Ironically, I gave 2020 the word “Discipline” as the word of the year. Of course, at the time I meant discipline in my plan, my studies, my bar prep, my financial goals, etc., but as God would have it, 2020 has been a year of discipline in my faith.

What is faith? Webster’s dictionary defines it as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” For me faith means release. Release of control, release of internal pressures, release of the myth of certainty. For some, faith comes easy, for me it was and has been an uphill battle. My addiction to independence and self-reliance makes it near impossible to trust anyone or anything with my future. My “control” I work so hard to maintain is and has always been an illusion. So when you are stripped of everything you planned and the myth of certainty you held onto is shattered, what do you do?

First, you redefine. And I mean everything. One of the first realizations I came to this year is that I needed to sever my relationship with the tangible things I look to for internal validation. Whether that was grades, status, a job, money, accolades, etc. I needed to stop associating “success” with external praise and achievements. None of it matters and it damn sure isn’t success. The question I needed to ask myself was who am I without any of that? Can I find internal validation separate from my external achievements? Once you sever this tie, once you reprogram your way of thinking, you can focus on what really makes you, you. That is your character, your values, and your passions. I learned to stop undervaluing what I do have and overvaluing what I don’t have.

Little did I know, I would need to tap into finding internal validation quickly, as I was about to experience my biggest failure (or so I thought at the time). Graduating without a job. Without a plan. A fear I had been thinking about since the second week of law school. A fear I actively sought to overcome. A fear that I mourned in therapy sessions months before it even happened. I dreaded conversations with professors about my “next step,” grew envious of my peers, and completely let this failure rule my mood, my actions, and unfortunately what I thought of myself. You see I had no faith, I couldn’t release this vision I created of who I was intended to be and especially HOW this was supposed to happen.

A month into this “failure” and I had two options:

  1. Become paralyzed with the fear of the unknown.
  2. Keep fucking going.

I chose option two but I had no idea what that meant or what that looked like because I still hadn’t released. In retrospect, picking option two was the release. I was beginning to operate from a place of faith. I began to attend a wave of Zoom session panel events of attorneys who graduated during the recession. They all had one common piece of advice, be “open.”

So again, I redefined. I tapped into my purpose, what was it really that I wanted to do? Surely, I didn’t work this hard to just be an attorney?  I knew what I wanted to do on a broad level, helping the Black community…so I let go of the “dream job.” Instead, I focused on my “dream impact.” Could this job I’m applying to get me there? Would it give me the experience I need to make the difference I want to make?

You have to understand, as a textbook Type-A personality (that has significantly worsened in the past three years), this all felt very foreign and very uncomfortable. As proud as I am that I didn’t let my fear paralyze me during this time, I was simultaneously grieving the woman I thought I would be. Shedding the old me to make way for raw and unfamiliar skin. So unfamiliar, I almost didn’t write this.

I needed to release everything I envisioned 2020 would look like to make room for this new me. I had to be disciplined in my faith, in my release. Disciplined enough to trust that all that I had worked for was not in vain, that the fruits of my labor would come to light, and that this new, improved, and more resilient woman is exactly who I was intended to be and that my loss and circumstances these past four months was exactly HOW it was supposed to happen.

2020 isn’t over but certainty is no longer a myth to me, now that I know that my faith is and will always be certain.

+ vibes always,

Val

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