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How I Learned To Be At Peace With Not Having It All Together

Inspiration

We're all pretenders, you know. As I walk around with a smile on my face and a timeline of poppin' Instagram photos, I often secretly carry a burden of feeling left behind on the success train. Can you relate?

Although you still have large goals and visions, the daily struggle to stay positive when your situation isn't changing is quite draining. One day you're killing it, but the next day you're sitting in a dark room, wondering what went wrong with your life. It's a constant rollercoaster ride of doubt, anxiousness, and fear and you're ready to hop off immediately.

This has been my biggest struggle after college. I have constantly battled with the crazy emotions of not feeling good enough to experience the life I desperately want.

When I look at my favorite role models, they make it look so easy. “Just grind and be patient," I read in interviews or hear during their acceptance speeches. And as motivating as it is to see them and my peers thriving around me, I feel stuck and overwhelmed.

I want you to know that you are not alone. So many people struggle with the fear of wasting their life away without accomplishing their dreams.

But there's light at the end of this tunnel. Yes, you may have not totally “arrived" yet, but there are so many life-changing lessons you can experience along the journey. Since we all want to win at this adulting life game, here are nine incredible ways to feel happy and successful without having it all together.

Enjoy the journey

First things first, you are never going to make it to your destination.

If you study the greats in any field most will say that “making it" is a huge myth. True success comes to those who consistently strive to improve themselves.

Think about your favorite one hit wonders. They changed the world with their song but when the fame hit, they lost focus and threw away the opportunity to really be something big.

Success is not measured by the wins but by the ability to sustain them once you get there. You may hit some major goals down the road but you will always run into a bigger vision that requires you to push even further.

Get Clear About Your Intentions

I've found that when I feel off track it's because I am not clear on the goals I'm trying to achieve. I was not only lost in the sauce with finding purpose but also lost in understanding who I was after college. A powerful exercise I started doing was writing three pages of my thoughts every morning. No matter if it sucked, I pushed past my rebellion to always get the three pages done.

What I found woven between those lines was my true and authentic self. I discovered my passions and what gives me fear. Understanding who I was and letting go of the need to force an answer drastically changed my struggle. Relax, get some thoughts on paper, and uncover what really makes your heart flutter.

Take Needed Breaks From Your Family and Friends

We value our family and friends' opinions more than anyone else. It's why we text them pictures of potential baes or beg them to start a new workout plan. These relationships are very important but they also have the biggest potential to discourage us when we are fighting for our dreams. It's not that they are trying to be hurtful, but many times they can only see the vision from their own eyes.

I had to realize that what God told me is not meant for everyone to understand. When I am struggling with self-confidence or confusion, I often try to make my life as quiet as possible so that I can hear the next direction. Silent the noise. They will be okay, I promise.

Passionately Work On a Side Project

Studies show that most millionaires are ballin' because they have multiple sources of income. When we get caught up in the security of our post-grad jobs, we often abandon what we love for a steady check. But the more we deny our real selves, the more lost and insecure we feel.

You were made to create. Find ways to exercise that characteristic by indulging in a side hustle. From starting a blog, doing makeovers for cancer patients, or even joining a book club, making time for your thing will burst open the doors to finding your purpose. Personality tests like Meyers-Briggs have helped with identifying what I love to do.

Take Notes From The Successful

Energy is transferable so take advantage of it by following people that truly inspire you. No this doesn't mean replicate someone's idea but it does mean to study their habits. I often watch interviews or read how someone got started before they became successful. Incorporating techniques that worked for them into your empire-building will help to create a road map that won't have you feeling lost.

In addition, go to conferences where boss women attend. Just being in the room will change your perspective and inspire you to keep going.

Get Schooled By Someone Older

We like to run to our peers or Youtube gurus for advice but some of the most valuable wisdom comes from the elderly adults in our lives. Try sitting down with a grandparent or visit a senior citizen home and listen to their advice. This is powerful because it often reveals many risks they didn't take that they wish they would have.

Let Go of “The Best Four Years of Your Life"

The message that college is going to be the best four years of your life is such a trap to stay stuck in the past. In order to be content with the journey, you have to let go of the highlight reels of undergrad life. During this season, you are going through major inner transformation from who you used to be and you won't fully embrace that if you continue to hold on to old memories.

Identify Your Bad Habits

Here's a hard truth - you still have habits that suck. It's not that no one will give you an opportunity, it's that you haven't learned to handle the current blessings you have. Take some paper and write down every bad habit you still entertain. Big ones for me were work tardiness, not keeping my word and procrastination. Draw a line down the middle and write the habit that's opposite. So, for example, a good habit to replace tardiness is picking a new time to leave my house every morning. Practicing new habits will be a challenge but they will help you step your game up and feel more confident.

Document Your Wins

Whether it's a picture, nice email from your boss, or a text saying that you inspired someone, keep your wins close to you. You can create an album in your phone or folder on the computer to save them. Having easy access to these will give you a get your life boost when you start to sink into the struggle woes.

I don't know about you but I want to know what freedom looks like. This requires me to release the need for pretending that everything is okay.

Learn that being uncomfortable is a powerful place to be in.

No, you won't let your family down and no it all won't make sense. But one of our greatest setbacks is using our struggles as an excuse to stay the same.

Your journey is begging to stretch you, challenge you and shine light to the areas that you need to develop.

So stay the course. The world is waiting for you.

Alaina Curry is a Las Vegas publicist, freelance writer and owner of her website The Glow Up, a post-grad survival blog for the lit and educated. Embracing the raggedy moments of adulthood, she is always looking to push the narrative of loving your truth and chasing your dreams. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter at @hotlaina_.

Featured image by Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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