During this month, we had the chance to catch up with Jeansie St. Juste, a graduating senior at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. We wanted to check in and hear a little bit about her story and how she continues to overcome when the unthinkable happens. She shares with us her insight on coping mechanisms, staying true to who you are, and what she's doing during COVID- 19.
Thank you so much for joining me Jeansie, what are you doing while in quarantine?
I’ve been trying to be extremely productive. I’m still working two jobs but at home. I just attained my ServSafe certificate and I completed my hospitality management course as well. I feel like this was a break that we all needed just to pause and get everything together. It’s like pausing a movie so that we don’t miss anything good, so we can get what we need once we start our movie again.
Tell me a little bit about you. How did you grow up?
I grew up in Miami, FL. I lived in a two-parent household and had a decent childhood. At the age of 7, my parents divorced and I moved to Tampa. I do have two older brothers but it’s like I’m the big sister. I’ve always been the one who my parents relied on the most. Growing up, it was me running things, you know, women do run the world. I have two nephews and a niece. A newborn nephew, who I am obsessed with him.
Growing up in a Haitian household, it was hard for me to find myself.
What do you mean by that?
It is frowned upon to express yourself in the Haitian culture. For example, if you’re told to do something and you question it, it’s seen as disrespect. Don’t get me wrong, I love my culture and I am very proud to be Haitian. It was extremely hard-hitting the age of 18 and going to college. Coming from a home where I am told exactly what to do and how to do it. I’m told that being me, isn’t really the right thing to do. It’s like they’re trying to live through me. Which most parents do but it’s difficult when it’s coming from my culture. It’s strict, they don’t really leave room for you to be who you are.
With you being a very expressive person today, do you think this stemmed from what you weren’t allowed to do and express growing up?
I feel like I would have probably found myself a little earlier if I was able to express myself as a kid. I couldn’t tell my mom “I want to get a pink streak in my hair.” That was not allowed, it was definitely frowned upon. I feel like who I am today and how I choose to express myself, not only has to do with my culture but it also has to deal with the people that I surround myself with. The people I am around have such great energy and they’re so self-expressive in a manner that it’s not disrespectful. It’s okay to say how you feel and coming here to Tallahassee where it’s so many African Americans that are so different in so many ways. This actually gave me the push to be who I am.
So college helped with that?
It did, it definitely did.
What is something monumental that has helped shape who you are and where you are today?
Many things have helped me but you said monumental so I would have to say losing my mom. You would think that losing your mother would hinder your growth… kind of like a huge stop sign in your face, feeling as if you just can’t do it anymore. Don’t get me wrong it has been extremely hard, however, it has pushed me to get the job done. I feel like I have a point to prove. I don’t want my mother’s life to be in vain. She came here at the age of 24 from Haiti with no papers or a green card. She ended up getting her citizenship and making a life for herself. She has worked so hard her entire life and for me to lose her and know that I won’t have that person in my ear telling me to get it together and push me. I don’t have my person here, so I have to push myself so that I don’t fall into a hole because if I do that, who’s going to pick me up?
Was your mom like your best friend?
Definitely, as I grew older our relationship grew stronger. She was my best friend— my go-to person.
I know you just lost another best friend— this all happened in a short time span in relation to one another. For the average person, how are you still going and overcoming? Do you think that you’re overextending yourself?
Subconsciously I am. My childhood and my children’s childhood can not be the same. The goal is 8 sources of income and I will not stop until I get there. It is difficult to deal with my emotions and my sanity as a whole with all of the things that I’ve been through, with all that I am trying to do, and expectations. Nothing is impossible, I don’t believe in limitations. Growing up how I did, losing my mom at a young age, and losing my best friend less than a year after, you have to do all that you can do while you can do it because another day is not promised. I will not be the person to lose my life and not know that I did everything I possibly could with the time that I had here on earth. In a way, I do believe that about 10% of it is me coping but the other 90% is me ensuring that I have the life that I want.
You possess so many talents, such as cooking, modeling, nails, fashion, and the list goes on. What is your true passion?
I can easily name one of my skills and say I’m passionate about it but I know the reason I am on this earth is to help others. I'm really big on manifesting and affirming… you have to pray, have faith, and put in the work behind it. I truly believe I’m on this earth to help other people. Whether it’s making them feel good through their makeup or satisfying them with food or just being 'that' comfort for another person. I know it sounds cliche to say “I’m here to serve other people,” but I am.
Prayer or Therapy?
Prayer all the way. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with therapy. I have had a couple of sessions myself BUT God, he will do it every single time.
Close your eyes. You have no obligations, money is not an issue, family and friends aren’t an issue. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’m looking around. I just woke up in Los Angeles, where I live. I’m going on a walk because it’s a nice day outside. I’m throwing on my favorite shades. I have my iPhone on the side of my arm. I'm going on a stroll to enjoy the scenery, the flowers the busy streets, truly appreciating what God has done for me. I am blessed spiritually and financially. I’m 33 years old in Los Angeles living my best life, I don’t have a care in the world. I am extremely successful. I don’t have to worry about those things that I had to worry about as a kid. I’m sad that my two favorite people aren’t here to witness this but I made it and I know that they’re proud of me.
What stigma annoys you the most?
The idea that anyone who likes someone of the same sex is going to hell or that God loves them any less. I am a walking testament that my God loves me the way that I am. We also need to stop associating things with identity. I feel like that is something that’s very prevalent in our society. I really dislike it. So, I would definitely have to say a stigma that I am over is gay, lesbian, transgender, etc. aren’t human, essentially, and that they’re supposed to love a certain way. It’s ridiculous. Love who you love, love them hard, and hold them tight. At the end of the day the people with opinions, more than likely can not and will not do anything for you in the long run.
I grew closer to God because of a woman that I was in a relationship with. She really brought me closer to God. Of course, the relationship didn’t work out but God knew what he was doing. He knew who and what he had to use to get to me. To this day, anybody who knows me, “did you pray about it?” You need to pray about it, you need to have faith, you need to trust God. Worry is a lack of faith. There’s not one person walking this earth who can tell me about my relationship with God.
Close us out. What’s a saying or quote that you live by?
[As she shows me her bright pink “uplifting wall”]
It’s not a quote from anyone famous, it’s more so a devotion. Something that you say when you wake up… “I welcome financial, emotional, spiritual and physical abundance in my life. I welcome even more love, success, happiness, inner peace, and clarity.”