Being “First-Generation Everything,” a graduate, an older sibling, a community leader, and in my twenties, I remember feeling like I always had to have my shit together. I remember feeling like I couldn’t afford to be comfortable with complacency or to take a risk that did not provide me stability or consistency. Therefore, I made decisions based on comfort and security because I felt that my choices would ultimately impact my family and community. However, I wonder, how many other people in my peer group decide to go with what is safe rather than following their dreams? Or why does society make us feel as if we have to choose between security and our happiness?
I always felt that I had to be a Teacher after graduation because it provided me a salary, retirement, and benefits when I knew that I couldn’t stand the thought of being confined to a classroom for 8-9 hours. I remember convincing myself that I wanted to work with children because I wanted to be the foundation for student’s education. Therefore, I majored in Child Development and told myself Teaching was where I’d settle. Then, all of a sudden, I wanted to drop my major a year before graduation because it simply didn’t make me happy, and I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me.
Honestly, I never knew happiness (or peace) was an option or a factor to take into consideration when planning your career and life goals. I carried this belief that “I was going to be different,” that I was “going to be the first in my family to have a career,” or to make money the “right” way so I didn’t care what I was doing as long as I was doing it consistently and legally. Matter of fact those beliefs didn’t change until I started paying attention to myself and began analyzing my behavior when I’d to commit 4-6 years of my life to teaching-related programs. I would all of a sudden lack confidence, become indecisive, and have anxiety which was unusual for me because I always carried myself with confidence and determination.
I would try to persuade myself to continue in that field because I knew “I could do it” or I knew “I could get it done” but what I was really saying to myself was that I willing to sacrifice my happiness for convenience. Then, one day something changed within me; comfortability, security, and stability weren’t enough for me anymore. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to choose me, and it took me a while to realize what I wanted (even though it was always in front of me) but when I finally made the decision to follow my heart, my life has been different.
For the past two years, I have been making decisions that align with my aspirations, and I can honestly say it has been the best two years of my life. I am more confident personally and professionally, and I look forward to waking up every day because I know that I don’t “have” to be somewhere I truly don’t want to be, and that makes me happy. I’ve learned not to allow money (security) to determine my decisions, If I don’t have the money or I want to make a certain amount of money, I ask myself, “How can I make “this amount of money” walking in my purpose?” and I plan accordingly.
Today and Tomorrow, I choose to be brave. I choose me. How about you?
— Ma’ Ronda X — Peace Be Upon You