake, gave us a quick speech about what it means to be an EMT.  “Do good, well,” he said. The job of an EMT consists of good deeds, specifically saving lives. However, whether you’re saving lives or cleaning hospital beds, whatever you do, do it well. Immediately after, I started thinking about this course. Did I do it “well”? Isn’t that word subjective anyway? For someone who 1) had never been in a wilderness setting 2) whose  only medical experience was conducting surveys in an OB/GYN office and 3) had never had to read more than 100 pages in a WEEK for AP Lit or AP Lang, I guess I did decently “well”. 

On Friday morning July 21st, after a full month together, we all dispersed. Everyone went the local library at different times for testing, and it was so strange knowing I probably wouldn’t see some of these people beyond an iPhone screen ever again. At 11:50ish PM, my flight took off from the SLC airport and I arrived in Atlanta at 5:30 AM on July 22nd. However, like any obedient Nigerian child, I had to wait a full hour for my mother to drive up to the airport from our home - despite the fact that I called her the night before and told her to leave at 5 AM. It’s fine though, I’m not salty AT ALL. :)

I remember that as I landed in Georgia, I started getting weirdly…emotional. It was almost as though as these feelings I had kept pent-up during my high school years had now emerged. I hated the bugs, and the deer, and the snakes, and really just being outside, but accomplished so much at the same time. I learned how to think, how to relate, and how to get in touch with my authentic self. I guess my worry was that coming back to Macon would be indicative of an erasure of all of that progress. However, it didn’t have to be…

I’ve said this before, but this trip was QUITE a wake-up call for me and for that, I’m thankful. Thank you to the gracious instructors, my incredibly sweet classmates and roommates, and to my friends back on the East coast who dealt with my whining via Snapchat all throughout the trip. Thank you to the Morehead-Cain Foundation for pushing me beyond my comfort zone and helping me learn so much about who I am before what could be the most formative years of my life. Lastly, I thank God for the next four years, these amazing opportunities, and for getting me back home in one piece. 

"It’s all for You in my pursuit of HAPPINESS."

Monday, July 10, 2017

Wyoming: Part 1

In April, I accepted the Morehead-Cain Scholarship to UNC Chapel Hill and I am forever grateful to the Foundation. One component of the scholarship is the Summer Enrichment Program, which gives students the chance to travel every summer and gain hands-on experience in various capacities. All first-year scholars embark on a month-long Outdoor Leadership trip, and I chose to go to Lander, Wyoming and take a Wilderness EMT course provided by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). 

On June 25th, I sat at Gate A31 in the ATL airport, in complete disbelief that 1) I was early to something for once and 2) I would seriously be flying alone for the first time. Several hours and one connection flight later, I had finally arrived in Casper. I’ll admit: I wasn’t thrilled. Honestly, I was completely baffled by the fact that I couldn’t find a single person of color in the airport. But alas, I managed to hop on the shuttle and relax during the 2.5 hours that it took to get to Lander. 

It was...different to say the least. I thought Macon was small, then I came to a city of 7,600 people. I came to a place where people say “melk” instead of “milk”, a place where black coffee is apparently the drink of choice [*shudders*], and a place where the climate is so dry, only Eucerin could save me from looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost. (I had to learn the hard way, smh.) Most importantly, I came to a city where the facade of “Southern hospitality” was nonexistent; rather, a life of simplicity and transparency was celebrated. Lander would be the place where I, along with 27 strangers of different ages, backgrounds, and viewpoints, would be striving towards one goal: learning how to save lives. 

I arrived at the Wyss Campus long after dinner and nervously walked into the building, but my wonderful roommates Emily and Haley (+ the unforgettable Fritz) welcomed me - the second youngest person here - with open arms. I remember taking a picture of the sunset on the first night, staring in complete awe and overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. I posted it on my personal Instagram later with song lyrics (yes cliché, I know) as the caption: 

"I’ve got dreams that keep me up in the dead of night, telling me I wasn’t made for the simple life. There’s a light I see but it’s far in the distance… it’s all for You in my pursuit of happiness." - NEEDTOBREATHE, "HAPPINESS"

For what seemed like the longest four years of my life, I felt confined, discouraged, and held back by the small quasi-Christian private school I attended. Here I was, in the middle of Wyoming, grabbing life by the horns and making it my own. This was my first chance to breakaway and find out what I’m truly passionate about - and I was doing it. Seeking happiness instead of going through the motions like I did for so long. I was so thankful, but too proud. Little did I know what was in store for me in the weeks ahead.

