Wow. I felt amazing after writing those 200+ words the other day – like really amazing. I also started to overthink about when I run for public office will they find my confessions or grammatically incorrect pieces and drag it into some sort of campaign slander.
Yeah that is how I think. I go from 0 to 100 real fast. Some call it anxiety I call it proper planning.
Anyway you may or may not be here because of my decision to overshare. I’m not sure where to start. I promised three things: my love life, how I reclaimed my personal power and what I am continuing to learn. So I guess I’ll start with how I reclaimed my personal power…
Do you know what its like to achieve your biggest GOAL at 24? I mean something you’ve said you will do in the future and plan and plan and structure your everyday to meet? I’ll tell you what it feels like…it is devastating. My biggest goal at one point was to live, work, and give back to Ethiopia. At 24, I was fresh out of graduate school and just landed a fellowship that would give me, little ole ME, just that the opportunity to serve my beloved Ethiopia but little did I know it would take so much more from me.
Ok I’m being a little dramatic but when I say this trip changed my life IT CHANGED MY LIFE. I’ll start with the good. I met brilliant people, I was finally doing it (whatever “it” was at the time) and working in a space that I thought was meant for me and of course the ego boost whew those “I’m proud” of you messages hit different when you about to leave the country. But the 6 months were difficult. During those months, I experienced imposter syndrome, I struggled with the idea of being the eldest in my family returning to my parents country with empty hands, partying in a city with some of the most privileged people merely because my passport said American, and I struggled with the language – oh the LANGUAGE – that left me mute and sometimes isolated. Some parts of me shrunk and I didn’t even know it. I even let others communicate for me…bish whet?! This fellowship put me face to face with some of my insecurities around identity and I had no idea.
It wasn’t just identity like cultural identity BUT identity as it related to my field of study and work. Up until fairly recently I associated my identity with employment and truth be told I am still processing my detachment from that mindset (because friend you are not your job…OKURTT). I landed an incredible opportunity with some of the most brightest people in Addis and I learned so much from them. I, also, came face to face with blurred boundaries, burn-out from late hours and quick turn arounds, and immature coping mechanisms. No one could have prepared me for this and I’m not blaming anyone I’m just pointing it out for what it is an experience that accelerated my personal growth.
Reading this may seem like I figured out God was testing me pretty quickly, or that I pivoted or that the road to personal development was immediate but the gag is sis I am just now facing the impact of the trip in year of our Lord 2020. For the three years after I romanticized the experience when in actuality my confidence took a blow partly from my own doing AND partly because I was unable to address the experience.
Anyway, now on to the part about reclaiming my personal power part because no one likes a pity party. Here are three things that I believe have played a role in me getting back right post fellowship:
- Journaling – My journal is that b****. Actually I meant to say my journals are* because I have three large journals that have every crush, achievement, moment of weakness recorded. Them pages know the real me. I say this to say it is where I truly unload. If you think this post is a bit much whew you don’t want to see what my pages have. My journals give me a safe space to truly reflect and that was how I began to notice patterns, behaviors, things that didn’t make sense and I needed to get a grip.
- Plan – Part of my freakout with Ethiopia was due to the fact that I had achieved a goal and didn’t have the next thing lined up. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a job lined up because obviously I did. I came back to the US and landed a position at one of the top firms in the world BUT I didn’t get real about my passions and plan for them until I was already working 60 + hrs doing something I didn’t intend to do. My career counselor once told me if you don’t decide/plan someone will decide/plan for you and it won’t always align to what you want for your future. That was the realist shit I ever heard. I mean I am just now letting that sink in BUT hey it is sinking in.
- Don’t give up your power, its yours! – Whew child. The number of times I willingly let this happen. BISH I should be arrested. I’m trying not to sound like a self help book but everything I type sounds like a page out of 7 Effective Habits of Successful People or something lol. In all seriousness be mindful of your energy, who has access to you, how they transfer on to you and what you take from them. Stay true to you BUT stand your ground. I say this because everyone has this image of someone telling another person to back off when they feel disrespected but that’s not my personality so stay true to you but stand your ground gently and in a way that is YOU.
All in all I do not regret my fellowship experience but I do want folks especially children of immigrants who return to their parents home countries to really have a soul searching moment to understand how this experience will transform and impact a person. These moments and experiences are invaluable and I can honestly say I thank God for his grace and for his roadmap on my life because he has been patient with me and it is truly up to Him in the end. Now go out there friend and reclaim that power because it is already yours…God said so.
Part 2/3 to be continued…