This is the last episode of 2021 and I just want to say thank you. Thank you so much for all of the support that you have shown me over the years. For the life of me, I’m not even sure how folks have even discovered this podcast because I’ve never properly advertised this show. It’s truly been a passion project for me.

I started this podcast back in 2018. That was one of the worst years of my life. I went on interview after interview and couldn’t find a job. I had gone through all of my savings. Then my unemployment ran out (which wasn’t much anyway). I couldn’t find a job so I lost my apartment. It was just like when I thought things couldn’t get worse, oh wait there’s more…

I remember feeling really confused, sad, and angry. Like there was this storm cloud following me around. I didn’t want my pain to be in vain, so I created this podcast as a way to help me work through my issues and hopefully help others out along the way. It really is darkest before the dawn. Here I am 3 years later and I can truly say that I’m living my best life. My life could easily be one of those how it started vs. how it’s going memes. I’m a firm believer that God uses circumstances to get our attention.

Today’s topic came about from a conversation I had with someone. They said to me, “You’ve got an unconventional style, but it’s effective. But then again, what is conventional?”

To be quite honest, our conversation, took me down memory lane. This was a genuine compliment that really resonated with me. This conversation got me thinking about my lifestyle and my past endeavors. I started thinking about other past milestones I accomplished in my life.  I noticed they all shared one thing in common….nothing and I mean nothing, I have ever accomplished in my life has ever been done in what would be considered a conventional way.

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I look back at my childhood and noticed, I wasn’t raised in a conventional way. My mom is the quintessential Black mom. Although I wanted nothing more than to fit in, my mom knew better.   She explained that you can’t fit in at all costs because the crowd isn’t always right. That’s why she taught us at a very early age that life isn’t fair and how important it is to be independent. I remember her asking me sometimes, “If other people are going to jump off a bridge are you going to do that too?” 

She taught me that there will be times in life where doing what’s best for you means that you will have to go against the crowd and stand alone.  Looking back on my life.  I noticed that my unconventional childhood prepared me for my lifestyle.

This person’s comment about me being unconventional got me thinking about how so many people think that there’s only one pathway to success. We allow other people to dictate what path we should take to achieve success. Heck, some of us even allow other people to define what their success should look like. 

Society sends us not-so-subtle clues as to what success should be even if it’s NOT what you as an individual truly want.  With society’s success, you have to look a certain way, act a certain way, get your degree, get a job, network, which really is code for sucking up to the right people so you can make it up the corporate ladder.

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Once you accomplish this nonsense, you have to get married and have kids.  To add even more pressure to your unhappy existence, you have to stay on this ONE job until you can retire. You have to work, work, work until you’re in your 60’s and then you may be able to retire at this age so you can finally have time to do all the things you didn’t get a chance to do while you were killing yourself trying to live the “American Dream.” 

Many would agree that this conventional way of thinking is totally acceptable. To each, its own, but what I just described, to me, sounds like an absolute nightmare. If you look like me you already know that your journey to success is going to look completely different because you’re going to need to create your own ladder and lifestyle.

You know It makes me sad to think about how many people are living a settled for life, all because they are trying to fit into a conventional way of living. They are trying to live up to someone else’s definition of success. In doing so, they’re not living the extraordinary life Christ came to give us.

For 2022 I want my audience to consciously make a decision to stop allowing people to place you in a box. Stop living a settle for life.  Work toward that extraordinary life you always wanted.

It’s up to you to gather the strength you need to destroy this conventional mindset and embrace an unconventional one. There are a lot of resources to help you get started with the new you.

I’m reading this book called Agent You, by Nicole Lynn. I talk about it a little bit in Ep.157 A few of my favorite things episode.  One of the topics Nicole discusses in her book is NOT to cover. The word cover in this situation means hiding important details of your life because you assume that your coworkers couldn’t understand or relate. This is something many people of color, myself included, do or have done in the corporate world. Many times, we do so in an attempt to make other people feel comfortable around us.  Thinking back, I know this was true for me.

