I am 28 years old, and for the 2nd time in my life, I am uncomfortably unsure about my future.
Granted, the first time felt a lot ‘cooler’ and ‘riskier’ which perhaps could be due to the fact that I was 22 years old and had no damn sense. This time is different, momentous in its own right. I have more sense — and I have more bills.
Depending on which environment you find yourself associating me with the most, chances are you knew that I have held the position as a content editor and contributor NaturallyCurly, an online publication that caters to people with naturally textured hair, for some years now. You also probably know that I have been fighting a chronic, debilitating vascular disease called Takayasu’s Arteritis since age 20. As it pertains to the nature of my illness, I am given various pockets of time that have allowed me to live a “normal” life relatively unaffected by the day to day pains of a chronic condition.
Recently, however, I had a two-week tenure at a hospital here in New York City where it was revealed to me that my days of remission have indefinitely been put on hold. Due to inflammation and a host of other symptoms, I am now back in total fight mode to save my life and reclaim hope for my future.
I spent two major holidays, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, in a hospital bed isolated from everyone and everything I knew.
As you could imagine, it did a number on my mental state. With my body being introduced (and re-introduced) to a whole bunch of pills and IV-administered medications, I constantly battled with keeping myself sane and down to earth. I was angry, and I was sad. I felt plenty of rage and discomfort. My mind kept giving me major FOMO, telling me how badly I needed to be out there with everyone else to celebrate and enjoy my youth in the big city — blah blah blah — while my body was like, Devri, you better sit your ass down!
Doubts regarding my professional and personal life started rising and making themselves known; they kept banging louder and louder at my door until I could no longer turn them away.
What am I doing?
Who am I working for, them or me?
Am I satisfied? Is my job killing me?
These questions, along with others, sat heavily on my chest and tucked themselves underneath my hospital gown, begging to be released and answered.
I finally got to go home on January 4, and I spent my entire recovery time contemplating the areas of my life that I felt were lacking a sense of totality, wholeness. I had been feeling what I knew to be true for who knows how long, but it had to take something like this to finally allow myself to let go and set my spirit free.
In the crevices of all the beautiful things I was taking for granted, I continued to wrongly point my finger while completely ignoring the very signs that were right in front of my face, on display — on my computer screen, in meetings, at conferences — that told of the reasons behind my discontent. The work and ideas I produced looked foreign every time they spat from my brain onto my keyboard. I couldn’t relate to the process anymore; the results were mediocre at best. I found myself detaching in an effort to preserve my wilting energy from just dying altogether.
My words became redundant and hollow. as a writer who prides herself in her meticulous and intentional choice of words and creations, that started to scare me.
At some point I felt like, enough was enough. I know my worth and my value, on earth and elsewhere, and my seeds are best sprinkled over different gardens and fields and not contained to one small area where weeds have grown.
In a recent trip back home to visit my family, my sister said, “If you’re working to live, then you’re living to die.” Although it was meant to be some sort of dry humorous joke, the phrase hung around days after she left them with me. My sentiments, exactly, I thought.
I have been wrestling with the concept of lifetime fulfillment since I left the hospital that day, and my desire to obtain it once again has grown unavoidably vast. In life and in love, I understand what I myself am worth in the eyes of my community: my loved ones, and the people who continue to support my work. I know where my god-given gifts are best used in this world, and they are no longer at that company. In the long days and nights spent reflecting in my hospital bed, I decided that it may be with the best interest of my health, first and foremost, both physically and mentally, to relinquish that coveted editor position which I had so sufficiently glamorized for years.
And recently, with the help of some major life changes and realizations, I finally gained the confidence to pull the trigger and let fate speak for itself. I may not have the same sense of uncertainty or security that a full-time position has given me, but don’t I deserve to feel complete satisfaction and fulfillment? Yes, I do. Yes, we all do.
photos by Monique Rodriguez