A lot of new things are happening around me y’all. I’m moving to the Bay to start adulting, 2 of my sisters and my brother are off at college in different parts of the country. The baby is starting high school. My father just asked for us to take a family picture because he doesn’t know how long it will be until all of us will be together again. My siblings and I like to joke around, y’know, saying things like “good riddance,” “I ain’t never coming back,” and “welp, bye forever.” And it’s funny or whatever, but it kind of makes me sad, and a bit scared. Everyone’s growing up, and I’ll miss them a lot. 1:03am, living room life, as per usual. This line keeps popping up in my head. The origin escapes me though. I want to use it for something at some point. It hurts pretty bad, but I keep saying it to myself anyway: “I look at photos of you, from time to time.”
This is the last Monday, of this first month that my site has been up y’all. I wanted to use this post just to thank everyone who has been rocking with me thus far. I’ve received so much support from friends, family, and acquaintances, and it’s been a huge inspiration to keep working on becoming a better story-teller. Thank you for the messages and comments. Thank you for sharing stories I’ve written and liking posts about the blog. Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback on the platform and the layout and the content and then design. Thanks for motivating me to be better and giving me reason to write even when life feels like a cinder block hanging from around my neck. Thanks for telling me that things I’ve said have resonated with you in some way. Thanks to the professors that supported me, and thanks to the people in my life that inspire the stories I share.
I’m trying to focus more on writing creative stories and pieces moving forward. I’m thinking maybe I can just spend more time reading different works, and then writing some short prose just to exercise different styles and narratives, hopefully finding my own voice in the process, which could be fun for all of us. For example, I feel like that line above should end up in a piece I write. As a matter of fact, I kind of want to take a line, and just write short prose, make a story, based on the inspiration I get from that line. I actually really like that idea. I’m taking line suggestions if you have any.
But to close out the month, I thought I’d write some words about a comment I received from someone recently when I was sharing my ambitions as a writer with them. It went something like:
Chances are most of that probably won’t happen so keep that in mind, be reasonable in your expectations.
Fair. I heard that and was ready to quit all together though. I mean, that’s not bad advice, right? Actually, I think it’s very important that you be realistic in your expectations and what you can achieve in a finite period of time. Understanding constraints allows you to work productively and creatively within them. Understanding odds gives you to the opportunity to pursue ventures that are more in your favor. I feel that.
But then again, if my humblest of opinions, I’ve been defying bad odds for quite some time now. I think back to a lot of the times I would’ve taken an L had I succumbed to chances. I remember hearing that, because I was suspended on two separate occasions in high school, and failed a class my senior year, that I wouldn’t get into Grinnell, let alone any decent college, so why continue applying? I remember hearing that I’d most likely not land an internship at a big tech company with my background. I remember thinking that after only writing for a year, there’d be no way I’d actually end up winning an award for anything I wrote. I remember academic advising suggesting that I take the summer/another semester to finish my coursework because I was so far behind and may not graduate college on time. I remember having store clerks patting me down in stores, and officers swearing at me in daylight, and men that look like me being shot for reaching for ID’s and trying to support their families. I’m a middle class black dude, with 4 other siblings, with parents not from here. For pretty much any notable achievement, chances were never really in my favor.
So then what does that mean to me when I hear about bad chances? I’d be lying to you if I said that I believe we can change any and everything. Life happens and it’s not fair, and sometimes it’s out of our control. But, going full circle on y’all, perspective really matters when determining how you let chances dictate your trajectory.
It’s easy to just go ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and tell yourself that you’re stuck and can’t shift odds. I did it all the time. Still do sometimes, shamefully. When we believe that the chances are that something won’t work, why not abandon the endeavor? Why not pursue something that has a better shot of working out for you? And how does one really argue with that logic? I still don’t really know, the only difference is that I met, who I’m going to call now, “Anywayers.”
I’m going to apply, anyway.
I’m going to work on it, anyway.
I’m going to go for it, anyway.
I’m going to ask shorty out, anyway.
I met people that somehow don’t care much about chances and bad odds. And I’m talking worse odds than me, the kind of odds that when they tell you they’re going to go for it, you stare at them blankly and can’t say anything else but…
So what’s the difference between “Anywayers” and “Oh wellers” facing the same odds? One believes they have no control, the other believes that they have some power in determining where those constraints fall. I don’t think you can get rid of all of them, but I think we have influence in determining how much they affect us. I mean on a very basic level, there is a huge change in odds simply between doing nothing and doing something.
What’s interesting though, even Anywayers will tell you how bad your chances of success in an endeavor are, and they mean well, seriously. But I also have come to realize that while people spend a lot of time telling you all the ways in which your ambition may not succeed, entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs, people are people, because they spend the rest of their time telling themselves the exact opposite about their own venture. It’s easy to comment on someone else’s driving in the passenger's seat, but when you’re whippin the wheel down I-94, bumping Nothing Was The Same at 10:30pm, the last thing you want to be telling yourself if you want to keep driving is that car accidents are the leading cause of death in your area. Understand limits, chances, odds, and push them until whatever it is you want becomes your optimal bundle, or whatever that phrase is from my microeconomics class.
Yes, I’m doing all of this writing. I’m publicly documenting my life for the world to judge, and I’m inviting your gaze and your critique. I have so many goals and hopes for where this will go, and chances are, it might not go nearly as far as I’d like it to. Chances are that it won’t be as successful, or grow as fast, or be as dope. There are a million blogs (some created by the amazing people I was referring to earlier). And there are millions more being created as I write this sentence, maybe with similar content, written by better writers, with more knowledge and resources.
But a wise man once said “If I left this shit to chance, I woulda picked a name like Chance the Rapper.”
There are a bunch of reasons why something won’t work. And it’s good to know, not for the sake of quitting necessarily, but simply to understand what you’re working with, so that you can create game plans and next plays in the event that something doesn’t turn out the way you’d like. Because, in so many things we do, you can work your hardest, try your best, and still, chances are that it won’t work out. But as long you keep going...
It just might.