Guys, I don’t have advice for you today. I have a story.
The need for change hits people differently. I almost view our quest for fulfillment with work as a search for meaning, a search for love. While I intended on making this piece somewhat of an advice column offering 3 tips on how to manage anxiety, I realized I would take a different approach. While most times we find ourselves looking for answers, more often than not, we’re just looking for someone to relate to. We’re looking for someone who could echo the same exact feelings we felt that time at 9:36 PM when you sat in frustration because you wanted to create but was too tired from work. Sometimes we long to find someone who feels the same joy you feel when you FINALLY get through your creative (writer’s) block and emerge with an inch more clarity.
I want to say that that period of darkness is a waste of time and that your sadness is stopping you from your grind. But if anything, beloved, it’s preparing you. Patience. Social media presents a free-for-all platform of snippets and sneak peeks of the lives of others, causing anyone with an opinion and WiFi to have center stage. Social media networks not only gives us voice for our successes and accomplishments but it reveals the hidden nature of humanity that you’d only catch when you’re up close to a person. It reveals the innate desire for attention and affirmation when you're feeling your loneliness. It provides a mask when you feel like using a caricature identity. Larger than life. For me, it’s given an effective platform but also contributed largely to the anxiety I now carry.
Before you start throwing advice my way and become a Social Media Networking PhD., hear me out. Creating in a way that’s fulfilling AND economical AND impactful can be stressful as HELL. We’ve heard the narrative about not comparing your “right now” to someone else’s highlight reel, we get it. But, I’m talking about anxiety rooted in fear that I’m taking an uncharted path that couldn’t be predicted by a college professor, horoscope or Chinese fortune cookie. Granted I know where my hope is [read Jesus Christ] but I can’t lie to you and say I don’t fear at times. I’m a child of immigrants with a minimal college education, only a basic grasp on the English language and a broken playbook on survival in the United States.
Guys, I’m unlearning. Learning and unlearning every single day the tools to use to go from surviving to thriving. I’m unlearning that a single income from a traditional job at a basic pay grade is enough to survive and feed myself. I’m rewriting the narrative of what it means to be a black first-generation Haitian-American Christian woman who creates for freedom, economic growth and well-being, mental wellness, and legacy building. It’s an exchange and I am terrified. Anxious. While I’m not predisposed to anxiety disorder, I do feel the weight of my calling on my shoulders and it’s enough. So every day I’m going to celebrate the small victories that I so often forget or ignore. To make this blog title a bit more relevant, I manage anxiety as a creative every day by remembering that I’m not alone. That I’m not the only one pushing every. Single. Day. God is with me and within me. I am filled with purpose. I belong at every table I create and am invited to. I belong on every stage I speak on. I am meant to live, to love and to be loved.
So my search for love isn’t a long one. As I fall more in love with myself, I see it reflected in my work, my passion. When anxiety strikes, I remember it’s not built to last long or drag me down. My friend Marcus K. Dowling said it perfectly, “It’s breathing and perspective. It is incredibly important to remember that the simple act of slow, measured breathing slows heart rate, which allows for clear thinking. As well, perspective is key. Take a second and shift the angle at which you both reflect on your projects and yourself. Ultimately, when realizing that you're neither smaller than your work or bigger than your impact, the humility required to calmly proceed presents itself.”