The last months of 2015, were very rough for me. I experienced a lot of personal and professional loss; I spent a lot of time journaling, crying, praying and processing what happened so I could move forward. I was stuck until one of my mentors told me to let go of the people and things that I don’t need or want in my life so that I can make space for the people and things that I need and want in my life. So I followed her advice and starting back on my path to get an abundance of the most important things in my life.
The New Year started off great, I was excited about new connections and re-connections with people and new things that came into my life personally and professionally. I began to see things that I worked and prayed for come to pass in my life. I was getting many pleasant surprises in my life as well as seeing the results of stepping outside of my comfort zone. It was amazing to see all the things that came into my life as a result of letting go and making space. One of things that I was making space for was to get some of the things I wanted out of my personal relationships; I had a made a decision to put myself in an environment that would allow me to get most of the things I needed and wanted personally. I was excited that decision and started moving in the direction to for the lack of a better term get back to being happy and whole.
Then out of nowhere, a professional opportunity that I thought wasn’t an option anymore came my way. I had mixed feelings about taking it because it would cause me to delay putting myself in an environment that would allow me to get most of the things that I need and want personally. However, the professional opportunity would allow me to add a new professional experience to my resume that would help me achieve some of my future goals as a social entrepreneur and attract clients for my consulting firm, Kemet Educational Services. So I prayed about it, talked to most of the folks that I thought the decision would impact the most and decided to take advantage of this opportunity. I knew that my decision disappointed some folks that were important to me, but everyone seemed supportive and understood why I decided to take advantage of this opportunity. I embarked on this new journey which meant it was a huge sacrifice personally in the short term, but could be a long term gain professionally.
I started this new professional opportunity in late February and the last few months have been a struggle. My mind knows that it was the right thing to do in the long term, but my heart is experiencing a lot of short term loss. This year I was supposed to focus on investing in my personal relationships because I know that if you aren’t happy and at peace personally it impacts you professionally. I tried my best by spending time and money to have the least possible impact on my personal life because I didn’t want the people that I cared about the most to feel like I was making my career a priority over them. I struggled with the impact this new opportunity had on the professional goals that I had set out to achieve this year; I knew that some things would have to be postponed.
About two weeks ago, I was hit a devastating blow in my personal life that was a direct impact of my decision to take advantage of the professional opportunity. A few people that are important to me informed me of the impact that my decision had on them on these past few months. I’ll be honest, this caused me a pain, tears and confusion because I was doing the best that I could to be there and support the people that I cared about the most. I’m at a standstill about what to do; these are relationships that I want to preserve but at the same time I understand that my decision impacted my ability to be there for people I care about in a way that they needed me to be there for them. It is a situation where no one is right or wrong, it is just how people feel about the things that are happening in their lives. We all make the best decisions that we can at the time; but what happens when we experience collateral damage from the decisions that we make.
So right now, I’m experiencing all the emotions that come with experiencing short term loss for long term gain. I’m praying and journaling to process the emotions. I’m being intentional about making plans as well as spending time and energy on projects and relationships that will ensure this professional opportunity that I made personal sacrifices for has a long term gain. With the individuals that told me how my decision impacted them and over the next few weeks and months, I will do what I can to repair those relationships because those folks to me are permanent people in my life and I don’t want to lose them. I’m taking inventory on myself and my personal relationships because I don’t want anyone I care about to ever feel like I’m choosing my career over my personal relationships. I’m on this journey of having an abundance of the most important things in life. To encourage myself, I’m more frequently repeating my personal mantra that I will have all the relationships and resources to accomplish all I need and desire to be and do in my life.
A few weeks ago, my world was put on hold to deal the emotions that a statement that a non-Black woman that is in an ethnic group that she could be considered a “woman of color” made to me concerning the Sandra Bland case. The myriad of emotions this incident made me feel were too overwhelming for me to get through them alone, so I reached out to family and close friends to process my emotions. In most of my conversations that were meant to console me, folks also mentioned that I should pray for her or I should tell her about herself. I understand the rationale but at that point, I could give zero f$*#s about that woman, I needed to get myself together. Two days after the incident I was mentioning to a sistafriend that folks wanted to me pray for and/or educate this woman, but I was like f#%k that b*%#h, I need to focus on dealing with my pain and moving forward in a positive direction. My sistafriend told me that it was perfectly okay for me to feel that way and focus on me because “no one thinks about us but us”. It was that affirmation from my friend that was the beginning point of my healing from this incident. It was like she confirmed that it was okay for me to focus my time and energy on me.
For several days, I thought about my friend’s statement; “no one thinks about us but us”. We as women, but especially Black women are trained to think about others just as much and sometimes more than ourselves. I’m a spiritual person and the Bible is the book that I chose to help guide me in my spirituality. There are so many instances in the Bible where we are taught to think of others; “pray for your enemies & those that despitefully use you” and “do unto others as you want others to do unto you”. I understand, believe and apply those biblical principles to my life. However, there is a delicate balance between doing what you need to do to for yourself and what you do for others.
