I Found My Voice

If you were a regular reader of This Rubescent Life, then I offer my sincerest apologies for my radio silence. If you’ve recently discovered my site, then I welcome you with open arms. Whatever the case may be, I am glad you’ve decided to stop by on this day in particular.

The last year or so has been wrought with many changes. Though I’ve not captured every shift in my personal existence and the public sphere, I remained an active storyteller. Challenges discussed on this blog continued to make their regularly unscheduled appearances, but I surprisingly saw dreams come to life. Hospitals, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies are all connected through what seems like one large revolving door, and those standard doors? Well, strangers keep holding them open, inviting me to walk through and enter the land of opportunity.

 

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Being a full-time caregiver and a writer (or content creator… or storyteller — whatever you choose to call it) has been my narrative for the last few years. It seems only natural that I would eventually marry the two and create something possibly powerful. After all, the proverbial and invisible “they” say to “write what you know,” right?

 

 

For a long time, I ran from regularly writing about being a caregiver. Why? Because it’s not interesting. Dementiastock.com It’s depressing. No one wants to read my tales of wound care and woe. Recounting for readers my journey through the search for acceptable and affordable Assisted Living Facilities is wildly unimpressive.

 


 

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Aisha in front of the official #BlogHer17 sign and topiary.

About two weeks ago, I had the distinct privilege of attending the nation’s largest women’s content creation conference, #BlogHer. My boss informed me we were attending back in December and I’d been slowly but steadily about to burst!

This event boasted incredible and inspirational keynote speakers ranging from living tennis legend Serena Williams to American political royalty Chelsea Clinton, feminist comedian Margaret Cho to president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards. Powerhouse voices were in the house!

As much as I loved hearing these amazing speakers, I believe I most greatly valued the connections I made during down time and breakout sessions.

I met so many creative makers and innovators who inspired me to put myself out there. But among all of those cool connections, some of the absolute coolest connections I made were during the breakout sessions.

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Aisha (far left) in line, waiting to ask a question at the “Intimate Writing: How to Balance Your Private and Public Personas” breakout session.

These ninety-minute meetings offered advice from the experts on subjects from how to increase your social media views to engaging in daily mindfulness. The sessions that impacted me most greatly are those with the subject matters closest to my heart. Sessions like How to Navigate Mental Health Issues Online and Offline and Caregiving, Including How to Integrate Self-Care Into Your Mix of Responsibilities were no less than amazing, and I truly consider it a divine appointment that I was there to bask in the wisdom and warmth of these speakers.

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Activism for the Part-time Revolutionary: How to Make a Real Impact panelists: (L to R) Carolyn Gerin, Jamia Wilson, Erica Mauter.
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Intimate Writing: How to Balance Your Private and Public Personas panelists: (L to R) Quiana Agbai, Shireen Mitchell, August McLaughlin

Not only did I learn a wealth of helpful information on these topics, I found community in their presence. Interacting with people who understand and can relate to our personal hardships makes such a difference in the life of caregivers and those who battle mental illness. Attending #BlogHer17 provided me with the support and courage I need at this particular time in my life to take a major leap of faith.

Next month, I will unveil a brand new blog and some new projects I have under my sleeves…

I appreciate your support in advance and cannot wait to share the excitement with you!

Stay tuned for more details over the next couple of weeks…

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The Dog In the Fight

harry-1248025Have you ever seen a dog dawning the ever fashionable Cone of Shame, barking and clawing at the window as neighbors pass by the house? If not, let me paint a quick picture.

The dog is super excited by the foot traffic outside his home and just wants to romp and frolic and play. But alas, he swallowed the squeak in his squeaky toy, which had to be surgically removed. The result of said surgery is that he must stay indoors and wear the goofy looking conical contraption until his stitches are removed and his belly is healed. Meanwhile, he waits by the window and goes absolutely ballistic because he just wants to be out there in the sun or rain, with people and pets and fire hydrants and…

The last few weeks, I have felt a lot like this dog. I’ve wanted to get out for coffee dates, business meetings, birthday parties and photo shoots (because… we fancy…). I am pregnant with ideas and overcome with inspiration when I read about awesome new tech ventures or talk with my enterprising acquaintances.

