compassion smells like…

I remember always wanting to be like you. Strong, intelligent, authentic. Every single thing a person should be. I don’t remember when I chose you, but I remember you loving me every single day of my life for doing so. Even when I cut school, even when I made you cry, even when I did everything but what you advised. I remember thinking “Jesus, this woman wants to do nothing but run my life.” I remember when we didn’t like each other. I had just gotten into boys and you were up to here with my bullshit. I remember when I had enough and “ran away”, I remember when you supported me the first time. I didn’t even realize what type of position I was putting you in, but you stayed by my side anyway. I remember when you let me go to school even though moving to Virginia with no one at age 16 is kinda crazy. I remember when I called you screaming because I got my heart broken and did something crazy. I remember you telling me that I was dead ass wrong, because that’s what you do. You are not here to make me feel better about my nonsense, you are here to make sure I become my best self. I remember when I called screaming again because those girls didn’t see what you saw. I remember you telling me “they’re all just ugly” even though you didn’t know that to be true and don’t even talk like that. I remember when it was time to graduate and NSU told me that I was $1700 short. I remember you getting me that money (I still don’t know how) and saving the day…again. I remember how proud you were when I moved to DC. I remember how nervous you were when it started to go bad. I remember being so mad when you didn’t drop everything to be by my side because we’re in this together and that’s what we’re supposed to do. I remember you making an executive decision for me to come home. I remember you telling me that there is nothing I can’t do, even if I am a little crazy. I remember you celebrating every single victory, even the moral ones. I remember you never being super emotional but always stepping in when I need you…

Truth is, I have no clue what the hell compassion smells like but if I had to guess I would say it smells like all of the perfume you have sitting on your nightstand, especially the ones you say are off limits because they were super expensive. Maybe it smells like your hair after a doobie or the jam after you get a fresh set of braids because we allllll know how much you love your braids. Maybe it smells like a roast beef sandwich with swiss because if we get any other cheese on it you do not want it and will do that “okay” shrug thing you do when you really don’t like it but don’t want to make anyone feel bad. Maybe it smells like the fried chicken and yellow rice you would make for me and all of my friends because you know everybodyyyyy loves your fried chicken. Maybe it smells like your classroom(s) where you’ve pretty much taught the entire city of Newark for over 14 years now.

Regardless of the smell, compassion is you.

love tastes like…

 like spicy tenders that I don’t have to wait another twenty minutes for.

like coffee with 3 sugars and no milk or creamer because you know my favorite things are black and strong. 

like food off your plate because even though it took me 45 minutes to decide on a restaurant and then another 30 to browse the menu yours looks better. it always looks better. 

it tastes like Macallan 18–neat. refined and smooth. a favorite of mine, a favorite of many. 

I would say your love tastes like honey but that’s a Pretty Ricky song and that’s corny. honey just doesn’t quite cut it for my honey.

your love tastes like our first kiss. it was so perfect. I was nervous too, remember? I think I bit your lip but I couldn’t help myself.

it’s like celebratory glasses of Rosé. like the last shot before last call. like nightcaps. like the drinks we left at the bar after I gave you that look.

yes, that look

it tastes like you replacing pancakes and eggs for breakfast. we haven’t even washed our faces, but it doesn’t matter because I’ve never seen a more perfect being. my hunger for you is insatiable and it’s welcomed by the taste of reciprocity.


it tastes like my momma’s cornbread. like your grandmother’s macaroni and cheese. like the fried chicken you alwayssss request. like the tea you fought me like a toddler to drink when I could hear a developing cold all up in your voice. like the ice cream you bought when I had cramps. &even though I asked for Talenti, I ate that damn Ben & Jerry’s with a smile. 


it all tastes like memories of you. like the sweetness of memories to come. like the bitterness of challenges we may face. like the satisfaction of knowing I’ll get to taste these things and more. over and over again.

sisterhood feels like…


Sisterhood feels like us.

Like us making up dances in your mother’s living room and getting a stern look when she caught us mid bodyroll.

