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Can't Stop, Won't Stop: Creating Your Own Lane

Numerous studies have documented, if you build highway lanes, more drivers will come. ... One recent study found a one-to-one relationship between new highway lane capacity and traffic increases. In life, it is vital to create your own lane if you want to fulfill your passion and walk highly in your purpose. Sometimes, everyone can not take advantage of specific opportunities, which may allow them advancement in their careers. First, it is essential not to be too proud to ask for help; second, remain persistent and eager to learn; third, step out on faith and RUN after your dreams. When the traffic becomes too heavy in other lanes, create your own and keep moving! Here is a short story about me making my lane and welcoming my traffic.

At the age of thirty-six, I decided to enroll in school and complete my college education. After graduating from high school, I made some irresponsible decisions, which delayed my plans to finish school when most of my classmates journeyed to college. Honestly, although I birthed three children by the age of twenty-five, I had enough support and opportunity where I could go back to school if I wanted, but my priorities were not in the right place at that time. I was still trying to navigate all the bullshit I had going on while figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.

Moving to Georgia allowed me the opportunity to hit the reset button on my life. I needed a new beginning and a chance to provide my children with stability, comfort, and a safe environment. I required each of us to focus because I did not want them, ten years later, facing the same mistakes I did then trying to figure things out later in their lives.

My relocation to Georgia was the beginning of me creating my lane by meeting purpose-driven people. My grandmother always used to tell me, "Baby, birds of a feather always flock together." But, when she quoted that statement to me, it warned me that I needed to be careful because I was not flocking with the right people. Now, I wanted to be apart of a flock that was serious about excelling in life and not settling for the bare minimum. I started paying attention to their conversations and how they will mention their higher learning institutions and the benefits of being educated.

As you know, the adversary will always try and find a way to deter you from your greater purpose. Although I enjoyed these dialogues, I believed that my time to continue my education had long passed. My main focus is making sure my children finish school and know the value of achieving an education. Also, I believed I was not smart enough to enroll in anyone's college for a long time. I mean, I only ranked number 169 out of 200 students in high school. Yeah, I needed to sit all the way down and nod my head as I agreed with everything they said without offering my opinion—sort of like a puppet.

In 2010, I accepted a position at a well known and respected Historical Black College. Every day I shared a space with young and smart future professionals working toward their Bachelor's and advanced degrees. I also worked for one of the best professors in my and many others' opinions in the nation. I would attend a few of her lectures and become so inspired. Sometimes, it will lead me to tears because I will think about the time I wasted when I was young and gave up on furthering my education. I felt proud, yet, disappointed.

After a few years in my role, I expressed to my husband and best friend my desire to go back to school and obtain my degree. At the time, my job was only part-time, so I was not doing anything but waiting for the kids to come from school when I get off work. Also, my children were getting older and required less of my time when they came home. So, this was the best time to make my move.

I had a few financial responsibilities to clean up before registering for school, but in 2014, I enrolled at a two-year institution to complete my associate's degree. Starting at the two-year college was a great decision. It was cost-efficient, the classes were small because I went to school in the evenings, and it was not hard to communicate with the professors. Everything was a breeze. I completed my associates with a 3.8-grade point average. You can't imagine how proud I was of myself! I could not believe I graduated with honors – not the young girl who barely got her high school diploma. I felt a sense of pride and knew at that point and I can conquer anything.

After graduating with my associates, I applied to a well-known university in Georgia. I remember trying to apply to this university before but got turned down. Imagine my excitement when I received my acceptance letter welcoming me to the institution. On my first day, things became real, and I realized that a university is a whole new world from a small two-year institution. Adapting to university life was challenging but enjoyable. It made me feel young – well, more youthful. I felt like I was going to conquer the world, and I was on my way to more incredible accomplishments. Nothing can stop me, and I was going to excel to greater heights. Yep, I was officially a college student, and now, I can experience what I missed out on over twenty years ago.