I spend my weekends alone in coffehouses, scribbling ideas and sketching plans I’ve yet to execute. I run into friendly faces I’ve met through networking events and over-hear firsthand accounts of protest rallies and grassroots movements.

While my intentions are nothing but genuine, my reality causes the appearance of flightiness and unreliability. All of these great ideas and neat opportunities are hampered by one health struggle after another. Parties are called off by hives, business meetings canceled by facial swelling, and social engagements ruined by other, more vague but no less impeding ailments and responsibilities.

In the ultra hip neighborhoods, I attempt to keep my composure when I encounter an influencer so I listen conspicuously and smile coyly. But inside, I am screaming

TAKE ME WITH YOU!!!

Of course, I don’t want simply concede to riding the coat tails of my peers who are making strides and changing the world. I want to make my own strides and affect my own change. Not because I expect some kind of accolade, but because I feel like I am fairly unqualified and uninterested in doing anything else.

But what does an aspiring change-maker do when their body is effectively a straight jacket restraining many of their goals and dreams? How do you live out what you know is your destiny, presenting reliability and consistency, when every day is a fight for internal stability? How do you ride the waves of momentum that come your way when leaving the house some days is a struggle in and of itself?

What is a to do when she just wants to fight for the rights of others but her own body insists on fighting itself?

I guess I continue to educate myself and prepare for the moment I finally get to bust through that door, cone free, to romp and play and innovate and help right along with all of the other dogs looking to change the world.

Until then… Here’s a moody Frenchie in a hoodie…

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Photo Credit: Gratisography

Hurt

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I struggle this morning. I struggle to reconcile the wealth of diversity among my beautiful friends and family members with my black identity in the context of a country with a complex history with race.

Those who know me relatively well realize that I love people and their differences with perhaps a naive severity. Many of my dearest friends are nothing like me on paper. We differ in race, religion, class, education, sexual orientation, profession, physical ability, political affiliation, and many other ways. We may disagree, but we agree that love overrides our disagreements.

It is these rich relationships that make weeks like this all the more difficult. At the end of the day, I am a straight, cis-gendered, black woman in America. My experience here is different from that of my white friends. Or my Indian friends. Or my Latinx friends. Or my male friends. Or my LBGTQ friends…

We all experience this country differently. Sometimes tragic events occur that affect one community or group of communities in a more personal way than others. Immediate members of the affected communities may express their grief in anger or sorrow and in that moment, stand in solidarity with those who share in that unifying identity. Those outside of that community may experience feelings of alienation and persecution, confusion and frustration.

Perhaps I am overly sensitive and diplomatic. A pacifist and love-monger to a fault. I suppose I figured that as I expressed my fear, anger, and frustration with the current climate of race relations in America, those of my friends and acquaintances who do not share my social and racial identity would view my outcry with empathy, if not understanding.

Unfortunately, there is pushback. Resistance from those who are offended by my personal account of my own experiences and reactions to attacks on my community. And although I’ve been called an “activist” and like to think of myself as a voice for society’s marginalized people, I question whether or not my skin is thick enough to withstand the barrage of social media verbal attacks. I wonder if my exercise of free speech is worth the harsh and fruitless criticism that contributed to my sleepless night.

How does someone whose contact list truly represents a cross-section of the diversity of the United States, stand in her truth and still maintain friendships with those who think so differently from her? How can she continue to use her voice to affect change, unafraid of alienating her unintended audience of friends’ parents and former colleagues, without diluting the severity of her truth?

Is it possible for me to have best friends who are black, brown, white, straight, queer, disabled, republican, socialist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, agnostic, atheist, and overall nonconforming, while still acknowledging my own plight as a young black woman in America who simply wants to love and be loved?

Well?