It’s like us taking a break because life hit hard insanely fast, only to makeup in a small Italian restaurant.

Shedding tears over white sangria and tri-colored pasta.

It feels like me waking up to you holding me in a hospital bed, telling me that everything would be okay even though we both really didn’t know.

Sisterhood is your momma loving me because you do.

It’s her helping you love me. It’s you two driving miles to DC to make sure that I was okay.

Me letting you con me into blow drying alllll that damn hair, and you asking if I can do the vixen curls too since the flatiron is already plugged up.

It’s us staying up all night on a Thursday watching 2000s rap videos because no one else can point out a Hype Williams video like you can.

It’s your momma reading my posts and telling me to keep going. It’s your auntie giving me the biggest hug ever every single time we see each other. It’s you stepping in when others left.

It’s you. it’s you. it’s you.

It’s me sending “YAS” with an infinite amount of s’ because you did something as monumental as breathing.

It’s me making sure your momma has a seat at the probate and letting her know what the hell those weird noises yal made were.

It’s me calling you my sister because you came into my life as my little sister’s bestfriend. It’s us sitting around in sweatpants anxiously awaiting the On the Run premiere on HBO because well, it was a rough summer and sometimes you just don’t have $200 to see Beyonce.

It’s the look one of us gives when the other one says “eh, I don’t really have it” because I didn’t ask you that. What do you want to eat?

It’s the way I held you when they took your brother. It’s the way you yelled for me at my graduation. It’s me thanking God for you. Honoring you daily and asking why I am so blessed to have such an esteemed woman in my tribe.

It’s you checking me when I’ve gone too far. Interjecting my rant with a “Rif.” Me getting quiet and listening to you give me a detailed analysis of where I fucked up and what’s necessary to correct it.

It’s you letting me know that I can correct it.

It’s like you knowing that I will protect you until the day I die.

It’s you not being too worried because even though people are crazy, I’m people and they don’t want this issue.

It’s watching you recover from giving birth to my niece.

It’s me admiring you for being such an incredible mother. It’s the fact that some of us chose each other and some of us didn’t.

It’s our mommas knowing that we are safe as long as the other one is somewhere in the vicinity.

It’s you not needing me because you’re strong.

It’s you allowing me to love you anyway.

It’s til 3am.

It’s til the very end.

Is it Worth It? Let Me Work It: On Celibacy and the Inconsistencies of Casual Sex


Image result for milkshake kelis gif

I knew it was bad when I stayed up til 5am. For a man I didn’t really like and 25 minutes I didn’t really need. I stayed up because at 2am another 3 hours didn’t seem like a huge deal. When 5am hit I knew that I was a fool, but it didn’t quite settle in until the texts slowed up. Wait, what the fuck is going on? I’ll give you the CliffsNotes: he didn’t show up. The how, the why, the sincerity of the apology–NONE of that matters. I’ll probably forget those things one day but what I won’t forget is looking down at my legs thinking about how I used a lot of good body butter for nothing.

I could’ve went to bed ashy.

 When seamless (which is never but, I digress), casual sex can be exhilarating, and fun, and all of the other things associated with getting the best parts of someone and sending them on their merry way before they have enough time to eat your leftovers (this is not a pun, btw). At its core, casual sex is a great alternative for those who don’t really have the time (or prospects) to build a relationship, but also don’t want to feel the shame of clicking out of porn once your fap sesh is done every other day.

Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about…you do.

Allow me to make it painstakingly clear that I do not shun the idea of casual sex. I do, however, come up short every time I attempt to do a cost-benefit analysis before offering anyone admission into the pearly gates. 

Let me explain.

For starters, I have never tied sex or the idea of being sexual to one’s lack of respect or sanctity. So, for me, celibacy simply came from being weary of the ways of the bussit baby. I’ll be the first to say that in the winter I don’t even notice that my knees are ashy until I get a “you up?” text and if we’re all friends here, can we be honest about the fact that prep work often lasts longer than the act itself? Can we touch and agree on this? No? Okay. Next point.

