Life Lessons and Happenings

A Gift from the Past

A Gift from the Past

This one day was my typical day working at the mental health facility. I went in, did my rounds, checked with the staff to document any pertinent changes in clients’ behaviors, and got to work. One particular client was in a good mood; however, this was peculiar. See, this client had been depressed for about a week now since the most recent anniversary of his mother’s passing. He was speaking harshly about his family and himself for the past week, but now he was grinning from ear to ear.

I asked him why he was so cheerful today. We are taught in the medical field to monitor sudden changes like this, as they could indicate that the client has now become happy because he has a plan to relieve his misery. In other words, he may be planning to take life into his own hands in an irreversible way by ending it. It would not be his first attempt; however, he told me he was happy simply because he had finally come to terms with his mother’s death. I believed him after further conversation without alarm because his demeanor seemed genuine. He also told me that he had found Jesus over the weekend through the local church group that comes there and preaches.

Now, this alerted me. As many of us know, new converts are in for a surprise at just how strong and persistent the enemy can be because our acceptance of the “Good News.”  While I could not do anything medically to put him on watch or alert, my spirit was telling me something different. I felt that his recent conversion was much more of a red flag than his recent change in behavior. I asked him if he would like to pray because I wanted to participate in his new conversion and ask blessings over him. He gladly accepted. When we were done, I told him to please be on the lookout for the same present wrapped in a different package. When I said this, I thought to myself, “What did I just say?” It sounded like some cheesy fortune cookie statement or something.

When dealing with someone who is mentally ill, you never want to plant a thought with them that could manifest negatively. Therefore, I was careful not to tell him what I was really thinking, but I never thought it would come out like that. Who knows what one will say impromptu? However, I went home in hopes that this statement was just strange enough to give him anticipation and recollection should that time of challenge ever come.

He was discharged some days later, and as with all my clients, I had wished that I could keep in touch with him. However, it is definitely against all rules and better judgment to give a client your outside contact information. So, I have to rely on my prayers for them and the hope that they are doing well.

The other night I was blogging about some new medical website that had impressed me, and I checked my messages before signing off as I usually do. In my blog messages, I noticed that someone had left me a message from an email I did not recognize. It was on my blog that I had written about a year ago that spoke about overcoming challenges and being on guard – mostly written for new Christian converts. The commenter’s message said this: “when old packages come in new, shiny wrappings…send it back to the sender. Only God gives freely with no strings attached, and only God is the author of life.”

That’s all it said, but those two lines meant everything to me. Perhaps he had been faced with the temptation to end his life again. Perhaps the enemy had presented him with some other lie with the false promise that it would make his life better. I have no idea what the statement meant to him, or what he had been faced with since our last conversation, but the fact that I know he is still alive and still in God’s hand is enough for me. We never know how what we say today may impact someone tomorrow…or years later for that matter. “Dear God, please allow me to always follow the path you have set for me. Please allow me to always remember that you have divine foreknowledge and know how to weave today’s actions in with those of tomorrow. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.”

Top Ten Interview Questions


So, you’re applying to/for _________ (insert intimidating event here). What is it for you? Medical school, a graduate program, nursing school, an undergraduate school, a competitive scholarship, or your first job? Regardless of which one of these situations applies to you, there are a few questions you should be ready to answer. Before presenting these common questions to you, I will give you a little background on why I chose to write this article.

Many of you have taken me up on my mock interviews so far. I have thoroughly enjoyed doing these with you, and given the feedback, so have you. For those of you who have not yet had a mock interview with me, I ask a series of the ten most common questions I have either asked or been asked in interviews. I was fortunate enough to have served on several different committees in my past jobs and colleges where I assisted with interviewing people for jobs, scholarships, and/or admission.

I have had several interviews that included my being “grilled” by anywhere from 3 – 13 people staring intensely at me as if they were going to press some button that would make the floor drop from under me if I answered something incorrectly. I have also had one-on-one casual interviews that were much more conversational in nature than expected. I must say, I have come to absolutely love what is called the interview experience now.