The Inconvenient Friend

As millennials go, my life is pretty unorthodox. I don’t live in a gentrified neighborhood with a rescue dog. I don’t have a yoga body or belong to an adult kickball league. I live at home. Actually, I live in my aunt and uncle’s home. With my parents. My mother, a victim of dementia. My father, a survivor of two strokes and a heart attack.

If that weren’t wacky enough, I am also a quasi-employed, unlicensed non-driver. I suffer from social anxiety disorder and depression, and the next of 40+ surgeries is just around the corner.

As you can imagine, all of these things make me very popular with my peers. Sure, people think I’m nice. They just wish my life weren’t so… complicated.

In a nutshell, I am the inconvenient friend. That friend who is really nice and well-intentioned, but ultimately unable to contribute her fair share to the relationship. I am the girl who would be so great if only she made a series of changes to better accommodate her hip “friends.”

Every weekend I mourn a little for the life BuzzFeed tells me I should have.

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Source: Google Books

I shed a tear or two for the failed social interactions and never-had dates, all casualties of my inconvenient life. “It’s not fair,” I say aloud to no one in particular. “I don’t ask for that much. All I want to do is wear some fringe while wandering aimlessly around a festival every now again. I know my ‘friends’ are attending these things, but no one is inviting me. It’s my own personal interpretation of Mindy Kaling’s book.”

One lonesome Friday evening, there was a listening ear to my weekly wonderings. My father asked me what was wrong, amid my frustrated listing of reasons my friends have effectively ghosted me. I whined that the lack of inclusion makes me feel devalued but that I refuse to beg anyone to spend time with me, especially not full-grownish adults. He stopped me mid-rant and asked “what about your closest friends? How do they make you feel?”

Subtle spin on a stock psychological question? Perhaps. But I entertained an answer nonetheless.

After giving his question some sincere thought, I rendered a response. “Well, I guess, they make me feel loved… without judgment.”


The last week or so, I’ve repeatedly found myself on the receiving end of some really sound advice:

Let go.

Three of my girlfriends, my mother, and a book all told me to let go. But let go of what exactly? Relationships? Expectations? Society’s definition of success?

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Source: Disney

As millennials, we are accused of arrested development. Spoiled, entitled brats with various strains of Peter Pan Syndrome. But this millennial is ready to grow up. This woman is ready to let go of conditional relationships and society’s prescribed expectations of who she should be. She is ready to navigate life in ways that may not always be popular, or hip, but that will ultimately equip her with everything she needs to change the world!

As I navigate this thing we now call “adulting,” I realize that my path will be unorthodox. It won’t look like the path of my peers. It may not include a gig at a trendy tech startup. There may be no mid-week, underground dance parties at ultra-exclusive speakeasies.

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Aisha at Fernbank Museum of Natural History

I may never get to deliver any awe-inspiring TED Talks.

Or maybe all of these things will happen and my life will be the quintessential millennial dream come true. But I refuse to allow the quality of my life to be defined by some ethereal counsel of cool.

I think my life will be a good one. It will be disappointingly normal and uneventful. It won’t be insta-worthy. But it will be filled with love and good intentions.

I will get my driver’s license. My role will shift from caregiver to employee. Or entrepreneur. I will own my own home and open it to friends and family in need of refuge from the messiness of life. Maybe I’ll get married and we’ll have some kids. Maybe I’ll fly solo. Perhaps I’ll get a dog.

I will let go of relationships that have ultimately run their course, and I will pour into anyone willing to put up with my lack of cool. I will sharpen my skills and hone my crafts and use them whenever and wherever I can to brighten at least one little corner of this place called Earth. I will make some mistakes, of course. But my mind will be open, my heart will be happy, and my life will be… good.

When Words Are Too Much

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When tragedies occur, people often search for words to accurately describe their feelings while sensitively protecting those most severely affected. Over the last few weeks, many sad events have transpired. Most recently, the mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, where 50 lives were lost in an unfathomable act of hate-fueled violence.

