Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

The Blessings to Being Bullied

Cocoa Fly proudly hanging out with a Klingon that kinds of look like Cee-Lo
at a Star Trek Convention. Live your life and be yourself! 

A young sorority sister I follow on Facebook shared past pains of being bullied and inspired me to write this post because I was bullied as a kid.  If you’re looking at the title and thinking, “What the —?”, don’t get it twisted. Being bullied SUCKS. It is awful, horrible and psychologically torturous. I wish it on no child. However, I took the lessons from abuse and put it to good in my own life. 

When someone has a birthday coming up at my job, we go around and say one positive word about them at a staff meeting. I will be turning 35 this week. The word our executive director used to describe me is “nerd” and she meant in a good way. She said it was because I’m not ashamed of my love for superheroes and other nerdy things. Later on other co-workers told me that they noticed I am unapologetic about who I am and had a “take it or leave it” mentality. Like Mary J. Blige sang, “So take me as I am, or have nothing at all.” Coming to embrace myself took time. This personal acceptance was a result of being bullied. 

Like many kids, I got bullied for being smart and nerd. I went to a predominately black grammar school and was sometimes bullied for having long hair. I was bullied because I spoke proper English and people thought I was trying to be white. First Lady Michelle Obama knows what I’m talking about. But the bullying that hurt most was for being dark skinned. My story about experiencing colorism won me my first journalism award

It was after my first of year of college that I decided to hell with not loving me, because of other people and their issues. I met so many other unique, smart and talented people in college  I thought were awesome. And they saw the awesomeness in me. So I began to embrace myself more. 

I remember coming home from elementary school crying because of something mean another kid said or did to me. My mother would say, “They’re just jealous of you.” I didn’t understand how that was possible. Those kids were popular, respected, even feared. Why would they be jealous of the nerdy, scrawny girl?
I began to understand as I got older. People young and old will try to dim your shine if your light is bright. Those kids saw a brightness in me that I didn’t recognize in myself because it came naturally to me. 

I’m not on here to brag, because like everyone, I have my own personal issues. I love myself but I’m still working on being a better Jenee. A lot of kids are bullied and it hurts. It’s sad when I see kids take their lives or other lives because they’re rejected and/or harassed by their peers. And it bothers me that some schools and parents of bullies aren’t taking action. 
The bath towels in the back give the photo more effect. 

 I saw a meme on Facebook that said something to the extent, be yourself because life is too short to be anybody else. That’s so TRUE. I’ve even come more into my own because I’ve lost a lot of people in the last few years. Most recently, my 22-year-old cousin was killed in a car accident. He had just graduated college about two to three weeks prior to the accident. From all of the loved ones I lost, I learned to value life and LIVE IT UP, LIVE IT UP, LIVE IT UP! And do what you want because you never know when it’s your time to go. You only get one life. Why live your ONE life for someone else? 

As for the bullies, I eventually learned from their taunts that I must be special and blessed because they wanted to make me feel inferior. I think bullies even see that in kids who may have some kind of disability or different issue. Often those are the kids who are stronger. Being bullied has also helped me see signs in people I probably shouldn’t trust. I’m also very compassionate toward people who are mistreated. 

I hope bullied kids know it will get better over time. Everyone is not going to love you. That goes from the day you’re born until you take your final breath. But you’ve got something bright in you that those see. It’s something they don’t have.  Don’t let them dim your shine. 

I was the skinny girl who got called, “nerd”, “talk like a white girl,” “chalkboard,” “hella black.” And what do ya know: my nerdy ways led to a master’s degree; someone likes the way I speak because I've reported on the radio and am a paid speaker; my chocolate skin and healthy hair made it to a popular magazine’s website

Sometimes the best middle finger to give someone is success. 


  1. Soror! I am so happy you wrote this! Definitely sharing! :)

    1. Glad you approve soror :) ! Thanks for sharing.


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