Own Your Life

Written by Kia Folsom

While speaking to my class of high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, commentator and expert Jeff Johnson eloquently informed them that their lives are in their hands. He shared his road to becoming a commentator on cable television and how that parlayed into radio and public appearances. However, aside from of his public persona, he maintained his own consulting company in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. One of the students dared to ask him “why”. He smugly responded, “Because I refuse to have someone else dictating my fate. I know that BET will not last forever and once that paycheck ends I have my own company that will continue paying my bills.”

Six years later, I still could hear the words of Jeff as I sat in the office of my comfy government job- the job that was handed to me on a seemingly silver platter to some. The job that got me out of my brief return to the classroom following a lay off that occurred shortly after Jeff’s talk with my students. My return to the classroom was only part-time, so I had no benefits or a full paycheck. Consequently, in my search for something new, I asked a former student’s mother if she knew of anything and she immediately helped me out and handed me employment in my nice comfy government job. Not only was it handed to me, but the people seemingly loved me. My superiors would ask me to work on their teams. I was told how much the director liked me. To this day, I can’t figure out for the life of me “Why.” Not like I put in a lot of energy- the work wasn’t challenging. Coming from the classroom, I felt as though I could conquer the world. I mean I had taught in one of the nation’s most challenging districts and with no proper training (I have two communications degrees).

Tons of people would die for the seat that I currently sit in with the so- called security of employment with benefits and a cushy retirement plan ( I’ll admit that a Thrift Savings Plan can be quite enticing). I was constantly berated with the comments from admirers “Girl, how’d you get that position. I have been trying to get in the government for years,” or “don’t ever leave,” or the “oh you have it made.” It was unclear to me the level of “luck” that was described in people’s tones because a position in the one of the Executive Branch’s Departments was beyond the common thing in the Washington, DC area. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t feel like I had struck gold!

Many millennials feel as though we are not made for the 9-5, sitting behind a desk for 40 hours a week, living for the weekend and the annual week of vacation time-that-is-given-to-us lifestyle. I’m aware that I’m not alone in this feeling. We are the most innovative, out- of- the- box generation yet. We live in a Google ran world with young people creating things like UBER, Whatsapp, and Snapchat. But there I was, sitting in a drab office building, going home to my well-furnished, newly purchased home, and I couldn’t be more dissatisfied. This was not my piece of American pie.

It was confirmed when I was faced with yet another layoff only to be picked-up by another agency in my department, told that in 90 days I would get a raise, then not get that raise because of budget issues. Are you kidding me? I’d worked in two of the most historically secure careers known to man: education and government. Yet, I have been affected by layoffs and money issues in both of them (now the so-called money issues are usually the strategic way of getting rid of people on the workforce in these so-called secure positions, but that I won’t get on a soapbox here).

Now, Jeff’s words rang louder than ever before. So, I’m posed with the question “What slice of American pie are you hungry for?” Simple, I wanted to work for myself. I wanted to start my company that I have been talking about for years. I wanted to finish my book. I wanted to branch out my non-profit. Then, I heard the words of Steve Harvey in his new book “You already have everything you need to manifest your dream.” Wow, that’s exactly what my Aunt told me a year prior after seeing one of the shows put on by my non-profit. God was continuously giving me outwardly confirmations. Now he was just waiting for my action. I had the vision, I had the people and the network, now I just needed to move. I did just that. In doing it, I was surprised at how things started falling into place.

In starting a business, it can be scary. It can be intimidating. However, God doesn’t just give us visions for them to be fleeting thoughts. Those visions are whispers from the most high. We do not see ourselves the way that he sees us. We are far greater, through the eyes of God, than anything we can ever imagine. We just have to listen and act. “You can have many great ideas in your head, but what makes the difference is the action. Without action, upon an idea, there will be no manifestation, no results and no reward.”- Don Miguel Ruiz The Four Agreements. One thing I have learned in the three different careers that I have had at the mere age of 32 is that no one is going to give us anything. No one is going to save us. We must go out there and get it (thanks for that tid bit Oprah!).

So, if you are like me and you have that vision. You have that burning desire. START! That’s the hardest part. You have already written it down. It has already been confirmed. Now move on it! Just think, what’s the alternative of you not starting? Eight hours a day, five days a week in a drab office building with your future and livelihood in someone else’s subjective hands!

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