More than a decade ago, I worked at a television station as a news producer. It’s what I’d gone to college for and so it only made sense for me to work within the field which I’d studied. I didn’t want to be one of those recent grads who stayed jobless or accepted a minimum wage position after school, so I made sure I secured this tv job before I even graduated. I felt accomplished and proud, but looking back I realize that I didn’t give myself time to assess and think about what I really wanted to do with my life. Yes, I was good at producing, but was it my passion? Was being a tv news producer my calling?
That first year of my career was more exhausting than I care to admit. As the morning show producer I worked one of the toughest shifts at the station meaning I existed in those wee hours before the sun rises when the world is eerily quiet. The only other person at the station with me in those overnight hours was the Master Control operator. It was a very lonely existence. During that time my depression got worse, any kind of relationship or friendship suffered, and I became sensitive to light. This couldn’t possibly be what I’d dreamed my life would be like.
I got out of news only to return again nine months later in a different city with new promises of sticking it out this time. As unbelievable as this may sound considering that I’m now known for appearing in campaigns as a model and commercial actress, I was never in front of the camera when I worked in news. Instead I was the machine that wrote all the scripts, timed the show, and called the shots from the control booth. I scheduled guests, created new segments for the show, and quietly whispered info to the anchors and reporters while they’re on set or on the scene. Yes, I was damn good at my job, but I was only lying to myself believing that living, breathing, and working in news was my passion. After an incredibly brutal season of severe weather, breaking news, and suffocating egos, I was out never to return to a newsroom again.
Throughout all of this, I knew there must be something else for me but I couldn’t figure out if it was being a civil servant, fashion, or writing. I’d been an advocate for others since my days in the NAACP Youth Council. For goodness sakes, I met Rosa Parks when I was still in elementary school and I knew then that I wanted to be like her. There was even a moment when the news station that I worked for showed up to cover a protest that I was taking part in. I immediately felt conflicted. But my love for fashion and beauty was never eclipsed by my work as a journalist. I’d wanted to be a model since I was a teen and no matter what I couldn’t shake that yearning. My cubicle at work looked more like that of an editor at Vogue than a producer at a local news station. It’s like my subconscious was trying to tell me something, but my walk the straight-and-narrow upbringing and education were screaming otherwise. Eventually the dreamer in me, the lover of creativity, would win out.
I honestly believe that a great deal of my depression and my unfulfilling stint in news was because I wasn’t embracing my authentic self. I was trying to be what others like family and friends expected me to be. I followed their rules by going to college and getting a normal job. Everyone said I was good at producing, but no one ever asked me if that’s what I wanted. I had to ask myself who was I really living for: them or me?
When the opportunity to model presented itself again after 8 years of giving it up for a more traditional direction and occupation, I knew it was meant for me. When the chance to be my own boss and write for an online audience came knocking, I knew it was right. Making the decision to model, blog, and really do me felt like a pressure had been released. I could finally express my true self. That’s not to say the journey’s been easy. Every artist,freelancer, or entrepreneur can tell you that sometimes the struggle is oh so real, but what we do is so fulfilling. A good friend of mine always say “The work isn’t hard, but it’s hard work.”
Although my time working in news was tough, I wouldn’t erase that journey. That tumultuous period in my career has led me to a stronger appreciation for what I have now. I’m not trying to be someone I’m not or do a job just because I’m good at it. I do it because I love it and my passions are obvious to anyone who’s seen my work. Once I finally decided to embrace my calling, my soul began to ease. After years of feeling like I wasn’t making an impact and inspiring change, I can now see that what I’m doing has a purpose. What a difference accepting who you are and embracing who you’re really meant to be can make.