      Each one is like a patient – it presents with its own distinctive qualities, so you cannot generalize them all as the same. Yet, they do share some commonalities among them, so you can prepare for them enough to feel somewhat comfortable with them at a base level – a groundwork from which to begin working.

      Without going in too much detail about facial expressions and body language (that’s what the ebook is for!), I will say this – you should know when the interview is done whether or not you have a chance in heck of getting in/hired/making it to the next stage in the process. But, make no mistake about it – these questions I am about to present are asked often, and they will trip you up if you are not prepared for them! Furthermore, you should be aware that your answers to these questions possess the power to make or break the whole interview! Without further ado, I now present to you my top 10 list.

       – Tell me about yourself

       – Why do you want to _________ (work here/become a doctor/become a nurse/etc.)

       – What are your strengths?

       – What are your weaknesses?

       – What would you do if you caught your friend cheating on a test?

      – Why should we choose you out of all the other applications?

       – Where do you see yourself in five – ten years?

       – What do you think this job/occupation/program entails?

       – Who has been an inspiration to you and why?

      – What questions do you have for us? (variant way of asking: Do you have any questions for us?)

Please be aware that ALL of these questions come with pitfalls and ways to absolutely knock them out of the park! However, that’s for another conversation. Good luck and happy hunting!=)


Below is a list of my favorite quotes. Why? Just because…quotes make us happy!!! Have you ever stopped and thought about why? For one reason, there is some sort of “power” in being able to say so much in so little. We love the idea of being able to pack such a powerful punch in such a little package. Another reason is the inherent “wit” that comes with a quote. Everyone knows that the best quotes are ones that are short, sweet, lesson-teaching, and have some sort of pun or “spin” so to speak. Well, without further ado, here is my list of favorite quotes! Read, enjoy, and feel free to email me to share some of your favorite quotes as well!

“To know the road ahead, ask those who are returning” – Chinese Proverb

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you mind wind up some place else!” – Yogi Berra 

“Things turn out best for those who make the best out of the way things turn out” – John Wooden

“The best time to plant a tree was yesterday. The next best time is today!” – Anonymous

“The man who rows the boat hasn’t time to rock it” – Chinese Proverb

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” – Yogi Berra 

“Cool as the other side of the pillow.” – Stuart Scott

“Call him the bus driver, because he just took them to school!” – Stuart Scott

” Call him butter ’cause he’s on a roll!” – Stuart Scott

“Never mistake activity for achievement” – John Wooden (Legendary UCLA basketball coach)

“I was always too stupid to know I could fail – that’s part of the reason I’ve succeeded thus far in life” – me=) 

“I’ve haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” – Thomas Edison

“I’m too busy watering my own grass to notice if my neighbor’s is greener” – Anonymous on Facebook

“Aim high and you won’t shoot your foot off” – Phyllis Diller 

“A closed door is every bit as important as an open one” – me=)

“Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours” – Yogi Berra 

“…but every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle” – Thomas Jefferson

“Little league baseball is a good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets” – Yogi Berra 

“History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme” – Mark Twain

“Forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them so much” – Oscar Wilde 

“The dictionary is the only place where success precedes work” – Quincy Jones

“The future ain’t what it used to be” – Yogi Berra 

“Make mistakes, make mistakes, make mistakes…it’s the best way to learn I always say” – Mrs. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus

“It ain’t over till it’s over” – Yogi Berra 

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Ben Franklin

“If momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy!” – A Wise Man

“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid” – Ben Franklin 

“Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes” – Jim Carrey 

“Normal people never change the world” – Me=)

“Do I not destroy me enemies when I make them my friends?” – Abraham Lincoln 

“Action is the ONLY reality. All else are just dreams or plans.” – Me=)

“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

“The best method for elimination is prevention; the best method for prevention is preparation” – Me=) 

“Don’t get too comfortable from recent success; likewise, don’t be too cautious due to past failures” – Mike Tomlin (Steelers Head Coach)

“Man may be head of the house, but woman is the neck that turns the head!” – A Wise Man

