Last Monday, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of 50 students in a local upward bound program. As they entered the room, many of them (mostly students of color) smiled at me because I could instantly tell that for them, it was rare to see a queer person of color stand so proudly in front of them.
Now I must be honest, anytime that I do public speaking, especially for children, I am always afraid of how I will be received. But this time, it was different. I was met with hugs, hand shakes and most, warmth. I had never been so comfortable in a setting and to be honest, that made me even more nervous.
During the presentation, I talked to many of them about resilience, the importance of getting back up when you find yourself struggling and how hard it can be to live out your dreams when you don't know where to begin. This message was definitely a reminder to myself about the things I needed to do both personally and professionally, especially knowing that I am pouring so much time into the work I am doing as a social justice speaker/educator/activist.
After the presentation, a young man raised his hand and asked me, "When did you finally become happy about who you are and where you are in life?"
I paused. Because it had been some time since I actually gave some thought to who I was, and where I was in this life of mine.
I shared with the young man that in 2009, I had my first mini-nervous breakdown and how scary that experience was. I remember sharing that in the moment I realized I was having a breakdown, I remember feeling as if there was some sort of voice or being that visited me and basically told me that I either needed to keep fighting or give up. To this day, I am not fully sure of what happened in the 2 hours I sat in my car crying, but I just remember something telling me that If I wanted a happier life, I needed to create it for myself.
So now, 7 years later: I feel like I am beginning that journey. Why so long you ask? Fear & contentment. For years, I have thought that my passion for education and social justice would take me where I wanted to go. But all along, something has told me that my work, my calling: is much greater than me and cannot be contained to a 40 hour a day job. Lately, I have been challenged by so many of my friends and family members to begin writing and to invest more time in my lifelong dream of being a motivational speaker.
While I know that my following won't be built in a day, I am thankful to those who keep saying, "build it and they will come".
So I ask you today: How are you getting to happy? What are you doing to add value to this life that you have been given? How will you continue to work towards your dreams, goals, aspirations?
Leave a comment. I would love to help be a part of your journey.
I leave you with love and light.