Are you a hard worker? Do you wake up before others to do a little extra because you know it’ll be worth it? Do you find it easy to become razor-focused on the task at hand? If you’ve answered yes to these questions, then you’re like me, and that means you are accustomed to getting what you want, and that’s a good feeling. I know people who concentrate on their passion projects daily and have sacrificed copious amounts of time researching, envisioning, and working toward their colossal goals.
Now, don’t get me wrong; there are people out there who don’t work as hard but seem to get what they want all the time. This post isn’t really for them. I’m writing this for the people who have been clawing their way through life, working their tails off, accomplishing goal after goal, and they have the scars to prove it. People like us work hard because that’s all we know. When I think back, my first lessons in working hard came from my mother: you get up and you get it done. When we get an idea in our heads, it becomes cemented. All engines go, tunnel vision, razor focus, and nothing can stop us. If this sounds familiar, then you probably are nodding your head, thinking, “Yup, that’s me.” Well, this is how I’ve operated pretty much all my life, which brings me to a serious question: If these personality traits seem to fit you like a glove, then what are you supposed to do when you haven’t accomplished the goal yet? What is the next step? How long will you work at it? How long will you continue chasing the same goal, trying everything possible to make it happen? When is it time to throw in the towel? Stop for a second and think. If you haven’t accomplished a goal and it’s been 10 years, should you keep going? You’ve tried everything humanly possible, and there isn’t anything else that you know to do. Do you quit? I mean, c’mon! 10 years! That’s a decade!
My answer to this question is, of course, a big fat “no.” You absolutely never quit, and when you’ve used all your brain power and can do nothing else, then you must surrender it.
Now I don’t personally subscribe to any religion, but when I write “surrender it,” many people will hear "surrender it to God," and if that helps you and gives you peace, then that’s exactly what you need to do. But for those who don’t feel comfortable using God, you can substitute it with the Universe, Higher Power, Allah, whatever connects with you. Surrendering is important because although you’ve done everything, you know there is something that you’re missing. It can be extremely difficult for someone who is accustomed to getting what they want to suddenly hit the wall and feel defeated by not accomplishing the goal of all goals in what they feel is a timely manner.
With all of the traits that I’ve mentioned, when you don't seem to be getting what you want, it can be a life-changing experience. You might want to quit. You will undoubtedly be frustrated, confused, even angry with the world, but the message here is clear: you are on the right track. There is no need let your anger or frustration be the reason you give up on something you truly want. Have those feelings and let them move through you. In fact, when this happens, the healthiest thing to do is surrender. Have faith in knowing that the Universe will give you the missing link. If you’re still not convinced, then let me give you an example from my current journey.
As I mentioned, my mother taught me that if I want something, then I must do what I need to do to get it. It was just that simple. Never waste time asking for help or relying on someone else. This was my mother's approach to life, so, naturally, with her being one of my biggest influencers, I followed suit. It doesn't occur to me to request help when I'm pursuing goals. This is how I have always operated, and it has always worked for me. I wanted a car, so I purchased one. I wanted to move to L.A., so I did. I applied for my current job and got it. I am very fortunate with getting what I want because I simply work for it.
If you've been following our posts here, then you may have read about my experiences with homelessness and how the last stint lasted one month shy of a year. Much of that time I was pursing my acting career—audition after audition, gig after gig, struggle after struggle. I truly believed in myself (still do), but I wasn't cast in a major television show, which has been my longstanding goal to date. I landed a small part in a movie, and a commercial, but those gigs weren't very lucrative, although I appreciated the experiences. My journey with my acting career has not been easy. When it became increasingly difficult, I finally had to stop and wave the white flag. I couldn't suffer anymore. I felt that since my efforts hadn't gotten me where I wanted, it was time to surrender my goal to the Universe.
At the end of 2016, things began to change, not only within me but also in the world. There was suddenly a lot of overt violence being directed towards the Black community, everything from folks being harassed and demonized to people being killed. Seeing the proliferation of Black bodies being maimed by police on social media was traumatic for me and those around me, but the reaction to these egregious acts, even from some friends on social media, is what jolted me to my core. The mental gymnastics that people began conducting to justify violence directed at people of color was confusing, eye-opening, and infuriating. Filled with all sorts of emotions, I began to study the civil rights movement on my own. I dived into the lives of Assata Shakur, Cesar Chavez, Yuri Kochiyama, and Angela Davis. Reading their stories helped me understand what was going on and the role I should play if I wanted to be a part of positive change. A desire was birthed inside me for the truth, and I wanted to understand how this country arrived where we are now. The study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society took hold of me. With the intention of educating and uniting the community, a fellow actor and I began our YouTube channel, Barking Cat Entertainment, to address how we were feeling about all that was occurring around us. We fused our love of acting and our passion for social justice to create video content that highlights, through parody, the ills of our society and their detriment to humanity. The projects are cathartic and help us make sense of the world.
I am now a full-time student in pursuit of a sociology degree, and I can't tell you how right this feels. The professors that I have been meeting and coming into contact with have been absolutely amazing, and they speak to my soul.
I am not sure how I will apply my degree to my acting career, but with every fiber of my being, I have always felt like I should be on the next hit show. It's something that I have eaten and breathed for more than a decade. Who knows? Maybe the hit show will be derived from my current creations. In due time, the bigger picture of my mission as an actor will be revealed. What I can speak to now is this: I am in alignment with the Universe, and I can say that because I can see and feel it. This is what happens when you surrender. My version of surrender is asking for help. I finally asked the Universe to take over because I wasn't achieving the monumental success I desired. I would also like to add that although you are going towards your goal, when you surrender it, you might start down a road you never thought you'd be on. Breathe, and don't panic. Although this is uncharted territory, don't let what you see dictate what you feel, because if you truly surrender, then you can feel that you're on the right road; it just looks different than expected.
I can almost guarantee you will achieve success when you surrender. After all, what do you have to lose? You've tried everything; now it's time to step out on faith. Trust me. You won't regret it.
Jonaral Martin is a creative who has experience both in front of, and behind the camera. He lends his voice to a number of civic causes, and he enjoys reading when he’s not fighting the good fight. Connect with him at JonaralMartin.com.