I’ve always loved to read. In elementary school I was the student that always wanted to read aloud during “popcorn” reading. I had been practicing my reading at home and I wanted the whole world to know, the world that was my elementary school classroom that is. I did exceptionally well on the reading and writing portion of standardized tests, can’t say the same for the other sections. I was the overachieving kid that wanted to read the most books a month to get the accelerated reading award. I wanted to know every word possible and I almost won the 5th grade spelling bee but homophones didn’t want me to be great; I spelled principle instead of principal. Needless to say I’ve always loved reading, learning and knowing.
I remember reading Elie Wiesel’s Night, a very vivid chronicle of Wiesel’s experience during the Holocaust, and being captivated by his story telling skills. Every page revealed a deeper dive into his experience and as I read each chapter, every scene seemed to be playing out in front of me. The words jumped off the page, the story moved me and I loved it. It was exhilarating. I felt the same way reading Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and so many other works that I consider literary masterpieces. Each of these works were written by impeccable storytellers that had the ability to convey a story, whether their story or not, with a skill that was undeniable.
My most recent read was Rebecca Walker’s Black Cool. Black Cool is a conglomerate of heavy hitters in black culture. Authors, photographers, activist, educators and artists make up the chapters of this book. I mean seriously, bell hooks, Michaela angela Davis, dream hampton and Henry Louis Gates Jr. all in the same book!!!! Needless to say this was a great read. Beyond the names and beyond the resume’s of the featured writers, Black Cool dives into the multifaceted being that is the Negro, the African American, the African, the Caribbean black. Hipster, geek, audacity, hunger, soul and authenticity are all words to describe Black Cool through the eyes and experiences of these writers. These phenomenal stories tell of a side of blackness that we don’t often hear or see, the world of blackness outside of how we are portrayed in the media and who we are through European eyes.
This work of art tells of the diversity across a people that have long been studied by outsiders, people so fascinated by our cool that they just need to know. But the truth is, our cool, Black cool, can only be fully understood by those who possess it. Those who have an inextricable link to an ancestry of cool. I’m talking Harlem Renaissance type cool. Cool that stretches across generations, oceans and continents. Cool that defies reason and gravity. Cool that is simply unexplainable. Black is not a singular description for people with melanin rich skin. Black describes an endless palate of hues, an array of cultures, languages, beliefs and origins. Black describes a resilience that was passed on generation to generation. Black informs, strengthens and uplifts. Black is beautiful, multifaceted, intelligent and just all around cool.
If I had to describe my Black in a few words, I would say that my Black is a resilient champion, a visionary, a dreamer, audacious and a game changer. My Black is strong, vulnerable, determined and brilliant. My Black is driven, poised, introspective, decisive and focused. My Black is undeniably, unapologetically, unfathomably…cool.
I’ve always believed in stepping outside of ones comfort zone, pushing the envelope, a by any means necessary approach to dream chasing. Dream chasing ain’t for everybody!! A select few actually withstand the test of the race. The idea of success may be without a doubt the most commonly thought of idea on the planet (at least in my mind). Everyone seems to know what the end goal is for their life — money, successful career, family and all that jazz — but not many people know or understand the journey that will come along with the dream. Success is not a sprint, its a marathon right?
I left Savannah on August 29, 2012 en route to DC with 2 weeks worth of clothes and the idea that I would solidify a job in 2 weeks, return to Savannah to gather my things and run off to settle into a new life in DC. Sounds reasonable right? I packed mostly “business attire” set out on a mission and boarded an 11 hour train ride to DC. What I thought would be a quick two week endeavor turned into the best, most enlightening 9 months of my 24 year old life.
Over the course of those nine months I worked a few different jobs, sat in a number of job interviews — one company said I was too professional, major side-eye to those losers — attended job fairs, got chumped by bums on filthy DMV metro buses, (I probably should have recorded all of this so people would believe me), missed my train 700 times, walked 9,782 miles (an arbitrary number but I’m sure that’s accurate), lost 2 smartrip cards (gold in the DMV), laughed enough for 2 million people, spent at least 3 of those months inebriated and unconscious all in the name of fun and the underlying challenge that comes along with the phrase “turn up”, discovered my passion for cooking and renewed my commitment to total wellness. Oh yea and worked for the most powerful man in the free world and had the honor of introducing his boss M.O (April 4, 2013). HA!
My time in DC taught me so many things, enhanced me as a person, left me with valuable friendships, lessons, great connections, a strong sense of independence and most importantly a heightened sense of self. I began writing more, meditating (something I’m still working on) and taking more time to learn me through introspection. This journey was necessary, those memories were necessary, the ups and downs were necessary, every single moment was a necessary part of my story. After all, no one wants to read about the girl who played it safe, never took chances and sat in a cubicle all her life to retire and knit until she died of boredom. At least I don’t.
One of the greatest lessons I learned while on this part of my journey was purpose. What I know for sure now is that you can’t run from purpose. Your purpose will find you at every turn, in every hiding place you create, every situation you pursue to avoid it, no matter what, your purpose will find you. Purpose is laced with destiny, it is inescapable and undeniable. Every turn I made my purpose was there, every defeat I faced my purpose was there, every single moment of joy, excitement and sadness because of perceived failure, my purpose was there to remind me that life is a not meant to be completed on a timeline but life is composed of millions of key moments compiled into a lifetime of greatness. Living freely while living on purpose and in your purpose is the best gift you can give yourself. Be true to your purpose and the rest will fall in place.
"You can still be who you wish you is, it ain’t happen yet and that’s what intuition is" ~ Ye