Making It In The Land of Shakiness and The Unfavorable

Posted on January 25, 2012

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Two Leaf Clover by Natalie Dee

Anyone that knows my back story knows how far I’ve come. In fact, it humbles me when people take a look and see what I’m doing and feel inspired in some way. Constantly I’m receiving compliments on how they admire that I’m doing what I love. I take the compliments in stride yet I always feel the need to heed a warning or a disclaimer.

While you may see me from time to time at a fabulous event, scooping out my latest subject to report on, or interviewing a few well-known and intriguing figures, my life is far from glamorous. I’m a freelancer and it’s a straight up hustle. And while I hate to throw in the race card, I have to wonder how much of it is my reality as I try to become published in some of the most highly regarded publications known locally and nationally. In light of the fact, admitted or not, newsroom diversity is shrinking, I have to ponder the reasons upon which I’m told “no.” Is it because I’m the unknown girl from Southeast D.C. that has only made some noise in the industry but not enough to cause full-blown attention? Did my idea truly suck or was it definitely untimely?  Nevertheless, I try my hardest not to let it deter me and keep it moving. My skin is toughening and I’m becoming one of those people;  “I love it when you tell me no!”

This freelance, on your own thing is not for the faint at heart.

Speaking of the faint at heart, yes there are times when I want to throw in the towel on the whole journalism thing. Maybe I’ll go into PR (something that I actually consider off and on until we talk crisis management to which a friend tells me if I can nail that, I’m IN). Maybe I’ll go back in the federal government and live out my life as a government minion sifting paper day in and out until retirement. I’m not too sure about that last one, especially as I often wonder if in fact journalism chose me and not the other way around. Clearly, when I truly dedicated myself to journalism the tides were rolling and turning leaving the industry shaky on all grounds and opening the doors for non-journalists (celebrity figures, bloggers, citizen journalists) to saturate the industry. Traditional journalists, especially minorities, have been hustling just as hard to keep their jobs. I question my sanity daily.

Then last week, amid me cursing my car troubles and lack of finances,  I read a column in the Huffington Post. Holly Robinson’s Why I Told My Daughter to Quit Her Job gives a birds-eye view into how she supports her daughter’s career moves as she went from a high paying power job to something that is hitting just at minimum wage. Because her daughter wasn’t happy at her comfy well-paying job, Robinson gave her daughter some sound advice;

“Life is too short to be miserable for money,” I told her finally. “Just quit. Take the barista job and figure out something else while you’re making lattes.” 

Where was this article in 2005 when I left the federal government? People (especially my mother) looked at me as if I were crazy when I decided not to renew another term with my “good government job.” Yet at the time, I knew I had to leave in order to do some more growing; personally and professionally.

Part of the reason why I left the government was also to regroup and figure out the appropriate time to finish my undergraduate studies. I went back roughly four years after I initially left. I have to say I was a bit naive to think that once I received my BA in journalism that my days of financial struggle would be over and the industry would welcome me with open arms, considering the small timer experiences I have that I thought would be enough to get me at least an entry-level position. Of course my perception of that has changed and Robinson’s point was the hammer that hit that nail right on the head.

“College, you see, is not really about preparing you for the job market. It’s about gaining the knowledge and skills you need to seize opportunities — and that includes knowing when to walk away from something that makes you unhappy.”

I co-sign with Robinson’s point 100 percent. I’m just amazed that it’s only NOW that articles like this are surfacing as the country is still dealing with recession issues. Still, right now my situation seems dire. True, I’m one of the 5.9 million 25 to 35- year -olds living with my parents, but I also have a kid I’m raising. Getting by on freelance work isn’t enough. So yeah, my life “ain’t” glamorous. Just look at the gaping hole on the inside thigh of my jeans!!! But what keeps me going? I guess it is my love for journalism, the fact that I live and breathe writing (journalistic and creative)  and my need to find a creative way to re-do it in a sense. So yeah, I’m in that struggle… trying to figure out how to fit in where I can get in. Still this is my hustle. Journalism… oh and let’s not talk about my creative writing ventures. Honestly, I haven’t been too focused on that side as I have been working on giving my journalism career life. However, there is news from that side, but more details are to come.

Then, the other night, a Tyler Perry video blog went viral on Facebook. Whether you agree with Perry’s work or not, you can’t really argue with what he says here in this video.

How To Be Successful by Tyler Perry

A main point that Perry says, of course coming from a spiritual, Christian,  stance, is that it was nothing but the grace of God.

“You can plant seeds all day long. You can go around giving your business cards to people, you can go around knocking on doors and audition… and nothing… for most people, nothing happens. When a seed is planted in the ground, all you can do is water it. You cannot control the sun shine, you cannot control the weather and you cannot control if the locus will come and destroy it. ” – Tyler Perry

From hard work, staying focused on at least one thing – at the time he was determined to get one of his plays produced and on stage – the rest followed.  I so needed to hear his message, as it is a reminder, especially to those of us that are control freaks over our lives, that there are some things we really can’t control. No matter what your spiritual stance is, you have to believe that some things are out of your hands. Now that doesn’t mean you slack up in your work, you just do what you need to do to get the ball rolling and ease up a bit and believe that it will work out for the greater good. It may not be within your plans, but that’s the thing……sometimes what we want or plan out isn’t meant to be. Simple as that.

So while I do easily encourage you to quit that job you are unhappy about and focus on that one thing that makes you happy that will eventually align everything up with you I also say it take a person with guts to live this kind of life I’m living. On the edge.

Please evaluate all that is going with you right now. If you are not reaching your full potential, loosing that creative fiber that causes you to feel passionate about something, you may have to set things off to make changes. Still you have to be willing to deal with the transition. Learn to rely on your faith to help you through and trust instincts when it comes to certain decisions. And yes, if you haven’t by now… go back and click the links to Robinson’s article and Perry’s video to heed their knowledge.

Also, for another inspiring story of survival and success, find a copy of the January 2012 issue of Essence Magazine (Queen Latifah is on the cover). Danielle Belton, the lady behind The Black Snob, is featured as one of the women who survived the recession. Her write-up was an inspiration for me of course as I’m still researching issues pertaining to mental illness in regards to black women and the fact she comes from a journalism background and is seemingly branching out at the right time.

I can’t wait to see how my own story will turn out when this phase is over. That alone gets me excited.

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