• Daizha Lankford

An Open Conversation About Love On Hampton's Campus #1



As I was thinking about one of the most amazing things about my college experience, my relationship was one of the first things to pop into my head. In college, love can be a tricky thing, especially at Hampton. So many people are going through different phases and it's a lot to take in. So, I decided I would have couples interview each other to really get the true, transparent, and beautiful essence of this thing called Hampton Love.

I decided to start with my own relationship because it not only opened my eyes, but I think it will open a lot of people's eyes on what it is truly like to be in love in college and how complicated it can be navigated your self-discovery along with someone else's. My partner in crime is Rio and we had a lot of fun asking these questions and talking about this stuff to share with y'all. Enjoy!

How would you describe what it means to be in a relationship or be “in love” on Hampton’s Campus?

Rio: As crazy as it sounds, I’ve been in a relationship pretty much my entire Hampton tenure. I’ve never known what it was like to be single or date anyone other than my girlfriend. And while some looked at me concerned and figured I made a mistake, I think it was the best decisions I could have made. To be in love on Hampton’s campus means to be intentional on the uplifting and encouragement of one’s significant other educationally, socially, and even financially. It requires a tremendous amount of sacrifice and an unorthodox level of honesty. To be open to discuss the things we like and we don’t like or the goals we have and how different they can be. Through it all, support, trust, and faith are the foundation of a Hamptonian relationship. There are constant challenges that we face everyday being in a relationship on campus. But we make each other better, keep each other focused, and are each other’s greatest support systems. Literally could not be the man I am now without the woman I love and I’m forever grateful for September 17, 2016.

Daizha: To me, being in a relationship depends on the two people in the relationship. When outside factors start impacting a relationship, it usually causes an issue. I’m grateful for Hampton because I met someone who I love very much there and our relationship grows each day. However, I know several people who are stuck in the time of the “talking phase”. To me, it’s a lot of mixed feelings and miscommunication. I hate to see people go through that when they have so much love to give, but have nobody willing to give it genuinely back to them. College is supposed to be a time of self-discovery and whether you do that in a relationship or not in a relationship, growth is such an important thing. I’m lucky I’m in love with my best friend and to be able to go through college while he's there. Everyday I just can't believe that God placed him in my life. It shows that God loves me so much that he shows that love through him. It also helps he happens to be one of the greatest Hamptonians I know!

What are some challenges that you have faced in your relationship and how have you overcome them?

Rio: Definitely communication and understanding of one another. I can often be so wrapped up in my own world that I forget to take the time to connect to others or make time to do so. I can be so rigid and focused sometimes that I don’t take the time to smell the roses. We have to balance each other out. I’m quite analytical and logical and she’s passionate and full of life. I can be spontaneous and adventurous however and she’ll be focused, organized, and intentional on executing the plan given. Finding the balance has been the most difficult aspect of our relationship by far, but it has made us better individually and better collectively.

Another major issue is my frustration for the lack of respect other men have for my relationship. Just because she may be the most beautiful thing in the world does not give anyone a pass to express that in whatever way they see fit. Not always being there to protect her causes a great burden on my heart at times, but I have to trust in God for her safety and peace of mind.

Daizha: Well, clearly when I post him on social media or vice versa everyone only sees the happy times and the amazing moments, but little people know about the outside struggles that we face. Like I said earlier, a relationship is between two people. I love to share the good times with people because I don’t mind shouting it from the rooftop that Rio is my best friend.

But…

Like every relationship we have struggles. We struggle with outside influences, opinions, social things, life balance, etc. I’m a very affectionate person, and I like to spend quality time with the people I care about. So, if I feel like there’s not a balance, it’s easy to get disconnected. We are both super involved on campus and we can either be with each other all of the time or not be with each other at all.

We have learned to communicate more (which after almost two years is still the biggest challenge in our relationship). We have learned to be more understanding of each other, be empathetic, stop being so serious all of the time, live in the moment, and be friends before anything else. Of course we fight, but he ain’t going nowhere, so it’s all good.

What’s your favorite thing about your partner?

Rio: Everything. Next question. But seriously, she has a way of bringing out the best in everyone she’s around. She lives for the purpose of helping others and it shows in every aspect of her life. She’s selfless, compassionate, focused, goal-oriented, A TOTAL BABE, and has a way of making the world stop with just a smile. Through the midst of all she’s encountered, she’s a fighter. She fights to live and she fights to love. Honestly she’s my biggest inspiration and truly my favorite part about her, is her. Call me cliché, but whatever. It’s the truth.