For the longest time, I was afraid to wear my hair naturally in a corporate environment because I wasn’t sure how people would react to seeing my hair curly or braided. I worried about what people would say and think about my passion projects like teaching English online, doing voiceover work, or my T-shirt shops. I was afraid to share my passions with others. 

I have to catch myself when I hesitate to share my passion projects.  Many times people think I am weird because I do not waste my spare time doing “conventional” things like going to a club, getting drunk, and/or trying to fit into some cookie-cutter lifestyle. I am going to be turning 40 this year. I’ve never been married. I don’t have any kids and I do not want any kids thank you. However, I would like to get married, but I am not in a hurry for this endeavor either.  While I wait for Mr. Right, I am working on myself so when we meet we will be perfect for each other.

In the past, when it came to making a decision, I would take into account what is this person going to think. Now, I’m not basing my decisions based off of what other people are going to think about me. Being conventional may work for the masses. But if your goal is to truly live an extraordinary life, you’re going to reach a point where you’re done covering.  Meaning, you’re going to walk away from the so-called American Dream and form your own unconventional lifestyle.

I cannot express how liberating it is to get to that point in your life. Defining and achieving your idea of success is much more rewarding and relaxing. When you try to follow society’s definition of achieving success, it gets excruciatingly painful and tiring.  Mainly, because they are always moving the goal post. For one reason or another, there are folks in this world who don’t want you to be great.

One of my friends was expressing their frustration to me because they didn’t get the promotion they wanted. By the way, this person had been on their job for several years and totally deserved that promotion they wanted. Yet, instead of giving in to their pity party, I simply asked them, “Where do you want your ladder leaning?”  In other words, what does success look like to you? Do you really think you’re going to be happy making it up that corporate ladder? I had this person take time to analyze what they thought they were missing.

Just so we are clear, I’m not advocating that you become complacent and stay in a lower-paying job, and don’t try to go after something more. What I’m saying is don’t always focus on money. Focus on the fact that you have enough money to pay your bills and enough spare time to enjoy doing the things that you want to do. Such as treating yourself to a vacation and doing things that you enjoy so you don’t feel like you’re merely existing. 

I continued to explain to my friend, if you’re not willing to be “conventional” by working yourself to death, sucking up to people, and becoming a master at office politics, then don’t allow yourself to be envious of the person who received the promotion you thought you wanted. Again, if you’re not willing to do what it takes to fit into society’s conventional lifestyle, then you should not expect this form of success.

Maybe you don’t want to go after that $200K job if it means that you won’t have enough time to enjoy your life. In a case like this, your ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.  What’s the use in making money and you don’t have the time or energy to enjoy it. In a case like this don’t focus on money or trying to achieve a specific title. Ask yourself, “ Am I willing to give up my life and be on call 24/7? As long as you have enough money to fund your life, my friend, you are good.

Like many of us, my friend needed to take the oversight on them being promoted as a chance to evaluate what is that they really wanted from life and then focus on what they need to do to make that happen. Many times when we don’t get what we want, it’s a blessing in disguise. We need to take time to analyze what it is that we truly want, and we would know why we didn’t receive this of that.

I made the decision a long time ago that climbing the corporate ladder wasn’t worth it to me. I’d rather have a regular job, make good money so I can pay my bills, have time to relax, and fund my passion projects. That’s all I want. You can keep the office politics. That’s drama I don’t need or want in my life.

My job funds my life but it’s not my life. I work to live, not live to work. Again, the type of lifestyle that I envision for myself is being able to pay my bills and have enough money to enjoy myself. I don’t want to be tethered to my phone 24/7.  All of the goals that I have ever wanted to achieve have always been accomplished in an unconventional way.

I almost didn’t get into college because of my testing anxiety. I’m a horrible test taker. Through my unconventional methods, I made it work whereby I was able to attend DePaul University. Even after this getting into college, I ran into difficulty paying for college.  Therefore, I could not do what most college students did – sit around campus and tell their mom and dad to send them money.” I do not come from a wealthy household. I had to work full-time during the day and attend college at night.