Abstinence is also a better option because I am a hypochondriac slash germaphobe slash crazy person who will employ the 30 shower tactic of Mr. West even after a partner has shown a clean bill of health. Why? Well, because I don’t know who you been kissing.  I don’t even know if you carry hand sanitizer. These are things that matter. These are things that would dance around my head even if I used 5 condoms. I didn’t choose the anxious life, and I wish it didn’t choose me. Okay? Next point.

I have NEVER had a situation just be what I intended. Before my 5 year relationship I swore that I’d be single. Before going out for drinks with the bozo who blocked me a few weeks ago I thought “wow, maybe we can hit a few museums and talk a bit about politics.” This isn’t exclusive to my dating life, though. God has a funny way of looking at my plans and saying, “LOL. Girl, you THOUGHT” so I can almost depend on things going the complete opposite of what I imagined. Again, this life chose me.

I can skip the occasional disappointment, drama, fear of unwanted pregnancies and “you up” texts all together by keeping the shop closed. Maybe there is some unicorn situation that I have not yet experienced, but for now, choosing celibacy simply works better.

Image result for milkshake kelis gif

Sorry boys. 

What option works best for you? Let me know in the comment box down belowwww.


I tried things too, Solo.

champagne for the rich people pain,
sutter home for the paycheck to paycheck girl lows.
for some reason my wrap is limp,
maybe it's just trying to match the current state of my morale,
maybe it's time for a pixie.

who knows.

sativa for the nights she can't focus,
indica for the nights she morphs into a restless child. 
last night's hangover provides a reluctance to dive into another pool of liquor,

but what about him?

did you know that substance abuse is only rivaled by an addiction to people?
i've never faced a spliff that left me more numb than the 
feeling after spending the night with someone I hoped to drown my sins in,
only to acquire more.

more guilt.
more things to overthink. 
more reasons to notice the metal clouds.

did you know that frustration is the fire that often ignites the fuel of the ambitious?
that overachievers are most times born out of escapism and a need for control?
that pain can be the muse who inspires the music.
that those cranes hang high over the head of an artist,
and linger like the compartmentalized feelings in the broken heart
of a girl who doesn't believe she has the right to be mad.
and somehow my cup still runneth over.
emerging like the phoenix, 
as beautiful and ironic as a rose stemming from concrete. 
see Solo, I've tried everything too. 

and you were right. 
I thought the cranes stole my magic, 
but I've got so much, they can have it. 

hand me the comb.

did you get the brush too?

grabbing a pillow to begin a routine I’ve been doing my whole life.

sometimes it was my momma. other times my big cousin.

tilt your head to the side so I can get this part straight.

she’s frying chicken, too. damn, this is about to be good.

you know the chicken gonna be flames when she’s cooking with no bra on.

long before I knew heartache I knew Saturday mornings meant the sounds of vacuum cleaners and “My Life” on repeat.

I knew that Blue Magic was not just a group, but also a jar that would be as much a member of my household as my siblings.

I knew that if one can “huh”, they can hear.

I knew that “running in and out of the house” while the air conditioner was on is a cardinal sin, one similar to reaching for food without having said grace.

Please don’t tell me you forgot the leave-in.

her fro has taken notes from the sun. rising to its fullest potential after only a few hours, commanding the attention of all, but you better not touch my damn hair. she hates that but not more than she hates the surprised look she receives after answering “what’s your nationality” with “Black.”

before understanding the importance of Mama Nina’s “Four Women”, I knew them all.

I knew your Aunt Sarah. I knew Saffronia, Sweet Thing, and Peaches too.

where is the needle and thread? did you pick some up?

sister. woman with whom I share no biological parents, though our souls would’ve found each other in any crevice of the world.

a level of trust that includes exposing my darkest fears and feeling comfortable with no makeup and some straight-backs.

I might look like Cleo at the moment, but just give her two hours. she has never seen the inside of a cosmetology school, but she will get me right soon enough.

before I knew her I knew that I’d have moments like this.

