FullSizeRender (19)If I had to sum my week up in a few words it would be stressful, anxious, exhausting, and exciting. On Wednesday, I accepted a job offer that required me to go back to school to get a second Master’s degree through a residency program. I immediately got excited because I’m one of those weird people who loves school and what’s even better is I don’t have to pay for it. BUT everything came at me so fast. So this week was filled with phone calls, signing contracts, filling out forms, requesting transcripts, tying up loose ends and preparing for my first day of classes on Monday. This week presented so many hurdles. The icing on the cake was damaging the screen on my phone to where it was unusable. Things were piling up. I was getting overwhelmed. I felt myself drowning, so I had to shut everything down and take a walk….multiple times this week. As I took those walks, two options wrestled in my mind. I can cut the stress, say bump this job and grad school or I could just stay exactly where I am now: juggling a million deadlines, losing sleep, working hard and still being broke, living at home with my parents. “Touching” thirty, that last option didn’t seem to appealing.

I thought about all the things the first option would afford me. For starters, it would give me the financial freedom that I need at 26 years old. It would help me comfortably pay my bills, enjoy my life and fund my dreams, but most of all make a direct impact on the next generation who’d be filling our shoes. I mean that’s all I talk about anyway right? I thought about why I had decided to do this and the stress started to fall away little by little. I just needed to remember why.

So today’s message is brought to you by the question “why” because the question why is the beginning of your soul searching journey, your curiosity, and your need for answers. It is one of the most important purpose driven questions you can ask yourself at any stage of your life.

German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche once said, ‘He who has a why can endure any how.’ Knowing your why is an important first step in figuring out how to achieve the goals that excite you and create a life you enjoy living (are you living or are you existing). Indeed, only when you know your ‘why’ will you find the courage to take the risks needed to get ahead, stay motivated when the chips are down, and move your life onto an entirely new, more challenging, and more rewarding trajectory.

But what happens when you ask “why,” but haven’t received an answer? You start to feel like your life has no purpose. You start to feel like maybe you’re just here to exist because at this point, there is nothing extraordinary about what you’re doing and you have no idea what you even want to do beyond that. Well, I am here to tell you that you are wrong and that finding your “why” requires more than just one question, but it’s not has hard as you think…in fact it’s probably been right in front of you all along. So let’s clear up that vision shall we? 

In life we have the things that we want and the things that we need and there are times when they just don’t overlap. Sometimes they are completely on different wave lengths and you find yourself being stretched in two different directions, but they are BOTH contributing to your growth in positive ways. So naturally you’ll try to find some middle ground in all of it, but you still haven’t been able to figure out your “why.” I was in that same place a few months ago and there are times even when I’ve moved on, I’ll find myself back at that place.

Through all of that searching and questioning and thinking, I came across an article by author and leadership guru John Addison on “How to Find Your Why in Life” in Success Magazine. I wrote down all of the questions he ensured would help (you guys know I love questions) and decided to answer them for myself, but now I want you to answer them for yourself.

What is your definition of success?

Notice I said “your,” meaning what do you need to do and achieve in order for you to say that you have a successful life. I don’t want to hear what other people have or do that makes them successful because you’re not them. So if you’re about to tell me your definition of success is to have a Lambo, huge mansion, loaded bank account, I’m going to assume you’ve been watching MTV Cribs (does that still come on?). So think about that.

What are you passionate about?

I often come across articles and interviews with successful people who share advice and tips on how to turn the things they’re passionate about into their careers and the one thing that they all have in common is they never grow up…or at least on the inside…I mean dream wise. You get it. Remember when we were kids, we literally wanted to be everything even if it didn’t make sense at the time. We were innocent and naive and that’s what made our dreams so pure and vivid. As you get older, you realize you need that type of dreaming in your life again even if it doesn’t make sense to others.

You might be passionate about collecting a certain type of toy (like Treasure Trolls)…or you might consider yourself an candy connoisseur…they sound childish, but are they really? Anyway, the things that you are passionate about are literally compasses to finding your “why.” They’re pointing you in the right direction so pay attention.

If money were no object, what would you do?

In my last post, I talked about needing financial freedom in order for me to stop existing and to really start living. Money isn’t everything, but as a dreamer and someone with a load of passion projects cooking, having financial freedom would do a great deal for me. So if money weren’t an object, I’d be able to focus more on building my brand. What would you do if money weren’t an object for you?

Finding your “why” doesn’t have to be like climbing Mount Everest. It just requires you to pay attention to the things that you respond positively to and the things that make you happy. Trust me, everything ALWAYS comes full circle.

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I woke up this morning with a heart full of gratitude. I thought about all of the doors that are opening for me. I thought about my purpose and the passion that I’ve been chasing. Truth is, everything that I’ve been doing is coming full circle from my desire to work with teens and teen girls and my desire to be a writer…the webs are connecting. Finally. So I took an opportunity recently as a full-time high school teacher with KIPP NJ. I figured it would definitely help my writing and speaking skills, it would most certainly help me to understand a huge portion of my audience when it comes to the books I have prepared: teens, and it wouldn’t hurt to be able to fund those published author dreams in the process. Yes, I am still writing for Madame Noire, Upscale Magazine and editing for Black Girl Magik, so imagine the stretching that’s about to take place come September. Yikes!

