The Greatest Motivational Speech You Will Ever Read

It’s 7:45 pm. I’ve just got done eating and taking a long, hot shower-I’m tired. I’ve been chasing elementary students all day, my nose is running and I have cramps. In 24 days, I have a personal project due that could possibly make my dreams a reality. I know I should be working on it right now, but I’m wrapped up on my couch with an electric blanket contemplating whether or not I should go to bed.

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Every day, I compete with life and its constant stressors and impediments and for the average person, that’s a competitor we’re not trying to square up with. Whether it be a 30 page paper, a shitty job, societal pressures and expectations, bills, homelessness, fatigue, illness, procrastination,or whatever way it chooses to manifest itself that day, life is just so prominent and overbearing to the point where we can’t even begin to think about our dreams and the things we truly desire. We’re too busy trying to deal with the situations that life throws at us on a daily basis.  How can we focus on losing weight, or starting a business, or whatever our dream may be when we’re tired, stressed, being abused, hate our job,  and just want to do nothing as a result of every day life?  How do we even begin trying to add anything else to that over-filled plate? How do we add pursuing a dream to all of that?

The starting line.

So many of us start off with a dream as a child and as we continue to grow up and experience life, that dream fades away. That dream becomes obsolete to us because life just unloads everything it has and our focus shifts from dreams to trying to manage the daily stresses of life. We look at people who are successfully doing what we desire to do or have what we desire to have,  and we think, “I have that same dream. That’s what I want in life, and that’s what I desire to do and to become. How come they have it and I don’t?”  Then we come up with all the excuses and reasons in the world for why we don’t:

I grew up poor.     I didn’t go to college.

I came from a single family home.    I don’t have a good paying job.

I gotta take care of my kids.      I’m tired.      I’m unmotivated.     I have too much on my plate as it is.

And the list goes on…

We have to fight.

Life is not going to stop, get easier, or not do its thing because we have a dream that we’re trying to pursue. Whether we know it or not, we are constantly shown that life isn’t the race we are running, but the competitor we are running against, and every day there is a challenge to get to the finish line. For some us the finish line is ultimate happiness, fame and fortune, and going to heaven. For others it’s as simple as please let me make it to Friday, let me figure out how to pay this bill this month, let me figure out how to just breathe. We’re always running this race with life and we’re always going to. However,  it’s those of who recognize that we’re running this race and actually gear up to compete who make it. It’s those of us who choose to fight the battle that make it. Those of us who choose to challenge the obstacles that life throws at us that succeed. It’s those of us who compete with life.Our dream dies because we aren’t up for the challenge. Being tired, stressed, sick, unmotivated, or whatever it is that life serves us at that stops us from following our dreams can be defeated.

DREAMS= DESIRE= A DECISION OF DOING.

This formula that I ever so kindly created for you, is the key to success. We got the dream, we got the desire- most of us have that or have had that at one time or another. It’s that second half, that decision of doing that we struggle with, and that’s what separates the winners from the losers. That’s what separates the ones who make it from the ones who miss it. That’s what separates the dreamers from the do-ers.

Life is the biggest competitor that ANY of us will ever have to face.  From abuse, to poverty, to natural disaster, to addiction, to temptation,  life is a strong competitor who can and will throw anything at us to keep us from our dreams – it’s just the nature of the beast. However, we have to make that conscious decision to do. We have to throw it right back at life. When life is telling you you’re tired, stay up! When life is giving you stress, find peace! When life is telling you you’re trapped, find your way out. Life is always gonna be life, no matter how much money you have, or how successful you are- you don’t have any control over it and what it throws at you. However, you do have control over you and what you DECIDE TO DO. There’s a dream that lives in you and a desire that lives in you. Those are things that life can easily tamper with. However, that decision to do, and to  become, and to  have, and to achieve. That’s something that no one can ever take away- not even life itself.

neon

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Being A Woman: The Phenomenal Movement

 

18 women all from different places and situations were asked to share what being a woman meant to them

None of these women knew each other, or why they were asked, but their words came together to create a message of unity and empowerment for all women…

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THESE 18 WOMEN HAVE PAVED THE WAY, NOW IT’S YOUR TURN.

JOIN THE MOVEMENT TODAY! SHARE WHAT BEING A WOMAN MEANS TO YOU  BELOW USING THE HASHTAG #PHENOMENALWOMAN

! LET’S TURN 18 INTO 18 MILLION.

