This is not your season to be strong

A few years ago, I reached a turning point in my life.

I decided to leave magazine publishing — the very industry that plucked me from my hometown Dallas roots and re-sowed me in New York City’s concrete jungle in the first place.

At the time, I'll admit: it was a strange decision, both to me and colleagues. Because I was seemingly at the top of my game.

I worked at the most influential media company in the world. I wrote a cool weekly style-advice column. And I had endorsements from fashion’s power players (including Eva Chen, Instagram’s head of fashion partnerships and my former boss, who told a luxury fashion executive I was “the hardest-working person” she’d ever met).

All that wasn’t enough to reignite my waning passion for showing people how to shop for and dress themselves.

Blame it on the countless rounds of public layoffs my editor-friends and I kept going through (and the gross tabloid fodder that followed each time).

Or maybe it was my exhaustion with often being the only person that looked like me with a seat at the table.

Or maybe my ambition was ready to climb a new mountain, after reaching the summit of the one most people back home thought I was insane to ever scale to begin with.

Whatever it was, it really didn’t matter. I just wanted a fresh start.

So I enrolled in some self-improvement workshops, got a coach and gave myself the space to figure my shit out.

When I came out of the other side, most of my thoughts, feelings and beliefs about the world shifted — for the better, I promise! — but my knack for writing, helping people see and share the best of themselves remained intact.

And as I thought about who could benefit the most from this version of myself, I quickly realized it was creators, thinkers and leaders who are fed up with fear — of failure, judgment or the unknown — holding them back.

If you’re familiar with my work, I call this group of people “recovering perfectionists.” I’m a recovering perfectionist. And spoiler alert: You’re probably one too. :)

I’ve spent the better part of two years working with recovering perfectionists, reconciling my own perfectionism and studying the role our culture and upbringings plays in our pursuit of infallibility.

All with one goal in mind: To help as many RPs as possible earn an independent income and experience personal freedom with an online business.

Because as someone who assumed the burden that came with having a larger-than-life personality, while growing up gay as hell and black AF, and loving a God I wasn’t always sure loved me back, I’m familiar with the temptation to work overtime to keep it all together.

But it’s hard. And requires a lot of what we’ve misidentified as strength.

After all, the reason perfectionism is so exhausting is because we weren’t created to be perfect.

We were created to try stuff, double-down on what works, learn from what doesn’t and use those insights to leave the world better than we entered it.

And while I’m not qualified or interested enough to dive into where we went wrong as a culture, I will step out on a limb and serve you notice:

This is not your season to be strong.

You’ve been in warrior mode for as long as you can remember. And you actually need a break. You actually want to ask for help. You actually wish there was a moment where the you that you wake up with — not the dimmed version the world often sees — could come out and play.

All of that is possible, but only if you realize something.

This is not your season to be strong.

It’s your season to let go. Of the pain, the regret, the disappointment. The breakthrough you’ve been hoping for is at the next step you’ve been unwilling to take.

It’s your season to forgive. Both the people who hurt you and yourself for pressing pause on your life for an apology you may never get.

It’s your season to trust. Not me, your parents, significant other, or the rando who liked your latest Instagram post. But to trust the you who knows you better than anyone else on the planet.

It’s your season to start where you are with what you have. And to know that you’ll pick up whatever else you need along the way.

This is not your season to be strong.

Because “strength” tells you it’s just “one of those days” — even though those “days” have since turned into months, even years.

“Strength” tells you you’re in this thing by yourself. Even though what you don’t realize is most of us are barely hanging on by the hair on our chinny-chin-chin just like you.

“Strength” tells you that because it’s always been like this, it will always be like this.

But here’s the thing: I believe in you and your big idea too much. Because someone’s waiting on you to stop being strong and start sharing your skills, your stories, your passions.

This is not your season to be strong.

This is your season to let go, forgive and trust.

Editor's note: This essay was originally published in my newsletter on May 22. I decided to share it here in case the message resonates with where you are in your personal and work life.