The Hard Truth: Growing Pains Are Universal

I have officially been in Spain for 2 months. Damn, time really does fly. By far the most frequently asked question I have gotten is “How's Spain?”, such an innocent question, right? It’s been a tough one for me to answer though because as simple as it sounds, I think it’s actually kind of loaded. I also don’t believe people really care how Spain is… we can google how Spain is. I think the more appropriate question is “how is your life in Spain, how are you adjusting… are you happy?” Answering how is Spain, is simple. It’s gorgeous. People are pretty nice. The kids I work with are cute. Nightlife, exceptional. Food… eh.

But I can't really tell you the full essence of of Spain because although two full months have passed, I honestly haven't been here. I haven’t been present. Kind of floating.



.... no matter where you are, the space in your head…-your mental- will dictate how a place is.
— ya girl.


One of my friends said to me "I want to be out of the country so bad" my immediate thought was why? Now, let me admit that I get it. I’ve been home and I have said the exact same thing. “Ugh, I can’t wait until I go to Spain.” or “Man I’m so ready to get away” and I openly agree that travel and new experiences brings some temporary fulfillment into our lives. But happiness doesn't lie here. Peace isn't here. Fulfillment isn’t at the next destination. The answers to our problems are not somewhere else, as cliche as that sounds. & I believe ultimately that is what we all want. We want to be happy. So no, I don’t think we want to be out of the country so bad, I think we want to be out of our present circumstance so bad. I think we want to be out of depression so bad.... Out of God awful situationships so bad.  

Unless it's something very very specific that you want... like baguettes and fresh jamón for instance in Spain.. you aren't going to find a solution to your real issues by up and moving.

As great as my bedroom view of Madrid is, it will get old fast. The language, the change of pace, the newness... all of that will lose it’s freshness & you'll be left wondering why you are still unhappy? Why is this dope ass opportunity still a bit unfulfilling, unsatisfying?

Not going to lie to you, I almost feel ashamed to say. “Eh, Spain is aight.” not show gratitude for the experience that you know many people won’t ever have and for some reason God chose you...and your description is “Eh”

Coming to Spain made me realize more than ever that I wasn't happy.

Something was missing. This feeling wasn’t new. This empty. This empty wasn’t new. I expressed it to some of my closest friends the summer after I graduated, another time that the feeling really resonated.

You know what happens when all your dreams come true? Nothing. I realized a very simple truth that success, fame, having all my dreams come true would not fix or improve me, it wasn’t an instant potion for personal growth. Having all my dreams come true only seemed to magnify whatever qualities I already possessed.
— Shonda Rhimes


The past two years of my life I have experienced some of the most transformative and rewarding things I have in my entire life. I met exceptionally FULL people, who wore their flaws so openly I couldn’t help but be inspired. I realized that I could love a woman as much as I could love a man. I  interned for some of the top non-profit organizations in the United States. I worked on Capitol Hill. Traveled. Founded and launched my own initiative for Black women.  Became the first college graduate in my family.  And moved to Madrid, as a Fulbright Scholar.  I’ve reached heights, that some may never reach. I’ve been hurt and had  some really low moments. I’ve gotten on my knees and prayed for restoration. I’ve reflected on how I grew from someone who wanted riches and fame to someone who just wants to be happy. To someone who wants her family and friends to be happy, her people to be free, and all people to live in their truths.  

I was on the subway last week listening to Love Yourz by J.Cole, and although I had heard the song a million times before, it finally hit me. Every line hit me.

There is no such thing as a life that’s better. The money won’t do it. The accolades won’t do it. The move won’t do it.

So, I’m grateful for growing pains. For tough conversations. For struggles. For breaks. I’m grateful that God made me a thinker and a person who explores all of their feelings.

Writing this was tough. It’s hard to show yourself… to be vulnerable when you are the one who usually holds it together. When you’re the one who is supposed to have it together, but I hope that in my writing this and you reading, I helped someone feel better. I’ve been feeling better. Not so empty. I can’t give you a toolkit to happiness. I think we find that on our own, but I hope that your journey starts soon.

Happiness for me is my nieces and nephews giving me kisses through FaceTime. My little cousin telling me she is going to go to Spain like me when she gets older. My mama celebrating her three year anniversary. My sister reaching 26. My brother doing what he loves, and other people appreciating his talents. Happiness is is in one of my best friends finding her voice, and my other best friend helping little kids find theirs through reading.

My happy is being able to find the peace after tough times and knowing that there is peace even as I experience those times.  Life isn’t one pace. It isn’t one tone. Happiness doesn’t fall into our laps, but chances are the ingredients are already in our cabinet. Until then, enjoy the ride. Be it good or be it bad, this too shall pass. Ase.


Regennia Johnson is a 21 year old Black woman attempting to decolonize and disengage from the system that tells her she isn’t worthy. She loves Black people. She hates white supremacy and all of it’s amazingly organized systems. She is an alum of the University of Oklahoma and founder of Polish&Politics, an initiative that challenges the rhetoric surrounding Black women. Over the years Regennia has developed a special love for traveling and currently resides in Madrid, Spain. You can follow her on Tumblr | Instagram: @simonsaysgennia & @polishandpolitics | Facebook: Regennia Johnson