I've been through it at least a dozen times. A dozen times that I can clearly recall. A dozen times that have colored my life a million different shades of wild. A dozen different experiences that share the same origin. I'm going through it right at this very moment and I know you are too. I am changing, at every single moment – I am changing. I frequently wonder whether these changes have been subconscious decisions, linking my destiny to the bigger picture or if they're my own conscious, deliberate reactions to my ever-changing environment. These changes have been a restart button for me, a saving grace, a flotation device to keep me from drowning and an answer to my many, many prayers. I have been reborn about a dozen times, each change providing me another stepping stone as I journey both inwards and outwards. And each time I have changed, so have my deepest desires and the things that drive me. I find new purpose with the passing of each of my many phases and each of them have allowed different aspects of my being to bloom.

I say that to say this, find your purpose(s)

as many times as you find new versions of yourself.

And when you have fulfilled one purpose, allow the next to creep into your mind and soul until it shakes you from the slumber that is this routine that we call life. And in the event that your current purpose no longer suits you, feel free to press the restart button and do what fulfills you instead – whatever that may be. There is no shame in taking leaps of faith. I think we should trust ourselves more and do things we are passionate about. Life's for living, not compromise. We deserve to push the limits and test the waters of uncharted territory. We deserve to take those chances that can free us from the mundane routines that take the color out of our worlds. As long as we have breath in our lungs, our health and our respective freedom(s) – we should do everything in our power to fight for our own happiness.  

If you've been keeping up with my work on here then you know that I am a student. Well, after this semester I am leaving that facet of my identity behind. I recently made the decision to leave school for a multitude of reasons – the most important being my own happiness. I struggle with the idea of sacrificing more time and money than I can afford at this particular moment in my life. I lost every ounce of desire, motivation and love of school this last semester. Something inside of me has been begging me to take a break and so that is what I'm doing. I think that higher education has an incredible benefit that can clearly be seen, however, I am not a recipient of these benefits at the moment. A college education offers so much to so many people, but right now – I, me, Frankie, I’m not reaping the same benefits. I have learned to accept the truth as it comes, and the truth in this situation is that I cannot give 100% to school because my heart is no longer in it.

Above all things, my own happiness, my own heart, my Joie de Vivre is suffering because I have felt so obligated to attend school, no matter how I inwardly felt about it. I am no longer comfortable with stifling my own wishes in order to appease others, in this case the others being my parents. They want nothing more than for me to be an educated and financially independent adult and believe that a college education is the easiest way for me to achieve these things. While they have my best intentions in mind I often have to remind them that this is MY life to live. I remind them how I must live with the decisions I make and that my own happiness is in question, not theirs. I know some of you are reading this like “Girlllll, you lucky. My parents would have shaken me by my collar and dragged me back into class” and yes, I know I am lucky and am incredibly grateful for the grace that is their understanding, but I am so much the product of these two loving, compassionate people. Their love for me has given me the confidence to pursue my impractical, risky and wild dreams.

I have always been willing to take chances for my own happiness. I believe in taking those leaps of faith I was mentioning before. This isn't the first time I have cannonballed into the waters of FATE with nothing but my hopes and dreams. The first time I can recall making a life changing decision was when I decided to leave school the first time, in 2012. I went to college fresh outta high school and had a wonderful experience that I recommend every young person venture into: I dormed. I lived on campus at the Dominican College of Blauvelt for 2 years and it was a thrill, however, I was not dedicated to my school work. I decided to leave Dominican College after 2 years and when I came home I had something wonderful and unexpected happen to me, Washington Heights (the show) would begin to develop and eventually lead me right here.  

With that in mind, you can get a feel for my attitude on diverging from common paths. I recommend that everyone take a leap of faith or two, at least once. I too often feel the weight of budding adulthood and sometimes it can be immobilizing. We've been led to believe that in order to be happy and successful we must always have a plan in place for our next steps. This ideology can be quite isolating and cause feelings of anxiousness, unhealthy competition and even shame.

Instead I say, use the hustler's spirit to its fullest potential, by using it to assist you in cultivating the very success and joy that exist in your wildest dreams. I think that troubles arise when our deepest desires do not align with our daily routine. I think this happens when we neglect to listen to our inner voice and  neglect to honor our purpose - whatever our purpose may be at the time. We must listen to our inner voices, even when they make far fetched suggestions that make us uncomfortable.

