coffee date #27 with emelyne johns
marketing major, future roomie, thrifter, dancing queen, AKPSI bro, adventure lover ;), a deep feeler, lib cafe resident, owner and creator of Dizzy Chicken!
me: colombian roast black coffee | emelyne: matcha latte with vanilla syrup
It’s incredibly rare to find people in today’s world who just seep such beautiful energy. Fortunately, I’ve been lucky enough to meet Emelyne who does exactly that – truly an exceptional human being.
It’s the first week of college. I move in to my apartment and the next day we have ~10 people (practically randos) come over. One of those 10 people was Emelyne Johns.
She wore a baggy sweatshirt and sweatpants, her hair was ruffled up, and she had her classic black glasses on. She was so carefree and joyous.
Here are just a few (out of MANY) things I’ve learned about Emelyne so far:
- She isn’t afraid to take a leap and try new things. Emelyne has never been trained in any type of dance form before. Even then, she decided to audition for our college’s competitive Bollywood dance team. Obviously the queen made the team!
- She feels things deeply. I’m always inspired when I meet people who can express their feelings because it’s something that I’ve been trying to unlearn and relearn. Emelyne releases her emotions in whatever form necessary. She cries when she needs to release the sadness. She tells someone they look pretty/cute/beautiful when she notices. Most importantly, she journals and is actively on her path to healing.
- She’s a cute drunk LOL. “I love adventure” – drunk Emelyne says as we run across campus in 30º weather with no jackets on.
After months of postponing this date, I’m so glad we made it happen because it was such a freaking enriching conversation 🥰
- Hair and our relationship with it.
“What I discovered is that hair is a language, a shield and a trophy….Hair is a construct reflecting our identity, history, femininity, personality, and our innermost feelings of self-doubt, ageing, vanity and self-esteem.” – Hoffman, The Sydney Morning Gerald
Women, at least the women I’ve met and known, have an incredibly intimate relationship with their hair. We struggle to make extreme changes to our hair because our hair is a crucial part of our identity. Societal norms have etched into our minds that women must have long hair and men must have short hair. Subconsciously or even consciously, majority of us abide by those norms and continue to go about our days without questioning our identities.
And then there’s Emelyne Johns. She started off with long, silky, black hair and then over the years, she went through a pixie cut, brown highlights, colored hair, etc. In essence, her identity has changed along with her changing hairstyles.
“I hate norms. I hate stereotypes. I hate gender norms. I hate all of it. I was always the type of kid to against that.” – Emelyne Johns, 2022
Emelyne talked about the intertwined relationship between her hair and her gender identity. After being in situations that she regretted, she cut off her long black hair and adopted a pixie cut. She described this hair cut as a “reset.” With this drastic change, the way she viewed herself also changed.
“I was finally starting to see myself in a feminine way that wasn’t in a stereotypical feminine way.” – Emelyne Johns, 2022
Emelyne reminds me so much of Abby Wambach, a two-time Olympic Gold medallist and wife of Glennon Doyle. They’re both outstandingly genuine souls who ensure that those around them are always their truest, most authentic selves.
In the podcast episode linked below, Abby also talked about the way her world changed when she cut her hair. She describes that she finally “matched her insides with her outsides” and that “she had to do something to step into myself.”
- The difference between being a woman and being feminine
The way my heart filled with so much freaking love during this part of our conversation 🥺 so much love for you, you queen.
- How religion can shape a person into becoming their most authentic selves
Coffee Date #19 and I spoke about how some people use religion as a way to mask their mistakes in life. Emelyne and I talked more about the ‘fear’ aspect of religion.
Though some use religion as a tool to hide from their mistakes, others may practice religion out of fear. They may believe that God will punish them if they’re not always doing the right thing. Thus, because they’re performing actions out of fear and not because they truly believe in them, this way of practicing religion is toxic.
Emelyne talked about how her mom went from practicing religion out of fear to now, where the way she practices religion makes her feel so immensely grateful for everything she has in her life.
“She practices it in a way where she believes that God is helping her throughout life and everything that happens to her is because of God’s grace. This has made her such a better person and willing to adapt to so many things.” – Emelyne Johns, 2022
- There’s no need to always be a “good person”
During the pandemic, “self-help” and “self-improvement” content creators enjoyed so much fame and attention. People started to move away from speaking about constantly hustling for success and moved onto speaking about “how to stop gossiping,” “how to take care of yourself mentally and physically,” “how to be kinder,” “how to overall be a better person.”
In the moment, listening and watching to such content made me truly believe that I can be that person that they were all describing in their videos, posts, and podcasts. And it was fairly easy to be that person when I was in the comfort of my home, always seeing the same five people within my family, not really having much to worry or gossip about.
“You don’t have to change yourself just to spare other people’s feelings. It’s exhausting to always constantly be aware of what everyone else is feeling and never take into account what you’re feeling.” – Emelyne Johns, 2022
However, in college, I’m now surrounded by a variety of people and am always in a variety of different situations. With such drastic changes, it is difficult to force oneself to always be a “good person.” There’s a difference between gossiping for the need of purposely putting other people down and actually venting to someone because the situation/person is affecting you so deeply.
“There’s no way to take care of yourself all the time. It’s too hard.” – Emelyne Johns, 2022
So the point of this spiel was to give ourselves the grace of just being human. Obviously, if you’re a complete asshole, then yes, please acknowledge that and fix those aspects of your personality. But if you’re just stumbling through life, overthinking, and questioning your existence, just remember that we’re messy people living in a messy world. It’s too hard to always embody certain characteristics. We just need to let ourselves be.
- College can be a life-changing experience if you let it
College is an incredible experience. It’s the first time we’re living on our own and have to learn how to make every single decision for ourselves – what to eat, when to do work, who to hang out with, what clubs to be in, when to sleep.
Emelyne described how she grew up in a fairly white town, so coming to TCNJ, she wanted to find opportunities to immerse herself in her culture.
One of the ways she has done that is by joining TCNJ’s bolly-fusion team, Saathiya. A queen ya’lll. She talked about how she loves music and how fascinating it is for her to express music through dance. On top of that, she also described her gratitude for finding people from her own culture and relating with them on such a deep level.
- Love and the various ways it can be expressed
Love is a complex emotion with different layers and aspects. There’s familial love. There’s romantic love. There’s friendship love. There’s food love. Different kinds of love are expressed in different ways.
Sibling love is one of the easiest forms of love for me. Though it’s still difficult to verbally express that love, I’m able to physically express it to my brother. I squish and smother the crap out of him, go on long walks, cuddle and watch movies with him, slap him, etc. We don’t necessarily have to say “I love you” to each other for both of us to realize how much we care for each other.
Emelyne said this is similar to her relationship with her older sister. Though Emelyne is able to be more verbally expressive, her sister (like me) expresses it in a more “unspoken” way.
Unspoken love is not the kind of love we often see depicted in media, so it’s not something that we grew up thinking was normal. Realizing that love can be expressed in any way that we want to has been a refreshing epiphany.