“Display my enemies now, and save us all precious time and unnecessary peril.” – Me=) 

“I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it!” – Voltaire

“Support bacteria. They’re the only culture some people have.”  – Anonymous

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky 

“Explanation alone is neither a reason nor justification for doing something” – Me=)

“For every failure, God plants a seed of success” – Church Sign 

“God is a verb not a noun” – Buckminster Fuller

“Perfectionism is but a fancy euphemism for procrastination” – Me=) 

“Don’t give up, even Moses was once a basket case” – Church Sign

“It is in the carrying-out of plans that we find God – Me=) 

“Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get” – Ray Kroc (Founder of McDonald’s)

“Chance (luck) favors the prepared mind” – Louis Pasteur

“Goodness” is not a static measure, it occasionally moves” – Me=) 

“Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three rights do make a left” – Gallagher

“We are but a conglomeration of our habits” – Me=) 

“Faith is perhaps the most powerful force in the world – it can heal the sick, raise the dead, and make a crazy person seem smart.” – Me=)

“Life’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon” – colloquial saying

“They may have won the battle, but they haven’t won the war” – Common Proverb

“You have two choices in life: you can work hard now and play later, or you can play now and work hard for the rest of your life.” – wise man at my first job

“…we shall pursue perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly – knowing all the while we can never attain it.  However, in the pursuit, we can catch excellence” – Vince Lombardi

“If you have built castles in the sky…that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them!” – Henry David Thoreau

“I know God won’t give me more than I can handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much” – Mother Teresa (paraphrased) 

“I have found the paradox that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love” – Mother Teresa

“If all Christians acted like the Christ in whom they profess, all of India would convert” – Ghandi (paraphrased) 

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians” – Ghandi (paraphrased) 

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does” – William James

“God is always the one driving the car. But, that doesn’t excuse me from having to put gas in it!” – me=) 

“In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths” – attributed to King Solomon

“Memories are made  everyday, but relationships are what determine their value.” – Me=)

“God is in the details” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 

“Labels are never just ‘labels,’ but they are the names of spirits that we take on, and whose identities we assume if we are not careful.” – Me=)

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor” – Truman Capote 

“The greatest discovery…is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude” – William James

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you’re right” – Henry Ford 

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say” – Ralph Waldo Emerson 

“It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark” – Howard Ruff

“I did it because no one ever told me I couldn’t. And, if they did…I chose not to listen” – me=)

“Gnothi Sauton (Know Thyself)” – The Oracle of Delphi 

“True character is shown when you’re stuck in the rain without an umbrella” – me=)

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” – Semisonic’s song “Closing Time” 

“Beware men of thought, for they are often prone to inaction” – Philosophical Proverb

” Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” – Alfred Tennyson 

“We ride and never worry ’bout the fall; I guess that’s just the cowboy in us all” Tim McGraw’s song “Cowboy in Me”

“Thoughts are often involuntary or present themselves without warning; however, acting upon a thought is the one thing that we can control, and yet we pretend as if we are helpless in the matter.” – Me=)

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” – Paul from the Bible 

“I can do all things through Christ whom strengthens me” – Paul from the Bible 

“Neither life nor success is a straight line; instead, both are sinuous peaks and valleys of trials mixed with tangential moments of glory and asymptotical divinity. Yet, one thing is certain – the peaks and valleys are cyclical, so neither tarry nor seek comfort in either one for too long.” – Me=)

“Forbidden fruit makes many jams.” – Church Sign

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” – Jesus

Poetry – Tennessee

The following is a poem titled “TENNESSEE” that was written by me and originally published in 2012 in the Old Red Kimono…

She kicked an empty bottle along the beaten Tennessee pathway.

She though to herself, “My God, is that what I should like sometimes?”

Echoes usually don’t last that long, even in the Tennessee mountain air –

Almost as if the sound was meant to resonate deep within her soul,

Oscillating back and forth in her head,

Invading her very essence.


She looked on the outside of the bottle and noticed the labeling.

It said “Coca-Cola.”

What would her labeling say?

