Life Beyond the Edges

Tiffany D. Pogue, PhD
2 min readMay 10, 2024

Some of my earliest memories are of changing schools what seemed like every few weeks or so. Most of these schools — because of being in military towns — were predominately composed of white children who had already formed foundational bonds with one another. That left me, the new Black girl, to fend for herself. And as some may tell you, that the instability caused me to control the one of few things I had control over: my bladder.

My parents often joke about how often they had to bring clean clothes and underwear to me at some Saint So and So school and how they sometimes felt sorry for me.

As big as these memories are in my mind, I don’t recall many conversations with my parents about the moves or the many transitions I endured from birth until fourth grade.

Perhaps that is the beginning of always feeling a bit like an outsider that had to work harder than others around me to belong. These memories may also shape how and why I avoid transitions. I’ve been afraid of leaving jobs, living situations, relationships…you name it…because of how the change would require me to once again find a new space and a new way to fit in.

I remember when a Babalawo in Miami told me that I came to earth to fight. Back then, I thought he was telling me that I had the heart of an activist. To this day, I believe that part to be true, but I do not think that’s really what the message from my Orí was. Instead, I think what I was being told is that I was going to have to fight to manifest me — the real me.

All my life I’ve tried to be the good girl. I got good grades (until those FAMU days). I dated guys who looked good on paper (but had the reputation for being rough around the edges). I drank a bit too much at one point, but always made sure it was never publicly. Even as a college dropout, I found a “good” job, drove a nice car, stayed in a luxury apartment and presented an acceptable me to the world.

Now, years later, I have regrets that I stayed inside the box (even if I was on the edges of it). I wonder how much of me was gently filed away as I learned to fit into others’ expectations for me. I wonder how many opportunities I’ve missed because they did not come packaged as I thought they should. I wonder how much of me I’ve sacrificed. The edges were relatively good to me.

Now I wonder what outside will be like.

I feel like I have to learn myself all over. That’s frightening and exciting at the same time.

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Tiffany D. Pogue, PhD

Tiffany D. Pogueis an Assistant Professor of Teacher Education whose research interests include Black Educational History, Philosophy, & Literacy Tradition.