*sips herbal tea* (but only because I have no liquor and it's too cold to leave my house)
So I chose to wait until tonight to write this blog because some things are just... scary. As much as I love to write, and as easy as it comes for me, some shit is just... difficult to say. I imagine that, after I get it all out, I'll feel some sense of cathartic relief. Either that or immense embarrassment. Maybe a combination of both. Either way, I'm saying it... because my podcast is big of a 'what' to omit the 'why.'
So many of you reading this have known my journey since the very beginning, but a quick recap for those of you who don't quite know me yet-- I left a nine-year, relatively successful teaching career to chase a dream. That's really all the backstory you need.
This is really where the 'why' starts.
A few months before I left teaching, I started doing EXTENSIVE research on entrepreneurship. I began my research with-- you guessed it-- Instagram.
It's okay if you're rolling your eyes. In retrospect, I'm rolling mine, too-- hard.
I began to browse social media and I identified Black women after whom I could pattern myself. I studied their habits. I took their master classes and published their digital content. I drank their podcasts, listening to them for hours on end. I read all the books they suggested. Think & Grow Rich. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do. The Power of Habit. The 4 Hour Workweek. I bought expensive planners and colorful pens. I made vision boards. I learned the Law of Attraction. I watched these women win and I convinced myself that I was just as smart, just as talented, and just as capable as they were of winning.
When the opportunity presented itself for me to leave my job, I took it. In a very and unexpected strange way, through a series of really difficult events, I was allowed the opportunity to become an entrepreneur, and when I saw the opening, I took it. I'm the only child of very supportive parents. I thought I was armed with a dope, airtight support system. I was actively involved in my church of 30 years. I had some money in savings. I thought I was ready. So, armed with my Instagram mentors and everything I learned in the books and blogs I read and the podcasts I listened to, I started my writing business. I called it Alisa Writes. I was a writer for hire. I hung my "open for business" sign and I waited for the followers, the friend requests, and the funds to start rolling in. I just knew I'd be successful in no time.
In reality, I would go on to experience four of the shittiest years of my life.
I looked up one day with not one single penny to my name, no church home, very few friends, no work, stacks of unopened bills (why open them? I knew I couldn't pay them), and no hope that things would get any better for me. That was the day I realized I needed to get help, so I started researching therapists in my area.
I first walked into my therapist's office on February 3, 2016, and the very first words I said to her were, "I don't think I can survive too much more of this." It took only three sessions for my therapist to diagnose me with severe depression and a generalized anxiety disorder. Here I was, three years into a master's of mental health counseling degree, and I had never once considered how dark and how deep depression could really go until I lived in that place myself. Week after week, I'd go, and I'd sit on my therapist's couch, and I'd cry. I'd talk about how much of a failure I was. "I don't understand it," I'd say. "I'm saying my affirmations. I'm reading positive books. I'm praying. Why won't this feeling of failure go away?" I asked her one day.
My therapist looked at me. What she said next changed the trajectory of my life. "Why are you failing?" she asked.
Over the next several months, my therapist helped me discover that the reason why I felt like I was failing as an adult was because I wasn't adulting in ways that worked for me. I was adulting and businessesing and grown woman-ing in ways that worked for other people, but I completely lacked the self-awareness necessary to figure out what I needed to do in order to succeed in my own life.
Basically, I didn't know anything about myself.
This is when shit got real.
My mission in life became learning who I was. I had to muddle through all the lies I told myself, all the excuses I made, and all the flaws I tried to hide from people. I had to learn to love myself, because I'd convinced myself that I wasn't good enough. This is so trite, but I was comparing my flawed behind-the-scenes footage to the filtered, edited highlight reels of others... and beating myself up for not being them. You would think, considering how low my self-esteem and self-concept already was, that being real about my flaws would devastate me. You'd think it'd be the nail in the coffin. I was already holding on by a string here... What good would it do to see all my ugly shit live and in living color?
It changed my life.
What I discovered was a whole, complete person... with flaws and with faults, but with a fierceness that I didn't know was there.
As I was doing the work to discover myself, I also discovered my purpose.
#AlisaExplainsItAll is my life out loud.
It's me talking about my shit... and about how understanding my shit taught me to use it to my advantage.
It's me talking about my struggles as a single parent of a teenager. It's talking about how I am not a morning person, about how I don't manage money well. It's me talking about how unorganized and absent-minded I am. How I flake on my friends. How I found hope in therapy and how underrated mental health and happiness are. It's me sharing what I learned about myself during the lowest times of my life... and how I turned these flaws into the foundation of something really, really special.
Of all the books I read, and podcasts I listened to, and webinars I watched, and networking events and seminars I attended, I didn't experience any measure of success in my personal or professional life until I learned myself... and learned to love myself.
Along the way, through lots of trial and error, I learned how to build a brand and how to run a business.
My hope is that through honest, very candid discussion about myself, I can help someone who may be feeling like they're not doing anything right. I want to help someone who feels like they are failing. I want someone to use my struggles and my stories as their strength. Because if I, with my jacked-up ass, can get it together, my hope is that I can inspire others to stop trying to be perfect and just live with purpose.
This podcast is where I will share my truth. The long and short of it. Even the ugly parts.
Maybe I'll even inspire you to share yours.
Sometimes I write things that are too short to publish. I needed someplace to put them. Here seems like just as good a place as any...