Would it say “loser,” “queer,” or some other derogatory term?

The birds continued to cackle in the background.


Perhaps this was just what she needed.

Sometimes, when the air is filled with cackling…

And piercing, negative thoughts –

Mixed with reverberating sounds of emptiness, of course –

A situation seems like it is just a microcosm of what life is.

Temporal moments of ridicule meant to refine – and ultimately define – an individual.


So what if the bottle was empty, the birds were laughing at her,

The negative thoughts were penetrating her mind, and she was supposed to be sad?

She could just simply…move on in either direction at the approaching fork in the pathway,

Leaving it all behind her.


If this situation, at this very moment, was supposed to represent life to her –

Then things were looking pretty good.

For, the next time someone dared to make her feel diminutive,

She would just simply move on –

Where choices are to be made, and unknowns are to be conquered.


But, what she would not do is,

Stay stagnant and listen to the ridicule.

Friday Fright Night

The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book titled My Perfectly Imperfect Life (or Something Like That): Based on a True Story…

Friday Fright Night

Just last night, something made such a loud “thud” in the other room that my wife thought Jesus was coming back. She sat upright in the bed – screaming – and, shook the devil out of me. I leaped up from the bed to the floor in one continual move, and my daughter came running and screaming into our room from hers – at least that’s what she said. However, recent developments (and a confession in order to get ice cream from Bruster’s) revealed that my daughter, Nadine, had actually already sneaked into our room a few minutes earlier – that was routine though. But, what was not routine, was my wife shaking me, screamingly, and telling me to go see what that noise was. Actually, that’s fairly routine too, now that I think of it.

Anyway, after I quickly assessed the situation, and figured why we were all screaming at the tops of our lungs, I was ready to proceed with my investigation. I still don’t know why I woke up yelling; I guess because everyone else was so it made sense in that moment. My daughter was hiding under the covers (because everybody knows this gives you immunity from boogeymen and thieves alike). It’s like the boogeyman’s going to be like “Dang, she’s got a cover over her, I gotta look for someone else now.” Perhaps he won’t know who or what she is because she’s “under-cover?”

Anyway, my wife was standing over by the window giving herself a half-hearted attempt at a reassuring hug, and I was in my Tennessee PJ’s ready to go commando on somebody…no, not that way, but Arnold Schwarzenegger-style. Come to think of it, maybe I don’t mean it that way either considering the whole housekeeper/maid incident.

I proceed into the next room with a baseball bat in hand to find my cat licking herself with a cool tranquility that makes me wish I could be so care-free. Not that I would want to lick myself out in public or anything, but I would like to not have a worry in the world at this very moment because I would be sleeping in an ideal world. But this wasn’t an ideal world, and it certainly wasn’t an ideal situation. So, I got mad at this very moment because I wanted to be asleep, and someone was trying to break into my domain. I try a different tactic than my cat – which would involve putting me all out in the open. So, I yelled out, “If somebody’s in here, you better come out now!” I know not to go running from room to room blindly. Heck, I watch scary movies, so I know the propensities up for which my skin color sets me. How’s that for trying to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition?

Anyway, after a long waiting period, and searching the house from top to bottom, I find nothing unusual. I retire back to the bedroom to find my wife sitting on the end of the bed, drinking a bottle of water nervously, and my daughter looking frightened like she’s seen a ghost or something. She was now standing by the window where my wife once stood. They had traded places on this early freaky Friday-morning occasion. I decided to interrogate them both now to find out just what this loud noise was. In short, my wife “thought” she heard a noise loud enough that it could’ve been Jesus returning, but then again, she concedes, it all might have been in her dream. My daughter also verbalizes that she did not actually “hear” a noise at all, but rather she just started screaming because my wife, Jessica, did. So, I now feel certain that it had all stemmed from a dream. But, one last investigation remained. My daughter tells me that she keeps feeling a draft come over her that is chilling her to the bone. And, on the Discovery Channel, she once heard on that show Haunting that this indicates a ghost is passing by.