I knew that the lines of friendship and family would blur, that she’d fill in for my momma and take her time parting my hair, I knew that she’d protect me just like her mother did her.

Just like my momma did me. Just like your momma did you.

to two years of being terrible.


 “you brought silence to my violence.”

Yesterday I asked some very special people to help me commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the20-20/20sfor20s by simply sharing what it has meant to them. Every response left me speechless and even brought about some thug tears. They said more than I could ever and epitomize all that I’ve ever wanted from anything I produce. So, I’ll let them tell it.  

“Well for one, the site is a constant reminder that with a second chance you can persevere and truly elevate your life. From pain comes gain…you escaped death and still remain…a “G” to me (the G stands for Gosalyn.) DarkWing Duck out.”


“So when reflecting on the two years since the birth of the blog I have to think about how this site has saved my daughter’s life . The site has provided an outlet for my daughter to discuss the many things that 20 year-olds  endure . The site has served as a journal so to speak for my Sharifa to feel free to express some of her trials and tribulations throughout life . I am grateful for the birth of 20s for 20 something because not only has it inspired my daughter it has also inspired so many others and created a vehicle to drive further writing opportunities.”

“You have truly outdone yourself! You continue to create pieces that all people and walks of life can relate to themselves. Thank you for being transparent because it allows you to share your unique gift with others. Even if you touch one person – in actuality, you are moving a sphere of people. Congratulations on 2 years, shawty! Or shall I say, 2 years and counting? I know there is more and I cannot wait! #booksooncomeorlater #butitscoming”

– Nai

“Everything … you document the thoughts of 20somethings around the world. Your blogs remind me that I’m not the only one [tryna be the only one] thinking the way I think & feeling the way I feel. & for real, going through the shit I go through! Thank you!”


“20s for 20s has gotten me through some shallow ass times when I thought going to jail for murdering a nigga was almost ok and has also let me know that I am not the only one dealing with modern-day love(??)  and all the trauma that comes with trying to find your happily-ever-after in this get-it-while-its-hot ass generation. and watching it (and you) grow has allowed me to understand that it’s ok to not always have everything figured out and that…maybe some shit falls out of place so new ventures can take its place. you a bomb ass bitch.”


“Knowing I’m not alone in fighting these demons known as mental health issues.”


“Happy 2nd anniversary!! Your site is important to me because it openly shows that we are not the only beautiful, intelligent and amazing black queens dealing with real life stressors from depression to wanting to fuck Rico ass up!”

“Its been a joy watching you grow over the past two years. As a writer and as a woman. Telling your story. Sharing your pleasures and your pain. Being real with us and yourself. I admire that. Thank you and Happy Anniversary. “

“Who knew two years ago we’d be here? Who would’ve thought such a beautiful thing would come from such a drawn out place?  Sharifa I am so proud of you! It’s crazy I was just pubbing your blog to my coworkers yesterday. Your work has grown so much over the years! From seeing you talk about taboo issues like suicide to sending nudes and writing post I don’t understand until reading five times over ?( I was so glad when you broke that one down for me) you’ve talked about it all. I tell you all the time but this is just the beginning of something amazing. I love you so much! I feel like a proud auntie watching her niece take her first steps lol pretty soon your baby will be running over EVERYTHANG!”

 “Listen, on a monthly basis I spend endless hours on the phone with Rif . Not talking about anything particular, but just bouncing ideas and thoughts back and forth. So every time she drops a new post , it gets me so excited to see her put her ideas on paper and out on a  public forum for everyone to see . I love to send 20sfor20s to my females friends because she be giving they ass the truth ?. When she writing the shit I don’t even have to say it . Congrats on two years sis , Love you.”

“I started reading 20sfor20s when I was going through a breakup. It showed me I wasn’t alone, I’m not the only who entertains dadas longer than I should, also not alone in getting a little too drunk and regretting those  2am “you up” texts. Most of all I laughed, I cried, I learned to believe in my black girl magic, and I found the beauty in not having it all together. Congratulations on your two years boo!!! You’ve inspired me in more ways than you know ?



