#MEFIRST SERIES FEATURED POWERHOUSE
MARLIN 'GOODJUJU' SANTANA
What does a day in the life of GoodJuju look like? How do you stay balanced?
GoodJuju: Ideally my week would look hella lit. If I had it my way I would wake up to mangu, listen to Lauryn Hill on repeat, light some sage and write. But for now, in the world where I have to adult, it's still lit, just with a lot more responsibility. Monday through Friday I work 40 hours a week in my office, teaching college prep and making sure seniors get into college. This means that I spend my weeknights/weekends choosing to live a full life. So AKA, I do the most. I brunch, go to church, have dance practice, catch new episodes of Love and Hip Hop, write, spontaneously go out with my sisters to restaurants we love, catch up on Instagram and text messages on the train, obsess over my boyfriend over FaceTime, and keep up with my one margarita a week ratio lol.
I may do the most but peep game, I NEVER SACRIFICE MY COMFORT. I learned that putting yourself first starts with YOU so it's going to look different for everyone. I stopped comparing and hoping. I instead started to focus on what I like and set aside more time to choose to do the things that make me happy. I give myself credit for being all that I am because all that I am is bomb as fuck. I am so selfish with my time and I am quick to revoke privileges to my light. I will say no in a heartbeat because I choose to check-in with myself every day and make sure that my choices reflect who I really am. And then, I thank God for it you know?
Please tell us about your self-love journey! What did you learn about yourself in the process?
GoodJuju: I recommend that everyone take a deep look at their childhood because I believe it's the foundation for self-love. Growing up I had no control over any aspect of my life. I wasn't allowed to do anything but read and play with my Barbies. My parents, two hardworking survivalists, had made it their mission to create an environment that would nurture my brother and me into achieving goals that they never did. As a result, my parents had my entire life outlined for me. I don't think I made a single choice and/or took a risk until I was 17. I was floating through life. I hated my cage. I became such an angry and resentful person and would take it out on my parents. Consequently, I became the black sheep of my family and was told time and time again what a bad person I was. I lived with nicknames like La Diabla and began to believe that that's who I was.
I think the most difficult part of my self-love journey was having to teach and un-teach myself the lies.
As a second-generation immigrant, I have parents who I appreciate and adore. However, their love language was one of providing and surviving, as opposed to telling me I am unstoppable or beautiful or at the very least, offering an explanation for the sheltering and dimming of my light. The biggest part of my journey was breaking free from the depression their upbringing cultivated. I spent a large part of my life believing I was a bad person because I chose to hurt in silence. I'm not going to lie, that shit is dangerous, feeling like you don't deserve any good. It's something that today, I have to learn to nourish and believe especially when triggers arise. I was hurting until I went away to Buffalo for college. I had placed so much distance between my home and myself that I was able to explore a whole other version of myself. I was brave, I took risks, I was in control and able to develop all of these new aspects of myself. If it wasn't for college I don't know who I would be. I owe Buffalo and my hermanas so much for creating a safe space for me to be myself.
Marlin (pronounced Marlene) 'GoodJuju' Santana was born and raised in the Bronx, the South Bronx to be exact, by two immigrant Dominican parents. She has several years of experience in Education and currently serves as the Assistant Director of a college access program that supports first-generation low-income students on their journey to, through, and beyond college. She is strong, powerful, and even when she is overthinking herself into stress, she pours good energy onto others. She is an extremely passionate person and finds herself being the happiest when she expresses herself through art and poetry.
Educator, Artist, and Poet
It is often those journeys of self-love that lead us to come into our own. Does your journey inspire your creative pursuits?
GoodJuju: I never told anyone how I was feeling growing up besides my notebooks, I would squeeze my words through pen points. I have been writing spoken word poetry since I was ten. However, it wasn't until I joined my college's magazine and we hosted an open mic on campus that I lived out my love for poetry publicly. I believe every person has a talent that allows them to tap into a universal language where they're able to get people to relate. Poetry is that for me, I don't just perform for myself, I perform to set others free. When I perform I kind of go into this trance where I am invincible, where my mind just takes over and I am able to let people into my vulnerability. I am able to heal others with my words and that's my superpower. I spent my entire childhood in silence and now my biggest form of release is speaking. My poet name is GoodJuju. GoodJuju because I am it, GoodJuju because I spread it, GoodJuju because I don't know how to be anything else.
What advice would you give your younger self about self-love?
GoodJuju: Self-love doesn't have to be this grand gesture. Self-love is in the small choices you make every day to create happiness for yourself. Be brave in those choices and focus on your story, in your lane. Choose to outgrow definitions, to fall short and especially, to enjoy the peace that you deserve. You don't need to be fixed, you can be love and heal at the same time! Know that you are love and honestly the most beautiful person inside and out sis, anything else is a lie.
In what ways do you nurture your self-awareness? What role does it play in your self-love?
GoodJuju: I am a full-time friend. I think I learn the most about myself when I help others. I am blessed enough where I know that the people in my life are genuinely good people and are, like myself, fighting every day to be the best versions of themselves. So, when they call for advice or to vent, we serve as mirrors. The people in your life are a representation of your self-love because you are the love you accept. I have so many strong women in my life that aren't afraid to tell me about myself but still serve as safe spaces to just be scared, anxious and just complain.
Learn more about GoodJuju by checking out her Instagram @_Goodjuju ! You can also get your dose of her soul-nurturing poetry @Goodjujupoetry or check her out at her next live performance. Thank you, GoodJuju!
Choose your growth...