I looked at her, so innocent in her little night gown with the moonlight glistening off of the white material in a luminous fashion, and gave my thought careful consideration before answering her. Most parents know that this type of question could easily be a trap, for if I say it’s all in her head, she will know I’m trying to bluff her because I might be scared myself. On the other hand, if I tell her that it didn’t happen, she will think I’m like the typical dad in those Haunting series that doubts and doubts until the ghost finally possesses him in the end, and lastly, if I tell her that some do say that chilling wind-blasts within closed rooms from nowhere are indicative of a ghost passing by, well…there goes my sleep for the next few months.

I looked at her again, so innocent like a movie scene…she’s a spitting image of her mother with her hair seemingly flowing in the wind and her looking so scared in the eyes as if to say “Daddy, please solve this issue for me because I’m too afraid to move from my spot unless you give me some serious answers.” I come to her rescue and tell her to shut the A/C vent she’s standing over and get in the bed over on her mom’s side.

Another night, another superhero feat accomplished by daddy….I love this imperfectly perfect life of mine, at least until morning comes…tune in next blog – same batty time, same batty website. THE END.

Time for a New Car…Thank You, Phoenix

The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book titled My Perfectly Imperfect Life (or Something Like That): Based on a True Story…

Time for a New Car…Thank You, Phoenix 

Sometimes, you know when it’s time to get a new vehicle. For instance, if you have a pre-rehearsed line because every time you pull up at a red light or go through a drive-thru, someone informs you that your car is smoking…this might be a sign to get a new vehicle. Or, if every time you go grocery shopping, you leave the doors wide open on your car, hoping that someone will care enough to steal it – only to come out and find that no one cared….this might be a sign to get a new vehicle. By the way, whenever your car catches on fire – this is a good sign too. And, it happened to me one day.

My wife had been on me about buying a new car. I told her that we didn’t need one. Whenever my Ford Tempo would start smoking, I would just reposition the oil cap, and it was good for at least another 30 miles. By then, when it started smoking again, it was time to refill it with oil anyway – a sort of built-in smart-failure device system to remind me.

I went out looking for a new job anyway just so I could afford a new car just in case my Tempo broke down. I called her “Temperance” because she reminded me how good it was to have achieved this “fruit of the spirit” and not want for anything too flashy. My wife called her “Temptress” though, because she always seemed to “tempt” my wife to want to burn her. In fact, I would have thought my wife was the responsible arsonist for what happened at Kimoto Tech had I not seen it with my own eyes!

It was a typical off day for me, and we were young, wild, and free – well, free for every 30 miles until I had to re-oil “Temperance.” I was going from job site to job site, filling out applications with my wife, and then we pulled up at a place in my home town named Kimoto Tech. This place specializes in ink jet coated films and specialty substrates for large-format printing according to their website. All I know is, when you pull up, there is a big sign that reads “NO SMOKING ON PREMISES – HIGHLY EXPLOSIVE AND FLAMMABLE MATERIALS.” I parked the car in the lot, and my wife told me she thought the car was on fire. I told her she was overreacting. Old Temperance always smoked like that after parking her on a hot day.

“No, I think I smell something burning!” My wife exclaimed.

“Well dear,” I said, “I’m about to go into this building where they burn materials. I’ll check out the car when I come back out, but I’ll bet you’re smelling the fumes in the air from this plant.”

After I got out, I noticed items falling down from under the engine area of the car. “Get out now!” I exclaimed. My wife jolted out of the car, and I immediately thought of one thing…my Men’s Health magazines! I carried several around in my car for reading purposes whenever my wife took too long inside the grocery store. So, I go to read them a lot.

Anyway, I ran into the now burning car with her tugging on my arm and got all three of them out. Then we went into the plant and politely waited for the secretary to address us. I tried to butt in on her conversation with some other applicant whom she apparently knew from way back, because she was promising he would get hired and asking about his “mom an’nem” while simultaneously managing to ignore my wife and me. I tried to tell her about our situation twice but was silenced with an assertive “Sir, please wait your turn,” followed by an, “I said HOLD ON.”