Daizha: My favorite thing about Rio is probably his ability to love on everyone. He’s such a genuine soul and he has an amazing heart. Every time I see him interact with people, I think… wow, God literally radiates through his soul. He is kind, genuine, intelligent, FINE, and everything that God calls him to be. He is a kid at heart and he definitely gets on my nerves, but at the end of the day he’s my best friend. I have so many things I love about him that sometimes I really pray to God and thank him for sending such a wonderful person into my life to love me.

How important is self love to your relationship, how are you working to improve it?

Rio: It is by far the most important aspect of a relationship. I believe we learn to love others because we know what to love and not to love about ourselves. I believe self love and love for others has a direct correlation. The more love we have for ourselves, the greater our capacity becomes to love others. We can only give as much as we have. In terms of my relationship, the more I love myself, the more I can love her.

Personally, I struggle with self love at times. I often compare myself to others and wonder how I equate to the success they have accomplished. It can be quite toxic. But I don’t really care about what others think of me anymore. It’s more of what I think of myself and how I know I can be a better person. I love being self-sufficient and never having to need anyone because I don’t want to be disappointed or let down by anyone and if anyone lets me down, I want me to be the only person I can blame because I can control that. This often turns into self-dissatisfaction and even self-hate. But by learning to trust others and knowing at the end of the day God made me the way He did for a reason helps me understand who I am and if the God I love is in me, I have no choice but to love myself. Being cognizant of that and praying daily helps me to develop this self-love so that I can love others better.

Daizha: I think I probably struggle with self-love the most in our relationship. I have a lot of insecurities that have grown tremendously at Hampton, but I’m definitely working on them. I think my biggest lesson this year was that I can’t put my identity or my happiness in the hands of someone else. Someone can make me happy and love me, but they can’t be my happiness, joy, and love.

At Hampton specifically, I mean, there are a ton of gorgeous, smart, intelligent women. I used to think, “How could a guy like him, love a girl like me” til I realized who the hell I was and starting telling myself that I was beautiful, strong, and empowered. I realized that self-love is not admitting that we don’t give our all to someone else, it’s just realizing we have love for them and ourselves. Most importantly I have to remind myself and him that as my boyfriend, Rio is apart of my soul... but he doesn’t complete me. I do. That’s a daily affirmation and struggle, but self-love is a process.

What have been your most important relationships at Hampton beyond your romantic relationship?

Rio: My Day1 freshman year bros, my bigs, my fraternity brothers, LBs, 17 (you know who y’all are), and honestly most of the people I’ve come in contact with. Each person and each connection made has had some influence in my development as a person. I literally cannot name every person because it would take forever to name each one, but they know their significance to my life and I hope I have the same significance to them.

Daizha: I’m pretty blessed to have an amazing group of friends, sisters, and bigs. I don’t think I could go a day on campus without talking to my terp sisters. They’re everywhere, so it’s pretty impossible, but they are truly my anchors. All of my friend groups have taught me about the importance of sisterhood, loving myself, being bold, and the importance of letting loose sometimes. I have never laughed or cried so much in my life being around them. I am beyond thankful for them.

I think it’s so important in college to have friends outside of your significant other. They are able to give you a type of love that no one else can give you. They can see things in you that no one else sees. I truly have to shout out people like Jasmine Kromah, Tayllor Miles, Jayda Hinds, Mercedes Matlock, Kevin Mondy, Kiatre Pattum, Kendall Yelverton, Daija Rivers, and Victoria Daniels because they have instilled so much in me that no boyfriend ever could. In a society that can encourage women to find their identity in someone or something else, these people push me to find my identity in myself and christ. I’m so thankful for that.

How has it been growing as an individual while growing with your significant other?

Rio: Hard. Hard as hell. Because quite honestly, I’m still figuring myself out. Trying to determine if this major is right for me, if going to this medical school is what I want to do, or even if I want to attend this event. The options are endless and each choice leads to a different path for my future. But sometimes I think for not just myself, but for my relationship. I think what’s going to make us better, how will this affect our day, and several other thoughts in terms of us rather than me. And while I love Daizha wholeheartedly, I have to understand sometimes that I need to put my own self-growth before the relationship’s growth. Sometimes the only way WE will grow is if I grow myself. As I change, she changes. However, if I get so lost in her change and try to conform to it, I lose myself and the person she fell in love with. It’s important to have self goals, self care, and self growth to ensure growth in the relationship is even possible in the first place.