18 hour days are no joke. A typical day for me here in Wyoming begins at 6 AM and ends at 12 AM. I wake up, shower, and walk from my cabin to the main building for a PHENOMENAL breakfast at 7AM. Then class, begins at 8. From 8-10:30 AM, we go outside and revise the skills that we learned the day before (ex. rolling a patient onto an insolite pad while still protecting the cervical spine), then come back in and take notes until 12 PM. After lunch, class resumes at 1 PM and after some more note-taking (until 3 PM-ish), we go outside AGAIN until dinner at 5:15 PM. In preparation for the next day (and quizzes along the way), we're assigned 5-6 chapters of textbook reading per night. My jaw dropped the first time I looked at the syllabus. Over 100 pages a night. We’re learning so much content in so little time; my mind became numb. I guess the workload was my introduction to…college? 

At the end of the first week, I was able to go into town with a group of classmates and unwind for a bit. That Saturday marked the first time I was able to make a proper phone call because there's no service on campus. We bounced around from the local farmer's market, to numerous coffee shops and brunch spots where I was able to find the comforts of home.

By Week 2, things started getting...difficult. I kept telling myself. “You’ve got this”. Then I quickly realized that I definitely do not. The scenarios were tougher, we spent more time in the heat, the night sessions dragged on longer, I couldn’t keep up with my reading (still can’t lol), and I wanted to give up. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was drowning in my own incompetence. Those thoughts of self-doubt reemerged once again. I’ve never had the gift of dexterity and the practical skills portion of the class suddenly felt like an uphill battle. As usual, I started contemplating previous decisions and thought, “Maybe I should’ve chosen a different OL trip…" It took me a minute, but I realized that I needed this. I needed to experience what it was like to claw my way up from the bottom, learn how to humbly ask for help, to accept my shortcomings, and how to function in a group without being the semi-autonomous leader.  I needed to understand that it’s ok not to know everything right away. Like our instructor (coincidentally, he's a UNC alum) says, “Go slow to go fast."


As I’m writing this, it’s currently 2:30 AM, tomorrow marks the beginning of Week 3 (also known as “Hell Week”), and I finished an 8-hour clinical shift earlier today. For someone like me with a wide variety of interests, the ER experience was incredible. It's relieved some (not all) of my doubts surrounding the medical field, but nonetheless, my appreciation for life and good health has definitely increased. In 2 weeks, I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned how to conduct a full patient assessment, how to administer oxygen to patients, apply occlusive dressings to open pneumothorax, how to splint and immobilize fractured bones, how to strap patients onto longboards and short boards, etc. I realized that eventually this temporary ride on the struggle bus will make me stronger, and prepare me for the four years ahead that I've been idolizing and romanticizing for so long. Despite numerous run-ins with deer, bugs in the bedroom, and knowledge of a snake that currently resides under my cabin, I’m still pressing on. 

“These days are tough, these days are long. Sometimes it’s hard, you carry on. But I hear a Voice singing and I know it’s true...” - NEEDTOBREATHE, “HAPPINESS"

Thursday, June 8, 2017

My Favorite Beauty Vloggers for WOC

Since its humble beginnings in 2005, YouTube has been credited with so many things. Besides revolutionizing the way we stream music and television, YouTube has left a lasting impression upon the world of style and beauty. Viewers have various outlets to glean fashion inspiration from and if they're bold enough, they can create a channel and share their own visions with the world. When it comes to hair and makeup though, as a WOC (woman of color), it can definitely be a challenge to find beauty vloggers who use products tailored to my skin tone, hair texture, etc.