The things that take up our time and energy each day are what we desire and need to do for ourselves and the thing that others desire and need for us to do for them. Each day, we have a finite amount of time to accomplish the things that we desire and need to do for ourselves and others. We have to make decisions about how we will spend our time and energy; we make those decisions based on our priorities. My older cousin has a saying “that is so low on my priority list it is invisible”. As much as I would like to do everything, invest time and energy in my relationships, some things and people become invisible. In these past few months, I’m learning to make sure that the things that I desire and need to do for myself don’t become invisible. If I don’t take care of the things that I desire and need to do for myself, even those things that require support from someone in my network, no one will.
I’m perfecting my process of that delicate balance and here is what I’ve come up with thus far:
Be honest with myself about the things that I desire and need to do for myself both personally and professionally
Make time in my schedule to do those things, continue to work on them until those things are accomplished and don’t get distracted
Communicate to individuals, especially those that may be directly impacted by your unavailability, why you are available
Be okay with saying no to individuals that desire and/or need you at time when you need to spend your time and energy focused on you
Never feel guilty about saying no or feel that you have to justify how you chose to spend your time and energy
The folks that genuinely care about you and have your best interest at heart will support you, even if they don’t understand, and will be there when you are ready to resume spending your time and energy on them.
I’m not quite sure who first said it, but this quote has been surfacing on my social media outlets; “Never say yes to others at the expense of yourself”’. We all have relationships that we want to spend time and energy in building and maintaining. We just have to make sure that we don’t neglect ourselves and our needs.
This is my first time blogging in months. I couldn’t find the energy to do it. I was struggling personally and professionally and it was hard to blog when you are trying to figure out life. Right before I was on the verge of stepping into depression a conversation with a mentor helped me identify what I was experiencing. She told me that I was going through a metamorphosis in which I was transitioning from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Metamorphosis isn’t an easy process, at times it is painful, but you come out of it better and stronger.
After that conversation with my mentor, I dealt with things head on when it got hard I worked through it when at times I wanted to give up. I also made changes in where I spent my time and energy. I re-evaluated my personal and professional relationships and made adjustments. I re-evaluated my social entrepreneurship journey and made a decision that although I would still continue to run and operate my nonprofit organization SEM Link it would no longer be my primary revenue stream. Which lead to me taking a temporary position at a local university in order for me to make that transition without having the pressure of meeting my personal financial obligations. In this transition period, I had a lot of hard conversations with myself and others about what I needed and wanted out of my life both personally and professionally.
Even through what was a hard few months, there were some amazing things that happened. I had the pleasure of serving as a speaker for STEM Day at my alma mater Florida A & M University. I expanded my network and am building relationships with folks that are good for and to me. I was able to host program activities for my nonprofit SEM Link in three urban areas (Atlanta, Chicago and San Francisco Bay Area). I made the decision that my way of building wealth through social entrepreneurship would be through offering more products and services through my consulting firm Kemet Educational Services. I even created a website, social media platforms and had a graphic designer design a logo for the firm. I also determined that speaking engagements would be one of my revenue streams and I conducted a few professional development workshops for undergraduate STEM majors. I also wrote my first book,“A Guide to Hosting STEM Events, which is the first step in having writing as a revenue stream.
My metamorphosis process wasn’t easy but my mentor was right. I came out of this process stronger and better. I’m happy and at peace. I know that I will constantly evolve and grow as a person and professional but my transition from a caterpillar to a butterfly is over. The timing of this transition is perfect because I recently celebrated a birthday. So I will start my new year of life grateful for the lessons that I learned during this process and the progress that I made personally and professionally. I will focus on spending my time and energy on the projects and relationships that allow me to be and do all I desire.
I hate it when teachers call their students lazy. Or when they refer to having the class from “Hell”. When teachers say that do they really know what they’re saying? I’m offended when I hear that. I think a student’s parents would be offended to hear it. What about the students themselves? If a teacher thinks that poorly of their student or class, do we think that can be easily hidden?
I’ve actually never met a lazy student. Bored? Yep. Disengaged? Yep. Unmotivated by irrelevant academic hoops? Yep. But lazy? No.
The truth is I was one of those kids. Most of my marks throughout elementary & high school were pretty dismal. Usually it was because I was bored. Worksheet after worksheet. I skipped most of high school. I even skipped most of University. One can only handle so many lectures. It wasn’t until Grad school that I began…
As of December 2014, the national unemployment rate is 5.6%. That is a decline of 1.1 percentage points from December 2013. This is good news and a sign that things are headed in the right direction. As the unemployed and under employed vow to make 2015 the year of change as it relates to their career or job situation, there is one thing everyone should think about. Relocation.