Leaving the Familiar For Something Unknown

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A Story of Perseverance and Gratitude

Three years and several months ago, I packed my 2011 Kia Soul to the brim and set my sights for Lowell, Massachusetts. I would be leaving my hometown, Birmingham, Alabama, to pursue the dream of living in Boston, Massachusetts (or near it as I couldn't afford Boston at all at that time).

I had accepted a job making literally less than $6/hr. I also had three roommates and I could barely make ends meet. I didn't reveal my struggles to my family and how much it was affecting my happiness because I didn't want them to panic. I am a very ambitious, yet stubborn individual so I chose to withhold these details and decided I wouldn’t let temporary circumstances get in the way of my dream of living in Boston. Blatantly, I refused to quit and return home.

I eventually left that job for another that paid more, but I still didn’t enjoy what I was doing. I would end up leaving that job to start a small digital marketing business that would actually end up changing my ability to survive and provide for myself in New England. Although I was working at home and had found a new roommate situation, I was completely burned out. I was working 24/7 to keep up with the demand of new clients, and I felt utterly helpless, much like a gerbil on a wheel.

In an effort to put my needs first, I scaled back and took a part-time job in Somerville, Massachusetts. That job eventually turned full-time, and I foolishly decided to move to New Hampshire to 'save money' and be close to someone I was seeing at the time. I didn't consider how my commute would increase from 25 minutes to 2-3 hours one way. I didn't think about how I was moving to a new area all over again. I also realize how much I was still settling and picking situations that kept me from my fullest potential. I continued this destructive path of being impulsive, and that pushed me further and further away from happiness. I thought that's what 'chasing the dream' meant.

Well, settling doesn't equate to happiness!

When you leave the familiar for something unknown, no one can prepare you for how hard being away from everything you once knew will be.

Fast forward two really dark years later when I decided to move back to Massachusetts. Mind you I still wasn't in Boston, and at this point in my life, I was feeling very lost. I was elated to be leaving the shadow of New Hampshire, but something still hadn't clicked internally yet. I had decided to go to grad school to study English and Creative Writing, but something was still missing. I had left a major job and had accepted another at a pretty incredible school near Boston, but something was still off. I didn't know how to address those feelings so I started traveling a ridiculous amount. I love traveling, but I quickly grew tired of running around and keeping flights straight.

Not too long after I moved back to Massachusetts, the Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions and Fires took place; this incident really rattled me. After the chaos in Lawrence, I experienced a tipping point. When you leave the familiar for something unknown, no one can prepare you for how hard being away from everything you once knew will be. I frantically searched for a sense of purpose and peace and thought that maybe I should go back home entirely or move out west. I questioned my family and friends about what I should do because I grew weary of feeling incomplete.

Photo Credit: NaBeela Washington (far left) in Sweden

Photo Credit: NaBeela Washington (far left) in Sweden

After a couple of weeks, I realized that I couldn't take the advice of my family and friends anymore and decided to pray. I had run out of every trick up my sleeve and prayer was the last tool I had. That day, I prayed the hardest I've ever prayed, in almost 3 years. An hour or so later, I stumbled upon a message from a pastor I really admire online, Jentezen Franklin. His message talked about how no matter how bad a situation seemed, you could always overcome any setback with a little bit of faith and the ability to not compromise.

In that very moment, I realized that for the last 3 years I had been settling in every way. From the places I lived to the jobs I worked, to the people I dated. I had been choosing things that didn't attribute to true wholeness. I had been choosing a life that was way harder than the life I could've had. Long story short, I vowed to never compromise or settle again, no matter how good something seemed, and to practice the art of waiting because lord knows I was the queen of impulsiveness.

You have to put in the work and learn humility if you want to accomplish anything.

In less than a week after all of these events, I ran into a real estate agent that would help me find the perfect apartment in Boston. I am now closer to my job, I can actually enjoy walking or taking the T into downtown, and I don't have roommates. I am also happy to say that I currently hold a 4.0 in my grad program, despite these woes and working and traveling a lot.

When I wrote this, I just wanted to share a raw story and hopefully inspire someone. Maybe compel someone not to give up or show what the grass can look like on the other side. I am thankful for not only everything I have, but everything I've been through— including everything I've realized leading up to where I am right now. Many people fall for the idea that everything is easy and that's NOTHING of the sort.

It took guts to get here and it's a grind to stay here.

You have to put in the work and learn humility if you want to accomplish anything. I am incredibly blessed to have FINALLY made it in Boston and to have the things that I do because not everyone is as fortunate.

But anyone can be as successful and sometimes you have to press pause to do it. Sometimes you have to stop, pray, or admit that you don't know what to do. Sometimes you have to fall off the wagon in order to know what hit you. And sometimes a few mistakes are necessary in order to reach your dream.

May each and every person that reads this find the courage to persist in spite of what you're going through.