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George is Tired…Of Faith Without Work

They say all you need is faith the size of a mustard seed. The belief in things unseen and unknown with the hopes and at times expectations that things will turn out okay. The whole “What is for me is for me and can’t nobody stop that” …except for YOURSELF.

I’ve had this piece on my heart and mind for some time without having the words to say how I feel without the fear of offending. But as Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum said before he READ that racist Ron DeSantis for filth, “A hit dog will holler.” But rather than hollering, I hope folk are listening, including myself, on this theory of wanting things to occur in our lives without us either being ready when those things come or acting in a way that could make these things occur.

“Speak it into existence.”

I am firm believer in this. There are many times I have spoken things and they have manifested themselves sometime later. But in January of this year I realized that I was the one who had been going about the things I spoke all wrong. I was speaking shit into the world like THAT was the actual work. Like me saying it would happen was enough. Just so one day I could quote tweet it years later like “look, I said this and it happened” like I’ve seen so many others do.

But the part you don’t see is the work that it took others to get there. Folks who said “I want to work with Beyoncé one day” don’t just end up working with her because of luck. There are years of work unseen in everyone who became an “overnight success.” This was something that I had to learn the hard way. I was a person that was quick to compare my beginnings to other people’s middles and ends. Yes, the things they had were goals I wanted but I wanted them now, spoke them, and had an expectation that they would just come without any work being done on myself and my own circumstance to attempt to get there.

It was in January of this year that I saw a person I knew through Twitter sign a book deal. I was so excited for that person while at the same time being angry with myself. I had worked hard, just as they had. I had probably written double the number of articles for twice as many publications — all surface level shit that my ego brought up as the “issue.” But what I hadn’t done was the WORK.

I was living in a bubble in my mind where I felt that “I’m good at what I do, someone will recognize it and pluck me right up from these Twitter streets.” I was a dummy lol. But one thing about me is when I’m upset or feeling any type of envy, I’ve learned to channel that energy into going for what I want, not attacking and projecting because others have.

That SAME night I saw them sign the book deal I wrote a query letter about my own book I had been wanting to write. I found a book agent who was following me on Twitter and submitted it to him. Three days later he asked for a proposal…THAT I DIDN’T HAVE. But that was okay. I took EVERY free moment I had over the next three days to put one together and submit it to him. A week later, I got a call and I finally had an agent. Over the next few weeks, I would put together a full proposal, go out on submissions and in the middle of March I signed a book deal. Now that’s not gonna happen for everyone. But the difference is I took an active role in pushing for what I wanted.

Let’s be clear: There are all kinds of outside factors working against us, especially if you’re Black and queer/woman/trans/disabled and the list goes on. But there is also a factor working against us that we have control over — ourselves. We are often asking for things but not willing to let go of the toxicity we are carrying. We want to take a leap of faith, but also want our feet to stay on the ground. Faith isn’t knowing when the parachute will open. Faith is knowing that you have a parachute, that will open but only if you take the active step of jumping first.

We are watching a time where doors are opening for a lot of people of different ethnicities and gender identities. We see the “success,” but we don’t see the years it took to get there. We are basing our faith on snapshots of what people who are “winning” show us. We don’t see the rejections — which is a hindrance many people fear. But I often think people fear success more than they do failure. With success comes responsibility. And that’s some shit a lot of folks aren’t ready for.

So, remember: When you are putting things into existence, that is your starting point. Not your ending point. You can’t be a writer if you aren’t pitching yourself. You can’t be an actor if you aren’t going to casting calls. At some point, you MUST do the work.

Faith without works is Dead. Oh, and being a nice or kind person will get you far.


George M. Johnson

George M. Johnson is a black queer journalist and activist located in the Nyc area. He has written for TheRoot, ET, HIVequal, TheGrio, TeenVogue, NBC News and several other major publications.

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