The year I needed
This past year hasn't been a masterpiece; instead it’s been a year full of trying different brush sizes, colors, and utensils in pursuit of trying to paint the perfect picture. Let's just say many canvases were painted and many were thrown away. Though there were many obstacles along the way- there was still a lot of learning that took place this year.
Then again, it hasn't been the year I wanted, it's been the year I NEEDED. Let me explain…
Up until two weeks ago, I had been miserable and unhappy. I didn't enjoy my job, I thought life was moving too slow and maybe I wouldn't complete all my goals in life (Yes, dramatic I know). It was hard for me to see beyond the moment, the month, the year and start thinking about the following year. I felt stuck, broken, and without an executable plan. I knew what I was capable of but I began questioning if I still had "it".
The fire that I had within me, the one everyone always admired about me, I noticed began to dim. No one noticed, but I did. I realized there were many decisions that led me to this point of how I was feeling. The more I dissected them the more I realized that I hadn't been living my purpose. It’s easy to forget what you want when you care so much about what others think of you, not realizing what they wanted for me wasn’t what I wanted for myself. I was fighting this internal battle of doing what I truly wanted versus what everyone else had planned for me. Because I cared so much about their opinions as a result, it contained me.
Finding my way back through 7 Affirmations
Then a few things happened and the signs started to show themselves….
First Necole In a time when I needed to affirm decisions I was about to make I read two powerful blog post on Necole's website that put a lot into perspective for me. These were stories from her own life, pain, and experience that resonated with me.
Blog title: I Shall Not Waster Another Day Being Unhappy
"It’s okay to not be okay, but you can’t stay stuck in that space of feeling sorry for yourself forever. No matter what you are going through, to push forward, you have to believe that it will get better and trust that what is coming in the future is far better than what you left in the past."
Blog title: How I Realized it was time to Descend the Mountain
"When it feels scary to jump, that's exactly when you jump. Otherwise, you end up staying the same place your whole life."
(Thank you so much Delilah for introducing me and sharing her journey with me, it's truly changed my life).
(Sidenote: Necole if you ever read this post I would love for you to become a mentor, I'm so serious that I'm linking my email. Please click here to email me. )
byREGINA I heard about Regina a few years ago but this year I finally decided to reach out to her to build a relationship because I not only admired what she was doing, but who she was as a person. What really resonated with me was her ability to bounce back after multiple tries at running her own business.Her struggle with entrepreneurship really resonated with me because when she changed her mindset it allowed her to win in the long run. Something she posted in her blog post that truly inspired me:
The past is the past, but it can sure be useful. Every single business idea I’ve had and pursued, every single blog or product I’ve dreamt up and planned, every word I’ve written . . . they’ve all led me to my current business. You haven’t wasted your time. You have gained valuable knowledge. If you need to forgive yourself, then do so, and don’t waste anymore headspace on negativity, blame, or the feeling of disappointment in yourself. Think of how all your experiences combine together. Recognize that no other person has your exact combination of experiences, skills, and knowledge. Realize that you can therefore build a brand that NO ONE ELSE CAN BUILD.
Regina is a sidekick to infopreneurs, which is you if you’re a freelancer, coach, blogger, or teacher and you want to monetize the meaningful information in your head. Also, sometimes known as MichelAngelo, please keep doing what you do.
Rocky Collins One of my closest inspirations is also a very good friend and big brother. We were in similar situations. We both always thought there was something more out there for us. Although we made it work, we both knew we weren't living in our purpose. I remember it like it was yesterday when he finally put in his two weeks notice and began preparing to take the #leapoffaith out to LA to pursue acting. He wanted to be a T.V personal like Terrence J but even bigger. (I'm hoping these two can meet each other and star in a movie together one day. Terrence if you ever read this please reach out to my guy Rocky).
Our conversation last year on new years and then our conversation half way into the new year:
A few months later into 2016
2016 New Year's Conversation:
And then he became a star within a few months of chasing his dream, taking a leap of faith...
What I learned from Rocky is that believe in yourself and bet on yourself. This feeling we have that keeps us up at night are put within us to live fully. We have to be willing to take that leap of faith and fall into our purpose.
Will Toms and Dave Silver Another one of my personal inspirations are my two childhood friends who started a venture while in college and would go onto running it full time. There company REC Philly provides resources, education, and opportunities for musicians and creative entrepreneurs to achieve their business goals. What I learned from them is that you don't have to be great to start but you have to start to be great and along the way you'll learn even more. They're two individuals I look up to and through the years they've always been highly supportive of me and even this transition from leaving my job to pursuing something more entrepreneurial.
I'm also excited for the launch of their new REC ROOM, which provides all the tools you need to create your professional audio, visual & creative content. If you're in Philadelphia, make sure to swing by and share the space with the city's most talented creatives.