“Let me tell you what 20sfor20s means to me. It’s gotten me through some tough times. From breakups to depression. It’s helped me see things through a different lens. To have someone relate to me like that. It’s a gift. Rifa, sis you have a true talent. Love ❤
– K. Chere

 “Your site means so much! I’m so proud of where you’ve taken it in such a short time. Your posts have helped me realize there’s nothing wrong with being emotional and actually FEELING something. And that’s so important in this age where everyone is competing to show how much they don’t care or how unaffected they are. You’ve helped me to be more transparent. Keep doing what you’re doing! Love you.”

“Simply put 20sfor20s is raw and realistic. I feel as if pages of my diary are posted for the world to see. I enjoy how every day issues are discussed with the “around the way girl” swag and some humor. Congratulations Sharifa on your two year anniversary; I wish you and your website much success and growth.”

– Minimah R.

“To see My big sis create a blog has been very inspiring. Her writing style is unlike any other. Reading her blogs is like seeing my daughter walk for the first time… breath-taking. She is Phenomenal and her blog will open many doors for her. Happy 2nd birthday 20sfor20s ❤

“Your writing, the breath of air we’re all too scared to take, is more than writing. It’s hearing a voice that knows way more than you sometimes about what you’re going through. It’s a familiar voice that relaxes stressful situations while you’re laughing at yourself for being so naive at times. Your writing has opened up minds and I appreciate not just what you write but how you write. You create stories and scenes with your words that can make a man understand how some women think while keeping us ladies in our own sense of self improvement and importance. You’ve grown tremendously over the years, from a speedy worker that alphabetized the shit out of law files to a beautiful graceful intelligent woman that isn’t afraid to make mistakes and share those mistakes in hopes of helping someone realize before it’s too late. I want nothing more than to have the chance to read more, and be apart of your growth as a writer but more importantly, a woman.

Thank you, Rif.”

– Gigi 

“From the moment that she took ’20-Somethings-for-20-Somethings’ away from tumblr and gave life to this website, I knew that Sharifa would influence, connect, and grow both personally and as a writer of the community (with a great following, if I might add). I am SO happy to have seen such a relatable and return-worthy blog build from the ground up and share in the delights of Rif’s many accomplishments that have spawned from its creation. Happy 2 years to you,!”

-your cousin with the ghetto nickname, Bookie (or Steph or Smulaaa, whatever fits the format that you use. Lol)

“Watching 20 somethings grow from a blog to a website meant more to me than you may realize. For me, it signified one of my best friends grow into something she never even imagined she could be. It meant getting closer to her again and being able to strengthen our relationship. 20 Somethings was the rebirth of Rif or what I like to call “the birth of the new Rif”. I was anxious for the ride from the beginning and I can’t wait to see where it takes us next.”


“I appreciate 20sfor20s so much because it is more than just a blog, it is a literary work of art that transcends the click-bait we experience daily on social media.  It has given me the opportunity to watch you grow, and has even aided me in confronting emotions of my own.  I appreciate you for always being raw and honest with us, the consumers, and sincerely wish you more success, more growth, and more light in everything you do.  Thank you for putting your truths into the universe for us all to get a bit more comfortable in our own.  Happy Terrific Twos!”


“Wow!! I can’t believe it’s been 2 years already. I remember when the site got launched. And after reading for the first time, I’ve consistently told Sharifa that she seriously needs to write a book. She was SO against it, said she would never do it and now look how far she’s come with her writing. (I’d like a small dedication in your book for being tenacious about this book idea lol). This site has affected me in so many positive ways, more than I can really speak on (we’d be here all day). 20sfor20s has given me so much insight not only as a human being but also as a woman. I’ve gained insight on issues that I personally thought I dealt with alone in the dark but in reality, from the feedback and responses I’ve seen, we ALL deal with it. Reading every post, I have laughed, cried, and even taken the time to self-reflect.

