I came to this site and instantly fell in writer-love. There is such an array of good and interesting content. Some is informative, some is funny, some is heartbreaking, some is inspiring. The focus on Africa and her diaspora make it unique. As a writer continuing to discover her voice, I wanted to contribute but wasn't sure exactly how.
I have always loved storytelling. My favorite kind of story or the real ones - memoirs, autobiographies, documentaries. Our stories connect us on a mystical level even if we've never met. And often, our stories inspire others. We must tell our stories - they often unknowingly save lives.
So my interview series is called Dreamcatchers - and my goal is to catch the good, filter the bad, and igniting hope.
Without further ado, meet Alanna.
We all have dreams - or at least one. Alanna is sharing:
My dream of moving to New York City. I have apparently been talking about living in New York since I was a kid but I do not remember it at all. My mom actually found a post card sent me to NYC when I was a kid and she said that I would love it there. I was nine and now 17 years later, here I am.
At some point, our dreams morph from hazy visions to clearer versions of our desires - and we go for it. Alanna's life when the dream was initial found:
At the time, I had been unemployed for about 4 months. I was laid off from a lucrative job in the entertainment industry. It was the first time I hadn’t had steady work in my adult life and it was very off putting. Although I was not fired (there were budget cuts) I still took my lack of work as a personal failure. After trying unsuccessfully to stay in Atlanta, I decided to move to New York the day after Thanksgiving 2014. I made the decision after having a candid convo with my godisister about living with less and living off of less. I immediately reached out to a friend living in the city and asked if I could crash on her couch and the rest is history.
The John C. Maxwell quote is true - Dreams don't work unless you do. Sometimes, the work is hard, and the difficulties seem staggering. Alanna, in wake of her dream, had rivers to cross to get there:
Well first, my grandfather passed away the week I was supposed to move. I was packing up my apartment when my mom and family came to break the news. I travelled to Memphis for a week and half to help my mom with preparations and almost didn’t move at all because I didn’t want to leave my mom, but she encouraged me to continue with my plans. On top of that, I had little to no savings and had to depend on my mom to finance the move. I also did not have a place to live as the original apartment I was going to live in fell through. Finally, I did not have a job. I was going to try and find one in the TV industry once I arrived. I was interviewing for a job with a local TV station before I moved but that fell through as well. So on January 29, 2015, I moved to NYC with two suitcases, no where to live permanently and no job. Needless to say it was terrifying.
Obstacles - internal and external - mark the path of dreams. For Alanna:
Internally I was very scared to leave my family and be far away from them, especially since my grandfather passed so suddenly. I’m also incredibly close to my family so leaving them anyways was very difficult. I was coming from a place where I had a strong group of friends, a strong and loving family and a place of comfort. So moving to a place where I knew a total of three people was daunting. I am very social so that was something I worried about constantly. Externally, I was worried about money. I did not want my mom to continue to pay for me. I was also worried about being able to find a job that would pay the bills and would provide the experience that I needed. Finally, I was very worried about finding a permanent place to live. I found a 3 month sublet but in my mind, the time was already ticking against me.
Journeys are imagined as winding roads, and often the journey was scary and even uncharted in the beginning. In Alanna's journey:
Now, almost two years later, I am a lot more comfortable in my journey. I have a great job that I love, an amazing group of friends and am happy with my living situation. I am learning to do so many different things in my career and it’s really given me the opportunity to grow. There is still so much to learn and figure out but I look forward to that journey.
Dreams and goals morph as we grow, learn, and add experience under our dreaming belt. Alanna's dream now:
It has changed a lot actually. Now that I’m actually living here, I can’t help but look forward and think of the next big thing I want to accomplish. Eventually, I would love to live in another country. Also, this journey has forced me to shift my focus and really figure out what it is I actually want. When I first moved, I was only looking at jobs in the TV industry, because it was all I knew. I never thought I would be working as a social media marketer, graphic designer, producer, community development manger and working on large scale productions. I also never imagined that I would work in a company that sends me to Africa multiple times a year. Sometimes you have to realize the dream you had may not be what’s best for you. Now I cringe to think that I could’ve been stuck to a desk or an edit bay instead of having the freedom and creativity I have in my current position.
As a Dreamcatcher who "catches the good and filters the bad", Alanna has:
I’ve learned to take everything with stride. New York is a difficult city, no doubt about it. Not only are people fiercely competitive, it can be really hard to make lasting connections with people here. And it’s nothing personal, it’s just that everyone is on the move trying to achieve their own goals. In certain situations, I try not to dwell on the bad and to focus on the good things that situation has brought into my life.
There are always points of light as we walk out our dream - markers and moments that hold a special place in our minds and hearts. What Alanna's dream has given her:
I have absolutely loved reconnecting with my middle school best friend. She lives in Brooklyn and we reconnected when I moved here after not seeing each other for 10 years. We’ve been pretty much inseparable since then. I’ve also loved creating an amazing group of lady bosses. I’ve met some amazing and inspiring women since living here and I’m so glad to have them in my life, including my boss, Zain Verjee. She is an absolutely inspiration and I am incredibly lucky to have her in my life. Also, just being in New York. There’s a certain energy about this city that I’ve been unable to find anywhere else. People certainly aren’t lying when they say this is the best city on Earth.
In addition to akomanet, you can find me making various contributions at TheAntiBlog.net and reaching out to help the hurting at thedignityproject.zohosites.com
Thanks for reading. #PleaseShare