The classes were fast-pace, and it was overwhelming and sometimes intimidating. I had been out of school for so long, and this world was like visiting Mars. I sent an email to one of my professors expressing how intimidated I was to speak out and participate in class discussions because I did not believe I was on the other students' level. Most of them were graduate students. I thought they were more intellectual and educated than I was. He replied with these few words: "I will not own your silence." I understood I was not getting any sympathy from anyone at this school, and if I wanted to pass this class, I had to participate. The next time we met for the course, I spoke more than I ever had in my classes.

Over half of the student population were traditional students, so they ranged from 18 to 23 years old. I was often the only non-traditional student in a class filled with young people of the same age as my children. In the beginning, it was a little uncomfortable, but I started to make the best. I did not agree with a lot of their opinions, but I had to remember that they were millennials and their upbringing was different from mine.

Another important factor I missed by not transitioning straight to college after high school was the opportunity to participate in internships to help advance my training and skills related to my major. Until I enrolled at the university, I never realized how crucial it is to have professional training and experience before graduating college. Most of my classmates had career opportunities waiting for them as soon as they cross the stage because they built connections and valuable work experiences with various companies through interning. I was a full-time mother, wife, employee, and student. I did not have time for an internship. I tried looking into applying for a few, but the timing was not conducive to my schedule. In my senior year, I signed up for a Multi-media Bootcamp opportunity to network and learn new professional journalists' skills.

When I attended the training, again, I was the oldest participant. The crazy part is that all of the students I came in contact with were so nice and welcoming, but a few professionals often ignored me. Many of the students completed internships before the boot camp, and they had more knowledge in multi-media reporting. At first, it bothered me, but I shook it off real quick and inserted myself in every discussion and activity. Although I failed every pop quiz they administered to us in the mornings, and I had the least training in the room, I still made myself relevant and my time useful. I worked hard! The experience was excellent, and I learned a lot. One of the most important lessons I learned was, I did not want to be in the news profession! I wanted nothing to do with the newsroom – it was too demanding, and I could not share the stories I wanted to share. So, I am glad I attended the boot camp because it showed me I did not have to settle for what everyone else who participated in the camp aspired to become. And they were great! I mean, their reporting and investigative skills were on point! Many of them moved on to exciting careers in news media, and I am so proud of them. Now, I had to figure out my lane. What did I want to accomplish as a journalist?

After I graduated, not entirely with my 4.0 GPA, but a 3.6, I still did not know what I wanted to do with my degree, I worked my self to the core to accomplish. I knew I wanted to tell stories and my platform to be community-based, but I did not know where to begin. First, I started asking people to share their accounts with me as I video recorded their narratives and edited them for YouTube and social media. I was not pleased with my interviewing skills and how I presented some of the questions. I will cut most of my footage and water it down with transitions. Although I was not pleased, I understood that I was a fresh graduate with minimal training, and I was training myself to become a successful journalist. In my quest to become successful, I researched other journalists and studied their interviewing techniques. I paid attention to their body language, the type of questions they asked, and their compassion for every story. I took notes and scheduled more interviews. I observed, analyzed, and practiced almost daily. Some of my family and friends advised me to become an influencer, event coordinator, and project manager. I considered their advice and even applied for some of those jobs, but I still did not feel fulfilled. I felt like I was settling. My joy comes from conducting interviews and sharing community stories. I just needed to find the best way to target my audience and keep them engaged.

In my previous job, I learned how to transcribe narratives and allow the audience to feel real emotions when reading a story. After rebranding my website, I released three transcribed stories and received numerous positive feedback. The stories inspired the readers, and it kept them engaged. I then realized that I am creating my own lane and finally walking in my divine purpose as a storyteller.

Going back to school at the age of 36 years old was not for show. I had dreams and goals of having a career that I enjoy and positively impacting communities across the globe. When I rise in the morning, I want a career, I am excited and happy to fulfill my duties, and when I lay down at night, I feel that my purpose for the day was complete and I am preparing myself for the same excitement on the next day.

I remember when I was in elementary school, my teacher would make her students say a quote by Rev. Jessie Jackson, "If my mind can conceive in, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it." In life, we can not be afraid to step out on faith and create our own lane.

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