Despite the fact that 1) I wear makeup sparingly and 2) I'm typically seen with box braids, twists, or a sew-in, I still care about my face, natural hair, and what I'm putting on/in it. For the past 6 months, I've subscribed to this handful of women and it's safe to say that they've surpassed my expectations.

Jackie Aina // Besides the fact that Jackie is a fellow Nigerian and a believer, I love her realness. Unlike some YouTubers, she doesn't feature products solely for the commission. Aina reviews the item in its totality and if it's not up to par, she's not afraid to let her viewers know. Jackie always delivers great hauls, tons of feminine advice, honest comparisons of brands (drugstore v. prestige), and whether or not they carry a diverse range of foundations. Her channel is flooded with a variety of looks, ranging from festival-appropriate to everyday makeup routines. In the midst of all of this, she never fails to make me laugh. Recently, Aina collaborated with Sigma Beauty and released a five-piece brush set! It flew off the shelves so quickly that I wasn't able to snag one, but obviously, Jackie Aina is one to watch.

Cydnee Black // This 25 year-old, down-to-earth Colorado native is making it big in LA. Over the past year or so, I have been watching Cydnee’s videos and I absolutely adore her. With Cydnee, there’s something for everyone: thorough foundation reviews, exotic/simple makeup looks, wig tutorials, fashion lookbooks, Q&As, PLUS occasional appearances from her mom! Along with focusing on viewers of medium to deep skin tones, Black is also an Ipsy ambassador. For makeup newbies, subscribing to monthly $10 services (like Ipsy and Sephora PLAY!) is a great way to broaden your horizons. Her unboxing videos are incredibly helpful and give a preview of what viewers could actually receive in each box. Regardless of what level of experience you may have in the realm of makeup and beauty, Cydnee Black always has valuable tips and tricks up her sleeve.

Jess Lewis // 3 years ago at the end of 9th grade, I stopped relaxing my hair. No more chemical treatments, no more heat - just protective hairstyles. Let me tell you, if I had known about "Mahogany Curls" earlier, Lord knows how long and healthy my hair would have been by now. When I tell you that Jess Lewis LOVES natural hair, I mean, she REALLY loves it. Although I’m a fairly new subscriber to her channel, I can honestly say that the products she prescribes are amazing. From in-depth DevaCurl reviews to twist-out tutorials and even showing me how to take care of my untamable edges, Jess knows ALL. Don't get me wrong, I love a good weave, but you've got to let your natural hair breathe. Thank you Jess for leading the way.

Shayla // Of all of the ladies on this list, Shayla might be tied with Jackie for my favorite. Not only am I a huge fan of her #StrutAndSlay motto, but her success story is incredible. In addition to her laid-back personality, Shayla's wittiness always manages to come through on camera. There's such a wide range of videos to choose from on her channel: bold, vacation-inspired looks, eyebrow tutorials, videos on how to take a good selfie, etc. Regardless, Shayla flawlessly directs my steps. Might I add, the camera quality and lighting in her videos is absolutely impeccable. ALSO, did I mention that she has a WHOLE contour palette by Tarte available at Sephora? Strongly recommend that you check out her channel.

Patricia Bright // Last, but not least, is someone I like to call "The Renaissance Woman". Patricia Bright is SO many things. She's a trailblazer as one of the first black and British-Nigerian YouTubers, a new mother, AND a connoisseur of all things lifestyle. Besides her makeup tutorials, I love her room tours, organizational tips, and vlogs with her husband Mike. In her life updates and sit-down videos, she's very blunt and honest with her viewers and always provides practical advice. Bright is a prime example of a woman who can do it all - and do it well. However, she constantly reminds subscribers of the importance of honesty, loving yourself, and cherishing life's small moments. Like she says, get comfy and grab a cup of tea, because her videos will keep you laughing for days.

Are there any other beauty vloggers, bloggers, etc. that you'd recommend for women of color? Let me know in the comments below! As always, be sure to keep up with me on social media: instagram // twitter // tumblr // pinterest

- Ruth