World Pulse

Join World Pulse now to read more inspiring stories and connect with women speaking out across the globe!

Nothing Really Wrong

Early in my writing career, I was a staff editor at a small magazine. One day, my boss stopped me in the hallway and asked how I felt about my position. Was that a trick question, I thought? I did not say how much I really wanted a byline for my portfolio. I did not say how I thought I was passed over for writing assignments and given only proofreading chores to clean up the slop of other favored staff editors, who did occasionally get to write for bylines. I kept those things to myself because I already knew the truth would not be welcome in these quarters.

I was a demographic statistic that ticked a box on a form, a box marked ‘grateful’ to have a job anywhere in an industry among so-called colleagues, who ignored my potential contributions in favor of low-standard status quo. But none of that really mattered to me anymore. I had a secret moonlit counterpunch up my sleeve, ready to knockout any doubt about who I was, who I am and who I will become.

So, I said, “Nothing is really wrong.”

 “I didn’t think so,” my boss replied, strutting away confidently.

Watching her strut down the hallway shrouded in homemade snobbery, it all hit me like a ton of soiled bed linen and musty pillows! She had to prevent my star from shining. To her, I represented the competition to her next promotion by her own male boss. Oh, yes! My little boss lady was scared to death of my taking over her position, a position I thought beneath any female dog, knowing all about what she had done to land herself in that broken-down bunk, in the first place, and to keep wallowing there. Seeing her disappear down the hallway, revealed to me at that moment I had nothing to fear from her at all. In fact, I had nothing to fear from anyone! No one can hold me back, except me, as long as I use my vertical, rather than horizontal, strategies to fulfill my intellectual and professional aspirations.

Below is a portion of my toolbox, comprised of self-constructed, unscientifically-tested doohickeys, donkey-rigged doodads, widgets, thingamajigs, and my mammy-made wardrobe suggestions, which all work for me and could, perhaps with your personal modifications, help you toward your independent standard of best practices in life.

  • Learn everything the system offers

  • Embrace all knowledge

  • Understand and use new concepts

  • Seek advantages in technology

  • Seize opportunities to be innovative

  • Stay ahead of the pack

  • Abandon trends before they become untrendy

  • Do not be afraid to compete

  • Avoid the passé

  • Study the past to conquer the future

  • Good looks do count, but do not use them

  • Dress cheap from the “Children’s Place”

  • Wear comfortable shoes, boots are preferable

  • Eat to live, do not live to eat

  • Greed is not attractive

  • Value humanity

  • Appreciate the planet

  • Do your best 

  • Any other stuff…

Take it from me, whomever we allow to define who we are controls whoever we become. I decided the day of my little boss lady’s question that I would take ownership of me; throw away the key; break the mold; and any other worn-out cliché that can be applied to my situation. Let no one crack my head open ever again and pour in their poison about who I am and what I can do.

This life belongs to me! I, alone, own it!

The night following my little boss lady’s question, I went home and wrote the song, “Nothing Really Wrong,” not limited to the position I held in that organization, but including the total person I could become. It was my decision to spend my time and money on education, training, traveling, learning and creating what would benefit me and, quite possibly, humankind. When I had finished the song, I felt free for the first time and it didn't matter that my little boss lady dismissed me as her inferior because I knew the truth that she was yet to learn. 

Staring down at my letter of resignation on her desk, she was shocked as she asked, "Who will hire a black writer in this town? There are no black magazines here!"

I said, "That's not a problem you have to ponder."

I laid the key to my cubicle on her desk atop my letter of resignation, and left her office, quietly closing the door behind me. I knew which way I was headed and never looked down again. This song, "Nothing Really Wrong," helped me change the direction of my life. I think it may help you change yours.

Share this story
Share this story on social media
Like this story?
Here’s what you can do next.
Leave a supportive comment to encourage this author
Tell your own story
Explore more stories on topics you care about