As a kid, I loved playing M.A.S.H with my friends. Choosing four options for my life in the categories of Job, Husband, number of kids, and Location, allowed me to dream as big as I wanted and leave the rest up to chance. If my M.A.S.H. results were any indicator, I would be a famous actress by now, living in a LA, married to Aaron Carter or Bow Wow, with three kids.
Thank God M.A.S.H. doesn’t hold any weight in real life.
God decided to do something entirely different; constantly proving to me that my life is in His hands. First off, I’m not an actress, but a writer who creates roles for actresses. Particularly, Black actresses. I’m not living in LA, but I’m in the vibrant city of Houston and I’m not married to Aaron Carter or Bow Wow (thank God), but I’m working on a maintaining a healthy relationship with myself at the moment.
One of the hats I wear that is central to my identity is a writer. I believe it’s my purpose. Writing for the stage has, if I’m not comparing myself to others, been fruitful. I’ve gotten a regional production, a commission, had several readings, and two developmental residencies. More importantly, I’ve worked with some pretty amazing directors who have brought out the best in my work. I’ve had the dopest actors breathe life into my characters. I’ve written plays that have helped people connect to their true selves and others that need to rest in my file cabinet. While I’ve obtained something that would look like success to some, to me my life looks a lot like the transition from one scene to the next where a group of folks in all black gather the props and prepare for the next scene. Unlike the theatre, my transition is anything but seamless.
I’m a Millennial. A part of the generation of dreamers and doers. The group with the lofty goals because we were told at a young age that we could do anything. One of the things that I struggle with is dissatisfaction with the present. In my prayers, I ask questions like “Why doesn’t my career look like so-in so…?” “How can I do X Y and Z faster?” “Why am I at this day job?” All of these questions stem from my looking to the future instead of being fully present.
I want regional, national and international premieres like Lynn Nottage.
I want to head my own company like Shonda Rhimes.
I want to do “this” and “that” like [insert colleague name].
Now, there’s nothing wrong with these desires, but sometimes I have to wonder am I ready for these opportunities? Or is God using this “transition time” to grow me? Is this draining day job teaching honing my skills for presenting and writing dialogue? Is it helping me see a problem that I need to work to remedy in the world? And what if Shonda Rhimes handed me the keys to her kingdom tomorrow? Or Lin Manuel Miranda took me under his wing to write the book to his next musical? Or Issa Rae said “Here’s a role on Insecure”? Would I be ready? The truth is it’s these transitions in my life that are growing me. Confirming my dreams, but also teaching me humility, compassion and determination.
It seems that when you are in transition, you are the most venerable to feeling downtrodden. But that’s when the most beautiful things are brewing up in your life. For me, it was the play I wrote while teaching at my old high school. A job that was both rewarding and challenging. I wrote the play called Delivery based on the magical and creative beings that my students were. It was in that classroom where I was sometimes cussed out and dealing with behavior that honed my skills in relaying information, being intuitive to emotions, and presenting engaging material that prepared me to give workshops at colleges and speak on panels. It was also there that made me understand that my purpose is beyond me. It’s to foster creativity in my community. Truth is through all of the hardship, I made connections with some pretty talented students who will go on to do great things. I am grateful that God let me be a small part of their journey. It was that experience that made me who I am today.
Transition is a hard time that helps us realize what we are made off. While I’m swimming in rejection letters, or hearing “write this over” from colleagues, it’s these moments that make me in the words of Ciara "Level Up". A skill that serves me well in the classroom, on the page and in life. My transitions may not be nice, neat or timed, but they are exactly what I need to put on the grandest show. The show of my life.