#SWAAYthenarrative

How I Discovered What It Means to Be Driven by My Passion and Not Finances

4 Min Read
Self

From my childhood through the early days of my career, one carrot always loomed clearly in the distance: money. Growing up, my family earned a modest income, so we always had to be extremely financially conscious with every decision.

So after graduating college, I thrilled my grandmother when I snapped up a position as project manager for IBM Global Services and plunged myself into the "security" of a corporate job. I gave it all the dedication and passion I could, but every day I felt myself becoming more and more unfulfilled. Why? What did I have to complain about? I had an important position with a Fortune 100 company, and I was climbing their ladder, quickly. I had a great salary that afforded me a nice car and a very comfortable apartment. My Grandmama and my mom could sleep like a baby knowing that their little Teneshia had grown up to be a self-supporting woman on an executive fast track. But something was wrong, and every day, I grew a little more heavy-hearted.

I began the journey by going through a self-reflective exercise during which I pondered, If I were able to look at myself from the inside out, what would I find? What are my natural skills and talents? And which of these talents am I passionate about?

Beginning on Fridays, I'd try to lose myself in a cloud of parties and other weekend outings with friends. Then, at the first sign of a darkening Sunday sky, I'd feel a familiar creep of sadness at which point I'd call my mother and sing the blues of dread for the Monday to come. In keeping with my professional and financial ambitions, I enrolled in graduate school, and the demands of my job plus grad school wore even more heavily on my already exhausted psyche. But it was in a higher education classroom that I was offered the miracle of awareness. One of my professors asked the class a simple question: "What's been the driving force behind most of your major life decisions?" When I think back to that day, my eyes sometimes still well up with tears at my realization that the desire to make money had been the basis for some of the most important choices in my one and only life. No wonder I was not happy. I not only wasn't pursuing a purposeful life, I didn't even know enough about myself to understand what my purpose might be. And I certainly didn't have any idea how to pursue purpose in a professional way. But in that class I took the first step.

I began the journey by going through a self-reflective exercise during which I pondered, If I were able to look at myself from the inside out, what would I find? What are my natural skills and talents? And which of these talents am I passionate about?

You just need to drive and courage to keep moving.

I scribbled a list of words: Creative. Organized. Project Management. Fashion. Entertainment. Culture. Each word conveyed something about my passions. Simple as that exercise sounds, it was an enormous step toward my changing my life completely.

Next I had to figure out how and where could I use and develop my skills. So I looked for opportunities that would let me learn while helping. This led me to volunteer on a movie set in the film's fashion department. While this once-in-a-lifetime experience actually earned me a move credit, more important is that it pushed me one step closer to figuring out what I wanted to do with my life—by showing me where I didn't belong. Fashion as a career wasn't a fit for me, but I learned that time spent figuring out where you don't belong is time very well spent. I call this the "purpose process of elimination." Every job, task, or challenge you take on and discover that you don't like moves you closer to understanding what your purpose is. You just need to drive and courage to keep moving.

Next, I landed a volunteer position for RUSH Communication, a New York based entertainment and media company that was driving pop culture across several categories including fashion, music, and community empowerment. Aha! Now I was beginning to feel the click. It was there that I discovered the thrill of making a positive impact on multicultural communities. After some time with RUSH, I also discovered that I missed some of the structure I'd experienced at IBM. So I wondered, how might I combine my newly discovered purpose with structure and organization? What better way than to captain my own ship? That ship eventually became EGAMI Group, my New York based, multicultural marketing agency that works with Fortune 100 companies to create campaigns that meaningfully engage multicultural audiences. Purpose. For me now, every day feels defined by purpose, and I'm elevated by the reminder that purpose is a journey, not a destination. What a gift I gave myself by looking for that purpose and creating a life that honors it! Now one of my greatest goals is to help other people forge purposeful paths for themselves. Consider these questions as you try to define your purpose:

  1. What brings you your greatest joy?
  2. What are you most curious about?
  3. What gifts, talents, and skills come to you naturally?
  4. What are your weaknesses and strengths?
  5. What inspires you?
  6. What annoys you?
  7. What would you do every day without pay?

The answers to these questions will help you recognize and define your own purpose. And once you see it more clearly, what might you do about that?

What a gift I gave myself by looking for that purpose and creating a life that honors it!

How my Sundays have changed. Long gone are the end-of-weekend blues. Now a Sunday night means, "Yes! Tomorrow begins another week to make a positive mark on the world."

You can find out more about my book, The Big Stretch, here.

This article was originally published December 26, 2019.

3 min read
Lifestyle

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Email armchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get the advice you need!

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Dear Armchair Psychologist,

I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.

-Sadsies

Dear Sadsies,

I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.



I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!



- The Armchair Psychologist

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