Memorial weekend in 2015, my friend and I decided to take a sweet escape and spend the weekend on South Beach. We were both two hard working, single mothers, and decided to have a little fun. When we checked in, the front desk receptionist said she upgraded our room to the Pent House suite. As we grabbed our luggage and headed to the elevator, we looked at each other jumbled. We are in South Beach on Memorial Weekend, the rates are irrational, and we just got upgraded to a Pent House! We pushed PH on the elevator and arrived at a rooftop floor all to ourselves. That weekend we did not want to leave the room. We started reflecting on our life and realized that we truly deserved this weekend; we deserved many weekends like this. It was that day that I decided that it was time to leave Orlando.
Many things were going on in my life at that time. If I had not called off my wedding, I would have gotten married that month. I was also trying to go to the military in order to afford graduate school and provide a living for my daughter. However, I was told that I had to give up custody of Aniyah because I was a single mother with an absentee parent. It was liberating to just up and leave everything behind for one weekend. When I returned, I started applying for jobs in South Florida and Atlanta. I knew that South Florida would have been an easier transition because most of my family resides there. If I chose Atlanta, I would have moved my daughter and I with no family or friends.
In June, I received an amazing job offer in Atlanta and decided to take it. However, my start date wasn’t until October and I was ready to leave Orlando as soon as possible. I decided to look for another job in the interim, and drove to Atlanta for one day to look for apartments and interview. I returned back to Orlando and less than two weeks later, I was laid off from my job. I was a marketing manager for a physical medicine office and really depended on that job so I could move. The day I left the office, I went through a cycle of emotions. I was a single mom who doesn’t receive support for my daughter and the bills couldn’t pay itself. In fact, I had just purchased a new vehicle that month. I got angry, cried, and laughed all in the same day. Less than 24 hours passed and I received an offer letter from one of the jobs that I interviewed for in Atlanta. They knew I was transitioning to move and left my start date up to me. I had just gotten laid off and knew that I needed to start immediately. I told them that I could start the following week. I began packing the very next day and had three days to find an apartment and move. Aniyah was in South Florida for the summer with my grandmother so I had some time to adjust and get settled. My best friend and mother planned a going away dinner for me and the very next day I packed my car and left. I started work the day after I arrived.
The schools in Atlanta start school the first week in August. This gave me two weeks to find an after school program for Aniyah and work out my schedule. As time got closer, I realized that by the time I got off work and fought Atlanta traffic, I couldn’t check out the programs in time. I had no family or friends and had to make sure that I really trusted the afterschool program for Aniyah. My mom and I decided that it would be best to leave Aniyah in Orlando so I could work, get fully settled, and find an appropriate program for her. It was hard for me to leave my baby, I would book trips every other weekend just to see her and braid her hair. It killed me that I couldn’t meet her teacher and do homework with her every night. I knew she was in good hands but there’s nothing like participating in these activities with your child.
Two months passed and Aniyah and I were both missing each other like crazy. She began to act out in school, which was HIGHLY unlike her. If anyone knows Aniyah, they know that she’s a sweet baby girl. One night, Aniyah facetimed me while I was in Walmart and asked if I found a dad for her in Atlanta. I acted as if I didn’t hear her and told her that I was going to call her back when I left Walmart. Truth is, I left Walmart and balled my eyes out. I did not have to courage to call her back nor was I ready to have that conversation with her. As a mom, the last thing you want to see is your child hurting over something that you can’t change. I could give her the world but I couldn’t force someone to be a father. I realized that she didn’t even understand what a father truly was. I knew it was time to get my baby and move her to Atlanta.
I drove to Orlando, packed her stuff in my car and we headed to Atlanta; just the two of us. She started school right in time for me to transition to the job that I moved to Atlanta for. It was less than two miles away from home and 3.5 miles away from her school. After the first month, I was exhausted. Sometimes, I barely had energy to go over Aniyah’s homework after coming home, cooking dinner, and preparing for the next day. I had to wake Aniyah up early in the morning just to go over her homework. My patience started running thin and I would get annoyed by the smallest things. Weeks went by and I was so unhappy at my job. I realized that I was doing it for the money and it was not something that I was passionate about.