As the site grew, I grew along with it. This site has taught me to love myself unconditionally (still working on that lol) and to just live life with no regrets! None of us are alone in whatever we go through. Sharifa and her writing is nothing short of amazing. Her words and thoughts contain so much SUBSTANCE, RAWNESS, & AUTHENTICITY. Where else can you get that? The transparency of her posts shows that just like us, she is human and she is not afraid to share that with her readers. I truly admire the person she is and although she’ll mention how she’s full of flaws, I think she is absolutely perfect and I love her for bringing this site to life. I know that 20for20s will continue to grow significantly and be great and I look forward to seeing how many people it will impact in the future.”


“I started reading 20for20s to gain insight on life’s ups and downs from a young black woman’s perspective. It is an effort to learn about what women go through in 2016, and grow into a better “less of an ain’t shit nigga” version of myself, as women’s voices and experiences have long been ignored. In two years, the writings have become cathartic for both Sharifa and the reader. While many of the posts are personal and reflective, they are relatable even for a young man trying to figure shit out, too. “


“Rif’s site has been wonderful in discussing topics I think are relevant to a young woman such as myself. If I had the time, dedication, and skill to write a blog, I imagine it would be something like this. It always feels like my thoughts are being translated to paper. Many of the posts sound like a group chat between close girlfriends. The posts are authentic and Rif’s voice shines through in every word. I hope she continues the site for years to come.”


“If you follow @yearifsaidit on twitter like I have for the past 3 years, then you know that she’ll go from teaching you about the African diaspora to telling you that you and ya momma ugly as hell.  Her blog, 20s for 20’s  is similar to her tweets. It’ll teach you some real shit, but will also have you cracking up laughing. I’ve been an active follower since day one. 

As an artist, I know how hard it is to be transparent and to put your feelings out there for an audience to criticize. This is why I appreciate how raw and relatable this blog is. Sometimes when reading it, I feel as if I’m reading my own thoughts. I can tell that she writes from personal experience and I love that she doesn’t hesitate to give her unfiltered opinion on topics people usually stay away from.

In this generation we have a bad habit of comparing our lives to those on social networks. We tend to forget, most of what we see are illusions. 20’s for 20’s will bring you back to reality. These posts consist of things that we think but are ashamed to talk about/admit publicly.

We sometimes go through egocentric trips where we think that “this type of shit only happens to me.” But 20s for 20’s will reassure you that it doesn’t. Through this blog I realized that we’re all trying to find the answer, we all get played at some point, we all made the mistake of giving the pussy to a “Dae-Dae”, shit, we ALL might be a lil ugly to somebody and that comforts me. Not in a misery loves company way but in a “Damn, I thought I was the only one” kind of way or a “ I knew I wasn’t crazy, cause Rif felt the same way” kind of way.  Again, relatable.  These posts make me feel better about situations that I had to deal with privately because I’d been too embarrassed to talk to about it with anyone. When I simply didn’t have the words to express how I felt, this blog put those words there for me.

Not only has this blog been entertaining, but for me, it’s been therapeutic.

Thank you Sharifa and HAPPY 2ND ANNIVERSARY 20s for 20’s!!!”


“20s for 20s…..  where do I start? Shall I start with the writer or writings? Let’s start with the writer.  I remember a year ago I used to harass and tweet the author of these posts and tell her to hurry with the next one lol.  It was something uncanny about reading the words and realities of a woman my age candidly and unapologetically sharing her experiences.  The tone in the passages were as if a homegirl or close cousin was speaking to you.  The author also wrote from a place of not proclaiming to have it all figured out (which a lot of authors usually proclaim).  The humility she showed through her writings made it an easy read.  Not only does the author write these posts for others to read, she is also there when the passage is done.  Several times between her posts I reached out for advice and dialogue.  Not once did she stand me up! She would even give a heads up if her reply was going to be late (which is a courtesy not most people give). The author is an amazing and fearless woman.  She lives her truth and I totally respect it.  By being so open with her truth, she has helped others embrace theirs (me being one of those people).  For that, I’m grateful!