After I graduated, I couldn’t find a job the “conventional” way.  So, I created my own company and leveraged that experience to get my foot in the corporate door.  I’ve never in a million years been the type of person that wants to be tethered to their office desk.  And, don’t even get me started with the open office layout concept.  Been there, done that, and never doing that again.  To me, that sounds like a slow painful death by a thousand cuts…

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Looking back at this person’s comment, I noticed that my entire life is unconventional. Most importantly, I am in good company. There are so many people who we respect and admire in history that lived an unconventional life.

I shudder to think what this world would look like if Martin Luther King didn’t have a dream. What if Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin gave up their seats? Clearly, we still have a long long, long road ahead of us in making their dreams a reality but you get my point. If they didn’t have the guts to be unconventional, then this would be a very different world and we probably wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

Even now, the years 2020 and 2021 are the happiest two years of my life.  I don’t mean to come off as disrespectful I know there’s a pandemic, but financially, professionally, and emotionally. these past two years have been good for me.  Mainly because I’ve been focusing on building up my relationship with God.  In doing so, I’ve removed all of the toxic people and things from my life.  People and things that were making me feel insecure about myself have been kicked to the curb. So yeah, in general, I’m just really, really, happy. I feel so free! As Issa Rae would say, “This is my me season.” Despite the pandemic.

2021 has been an unconventional year for me. It fits in perfectly with my unconventional life.

I got my condo in an unconventional way. I don’t have a degree or connections in the voiceover world. Yet, I landed a voiceover gig that paid me enough money to use as a down payment for my condo. You may be wondering. “How did you get that gig?” From a video tutorial, I did several years that I had posted on YouTube. They liked my style and asked me to create videos like that for them. I didn’t network or audition to get this gig. God literally set this opportunity in front of me and I went for it.  

Another unconventional blessing was after I moved into my condo. Little did I know that my neighbors’ nasty, devious behavior would turn out to be one of the biggest blessings of my life.  I’m still in the process of getting this issue resolved, but I am so close to the finish line. The nonsense I’ve been enduring from their behavior for almost a year now was just an absolute blessing in disguise. 

In retrospect, I wouldn’t change a thing God used to get me to the point where I am right now in my life. When I was younger, I was constantly coming across all these barriers God allowed in my life and I felt so frustrated. It always felt like there was a cloud was over my head. Little did I know that God was really training me to embrace the unconventional.

I finally realized that God allows obstacles in our life because He’s got blessings in store for me that I need to be strong enough to handle. Those “unconventional” situations helped develop my faith and placed me in a position to get accustomed to being by myself, so I could be the person God wanted me to be. Needless to say, I look at difficulties differently now. Again, my entire life has been unconventional.  I’m in the process of buying a new car and even the down payment for this came in an unconventional way. 

There’s a lot to be said by doing things in an unconventional way. Going to college to work your way up the corporate ladder is a ridiculous and impossible dream to achieve especially when you look like me and people keep moving the goalpost. I figured out several years ago what a lot of folks are just now figuring out right now. I created my own opportunities. If someone isn’t willing to give you a job, then do everything in your power to create your own job. Set trends, don’t follow them. Trust me, if I did it as a recent college graduate, I know you can as well.

I know what I am going to say is going to be viewed as unconventional because it goes against what you learned in school. There are a lot of people quitting their jobs or completely changing their careers. The Great Resignation, Great Reshuffle, or whatever you want to call it isn’t happening because people don’t want to work.  It’s happening because folks are starting to finally realize what some of us learned years ago…we possess more power than we think.  

Again, people are learning lessons that I have been fortunate to already learn. We need to be more concerned with seeking balance in life. We need to make sure that our mind, body, and soul are aligned with the plans God has in store for us.

That’s one of the reasons why I created the Hustle in Faith Brand New You FREE 60 day challenge. You can’t live the way everyone else is living and expect to live an extraordinary life. I already know I will forever be team unconventional all day every day. If you’re still on the fence about taking the leap, what do you have to lose by taking a chance on yourself?

You may just find your trail to a much happier, healthier you in 2022!

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