Since you are reading this, it is likely that you are at a low point in your life, similar to where I was in 2001. I was not very happy at that point in my life, as a matter of fact I was unknowingly dealing with depression. As I take you through my story, my goal is to lift your spirits, give you knowledge and most importantly, give you a vision of bettering yourself, through positive change.
Part 1-Setting the Scene
So, let’s get into this. In 2001 I was living in the city of College Park, GA, which is 10 miles from the well known capitol city of GA, Atlanta. My three main methods of transportation at that time were, MARTA (The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) bus and train, a bicycle and my most dependable methods; Left Foot & Right Foot. Occasionally, I would be able to catch a ride with someone I knew.
I was living with two friends from college who were renting a small but spacious three-bedroom suite, from a place called Embarcadero Club Apartments, located on Sullivan Road in College Park, GA.
This place can be found with a simple Goggle search. However, true to the property managements authentic nature, it shows on their website, photos of Piedmont Park in downtown Atlanta…ahhh, five young Caucasian upper middle class movers and shakers, happily waiting at a spacious and comfortable bus stop…ohhh, a well maintained tennis court…yeess and an extremely happy dog lying in the grass…ahhhh so sweet, so happy to be there...Lies, Lies, Lies…
Embarcadero is 15 miles away from Piedmont Park, which is located in downtown Atlanta, GA, not College Park. 95% of the residents at the complex when I lived there, were African American and the other 5% Latino. Which is a reflection of the population that currently lives in the area. We were not necessarily giddy movers and shakers, the tennis court was always a shamble and if a dog was there, I can guarantee you, the poor thing was a stray, who was usually scratching flees.
During this pinnacle of my life, I was backsliding through a series of low paying jobs, amongst many challenges I was experiencing. My latest incarnation at that time was as a night shift stocker and forklift driver at The Home Depot located on Ponce De Leon Ave, in Atlanta, “You can do it. We can help.” It was more like “You can Do It. But…We’re not really trying to help.” You see, I was an owner of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications and in spite of my cruising in a forklift and stocking merchandise from 10pm-6am Sunday-Friday in the midnight hours of an empty store, I had visions and ambition.
However, it mattered not, the number of times I applied for positions at the corporate headquarters, matching my degree and experience, the results were the same, “No Dice,” “Fruitless,” “Ineffective,” “Trivial,” “Out the Window,” “Bootless,” “Out of Gas,” you get the point…
To add to my plate, I had recently ended a relationship with a beautiful, extraordinary and empathetic young lady, that I had been in a relationship with for four years. She tried to stick with me, but I was unfocused and feeling less than confident, chiefly because of my series of unfortunate events. When she met me I was fresh out of college, well dressed, with a brand new 1998 Dodge Stratus, a job in the music industry of Atlanta, a spacious two floor, two bedroom condo, and I oozed confidence as a 24 year old, young single, in a major city.
Before we separated, she saw me work jobs as a warehouse forklift driver in an area of Atlanta know as Fulton Industrial Blvd, were I would always come back to her home covered in black dust from head to toe, as if I worked in a coal mine and she would witness me sell “J’s” Jordans, “Soldiers” Reebok Classics and “Uptowns” Nike Air Force 1s at a Footlocker located at Atlanta’s Underground Mall, were I always rode my bike to work from the Cabbagetown neighborhood not far away. I couldn't dodge the "REPO MAN."
She worked a corporate job at MARTA ironically, making $90,000 a year, and doing her best to support me...literally. Her second job was keeping my confidence up, as I was constantly looking for a better job and better way, equivalent to my first episode out of college, the entertainment position. Yet, it was too draining for her, understandably. I had even sunk so low once, that she caught me watching porno on her laptop, despicable me…
So with this nagging memory and a gorilla on my back, I would arrive at Embarcadero after a typical 30 minute MARTA commute from my job at "HD," in the early am. I would shower up, push together the two-seater sofa and the sectional sofa, to create a bed for me to sleep on and shield myself from the glaring sunlight coming through the sliding glass window and from life, with a blanket, as the morning dew was melting off the patio.
