Why did I quit my day job, relinquishing full benefits, a stable salary, and years put into the company? Well for starters, I’m twenty-seven years old and my mother died ten years ago at 44 years old when her body succumbed to Breast Cancer. The phrase “life is short,” carries especially heavy weight in my life and I just basically came to a point where I had to ask myself the question, “If not now, then when?” After repeated mornings waking up feeling trapped in an ironic routine of encouraging youth to pursue their dreams, while behind the scenes I was putting my own on hold, I had to take a sip of my own medicine and make one of the biggest decisions of my life, QUIT! Don’t get it twisted, the decision did not come easy. I knew in making this decision I would not get back any of the blood, sweat, or tears I’d put into my work over the years. However, I also knew I would take everything I’ve learned in this chapter into my next. I owed it to myself, and my mother, to take the chance to see what else life had to offer.
My mother spent the last 10 years of her life in and out of hospitals. Hair falling out from her eyebrows to her legs from chemotherapy, bones fragile accompanied by easily bruised skin, finger nails brittle and breaking fully off her fingers, looking into the mirror and not recognizing the reflection she formally associated with a beauty queen, this was all now her unfortunate reality. As a child, my mother had periods of living in a car with her 4 siblings and parents. Though as she got older she managed success in the modeling realm, leading to a career in fashion and merchandising, when she married her dream man at 28 years old, she found herself divorced just 2 years later. Her husband had developed a detrimental addiction that tore apart the new family she had formed. She was then left to raise me, her only child, as a single mother. She floated in prosperous dreams for my future, instilled in me a college-going mindset at a young age and I inevitably picked up her fervent love for fashion by the time I started elementary school. At 9 ½ years old, my mother’s ambitious dreams for my future abruptly turned into a horrible nightmare. She received the devastating news that she’d been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Fear of leaving me alone in this world with no parental figure to guide my future quickly flushed over her. She refused to leave me abandoned and for the next 7 years of my life, my mother fought diligently to save her own. She went back and forth through remission and re-diagnosis over this timeframe. Then on my 17th birthday, at the end of my junior year of high school, my mother came home from the hospital with the news that the cancer had rapidly spread, taking over her liver. The doctor’s told her there was nothing more they could do and she had just 6 months to live.
She died 10 days later.
So why did I quit my day job? Because if I’ve learned anything from the life of my mother, it is that I have to seize the precious moments I have in the short time that I have them. Now I am choosing to recognize the great work I’ve been fortunate to be a part of thus far and build upon it towards the new aspirations for my future.
So no, I will not play it safe because my current job makes me comfortable in it’s relative stability. F*ck that. Why be relatively stable and unfulfilled when I could be momentarily uncomfortable yet intrinsically flourishing? Why be woke and stay somewhere where I am forced to sleep? Staying in a bed-ridden coma when my mind is bursting with creativity is a disservice to humanity, as all of our creativity contributes to making the world a better place. I don’t have the time to sit around and be oppressed, suppressed, and stressed by my thoughts, people, nor societal expectations. No literally, I do not have the time. My mother died at 44 years old. She was first diagnosed about 10 years from the age I am now. Think about that. Time is a precious commodity. Will I step out on faith? Hell yes! Will I take chances? F*ck yeah! Will self-liberation drive my decision-making? Abso-f*cking-lutely! In my life I’ve learned that when you rid yourself of an oppressed mindset, self-love can no longer be interpreted as arrogance and for that I am committed to being bold enough to believe in myself above all else.
Speaking from a black, female, millennial perspective and building off of my world of sociology and education, I am now stepping into my journey as a journalist. I will now use tools of writing, photography, and film to educate in a larger scope. By breaking the silence on education inequity, social justice and sociocultural consciousness, I will keep us Hella Woke as a change-making society.
You can follow my work, Hella Woke with Namastina, using the handle @TheNamastina on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and WordPress.
Ironically, Musiq Soulchild’s song, “Future,” just started playing. Listen to the lyrics. As the lyrics recite,“Don’t you ever let no one tell you to grow up and give up on your dreams.” Trippy right? Even more ironic is the fact that during my interview with him a few years ago in Hollywood, he and I ended up bonding over our shared experience watching out mother’s battle with Breast Cancer. Coincidence this song just happened to start playing now? I think not.
Listen when the Universe speaks.