Something To Be Proud Of (2020)

Last December, I decided to post a list on my social media accounts of a few things I was proud of accomplishing in 2019. I’ve gone back and forth about making a similar list this year because I don’t want to negate how grueling 2020 has been; however, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I feel like it’s even more important to make a list this year as a reminder that, just like previous years, 2020 has not been one-dimensional. In the midst of the bad of this year, good has existed. In the midst of despair, hope has existed. In the midst of chaos, wholeness has existed.

While the good has not always or even often outweighed the bad, it has persisted. Sharing some of the things I’m proud of this year is one way of acknowledging that I have persisted too and that I have what it takes to keep persisting, even when everything around me seems bleak. By publishing this list, I also hope I can inspire you to celebrate the ways you have persisted this year.

So here are seven things I’m proud of from this year:

I got certified as a GLSEN Professional Development Facilitator!

A selfie of a White woman with dark short hair smiling next to Angel, a Black woman with short black hair & glasses smiling. They are standing in front of a yellow wall with Marsha P. Johnson's face drawn on it.

This certification gave me credentials to fulfill my goal of training other educators to create affirming schools for LGBTQ+ students and families. The training for it also connected me to a community of educators who nourished my spirit in all the ways I needed to level up as an educator.

I started a YouTube Channel!

A light purple Youtube title screen. The title reads "5 Tips for Teaching About Bisexuality & Pansexuality." There is a 2-box film strip on the left with a drawing of a brown skinned person with a bi flag as a cape in the top box. In the bottom box, there's a drawing of a tan person holding a pan flag over their head. There's a heart next to the top drawing.

One of the new skills I learned during the pandemic thanks to school was making animated educational videos. I enjoyed the process so much I decided to share my videos publicly and am looking forward to publishing more in 2021!

I graduated with my master’s degree!

A blue slide with a photo of Angel smiling and holding a small More Color, More Pride themed US flag that has the ACLU logo on the bottom. At the top of the slide, it reads "Angélique Iyabo Gravely, Master of Education." In the center of the slide it reads, "The God who has girded me with strength has opened wide my path. 2 Samuel 22:33 [NRSV]" At the bottom of the slide, it says "Widener University" next to the university logo.

Graduating during a pandemic after three harrowing years of school made this a bittersweet accomplishment. Still, when I remind myself of everything I faced to get this degree, I feel proud to be able to say I conquered grad school.

I became a certified school counselor!

A professional certificate from the Commonwealth of PA certifying Angel as an Educational Specialist (level one) in elementary & secondary school counseling.

This accomplishment was also bittersweet because certification did not immediately lead to a school counselor job like I’d hoped. But, these credentials have opened the door for me to get the additional experience I need to land a counselor job someday, so, all in-all, still a huge win for me.

I was a featured guest on a podcast!

A brown background. At the top it says "Confessions of the Queer Believer." In the center are brown skinned praying hands with rainbow colored cloth around the wrists. With Kwame is written at the bottom.

It was extra special fulfilling my dream of being on a podcast through Confessions of the Queer Believer because it brought me back to my roots. Before I was an educator/advocate, I was a girl who just wanted more things tailored for Black LGBTQ+ Christians and now I’m part of a resource like that.

I published a resource guide!

The cover of the ebook "Finding the B in LGBTQ+ History: Tips & Tools for Learning Bisexual+ History." The main title is centered on a white page and is grayish purple in color. Below the main title, the subtitle is centered in a smaller pink font. Above the main title, the author's name is listed in a blue stenciled font as Angélique Gravely. There are thick pink and purplish blue lines at the top and bottom of the image.

While Finding the B in LGBTQ+ History isn’t the first resource guide I’ve made, it’s the first I’ve shared widely and sold. I’m still a little shocked that people have paid me to own a copy, but I’m also inspired by its success and excited to create even better resources in the future!

I survived!

A selfie of Angel standing against a white door and grinning. She is wearing a black shirt with the phrase Black Graduates, though graduates is partially cut off.

Without a doubt, the most significant thing I’ve done in 2020 is survive. Although much of that has been out of my control, I’m proud of myself for all the ways I have chosen survival in the midst of people and institutions who never meant for someone like me to survive.

If all you’ve done this year is survive, know I’m proud of you, too. This year has been devastatingly hard for so many of us and has made even more apparent how much the systems in this country are set up to ensure the survival of only a privileged few. But even with the systems against us, even with our disappointments and grief and heartache, we survived anyway. As far I’m concerned, that seemingly small act of resistance is worth celebrating more than anything else in 2020!