This year, one of my big goals for myself has been to put myself out there more — even though the thought of doing so gives me anxiety. For the first year-and-a-half that I lived in New York, I was pretty much a hermit. Granted, my hibernating ways were primarily a result of me figuring out how to survive while being extremely broke in one of the hardest places to “make it.” Resultingly, I didn’t go out pretty much ever. I just worked all of the time, and it started sucking me dry because all work and no play makes Nailah go cray-cray.

Fast-forward to now, and I’m honestly still struggling to be intentional about putting myself out there more. It’s difficult because I experience feelings of guilt and anxiety when I’m out and about doing anything other than working. So, in attempting to address these feelings, I’ve begun to really think through why I feel the way I do when I take time for myself. I go back and forth between thoughts of “do it now before you never have a chance to do it again,” and “the time you’re spending here could be spent in a more productive manner.” How do I balance wanting to travel more, with having so much more to work on and learn? Then the lightbulb above my head clicked on. It shed light on the discovery that…

“…the act of “putting yourself out there” is essentially what you make of it.”

(insert mind blown emoji here). Yea, blew my mind too. And it’s true, the act of putting yourself out there means something different for everyone and that’s ok.

It could be the pressure of social media where it seems like everyone these days is living their best lives traveling and having time for regular self-care routines, or the pressure to have everything figured out by the ripe age of 30, but I was just reminded that getting to that level takes time. It’s a teetering balancing act that takes time to become level. And to get things more level you might have to make some sacrifices here and there. You might have to miss that party or that networking event and leave “putting yourself out there” to working from a different coffee shop every week for a few months. And guess what, THAT’S FINE!

I have to acknowledge and accept the fact that I HAVE to put in a lot of work at this point in my journey and career to get to where I want to be. I have to come to terms with that meaning I’ll have to sacrifice time with friends and family sometimes to reach my goals. FOMO is real, but you stand to miss more overall if you’re stretching yourself too thin trying to be everything and everywhere at once.

So, what triggered this episode?

I was working out of one of my favorite coffee shops in Harlem last week and noticed a couple of guys editing photos. After I was done with my work, I walked over to them and introduced myself and we started chatting. Turns out that I already followed one of the photographers, Mark Clennon met an amazing up-and-coming photographer, Steven Jermaine,  and in a New York minute, Mark and I had a shoot set-up the next day.

And these shots are what came of it:

BTW, I’ve been sporting these faux bangs ever since lol.

But look, I didn’t go to a networking event or a fancy party, I simply introduced myself and a lot of the time, that’s all it takes. It was a nice reminder that I’m on the right path and I have to somehow keep reminding myself that I’m not missing THAT much, and I’m moving along just fine. Don’t get me wrong, if I have an opportunity to travel, I will and I’m working to fit in a regular self-care routine lol.

Do you guys experience these feelings? How have you dealt with it?


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