My friends were understanding and cool. They charged me $150 a month to sleep on the couch, the monthly rent in full was $600. The sympathy came with a fee. Coincidentally, I shared my former condo with one of the same college roommates from Embarcadero, who witnessed my downfall firsthand.
The two other roommates were a little less friendly and one was slithery. There was a girl we went to college with that was living there as well. She was friends with the other guys and lukewarm with me.
Actually, she only stayed there two days a month, as she mainly lived at the plush home of her music producer boyfriend, at a loft in downtown Atlanta.
She would complain mightily to my other roommates, if she found out or noticed that I had been sleeping in the bed in her room. Literally arguing about me, in front of me, as if I was not visible, like I was not standing or siting in the same room. I was "Earn" from the show Atlanta, years before there ever was a show called Atlanta and a character Earnest "Earn" Marks. Yes, I was looked upon and treated as a nobody.
The forth roommate was a Royal python named Leroy, who was chillin’ in his glass reptile cage. Leroy would regularly munch on expired mice that the guys would place in his cage, since his owner, my female critic and roommate, was rarely in our abode. As you can guess, I was sleeping on the sofa, not far from Leroy.
Part 2 The Reckoning
Months went by, through rain, extremely cold weather, heat and drivers by having fun, blowing the horn at people like me waiting at the bus stop. My frustration with my living circumstances and my job search came to a head one Friday night at “The Depot.”
I and the other dedicated night employees, were told we would not be receiving our pay, due to some questionable circumstances out of our control. I remember us, being called on the store intercom, to meet at tile section of the store at 11:30 at night and being told the news.
We were not told by the head night manager, but by the assistant night manager, a Black man. I am sure the white head manager whose name was and I am not making this up, Mr. White, did not want to face a group of 15 Brothas who worked hard for the money.
We were of course pissed off and I remember us discussing how much we needed our money as we sat in the break room taking a rest at 12am. I was barely making it as it was, as bills and MARTA took most of my money, leaving me to have a steady diet of grits, pancakes, eggs and cereal as my 3 meals and snack every day. Anger was having its way with me.
So, as I went back to work, pushing an orange rolling ladder, as the assistant manager, the Brotha who delivered the bad news, was trying to tell me about something related to our work. I snapped on him! I told him that I didn’t want to hear about aisle 27 or any other aisle. I mentioned that I was tired of them “messing with me.” He tried to calm me down and even mentioned that he needed his money as well. Yet, I was not trying to hear it. I told him “Ya’ll can kiss my ass, I quit, I’m outta hear.” I stormed off, clocked out and walked across the empty parking lot, to the bus stop in the front of the Midtown Place Shopping Center.
I didn’t feel like waiting, so I started walking up the Ponce sidewalk towards the North Avenue MARTA station, so I could catch the train to College Park. I recall as I passed the intersection of Charles Allen and Ponce, walking past transvestites, homosexuals and female prostitutes, all offering me sexual favors for the night, I aggressively turned down the offers. I walked pass alcoholic homeless people, clutching their life force, in the form of thunderbird/bum wine in a brown bag, laughing, enjoying life. I watched cars pass me, driven by people in their twenties or perhaps thirties or older, booming Jay-Z, T.I., Outkast, Destiny's Child, Jennifer Lopez, Missy Elliott out of their speakers, savoring the night life. It made me very reflective, as I watched my back continuing my pace towards the station.
I wanted to drive a nice car, hang out with friends, chase girls, go to concerts, have fun just like they were, I was young…28. Nevertheless, I felt a since of relief, because I finally released something that I had felt for a long time. I felt more freedom walking up Ponce De Leon at 12:20 at night then I had felt in a long time, because I at last, told someone who got on my nerves to “Kiss My Ass.” I stopped biting my tongue and said how I really felt. That sh*t felt good! The next two years provided more trials, then I stopped fighting the blows of life and retreated back to my hometown Augusta, GA.