Anita Elberse Where do I even begin? I met Anita a few years ago when I was selected to attend the Harvard Summer Venture Management program. The best way I could describe the Harvard experience is, imagine standing out your entire life, now imagine being put in the same room as everyone who's felt that way. (Yes I know, it just got real..) It was such a dynamic experience and a growth point for me personally.
Anita was one of my professors (my favorite of course) during my time there challenged us to think outside of the box. I remember going into her office one day to bother her about her superstar life (she knows every celebrity, all my idols and even my favorite basketball player Dwyane Wade) and talking to her about some of my personal goals that I'd like to accomplish in life and in pursuing my dreams. The biggest lesson I learned from Anita, which I continue to be reminded, is that happiness starts when you want it to; go after it, stop delaying it.
She's always been super supportive of me but doesn't make it easy (which is why I also love her). I was reminded once more when I recently reread her book "Blockbusters" and I ran across the note she personally wrote for me:
Chris Carson At a time where I began questioning my decisions, I reached out to a fellow entrepreneurial friend of mine Chris Carson. Chris and I had met a few years ago where we attended a summer program at Harvard. Similar in many ways, we both were very ambitious and wouldn't let anything get in our way of making our dreams a reality. At that time, he had ideas of starting a wireless headphones company (Mango Audio) and I knew our paths would cross again. We would keep in touch after the program and talk about how we wish we had more time to work on our startups. And then it happened... he took his leap of faith, left his job, and began pursuing his startup full time in San Francisco. There are two big lessons I learned from Chris from our friendship over the last few years. First, don't let your dreams die; In a world where many people get discouraged and give up after they hear a no or get a rejection, he didn't let it deter him from his overall vision. The second lesson I learned is to always bet on yourself, no matter what. Betting on yourself should be the first, second, third, and fourth option.
Angela Benton I've admired Angela for a few years now. I was first introduced to her when I was a senior in high school through a tv show called “Black in America: The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley”. Sitting in my dorm room, in north Philadelphia, I was glued to my seat. I knew one day, I wanted to be in tech and here she was, in silicon valley, helping other minorities through her company NeweME, secure funding from some of the largest companies in the world. What that show did for me, at 17 years old, was change my mindset. It made me feel like I could be them, it expanded my mind to the opportunities that were out there for me but only if I wanted it bad enough.
Late in 2016 I would run across Angela's name again in an article published by Necole. There was something in the article she mentioned, that really resonated with me:
"If it’s nurturing you, then it should be propelling you to the highest version of yourself. If you’re doing anything less than that then what’s the point?"
At that moment, I had to self-evaluate. Am I becoming the best version of myself? The answer was clear. Angela, inadvertently, would play another part in shaping my decision, as she did a few years back when I was just in high school.
What risks are you willing to take
I've always been a high risk taker all my life there's just no simpler way to put it. But most people are not like me, and that's okay. What's your risk threshold? How much pain are you willing to go through until you realize what's out there for you is waiting on you. Yes, it might take some work to get there, I'm not saying it won't be difficult but what I am saying is that it will be worth it.
Social media has sometimes killed my progress
Social media has been a great platform to connect individuals from all around the world. I've spent the most recent few years traveling and living in India, Italy, London, Paris. I've met so many incredibly great people from all walks of life and different backgrounds. Knowing them personally allows me to also know some of their flaws. However, if you were to see them on social media you'd think they were perfect and that their life is just so much better than yours. Well..that's not true. And no, they're not 'luckier' than you, you just can't see all the hard work and late nights they are putting in behind the scene. Through the lense of social media it's so easy to begin to compare yourself with their life and feel like you're not doing enough or moving fast enough. Trust me, till this day it happens to me sometimes. But always remember, you control your own happiness and you control your own timeline.
Betting on Myself
The year I needed taught me I need to bet on myself and my own ideas more often. I have to stop sitting idle thinking someone's opportunity is just going to find my door and knock on it. There are people that would rather complain about opportunities not coming their way then doing something about it. If you've reached this point of the blog, I want you to take a second to decide which one you're going to be.
Failing doesn't mean life is over
The perfect example is Brian Acton one of the founders of WhatsApp. Acton applied to work at Twitter but got rejected in May 2009. If you didn't think one rejection was enough well he applied to Facebook a few months later and also got turned down. Then he decided to bet on himself and start his own company and about four years later they would sell their company WhatsApp for $19 billion to Facebook (talk about turning a setback into the biggest comeback I've ever seen).
What are some challenges you've faced this past year? How did you overcome them? What inspires you when you're feeling stuck? Why? I’m really interested in learning more and engaging in the comments below.