I see often on social media “I know I wasn’t born to just pay bills and die.” My question is…what are you doing in your life so that you aren’t JUST paying bills and aging? Ask yourself are you really living or just existing and what can you do so that you can fully start to appreciate your life in it’s entirety? For me, it lied in financial security and freedom. I am literally a starving artist. My plate is always full, but my bank accounts are also always near empty and I knew that in order to fully embrace my life again as I had when I was in Newark…I had to change my perspective on things. I quit my job in October 2015 because I hated it there. I was at a place that only allowed me to exist and trying to live often left me broke and hungry. So I figured, hey I’m going to pursue this writing thing full time…in the meantime until I finally figure out my place. Well, I found it…let the living commence!!

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Anyway, lately I’ve been connecting with some pretty awesome and inspiring people who dream beyond their 9-5’s, but who also know that they need their 9-5’s in order to live their dreams. One guy, in particular, named Stephen talked to me about his daily checklist and how he holds himself accountable in all aspects of his life. As he was talking, I found myself writing down what he was saying. I wrote down every question on his daily checklist and I thought for someone who realizes they are existing and wish to start living, this is a great place to start.

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Now, these questions might do absolutely nothing for you, but the most important thing is that you’re asking questions about your life because when you ask questions it means that you’re curious and when you’re curious it means that there is still room for growth and when you’re growing, you’ll never find yourself in the same spot every single day existing.

Are you living or are you existing? Are you dancing or are you holding up the wall?

 

 

Ah yes, the wonderful world of adulthood where words like “adulting” is like auditioning for an episode of American Ninja Warrior. Each year that I get older and celebrate another birthday I always get asked by several people, “sooooo how does it feel being (insert age)?” To which my reply is usually something along the lines of “idk, the same…I guess.” Like how can you possibly describe what a particular age feels like after only a moment. If someone were to ask me that question today about being 26 my answer can best be described in correlation to one of my biggest fears: ROLLERCOASTERS.

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Adulthood is like that one rollercoaster in the theme park everyone is scared to get on, but can’t seem to pull themselves out of the line. Before you know it, you’re too deep and can’t go back so the only way out is through it. So you get on the ride and the first thing you think is, “this isn’t so bad” after a few buckles and jerks. But then you feel it slowing down as it prepares for the drop and the death loop afterwards. You’re in full on panic mode, stressed, literally on the verge of crapping your pants as you feel your soul leave your body as the ride plummets. After the loop everything is smooth sailing again and you try gathering your life again and breathe for the first time since getting on the ride. You let out a little “I made it” laughter and can’t believe you freaked out as much as you did. The smile quickly turns to one of horror when you realize there’s another death drop taller than the first…that my folks is adulthood. A never-ending series of drops and loops and metaphorical crappy pants.

But at least the freedom’s cool right?

In the freedom, you find that the older you get the more your priorities shift. The more solid things become and you start to build up your own set of belief systems and moral codes that are not up for discussion. Here are some non-negotiable every adult should have in their list of “do not touch.”

Health/Sanity

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So I had this job once that was just so stressful to my life. I lost a ton of weight, I was always amped up on coffee just to make it through the day, I went home with migraines daily and I was just miserable there. My work morale was low due to the environment being created. After two years of dealing with that, I had to make the decision to go. I was stuck in a dead end work situation and I decided, I couldn’t compromise my mental health and sanity any longer. I realized that this wasn’t the end all be all. There were other jobs out there that I would enjoy and who would appreciate the value I added to the workplace. Your mental health and overall health and well-being should not be a negotiable option.

Family

That should be self-explanatory. Sometimes when we’re so consumed in our work we neglect important things in our lives including our families. It’s never intentional. Family should never be a negotiable option so when faced with things and issues in life that forces you to chose between family and work…it better not be work that you choose unless you’re able to reach a common ground with your family.

Character/Identity

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Being anybody other than myself is not of my character. If you’re at a job that forces you to be someone you’re not. If you’re in a relationship that brings out the worst in you. If you find yourself doing hoodrat things with friends when you’re not like that, it’s time to re-examine some things. Your character speaks volumes and when people says impressions are lasting, people will always remember how you acted, what you did and how you looked doing it.

Integrity/Beliefs

We live in a country that’s considered to be a melting pot of different races, beliefs, nationalities and religions. Be proud of who you and stand firm in it. Don’t let people or things try to change you. I think the older we get, naturally, the more self-aware we become but it’s easy for snakes to sift through the cracks and create doubt in us and have us questioning everything we believe. Don’t let it.

The thing about adulthood and “adulting” is that it is a rollercoaster that you’re never getting off of. So buckle up and enjoy the ride and if rollercoasters aren’t your things, take deep breathes and stay prayed up.