My first official blog entry. It feels awkward typing this. In my head, I hear the music from the opening of Moesha as she reads her journal entry, and I’m reading the words I’m typing in Moesha’s voice. Lol. I’m really puzzled as to why I live in my head so much. In my book entry for THE ONE, I discuss dealing with imposter syndrome, so I’ll start there.
Basketball. I like being active. Growing up, I played softball, volleyball, and basketball. I stuck with basketball because my cousin, Chamberlainn, and my best friend, Te’, loved it so much (and they still love it now). My handles aren’t the best, but I’m trigger happy. Pass me the ball, I’m gonna shoot it. I was ready to take my talents to the next level during my junior year of high school (LOL). Te’ at starting point guard, SiSi at starting shooting guard? I was finally gonna score double digits in a game; I was hype!
Thanksgiving night, 2010, 3 days before the first basketball game of the season. A friend called and said she wanted to go to a party in Washington; a 45-minute drive from Engelhard. I was down. I asked grandma if I could go to the party; of course she said no, and of course I begged her until she said yes. Fast forward – me, the friend, and another girl get to the party, we chill and dance, and we leave. We didn’t smoke or drink at the party, but for some reason I was very sleepy when we left. I went to sleep on the ride home. The next time I woke up, I was dizzy and the two girls were staring at me with tears in their eyes. One kept repeating “I’m so sorry”. I looked around and noticed we were in a ditch. I tried to take my jacket off of my left shoulder and noticed nothing was happening. I took my jacket off of my right shoulder and pulled it around to my left side. I saw my humerus bone. I immediately said “fuck!” and threw my head back. I quickly realized that was not the first thing that should’ve came to mind, so I then said, “God forgive me, thank You for keeping me alive”. The ambulance arrived and transported me to Belhaven Hospital because it was the closest. Later that afternoon I was transported to Vidant Hospital in Greenville.
My basketball coach visited me at the hospital. I saw the disappointment in his eyes. I was heartbroken and disappointed, too. Losing the opportunity to play basketball my junior year of high school due to my injuries made me question my love for the craft. I thought to myself, maybe I should focus on academics rather than sports, maybe this was my sure sign that I shouldn't focus on basketball. Cool. When basketball season started my senior year, my coach said, “just work on your shot, we need you knocking down 3s this season”. The season was fun, but our record was terrible, per usual for our girls’ team, though. Not that I needed even more confirmation that I wasn’t meant to be a basketball player, but basketball season of my senior year of high school definitely confirmed that academia is what I needed to stick with.
One of my favorite artists, Meek Mill, released Dreamchasers 2 at the end of my senior year of high school. When I think about my basketball career, I always hear the line from his song On My Way – “I had basketball dreams they deflated / I wasn’t good as Michael Jordan so they faded”. That line resonated with me for 2 reasons. The first reason is that I used to call myself Michelle Jordan in high school (lol). The second reason is that my dream of playing basketball faded because I simply wasn’t good enough and didn’t put in the work to make myself better. When I went to college, I didn’t want anything to do with sports. I even put off taking the mandatory P.E. class until my junior year.
Social Work. I applied to 5 colleges during my senior year of high school; three were historically black universities and two were predominantly white institutions. I was accepted to all of them, but N.C. State’s acceptance came with a stipulation. Why did I go to the ONLY college that didn’t fully accept me?!! The stipulation was that I would have to be in the Transition Program for my first year of college. This meant I had to take a specific introduction class and I had to spend 8 hours a week in a designated study hall for both semesters. I asked my college advisor why was this a requirement even though I graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA, ranked 4th in my class, and enrolled in college with 48 college credits. His explanation was something along the lines of “students from rural areas are typically given this stipulation to make sure they can survive academically their first year of college”. I was highly offended. So offended that I applied to CHASS (the college within N.C. State University I needed to be in so I could major in social work) a semester early and was accepted. I still had to fulfill the 8-hour study hall requirement, though. My college advisor is the reason I majored in social work (thanks, Mr. Morell). I told him about my plans to be a psychologist and how I wanted to help people. He explained the difference between social work and psychology and helped me plan out the appropriate courses for the next semester. Throughout my time in college, I debated if I was on the right educational path, I debated getting a master’s degree, and I debated getting my LCSW. I graduated with my master’s degree in May 2017 and applied for social work licensure in December 2018. I was intentionally doing the bare minimum get by, but God kept aligning things up for me and I had no choice but to be obedient. In retrospect, I’m thankful He never took his hand off me.
So now here I am, certified to help clients with dealings related to mental health, yet I sometimes still feel out of place. I’ve been practicing social work professionally since 2018; I KNOW I do well with building relationships with clients. Why do I not feel capable of doing well in this profession? Also, here I am, with a full nature photography project ready to roll out to share with the masses, yet I feel weird and out of place. I’ve been taking nature pictures since I was 14. I KNOW my nature pictures are dope.
Accountability. I think my lack of confidence with social work and nature photography stems from my lack of self-discipline, like when I played basketball. If I would’ve practiced more, maybe I would’ve been too dedicated to the craft to hang out with “friends” 3 days before a game I had been anticipating playing for months. Or like my freshmen year of college. If I was focused on maintaining a high GPA instead of just trying to get by, maybe I wouldn’t have earned a D in Spanish and in an elective that I didn’t even need (beekeeping).
So maybe, just maybe, if I focus my attention on what I’m passionate about – helping people live their best lives and nature photography – I’ll be successful. But I live in my head, remember? There’s a part of me in my head that I refer to as “the realist”. Sometimes “the realist” sucks the enthusiasm out of my plans and makes me want to sit on my passion forever. I’m not mad at her for being so pessimistic, it’s just annoying at times. As I grow older, I’m getting more comfortable with being me — completely, freely, and truly. I have to ignore the negativity in my head and walk in my purpose like I deserve to be here; because I do deserve to be here. I’m THE ONE.
I’m done doubting myself; at this point it’s disrespectful. Do you see this magnificent shot of this butterfly?
· Everything happens for a reason; at the time it’s supposed to happen.
Ecclesiastes 3:11-12 (GNB) - He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what he does. So, I realized that all we can do is to be happy and do the best we can while we are still alive.
How I Apply it to My Life:
· I need to relax and take things one day at a time. I can plan my life, but if it’s not what God wants, then it won’t happen. Instead of being angry and disappointed, I try to remember “it’s all in the plan”.
· J. Cole - Friday Night Lights Intro
· Lauryn Hill – When It Hurts So Bad
SLIDESHOW: Pictures of me over the years.