“We’ll just wait our turn,” I told my wife, “until she at least acknowledges that we are people too.” After all, she’s right. We shouldn’t try to butt-in, it’s not polite. After she exchanged documents with the potential employee – meaning she took his application and he took her written-down cell phone number and heart that was openly-displayed on her sleeve, she acknowledged us with a “we are not hiring at the moment, but we are taking applications.”

“Thank you for telling me this ma’am,” I explained, “But, I am here to tell you that my car is on fire out in your parking lot.”

“What!?! What!?!” she exclaimed.

I tried to tell her again, but I assumed that she heard me since she called in all sorts of codes over the intercom and within minutes, fire trucks, policemen, and people of distinction were out on the lot surrounding our now charred car.

“This your car, son?” asked one man of distinction.

“Yes sir, it is.” I confessed.

“You work here?” he asked.

“No sir, but I was trying to get a job here. That’s why I’m out here now – I just turned in my application. But, I believe I’ll just postpone for now and just wait until I have reliable transportation to apply again.” I said.

“Well,” he said, “we’ll remember you.”

I never re-applied out there. Instead, I got a job offer from another plant where my friend and I carpooled until we could afford a car of our own. But, that man sure was nice out at Kimoto Tech. I hate that I never got to take him up on his offer though…unless he meant it sarcastically. Who knows? But, my wife was happy because we got another car. And, you know what they say…a happy wife makes a happy life. Tune in next time – same batty time, same batty website. THE END.

My Experience as a Non-traditional Student at Georgia Highlands

The following was originally published in the Six Mile Post, a newspaper at Georgia Highlands College. A link to the original publication is supplied at the bottom of this page.

I am Joey Johnson, an admissions recruiter for Georgia Highlands College. I, like many other students, followed a very nontraditional path to Georgia Highlands College.

I always wanted to be a physician; however, I did not believe this was possible. So, I began working in a factory, which I loved, but it did not afford me the opportunity to treat and teach people like I yearned to do. Luckily for me, Georgia Highlands College offered very flexible class hours…and opportunity.

I began attending GHC in the day while working third shift. After I switched jobs, I was able to take the classes I needed online and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. while working first shift. Going to GHC offered many opportunities that other institutions could not.

While here, I was still able to be president of several organizations, attend valuable workshops and get scholarships that paid for me to continue going here while also attending another four-year institution.

I liked going to GHC so much that I took all of my medical school pre-requisites right here. I also got all but one of my necessary academic letters of recommendation from here.

Not once did these decisions hold me back. Instead, the medical schools loved my rationale for choosing to take this path. I told them that I felt GHC’s philosophy aligned more with my mission of wanting to grant access to people who might not otherwise have an opportunity in life.

As Cinderella says in the play “Into the Woods,” “Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.” Notice how I cited that? Yeah, I learned that from GHC, too.

In life, one must pursue every opportunity to its fullest potential. I feel that GHC gives many students this chance, and I am glad to be a part of promoting this mission. In the end, I was accepted into several medical schools, and I feel this is a testament to the quality of education here.

I graduated from GHC last year and was fortunate enough to get a recruitment job here afterward – encouraging and counseling students to “keep moving” toward their goals. I will be gone next June, but I hope that I will have left an impact on someone’s life by then.

I empathize with the struggling student, the parents who give it their all and the student who is all jacked up on Monster just to make it through that 8 a.m. history class. I encourage anyone to come and talk with me about anything.

As the old Chinese proverb goes, “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.” I know what it’s like, because I’ve been there, and I will never forget my path in life thus far–the one that runs straight through Georgia Highlands College.


Link to the original published article via the Six Mile Post website:

Article Published in Six Mile Post on being a Non-traditional Student


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Finding the Right Hair Style “do you”

The following article explains the trials I went through growing up in a small, rural, predominantly white town. It is light-hearted and meant to be read in a comical manner. I was an honors student, and I was often the only minority student in many of my classes. I struggled to fit in with both the white students and the black students. I usually hung out with my fellow classmates from the honors classes. For this reason, I was ridiculed by many of my black friends, but whenever I hung out with the wrong group of white people, I was quickly reminded that I was black. The following article portrays my struggles in finding my identity of who I was through the concept of finding the right hairstyle, or hairdo. It was written to be inspirational to minority students who may find themselves in the same situation that I grew up in. It’s original title was ” ‘Do You,” and it was published in a minority-focused e-magazine.