“Although we’re all different, we are all women. Because we’re all women, we are all phenomenal.” -Kayla Skipper

#PHENOMENALWOMAN

 

ashleigh

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Building A Space for Our Success

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Loretta Devine, Keke, Palmer, and Kerry Washington onstage during the 2016 ABFF Awards.

A few nights ago, I watched the American Black Film Festival Awards on BET. This award show was presented by ABFF in conjunction with BET as a way to celebrate and recognize the diversity and talent within the realms of Black Hollywood. I’m not going to get into the whole “Oscar’s So White” controversy, but as a writer, I’m a major fan of the ABFF and wanted to acknowledge them as well as BET for creating their own lane. When it comes to following our dreams, this is something that many of us want to do, but for many reasons fail to do it.

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When something doesn’t fit into a specific category or space, it is often concluded that this thing whether it be our physical appearance, an opinion , or a dream needs to be modified. There’s this connotation attached to being unique that fosters conformity and change in order to be accepted and successful.  As a result, we feel like we need to change our ideas- we feel like we need to change our dreams.

When we live in a world where ordinary is the expectation and our dream is out of the ordinary, how do we succeed?

When I first started my blog, I knew it was very unconventional, and unique. A lot of the things I’ve done and do are “typical” for bloggers, but a lot of my dreams and goals for my blog are very unconventional. There are times where this has left me feeling like there isn’t a place for my blog, and there isn’t a place for my dreams to come true. However, because I’m so passionate about my dreams, and believe in myself 100%, I decided I wasn’t going to change my dreams but instead create a space for them to come true.

CREATE

If we have a vision, idea, or a dream we are passionate about that doesn’t fit into a space that’s already created within the arenas we’re trying to succeed in, we have to create our own space-we have to create our own success!  Everything that we see as normal, or that we have accepted in life didn’t necessarily start off that way. Some of these things started as someone’s unconventional, crazy, illogical, ideas and dreams! People built their own spaces for their success, and that’s just what we have to do sometimes. If we’re passionate about something, we don’t just stop believing in it or let it die, because society doesn’t believe in it or doesn’t have a space for it. No one should ever tell us to do that!

This week, I challenge us  to create our own space for success if we need it.  No dream should go unfollowed and no passion should die due to the lack of a space to succeed. There’s nothing wrong with doing it ourselves- if we didn’t do it we’d be selling ourselves short.

Remember, you don’t have to average, you can be extraordinary. You don’t have to be a rock, you can be a diamond!

neon

 

Rider or Passenger? Know the Difference

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My love, Caleb and I ❤

Happy Valentine’s Day ❤  For those of us who are celebrating with our special someones today, it is important that we take time to be thankful to have a person who cares about us, loves us, and supports us.  For the past four 1/2 years, I have been dating a wonderful man of God, Caleb who has stood by my side in every season of my life. From good times to bad times, he has been my best friend, partner, and biggest supporter. Last year, we turned our lives upside down to follow our dreams, and to be honest, neither one of us knew what we were getting into. It was a major risk, that we knew could be super amazing or super disastrous to our lives, both individually and collectively. In fact, we made some decisions and endured some situations that some couples would probably break up over, but luckily for us, we were both 100% supportive of each others’ dreams and were willing to take this crazy ride together. I am so blessed to have such a supportive partner who believes in my passion and dedication the same way I believe in his. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have this mutual support-especially when it comes to following your dreams.

Who’s in your car? A rider or a passenger?

For some of us following our dreams, we are taking a huge risk. We are doing something that a lot of people would consider crazy, unrealistic, and illogical. We are  putting everything on the line to pursue a passion, but at the end of the day, that is why we are doing it- passion. In pursuing it, we look for support from those who are important to us. We are looking for them to support us, to believe in us, and to stick with us through every part of this new journey- we are looking for a rider.

A rider supports your dream, no matter how risky or crazy it may seem. They tell you their honest opinions about your decisions, and vow to support you in any way they can. When the road gets crazy, they stay along for the ride with you because they believe in your passion and believe in your dreams. They don’t secretly envy your success and genuinely hope the best for you. They are patient with you while your are on your journey to success, and don’t walk away when they feel like the process is taking too long. They are not trying to advance their own motives, but are there for you because they genuinely care about you and your desires. A rider is excited for you, and happy to be a part of your journey.

