In February 2013, I finally moved to Mexico. YEAH!!! My last year in DC, I worked two jobs to save for my big relocation. In my final days stateside, many well-intentioned coworkers congratulated my lucky circumstances. Here´s what I have to say about that.
A CASE AGAINST LUCK
ONE: Luck takes credit it doesn’t deserve. I wasn’t the 100th caller. I wasn’t in Chicago when Oprah did a giveaway. I decided to move to Mexico and I decided that intentionally. Crediting luck diminishes my role in that decision. Moreover, it sends the message that you cannot make a similar one. I’m not special and you’re not unspecial. We all have the ability to say yes to ourselves.
TWO: Luck lets us make excuses. Coworkers said to me, Easy for you, you don’t have kids, you’re not married and you’re not established. You’re so lucky. Really, I thought. At some point in your life, you were those same things. Why didn’t you move abroad? Exactly.
Saying yes or no--or not now--is a decision only you can make. Own it.
My dream languished for years. Even young, childless me had my Very Good Reason for staying stateside: my community work with black folks. I figured as long as there were no black people in Mexico, I was staying put. It took me eight years to even whisper to myself that moving was a possibility. Then I took another two years before I hatched a plan.
We all have responsibilities, distractions, and uncertainties. Saying yes to yourself is not a matter of how easy your life is but of how much you want something—and it’s ok to have other priorities.
THREE: Luck is the easy way out. It deprives you of awesome opportunities to battle your inner demons and come out on top.
After I finally decided to move abroad, I was ransacked by doubt. I mean, my fear got aaaaaalllll up in my face. I felt so guilty: How could I just leave the country when there is still so much internalized oppression to overcome? My forebears didn’t just put the race problem aside whenever they felt like it. Well, Zora Neale Hurston did but she took all kinds of flack for it. I was convinced my dream was selfish.
I was truly conflicted. During this time, as you can imagine, I wasn’t especially committed to my goal. Though I had moved into a rent-free situation, I wasn’t saving money or doing any planning. After a horrible conversation with a co-worker—one of those white guys who refuse to accept that racism exists (he went so far as to say that he didn’t believe in power, wow)—I finally had to face it: at the root of my guilt was the fact that I felt burdened by the race struggle.
The realization sucked the air from me. I felt blasphemous. Traitorous. Ungrateful. But that was the truth. And that was the moment my little dream seedling breached the surface. There is so much more to me than race! There is so much more that I can do besides struggle against racism. Who cares what people think they know about me because of my skin color? I felt a righteous anger and this time it felt purposeful. Finally, I committed to my dream wholeheartedly.
FOUR: Luck let’s you take things for granted. You didn’t work for it, right, so you don’t feel that bad when it runs out. Easy come, easy go.
Luck’s greatest disservice to you is that it deprives you of the experience of accomplishment. If I were Super Mario, then the day I flew to Mexico was a massive Power-Up. I touched down in Villahermosa with a smile wide enough to swallow the city. I felt so AWESOME. STRONG. I DID IT! Even if I had to go back home tomorrow, I would do it all over again. Why? Because I know that I can! No one can take that away from me.