Daizha: Yeah, I’m the most organized person that most people know, and my self-discovery rotates from being in shambles to being completely figured out. I try my hardest to grow as an individual, but I can also use Rio as a clutch sometimes. He truly is my rock in so many situations and trying to venture out on my own and really focus on self-growth can be hard. It is such a balance to not losing yourself in the person you love. I have a really hard time with being selfish. I am willing to drop it all for someone I love, and Rio basically tells me “No shawty, live your dreams.” I hate that because I feel like sometimes he doesn't realize he is apart of my dream. BUT… I am learning that being selfish isn’t always bad. Going after your wants and dreams for yourself isn’t a bad thing. You can have it all with a little bit of balance and a lot of work. Rio went after one of his biggest dreams this year, and I felt left behind, but now I’m realizing that, that was for him, and my dreams are for me. Eventually our dreams will connect and that will be a great day. For now, I am learning to grow with him and not in him. We are both such strong people separately and I love the journey that we're taking together. Besides your own, what relationship has influenced your perception on love in a positive light and serves as a model to look toward?

Rio: My parents. They have always been my biggest inspiration. They showed me it was possible to be in love with your best friend and that every relationship takes work. My parents have been married for almost 23 years. The greatest love lessons they’ve taught me were how to respect one another, how to value one another’s opinions, how to resolve conflict with positive energy while still being expressive, and that vulnerability with one another is important to succeed. I can’t, however, compare myself to their relationship or mimic it. I have to let my relationship exist in its own form and allow the unique identity it has to flourish in its own light, not in the shadow of theirs. While my parents have had a significant impact in the way I operate in my relationship now, it’s doesn’t mean that everything they did works or will work for mine.

Daizha: Honestly, my parents were never together. I never really saw what love was supposed to be in a close form until my dad got married, and even then I still looked up to other couples. I always thought about how this would impact the way I loved and if I could ever have a successful relationship or marriage if I had never seen one up close and personal. My dad and second mom are truly one of my favorite couples. They are best friends. They roast each other on the daily, and they love each other fiercely. At the same time, my mom has shown me the most important kind of love and how to apply that to my everyday life. Unconditional love, the love that a mom has for a child, the love Christ has for his people, it’s all so influential. I constantly say Agape, because it’s the highest form of love. I guess my inspiration has been a concept more than it has been people.

How do you keep the spark alive in your relationship?

Rio: Laughter, transparency, adventure, and Christ. Daizha is low key one of the funniest people you will ever meet. We’re always laughing at the dumbest stuff no one else finds funny but us. Laughter always keeps the relationship upbeat and positive despite the not so happy times. Transparency. I cannot stress enough how important that is to our relationship. Often times I can just be nonchalant and non expressive, and she can shut down emotionally, but being transparent moves us past a place of comfort and complacency. Lately we have been more adventurous. Just being creative in our dates/romance and spontaneous in our everyday living. Random text messages, random calls, random trip planning. Adding an element of adventure always helps. Lastly, but most importantly, we have to pray. Pray for understanding, pray for consistency, and pray that our relationship grows in Him and that despite our own desires, that we stay connected to Him.

Daizha: As you’ve heard, I am the planner of the relationship. I am sparked by Pinterest boards, planned dates, and organized schedules. When Rio came into my life, he encouraged me to be more spontaneous and we’re making progress in that department. To me what keeps the spark alive is the openness we have. We can joke and laugh and talk about anything and I love that. Somedays, we just get up in the middle of a rainstorm and go to the beach to sing random songs and dance in a storm, and I love it. We love food. Food definitely keeps the spark alive. I don't think we’ve ever not bonded over our love of food and trying new restaurants. Rio is my best friend and the way he makes me feel is like fireworks every single day. We are so comfortable with each other, and we have been working on going out more. Going on actual dates, surprising each other, making our calls more meaningful, and being more in the moment. Everything about him keeps our spark alive. He is the spark.

#love #college #relationships

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