One night, I had fallen asleep and woke up to get my laptop out of the car. I couldn’t find my keys and something told me to open my front door. I was so tired, that I left my keys in the door. I didn’t want to think what could have happened that night. Another night, I woke up at almost midnight and realized that I had fallen asleep while cooking dinner. I left the oven on for hours. As I walked downstairs, the oven started smoking. The dinner was burnt to a crisp and I felt awful. I was so tired that I fell asleep with the oven on and Aniyah fell asleep hungry, waiting for me to wake up. It was that night when I knew I had to leave my job. I was exhausted, moody, and unhappy. Oftentimes, people have their days when they are down. However, as a single mother you can’t really have those days. Your child can only depend on you and you’re forced to suck it up and put a smile on.
In December, I decided to take a leap of faith. I wanted to quit my job, stay in Atlanta, and apply for graduate school. However, in order to go to graduate school I needed to take the GRE. I tried studying for the GRE while I was working and it was almost impossible. I would get off work at 5:30, pick up Aniyah at 6, get home at 6:30, cook dinner, check homework, and then it was time for bed. In February, I went on vacation, quit my corporate job, and decided to spend two months studying for the GRE. I told my family and they thought I was insane. “How could you just up and leave your job, study for the GRE, apply to graduate school, not know if you are going to get in, and still pay your bills?” That was a common question that I was asked. I would politely respond by saying “Are you going to pay my bills?” and they would leave it alone. I did not know how long I would be out of work. However, this just meant that I had to truly budget and not spend unnecessary money. God had it all figured out and I knew I just had to trust him.
I spent a month dropping Aniyah off to school, driving to a café and spending the day studying for the GRE. The day before my examination, I texted my family and asked them to pray for me. I had taken almost two years off from school, rushed to study for this exam, and I felt so underprepared. Right before I went in, I received a text from my step mother. She said this exam was mere formality and God already has it worked out. This gave me courage, I knew God pushed me to my purpose and getting accepted into this graduate program would help me walk in my purpose. I took the exam and began applying to grad schools.
In April, I decided to start applying to jobs before I left for Jamaica so I could have some extra spending money. I didn’t want anything major because I knew that I would be leaving soon. I got offered an amazing position that I didn’t even apply for. It wasn’t in my heart to just accept this position knowing that I had plans on leaving shortly after so I decided to let them know. They were very understanding and still upheld the offer.
The day before I started the position, I got my first acceptance letter for school. Not only was it a school in Atlanta, but it was in my top 3 list of schools that I wanted to attend. Shortly after, all my acceptance letters started rolling in. I was torn between staying in Atlanta or moving back to Florida for school. I fell in love with Atlanta and knew this place was now my home. I also knew that it would be much easier for me to move back to Florida so my family could help with Aniyah while I’m in school.
I am excited to announce that in one month I will be pursuing my Master of Public Health degree! It won’t be easy being a single mother, working, and attending school but I know that God has me covered. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. When I told people that I was moving to Atlanta, they expected me to crash and move back in three months. What kept me here was the same attitude that I had when I found out that I was 16 & pregnant and people were telling me that I would not make it out of high school. If YOU want something bad enough, YOU will sacrifice, take risks, and go for it!
On Sunday, July 19th 2015, I embarked on a beautiful journey. In celebration of my one year Atlanta-Versary, I have listed ten things that I’ve learned while riding out this journey:
1. Get out of your comfort zone.
2. Whatever is supposed to happen, will happen.
3. Faith the size of a mustard seed is all you need for God to move mountains.
4. God is crazy faithful; put your full trust in Him.
5. Never doubt anyone’s abilities. When God is in you, the impossible WILL happen.
6. Don’t know your purpose? Find out what you’re passionate about and that normally turns into your God given purpose.
7. Obedience results in God’s greatest blessings.
8. You are human and we are all flawed. If you mess up, get up quick, brush it off, and keep it moving.
9. You can achieve ANYTHING that your heart desires.
10. Everyone isn’t meant to go to the next level with you. If you’re ready to progress in life, you will have to leave certain people behind and be perfectly okay with it.