A Year Ago…
I planted seeds. Now they’re sprouting.
By Brittney M. Walker
A year ago, a lot of things happened around this time. To name a few, the U.S. presidential office changed hands between one of the coolest presidents I’ve ever known and some toddler trapped in an orange man’s body. There was also a (white) women’s march I attended and wrote about here. But of course there were some monumental moments in my personal life. Around this time last year, I made a few decisions that set the tone for 2017. It wasn’t my intention to mark my progress by the changing of the year, as I’m not much of a trend person, setting resolutions and things. It just happened to work that way.
I had just ended my quarter-life crisis by reframing my goals, finishing my sessions with a career/life coach, and choosing a path. Quite honestly, it didn’t feel exactly over, but because I made a decision to do something different, things started to move in an upward direction.
Looking at my journal entry last year Jan. 2, 2017, it begins, “It’s time to move on.” I decided to move on from a mental, emotional, and physical space that was unabashedly keeping me from shining. I was in a stale nearly four-year relationship with a man whom I loved dearly but didn’t accept me. We lived together, but secretly from his parents. My family knew all my business. But it was for appearances sake he didn’t want them to know. There were so many things about our relationship I didn’t understand. I still don’t. Ultimately, there was nothing more there for me. And I don’t think for him either. I knew this at least a year prior to this moment, but remained in this space mostly for security and comfort. An illusion of security and comfort. I found that these are the things I convinced myself I had. I wasn’t paying rent, but contributing by paying for some utilities, food, cleaning, and other things. I wasn’t working full time. I didn’t have to. I also had a companion who was a sounding board, fun in public, offered great advice, provided fun experiences, and shared resources.
But we were both terribly unhappy and emotionally malnourished. For me, I knew I was reaching a new low when I was considering sleeping with other people. I started to not care whether or not I would be violating the boundaries of our union. So I decided during our annual winter break, when we’d see our families without each other, that Jan 2nd, that it was time for me to move on. I wrote my intentions, gave an explanation and proceeded to detach myself from our spoiling relationship. We broke up after his return, on Valentine’s Day.
It was a strange rush. I was anxious about the moment and didn’t plan for it to be on Valentine’s Day. It was provoked by an argument about not observing Valentine’s Day. I don’t do holidays. Then I was immediately relieved. I had been holding onto this decision for some time and finally it was enacted.
I had permission to be me again. He had permission to do get what he needed from someone else. We weren’t obligated to each other anymore. Then he kicked me out.
My next journal entry, dated Jan. 14th is an essay draft about my beginnings, an origins story for the new group of strangers I’d eventually call family. At this time, I started a fellowship program at CUNY’s School of Journalism. During my quarter-life crisis, I had started a site called GypsyJaunt but was failing at it. The fellowship program was set to equip me with the proper tools to be a better entrepreneurial journalist.
Prior to getting my acceptance letter to the program, I was pretty unsure of my future. I had a few options including moving abroad, getting a real grown up job, or moving back home with mommy.
I was thankful when the program director emailed me an acceptance letter and offered a scholarship. Ok, I thought, something is happening. Getting accepted did something to my confidence but not immediately. In fact, the other people in the program (see here: EJ17 Bios Entrepreneurial Journalism) intimidated me. I had no idea how I slipped passed the proper authorities and managed to get on the same roster of these extraordinary people. Investigative journalists, established entrepreneurs, former editors, artists, and me. Who the hell was I to be among these folk? And the days we shared our origin stories, impressed upon me even more that I didn’t belong. These people were legit! I felt like the orphaned kid sister of the group, trying to find a place. Over time, though, these intimidating people, whom I still revere, became family. Throughout the program we shared plenty of liquor, laughs, sobs, angry rants, complaints, notes, fuck its and more. We got to know each other and see our individuality and humanity.
This was indeed one of the most diverse groups of people I’ve worked alongside, ever. People hailed from India, Italy, Brazil, Pittsburg, Cali, some home grown New Yorkers and more. People’s economic backgrounds ranged from broke asses, like me, to trust fund babies lol.
There’s a woman in the group we gave so much shit because during our spring vacation, she was captured on camera boat sailing with her family while the lot of us were holed up somewhere working on stuff. I wasn’t. I was in Cuba. Lol. But she like just about everyone in the program, was accessible, fun, supportive, and available.
The people in the program really created an environment of learning for the soul. They were supportive, challenging, annoying, funny, and loving. I miss them.
At any rate, the program certainly equipped me with the necessary tools and confidence to tactically take on the challenges and pitfalls of starting a business. Dealing with the reality of failing and spending time on an idea now isn’t so terrible and is in fact quite exciting. I dream of one day establishing a sustainable business that finances my living and traveling abroad.
These were the most impactful things that set the tone for 2017. I decided that after the relationship I was in, I wouldn’t suppress my genuine self to accommodate another. My 2017 was dope because of that. I Unapologetically lived, made new lasting connections with people whom I love, had a lot of great sex, got a new man whom I would marry today (that was certainly unexpected), traveled to dope places, got my start up moving, went to a few nude beaches, had a little drama, and truly settled into me.
This week, I became the Communications Director at Cumbe. It’s a dance and cultural institution in Bed Stuy, a pillar in the community. I have a real grown up job that I anticipate loving.
I submitted my application for grad school this morning(!). The program is completely free for students because they recognize writers ain’t got a dime to their names. Also the program makes sense to my life. In my statement of purpose, I described my hesitation to even consider grad school, one, because I’m tired of Sallie Mae. She called me the other day to remind me how much she’s taking out of my back account at the end of the month. I’m not sure it’s going to be there though. And two, grad school seemed like a waste of time. Piling on a bunch of debt for a degree that may not mean much to anyone in the future. But because I’ve decided to own this writing thing and take it to the next level, this program makes sense for my development. Hopefully I get in!
Finally, Beyonder, my start up, is moving along. We’ve got some experiences set to launch in February and we’re hosting a dope private gathering next week. Check out the site here.
Overall, I see now that once seeds are planted and the farmer does all the toiling and care involved to get them growing, at some point, in the right season, the seeds begin to sprout, grow, and produce fruit. Happy New Year and happy seed planting.