Look to the left of you. Now look to the right of you. Sometimes, in life we get caught up looking at what’s going on with everyone else and not focusing on us, which is the path straight ahead. I’ve always prided myself on being the type of person with tunnel vision. I’ve never wanted to follow what others were doing and always tried to remain true to who I was. However, lately I’ve been feeling lost. I feel as if life is just moving and I’m still trying to figure it all out. I look at the people on social media, and the people who I interact with in my everyday life and it’s just a lot going on. From the multiple degrees to the wedding engagements and marriages, it can sometimes feel like you’re doing something wrong because these things are not happening for you.
Recently I saw a Brittany Spears meme, coming to an understanding with her breakdown at 26-years old. You remember that break down; she shaved her head and was running through the streets with a umbrella. Although I am not feeling that overwhelmed, I understand the pressures of the world and how consuming figuring out your life can be.
So what can we do?
Focus on you, is often the answer that we hear, but that’s easier said than done. I do believe in tunnel vision however. I believe that you should figure out what you want in life and create an intricate blue print of how you will get there. Be realistic as well. There are going to be ups and downs so we have to be conscious of the setbacks and the triumphs. Furthermore, I believe you should never succumb to comparing yourself to others. We all are unique, we all are born at different times, we all have separate journeys for a reason and the minute we try to compete with others we’ve already failed.
I remember my wonder years as a college student. Whenever, I told someone I went to Penn State I would get the same response. Ohhh…Ahhh…Wooha! It made me feel good, like I was doing something great with my life. It made me feel validated even…But then after 4-years, I graduated.
As soon as I graduated, I knew things would change and it did. Now the Wooha’s were replaced with “So what now?” It was a frightening reality that my degree was just that, a degree, a piece of paper, and nothing I did in college mattered remotely to the giant machine we all know as the real world.
Eventually, the wooha’s came back when I landed my first job on Wall Street. I was working for a financial tech company which made it seem like everything I was doing was super important. Nevertheless, my enthusiasm about my job was lackluster at best and the wooha’s began to diminish again. People could see that although my job was great it didn’t align with who I was or what I should be doing.
Chasing the wooha’s led me to do many other things that did not align with who I was. It led me to apply to law school when I knew deep down inside I didn’t love the law that much. It led me to apply to business school when deep down inside I knew I didn’t like business culture that much. It led me to chase after goals that seemed pretty on paper and socially acceptable but just wasn’t for me. It led me to deny a bit of myself in the pursuit of acceptance.
Now, I am at the point in my life where the wooha’s cannot define my journey anymore. Yes it would be great to be praised for how successful I am, but society defines success in very rigid and traditional ways and that’s just not my trajectory. I want to be true to self, not the wooha’s. I want to be happy with what I am doing and I plan on doing just that.
Rejection. I hate it. I can’t deal with it and I know it’s one of my biggest deterrents in life. So recently when I got rejected by something, I decided to partake in activities during my pity party which included making a list of all the times I was rejected starting from when I was 10-years old. It was so ridiculous. (Sometimes being a blogger sucks because I have to reveal things about myself that are borderline embarrassing). Nevertheless, although I wanted this activity to bring more grief to my already forsaken mood, it actually brought on a revelation that I’d never even considered before that moment.
Revelation: Each time I was rejected, something better, greater, more fit for me came out of it and the moral of the story is…I turned out okay.
When I was 10-years old, I was rejected by Prep for Prep, which is a program for underprivileged students to attend private school. I thought it would make me look like I was not smart, but in reality I turned out fine and I excelled in public school.
When I was applying to college, I was rejected by my dream school Spelman. I thought it was the end of the world, but I enjoyed my wacky time at Penn State and met some of my best friends.
When I graduated, I couldn’t find a job for the life of me. It was so bad, I was rejected by the clothing store Uniqlo. Eventually, I found an excellent job and it’s been an amazing ride.
Throughout life, I’ve been rejected. Whether it was from boys, schools, or professional/social groups. I know essentially the rejection felt like failure, but putting things into perspective, it needed to happen to make way for something better to come into my life.
If you’re feeling defeated by rejection, I can only hope that you will not let it limit you. Put things into perspective and consider that maybe something way better is on the way into your life.
You ever feel like you have so much going on in your life that you barely make time for one-on-one with God? That was me a few months ago.It wasn’t like I completely ignored my time with him, but I was juggling too much and not giving him enough of me.
Fast forward a few months later and now I have all the time in the world to spend with him because I am now still. Listening to him. Waiting on his call for my life. Find out what changed so drastically in my latest podcast.
For the first time in a long time, I feel good about the direction God is leading my life in terms of my career. To be honest, I’ve fought it for a long time, and for the most part kept what I do a bit private, for the obvious reasons of professionalism, but what I am about to share needs to be written down, not only to help myself understand God’s plan but also to help and inspire others. Right now, with a new year looming towards us, I am reflecting on the growth I’ve made in my life and I am happy with it. This year has not been easy, it was filled with a lot of changes, some that I feared initially, but I am so excited for what’s to come, more so than previous years. The title of this post is called “Why I jumped off the Career Assembly Line.” I picked up a book recently, at Urban Outfitters (they have an eclectic book collection), and read a passage that talked about Assembly Lines in terms of your career.
