This weekend was so memorable for so many reasons. Not simply because of the trip I took, but because the growth I’ve experienced over the last year.  Last year, on September 5th, 2014, I lost my job. I didn’t really share that with anyone at the time. Part of it was shame and part of it was self doubt, I am writing this blog to encourage someone who may feel stuck or feel like they aren’t progressing at a pace they would like.

At the time I was let go I had a mixture of feelings. I felt relief from a stressful environment, but I became stressed at the thought of having bills with no income. Upon losing my job, I no longer had a career to attach my ego to. It was a life changing moment. Throughout the next 5 months I did not know what God would have for me. My faith was tested, my finances were tested, and my ability to remain confident was tested.

Fortunately I saved about 3 months worth of money to be comfortable, however like so many Americans I was not prepared for the nearly 6 month transitional journey. I took on marketing communications consulting projects throughout the time while working a part time job and applying for jobs. That period of time developed patience like I never knew I had. Applying for easily over 750 jobs, over 5 months across the country does take a toll on your confidence.

I won’t delve too deep, but as a person of color we face an unemployment rate nearly twice the average I mention that, I hope in my lifetime we will have laws and penalties for companies who shy away from diversity. Both were more educated than I was. Throughout my transition, I thought back frequently on how two men I can call friend’s both overcame periods such as mine. They both have gone on to prosper much more than they previously did and came out better than before. The thought of their stories and their perseverance stuck with me. Their journey’s stuck with me.

As God would have it a couple of months into my transitional period I was transparent with a friend I regularly volunteered with. I shared I was looking to change industries and roles. He referred me to a colleague, Tanya, who owned her own career services company. Tanya improved my resume and highlighted skill sets I hadn’t given enough credit and gave me a great boost of energy and confidence. Shortly after the meeting with Tanya I received a call about the job I currently have and I interviewed with them from November to January. To date it has been one of the best professional experienced ever! The benefits I have are amazing and I’m on track to make more than I ever have before. I work with a group that embraces diversity and has been like family.

During the time I was unemployed I enrolled in classes to freshen up on a few areas. I am thankful for the educational opportunities I have received and worked for, both formal and informal. God has allowed me to do things with just an undergraduate degree that many with two or three don’t have the opportunity to do. That’s a blessing in itself. I’m thankful for the mentors I’ve had and for the people I’ve been able to witness grow in front of me. All of those experiences prepared me and made sure I was ready for life as I live it today!

The reason why this is important is I’ve learned to save even more than I did prior to my last career. I manage my time more efficiently and my confidence is no longer attached to what I do, but who I am. I know what’s important and I’ve made the commitment to stay encouraged despite my circumstances. During that time I never missed a meal. I could even still hangout or go out. So I know that though things may look well packaged on the outside that things can literally be in shambles or shaky underneath.

So to anyone in a transitional period learn from the situation. Start creating habits for the life you want AFTER that transition. Start doing the things you WANT and NEED to grow spiritually. Most importantly never lose sight of what your end goal. I had countless interviews, 2nd interviews, and 3rd interviews, but it wasn’t until I was where I was supposed to be, that I received what I was supposed to. Don’t give up! Your transitional period may not be unemployment. It may be the end of a long relationship. It may be the death of a loved one. It may be financial hardship. You may have a family member who’s decisions are weighing heavy on you and affecting you, but don’t give up. Don’t lose sight! Stay faithful and God will undoubtedly do what he said he would for your testimony. It will require you to step out of your comfort zone. My pride was a killer in my past. I wouldn’t ask for help, I wouldn’t open up or be transparent, and I wasn’t able to stand in my truth. Do not let your pride prolong a transition! Be encouraged.

Move Ahead!

There is a large sect of people who whole heartedly believe that in order to keep it real they can’t progress. 

They can’t wear fitted clothing, because that’s for (insert a certain group of people that make them feel insecure). They can’t make a subject and verb agree, because that would mean they think they are uppity after applying the lessons from their education. They feel like if they dine at places with white table cloths or dress up as oppose to dumbing it down they have sold out.

To those people I would argue that keeping it real is a temporary state of mind. That is to say that real should be based on your current situation. It should not be a cage or jail cell that holds you hostage throughout your twenties, your thirties, and so on.

If you still speak the same, dress the same, act the same, and think the same way you aren’t keeping it real you’re missing out on growth. Keep it real and keep learning keep growing and keep developing. 
Many of us don’t challenge the way we think or allow others to. We take the exact same trips with the exact same people literally and figuratively. Travel to a place you’ve yet to experience. Go alone. Meet up with some people who’ve been good to you and learn a little more about them.

At one time I said I would never wear fitted clothing. I felt the need to speak in ways that weren’t representative of the education I had received. I wouldn’t try new foods and I ordered the same thing no matter what restaurant I visited. I missed out on so many opportunities to expand my pallet and to try something new. I missed a chance to move ahead of where the old me was.

I would argue that I even kept company that no longer pushed me, challenged me, and allowed me to stay the same. I won’t say I’ve broken all the things keeping me from moving ahead but I’ve identified them and I’m working on removing those blocks.

When you look back on your life, look back on a life where year over year you beater your last year. Look back and see you moved forward maybe your path wasn’t the perfectly laid path at the beginning, but look back and see you created a path that you have no regrets on. 

Move ahead of where you were yesterday, last week, last month, and last year. Keep it real by learning more about yourself by experiencing things you’ve yet to experience with people you may have not given the opportunity.