I’m still on this 2010 thing. Making changes for a better life and so on. For as long as I can remember, writing has been what I enjoyed the most. Aside from reading and blasting my music, that is. Just the other night, I was in my old room at my parents’ house and ran across an award plaque my mom found while cleaning up. I’d won first place for a features story I wrote at a high school journalism camp. I was only 16 or so at the time.
I think about the rush I felt writing that story in the Meeman Journalism Building writing lab at the University of Memphis, paired with seeing my byline on the front page of section D in the Commercial Appeal as in intern at age 20. I wonder what would have happened if I’d stayed the course and not given up on writing soon after that internship. What would my career and life be like?
I don’t know and I guess by now, it doesn’t matter. What does matter though, is the fact that I didn’t have a plan.
Two years later when I graduated, it was evident that I still didn’t have a solid plan. My senior year, I spent all of my time knocking classes out, partying (that was every year), pledging and um, partying. During commencement, I remember crying as the band played the alma mater–partly because I was gonna miss the hell out of college, but also because I didn’t know what was next.
My summer consisted of applying for jobs over the Internet and researching graduate school at Howard. I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Let’s just say I didn’t get any of those jobs and you won’t see me wearing a Howard sweatshirt on any of my Facebook pictures. I opted to attend graduate school in the same city as my college and keep the party from undergrad going. Surely, within two years, I’d have it figured out. Still didn’t happen.
Fast forward to present day. Everyday it seems as if I read about another young woman who is making her dreams come true. Two examples: Demetria Lucas, relationships editor at Essence Magazine, which she refers to as The Magazine (everyone knows which one) on her personal blog, A Belle In Brooklyn. Ironically, she and I both had a blog at Honey Magazine Online at the same time before they revamped. It was the bloggers’ job to report on their lives, the happenings and events in their respective cities of residence. I was so excited, yet scared to share my life with the World Wide Web so I held back a lot. I didn’t have a niche. My monthly posts consisted of writing about what I’ll call my first bout with seasonal affective disorder (self-diagnosed) and a few events I attended here and there. In retrospect, it was hella boring.
Meanwhile, Belle was writing her life stories about dating and a publishing career that everyone read. They were entertaining, real and most important, a reflection of many young women’s lives. (I actually didn’t read them until about a year later.) She had a niche and a plan. Now, she writes her own relationship column in the mag with a book on the way.
I had a plan, too: hold on to the blog and maybe I’d be offered a freelance position with the magazine. I had fingers and toes crossed that they would bring the print version of Honey back. That’s about all I wanted–to see my name on the masthead or atleast on the Contributors page. Then they folded (again), too. Double-sigh.
What did I do when I got the news of my chance of writing being shot to hell? Nothing. Wrote about it on my blog, sent the then editor a note of thanks and best wishes and kept it moving. I didn inquire about other opportunities. Nada. I had no other plan of action whatsoever.
Next: Helena Andrews. She’s only 29 years old and her memoir, Bitch Is the New Black, which isn’t even published yet is being produced by Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy) for movie adaptation. These women have plans, or atleast it seems so. They seemed to have a particular goal in mind and have the tenacity to stay the course. Unlike myself in the past.
I’m not comparing myself to them negatively. I like to use other people’s accomplishments as a motivation for me. I can pat myself on the back and say that I’ve made great strides in just three years–going from having no clips in major publications to a portfolio full. Also, I know that when man plans, God laughs. Even so, He cannot take you to your destiny if you have no inclination of what you want to to do. I must be calculated and deliberate in what I want.
Today is the day I write a plan for myself.