As I said, things are not always going to be cut and dry when you’re following your dreams. There are going to be a lot of crazy situations and hard times, and someone who is not there for the long run is going to disappear at the first sign of this. A passenger is someone who says they’re going to be there through thick and thin, but begin to “thin out”, when things get thick. They don’t really support your dreams, they don’t really believe in you, and they aren’t trying to stay around while you’re in your “building stages”. However, some passengers tend to come looking for a ride once you have made it to your destination, or stick along for the ride so they don’t have to take their own car. In other words, they are there for their own personal gain.

This week, I challenge all of you following your dreams or thinking of following your dreams to see who’s in your car: a rider or a passenger? This journey is not an easy or swift one, and if you have someone along for the ride with you, make sure they support you 100% , will be patient with you,  will endure with you, and will believe with you- make sure you have a rider. Know the difference, today!  Remember, you don’t have to be average, you can be extraordinary. You don’t have to be a rock, you can be diamond.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

neon

 

 

 

 

Lift Every Dream

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Dr. Marc Lamont Hill

 

On Sunday, I attended the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at Syracuse University. The weekend long celebration was comprised of a number of activities and community projects that focus on activism and honoring the late Martin Luther King Jr. Social justice activist, professor of African American Studies, and CNN political contributor Dr. Marc Lamont Hill was given the honor to of being the keynote speaker at Sunday evening’s dinner event at the Carrier Dome.  The contents of his address were so encouraging and moving that they inspired today’s blog post. So, with the start of Black History Month being yesterday, I knew that this was the perfect time to share.

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Although the address delivered by Dr. Hill was one of the most compelling of its kind, one thing he said stood out to me more than anything. While speaking on the writing of the Black National Anthem, he mentioned that the lyrics to the song say Lift EVERY Voice and sing. Not just BLACK voices, not just WHITE voices, but lift EVERY voice. Even in the midst of their oppression, black people still strived to uplift everyone, promote equality, and celebrate all people. However, when it comes to us and following our dreams, this notion of “uplifting  everyone”  is not always exercised.

 A girl is walking on her college campus to class. As she is walking toward her class, another group of  girls are walking toward her. As they get closer, she realizes that these girls are members of a student organization that promotes equality and social justice that she is also a member of.  As they approach each other, the girl walking alone smiles and waves at the group of girls. They do not smile back or respond. Instead they begin to laugh and talk about her in a hurtful way  as they walk past her. 

Although the excerpt above isn’t real, how many of us can say that something like this has happened to us? How many of us can say that someone who is the same as us whether that be the same race, same gender, same religion, same socioeconomic status, same life path, has inflicted us with some form of hatred and abase? How many of us can say that someone who is following their dreams the same way we are following ours isn’t supporting us, but instead hating us, competing with us, oppressing us?

I don’t even want to know the answer.

People who are supposed to be a community, working together to achieve a SIMILAR goal are doing just the opposite of that. How can we rise together against oppression and impediments when we are degrading each other? How can we be a community that stands firm in togetherness and harmony when we participate in a system that divides us? And for the people I’m talking to today. The people following our dreams:

How DARE we say we’re striving to achieve our own goals when we see someone who is doing the same and we CHOOSE NOT TO uplift them and support their success?

As harsh as this is, it is happening. Black girls are hating other black girls. Young men are killing other young men. People following their dreams are hoping for failure for other people following their dreams. Let’s be real. We all know what it’s like to struggle. We all know what it’s like to desire change. We all know what’s like to want more for our lives and the people in them. We all know what’s like to be passionate. We all know what it’s to be excited to follow a dream, and we all know how hard this journey of following our dreams can be. Knowing this, how can we see others experiencing similar things and not be there for them? How can we refuse to help them? How can we be jealous? How can we not uplift them? How can we not be a community?

How can we be divided?

When you see someone following their dreams the same way you are, support them- uplift them.

Like their Facebook Page.

Purchase their book.

Send them a message of encouragement.

Offer your guidance and knowledge.

Let them know we’re in this together.

Uplift them.

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This week, I challenge us to lift another person’s dream. When we are all working toward the same goal,why wouldn’t we work together to see that everyone achieves success? Let’s be a community, let’s be a team- let’s lift every dream.

