The truth is that I’m just another statistic.
At almost 27, I am part of the 67 percent of millennial women who were expected to quit their jobs by 2020, according to Deloitte Millennial Survey. Last month, I left mine and although my income has been mostly at $0 for the past three weeks – praise for the income tax return – I have no regrets and I am not looking back at my previous employer. A couple of years ago, I’d view myself as a failure who gave up. Now with some wisdom, I see this as me turning a new page.
Way before I realized I was part of a growing trend, I knew there had to be more to life than the rat race that college prepares you for but is not sustainable to holistic health. I’ve had these conversations with many women my age, who I attended college with or who I previously worked with. I can think of five right now who have quit, who are thinking of quitting or have been laid off from their entry-level jobs after finding it was not what they hoped for. One of my best friends also left her job last month and up and moved to Los Angeles to figure out her own next chapter.
I know others who have moved back home to take some time to collect themselves, others are launching their own brands and some have found jobs they love with companies that value them. Others like me, have chucked the deuces and decided to take their work on the road. I must note that these women I speak of are single and childless but are not above the responsibility. In the moment they have chosen to focus on the now. Some of us aren’t lucky to have met or settled down with partners we’ve met in high school or college. Some of us don’t yet know the joys and character-shaping experience of motherhood. Some of us aren’t even interested in that life at all. But for now while we have the time, we’re hoping to set a loving foundation in all that we do, from physical and emotional health, to relationships to careers. We know there has to be more to this.
Society doesn’t really teach women to do for themselves before others. We are taught to be helpmates and supporters of men and to take the backseat. But really, I can’t be anything to anyone before carving out time to myself. Lately I’ve been reprogramming how I think and going back to listening to motivational podcasts, TED talks, books and blogs about giving back to yourself. The number one reason for burnout is forgetting to do the things that fill you back up.
Back in college, my only focus was landing a job in media and also growing my brand Hearts Converse. After my quarter life crisis, I found stable freelance work and then a permalancer job that shaped much of my writing and reporting experience since I graduated. My network has expanded tremendously. I paid some of those dues they speak about and I’m cool on paying more. This October, I’ll head back to my alma mater Howard University to celebrate the milestone of graduating from college five years ago with my peers at our annual homecoming. I’m proud of myself.
But I always wanted to see the world. My senior year of college, I had my eyes set on applying for a Fulbright program that would have sent me away for awhile post-grad but I discouraged myself in the process.
As time went on, the desire to travel never went away. I began to read up on Black bloggers, especially women, who were flying to places where there were few people who looked like them. Some chose the ex-pat life, others chose to make the most of their vacation time at work and others were moving from place to place as nomads.
How did they get to do what they do? If they’re doing it, why can’t I?
At first, I thought going back to school to pursue a graduate degree would be my best bet to travel abroad extensively. My plan was to sign up for a study abroad program. But honestly, I had no interest in continuing my studies at the moment.
Then I began to consider the idea of becoming a digital nomad. If I could save up enough money to go some place else and find an apartment where the cost of living was less then I would be on to something.
It also seemed like life had been preparing me for solo travel. With various work trips and several lucky glitch fares here and there, I often found myself being brisked away by myself and each time I felt more empowered.
Time past. And time past some more. I grew a couple of grey hairs. But by the end of last summer, my job began to become less and less enjoyable and the money was not great enough to stay either (let’s just be real). I needed to roll out. By myself, with a job or without a job, nothing was going to stop me…
Presently, I’ve been here in Johannesburg, South Africa, 11 days. It is the first city on my tour. It took me a few days to unpack and I’m not just talking about my clothes. Everything from emotions and thoughts that were lingering that had no service to me had to be dealt with before I finally felt open to sharing my journey. Here’s what I’ll be up to:
Until the end of June, I will be a nomad. I’ll be writing on cultural happenings from Johannesburg to London as a freelancer (editors get at me).
I’m also working on my series The Questions 100 #HC100Q. The project involves me interviewing 100 millennials in the various cities I travel to abroad and back home in the states. Soon I will be launching a crowdfunding page to raise $5,000 so that I can bring the series aboard the Millennial Train Project in August.
#BKtotheWorld is about me and the now. But even after this excursion has commenced, I want to continue to expand my palate for what’s out there for as long as I live. This is me proclaiming the global mindset and knowing there is always more to life when the bubbles we live in begin to suffocate us. And I’m ready to breathe.
In my next post, I’ll discuss why I chose Johannesburg of all the cities.
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