As the news broke early Sunday morning, and people around the world began to awaken to the shocking (if not surprising) news, people quickly took to their cell phones and laptops to express condolences, outrage, fear, grief, and – in some particularly despicable cases – even arrogant I-told-you-sos.

Many of the passionate, heartfelt responses were timely and apropos. They embodied the author’s feelings and emotions, acknowledge the hurting victims, and some even called for action (stricter gun control, immediate blood donations). Some tweets, posts, snaps, and streams, however, were ill-timed, inappropriate, or just plain tasteless. Of course, some of the posters stand by their heartless and ignorant statements, but I also suspect that there are a few who simply posted in haste. Their stream-of-consciousness response to scattered thoughts and unmetered emotions pours out in combinations of words that could cause more harm than good.

My social media responses have been subtle and slow to come. It was tempting to immediately post my opinion on the events that took place, not because I felt the urgent need for my voice to be heard, but for fear that my radio silence would be viewed as condonance or apathy. I found myself questioning the validity of my voice as someone who is an ally of both the LGBTQIA+ and Islamic communities, as a Christian who loves all of these people.

While silence can certainly be deadly, misspoken words may wreak havoc. As a writer, I want to use my voice to inspire and to provoke thought. I also want to behave responsibly, focusing on the heart of the problem without allowing myself to veer off-course into psuedo-political shouting matches.

I want people reading my words to know that the thoughts I express come from a place of deep love and respect. I do not proport to know how my friends and family who are part of the LGBTQ community feel or what they experience in times like this. Nor do I claim to begin to understand the complex feelings Islamic brothers and sisters have in these moments.

Wherever you are, whatever your thoughts, feelings, and emotions please know this:

There are people who love you. People whose faith is founded in love and who are wholly committed to living out that faith in both word and deed. I am one of these people.

Remember

SoldierAs I awake on this Memorial Day and look out the window at the rays of sun spreading across the healthy green foliage, I pause to remember.

I reflect on the service of my family and friends in the military, yes. Months of boot camp, tours of duty, post-traumatic stress. These airmen, soldiers, sailors, marines, guard members all serving at various levels with an assortment of decorations. But most of these memories are simply tales to be told at reunions. The troubles Uncle experienced after Vietnam, the hijinks Daddy enjoyed in basic, and the historic barriers Aunt broke. The suicide Classmate committed after Iraq.

The suicide Classmate committed after Iraq.

On days like today, I remember instances and interactions with the United States military members. I recall a time when I saw a young soldier, no more than nineteen, riding on the southbound line of the MARTA train. The young man sat quietly in camouflage, staring at the window, perhaps imagining his future or saying goodbye to his past. I examined the tones of our fellow passengers, each awkwardly averting their gaze from the man-child in battle fatigues.

Why is this awkward? Why will no one look him in his eyes?

As we approached my stop in the financial district, I determined in my mind to thank this brave young boy for his service. Granted, he was not much younger than I was at the time, but by virtue of his commitment, he garnered my respect and support and I would gladly tell him so.

Thank you for your service.

My fellow travelers looked at me with amazed countenances. The young man quietly said “you’re welcome,” exited the left side of the train, and walked to my office with head held high.

It felt good to bring attention to our invisible hero in a climate where people are unsure about how to feel about the wars and conflicts and the people who fight them. Whether or not I personally agree with the mission, I know that these young kids believe in what they are doing. They believe with all their heart that they are doing what is right and honorable and good.

The brief interaction on public transit was not my only ode to our service women and men. I often make it a point to say “hello,” offering simple thanks for thier courage. The response is often one of surprise, followed by gratefulness. Surprise that they are acknowledged by an ordinary, everyday American girl. Gratefulness that they are acknowledged by the same.

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Let us not forget that our actions and words matter. We can have an impact. We can make a difference. When we remember the heroes of yesteryear, let us not forget to remember
those who are serving in the here and now. The weekend warriors and lifelong members. You needn’t avoid the celebrated sergeant or the Purple Heart private. They are people. They need validation and appreciation, support and acknowledgment. So spread a little smile, lend a little nod. And when you reflect on the fallen, be not afraid to remember the living, too.