Happy Black History Month

-Kayla ❤

A Word from the Heart: Be Thankful

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a good week thus far! I had a blog post planned out that I wanted to share with you guys, but at the last minute, I felt that I needed to share something else I experienced this past weekend. On Saturday, I was able to catch up on some much needed “me time”.  I did some reading, took a nap, did some crafts, created cute baby shower gifts for a friend, and just got to spend time with myself-something that a lot of us don’t get to do often! I enjoyed this time to myself not only because it allowed me to relax and tune the world out, but it also gave me time to reflect over my life and my journey.

As a little girl, I wrote all day, every day. As you can see above, I had notebooks full of stories, songs, and poems- you name it, I wrote it! I would get notebooks and fill them from cover to cover with no effort at all. I loved writing in my room by the windows outside under a tree, and at my grandma’s house during the summer, I loved writing on her porch. Everyone thought I was going to be a writer one day-I remember my family members telling me that my entire life! However, I never thought of being a writer. Sure, I loved it and I was good at it, but being a “writer” never crossed my mind.

I learned writing wasn’t just a talent- it was a passion.

As I shared with you a few blog posts back, after graduating from college, I made the decision to take a leap of faith and follow my dreams. I realized that yes, writing was a talent, but it was more than that- it was a passion. It was something I couldn’t live without. It was something I could spend my entire life doing, not because I was good at it, and it could make me money, but because I loved it and it made me happy. While I was in college, I stopped writing altogether, and because of that, there was a major void in my life. I was so consumed with everything else that was going on that I didn’t realize there was such a large void, until it was placed on my heart to start writing again. Starting to write again was a major turning point. All of the passion, happiness, and satisfaction that writing brought rushed over me. This was something I hadn’t felt in a long time, but it was amazing- that’s when I knew this was what I was supposed to do. I guess I always knew deep down inside, but with the pressures of society and life, it was out of sight and out of mind. However, I thank God that I came to the realization- it was was a big part of why I decided to drop everything and follow my dreams. The raw passion, the genuine sense of love for writing that I had, and the satisfaction it brought was something I couldn’t just throw away and God was showing me that.

Be thankful.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to realize their passion and have the opportunity to pursue it. Some of us are not physically or mentally able, some of our lives and situations don’t allow us to, some of us are too stubborn, and some of us are just afraid. So, for everyone out there who has been able to find their path and have been placed in a position where they CAN pursue their passion, I challenge you to BE THANKFUL that you got that opportunity. Be thankful that you are able to live the life of your dream! Be thankful that you get to do what you love! Looking back at this weekend, it made me so happy to know that my life was able to come full circle. I just imagine what my life would be like if I had never realized I needed writing in my life, and if I had never pursued my passion. It cringes me to think about it, and that’s why I thank God for my opportunity-that’s why I put everything I have into it.

It’s so important to take time to recognize the opportunity you have- whether you’re where you want to be with it or if you’re still building. The fact that you have the opportunity to do so isn’t something you should take lightly or let go to waste. If you have the opportunity to follow your dreams and pursue your passion, give it your all-people would kill to be in your shoes. Remember, you don’t have to be average, you can be extraordinary. You don’t have to be a rock, you can be a diamond. Be thankful, today!

-Kayla ❤

Success and Skeletons

While I was in the mall returning something earlier this week,  I overheard two women chit- chatting about one of their friends who was getting married. I knew I should have stopped eavesdropping, but I couldn’t resist after hearing what they were talking about! One of them was very excited that their friend was getting married, and began talking about all of the success, happiness, and accomplishments that her friend and soon to be husband had achieved together, and how much she admired them. After listening to this, the other friend said:

“Yeah, I agree, but remember how he cheated on her like five times? And how much they used to fight, and how they lived in that dirty one room apartment ? What a hot mess!”

Fortunately for this bride to be, she did not have to hear these things that were being said about her, but for some of you, the skeletons and bad situations of your past are continuously held over your heads-even in the midst of your success.  Let’s be honest, all you have made your share of mistakes, have been in situations that you aren’t proud  and have done some things that you are ashamed of. However, a lot of us have over come those situations, have moved on to accomplish many great things and have gotten to  good places in our lives. With that being said, why are we constantly reminded of where we used to be?

