Plus Size UK

Creating Your Own Opportunity

Photos Courtesy of  Joshua Kissi  NYC

Photos Courtesy of Joshua Kissi NYC

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

xoxo,

 

Leah V

Day 1: 30 Days in NYC

Photos Courtesy of  The Travel Critic

Photos Courtesy of The Travel Critic

Last month, I decided to buy a ticket to New York. To live for 30 whole days. To feel what it feels to be a New Yorker. To see if I can “make it” here.

Why? Well, several reasons. Detroit is a dead-end for me. I keep trying to figure out why I’m still there, actually. Also, people never believe that I am from Detroit. It’s like I’m so freakin unicorn. They always guess New York or LA. Anywhere but Detroit. Every time I come to New York on business and see all of my friends, they always end the conversation with “Bitch, would you move here already!” I usually chuckle and say, “It’s not the right time.”

When is the time ever right, though? With the whole “time” thing, I also just don’t have the income. But, when do I ever have the income? LOL.

I am also slightly fibbing. Not like a whole ass lie, but a fib.

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Although, I really don’t have the income to support myself in the Big Apple, I am scared as fuck mostly. Moving to NYC is a whole ass change from Detroit. All of my friends are in Detroit. Like my real-ass-down-for-whatever-type sister friends are there. I also hate the subway system. People just not washing their hands and touching on everything. Ugh! They also put their garbage on the sidewalk! Double ugh.

I might’ve also been in some mental distress during that time of said purchase of the ticket. But before I bought it, I asked myself. Are you really happy here? I also added: Are you truly thriving in Michigan?

My finger hoovered over that final submit button as I made sure to pick that date of February 12th (cuz I wasn’t trying to be in Detroit surrounded by all the lovey-dovey couples on V-Day). I’d rather be alone in New York than in the seemingly relationship capital of the world, Michigan.

Which brings to me why I dropped in (y’all know my blogging is sporadic af). Well, there’s several reasons. All which lead to fear. I’ll explain because I’ve been talking a lot about that lately.

Because in my 31-year-old mind, I feel like I’m anxious about everything. I’m constantly jumping up at the most minor surprises. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve literally screamed when my roommate appears out of nowhere.

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For the last month, I’ve been preparing for New York. With each passing day, more anxiety surfaces. There’s not enough time to get it all done. I’m under deadlines galore. People are texting and emailing and asking for shit, that I may or may not have. On the flipside, bills are like everywhere. On top of my hijab, whispering in my ear, and putting me in headlocks.

What if you fail? I asked myself the night before my flight. I had been packing for two days straight and in a slump because New York is so expensive and for me to be here for a month will cost me too much and I still have to pay for rent and car note back at home. Double the bills!

The morning came and I felt like shit. Like complete and utter shit.

“I’m not going,” I said to myself. “Nope. Imma stay right here. Cuz it’s easier.”

I text my friend. She was like nope. I burst out crying. It was too much to uproot my entire life. What the fuck was I thinking? I can’t compete with the New York crowd. They are the top of the litter. Who was I? Just a Midwest gal trying to level up.

What had I expected to get done in 30 days? I knew I wanted to meet folks and try to get a few gigs, but other than that I hadn’t had a plan.

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No plan at the age of 31 sounds messed up. By this age, I’d thought that I’d have the answers. Or at least most of them. Right now, my gut is telling me to be in New York. That there is something here that I need to discover, uncover. Yet, I have no idea what that is.

I sound crazy. Maybe I am crazy.

I’ve always wanted to be in New York, but I always wanted the glamourized version. The Caucasian movie version. With the income I have I gotta take the thug version, leap, and see what happens.

My insecurities have been heightened. Am I unique enough to break through that ceiling? Is my story worthy of being told here? Will I have the stamina, the perseverance to continue to pitch myself even when I’m told to fuck off?

Right now, I am second guessing my strength because I am in a foreign place. Right now, I am struggling to find—remember my whys. The why now? The who cares?

I don’t give myself enough credit either. I have forgotten how much shit I’ve done, accomplished from little ole Detroit, the almost middle of nowhere. How many people in New York hadn’t even gotten the same opportunities as I had, and I don’t even live here? That says something. That means that I’m valuable enough that folks have sought me out and would spend a budget to have me flown in. I still can’t believe people fly me out to give talks and model. That’s nuts!

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I don’t give myself enough credit for continuing to tell my truths, my story even after the way I’ve grown up, how my marriage went, how I fucked myself over by caring what others thought of me. Even after all the shit that has been said and done to me, I am still here. I remain. Just as hardheaded as ever. Although, I have my afraid moments, I do it anyway. Although, I have no idea where I am going, I go anyway. And, that is admirable in my eyes. It means something.