And that, my good people, brings me back to the story of my departure from school. All my life I have believed that my purpose was to be a teacher. Moreover, all my life I have known that it is my destiny to share any and all I know about the human condition. For so long I thought a classroom setting was where I would flourish and ignite a fire in the hearts of others. I thought this was the only way because I've also been taught that an education is the only way ‘out’ for people of color and the working class. I made an effort to receive this education again in 2015, when I was 24. I felt that same disconnect from school all over again, and I knew then that I would not find what I was truly looking for through completing yet another semester of school. I had become comfortable with working towards goals someone else had for me and not what I truly desired. I was too comfortable to realize that I was settling for someone else's dream and too afraid to doggedly pursue my own or even speak on them.

I am realizing that I have achieved these desires, through writing, speaking and connecting with others and through these processes, I have been able to teach and share things with you. I had been so concerned with fitting into the mold that society presented that I was neglecting my inner wants/needs. I was doing myself a great disservice by ignoring my own heart. So I decided to reevaluate what my purpose is and found that I still have all the interest in sharing my own knowledge of life with anyone who wants to listen and that this does not require me to sacrifice my happiness by staying in school. FINITO. So enough about school, I will pick up where I left off if I ever decide to try again. I am here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with that. If you share a similar experience with school then please know that you should be proud of yourself for having made the effort! There is a stigma that attaches itself to those of us who have attended college and decided to leave after we have realized that it will not fulfill us: don't let that define you.

We’re not lazy or misguided. We are not less than or less capable than those of us who have successfully completed college. We are simply meant to do different things and achieve different milestones at a different pace. My own mother has helped me see that talent and intelligence exist beyond school books, she has given me the confidence to use life as a means of education, not just the cramped CUNY classrooms that drained me of my life and energy. Maybe I’m being a little dramatic but I literally felt like I was going to die on so many occasions. Anyways, we who decide to walk to the beat of our own drum are the movers and shakers of the world. We who take risks and walk fearlessly into fires that could consume us are like the phoenix, reborn of our own ashes time and time again. I offer you praise. I offer you support, an open ear and my own story of struggling to identify and cultivate my purpose. I am with you. We are in this together. And naturally, the entire Universe is here with us as well - leaving us cookie crumbs and cryptic messages of encouragement, like the one I received the other day. The fortune inside my fortune cookie said “If you’re happy, you’re successful” and I knew right then and there that I had done the right thing, even if it didn't feel so right. So pay attention to the whispers and quiet words of support, they are all around us. Always.

Pay attention and let your unique Light grow a little brighter. If people didn't take chances we would not have been graced with the brilliance of our beloved Nikola Tesla’s, the Assata Shakur’s and the Steve Jobs’ who have given us something priceless that would not exist were it not for their fearlessness and remarkable individuality. I wholeheartedly believe that there is so much more to life than what material things we can amass and how much money some job says we are worth. Never forget that we are made of the same elements that made this planet, the stars and everything in between. The collective purpose of man has become something that can be measured in dollars and cents and I am ready, willing and able to reintroduce myself and the rest of the world to the concept of value that is beyond just a dollar amount. We need to get back to the basics and do what moves us. We must move with the SPIRIT. We cannot do so when we align ourselves with ideologies of worth that have been introduced to us by institutions who have no concept of the human spirit or our own individual stories.

One day we will all look back on our journey and laugh. We will laugh at ourselves for being so wound up and so doubtful of where we were headed. We will realize that we were actually headed inwards this entire time. I have found that the purpose of life is to LIVE, nothing more and nothing less. The purpose of living is experience. We must be willing to experience everything, we must be open to every shade and gradient of life so that through this immersion we might find our true purpose, over and over again. I am someone who looks for the silver lining in everything, even the uncertainty of adulthood and that gnawing feeling of living life halfway.

I challenge you all to take those leaps of faith and detach yourselves from the anchors that hold you back from going on the greatest voyage of your lives. That voyage inward, into the darkest most hidden corners of your hearts. What awaits us may intimidate, confuse or even frighten us - but I promise that they will liberate us every time we acknowledge them. We should search for our purpose everyday, all the time... for we are creatures of perpetual change with an infinite capacity to grow. I believe in the Spirit of wo(man) and I know that we were made in the likeness of something far greater than we know.

Let me remind you again, that we are the Universe manifested in the flesh. We are the most powerful conductor in the Universe, even through physical death our messages can be shared and change the lives of others. Never forget how incredibly important your own light is, were it not for you - I would have no one to share my message with and through your existence and perspective I am able to live. Thank you for allowing me to fulfill my purpose and please be inspired to go out and fulfill yours. I conspire for you, your happiness and the unfolding of your destiny right before your very eyes. Now go for it girl, whatever it is - go for it! This world would be empty without you, be sure to fill it with your happiness and light. Cheers 2017!

-Frankie Reese

(image by violet & alfie)