Part 3 Redemption
I was a broken man when I returned to my childhood home. I was 30 years old, with less confidence than before, having sworn off shaving and getting a haircut. That was something I kept doing and took pride in during my Atlanta stay, in spite of my circumstances. Yet, at that time, I said the hell with it. I had no fight in me and no peace of mind.
I stopped running and lifting weights, which is the only thing that kept me mentally sound and able to keep pushing forward, despite my lack of success all those years. I had no job and did not care to find one. The thought of an application online or otherwise sickened me. Then one day, I just got fed up. I was fed up with failing. I was fed up with giving people and my circumstances power over me. I was at the bottom and I decided to take control of my life.
The year was 2003 and I had been back in Augusta for six months before I woke up and shook off the stench of losing and depression. I realized that no one is pitying me, the world is not going to stop because I cannot live a great life, friends and family can only help so much, I hated favors and asking for help, especially since most people I asked, did not produce and finally I had to find something I was reasonably good at and find a way to make money doing it, so I can at least get back on my feet again.
After a few false starts, I secured a job with a television station called WAGT, channel 26 and a second job as a long term substitute 9th grade history teacher at Lucy C. Laney High School in 2005. My money started to look respectable again and I was gaining confidence and momentum. I was working out heavy, lifting and running. I kept a nice haircut and regularly shaved. I was going on dates again after not interacting with women for four years.
I learned that I loved teaching and working with young people. I found that my wild experiences gave me a wealth of knowledge and stories to share with them. I began to apply to graduate schools to become certified as a teacher and obtain a masters degree. I was finally accepted to Mercer University in Atlanta, GA in 2007.
Years later, after getting married and having two beautiful children, a boy and a girl, I am typing this piece from my home office in the city of Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates. I am finishing my fifth and final year and getting ready for the next and best phase of my life back in, guess where…Atlanta, GA, USA...at least for the moment.
A job has never been my ultimate goal. However, a teaching career helped me get on my feet and turned my life around.
Part 4 Reflection
Some people honestly require professional help to deal with depression, I was just one of those people who found the personal fire within myself to win. Looking at my situations from a place of comfort, provides many lessons. A college education clearly does not guarantee success and the alumni will not necessarily help you, just because you attended their beloved university.
Through the study of spirituality, metaphysics and other deep sciences, I began to understand why I went through what I did. There is a Hermetic term that goes like this “The Mind is All, The Universe is Mental.” This is one of 7 Universal Laws of Tehuti that I discuss in previous post, "Why You Should Learn Universal Law..Getting Yourself Together." http://www.jassirinassor.com/blog/find-yourself
As I look at my past, what I find is that as I sunk more and more into self-doubt, anger, pessimism (believing that something bad is going to happen), constantly looking for others to help me and be a lifeline, otherwise known as networking, focusing on the material possessions that other people had and not positively seeing myself owning such things, and not seeing myself having happiness, gave me just what I was attracting. I was attracting pure hell, because my mind was focused on the worse outcomes and that is just what I received.
When I was pushed to a brink and I had nowhere else to go and could fall no further, my mindset changed. I got angry with myself for allowing years of madness to take place and I knew, not believed, but knew I deserved better. During my fall I never became an alcoholic, drug addict, sex addict, turned to crime for money or some other self-debilitating way to make money. Though I admit, I considered crime, yet, something within me would not let me do it. I always felt I had a higher purpose.
Self-talk is the greatest, the most important talk. It is a conversation that can allow you to ignore the outside chatter of people, music, society and allows you to find your true self and true direction. It is often called intuition, also known as “spiritual perception,” “insight,” “direct or immediate cognition,” in its most basic term “trusting yourself.” For some people it is easy, for others not so much. Furthermore, everyone’s path in life is different, thus comparing someone else's success or failure to your own is pointless.
With proper research and quite time, anyone can tap into their personal power and find their distinct course in life.
But, here is the ultimate test. Can you tune out the talk and opinions of other people, the world around you and your own negative thoughts?
If not, then what is the alternative, a life of being on the sideline or perhaps still sleeping on a friend’s couch?
I call this act 2 for a reason, stay tuned.
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