Guest Writers Week | A New Kind of Journey

jame quote

By Jamé Jackson

I remember waking up the day after graduation feeling nauseous, a type of nausea that usually accompanies me on job interviews, exam days, or even the first time my boyfriend took me out on a date. It was a feeling I wasn’t really excited for, but I thought to myself, “Self, you just graduated college. You’re probably still worked up over that intense feeling. Don’t fret though, here’s to the rest of your life!”

Instead of being like many of my friends who found themselves popping bottles and partying into the wee hours of the morning to celebrate the biggest day thus far of our young lives, I found myself pacing the floors of my house wondering what was my next step. Contrary to the vision I had had for myself even four years prior, I wasn’t graduating with honors, with a deluxe new apartment in the sky, or even with a job based on salary and benefits. I remembered sitting in my room, tears flowing from my face as I sat and realized that I, truly, didn’t have the answers to the questions of my life.

“Well Jamé, what do you want to do, you know, as a career?” The unbearable question I felt tugged at my heartstrings. I felt I died a little inside every time the question was asked. It felt like I couldn’t just breathe for a second as a student. It felt like being a musician, being a writer, being a worker in a restaurant chain weren’t worthy of any proper acknowledgement. The worst thing, however, is that I didn’t have an answer to that question. I still don’t. And that haunts me everyday.

In my only 22 years of young living on this Earth, I’ve had to learn and prioritize what is important to me and what I could only hope to procure out of life. Through trial and error, I have learned that my own personal truth is the only thing in which I have to answer to. I had to learn, as I continue to everyday, that my own personal journey is unique in that it is MY OWN. Despite the love and affection I may receive from others who try to push me into their light, I can only create my own for myself. The thing I have learned is that I can only be the best me possible, regardless of who she looks like to anyone else.

Life is a strange thing. We’re taught from a young age what milestones we have to hit by a certain age. We’re taught to have our lives together by the beginning of college, intern, work and produce amazing grades during college, and then enter into the workforce right after college knowing exactly what we will do the rest of our lives. For an out-of-the-box thinker such as myself, I learned I was doing myself more harm than good trying to keep up with the Jones’.

I couldn’t, and still cannot, conceptualize me doing one thing for the rest of my life. I have always loved being multifaceted, but where are the people encouraging young people to pursue ALL of their dreams? Who is to say I have to only have a 9-5 job? I can’t also have a 5-9, or a weekend-only, or a contractual type of job? Why is society so warped around this perception of happiness that we don’t discuss the real issues of life? While I can’t count how many times I’ve been bombarded with the “So, what are you doing now that you’re out of school?” questions, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been asked am I happy, am I learning a new craft, or am I exploring aspects of me that I never could in school. Where I used to give others power over my life and actions, I’ve learned to take it back and happily bask in my personal journey. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

While my situation may not be the most ideal, I have learned that things will come in due time if I just patiently wait and open myself to the experience. I won’t lie, I do still have doubts at times and find myself being a hardass for not being where I want to be. However, I’ve learned that I am content in where I am and I am doing just fine. I’ve learned that the process of the journey is to teach you something, and that you should never be apologetic of who you are simply because you’re not living up to other’s expectations of you. At the end of the day, when the lights are out, and the city is silent, and all are in their beds, the only thing you will have are your thoughts that will loudly remind you if you are happy or not. Honestly, as long as my bills are paid, I am learning to care less about what others push on me, and more on what energies I pull to myself. It’s a journey. Enjoy it.

Jamé Jackson is a recent graduate of Howard University, where she graduated Cum Laude with a double major in English and Classics. A writer and classical pianist, Jamé loves traveling the D.C. area, performing in music halls and poetry ciphers. She has performed at Studio Theatre, Signature Theatre, the Kennedy Center as well as Broadway. In the near future, she plans to travel overseas to continue humanitarian work in Haiti.

What I Know About Life Three Years After Graduation

This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.

 

Graduation day with a side of niece.
Graduation day with a side of niece.

Find some sort of mechanism to channel all of your angst and resentment and nastiness in a healthy way. Because you will have a lot of angst and resentment and nastiness inside of you. Some people call that being negative; I call it being human. But, some people let the ugly bits of themselves spill out in ugly ways and that is what makes for an ugly life. So, you have to find something that anchors you more steadily than the promise of happy hour.  You will need something that you can indulge in when the music stops, the lights go on and all you are left with is your mess of a self. You’ll need something you can enjoy independent of any other person, something you can rely on no matter who is or is not in the room.

Date. Or don’t date. Just do more than suck up the air dying to be loved. The time in between now and when you settle down is not a freeze frame.

Pay the least attention to what he texts, less to what he says and most to what he does.

 

2013 Commencement Speech Twenties Unscripted Style

Graduation Day, 2011
Graduation Day, 2011

This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.

This life owes you nothing. You are here; that is enough. So, cut the bullshit. No one has to take care of you or baby you or wipe your ass anymore. No one has to keep a roof over your head, pay your light bill or fix your meals. This fact should not harden you, although at times it will. It should instead make you grateful when people do those things for you. It should make you proactively carve your uncharted path in this world when people do not do those things for you.

Do not live by default. Do not let life bulldoze over you. You’ll start seeing people like that, people who just exist. They’ll look like walking apparitions–at work, behind counters, in bars–and it will scare you shitless. They will emanate lifelessness and you will feel it. You’ll wonder how they got that way and you’ll be thankful that you are still young, fearless and acute enough to live with purpose and on purpose.