Assembly lines, if you’re not familiar with the term, is a process by which things are progressively made in parts or work stations that add on to a sequence until the final assembly is produced. It reminds me of the car company Ford, which built their cars using the assembly line in the early 1900s. One station was in charge of putting the wheels on the car, the next station was in charge of placing the doors on the car, and so on and so on until finally the car was made. But the idea here is that the process is monotonous, ongoing, and straightforward. No change can happen or else the car won’t be identical to the others. The same can be said for my life (career wise), until I decided I didn’t want to be on the assembly line anymore.
The first time I made a drastic choice in my career, and decided I would jump off of the assembly line, commenced while I was in college. I started school as a journalism major and by my sophomore year switched to pursue a pre-law/political science degree. It was a huge decision, one that I still question, although I know why I did it. Journalism was my passion. I love to write; I can’t shake that trait about me, it’s a God given gift but my family wanted me to pursue a more stable career, so they told me, I should become a lawyer. I listened to them. I wanted to please them and so I did just that. I spent the rest of my college career, writing legal briefs, studying Constitutional Law in the library, and constantly on Lexis Nexis researching. As intriguing as the legal system was, I knew it was not for me. I didn’t get excited; I got anxiety. Literal anxiety. Now, as I reflect, I think it was a mix of knowing I was doing something unaligned with my purpose and being stressed by the course load.
My turning point came around the time when I started looking to pursue law school. I started visiting legal college advisors for some advice and direction on my decision to go to Law School. One asked me, “Law school is for people who’s really passionate about the law, why do you want to go to law school?” I gave a politically correct answer to save face, but deep down in my soul, I knew I was being fake. I wasn’t passionate about going to law school or the legal system, I was just trying to please the ones I loved most. One time I was asked this same question by another legal college advisor and I told her I wanted to help women as a lawyer. She followed up by saying “You do know you can help women without going to law school right? Besides, what do you do now to help women? Your resume shows you haven’t done anything since last year, while you were still in college.” She called me out and she was right. That day on the train ride home, I was excited that this woman had the balls to call me on my bluff because I knew, my life would change. I could do many great things in my career without going to law school, but how would I break the news?
The other day at my Weight Watchers meeting, Toni, our leader stressed the importance of finding things that you love and doing it. Based on our feedback, she created a list of things that we love to do or would like to do to have “Me Time”. The idea here is to use these ventures as a substitute for eating. See below some of the things we came up with:
Exercising/Going to the gym
Taking a new Class (Cooking/language/Sewing/Knitting)
House Work/House Décor/Pintrest
Taking a nice bubble bath/shower
Going to a museum
A lot of revelations came out of this meeting. For one, if you know me then you know that I don’t have a problem with finding “Me Time” but more on that later. What was surprising to me was how many people in that room thought personal time for themselves or a creative outlet was foreign or something they could not fit into their schedules. That’s terrible! There are so many people on this earth that are not living, they’re just existing. They go through the motions of life, without taking time to look up, and see the beautiful, colorful, and multifaceted world that God created. They go to work, come home, deal with whatever they have going on at home, and do it all over again the next day. To be honest, a few years ago this person was me! I just focused on my job. I had no other goals and ambitions and did not even think about a purpose for my life as yet. I know how miserable that life is, because you’re doing nothing to make an impact for yourself or others, you’re just there, existing.
Maybe I do these things too much, I thought.
While at the meeting, I questioned if I had a problem because I didn’t need someone to tell me the importance of finding creative outlets to just do what I love, I try to do something I love every single day, whether it’s writing, painting, reading, or going to museums, it’s definitely in my schedule because my soul craves it. Soul Food, or Food for the Soul is the single most important thing you can do to bring happiness and fulfillment into your life. Tapping into what you always wanted to do and just doing it, no matter how good or bad you think you are at it is such a beautiful thing and adds character to your personality and your life. Who knows you might even find your purpose in this. Matter of fact, I am sure you will find your purpose in just doing what you love. Some people might think whatever you’re doing is a waste of time but that’s because they don’t get it. The first line of Ecclesiastics in the bible says “Everything is meaningless” and when you think about it, it really is. Life is so temporary, we are here one minute and gone the next and nothing you do, not that degree, that job, that house or the savings account, can come with you, so why not make the best of it while on earth. Feed your soul with travel, feed your soul with time with loved ones, feed your soul with experiences, feed your soul with activities, feed your soul with all the things you love to do because it needs it.
Love Yourself Enough to Know When Its Time To Walk Away…
I know a woman who wanted to be in a relationship. The pressure of those around her was getting too deep. Friends questioned why she was still single and why she didn’t give dating a chance. Their judgment pierced her heart. She didn’t let them know, but it hurt. She felt perfectly fine discovering who she was spiritually, mentally and professionally. She was making great strides in her life and she took pride in working her way up the success ladder. But all of that didn’t matter to them because she didn’t have a man to validate her.