Does Success have Skeletons?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. For every good thing that someone has to say about you, there is a bad thing that someone else is saying. As sad as this is, this is life. No matter how successful you may  become or how much you have grown and evolved into an amazing person, your skeletons are going to be thrown from the closet and into the public eye. Why does this happen? Is it because people are out to get you? Maybe. Or is it because people genuinely dislike you? Perhaps. These are probably very valid and true reasons however, skeletons and dirty laundry are often aired when people are intimidated by your success or insecure about their own situations- and skeletons might I add. If you notice in my story above, one woman was talking about the bride to be’s accomplishments and success while the other talked about her skeletons and dirty laundry. If they were talking about her success, then why was the one friend so quick to bring up her skeletons? These two things that have absolutely nothing to do with one another…or do they?

Spin It and Own It

For a lot of you, your past situations, mistakes, and skeletons have helped shape you into the amazing, successful person you are today- I know that’s true for me! Sometimes it takes falling down, making bad decisions, and hitting rock bottom to put you in a position to learn, change, and grow. We all know that we’ve got skeletons in the closet, so when they’re brought to light, spin it and own it. When someone tries to use your skeletons to bring you down, tell them how they brought you up! When they try to use your skeletons to show when you slipped up, tell them how your skeletons show your growth. When someone brings up where you used to be tell them,

“Yes, that’s where I USED to be, but I USED where I USED to be to get me where I am today!”

This week I challenge you to spin it and own it when they talk about you!Tell them to focus on where you are now, and not where you used to be. Tell them that you’re skeletons  showed you the way to success- your skeletons show your growth! Oh, and ask them why they’re in you’re closet looking for your skeletons, when they should be worrying about their own! Remember, you don’t have to average you can be extraordinary. You don’t have to be a rock, you can be a Diamond!

-Kayla ❤

 

 

 

Are you Ready for Success?

Hi everyone!!! I hope all of you are enjoying yourselves during this holiday season! I can’t believe Christmas has come and gone already, and that the new year is right around the corner. I must say, 2015 has been an AMAZING year for me, and because of all the hard work I’ve done, I will tell you that a lot of big things are already in the works for this blog for 2016, as well as for a lot of other things I’m working on as well.  A lot of new opportunities, growth, and most of all success is ahead of me, and I’m sure the same things are in the plans for a lot of you as well. However, are we really ready for success? Do we know what that even means? This week, while thinking about the things that are about to happen for me in a few months, I really started to wonder if I was.

Success is a Process

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For those of you who are fans of the Hip Hop genre of music, I’m sure you are very familiar with Dj Khaled. Dj Khaled released an album called Suffering from Success in 2013. I was intrigued by the name of his album, so I did some research to see what he had to say about it. During an interview for his album, Dj Khaled explained the concept behind “Suffering from Success”.  He defined it as the stress, struggle, trials, and tribulations that people have to endure on the road to becoming successful, and that it’s important to realize that there’s a lot that comes with becoming successful in the first place. While watching this interview, I thought “wow, this pretty much sums up all of my blog posts for the year”. In all of the blog posts I’ve  shared these past 12 months, I’ve talked all about how to achieve success, and how to pursue your dreams. From your mindset, to investing in yourself, to commitment, to the “suffering from success” that Dj Khaled talks about, all the way to the passion and belief you must have in yourself. It made me realize that success is a process, and that it’s a process that doesn’t end even after you’ve achieve success- something I hadn’t thought about.

What happens after you’ve achieved success?

So as you already know, success is a process. There’s the mindset, hard work, and commitment and all the other things I talked about in all my blog posts that pertain to the road to becoming successful. However, what about the other part of this process? That’s what I was missing. When Dj Khaled talked about Suffering from Success, he focused on the suffering you endure before you’ve become successful and the suffering you endured as you were becoming successful, and that’s what my blog has focused on too. However, what about the suffering that you endure while being successful? What does it look like? Does it even exist? I hate to say it, but yes, it does exist, and if you aren’t aware of it, you won’t be ready to deal with it. So, for those of you who are on the road to success or are thinking about it, I  thought I’d share what I thought to be some of the most common ways you can still indeed “suffer from success” even after you’ve achieved it.

1.People change

When you become successful, no matter what it is you’ve done,  you’re going to run into changes in the people around you. You may gain some haters. There’s always someone who’s going to be “salty” at the fact that you’re doing better than them. Some people may come out of the wood work. Now that you’ve got money, or have lost weight, or whatever it is that you’ve achieved people who could have cared less about you yesterday, are suddenly concerned today. You may run into intimidation. People who were super confident and comfortable around you before,  may feel intimidated, inferior, nervous, or embarrassed to be around you now that you’re successful.

