today was one of those days where too many intersections of my world collided. i’m struggling to make sense of it all in the aftermath. this whiplash got my neck and my back hurting. who? what? where? why? how? let me back up.
sometimes the best place to begin a story is from the beginning. fun fact about me. when i read books, i like to read the first page, middle page, and last page before i dive into the story to read it cover to cover. i enjoy having some hints about where i’m going and then trying to figure out how the writer will get me there. in this story, i can tell you the beginning, i can talk about the middle, but i’m afraid the end is still a work in progress. but, back to the beginning.
i was a magazine journalism major in college. i went to drake university and they had the top magazine journalism program in the country. my goal in life (after i realized my childhood dream of becoming the first black female supreme court justice was no longer appealing. we can thank the pelican brief for that one!) was to own my own publication and production company. i have always been a storyteller and i really enjoyed the way magazine features told stories. they were short enough to be quickly consumed but in depth enough to make you walk away feeling like you learned something about someone or something. it was a looser writing style that allowed for more expression than news writing, and it gave the writer autonomy to tell the story that unfolded before them during the interview with all the things that were spoken and unspoken. to say that i was in love with magazines is a slight understatement.
the problem was in the representation. so few of the magazines i consumed spoke to me. we had essence and ebony which spoke to the black experience and what it meant to be a black woman, but i wasn’t a woman. i was teen, and the teen magazines that filled the supermarket racks or were passed around my middle and high school classrooms were for white girls. there was no publication for me or the girls who looked like me. as a problem solver, i naturally took it upon myself to address the problem. i would create my own magazine for teen girls. but why stop there when you can build an entire empire. that is how i found myself on the campus of drake university where i was one of two black magazine journalism majors in a school that probably had 10 black journalism students total. being affirmed and celebrated as a black storyteller was like trying to capture the loch ness monster on video (another of my childhood obsessions). it just never happened. if you’ve been reading my blog, i don’t need to explain much else. if you’re new, just understand that the issues in the news at mizzou and yale and other pwis is nothing new. been there done that.
while i was in college learning the ins and outs of the magazine industry, a fly girl by the name of kierna mayo decided to shake things up and create honey magazine. this changed everything for me. honey magazine was bae before we knew what bae was. all of my class assignments were developed with honey in mind. it was the magazine that spoke to the budding adult me and i wanted to be part of something that just got me. there were a few other publications on the scene at the time that also spoke to my existence like vibe and young sisters and brothers, but it was honey that drew me in. i needed to be part of that kind of magic-making and truth-telling.
midway through my program, i recognized the impending demise of print and started learning web design in earnest. for those who ask how a writer fell in love with tech, there is your answer. i’m a forward thinker and i made sure i got in on the early stages of learning to design and build websites so my future publications would be ahead of the curve. that led to interactive marketing which led to content marketing which led to coding which led to user experience design which led to system architecture and here we are today. i got layers baby. lots and lots of layers.
over the years, i’ve fallen more in love with tech and all the ways it makes us super (you know i’m obsessed with being a superhero), and i had more or less abandoned that dream of having a publishing and production company. until recently. over the last few years, i have felt the pulling back to that original dream, a call to walk out my first love. i am drawn to the need to use my words and my voice to tell stories. i have wrestled with how best to bring my worlds together and what that means for my future.
enter the most epic episode of the combat jack show ever featuring a two-hour interview with none other than kierna mayo and it’s like my brain exploded. my professional mentor in my mind was telling the story of her life and journey in the business and i couldn’t hold it together. everything in me knew that it was time for me to walk out my call to be a storyteller. gah. but it’s one of those things that, once said out loud, can’t be unsaid. if i say yes to what is clearly the call for this season of my life, what does that mean? how? when? why?
as i made my way home from work today thinking about my idealistic, college self, i decided to listen to another of my fave podcasts, black girl nerds. this episode featured an interview with activist, turned baltimore mayoral candidate deray mckesson. he started talking about his call to activism and how that led to his campaign for mayor. i was caught up in the interview when he said something that made the world stop for me. mic dropped.
“know what calling you’re responding to and then make sure your soul and spirit align with that call.”
we all have a call on our lives. it’s the thing that beckons to us in the still of the night. it’s what appears in our dreams when we allow ourselves to imagine a life beyond our fears. it’s the constant hum of a skill or talent relegated to background noise while we go about doing the business of working to pay the bills. for me, it’s what i think about doing almost every second of my day. and lately, i’ve been painfully aware of how the universe has created space for people like me to thrive. it is time.
there is nothing wrong with my love of technology. not only am i passionate about it, i’m quite gifted in this area. that is not an accident. all the things i’ve learned over the years have been invaluable because the only thing that has changed in the publishing and production world, is the advancement of technology has created more channels to tell our stories, in our voices, in our truths, in our way. this has all been a part of the plan. my steps have always been ordered.
i’ve had this recurring image engraved on my brain lately. i see it when i zone out and when i close my eyes and even when i dream some nights. i’m in the middle of the sea, floating on my back. there is no land in sight and all i see is water all around me. as the natural rise and fall of the waves carries me along, i’m at peace. even when the waves crash over me, i don’t panic. i have no fear of drowning. i have no fear of going under. i have no fear of being so far away from shore. i have no fear of knowing where i’m going. i am just at peace as the waves and currents carry me along. i don’t know all of what that vision means. i trust that it will be revealed in time. but a huge part of me can’t help but think of the lyrics to a particular song.
“you make me brave. you make me brave. you call me out beyond the shore into the waves.”
there is that word again. call. calling. called. what calling are you hearing that you keep trying to silence? how can you respond to it? when will it be too loud to ignore? where is it trying to lead you? how will that change everything? i know, it’s scary. being in the deep end is scary. rising and falling in the waves is scary. facing the storms is scary. but the one who controls the wind and waves also mans the ship.