Who starts a print magazine in the middle of a pandemic? I do.
To be clear, we haven’t gone to print yet. This is the Oct/Nov digital edition, the inaugural issue of Eloquent Magazine. I explain the name choice on the “About” page. The project name chose itself. At least that’s what I like to tell people. For a little more clarity, allow me to sojourn into the past seven or so months when the COVID-19 pandemic first sprouted wings and took a pterodactyl-sized dump on all of us (understand my humor here, we’re “Eloquent,” not “Elegant,” and sometimes vulgarity puréed is the best form of compassion; we can all relate on an even playing field.
At the start of the pandemic, I was working at a preschool babysitting children. It was here I realized that at 30 years old, I wanted to change careers. I had been working in tech marketing and content, and I didn’t find it satisfying anymore. I did all of my research beforehand, sharing the same apprehension many late career bloomers have expressed on countless Marie Claire-like message boards and in INC.com articles. Is it too late? Do my skills translate? What about the pay cut? What if it’s harder to fit in?
Being a Jill-of-all-trades naturally lends itself to an entrepreneurial career path, and so in between jobs I would also nurture my various ventures. Honestly, I think these side passions were the only things keeping me alive), and bullying. Lots of bullying. I was too pretty, too opinionated, too quiet, too loud, too uninteresting, overly interesting at every job I ever worked. Not a “go-getter,” too ambitious, too lazy, too bold, too unconventional. I changed so I could survive. I was really good at it. And my pipe dreams stayed pipe dreams. This was my America: Shut your mouth and get by.
In essence, my T-shirt slogan was “Always Finds a Way.” And I did, miraculously and tirelessly. But I was denying who I was while careening through my days, just so I could fit into a conventional work environment, which is why my last full-time office job was working at a startup. Not the normal office cubicle drudgery, am I right? Wrong. Same system, packaged in fancy clothing (our downtown, white-collar office space boasted an upscale bar, lots of fake and expensive house plants, and a toxic masculinity-centered code of conduct we had to abide by. It was buffoonery mixed with highballs. I should also mention teetering finances: There was an unwritten rule and expectation that we had to go downtown and drink in the middle of the work day ALMOST ALL OF THE DAMN TIME. You know, bro culture, not at all conducive to creativity for many people.
So how did I go from downtown startup to babysitting? Simple. I let go of what I wasn’t to reveal who I was—a teacher, an educator, and someone who cares too much about learning to allow the next generation of students to be carried through the dirt, especially during this hotbed moment in time. I’m now in the process of enrolling back in school to teach a higher grade level, and I still have my business ventures. Long story short: Don’t beat a dead horse when it’s down. It’s already dead, and sometimes you have to let molten (and molting) dreams die along with him so that the renewal process can begin. Shed the skin for a better fit, even at 30.
Changing career direction later in life is more common than most think. It’s not quitting, it’s winning. I thank 2020 for this shift in thinking. Of everything that could and did go wrong this year, my sense of purpose has never faltered. My objectives are uncompromised. I was led astray by ideals and pressures I thought were outside of my control. But I did my time following, a whole decade of it. Following the right people, following the wrong people. I’m ready to lead now.
Eloquent Magazine, to me, represents teaching through identity, and that is what the Oct/Nov issue is truly all about. From a NYC-based comedian who teaches us how to laugh when everything sucks and an Atlanta-based sacred sound expert defending why access for all requires Native justice, to a Wisconsin-based poet throwing his two cents in about the fate of America and an England-based parent informing us why skills learned through arts education will prepare our children for the future, “Eloquent” is speaking from experience, to grapple with one’s true self, to find one’s way in a peaceful existence and advocate for that same inner peace in all. That’s what makes any piece of writing, fiction or non, readable. We’re living in a new America. The rules are changing, and I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history. Not now, not ever.
Feminist-friendly. Queer-friendly. Equality-driven. Culturally responsible. Eloquent is all of the above.
What’s funny about my time working at the startup is that word got around quickly. About everything. People brutally told you what they thought of you and your abilities. It was assumed by the executives that I couldn’t hack the environment because I didn’t know who I was. That was an inaccurate assumption. I simply didn’t accept who they thought I was, or who they wanted me to be, so I was seen as the outsider almost immediately. You know what? Outsider suits me. I wouldn’t have created a magazine and recruited a staff of writers had I not followed my inner vision.
First rule: Never quiet your existence out of convenience. If you aren’t jeopardizing someone else’s human rights, health, or safety, be unapologetically you. Stop caring what other people think. Believe me, you don’t want to keep walking around pretending you know who you are when you can lift your veil without regret and breathe a deep sigh of relief. You’ve already arrived.
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