In a hole. Can’t climb out.

Malaika,
Suitland, MD.

In 2014 I decided to move “down South” because I wanted to escape the higher cost of living (and the crazy, global-warming-induced snowstorms) of the Northeast. I thought moving down South would be a financially pragmatic, yet exciting, thing to do. I found a job down there making decent money and then after a few months I was placed into a role making the most money I had ever made in my life — a few thousand shy of 90k. A year later I walked away from it all because of race.

Living in the South made me more aware of MY RACE and MY PLACE in America. Never in my life have I encountered people who treated me so vilely just because I was me.

At first I thought maybe I did something wrong. Am I not working to my potential? I’ll work over the weekend. Maybe I’m offending people? I won’t talk as much and I’ll try to be more careful with my words. I already know I’m not the best dresser so I’ll try to wear better clothing. I will try to help out more and to smile harder. It has to be some kind of vibe I’m giving off. For months I tried and I tried and I tried… but still everyday I had headaches that wouldn’t go away. Even outside of work – at the stores, the airport, in the malls, and at the restaurants — everyone was either afraid of me or just ignored me. I felt like everyone assumed the worst out of me.

Things got better for me when I met a man from Philadelphia, a woman from Boston, and a military wife from Minnesota. They were recent transplants like me. Whenever I interacted with these people, I felt like me. My smile came back. My headaches were gone. I forgot that I was depressed and I was happy in those brief moments.

After a little more than a year of living down South I quit my good paying job without a plan. It was either stay and continue feeling like nothing, or quit and to feel like a person again. Never in my life had I felt so free, but I was also crying as I headed north on 85.

—-

Today in 2016 I am shoveling myself out of 28 inches of snow in DC. Since I’ve been back North, I’ve been on 13 interviews. Most of them were horrible because I lacked confidence. They can tell that I’m broken. My heart feels heavy and I don’t talk to people much. Friends and family urge me not to fall deeper into my hole.

I am in a hole that I can’t climb out of today… but I will eventually.
I have been lucky to have only known this feeling for a year.

 

Tweets by Michele Norris