Everyone got to where they are in life right now from humble beginnings. If people started asking others their story, this would dispel any assumptive impressions. I start to give people the side eye when they approach me and say “You always had it good didn’t you? I bet you never had to do a lot to be where you are.” Let me share a little story with you that began my adult life.
When I graduated from college, the real journey began. My first job landed me in Atlanta in social work. My supervisor had no sympathy. She was very thorough as a micro-manager with a very small staff. I remember coming to work from Conyers on the weekend to try to catch up, but the work kept piling up. My parents would always ask how my day is, not knowing how many times I cried after work because my supervisor’s micromanagement of my workload overwhelmed. It had me in a panic every day and I was still dealing with my first boyfriend haggling me for leaving Kentucky. I was transferred to another supervisor, who was no better than my first. It felt like I was not catching on fast enough, but maybe this was not supposed to be my life’s work. I never studied social work in school, so I felt like a foreigner on a strange island. Right before my probation period ended, I was given the boot even though my I was improving. I can remember what was said when I asked why are you dismissing me if I am improving. I believed I had potential and felt I wasn’t given the chance to show it. His response was “It’s the Catch 22. You’re darned if you do and you’re darned if you don’t”.
After working for a nonprofit organization for a year in Atlanta, I took an internship in Washington, DC . I can remember a manager asking me “Would you come and live here?” I thought about it and replied, “If I have a job to afford living here, I would stay.” I was 23 or 24 when I said that. Looking at how I got here was amazing because I did not realize I spoke that into existence. During my summer internship in DC, I fell in love with the city. I was healing from my first relationship. He was not a bad guy. He was a God fearing man who had not healed from his childhood and deflected his issues on me. This affected me for years and probably still does in unknown areas. This internship was more of a getaway for me. Coming to this city, I met many affluent, educated and diverse people. It was very similar to Atlanta but a different culture.
I was excited to return to Atlanta after being accepted to graduate school. My future roommate had our place set or so I thought. I called her a few weeks before returning and found out nothing was secured. She probably thought I would have no issues finding a place since I have family in Atlanta. False. I panicked. I had no place to stay, no money, accept for my “Red Bone” Buick and the clothes that fit in my car. I reached out to a sorority sister and asked if I could stay with her until I sorted things out. She let me stay with her for two weeks. Perhaps I could have reached out to family members to temporarily stay with them. However, I have already done that before and do not like to be a burden on others. Would they have minded? Who knows. The bottom line is I wanted to prove that I could make it even though I was spiraling down the rabbit hole. Honestly, I was fearful of asking because of a bad impression I made to a relative all because I was being too kind. I’m never one to do anything out of order on purpose, but I learned very quickly to ask about conditions if ever staying with anyone out of respect and so they do not get the wrong impression of me. Once again, you have to ask someone about their story before creating your own story about them.
While staying with her, I applied to countless jobs and searched for an apartment I could afford, which was difficult. I finally found an apartment for one dollar the first month. I’m serious…it was $1 for the first month in Austell, GA. I wasn’t familiar with the area, but I lived close to a cousin which gave me security. The next step was to find a job to help pay my $699/month rent. I wasn’t sure if my roommate could move in with me, so I went ahead and put everything in my name. By the time I moved, I got an assistantship that paid for my tuition. Thank God my school would be paid, but the monthly stipend was not enough to live off for a month. I didn’t know where to get more money.
Moving into my first apartment was supposed to be an accomplishment. I felt defeated. I only had a couch, kitchen utensils, and a dining room table. I had no bedroom furniture and made a palette on my floor. I can remember falling on my knees in my empty bedroom crying. I had less than a month to find a full-time job. I didn’t know what else to do but pray. So I started graduate school with a FAFSA loan. Two weeks before the month was over, my summer internship called me offering a position that was flexible with my classes. This helped me afford my rent and living expenses. My roommate was able to move in and I was so grateful. Even without a bed to sleep on, I was grateful for financial provision that came right on time.
I didn’t tell my parents because I didn’t want them to worry. The first thing they would tell me is to come home. I was not happy at home and didn’t want to stay there. Since I was 13, I wanted to leave home. People always placed me in a category as the Murray daughter, the good girl who did everything ‘right’. Well folks, the right thing did not happen and I had to undergo many life experiences starting after college. Indeed, having my own place was an accomplishment, but it was from a result of unreliability and surviving in fear. How many times have we had to resurface and survive from the fear of being without? This happened many times. My hustling personae was birthed out of fear. This is where my humbling life journey began. In the words of author, motivational speaker, relationship coach, entrepreneur Winter Harris from her book Bold, Brave Beautiful Love: Escaping the Cycle of Loving in Fear, “Change is always contingent on our willingness to act even if the actions consist of baby steps we take one day at a time.” This chapter of my life would become the first of many baby step chapters to come.