I believe in following your dreams by any means necessary, advocating this to family, acquaintances, and my small circle of friends. For example, when one of my girls expressed boredom and frustration with her medical job, I got my cheer on ─ my dream cheer. On the inside, she found joy in coordinating events. Being meticulously detail oriented by nature, she was excellent at planning parties, baby showers, and even weddings, as a hobby. But on the outside, in the real world, she was the high-level manger of an award-winning hospital’s children research program. Her master’s degree solidified the comfy salary. But the monotony provided anxiety ridden agitation. Waking up and getting to work on time was more like a forced suicide mission. One hour lunch breaks, turned into two-hour getaways. The corporate phone line turned into dial-a-friend-for-the-afternoon. During one exceptionally long, midday conversation, she shared the depressing details of her 9-5.
“I hate my job,” she said, before a long, sad exhale.
“Girl, everyone I know who’s complained about their job, ended up losing it,” I warned.
“They were all fired or laid off. You need to quit, so you can come back whenever you want.”
I’d become an expert at quitting jobs to follow dreams and reclaim happiness. I left my salaried magazine position to fulfill the fantasy of being a freelance writer. Years later, I bounced on my decent paying satellite radio manager gig to grab the goal of being a commercial radio personality. Both wishes came true ─ in ways that were larger than I’d ever imagined.
“I can’t quit,” she said. “I have bills to pay. My car note, insurance, credit cards…”
“Well, then you need to plan to quit. Like, make a plan to leave, before they make you leave. Words are power.”
“And then what will I do?”
“Find a job as an event planner. I mean, you might have to start at an entry level position to get in the door. Are you willing to take a pay cut to do what you really wanna do?”
“Yeah. Anything is better than this job.”
“So, what’s stopping you? I know it’s scary. But life is too short to be depressed every day. I don’t care how much money you make.”
“True,” she said after a long thoughtful silence. “Ok, I gotta go. We been on the phone two hours, my ear is sweaty and these idiots keeping poking their head in my office like they don’t know what to do without me.”
“Breathe girl, breathe,” I said laughing. “It’s gonna be alright.”
And it was. Serving as her solid support system and quitting cheerleader, my friend began to save 6 months of expenses. Simultaneously, she built up her resume by volunteering to help event planners organize occasions. Taking control of her life and knowing she was working to leave on her own terms made the final months of her job lighter and easier to handle. The day she finally found the freedom to quit, the boss begged her to stay. And six months later, after daily resume submissions, moving in with family, and watching her savings nearly dry up, faith and focus were rewarded. She found an entry-level gig assisting the president of a corporate events firm in NYC. Three years later, handling clients in Asia, Europe, and North America, she nearly runs the company walking backwards. She’s relaxed and the happiest I’ve ever known her to be. “Do what you love and the money will come,” is a quote I always remember Oprah saying. But I’ve innately believed that for years. I didn’t need any book called “The Secret” to prove it. And I don’t believe money equals happiness ─ although it can bring momentary content.
So when Black Enterprise’s online department asked me to write a story for a new column about following career dreams, I jumped at the chance. I mean here I am today, finishing my childhood fantasy of being a novelist, dealing with film folks on the regular, happily living the life of a respected, working actress while making moves toward writing and producing movies. This BE.com assignment exuded the passion for dream-catching that I adamantly live.
The story was about a rapper named Anthem, a former stockbroker who quit his day job to become a fulltime MC. During the interview, he told me about the six-digit salary range he made before changing fields. My cynical journalist side kicked in. Why would he leave a 6 digit job to rap? I thought to myself. A rapper? Today? That’s crazy.
Talking to Anthem, I filled with doubt, becoming a walking hypocrite for consciously assuming that this rapper dude was mental for daring to act out the kinda of risky, goal intensive moves I advocated. Maybe it’s because I know so many wannabe MCs who never make it. Perhaps it’s because I turn on the radio and hear so much hip-hop that should’ve never made it.
Today, days after the story has been turned in, edited, and published, I read the words on BE.com and my mind is changed. Momentary doubt has turned to a reminder of faith and respect toward someone who took a leap into an unforeseeable net of happiness ─ one that can only be visualized and imagined. He’s an artistic drummer boy beating his way through naysayers blocking his path. He’s like me, closing ears to monkeys jumping on the bed trying to knock me awake from the dreams that keep me focused on a dark path that leads to a light of manifestation. It’s these silly monkeys that bring doubt, projecting fears and insecurities that’ll often pop up in the quest to do what you love and make that money come.
I’ve linked the story I wrote for Black Enterprise online, to this blog. And I wasn’t surprised when my editor said the piece “a lot of traffic” on BE.com. That’s because people want to be inspired and moved. People want to feel that one day they can live the life and job they’ve always imagined, if only for a day. Even in a time of recession when folks are living check to check and can’t save pennies to cushion their thoughts of quitting. You may read this story and be inspired. Or you might be riddled with doubt. Whatever the feeling, it’ll be brought on by those brave enough to follow their hearts, in attempts to escape the drab doldrums of a life that often feels like being stuck in a colorless cubicle.