On Being Responsible for Your Life

On Being Responsible for Your Life

"Misconceptions about dreadlocks label them as "unprofessional" or "rebellious." Facing challenges because of these beliefs? Discover the importance of responsibility and a personal lesson I learned on defining oneself with dreadlocks."

Whenever someone asks me how to grow dreadlocks, my answer is “Why do you want to? It’s a long, tedious process.  You might need to make serious changes in your life.”  “But it’s only hair,” you say.

There are many misconceptions surrounding dreadlocks.  They are either unprofessional. Dirty. The owner abuse drugs.  Or are rebels against the system.

These beliefs and misconceptions create problems for anyone with dreadlocks.  That’s why taking full responsibility for any hardship is essential, especially in your quest to define yourself with dreadlocks.

Many experiences in life teach us the valuable lesson of responsibility.  Here’s one I learned.

A day after graduating from high school in Arkansas, I moved to the big city: Dallas, Texas. It took a year to settle in and learn the city. Afterwards, I enrolled in a three-year Bachelor of Science computer program.

For those three long years, life kicked my butt! I was either fired, laid off, or quit more than thirty jobs. At one point, I was homeless for about a month. But, despite it all, I did graduate.

I landed my first job as a computer programmer.  Armed with a positive attitude, a bald head, and great business suits, I started my career.

I traveled to major cities in America installing mortgage and banking software.  Because of good work ethics, I accepted more responsibilities.  It was the best of times working with the latest technologies.  That is until talk began of downsizing.

I experienced my first layoff within two years on the job. Also learned a critical lesson about the color of skin.

Our small group of programmers consisted of three white co-workers and me – the only black. They scheduled our department as one of the first to close. Human resources affirmed everyone would be re-assigned to other IT departments beforehand.

All my co-workers transferred to other IT jobs within the company weeks before closing. The only offer I received was providing technical phone support. I accepted hoping to later move to a better position matching my experience and skills.

In my new department, of the four of us, I was the only one with a college degree. And the lowest paid.  Staying motivated was difficult. But I kept my spirits up and skills sharp. I attended many corporate seminars and workshops possible.

I checked the company’s job postings weekly. At work-related functions, I broadcast my career goals to everyone who listened. Determination ruled my days: I had to find a better job.

Two years and several interviews later, I was still on phone support. I begin to have self-doubts, loneliness, and depression.

What was missing? What was I doing wrong? Did I greet everyone with a firm handshake and a smile? Were my shirts starched white? Did I miss a crucial happy hour, dinner, or party? Was this what I sacrificed so much to do?  The answer was a resounding No!

For the first time in my adult life, I realized race does matter.  The color of my skin was a factor in my job, during the search, and demotion to phone support. I had both the experience and skills for many of the posted positions.

Alexander Graham Bell made the famous announcement “When one door closes another opens.”  I accepted what happened to me and close the door on any expectations.  I decided not to run and hide but expand and survive.

I didn’t know my next move.  But finding ways to get around racism and prejudices was big on the list. I resolved to take control, be responsible, and become the ruler of my destiny.

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