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It wasn’t intentional to relive every failure I’ve ever experienced since high school up until now. Or think about the unrequited lovers who never acknowledged or claimed me, but that’s another story for another day. I didn’t mean to, I really didn’t but it was like a voice popped into my head…it could’ve been the devil, negative thoughts, or my anti-self, but whatever you want to call it I couldn’t deny the statement. For the last 12 years, I have been taking consecutive losses. I mean one might look at my life and call me extremely ungrateful or successful, but I look at my accomplishments and see pain disguised as joy.

My senior year of high school I applied to the Miriam Fitz Award for outstanding leadership in the community for my groundbreaking work at the Harriet Tubman Home for Battered and Abused Women only to share the award with a white boy who only worked there because I paved the way for him by building relationships with the staff and coming in as the niece of one of their most beloved and respected admins. For months, I and a group of other girls went and cooked for the women and their children. We raised money and gave so much of ourselves to serving others. For the first time, I found a purpose. The Miriam Fitz Award scholarship was for $1,000 which we received after we completed our Freshman Year of college. I did and called to receive my winnings only to find they gave all the money to ‘HIM’ and not me. That was my first experience with someone taking credit and money for my work and unfortunately, it wasn’t the last. I wish I could say leaving "lily white" Bloomington, Minnesota for Atlanta, Georgia would have been a more welcoming experience but it was not.

When I entered Clark Atlanta University I was an obese and depressed weird freshman whose sister just died and came from that ‘one place’ that was ‘hella cold’ and ‘hella white’. So, to say I was apart of the in-crowd would be a sad joke. Not from my lack of trying though because I tried so hard to be an AKA. I joined the right organizations, kissed ass, and got good grades. I was positive that I would become apart of this sorority become popular and marry the finest Alpha Man your eyes ever saw. I wanted to belong and the more I chased this goal of becoming a first generation sorority college girl the more I became the woman I always wanted to be. I lost weight, got a weave, learned how to apply makeup, and dress fly. The guys started to notice and the girls did too. I didn’t know I was pretty or considered light skin until the popular guys started to like me. I became a target, but I liked it because I was pretty and skinny. However, that came with consequences, I found myself being rejected from the organization after one of the girls (the advisor’s goddaughter) lied to the advisor about me not participating in activities or going above and ridiculously beyond as I did so many times before. Did I mention this was over a guy? A man who neither one of us should have been crushing on because he was married and in a position of power. That’s another story for a different day. Anyway, no one had ever bothered to hear my side or understand what was going on in my life at the time or how I met all the requirements. It was a devastating blow. I found myself alone. Again. Here I was for the second time graduating alone with no friends. I could not understand why this happened, but surely Los Angeles had to be more accepting and open to me.

I was wrong. Again. Here I was in Los Angeles, California for five years chasing a never-ending dream of becoming a creative who actually got paid for their work. I had tried all of my passions: singing (got booed), dancing (laughed at), acting (told people would demand a refund), social media specialist (I have no followers or engagement), and finally photographer/director (I found my niche!). For the first time, life seemed to work out for me until I found myself constantly unemployed being rejected from every fast food chain to corporate office. I couldn’t help but feel like a failure. Then an opportunity of a lifetime came and I was able to direct my first music video for Atlantic Records. I was elated and immediately got to work only for my video not to be released. Once again I had failed. Once again I was invisible. For the last 29 years, I have felt invisible. Invisible to white people in Minnesota. Invisible to Black folks in Georgia. Invisible to various companies for employment. Invisible to my family. Invisible to the world.

I am fully aware that rejection is a part of life and is expected when trying to do anything new or different, but this never-ending rejection has taken a toll on me. I guess that’s why I’m writing this because I can’t take it anymore. It’s like no matter how hard I try or believe or work it all ends the same. A big fat NO. How do you hang on when the positive affirmations sound like lies, the Instagram posts no longer ignite your hope, the sermons aren’t resonating, and the manifestations don’t manifest? How do you hold on when for two years you’ve been unemployed and rejected from every job you interviewed for or applied with? How do you hang on when you know you’re doing the work internally, but the environment and circumstances remain the same. What is the solution because I’m fucking exhausted.

The countless years of begging God for change while working for a real tangible positive change has worn me down. I keep thinking about how the rainbow has never been enough. How prayer is never enough. I’m tired. I’m tired of being strong, resilient, motivational, encouraging and supportive to others while I’m secretly drowning. Did I mention I’m tired? F**king exhausted. Recently, I rewatched the trailer to the new JOKER film and it hit me! This is how people become bitter, negative, homicidal, and suicidal. What do you say to someone who has tried and worked hard only to remain stagnant? What do you say to someone who understands and is doing the work? What do you say to a person who constantly swallows their fears to do what’s never been done? When nothing is working?

“Somebody/anybody, sing a black girl's song /bring her out to know herself /to know you but sing her rhythms/ caring, struggle, hard times/ sing her song of life/ she's been dead so long/ closed in silence so long she doesn't know the sound of her own voice/ her infinite beauty/ she's half-notes scattered without rhythm/ no tune/ sing her sighs/sing the song of her possibilities/ sing a righteous gospel/ let her be born/ let her be born & handled warmly."- Ntozake Shange, For colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

A few days ago, I made the decision to kill myself. I researched painless ways to do it and nothing seemed ideal because suicide is not ideal. I know this. We all know this, but sometimes the pain is just too real. I didn’t really want to do it I just needed the pain to go away. I thought ‘maybe they will see me when I’m gone” or “maybe they will appreciate me this time” these thoughts kept swirling around in my head until my head started to spin. I lied down and watched an indie film and at the end saw a number for a crisis hotline. It said, “For Suicide Prevention please text ‘HOME’ to 741741” so I did. For three hours, I text with a woman named Olivia and she was actually helpful. I had tried other prevention hotlines in the past and was told to hang up and try them online. I thought wow another rejection, but not this time. This time I got to talk and talk until I was ready to end the conversation. I talked openly and honestly about all my feelings and fears. Sometimes, we need a third party who is completely disconnected from who we are. Sometimes our mamas, daddies, siblings, and significant others just don’t understand. Sometimes prayer or affirmations are not solutions. I’m happy I reached out to the crisis hotline because I was/am in a crisis. I am not okay and that’s okay. I’m happy to have people who are complete strangers be a reflection to remind me of my truth and that I matter. I am Seen. I am Heard. I am Loved. Me. You. Us. We All Matter.

I am happy I finally released all the shame surrounding my failures and setbacks by writing this piece. When I began writing it wasn’t for anyone but myself. It was like I heard a small voice telling me to let it out. Stop allowing it to have power over me and face it. When the bad memories are swirling around in your head it can feel like your brain is going to explode like they’re trapped inside every vessel cutting off the oxygen. By writing, I was able to exhale and see a different perspective, yes, I’ve failed but look at all I’ve done. Look at your strength. Look at your resilience. Look at your ambition. I’m not sure if my story will help others or what the outcome will be, but I wanted to share it because I think there are more of us struggling to find the light than we are being shown on our timelines. I’m sure people will troll and judge me, however, I know it is coming from pride and fear. Here I am with my wounds open and bleeding, my heart on the table, and my soul in these words for folks to form an opinion about me. It's all good because it just might be the thing to help someone hang on for one more day. My mother has a poster that reads, ‘Perseverance: never give up for that is the place and time the tide will turn.” May we never give up on ourselves or snuff out our own light for we are the divine and our own miracle.

Peace & Blessings,

Nia Symone