Whether one rocks the current hairstyles of today (like the fro-hawk, the Rihanna-inspired asymmetrical bob, or the resurrected “bro fro”), or the throwback styles of yesteryear (calling all House Party and Jheri-curl fans), it must be admitted that social life is simply incomplete until he or she attains the right ” ‘do.” While most people will readily concur that everyone does not have the face, confidence, or character to rock as many hairstyles as the umbrella princess herself, they also must admit that everyone has tried his or her fair share of experimental hair-dos. My advice – you have to ‘do you (hair-do, that is). I remember walking into my eighth-grade classroom after self-inflicting that briefly-popular Ginuwine sideburn on my face, only to have my friend tell me “Just stop honey, ’cause it ain’t working for you!” Needless to say, I had to get off that pony, recoup, and come back with something more commonplace to convince everyone that I was still that “same ol’ G.”

Eighth grade was definitely my experimental year. It was 1998, and Xzibit had not yet become the revamping famed star that he is now. Even so, I knew about him and tried to “pimp my ‘do” with cornrows one day (happy that I had even gained enough courage to grow my hair out that long), and I only achieved more embarrassing memories. Being different in my hometown was frowned upon; I guess it is because I grew up in a small country town. I even believe I saw Jeff Foxworthy drive through a couple of times just to take notes and get new material.

Anyway, I was often the only black student (the term “African-American” had not yet caught on, so I was still “black” back then) in class. I took many advanced placement classes and was in the gifted program. Therefore, I was by default the “go-to” guy for all questions about the black race, like “Why y’alls ‘un talks the way yer do?” But, I was also the butt of many jokes from my black friends because they said I was trying to be white. I was criticized for sitting with the Saltines (in efforts to be PC, I inserted a euphemism here) at lunch. I didn’t feel that I could win for losing. So, my hairstyle journey in many ways represented my path to finding my connection with the black race. I felt akin to Grandison – only my hairdo was my passage way. All in all, I just wanted to fit in and feel normal.

I never understood why when a black student does well academically, many of his black friends call him a sell-out. I also never understood why when there is only one black student in class, the teacher feels obligated to ask him or her in front of the entire class how a particular story about racism or the Antebellum South makes him or her feel. You know the situation; it’s when the teacher says, “(insert name), how do you feel about the use of this blatantly derogatory term – the (clears her throat) “N” word in Huck Finn?” Then everybody slowly and awkwardly turns around to stare at you, awaiting you response to the teacher’s stumbled-upon “black” question. I don’t know how many times, when all eyes were on me, I wanted to start spouting out “I ain’t a killa but don’t push me!” I wonder if that would have satisfied their appetites. Really, what were they expecting me to say?

Toward the end of my eighth grade year, I finally settled on a simple mini-fro. And, before I cut it all off that summer, I cut a hole straight down in the top of it – so I could place a Coke can in it. I used my head to solve the cup-holder crisis that arises at high school football games. Speaking of high school, I found out that summer between eighth and ninth grade what ‘do worked best for me. I needed the low-cut fade, with a little more hair left on top. With this look, I could lock in the waves the night before if I wanted to, and I could also put in a little Blu Magic for that glossy shine whenever I felt froggy. I went from feeling like an outcast to being so fresh and so clean, clean. I had finally found what hair-do fit me best, and I rocked it all during my high school years.

Reflecting back on it all now, I can see many things in hindsight. For instance, whenever I wore my hair in braids, plats, or an afro, I was treated with less sincerity by teachers, business people, and other professionals. I judged this based upon the criteria of how much time the professional would spend talking to me, how often he or she would look around to see who else was noticing us conversing, and how helpful he or she was with the issues I had. In case you are wondering, yes, I actually had nothing better to do in my small town than to observe how different people reacted when I dressed a certain way or wore a particular hair style. I still do this occasionally; however, I will keep the instances in this essay strictly limited to my observations with different hairstyles.