2.You change

In most cases, success causes changes within yourself. Most times these changes are good, but they can also be bad. You may have a new outlook on life, a new mindset. You may change the places you shop, the food you eat, the people you associate with, the things you do. However, you may begin to feel haughty and better than others- larger than life. You may refuse to help those who are striving to do what you did, to achieve their dreams. You may forget about the people who were there for you when you were still pursuing your dreams, and struggling to win. You may forget how you had to suffer for success and make it from the bottom to the top.

3.You become the center of attention

Sometimes your success puts you in a position where you have to maintain a certain image and constantly be in the public eye. Everyone is watching your every move, criticizing your decisions, reading into everything you say, and following every step you take. How are you going to handle that? For some people, this isn’t a problem, but for others, it can be very hard to deal with.

4.You fail to realize when enough is enough

Once some of you get a taste of success, you become addicted to it. However, this addiction to success isn’t always a healthy one. Whether it’s money or a new job, or fame, or what have you, you find yourself never being satisfied. You find yourself wanting more and more to the point where it’s detrimental to you , others around you, and your current success. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to achieve as much as possible- the sky is the limit. However,  it can become problematic if you become greedy and take it too far.

5.You start feeling like it’s too much

Often times with success may come many new responsibilities- more than you were planning on. Juggling this and everything else I just mentioned above along with maintaining time for you, your health, and your well being can pose quite the challenge for some people. Sometimes, too much of a challenge to handle alone. Success comes with a lot at times, and if you aren’t sure how to handle that, you may find ways to handle it that aren’t in the best interest of you or anyone for that matter.

Success is like Opening Pandora’s Box

I don’t want any of you to think that there’s nothing good about achieving your dreams and being successful. Following your dreams is one of the best decisions you can make in life-That’s what this whole blog is about! However, I just want you to think about what you’re fully stepping into when you decide to  follow your dreams. Success is like opening pandora’s box. Once you open it, there is no going back, and you have to be prepared for what may or may not happen. You have to be okay with the fact that it may be perfectly fine, or that it may be really hard and scary. You have to understand that your life is going to change. The things you do may change, the people you’re around may change- you’re going to change. None of us really knows what the future holds for us, and we can’t control it. However, there is nothing wrong with preparing yourself. This week, I’m challenging all of you to really be aware of what comes with following your dreams, and to really think about if you’re fully prepared for what that could mean for you and your life. Remember, you don’t have to be average, you can be extraordinary, you don’t have to be a rock, you can be a diamond. I hope you have a Happy New Year! ❤

-Kayla ❤

 

Choose Your Path

December is an exciting yet stressful time of the year for all of you fellow college students! For some of you, December means long nights of studying, sweatpants, lots of coffee,4am papers, and dreaded final exams. For others, December means Christmas break, going home, and graduation!!! Graduation is like a breath of fresh air- you did it! You’ve hit a major milestone- your college degree! Now it’s time  take everything you’ve learned and take the real world by storm!! Kiss all of your fun college days goodbye- it’s time for your career! It’s time for reality.

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Exactly a year ago, this was me. I was graduating Magna Cum Laude from SUNY Oswego. I applied to grad school and was accepted at Syracuse University’s Falk School of Social Work, and I was preparing to step into the world of professional careers and 401 K’s…I remember thinking “I’m so ready for this! My resume is amazing, my grades a superb, and I’m en route to receiving my Masters Degree!” I was on top of the world!!! Everything was in place, I was doing everything right.

A few weeks after graduating college, reality really began to hit me. Everyone I talked to was congratulating me on graduating and it was cool to have accomplished something so great. I didn’t mind telling  everyone about all of my success! However, the expected life questions followed soon after:

“So, what’s next?”

“Do you have a job?”

“Are you continuing your education?”

“Did you get into grad school?”

Luckily for me, the answer to all of those was yes, and I was damn proud of my answer! I was going back to school, I had a job. Everyone was so proud, so excited about everything I was doing.Based on society’s expectations,  I was on the right path!

Sure, it was the “right path”, but was it the “right path” for me?