An Open Letter to Aisha Tyler

This afternoon, my heart sunk a bit when Aisha Tyler announced that she and her husband of 25 years are going through a divorce. I do not know either of these people personally and I will not be commenting on this very personal life event. What I would like to do is tell everyone why Aisha Tyler is my spirit animal.

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Source: BuzzFeed

 

I’ve followed Aisha’s career for some time now. I won’t pretend that I am a rabid fan who would stalk her through Comi-Con. Because I would totally do that. But once I caught up with her and gathered enough composure to speak words, I hope that I would be able to share something like this:

Hi, Aisha!

My name is Aisha and I would like to thank you for keeping it classy. It takes such a weight off my shoulders to know that when future employers or educational institutions Google me, and your name pops up instead, they’ll find a smart, funny, beautiful accomplished woman. I am grateful that both of our parents chose a righteous name like Aisha. Did you know it means “life?” Of course you did. You are a Stanford graduate, after all!

I’m not sure why your parents gave you our name, but I think you embody it well. My parents named me Aisha because I was a preemie. Born three months prematurely. As a result, I’ve always been different. I’ve worn prescription eyeglasses since I was 4, have a tracheotomy scar and I’ve always been either underweight or overweight. (No worries, though – I recently lost 70 pounds and I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life!) I also attended overwhelmingly predominantly white schools and speak with a more suburban Anglo dialect. All of these things caused me to be an easy target for bullies, the aftermath of which I still deal with to this day.

From the stories you’ve shared on The Talk, it seems like you’ve encountered some similar challenges. But despite these obstacles, you seem so confident and resilient. You’ve accomplished so much and continually inspire so many. You are the poster child for all that is geek chic!

Anyway, I am so sorry. I’ve just been talking your ear off and there is a line of Archer fans forming behind me, ready to fanboy/fangirl over you. But thanks for listening. I just wanted to share all that with you. Sorry if it’s weird. You just make me proud to be an Aisha. It was nice meeting you!

I don’t know if Aisha will ever read this, and that’s okay. I just want to encourage you to let your influencers know you appreciate them. Whether they are Hall of Fame athlete, a witty culture podcaster full of snark, a patient algebra or a Vietnam era veteran neighbor — don’t keep your admiration to yourself. Let your love be known. You don’t have to be creepy or even public about it. Just a little note, even an anonymous one, of “thanks for being awesome to me” can make a huge difference.

Slammed

Unseasonably cool chill in the April air, dim tungsten lighting overhead. I weave my way through a sea of maxi dresses, dreadlocks and dashikis. The voice over the microphone grows louder with every step toward the lone empty rod iron chair. I tuck myself between the table and the seat, fearful of being a disturbance, eager to soak up this new experience.

I was at my first poetry slam.

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After years of admiring poets like Staceyann Chin and Georgia Me through my television screen on Def Poetry Jam, I was finally seated among the bleeding hearts and wordsmiths. The odd and the powerful. The oppressed and the unsilenced. Finally, I was among my people!

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Staceyann Chin [Source: Mashable]
But who exactly are “my people?” I am not a militant, Angela Davis wannabe, but I fight for racial equality. I am not a member of the LBGTQ community, but I am an ally. I am not outrageous and outlandish, with a mouth full of metaphors and profanity. I’m just me. A plain old middle-class, Christian black girl from the super-suburbs of America.

As I sat there, amongst the painfully political and the unapologetically black, I couldn’t help but wonder if they saw through my mask. Could they tell that the deep side part and single cornrow of my braids was irritating me because my hair kept falling in my face? Did they know that my wayfarer glasses aren’t worn ironically as a part of my personal homage to Urkle, but that without them… I can’t really see very well?

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Georgia Me [Source: Official Site]

Did they see that my cooler-than-cool swagger as I strolled through the coffeeshop to order my peach blossom tea, was really just my body avoiding a meltdown as I awkwardly slithered my way through the crowd of unfamiliar faces in a semi-familiar place?

