My college years at Virginia State University (Go Trojans) were the best. I went to clubs, concerts, gym jams, and hung out with friends until the wee hours of the morning. The next day I woke up went to class with no problem (I was a champ!). I left with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology ready to enter the human service field and SAVE the WORLD!!! Boy I was young and naïve. No one told me on most days, instead of saving the world I would be saving myself. I knew that life was full of highs and lows. But I never knew how low the lows were and how difficult it can be getting back up.
The “STRUGGLE” was nice enough to wait for me to graduate from college. But once “He” sunk his teeth in me, it was like a dog with a piece of meat; “He” would not let go.
By the time I graduated from college, I applied for what felt like hundreds of jobs but only received a handful of call backs. I heard “no,” no thanks” or nothing at all. After months of looking for jobs, I moved from Richmond, Virginia to back home in Chesapeake, VA. After applying for more—more (and wait) more jobs; I was offered a job as a case manager at a foster care agency. Although the salary was low, I took it. I was sooooo excited just to have a job.
Well my excitement quickly wore off. As a started looking for an apartment, I realized how low my salary really was. I did not earn enough money for me move out of my parents’ home. In my mind, I told myself “it’s okay”, I would work a part-time job for a couple of years, save money; everything would be perfect. Two years of working a part-time job quickly turned into 12.
About a year of working as a case manager, I was tired of the grunt work. I was tired of being on call 24 hours 7 days a week, picking kids up in the middle of the night and moving them to a new foster home. I felt ineffective. My efforts to “save the kids” was going nowhere. I decided to go back to school so I could really be a Change Agent!
I changed jobs and I started school only to drop out because it was too overwhelming. After being at my job for a little over a year, I was fired. I applied for unemployment only for my previous employers to fight it. I attempted to obtain SNAP benefits (food stamps). The worker told me I received too much in unemployment and for me to sell my car (Ford Escape) and come back. I remember thinking… Wait… What??? What do you mean I make too much in unemployment?? Did this lady just tell me to sell my car???? My situation is only temporary!!! I can’t pay my bills with my unemployment check!!! Why am I selling my car?? How will I get back and forth to work??? Lord, can I get a break??? It took me about 6 months to gain employment.
This is only a blimp of the struggles I have had in my career. I haven’t even told you about the struggles called: Are You Good Enough, Who Am I, Financial, Loneliness etc. I swear Dr. Seuss’ book Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is the perfect depiction of life.
But each struggle, despite how difficult, was necessary. Below are three of the most important things I discovered while in the struggle:
1. My Strength
A few months ago, I was walking through Marshals and saw a sign that said— You Never Know How Strong You Are Until Strong Is All You Have. I chuckled to myself and said so true. When you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, that’s when change happens. Your adrenaline will kick in and nothing—I mean NOTHING will stop you.
2. Everything is all about perspective.
The MIND is a powerful being. It can have you believing negatively about all situations and people. During my unemployment I could have wallowed in pity, thought how everyone was against me, and plotted how I was going to get them back. I did give myself time to sulk but like always you have to get back up. I took that experience, learned from it and used it to make sure I asked the right questions to ensure my next job was a better match. How you view people and situations determines how you respond. It may be hard to find and at times to see but there is good in ALL situations. It’s all about how you view it.
I have always heard stories about how God healed, provided and kept people in the midst of their struggles. Hearing it made it seem like a fairy tale or some kind of myth. During my unemployment, all my bills were paid on time and never missed a beat. During break ups, the right people were placed in my life to help me through the pain. God met me the mornings when I woke up dreading to go on another day. He gave me peace and comfort throughout the day to let me know He was with me and everything was going to be perfect.
No one is exempt from the struggles of life. Every incident gives us bandages that represent confidence, strength, self-love and a friendly reminder that you made it.
Hattie White said it best on Beyoncé’s Formation album– “I had my ups and downs, but I always find inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.”