MorningJoy Podcast is a biweekly podcast that focuses on education, mental health, and the music we use to cope in this crazy world. It highlights folks of color doing amazing work. 
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Reclaiming my name and my time.

Reclaiming my name and my time.

Your twenties are an interesting time. You are kind of fumbling through life. You're in the limbo of being an adult but not actually feeling like one. But it is also a time when you are truly finding out who you are. Or maybe reclaiming who you are.  

Maybe that is (or was not) your experience in your twenties. And this year when I turned twenty-four, my sister reminded me that this was the last year of my "early" twenties. I can honestly say that I spent the first four years of my twenties truly trying to figure who out who the hell I was. I was trying to find that balance of standing out while still blending into the background--and that is a hard balance let me tell you.

I also spent quite a bit of time wandering around lost and riddled with (then) undiagnosed anxiety and depression. Somehow, my very existence had melted into those around me. And I did not know who I was without people around me. 

I was just Joy M. Woods. The girl trying to run from her brilliance because I didn't want to make people uncomfortable. The girl who accepted any type of treatment from a man because I was just trying to be what they wanted because who I truly was would have been too ambitious and too strong. 

But this August, that changed. I took a stand for myself. I decided to pursue things that make me happy and coincide with what I am passionate about, and that included my education. I was in a brand new college on campus and a new program. The people in rooms with me did not know who I was, and it felt uncomfortable but refreshing. And it was in that moment that I realized that I could be whoever I wanted to be.  And I did something revolutionary, I chose to be myself. 

When they asked me what my name was, I said Joy Melody Woods. My professor asked did I go by both names to which I responded: Yes Ma'am, I do. 

Seemingly, in that instance, I began to flourish in myself. And somehow some people did not like that or refused to respect that. But that is not my problem. 

It is something good about reclaiming your name and your time. 

When I got a new job at a local grocery store to help support myself during my master's education, I made sure they knew my name was Joy Melody. Somehow, I got a nametag with just "Joy." and I found myself accepting that, slipping back into my old ways of accepting what people expected me to be. Then I finally said "my name is Joy Melody, That's my full name. That's what I go by."  I got my nametag remade. I figured if you can call someone "Amberlynn" and "Joyann" you can call me Joy Melody.  Only one of my managers calls me "Joy Melody," and they are the ones that garner the most respect from me. 

My name is Joy Melody! Only those close to me can call me Joy. No, I am not going to be mad if you call me "Joy," but I will correct you. And if you continue to call me outside my name, then I will tell you instead of ask. 

It is a power in recognizing who you are. Being who you are without needing anyone else to tell you who you are. 

To be quite honest, I think for a good portion of my life I was scared to go by Joy Melody because it brought about some type of sadness since I was named after my mother. But now I view it as powerful. 

When I speak my name, I speaking elegance, strength, and perseverance. When I walk into a room I bring along with me everything my mom taught me by my dad naming me Joy Melody. I am a miracle. I am an anomaly. You will treat me as such. 

I slowly am losing a little bit of the anxiety that I use to carry when it came to trying to stay true to myself. I never thought that would come with just reclaiming my name. 

I am not saying all my anxiety is gone. I am not saying I have it all figured out, yet. I am, however, making progress to be my best self. But have no fear, I will be writing about the times when it is hard and writing about the times when it is going great. 

My name is Joy Melody Woods. The daughter of Jerry A. Woods and the late Faith Melody Woods. And the sister to Megan G. Woods and Grace E. Woods. Mediocrity is not in my bloodline. 



For Black (Grad) students when your financial aid package ain't  enuf....

For Black (Grad) students when your financial aid package ain't enuf....