Doing Both + Steppin' Out On Faith
Have you guys seen “The Get Down” yet on Netflix? If not, this reference won’t make any sense to you, but I’m gonna share it anyway. Spoiler alert. Kinda.
So here’s a quick premise of the show. It’s the late ‘70s in NYC. My parents had not yet met, my brother (don’t hurt yourself thinking too hard about this) was born and I did not exist. Obvi. Hip-hop culture and Punk music are interesting new, cultural waves that are developing a following and Disco music is slowly taking a much needed exit; New York is in financial shambles. And then we have the protagonist, Zeke, and his group of friends who are trying to make their mark as a legit DJ crew. Got it? Cool. So in the sixth episode of the series, Zeke (an incredibly smart wordsmith who has an internship in downtown Manhattan and a collegiate future) is listening to a city leader explain why it’s important for him to be a representative, a young leader for his Bronx community at a major rally for Ed Koch (a mayoral hopeful) that was happening the following week. Zeke is an aspiring MC and mentioned he had a DJ battle on that same Saturday; in the scene, the city leader looks at him as if he expects Zeke to back out of attending the rally…before standing, Zeke says, “I can do both.” Stay with me here. I'm going somewhere, I promise.
Across town, Zeke’s friend, Shao, an aspiring DJ (Grandmaster Flash’s protégé) and street hustler who just caught his first body, is having a conversation with the female version of Nicky Barnes (you remember, Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s character in American Gangster). She’s got some “business” for Shao to handle that Saturday too, the day of the battle. What you think Shao said to her? “I can do both.”
And you absolutely can. It’s possible to do what you need to do to survive and also do what you want to do – your life’s work.
Back in the summer, I was having a conversation with a friend about living out your dreams and doing what you really want to do every single day. I would have a similar conversation with the uber fabulous businesswoman and TV personality, Ms. Bevy Smith a few weeks prior. I was on South Beach and I asked her something similar to, “How do you it? How do you make it?” She asked me what it is I wanted to do – I told her I was a writer. In her thickest New York accent, as only she can, she said,
“Well hun, if you’re a writa, you need to be writin’ every single day. Quit your 9-5 and write.”
Mind you, my boss was sitting right there and heard every word. Do you think Bevy cared? Absolutely not. At the time, I was awe struck. I wasn’t sure what to think yet. At the time, all I could process was, someone who’s living their best life, at least, from my perspective, was giving me real advice on pursuing my passion and I was happy to hear it. All of it. Even if I didn’t completely agree.
So let’s fast forward to the conversation I was having with the friend about living out your dreams. He said something similar to what Bevy said, “…you have to commit yourself to what you want to do in life 1000%.” He claimed you can’t work a 9-5 and still be completed dedicated to your life’s work. I thought his point was valid, but I didn’t agree. The world is crawling with creative, innovative folks. But sometimes circumstances, fear and limited thinking can halt your plans to pursue your passions. Two of those things you can help: fear and limited thinking. Those are not God-like qualities. Even if you have a 9-5, you can still do what you love. You just gotta be dedicated. It’ll be hard. It’ll require discipline. It’ll probably even mean missing some happy hours and require some unexpectedly long nights. But it’s cool. Cuz you gon’ shine! If you really want it.
I believe it’s healthy to stay hungry – to always want to be better. Comfort is scary, at least at this point in my life. I know all of my days on this Earth won’t be spent working a minimum of 40 hours a week developing ideas & concepts for someone else’s company. That’s not what I’m here to do, but I am thankful for the doors that have been opened from my current position. I’ve realized in the advertising industry, working at a multicultural agency is an extreme advantage (we’ll probably talk about this more in another post). But I’m still blossoming, I’m in my late 20s and I’m still allowing the Lord to teach me who I am to become…as long as I continue listening. I had to understand something and it really didn’t hit me until the beginning of this year: if your current reality sucks or isn’t what you want and deserve, you can change it, if your circumstances allow you to. You’ve just got to open your mind.
“…Let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18).
Not happy? Talk to God – ask Him to change your thinking. To help you stay committed to a task. To be diligent in your pursuit. Make a plan. But above all else, keep pushing. No matter what.
Oh, Zeke and Shao handled their business that Saturday and both made it to the battle and killed it.
You can do both.