As a little girl, I lived with the two people who would later become the most influential in my life: my mother and my grandmother. Before starting preschool, I would stay home with my Grandma, and cuddle in the love seat, full with homemade biscuits, breakfast sausage, and of course, a huge helping of love. We would spend days rolling pastry dough and making her highly sought after sweet potato pies (read: I’d play with a small glob of dough and a miniature rolling pin while she did the real baking) while I anxiously awaited my mother’s arrival from work.
She was my confidante. A source of strength. She was my second mother when my mom wasn’t present. It was because of all these things that her stage IV colon cancer diagnosis in October of 2006 truly knocked the air out of my eight-year-old lungs.
Fast forward several years, I entered high school as a wide-eyed freshman who was just beginning to identify the injustices my community faced as African Americans. In that time, Trayvon Martin has been murdered, and tensions were mounting as more Black bodies made it into the news due to police brutality.
Watching the parents and families of these young, Black men and women cry furiously into the screens was a hard pill to swallow, but I channeled that sadness into the one medium I had remained connected to since childhood: poetry.
My poetic reflections on the state of the Black community and social injustice in the American society sparked a years-long release that resulted in performing in my school, neighborhood, and across the D.C. area. My words accumulated into a movement that I had never envisioned for myself, but with the help of my Heavenly Father and so many people around me, they changed lives forever.
My writing experience was not an easy one, to say the least. I attended a rigorous, college preparatory high school that commanded the majority of my time. By the end of my sophomore year, I was officially dually enrolled at The George Washington University and set out to earn my Associate of Arts degree, which I completed before my high school graduation in May of 2016.
Between my classes and the numerous extracurricular activities, I committed myself to prime myself for college. The writing was placed on the back burner, even though it was my passion and source of outward and inward healing for myself and the people around me.
However, I found my way back through many sacrifices and nuggets of wisdom that I accumulated along the way. For a significant portion of our lives as millennials, we have been told that education is the only thing our lives that should matter and be important to us since it will help us secure a well-paying job in adulthood.
We are told that our dreams are too “idealistic” and don't exist in a world where living as a starving creative is more common than it isn't. However, I would like to challenge each one of us, as a community and family, to step out on ambition and live the lives we want to lead.
Let’s take the first steps together by acknowledging a few changes that we can implement in our daily lives. Here are five ways to make your passion your priority:
1. Wake up earlier!
As someone who has maintained a rigorous schedule since middle school, it’s important to make plans and take action steps for your passion when your mind is not clouded by your never-ending list of things to do. Plus, working on your passion project when you first wake will set a great (and productive) tone for the rest of your day.
2. Schedule business meetings during meal times.
3. Schedule non-negotiable business hours.
College professors offer an immeasurable hint to business owners/entrepreneurs everywhere through one critical thing: office hours. Setting aside business hours for your passion project is a great way to remind yourself to not think about anything else that won’t help you to advance!
4. Eliminate mental clutter and toxicity from your space.
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5. Work on your passion projects during commercial breaks.
I am very guilty of complaining about the time I do not have, yet I will still buckle down for a two-hour-long movie. When watching your favorite television programming or a documentary/movie with commercials, use your time wisely. Keep your notepad, laptop, easel, etc. nearby, and use your one-minute commercials to finish your memo or address any loose ends in your project. We all have the time; it is just a matter of how we choose to utilize it!
If someone would have told me that I’d be three months away from publishing my debut poetry manuscript, Cotton
Friends, it is my hope that you listen to the passion you have residing within you. No matter what you may have gone through or the obstacles you may have faced; there is greatness waiting for you if you decide to go all in. The choice is ours, and I promise to take the first step. Let's make our passions the fuel in our tanks, the ink in our pens, and the beats in our heart, one life improvement at a time.