© 2017 by Cierra Kaler-Jones

April 23, 2016

Brace yourself because I’m about to tell you something that you won’t believe.

I’m an introvert. Yes, you read that correctly. I become easily drained from social interactions, have to give myself pep talks to attend networking events, and I thrive in isolation, often in pursuit of outputting something creative(hence while you will often see me reading or writing).

When I was young, I used to go to the bookstore, pick out something I found intriguing, go home, and read the entire book within a span of a few hours. I was free to explore an expansive world of my imagination and became lost in the characters and plot of the story. I would sit at my (then) desktop computer and type away fictional stories about female characters living and thriving in a realistic world. I used to work for hours by myself through movement in my room, crafting intricate routines to place on dancers to be presented onstage. I was free. I was free to be myself without worry or fear of being judged.

In a world that...

April 14, 2016

As many young women across the country are sitting in mock interviews articulating their views on an array of issues, rehearsing their talents to hit flawless marks, and slaving and sweating away in the gym, I’m realizing that this is the first time in five years that I’m not visualizing what it would mean to be a state titleholder…because I was one.

While others are counting the days until they pack their bags for a fun-filled and anxiety-ridden week in Ocean City, New Jersey, I am counting down the days until I can take a nap after waving my first-year residents goodbye after surviving their first year of college. It’s quite odd and admittedly my nostalgia is growing, but now I get to stand on the other side, worry free, and speak to those I was once in the position of many times before.

Throughout my years competing, I learned to dig deep and contemplate my heart’s greatest desires. I learned what it meant to represent something much larger than myself. I learned how to market myself,...

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