by KEISHEL WILLIAMS
Earlier this week, during an amazing ‘women in leadership’ talk, my long-term mentor said to a group of women leaders at the United Nations: “This is the fourth version of myself.”
This declaration of self-realization stuck with me as I rushed back to my workspace after the talk to interview a woman for a story I am working on. With those words in mind, I struggled to push the thick black darkness that has engulfed me all week into a temporary box while I worked up a smile to encourage my subject to keep talking.
When the interview was over I was drained.
A few months ago I started a master’s program, which often leaves me with arduous choices such as “should I do laundry today or make this deadline?” I’ve found myself incessantly feeding social media with well-crafted content, meticulously circumventing the dangers of inadvertently being “canceled” by twitter gatekeepers for some mild or imagined infraction; feeding professors who don’t understand who I am, with a constant battle to exercise my right to my blackness and my Caribbeanness despite the constant chatter about diversity in the classrooms; feeding bosses who only care about the bottom line; feeding the heavy darkness that cannot be spoken of because of shame and cultural repudiation.
I couldn’t go on this way, I had to unleash the next version of myself immediately or else I would cease to exist in any version.
And so in one of those amazing shower brainstorming sessions (I know I’m not the only one who has those), I decided to open up Ms. Toco, a vertical on my blog to document my experiences as a young woman originally from a rural community embracing the challenges of my dual immigrant life in New York.
I need to start writing passionately again.
At the start of the year, a professor informed us that statistics from the institution’s wellness center showed that our program produces students with the most stress, anxiety, and depression of all the graduate programs they facilitate.
Suffice to say, there’s no better time than now to start working on the next version of myself – anxiety free and passionate with my writing. We have much to explore!