Now about these writings… they are aways spot on and on point! I find myself thinking about them when I’ve finished reading or when situations arise.  
Some of the writings have prompted laughter, while others have prompted tears and self reflection.  The sincerity in the passages can be felt.  The feeling I get while reading them lets me know they come from a place of love.  These writings are not only an outlet for the author, but passages that are meant to help and heal others.  Here’s an excerpt from a message that I always refer to:

“…bottom line is, you have to start doing things that you make you happy & know that happiness is not a destination. you don’t arrive to this beautiful island called happiness & stay there forever, it’s something that has to be maintained once it is achieved. I fight for my happiness every single day. & the only way that I’ve done that is by learning to let go of things when they no longer feel good” 

As a reader and loyal follower of this site, I’m so happy to see it’s success these past 2 years!! I will continue reading and following!! CONGRATS 20 FOR 20s! And to the author: THANK YOU ❤


You have invited me to your table time and time again. Never asking that I be anything but myself and I thank God for you all everyday. – Rif

please do not feed wild horses.

it started with an eruption.

magma became lava,

lava aggressively spilling onto earth's surface.

there are many tales about the events leading up to,

but the details all remain consistent.

a cracked foundation,

a loud cry,

an overflow.

"save me."

"I can't."

there is no romantic story about the aftermath,

no emergence of beauty from the remains.

just time.

where there is mystery, there is allure.

where there is fascination, there is arrogance.

& though the origin is almost always innocent,

it has a way of pushing most to limits they did not intend to reach.

the foundation never fully recovered from the devastation,

but it garnered the attention of the intrigued.

the intention-less who wanted nothing more than to feed their curiosity,

those who never really understood what they took during their conquests.

see, there is a reason why you shouldn't feed wild horses.


Words on wild horses. 

wild horses.Visiting all 58 national parks is a bucket list item for me. This past weekend I flew to Vegas after hypothetically canceling the trip at least 10 times. After spending all of my 25th birthday consuming alcohol (only to have it show itself out of my body minutes later), my friends and I decided to catch sunrise in the most beautiful place Vegas had to offer. Half awake and under the influence, I thought this was the best idea ever.


These signs were everywhere but unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see any so the opportunity never presented itself. I did, however, decide to research why the National Parks Conservation Association was so adamant about no one feeding them. When fed, wild horses will return to human territory and are ultimately killed, by either their herd or, more commonly, by the very humans who invited  them in. The excess of signs is necessary why? Because humans are so intrigued by the beauty of wild horses that their desire to interact with them will often trump their consideration of the horse’s safety. Humans, often intention-less or filled with pure intentions, will compromise the destiny of wild horses for the sake of satisfying their curiosity. But this infatuation with the unknown is not exclusive to wild horses, you see, humans often do this to other.

Wild horses run amongst us. The creative, the shy, the mysterious. All examples of beings who spark interest without solicitation. The fascinated will inquire about and absorb when access is granted. They will become enamored and feel compelled to act on their desires. Problem is, they don’t often understand the affects of their conquests.

See. There’s a reason why you shouldn’t feed wild horses. 


I write a letter at every point of transition. I’ve written them prior to relocating, graduating, the end of relationships, etc.  If for nothing else, I want to give these writings to my daughter. I want her to understand that the start is not always indicative of the end.  I also want her to have receipts in case I get to my 50s acting high and mighty. “Hey mom, you were once a hot mess, too.”


A year of renewal and removal. I started 24 just happy to no longer be suicidal. When I finally got serious about dealing with my mental health issues, I didn’t plan for much outside of that. You’re depressed and you can’t be depressed anymore. Okay great you aren’t super depressed and now you can be normal…whatever that is. 24 took me through changes and gave me some of my greatest memories. I moved (again). Gave time to the undeserving (again). Got drunk, had my phone held for ransom by an Uber driver, and went home with no  coat smack in the middle of winter…in the same night (this was a first). 24 was everything and nothing.  It also sparked the idea which, I believe, will be my magnum opus. Now, that might be kinda vain but it’s just a fancy way of letting you all know that I’ve decided to write a book. Soon come, but back to why we’re here!