One day, when she least expected it she met a guy. He saw her in the midst of a sea of women and wanted her. She was flattered. He wasn’t the type of guy she normally went for, but she was open-minded and his persistence was admirable. Turns out, he was exactly who she was looking for. He was educated, ambitious and he understood her. It took a certain type of man to understand the type of woman she was but he did. Within a few months of talking they knew a relationship was the next step and made it official. She was on cloud nine. Could this be her husband? Things were great until things weren’t great.
This relationship became a problem when she realized that he struggled with a problem. She went to his house one evening and his over-zealousness was an indication that he had been drinking. Continue reading “Listen to Your Heart”
Oh the pressure! Maybe its me, maybe it’s them but the pressure exists. The older I get the more I realize I have to try and wean out that pressure in my life. Some people are not meant to be placed in a box and I am one of those people. I feel anxiety when people tell me I can’t fulfill my dreams because it’s not lucrative or won’t make me a million dollars. I also feel that same feeling of not being able to breathe when someone tells me what I should be doing as opposed to what I am currently doing.
I am a creative. I am at my happiest place when I am doing what I love. I am not where I want to be yet, but I believe every single thing I am doing with my life is what I always wanted to do. I have a board in my room and it lists my strengths. Under strengths it says Human Rights/Human Trafficking/Women Issues, Writing/Blogging/Websites, and Fashion Styling. Yes, fashion styling was something I always wanted to do on the side as a hobby but I never ventured into it for some reason. On the other side of the board it has travel and a list of places I would love to visit for the year and then finally there’s a list of my ultimate dreams and goals in life. I use this as a source of inspiration. When the year started I told myself I wanted to be bold and consistent. When I look back on the first half of 2015, I’ve definitely been more bold and I’ve tried to be consistent. I manage my Reserved website and blog on both my travel and lifestyle blog. This summer I will release a documentary that I’ve worked on for the past year dealing with human trafficking/prostitution. I’ve also shared some of my projects on social media which is huge and something I still struggle being comfortable with.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is only the beginning and will get better from here. Maya’s video gave me hope. She talks about her “come up,” and how God has blessed her life in so many ways. I am happy she created this video because it serves as a major source of inspiration for my journey as well.
4-years ago I graduated from college. Unlike my peers I was not happy about this accomplishment. During my senior year I applied to Teach for America and did not get in, which wasn’t much of a surprise. Teaching was not in my destiny in this context (I later became a Sunday school teacher which was more aligned with my purpose), but what the application process of Teach for America did reveal to me was how much debt I accumulated during my four years of college.
When I saw all those zero’s, I couldn’t believe it. I cried, screamed, yelled, and resented my degree. I resented everything it stood for because the knowledge that I gained in undergrad wasn’t worth that kind of money. I wrote to President Obama because the government was also on my angry list. I couldn’t believe we lived in a country where an education, to ultimately make a decent living could be so expensive, especially when there are countries like Sweden, Denmark, and even Germany that sponsors their citizens college education. The President responded but clearly there was nothing he could do.
When I walked across the stage I reluctantly took my degree. A few days later, I packed my bags, got settled back into my apartment in Brooklyn and began to search for jobs. I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I only had until December to figure out my life or else I would be in big trouble with those loan sharks. I applied to jobs daily. I was desperate willing to take on anything, but what I noticed was that a lot of these positions wanted people with 1-3 years experience. Immediately, I felt like I hit a wall. Finally I decided to put my life in God’s hands. I prayed for miracles, started going to church and most importantly living my life and taking advantage of this time off. I started to volunteer. I worked for Catholic Charities for 2-months until I was offered a paid position there. My starting salary would be $26k. I remember being so excited when they gave me my offer letter. I called my mom and told her my volunteering efforts landed me my first job. Continue reading “4-Years!”
So you want to plan a vision board party. Well, as someone who just hosted a very successful one, I’ll explain how. It’s rather simple and it was an idea that came about randomly. I knew it wouldn’t take much thought to put together and it would be a fun excuse to bring close friends together for an afternoon of fellowship and fun.
I am going to start this post off with a tip. Google Docs is the best. I used google docs to plan out my party and create a contact list for attendees.
Unless you have the space, its important not to invite too many people since this is a huge arts and crafts task that requires time and space. Also since a vision board party outlines someone’s inner most desires for their present and future be mindful of who you invite and make sure everyone is encouraging to one another.
Figure out a date, time and location. I sent all my invites via e-vite. I found a cute template and the rest was history. Most importantly, my invitations didn’t cost a dime and I was able to keep track of who viewed the invitation and rsvps.
The invite encouraged people to answer the following questions:
What is my vision for my life?
What are my dreams?
What do I need to do to achieve my dreams?
How much of my past is shaping the way I think and what I do? Is it effecting my present and future?