I guess what I am telling you is that at some point you will be scared to do things, you will absolutely not want to do it, but if you want to metaphorically fly at some point, you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone and take the leap. No one is going to make you do it. No one is going to show you the way. You have to pave your own way. You have to be uncomfortable in order to grow. And, I don’t know about you but growth ain’t an option. It’s a necessity. I’m trying to grow beyond my wildest imagination.

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So, here’s to Day 1 in New York.

 

xoxo,

 

Leah V     

 

 

The Broke Artist

Clothing Courtesy of  Simply Be

Clothing Courtesy of Simply Be

Too many bloggers, writers, models like to pump fake. They don’t want to tell the truth about the ‘process’ in fear of looking bad or not fitting in with the elites of social media.

Lookie, I’ve been flown out to this fancy place.

I have a fancy ass doughnut in front of a colored wall.

I’m really skinny, but I’m enjoying two scoops of fancy ice cream with my very skinny and photogenic friend.

My life is soooooo fancy and amazing.

No mental illness. No cellulite. No acne.  

Do not be fooled by pretty Instagram photos with blurred backgrounds, magical lighting effects, and poetic captions. The majority of us are struggling. Just keepin it real. *Shrugs*

I’ve never been inspired by individuals who don’t tell the truth. Who paint pictures of themselves in a certain light that just ain’t reality. Individuals who showcase the success of their careers and not the actual climb, the grueling process of making it to the top. That’s what inspires me. Your failures. The path you took and how you overcame them.

The paths we all take, artist or non, has failures riddled along them. Catastrophic ones and teeny ones. They are inevitable. Too many artists with large platforms aren’t showcasing that fact. So, their devout followers believe that the way to the top is as simple as copying a feed of someone who is successful.  

Anyone you know who has ever became an icon, most likely hadn’t done this by cutting and pasting someone else’s shit. They were innovative. Ridiculed by others. Outcasts. Weirdos growing up. They never followed trends and did their own thing no matter what others had to say about it.

They paved their own path. Created a niche.  

Obsessed with this  little pink purse

Obsessed with this little pink purse

A lot of us don’t even know where that path leads. We just take that leap and hope we don’t end up smashing into the ground and dying…

I started blogging in 2013. Y’all know the story. Several failed blogs and YouTube channels and years later this one caught on. During all that mess, I worked odd jobs. All of which I hated. None of them were creative or cared a fuck about me. I was just there for the paycheck. I worked on my art on and off. Mostly off. These jobs were sucking my creative juices. I’d found myself at home after work, stuck in a rut. Unable to write.

That rut lasted for five years. The worst years of my entire existence.

Somehow, by divine intervention, I was placed back on the path of art. I used my own money to buy books on editing and literature of the great storytellers of our time. I used my own money to take creative writing classes at the local community college. I joined discussion boards and wrote and read and wrote and read some more.

I worked just to invest money back into my art (and, of course, pay the dreaded adult bills). Money that could’ve went into paying off my student loans or purchasing a house or maybe traveling…

I had read all the books and took all the classes, but I still wasn’t getting anywhere. So, I decided to get my masters in creative writing. I went back and forth about it. I already had about 20,000 worth of debt left from my bachelor’s. More debt! I literally fought myself. I was really gonna spend that much money on another degree. But, my art was on the line. I had to at least see where it could take me. I prayed then took a gamble.

No one will ever invest in you like YOU will.

No one will ever be as invested in your art, your passion like YOU will.

And, with that mentality and stubbornness, I added on another 50,000 worth of debt.

This isn’t a woe-is-me post. I’m just telling you like it is.

But, with the debt I incurred (and still deep in), I gained a wealth of knowledge, two masters, and connections that I would’ve never made otherwise. That large investment opened many doors. One day, I do hope to pay that off.

As a broke artist, I stress out a lot about money on the regular. This entire year (prior to the divorce), I’ve been hanging on by a thread. Paying my major bills like my car and insurance and rent. Sometimes food. But I live a life that most of you don’t care to ask or just don’t know about.

I don’t get paid for 90% of my work.

The photos you see are products of bartering or friends just loaning me their time.

The clothes I wear are sent by companies who don’t even pay for blog posts half the time.

I blog for free.

My social media is free.

I have an agent, but I’m still on government assistance.

Bill collectors call my phone daily.

I’m just getting by and actually had to ask for charity a few times. (And no, I don’t have mommy and daddy or grandparents to back me up).

I’m not the only one. There are many of us out there who are just trying to make it. Trying to stay afloat. Putting $20 here and there on a $1000 medical bill.

But, I’m so close to the finish line that I couldn’t possibly quit now. No matter how many companies ask for their money back, I have this unwavering hope that one day I’ll get paid for my shoots and paid for my work. That one day all the struggles and failures and energy will just work in my favor.

Photos by  Madinah

Photos by Madinah

 

xoxo,

 

Leah V