Every time I think about my actual birth date I imagine my mother saying “Sharifa Aneesa was born September 5th weighing in at 7 pounds and 8 ounces, the first of my 6 children…” like Ms. Gloria did at the beginning of December 4th. The 3-4 weeks preceding my birthday are usually a time of serious reflection (see also: self loathing). The consideration of all things Sharifa, if you will. Where I am, who I am, where I’ve been, and what’s next. I usually write a list of things I learned in the past year, but I’ve pretty much done that through posts like Day Days vs. Davids and Fifteen Things From 2015. Instead of the typical list about giving up on bad sex and men who don’t text you back for days, I asked my mom to give me the December 4th- esque treatment and offer her commentary on my growth over the years. At least let her tell you why I’m this way.

The Beginning.  

“At the age of 16 I gave birth to a beautiful child and while I was carrying you, something told me you’d be special”

Translation: “The morning sickness was rough but saying you’re special is much nicer than saying ‘you gave me a shit ton of heartburn.'”


“Inquisitive. Brilliant. Talkative. Adorable! Several words to describe 5 year-old Sharifa. Although you did not go to preschool, you went to Kindergarten on a 1st or 2nd grade level.”

Translation: “You started talking at 2 and never stopped. “


“Protector, big sister, talkative, and smart. Valedictorian and you graduated 8th grade at 12. Your brilliance continued.”

Translation: “See, she literally never stopped talking.” 


“Off to an HBCU over 400 miles away. Independent, determined, headstrong.  Behold the green and gold! They were not ready and neither was I…”

Translation: “I could still slap you for the amount you ran up in student loans.”


“Bye bye HBCU. Hurt, discouraged, disappointed, but who needs colors to determine who we are? You are Sharifa. Which, according to Urban Dictionary, means a flawless pretty young thing. That is you, but the true meaning is ‘distinguished and noble’.”

Translation: “It was pretty sad watching you cry over not being able to join a sorority. and over a boy. and over having your degree held up by two electives. No worries, though. You’re still beautiful.”


“So here we are at 25…the energetic, bubbly, adorable little girl has now become a distinguished, noble, beautiful woman.  Embrace yourself because your momma loves you. Soar, write, spit, freestyle. Do whatever you want to because you can.”

Translation: “You killed that So Gone Challenge.”

I don’t want much from this life. I don’t need to be a special person or have a lot of money. All that has ever mattered is love for myself and love from those around me. I have that. I’m proud of that. I’ll never really understand all of the hows and whys but I don’t need to. This is the life I chose, or rather, the life that chose me. Hello 25.




as comforting as the smell of your grandmother's best dish,

a space full with memories of love's past.

your usual.

the routine of your life, the consistency of complacency.

is this what you dreamed of? 

is it the reality you imagined?

did you know you'd settle for easy?

that once celebrated challenges would be avoided?

do you ever lust for freedom or the chance to live without restrictions?

when home is calling are you joyful?

or reminded of what you're missing?


the brightness of red bows atop newly sold cars and homes.

the thrill of impending memories,

the strangely satisfying anticipation of the unknown.

taking leaps in hopes of the best,

suspending rationale for the sake of experiences,

the allure of what has yet to be explored.

did you know that you'd become the moth?

were you prepared for the size of the flame? 

have you fallen victim to the seduction of temptation?

or have you allowed courage to send you on a journey into unfamiliar places?

what if I told you that new is as necessary as home? 

if I suggested that new could come with scars you'd have to return home to mend?

if I told you that your fear of the mundane is worse than that of the unknown?

if you knew, would it be new?

if it's uncomfortable is it really home?

did you read this and think of relocation?

did you read this and think of love?

did you read this and think of you?

did you?