• Joaynna Cook

2013 vs. 2019

When I was 15 years old, social media had just begun to gain momentum. People went from having a Facebook account to have a whole set of profiles. Once I was introduced to Instagram, it quickly became one of my favorites. Shortly after falling in love with Instagram, "personal hashtags" became all the rage! (#OMG) Getting a personal hashtag went a little something like this-

  1. Come up with a bunch of random things that you (and probably only you) think are cool to make as a hashtag.

  2. Use the search on Instagram to see if anyone else has ever "hashtagged" this before.

  3. Repeat about 35 times because there are no original ideas.

  4. Eventually, search #partyinglikejo and find that there is still one original idea.

And then it was born- MY VERY OWN HASHTAG! Young me was PUMPED!

#PartyingLikeJo became the center of all the exciting moments in my young life. Anytime I was hanging out, traveling, doing something I deemed cool enough, it was a #partyinglikejo moment. I loved it!

And if I am sincere, I still do- even though it doesn't get much use anymore. Eventually, family and friends started to catch on. Most people who found my wave and jumped in with me thought it was just a fun and silly social media thing. But in reality, it was more for me.

My freshman year was actually an incredible year for me. ( a stark contrast to my sophomore year, which I still deem "the worst year of my life," maybe I'll write about that later) I was thriving in my first year of high school.

I transferred into a public charter school in 6th grade, it was by request of my parents because my siblings were moving schools. In the three years of middle school, I was involved with a large group of girlfriends who were SO toxic. I was being pulled from class, lunch, or homeroom to visit the consular or teachers or sometimes the dean. It was often to discuss some "world ending" text message that somebody sent to someone else. I hated going to school, I hated most of the people I called friends, and I felt stuck in a big rut. The summer before my freshman year, I BEGGED my parents to transfer back to the local public school for high school. In my head, being a freshman with this group could only make things worst.

My parents didn't budge. I was continuing with this school until I graduated.

Lucky for me, everyone else was giving their parents the same speech all summer. And all of there parents went for it. Every single girl in my group, except my best friend, transferred to high schools across the county. Walking into my freshman year, it was my best friend and me.

I felt free of pretending, I made a whole new group of friends. I hung out with the people I liked. I was no longer faking anything. I was the top girl runner on the cross country team, and I was placing at most races in my class. I was passing my classes, and things at home were stable and well. It felt like the stars were aligning, I was on my grind, and I was balancing all the new things in life.

So in celebration of all that, I created #partyinglikejo. I didn't feel like I was getting caught in any of the cycles of my fellow peers. Cycles of drama or destruction. I was doing my thing, building independence, rocking my responsibilities, and really having a good time doing it. It was my kind of "party."

The "my life is together" party.

The "I'm doing it my way" party.

The "I'm embracing me" party.

Now I wish I could say that year was the foothills on the way up to the peak. I wanted it to better from there. It really didn't. It was a peak that stands all on its own. Which is why #partyinglikejo still means so much to me. It's a reminder that even after many tough years, there will be a peak. A reminder to embrace the moment, capture it, and maybe also hashtag it cause it never lasts forever.

#partyinglikejo was a celebration of life. It was a celebration of me, doing me. To me, it was a statement of who I was.

I never let anyone in on the secret intention behind "personalized hashtag." Until now.

Let's bring it back.

Its December of 2019. I have had "The Biggest" year of my life. I have discovered the highest peaks, the deepest valleys of myself. All while seeing the world's biggest cities and smallest towns. This is a year that has been significant and fast. Nothing about 2019 was boring.

The number one thing I have learned this year is life isn't about the "party." The party, in this case, being the good times. The party being happiness.

The party moments in life are great, they really are. Yet, they aren't the only highlights. The highlights of life are the ones where we are living in our truth.

Some of my most significant moments this year have been lows. They have been when I was required to dive into the deepest parts of myself to find the courage to keep going. The real, authentic moments, whether good or bad.

Now, I realize that I can drop the "partying" and highlight just me. Highlight me, in my truth, how I do things.

2013 was the year of #partyinglikejo

2019 was the year of #likejo

Partying #likejo

Living #likejo

Graduating Community College #likejo

Travelling #likejo

Going to therapy #likejo

Quitting my job #likejo

Tackling my darkest moment #likejo

Moving out #likejo

Having a lousy day #likejo

Working hard #likejo

Taking Rest #likejo

Following dreams #likejo

'Till Next Time


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