Maybe everyone could see right through my artsy-fartsy veneer to the plain, boring nuget center. Or maybe not. Maybe I fooled them all. Either way. I think I’ll come again. Maybe I’ll speak my words. Maybe they will listen. Maybe we’re all just square pegs trying to fit into round holes, bouncing from one adventure to the next, that we may finally find the place that we belong.

Teardrops & Tealights

Moist, wrinkled chicken drumstick in my hand, snot pouring from my nose. I try to steady my shivering haFrench trlnds and focus my blurred vision through hot tears. Careful not to draw my own blood as I prepared the poultry meal, but overcome by a wellspring of pain.

A quiet touch on my shoulder attempts to comfort me, but the sobs only grow deeper, longer, louder. My father calmly says “I love you,” and I return the sentiment between intermittent gasps for air. I begin to list off all of the reasons he has found me in such a state.

For the third night in a row, I’ve watched as some aspect of my mother’s declining health was on full display. Delusions of betrayal, revolving trips to the restroom at all hours of the evening, continuous pain emanating from multiple parts of the body at once.

It hurts. I hurt. My mother is suffering and watching her pseudo-exist in this state is draining.

While in Barbados, my mother made marked improvements in her health. She was more active, more relaxed and the most alive I’d seen her in years. But almost immediately upon return to the United States, we have seen a steady regression and the results are discouraging.

Being back Stateside has had its ups but lots of downs. We went from living a life of relative comfort (and even enjoying relative luxury) to crashing with family and searching for new ways to survive.

It’s not to say that we are without blessing or that every day is shrouded in defeat. But the days are long and the nights are longer. My mind is weary. My body is tired. My light is dim.Tea Light

But I still have a light. Some days it shines brighter than others, but thank God… it is still here. And I refuse to let sickness and circumstance snuff it out. So I will shine. I will glow. I will burst into flame above the eye of any storm I meet.

I am more than a conqueror.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8: 37-39

My Life In Facebook Apps

I’ve always been a proponent of the literary concepts of analogy and metaphor. Life gets messy and sometimes we need simple, less complicated images to help us make sense of what it’s all about. Aside from the hokey pokey.

Recently, God has revealed to me how life is a lot like a collection of Facebook Apps. For my purposes, He used the example of Candy Crush versus Cookie Jam.

If you’ve ever been on the social networking site Facebook, then it’s pretty likely that you received a jellybean shaped life request from a friend for an addictive little game called Candy Crush. This game took the nation (or dare I say, the world?) by storm a few years ago and is still pretty popular today.

The object is fairly simple. Match at least 3 “candies” in a row or column to break whatever surface lies beneath. Each time you succeed in breaking a surface, you are congratulated by hypnotizing dings and bloops, stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. With its constant attaboys, invitations to “Try Again” if you’ve failed, and opportunities to level up, the game has become highly addictive for some people. While I am not one of those people who became addicted to an online game, I – ahem – certainly see how that can happen.

Like many things in my life, I was a late adapter to this game. I didn’t have a smartphone for awhile and my PC threatened to implode if I tried to play the game online. So, as with most popular movements, I was missing out. Once I upgraded my tech resources and began playing games, I quickly noticed a disturbing pattern: I was dreaming about Candy Crush.

What prompted these dreams? Well, while I do not have a degree in psychology, I strongly believe that my in-game achievements are used as placeholders for real-life advancements.

Recently, my family and I returned to the U.S. after a stint abroad in the Caribbean. It’s a long story, so I’ll spare you the bureaucratic details. Suffice it to say that we took a chance, it was lovely, but it ultimately did not work out.

So now, we’re back Stateside. Back to where we started from. Back to the rat race and keeping up with the Karda– Joneses. Every day is filled with job applications, résumé edits and phone interviews. Meanwhile, medical expenses mount, health declines, and the desire to have a “normal” life for me to have a “normal” life increases.

