“I just can’t give up now, I come too far from where I started from” — Mary Mary
Last Saturday was a rainy, cold day here in Boston. Earlier that day I went to a brunch, had a good time but the evening I spent alone. Saturday evening I was bored and wanted something to do. I texted my friend Kevin and asked him how his weekend was going. He updated me on how he went to the barbershop and was enjoying his Saturday off. When he asked me what I was doing, I told him I was in the house, watching Netflix and already in the bed.
“On a Saturday? That’s not the usual Chris Sumlin lifestyle.” He replied.
When I read his text, I was frustrated because he was right. I’m not the kind to lay in bed on Netflix, in the house at all, especially on a Saturday. “The usual Chris Sumlin lifestyle” Kevin referred to is me out on Saturday nights, surrounded by friends, dipping it and doing it. After my text conversation with Kevin, I started to feel bad. I started asking myself questions such as:
Why am I on Netflix on a Saturday night alone?
Why aren’t I out with friends?
I went on to even ask,
Why did I come to Boston in the first place?
The self-pity had begun. I went from having a pretty decent Saturday to finding myself lonely and sad. I got myself some Hummus and Tortilla Chips and started eating my feelings. I told myself, “well if I’m going to be alone and sad I minus well eat. ( I know I can’t be the only person that eats when sad) I started watching a Netflix film, eating my snacks and then a Facetime call interrupted my movie. It was one of my Morehouse brothers Johntavis. Johntavis popped on my screen smiling from ear to ear.
“Hey! What are you doing? He asked.
“Oh, nothing just on Netflix,” I replied sadly.
“Well cheer up look who I’m with.”
Seconds later Johntavis panned the room with his iPhone showing me who was around. It was a big group of my Morehouse brothers including my best friends Corbin and Sean who I haven’t seen since October. I put on a fake smile, greeted everyone in the room and laughed. Johntavis ended the call by saying,
“Well, you just keep being great. Boston is just a pit stop on your way to greatness, we are rooting for you.”
His sentiments were sincere and greatly appreciated, unfortunately, his words didn’t make me feel better. To be honest the Facetime conversation just made me feel worse. My Morehouse brothers were kicking it on a Saturday night without me and I was in Boston eating hummus in misery. I placed my phone down and decided I was going to nap my sadness away. As I laid there something spoke to me saying, “You signed up for this.” It was almost like another voice was in the room. The voice was strange but compelled me to think. Those words weighed deep into my mind. I repeated that statement over and over again.
“You signed up for this.”
I got up. I realized the voice was right. I did sign up for this. No one put a gun to my head and told me to go to Boston University for graduate school. No one told me I had to leave Atlanta and move up north. The situation I am in is because I chose to pursue this degree and live in this city. Once I came to this conclusion I came to some enlightening truths that I must share.
Success requires hard work
We all have seen quotes on Instagram and Twitter that perpetuate notions of hard work and sacrifice. I hear so many people quote Eric Thomas when he states, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” One thing that I have learned is that achieving any level of success takes hard work. I’ve heard that so many times but I feel like that lesson is becoming more real to me now. My goal is to graduate from BU with a Master’s degree; that is a big goal. Not everyone goes to graduate school, not everyone goes to school so far away from home. My goal of graduating requires me to step out of my comfort zone and sacrifice. It’s hard being in a new city, it is also very hard having to meet new people. These facts now keep me motivated because I know that big goals require hard work.
Success requires sacrifice
Last Saturday I reflected on the writing process of my first book that took place when I was in undergrad. I thought about how much of my Junior year I sacrificed and how I used to wake up at 5 am to write. When I was up writing, on those early fall mornings, the dorm halls were silent. I knew that my friends were sleep and although I didn’t want to spend that time in the library alone, I had to finish my manuscript.
This past weekend I thought about all the family gatherings I missed away while at college. When I was out in the world chasing my dreams, there was a part of me that wanted to be in Columbus. I wanted so badly to be home for every 4th of July, Graduation party and Thanksgiving but there were times when I couldn’t make it. Had I had chosen to go to Ohio State or Ohio Dominican University instead of Morehouse, I would have been at every function, but I made the choice to go to Morehouse.
Everyone sees the Facebook posts when I’m getting these internships in LA and New York, but sometimes even I forgot how much I had to sacrifice to have had the undergraduate experience I did. Those four years in Atlanta, I did a lot of cool things but each “power move” required a lot of sacrifices. My time in Boston is no different. If I want to get this degree I now know that I have to sacrifice time away from my family and friends because I’m in Boston.
Success is lonely
Since I now understand that true success requires hard work and sacrifice, I understand that this means there are going to be moments where I will be alone. My friends may not want to wake up at 5 am with me to write. My family is definitely not following me to every city and state as I pursue degrees and snag internships, that would be impossible. I understand that if I want to have big goals and aspire to do great work in the world that it is going to require that I stand strong even if I’m standing alone. I have to be okay with being alone but not lonely because that is what being successful takes.
Your Take Away
The person at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there. Whatever the mountain is in your life that you want to climb, I encourage you to understand the principles outlined in this blog. I’ve heard these principles before but now as I’m in Boston trying to earn this degree they are all becoming more real to me than ever. After I understood these ideas I instantly became grateful for the wisdom I obtained. I’m grateful for every minute I spend alone. I’m grateful that this entire situation is making me better. I’m grateful that this all is bringing me closer to my goal. If I can have this mindset, I know that you can too. We all have these moments in our lives that require a new version of ourselves to emerge if we want to be successful.
Always remember that success is not easy, requires sacrifice and may cause you to be alone, but all of that makes it so much better once the goal is achieved. No one said it would be easy, but I do know that it will be worth.
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