My life was in shambles. Then Shonda Rhimes made it better.
Let me explain.
The last few months of 2015 were a professional roller coaster. As this space was slowly taking off, my 9-5 hit a serious patch of turbulence. The ensuing drama caused me to sit back and think hard about what I really want out of my career life, and how best to achieve that.
Long time readers of my blog (all 5 of you!) know that my dream of dreams is to create and run an organization that democratizes college and career readiness strategies for people of color (especially young Black women) who often don’t have access to quality information on this topic. While I was in NYC, this goal was not a secret. My doctoral advisor knew it and helped me tailor my course of study so that I would have a solid academic foundation on all aspects of these disparate topics. (Future readiness studies, gender studies, critical race theories, and multicultural education don’t always overlap!) My boss and colleagues knew and gave me permission to create programming and materials for multicultural student groups. This combination of theory and practice (and experience putting theory into practice) helped me see that my dream of dreams was 1) so, so necessary and 2) so, so achievable. I was so, so excited to finish my degree and set this plan into motion.
Then life happened. More specifically, Utah happened.
While moving out West didn’t derail my desire to make the dream of dreams an eventual reality, it definitely added some years to the eventual-ness of this reality. There were plenty of factors involved, but an important one was that the job I took was less than ideal. Going from a place where innovation and new ideas were encouraged by a strong leadership team to one where suggestions and critiques were seen as threats was a challenge for me. After all, I’m a New Yorker – if I see something, I say something… and omfg there was plenty to say. (Not going into detail because, reasons, but I’m sure it’s clear that I don’t work there any more. Another post for another day.)
Here’s the point: Even though it wasn’t an ideal job, it was still a job that very suddenly wasn’t. Unfortunately, my bills didn’t disappear with it. Hence, the aforementioned shambles.
Enter: Shonda Rhimes. More specifically, Shonda’s memoir Year of Yes. (affiliate link)
TBH, I’m not an appointment-watcher of any Shondaland shows, as I’m more of a binge-on-hulu-every-few-weeks consumer of television. But I still stan for Shonda (yep, we’re on a first-name basis) because 1) she’s all-around just super dope and 2) I respect the hell out of her hustle. I knew that the inspiration I needed (and probably some that I didn’t know I needed) would be in her book. So I downloaded it to my Kindle app and finished it in like 3 days. There was zero buyer’s remorse.
Though the entire book is full of gems, the part that resonated with me most was her discussion of being called “lucky” and how it glossed over her accomplishments by removing her agency from them. Along with this was her own struggle to embrace these achievements as the result of her agency rather than some cosmic reward implied by the word “luck”. The direct quote (which I read on my iPad, opened on my iPhone, took a screenshot of, and immediately Instagrammed) is:
(Dope, right? So. dope. Let’s bask in Shonda’s dopeness for a sec. Aaaand we’re back.)
This dovetailed nicely with a previous section about the necessity of being a ‘doer’ rather than a ‘dreamer’, and this combination of wisdom was the kick in the ass that I needed. I asked myself: I have my dream of dreams, but what am I doing about it? The answer: Not nearly enough.
And, since I have nothing but time, now is the time to be a doer.
Like Shonda, I’m smart. I’m talented. I take advantage of opportunities and work really, really hard. Everything I have accomplished is the result of me fighting for it. Three Ivy League degrees and a doctorate by 30. Completing my dissertation while working full time. Publications. This business. Nothing has been handed to me. I’m a fighter. I’m a badass. I can turn my dream of dreams into the reality I’ve wanted for years. I just have to work for it.
And you can, too! What is your dream of dreams? Think about it, then work on it. Work hard on it. Don’t give up on it because it’s hard of because people doubt you. Fuck ‘em. It you want it, go for it. As I’ve seen on Pinterest like 10,000 times, “good things come to those who work their asses off.” So figure out what you want, and work your ass off to get it.