I also noticed that I got more compliments whenever my hairstyle was kept short. I was told things like I looked “neat” or “professional.” This is the main reason for my wearing the short-fade haircut throughout my high school years. Not everyone can look as suave as Larry Fitzgerald with the braids. Now that I have graduated from my undergraduate college and will begin medical school this year, I am able to take these experiences with me and teach them to others. I am a counselor and advisor to our state and national award-winning college minority program – “Brother to Brother.” We recently won the “Chapter of the Year” award at the national Student African-American Brotherhood convention in 2012. I teach the students in our program the importance of presentation and perception.

I do not teach them to cut their hair if they have braids, plats, cornrows, or “bro fros.” I do not teach them to try to “fit in” with a particular demographic group – regardless of their ethnicity, race, or heritage. But, I do admonish them to find what style fits them best – and rock it! And, of course, I ask them to do so with integrity.

Braids, high-right low-lefts, cornrows, and fancy, sinuous Ginuwine-sideburns did not work for me; however, it may work for someone else. One day, my present hairstyle will not be possible for me to wear (I currently sport an all-over number 7 guard-cut). As I age, I may have to do the “Cesar” cut. I might even get depressed and do it to the extreme – the ” ‘do” that Bozo the Clown has made famous – just to prove that I still have hair that can grow somewhere else on my body besides my nose and ears. But, regardless of the hairstyle – you have to “do” you. Ethnic hair and fashions are beautiful. I love to see women of color take pride in their hairstyles, as well as men. However, sometimes we must keep within certain parameters in order to get where we need to go. This fact should not go neglected; Jay-Z’s hair proves my point. He can certainly wear it as uncombed as he wants to now and is still respectfully deserving of the title “Mr. Carter.” But, before he got to where he is now, he was recognized as the sharp-dressed, well-groomed rapper with plenty of intellect.

In conclusion, I have learned that the hairstyle is as important as the clothing that one wears. We all go through experimental stages with both. However, once one finds the style (in both hair and clothing) that works best for him, then he should perfect it – giving it a unique flavor within respectful parameters. I have learned in life (through experimenting with many different hairstyles) to experience, grow, learn, take constructive criticism, and modify when necessary. But, I do not ever let someone tear me down for what I have to work with. I will work with what I have and perfect it. And, I will do so not just with my hair – but, in all areas of life. Thank God for my hair, and thank God for my style I have found! My hair and its many styles have helped me become who I am today – a confident, mini-fro sporting, African-American male medical student who is happy to share his story!


Link to the original published article:

Article on being a Minority Student in Rural Town

Published Videos or Articles About or By Me

Articles in Pre Med Life:

Article for Premeds on Why Rural Medicine Shouldn’t be Discounted: (pg. 38)

Article on Caffeine Consumption and Limits: (pg. 30)

Shorter University Summer 2014 Magazine

On page 22 of this magazine

Publications in The New Physican

Feature Article for October 2014 on the Current State of Minority Medicine

Short article published in the 20th edition of TNP

Article in LMU-DCOM COMmunity LINC:

Article on Scholarship and Student DO of the Month (p. 4 and 25)

Article Published in Six Mile Post About Me Being a Non-traditional Student:

On Being a Non-traditional Student

Articles in Rome News Tribune About My Accomplishments and brief bios:

 Joey Johnson Rome, GA (Six Degrees)

Joey Johnson, Scholarship and LMU DCOM

Joey Johnson, White Coat Ceremony Article

My Award-winning Speech on Affirmative Action (Georgia Highlands first-annual speech competition):

Affirmative Action

Presentation at Georgia Highlands College on the Necessity of Inter-religious Dialogue (Co-existing without Compromising) via Youtube:

GHC Presentation on Inter-religious Dialogue

Article on my wife, Jessica Johnson

Nursing Major Eager to Work







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