The future is so unsure. Seems like nowadays things—people are so uncertain. Some of us are up then some of us are down, and we just fluctuate from being up and down then down and up again. I’ve noticed this since I’ve recently been deemed as whole ass grown adult that life is fluid. And, that at the end of the day we all have choices—whether we think we do or don’t. You have a choice and so do I. Doesn’t matter how bad or good something is, you can say yes or no. Perhaps, even maybe.
I remember in my teens and early 20’s that I longed for someone to tell me the “right” way to do life things. I wanted people of age to give me the answer, that golden truth of success and belonging in this world. For the most part, the people who knew nothing about me or wanted me to fall in their content with “whatever I’m given” footsteps told me what I should do, who I should be. I rebelled because if life looked anything like what they were handed, what they accepted then I wanted no parts in it.
For the few folks that I regarded with high esteem and respect, they would always tell me something along the lines of “create your own opportunity”.
I’d grumble internally, angry at the fact that they hadn’t given me the answer that I so desperately wanted, that I needed. I needed an adult to tell me what to say, how to think, and most importantly tell me what my voice was. What it sounded like. Where to find it.
“Create your own opportunity, Leah,” the voices of mentors echoed.
I couldn’t comprehend what they meant. I looked at the shit I had—which was zero and found it impossible to create something viable from nothing. These adults must’ve had it all wrong. Clearly, they’d been set up much more lucratively than I. I was never going to be the person I was looking for.
I still never stopped asking myself as well as others about this so-called self-made opportunity.
Although hard-headed and rigid in my thinking, I’ve got to give credit to myself, I have always been curious. Curious to know how stories and narratives came to be. To exist. I’ve always been curious to know why some of us have and others have not. What characteristics does one have to possess to be on the other side of greatness.
To me, greatness was always something I’ve dreamed of, yet hadn’t known exactly what it entailed. But, I always knew it’d be good for me to experience.
I complained a lot about the resources I didn’t have. I’d explain my ideas to different artists and friends, and they’d be like, you should do it. And, I’d always reply, “I’m Black, I’m fat, and I’m a poor woman. You’ve gotta have resources to pull that off.”
There were times in my life where I hadn’t had shit. Like nothing. But, looking back, that’s not fully true. I remember one time, I had upwards of ten calls per day coming from bill collectors. My bank account was in the negative. Overdraft on top of overdraft. The phone calls were getting to me. I couldn’t pay them no matter how bad I wanted to. So, they continued to blow my phone up.
“I’m stuck,” I cried. As the tears rolled down my cheeks, I got up and opened the door.
I returned to the couch, sniffling and watching the clouds go by. I was angry that I was so educated and had no job. And, that the jobs that were paying were 8 and 10 dollars an hour. Which would only put a dent in my piling debt. I was mad that my husband at the time could only afford to hold down the rent and nothing else. I was mad that my mom was mentally ill and that my daddy wasn’t there. That my family hadn’t reached out nor was financially able to lift me out of the shit show that I’d created trying to educate myself in America.
I cried and cried and cried some more.
After that, I asked myself a question: what can you do right now for free instead of crying and feeling sorry for what you don’t have?
I answered myself: I could probably write. I mean, I do like writing stories and I do want to be a serious writer one day. I could write for practice at least.
So, I wrote.
What else can you do for free? I can post my stories on Instagram.
So, I posted things on Instagram.
There were fashion events and networking events that I could meet people at. Some free and some not. For the ones that weren’t free, I emailed the organizers and told them that I had no money but would like to attend. 90% of them would send me complimentary tickets.
I created content and emailed people. When that batch was a fail, I created more things and emailed it to more people. Most of them were rejected or ignored. I had my times where I was like fuck this opportunity shit. I need a real job. My bills aren’t going to get paid from “opportunity”. Which meant that in-between jobs that I absolutely loathed I created content and emailed people.
My thoughts were that if I kept doing this that one day someone would be like hey! She’s not only talented but diligent. For the most part, I would hang onto the hope that one day I’d get the yes that I was looking for. I knew that I was good, but I needed others in my fields to validate my talent on a larger scale. I couldn’t do it alone.
When I tell you to create your own opportunity, I am telling you something that has been said to the folks before me and will be told to the folks after me until the end of time. You might not get it right now and maybe you will not understand it, but there is so much wealth in that simple statement.
Opportunities are everywhere, all around us just floating around. Many of us don’t see it. Many of us miss it. Many of us allow them to pass because we are too scared that we aren’t qualified. That we will make a fool of ourselves. We get that “what will other people think?” syndrome going on.
But what would happen if you just did it anyway? Learned as you go. Grabbed that opportunity by the arm and molded it into something cool and great. Something with purpose.
Stop waiting for an opportunity to stumble upon you. Go out there and capture one.