I was working with children in the inner city, and to be honest I loved it, because I loved kids. However, I began to realize that this was going to be life now (until grad school). There were no more summer vacations! There were no more month long winter breaks! There were no more 4 day weekends, and having class at 2 in the afternoon! I was in the real world, and as exciting as it was to have received your degree and to land a job in your career field, it was also very sobering in a sense.  I sort of began feeling like this was life. Your job and your career that is. All of your time and energy goes into working full time! By the time I got home everyday, I didn’t want to do anything. I was tired, and just wanted to sleep! I remember my colleagues saying, “welcome to the real world girl!” For me, I began to be afraid…but then I remembered-this is the expectation! This is why you went to school! This is what you’ve prepared for! On top of that,  I was going back to college in just 8 short months!

As I just mentioned, I was also preparing to return to school in the fall in the midst of working full time. I had just mailed in my confirmation to start grad school, and I was scheming on how I could build my resume and gain experience so that I could nail an awesome internship come August. I was ready. However, as Syracuse University began sending me more information about my graduate program, the more stressed I became.  My first semester consisted of 16 credits of courses which roughly equals a course load of about 5 classes. Another requirement for the fall semester was a 25 hour per week internship equaling 250 hours for the semester. When I first saw this, I was like “Okay, nothing I’m not used to. Typical college demands.”  However, the 25 hour a week “unpaid” internship was a little problematic. How in the world was I going to intern for 25 hours a week, go to class, study, FIND SOME TIME TO WORK, and have any time to myself or to do anything else? I talked to my advisor about it, and she told me that she had just finished the semester I was dreading beginning. She said she basically struggled to make ends meet, and to survive, but it was necessary for success. I thought about it, and agreed with her and didn’t worry about it anymore. I was on the right path, and I had made it into grad school, so I had to keep going and keep achieving. This is what I had to do!  I also began to delve into the life of “graduate school financial  aid”. Out of the $60,000+ cost of attendance for SU, I was only awarded $20,000 in assistance. Where was the other $30,000 coming from? I had no idea. Sallie Mae knew where it was coming from though. Of course their were fellowships, grad assistant jobs, and other options to help, but with my course load and internship requirements there was no way I was going to have time for that.  I knew every other student was doing this and probably having the same concerns as me, but I knew I had to make it work. That’s just how it goes in college. Everyone else was doing it, and it was the right thing to do. I had to get my Masters right? So, I prepared to sign my life away for the next two years, and rack up another $120,000 in loans to obtain my Masters Degree. It was what I had to do. It was the next step on the path to success.

Ten days after I graduated from college, I thought about my life. I thought about my dreams. I had so many dreams, so many things I wanted to do! In the midst of working a job full time, I began feeling like I was never going to have time for those dreams anymore. It was time to put my dreams away. However, I was not feeling that at all. I was really passionate about a lot of different things! Writing, traveling, entrepreneurship, business, motivational speaking and the list goes on! However, I kept telling myself, “this is what you’re supposed to do. This is the path to success!” Every day, I tried to convince myself of this, but my dreams!!! Sure I loved social work, and kids- I truly did and still do love those things, but my dreams!! I knew I had to go to grad school and continue my education, BUT MY DREAMS!!!! My dreams meant so much more to me, and I was not about to fall into the “real world” and “right path” box! I was not gonna end up like everyone else who decided to sacrifice their dreams to meet the expectations of society. So, I didn’t. I followed my dreams.

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I created this blog that January following my graduation, and it was such an amazing experience. All of this was weighing on my heart so much, to the point where I knew that, that was what this blog was going to be about- following your dreams, choosing your path! It was like it all happened on purpose, all at the right time! I prayed long and hard, and I knew this was what I was supposed to do, so I went for it! I chose my path. I dove into entrepreneurship, I picked up writing, I began traveling, and doing everything I was truly passionate about! I wasn’t gonna give up on my dreams. I went  hard  for them and I still am! I didn’t end up going to grad school either. Sure, people were disappointed. I got the whole “you need it to be successful”,  “you’re already so successful, why stop now?”, “it’s such a prestigious school”, and my favorite “how are you gonna throw it all away.”

“How are you gonna throw it all away?” They’re right. How could I just throw my dreams away?

