Finding the Blessing Underneath Your Stepping Stone Job
Some of you may know this already but in addition to freelancing, I also have a day job. I'm fortunate to be able to still be able to work in my field of photography during the day but that wasn't always the case. I wanted to share a little bit of how I got to this point and also give inspiration to anyone who may be currently dealing with some of things I overcame recently. My last year of college I was spiritually and mentally depleted. The impending debt I had accumulated over the previous 5 years was giving me anxiety, and even though graduation wasn't done yet, I was done! I wanted out. Out of the cycle, out of the pressure of having to turn something in every single day. I mean, realistically I already knew what I wanted to do with my life. Especially after seeing my favorite writer Issa Rae release Insecure just a few months prior. I knew that was the goal I was ultimately reaching toward! Unfortunately due to some internal doubt, insecurity and maybe even a little laziness I began to question whether or not I was cut out for it after all. I listened to outside opinions and decided to put that dream to the side for a little while while I worked on my student loan debts.
Eventually, I ended up doing something I never thought I would.. I started chasing a check, instead of chasing down my purpose. I still remember walking into the first day of my old job, bright eyed and bushy tailed. They made it very clear to me on that day, my role was to make their corporation lots of money. Stick to the script and don't rock the boat. It didn't matter that this ideology meant selling really expensive ad packages to business owners who honestly, were barely hanging on financially as it was. All the company wanted was to make sure I was gonna bring in the cash. Even as I write this I hear my mothers voice looming in my head, "all money ain't good money baby" .. and she was right.
It took me about 3 months to quit that job. All I had was one paycheck saved up, an updated Linkedin page and 30 days til rent was due again.. it was time to get busy.
After a couple days of doubt and listening to really sad Frank Ocean songs I finally hit the ground running. I refused to see this loss as a setback, I was more determined than ever to use this as a stepping stone into something that would eventually fuel my creative passions. I got in contact with some artist friends I made in college and started picking up photoshoots, doing small video editing gigs and even scored a few short contract positions. I was still broker than broke but that didn't matter to me, because I was finally doing something that brought me joy. Most people will get discouraged after losing or quitting a job but trust me, it's always in your best interest to stay busy! Your brain automatically begins to recognize the patterns you feed it. So guess what that means? If you're laying on your butt all day drinking Modelo's and watching Love and Hiphop, best believe it's gonna be harder for you to show up as your best self when your dream job does come knocking. Trust me. I been there.
After lots of prayer, manifestation and about 72 episodes of Oprah's Super Soul Sunday podcast, I finally found the courage to start applying to jobs. My process was simple, I was gonna apply to jobs similar to how I would go about the process of dating:
Search for substance not JUST security
Under NO circumstances was I gonna say yes just because they wanted me to
I was ready for a new era of quality in my life, because I truly believe I deserve it. So I wrote it all down, my skills, my beliefs, even the amount of days off I felt like I required for personal stuff like traveling and side hustles. I slept with that list under my pillow until the ink rubbed off. I wasn't applying to jobs based on the company any more, my strategy was to apply to businesses that align to who I already am and what I stood for. I refused to change for a company, I was in it for the company to change for the better because of me. I am a firm believer that God will bring you everything you ask for but how you choose to receive it, is up to you.
Fast forward a few weeks and I get a call that I got the job! The recruiter said i'd be able to do all the things I wrote on that paper! Edit videos, shoot photography, run social media accounts and most importantly I got to be in charge of my schedule. The only kicker was.. it wasn't at a top fortune 500 media company like I dreamed of. This offer came out of left field from an industry I had never even considered working in.
A small independent school dedicated to social emotional learning and social justice needed MY help with content creation and social media? I was shocked, it literally encompassed all the things I stood for and the more research I did on the school, the more I fell in love with it. I will admit, while being in this position, I've had to check my ego a few times. I'm constantly combating my thoughts of "i'm not doing enough" or wishing I had a team of creatives that helped to produce with me so I can get to Issa Rae status faster. However eventually, I realized that God had indeed sent me the blessing of a job that I had asked for, it simply just wasn't in the packaging I thought it would be in. The lesson in all of this is easy, the growth within your unique journey, is way more substantial than the destination itself. The job isn't fancy and I spend more time creating alone than I ever have before but my vision is clearer, i'm learning new things everyday and I have new and more valuable skills under my belt than I did before. Through this entire process I was being forced to fall back in love with the journey to "becoming" and I've never been happier with a career decision in my life!
Will your dreams change? Yes. Will your job change? Absolutely. But the experiences you get from these opportunities will last forever.
If you find yourself comparing your life, stalking your favs on instagram and wishing you could do what they do for a living.. Here's a tip: No one just shoots to the top without putting in the work first, they've built their careers on top of MANY different stepping stones. Use your stepping stone job to learn, cultivate yourself, embrace your uniqueness and your mission- then take those skills and RUN WITH THEM. Your 20's is a time to GROW, trust me no one has it all figured out right now. It's ok to change course to establish yourself and to find your footing in something new, eventually your time will come.
I pray you are able to fall back in love with your journey this season, whether you're 20, 30, 40 or 50+ remember that it is never too late to take ownership over your life and your time.
Wishing you love and light, Mecca.