So back to Candy Crush. Another component of the popular match-three games is the occasional visit down the wormhole. A side excursion which allows you to earn extra points and tools. These little games within games are neat departures from the typical school of play, but they are often more challenging than the original game and can create more stress.

One day, I received an invite for a new match-three game called Cookie Jam. While the concept is nearly identical to that of Candy Crush, I’ve found that the play is easier and I’ve yet to have any dreams (or nightmares) about this goofy time-waster. Maybe because I’m more successful at the game, that need to succeed at something is satiated and corresponding anxiety is quelled.

Now, Cookie Jam is a less popular game. The graphics aren’t as slick, the music less entrancing. But I like it. It works for me. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it meets my pedestrian needs. I may not have many people to talk to about it and I’m not sure I even want people to know I play it. But a game is a game. And if I must play a game, then sometimes I have to choose a game the works best for me, at which I can excel. I can’t compare my platform of preference to anyone else.

I’ve found that the same is true in life. Since returning “home” I’ve been pursuing a career in the hot, sexy, glamorous world of startups. After all, I am a millennial living in the Metro Atlanta area. I am supposed to work for a trendy startup company with unlimited vacation days and in-office happy hours (locally brewed beer included).

StartupSo I go out and get the all-important perfect startup interview outfit, polish my résumé — I even enrolled in a coding class! I apply for startup after startup. Rarely do I hear back. If I do, it’s either in the form of a rejection letter telling me I am great, but others were greater; or sometimes, they want to have a “casual chat” on the phone. Rarer still, after the phone “chat”, I am asked to come in for an “in-person meeting.” [Note: These companies often avoid calling anything preliminary an interview. I guess we’re trying to keep it chill? Super cas’?]

I press my bright pink pencil pants from my aforementioned 3386437_1381716248194-47res_500_500startup ensemble, get my hair and nails done and head to whatever gentrified co-working space houses the next big thing in technology. The interview begins. The interview ends. I interviewed well. I killed it. They loved me, I loved them. The only thing missing was the big purple dinosaur.

A few days go by. Nothing. I think Should I follow up at the risk of appearing dimpatient? Just as I am about to hit send on my subtle nudge email, the phone rings. It’s them! My heart and breath stop as I eagerly wait to hear the words “We think would make a great addition to our team and would like to offer you the position.” Instead, the voice on the other end informs me that while I interviewed very well and did nothing wrong… they’ve chosen to go with another candidate.

Disappointed and confused, I thank them for their time and consideration and hope they will keep me in mind for a future role. [Click.]

This pattern of rejection is becoming all too familiar. Yes, rejection is part of the job search. ‘X’ number of résumés sent out – ‘y’ rejection letters – ‘z’ interviews = ‘n’ number of companies that may offer you a job. But as searching for a job in and of itself is a full-time job, it can be hard not to let your morale drop to an all-time low. You just want a little reward for all of your hard work.

Observing my frustration, my father made a very good suggestion. One that in my earlier years, I would not have wanted to hear. He said “You are veering off of your path. You started out in a social services space and ended up pursuing careers in technology, et cetera. I know you want a job and those are the jobs that seem hot right now, but you need to stick with your strengths. The last thing you want to become is a jack of all trades and a master of none.”

Stick with your strengths. The last thing you want to become is a jack of all trades and a master of none.

This advice was hard to hear because I thought I had devised a master plan to get a cool job; a house in a hip, gentrified neighborhood; and the acceptance and admiration of my peers. But my dad reminded me that life isn’t about those things. Not for me, anyway.

Just like my relationship with Facebook games, I’ve had to reassess my career platform. While the tech startup world is exciting and cool and the game that everybody is playing, it just doesn’t work for me. I don’t excel there. I do excel in spaces where I get to help people. Where I get to tell stories. Where I get to be authentic to who I am.

So, just as I have done with Candy Crush, I will forgo the tech trek and pursue instead social solutions. I don’t know how long it will take me to level up and there may not be many boosters along the way, but at least I am reassured of my purpose and I can have peace during my journey.