There is a difference between giving up and knowing when you’ve had enough.
One of the clearest indicators of personal growth is knowing when enough is enough. It’s an internal awareness that a person, place, or situation is no longer serving you. Instead of seeking validation or creating resistance, you have the maturity to just say enough is enough and walk away. And while some people consider walking away from something as a sign of defeat, the real defeat is not recognizing when something isn’t the right fit for you.
I can be stubborn to a fault at times. As a child, I always had aspirations of glamour and grandeur. I wanted to see my name in lights, but not for my own selfish reasons, I wanted to help others like Oprah and Diane Sawyer. I would sashay through the living room with my Dollar store plastic heels, a faux fur boa, and a papier-mache microphone, and I would recite the latest Mariah or Whitney hit to my starstruck family. As a teenager, I knew this dream could become a reality when I flipped through the latest Vogue or Essence magazine and saw Naomi, Tyra, and Kimora living their best lives in front of the camera while inspiring and motivating women across the world.
My love of fashion, glamour, and culture took me to fashion school, where I studied the fashion world and became a fashion mule aka intern for years, working long gruelling hours only to be paid below minimum wage or in free clothes. To supplement my income, I took decently paying jobs in the corporate world, as I spoke French and had plenty of business and marketing experience. I would go to the office from 9-5 p.m. and from 6 onwards, I would be on set, working backstage at fashion shows and setting up events to help build someone else’s dream. During this time, I was exhausted, and over time I began to ignore the physical signs that the stress of chasing my dreams was killing not only my mental health but that physically, my body couldn’t handle the stress either. I stayed the course, almost pushing myself to the limit, because I knew my big break was around the corner. In my head, I was always one project away from my big break.
This mentality was ingrained in me as a child. My hard-working West Indian immigrant parents taught me that education and hard work would ALWAYS produce a fulfilling career, but years of chasing my dreams the best way I knew how left me feeling burned out, emotionally drained, and depressed. That little girl with her kitten heels and makeshift microphone had jumped through her last hoop in an attempt to be noticed by some fashion god or a corporate higher up.
I had lost sight of my purpose in the pursuit of a position. And for what? I didn’t have much to show for it in the way of accolades, awards, or a six-figure salary. Just big names and job titles on my resume and a competitive degree from a top University. Oh, and the one time that I did make that six-figure salary, it came at the cost of myself—I damn near lost my mind, my health, and relationships with the people I cherished the most.
The problem wasn’t my lack of boundaries or the ability to recognize when something is not for you but my way of thinking. The way I thought about success and how I saw myself had me stuck in a reckless cycle. It was this notion that if I suffered enough, it would magically produce success, but all I was doing was betraying myself and making excuses for others and their behavior. I would create stories and narratives to explain why I got overlooked for the raise, why that person never responded to my emails, or why this person’s disrespectful actions towards me should be somehow justified. I put my worth and value on the line for a dream that was based on someone’s else’s reality or their ability to see me and my true potential. In a perfect world, that is how things are supposed to happen, but let’s be honest, the chances of that actually happening are slim to none! Trust me, I’ve done the legwork. The road to true success is unpredictable, unstable, and volatile at times; it involves doing deep inner work and saying “enough” to your old thought patterns and belief systems. It’s this nebulous space where you let go of woulda, shoulda, coulda and how “things are supposed to be” and just surrender. It’s the place where you stop performing and jumping through hoops in a desperate attempt to be seen or gain a seat at the table. It’s about knowing who and what is right for you.
Say enough to anything that isn’t serving your highest purpose and realize that you are enough.
These days I find freedom in surrendering societal norms and my own preconceived notions of what “the path” should look like. I love what I do and I wake up every day happy knowing that I am living my purpose and I am enough. I’ve replaced the plastic kitten heels for designer pumps and my 6-year-old son has replaced my makeshift microphone for his own. He struts down to the living room every evening and puts on shows for me while reminding me, “I’m a leader, a boss and I’m gonna be rich.” I smile and whisper to him, “Of course you will, son, as long as you work hard, find your own path, and remember that you are enough.”