Another rotation around the sun nearly complete. I’ve lived long enough to exist in Trump’s America.
Nearly all of us in life, will experience some personal and professional setbacks that screws up our plans. I’ve lost more than one job, not from being fired but because the company as a whole went bankrupt. I’ve had my fair share of family drama that crushed my spirit to the point of making me stop living my own life, so to speak. In that way, I’m not unique in the slightest.
What makes me unique, at least in terms of identity politics, are my racial and religious identities. In the Q&A I recently participated in, I was asked the question, ‘Do I feel being a Muslim has impacted my career?’ I’m paraphrasing, but my answer was ‘Probably.’
In my 20s, I worked at the Playboy Mansion, and had my own office on the Sony lot. In the next phase, I’ve gotten to work with Issa Rae and Michael B. Jordan in their ascension, before they showed up on magazine covers. So let’s be absolutely clear on this: I will never look at my life and say ‘Woe is me.’
But the answer is still ‘Probably’. I can look back at both my personal life and my professional life, and see I’ve had more than a few opportunities to get to ‘the end.’ But the tradeoff if I would have made different choices had the feeling of crossing a point of no return in my relationships to my black friends. Or to my Muslim friends. Or both.
So I’ve sucked it up, and chosen to take the long way to achieve my goals.
I’ve leveled up in the last 365 days. It didn’t literally take 20 years but it certainly feels that way. I’ve noticed my mood swings one of three ways. Most days I’m good; my ambition is more than enough to keep me focused on the next hurdle I aim to climb and what I need to do next. On the good days, I can take pride in how far I’ve been able to go without destroying what I believe in. On the bad days, I feel anger and resentment that I have to constantly hold myself and my decision making abilities to this Obama-esque level of near perfection. My bad decisions aren’t as easily forgotten, my flaws aren’t shrugged off by either majority community that I respect but I’m not going out of my way to placate either. The Game is the Game, but at this point I can see I will have a chip on my shoulder the rest of my days. It is what it is.
At the end of the day though, I’ve fought and hustled and worked myself into a position where I get to live my life on my terms. Not for one second do I take that for granted. Not for one second do I not recognize how rare that feeling is for anyone, let alone someone of my background.
I’m grateful and at peace with how much my life is the anomaly. My fire still burns strong and I look forward to seeing what else I can achieve with the rest of my days.