Reflecting on a Decade of Life, Lessons, & Laughter

It’s official! I’ve been out of high school for a decade. My 2001 class president and fellow officers are busy planning the reunion on facebook and I am sitting here wondering how 10 years passed so quickly.

In some ways I am such a different person than I was at 18. I’ve acquired (through much hard work and dedication) two degrees–my BS from Florida A&M University & MAIA from San Francisco State University, I started my design firm IsrylDesigns in 2006, and I’ve amassed some wonderful friends along the way.

Throughout the years I’ve learned to be more confident in myself and what it means to stand on your own two feet. Even with all of this, sometimes I still feel like that young lady who walked across the graduation stage not knowing what’s next.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned (and wrote about) that have made these 10 years fly by. While I’m thankful for those lessons it was no easy feat to get through them. The last three years have been particularly hard on my finances and therefore my health. I’ve written about the year of 2011 being my year for restoration so it is no coincidence that it is the same year as my 10 year high school anniversary.

During the transition from young lady to a single women business owner, I lost touch with some of my very good friends from high school and it will be a pleasure to see them at the upcoming reunion. I cannot wait to share stories about how life’s ups and downs have created trials and triumphs.

I cannot begin to list all of the trials and triumphs of the past decade. There are far too many and I’m sure there will be more in the upcoming decade. But I will highlight a few triumphs:

  • 1. Graduating from a historically black college (SPR 2005). I owe Florida A&M University some of the credit for building upon the foundation my parents laid. It was at FAMU that I met some of my closest friends. I also learned that black is so diverse and beautiful. When I matriculated to FAMU, my self-esteem wasn’t the best. In fact, I covered the fact that I was depressed most of the time by using my sense of humor and style.
  • 2. Graduating from San Francisco State University (SPR 2009). A dream come true. I wanted to attend SFSU for undergrad but my parents wouldn’t let me. It was during this time that I deepened my passion for design and started my own business. My peers were exceptional and being inspired by them taught me how to become a better designer.
  • 3. Joining Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (SPR 2006). My sisters…what can I say about them? As an only child I never had the opportunity to grow up with siblings. Being a Delta has taught me a lot about sisterhood and service. And though we may bicker as sisters do, we do it in love. It is a feeling beyond words to have the pleasure of knowing these wonderful women, working with them, and calling them my sisters.
  • 4. Starting IsrylDesigns. (SPR 2006). I believe that owning a business teaches you more than any textbook can. Wow…from my first client until now, I have developed many brands, creating some amazing wedding invitations, designed cookbooks, learned how to pick my clients and how to run a creative business. I’ve aligned myself with like-minded women professionals who inspire me to keep going.
  • 5. Mentoring with Technovation Challenge (SPR 2010 & SPR 2011). Technovation challenge is a program that exposes high school women to technology through building mobile apps. This program is the way that I take my passion for design and technology and pass it on to the next generation. It is amaze-balls to see these future designers/programmers brainstorm ideas. There minds are so open to possibilities.

I really could keep going but then I would need to turn this post into a book. 🙂 I say all of this to let you know that overall it has been an amazing decade for me. Even the painful lessons have opened the door for great opportunities. I cannot wait to attend the reunion and I’m looking forward to several decades more of lessons, life, and laughter.


Crystal-Marie “The Diva”

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