For almost a year now, I have been working on my dreams. Do a lot of people think it’s crazy? Why, of course. I sacrificed grad school, and really “building” my career, and “sticking to the status quo” to pursue my dreams! I still have a long way to go, but this past year has shown me nothing but growth and success. I see my dreams coming true! Stepping out on a path of my own was scary. However, it wasn’t as scary as it looks. I still take care of my business. I still have my full-time job. I still pay my bills, I take care of my responsibilities- those don’t just go away. I just didn’t let my dreams go away because of those things and neither should you. Yes, life and society have this pre-made path that everyone is supposed to follow, but you don’t have to follow it. I chose my path. I chose me.

At the end of  the classic Disney movie, Pocahontas, in the scene where her father is about to kill John Smith, Pocahontas falls on top of John Smith and says,

“This is the path I choose father, what will yours be?”

I challenge all of you to answer this question.  What will your path be? You have to choose. Especially those of you preparing to move into a new chapter of life. I’m not saying don’t go to grad school if that’s your plan or change your whole life plan around after reading this, I’m just saying make sure you choose your path. Not the “right” path or the “expected” path or the “realistic” path, but YOUR PATH. It may not  be what everyone wants you to do. It may not be what everyone expects it to look like. It may look crazy to the rest of the world! It may look childish, it may look risky, it may look unrealistic, but it’s yours!  It’s not supposed to look like anyone else’s and if it does, well, you may be on the wrong path. This week, I’m telling you to follow your dreams. Take a chance, take a leap of faith! I did, and I promise you, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Choose your path today.

It’s not too late, child. Let the spirits of the Earth guide you. You know your path, child. Now follow it!

-Grandmother Willow, Pocahontas

Remember you don’t have to be average, you can be extraordinary. You don’t have to be a rock, you can be a diamond.”

-Kayla ❤

 

 

Put your Pride Away!!

Happy Monday! I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday- I know I did! Aside from eating 50 plates of food and decorating the Christmas tree, every year, my mom and I have a tradition of going Black Friday shopping together. This year,while shopping at Target, we saw a woman who was trying to buy a giant television. She was a very small lady and trying to carry the television was nearly impossible for her. A few customers and store associates offered her help numerous times, but she rudely declined each time even though it was clear she needed help and clear that she wanted help. Unfortunately for her, she ended up dropping the television, but luckily a man was there and was able to help prevent it from falling on the floor. The lady then rudely thanked him for helping her. The man proceeded to ask,

“Why didn’t you just ask for help?”

Annoyed she responded,

“I don’t need to ask for help. Everyone saw me struggling and no one bothered to help me.”

I could not believe my ears after hearing her say this! There were people offering their help to her left and right, but she refused their offers even though she wanted people to help her! This my friends is called PRIDE! Not the positive, healthy pride that one may have in themselves, but the “stubborn suffer in silence”, “impertinent” pride. She almost lost her television because she was too proud to ask for help, or to accept the help she was offered! Like this wonderful little lady, a lot of us let our pride get the BEST of us at the WORSE possible times as well! Especially when it comes to our dreams and goals!

A lot us have goals, dreams, and things we aspire to do and become. When it comes to our dreams, goals, and aspirations we don’t always know exactly what we’re doing or how difficult things might be. Sometimes, we don’t even know where to start! For some people this is a no brainer-they immediately ask for help and guidance! However, for other people, they refuse to ask for help! They will sit there and forfeit their dreams and goals because they are too prideful to ask for help, get information, and accept guidance. They refuse to let people know they even want to pursue their dreams. They know they need help, they know they’re curious, and they know they really want to pursue their dreams, but their pride gets in the way.

Pride Prevents Progress!

Although some of us feel like we’re too good to ask for help or too good to ask questions, we are really holding ourselves and our dreams back with our pride! Asking questions, being curious, and accepting guidance and help doesn’t make you inferior! It doesn’t make you stupid, and it doesn’t make you less than you are! It allows you to progress! It allows you to grow! When you have a dream or goal that you are passionate about, you would do anything to make that dream a reality! Nothing would stop you from being successful, nothing would stop you from winning!

Today, I challenge you to put your pride away! Go for your dreams even if that means asking questions, learning something new, and accepting help from others! If your pride prevents you from progressing, if your pride prevents you from following your dreams, then I challenge you to check your PASSION. Without passion you have nothing! don’t forget that!

Remember, you don’t have to be average you can be extraordinary. You don’t have to be a rock, you can be a diamond!

-Kayla ❤