I rang in 2016 on a dance floor. The night was epic, but the good vibes were short lived. I entered the year feeling stuck and wondering if being a freelancer in Los Angeles, 3000 miles from the epicenter of the publishing world, was sustainable.
For five years I’d been getting by, racking up bylines for various publications and paying my bills mostly on time. I kept my head down and did the work, but in my opinion, I had very little to show for it.
My name wasn’t on anybody’s dopest writers lists. I wasn’t invited to any of the cool parties and events many of my (NYC-based) counterparts got to attend. I wasn’t booked as a guest on TV shows, in spite of my expertise. Despite grinding my ass off and scoring cover stories and features, it felt like I wasn’t in the conversation at all. I’d often have FOMO–fear of missing out–when I’d see my peers post about their opportunities and achievements on social media, then I’d wonder, Why not me?
Instead of spiraling too far down that rabbit hole, I did what I’ve always done: work.
I kept writing, kept pitching ideas, and kept feeling like I wanted more but didn’t quite know how to get it. I stayed the course, even when I was unsure it was the right one–it felt like the only one.
In April, things changed. I got a call from my now-boss who asked if I would be interested in a full time position. Being on staff at a publication felt like the stability and experience I needed, so I jumped at the chance. I said YES, even though (once again) I was unsure how things would play out.
[Pro tip: always say yes (to something you want to do)…you can figure everything else out later.]
Professionally, the second half of 2016 has been nothing short of amazing.
I’ve interviewed some of the biggest stars in the world; I’ve written a few more cover stories; my Nate Parker interview went viral and I appeared on TV; I’ve been asked to speak on panels; I shot an episode of a TV show with Omar J. Dorsey, Seth McFarlane, and Doug Petrie; and as the cover editor for the oldest African American lifestyle magazine in the world, my resume and skill set have gotten some WORK.
Is it all because of the job? Probably not. But good things happen once you open up, start feeling unstuck, and get in motion.
Do I feel like everything is perfect? Nah. I still have a list of things I want to accomplish personally and professionally, but having a seat at the table for once feels pretty damn good.
What would you like 2017 to bring?