Updated: Feb 4, 2021
Who is LaJoyce?
LaJoyce is a young woman striving to make a difference through her actions, education, relatability, and vulnerability. LaJoyce believes the best way people learn is by seeing others and finds that there is a deficit of people who share their life with others. Being a young millennial, she’s seen the negative connotations associated with adulting and had her share of struggles that come from the day-to-day. LaJoyce strives to be that guiding light to others when preparing them for life and what to expect through her personal experiences and her work in the community.
“Adventurous, Determined, and resilient are three words that I would use when describing myself. “
What Is Always and Forever?
Always and Forever is an organization that supports individuals in middle through undergrad school who are simply trying to navigate life. The program was started in 2018 and was launched in 2019. The organization spreads resources specifically for mental health due to LaJoyce's mental health journey at the start of the organization. Lajoyce shares that Always and Forever is pinpointed towards middle school students to undergrad; the time where many people begin to have life chosen experiences or very solid experiences that are going to shape you for the rest of your life. “A lot of us have made statements like adulting is ghetto or this is not what I expected,” said LaJoyce. LaJoyce associates this perception with the lack of having made connections or being connected to someone who has experienced where a person may currently be. As a result, there is a misconception of what life should be like after high school and college. Once a person exits high school or college, they have to face the reality of life not being what they expected, while dealing with everything that goes on in the world, all while trying to find themselves. As a result, many emotional and mental issues can arise. Always and Forever was created to prevent these experiences and the mental health issues that can arise from them.
“I don’t feel like mental health was talked about enough among high school and college students and it’s assumed their life is going great but that’s not always true.”
Testimonies that Led to Always and Forever / Birthed from pain:
"In 2018 I was on a plane flying to my first solo international trip. I wrote, “people think my life is going great.” At this time, I was preparing to graduate with my master's degree and had just moved into a new apartment because of a job I landed. What most people didn't know is upon graduation I had lost my job the Tuesday before I moved into my apartment. I went on to be unemployed for three months while still in school, with my closest family three hours away. Through it all, I was trying to hold it all together because none of my friends knew the internal battle and struggle I was facing. Also, because I am a person who doesn’t like to rely on others, I was dependent upon credit cards. If I needed help, I would tell nobody, I would look at my credit cards and I would say, “well I guess it’s going on the credit cards.” With all of this, I was heartbroken, had no job, and I was relying on credit cards to survive.
I was in undergrad and having a conversation with someone very important to me who asked me what I was doing today. I replied, “I'm just going to lay in my bed and stare at the wall.” For some reason, they did not believe me until we revisited the conversation a few days later and they asked me what was wrong with me and I said “I'm depressed.” At that moment there was no solution given. It’s hard for a black Christian family to talk about depression, anxiety, or emotions at all. At that moment I didn't blame that person for not knowing what to say but looking back I would have said, “get up, go talk to a counselor or someone who can get you to someone who can help.” Don’t neglect that feeling because it'll continue to build. Yes, Always and Forever was birthed out of that time, so I am grateful, but I should not have ignored the emotions when I knew they were there."
The Main Goals for Always and Forever
Always and Forever strives to inspire, encourage, and create a comfortable and safe space for everyone; specifically, people who are coming into adulthood.
The ultimate goal is to shine a light on mental health for those in middle school through college and even the post-grad era of a person's life.