KEVIN L. COLE, JR.
What a time to be alive! As the end of this chapter in life draws near, I can’t help but reflect on what all has taken place for me over the past three years. During this time period I was presented with a number of opportunities to grow as an individual in a number of different ways.
There was me graduating from the best university that always seems to produce productive people, Prairie View A&M University, there was me moving to Asheville, NC where I had neither family, nor friends, there was me turning down possibly one of the best job offers any person could ever receive because I saw more in myself, there was the stint of depression that I oddly needed in order to work on becoming who I am and who I hope to one day be, and there was the point when I DECIDED that I would go for anything I felt was right and would make me happy without care of what others might think, amongst many other opportunities.
Here we go…
May 10th 2014 was one of the most exciting days of my life, so far. It was the day that I got to walk across a stage with a Bachelor’s in electrical engineering! Although it was an exciting day, it was also a day that filled me with a tremendous amount of worry even though I had what any graduate could ask for, a number of job offers that were just waiting on me to say “I accept”. Good problems, right?
True, these were good problems to have; however, I wasn’t worried about having a stable future. No, I was more worried about having a future that I truly wanted. Did I want to spend my life working for someone else? Did I want to put in the work, just to see their pockets grow fatter? Maybe the problem wasn’t working for another person, or making a tremendous amount of money (I know for a fact it wasn’t this; again, I turned down an amazing opportunity – a little more on this later). Perhaps it was the fact that I’ve always wanted to create something of my own since I was young (SN: Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire is an amazing book worth reading).
I needed to find a way to create something of my own…
In a matter of two months I found myself in Asheville, NC, a place that I knew nothing about that could also be considered the polar opposite of PV. Long story short, the opportunity that I was referring to earlier, required an extensive background check and they let me know that it would be wise to work another job until everything cleared. Then I could just quit and work for them – their words, not mine.
After this conversation I decided to choose a job that was in Atlanta because I figured that the city would be an exciting place to live in as a young black professional. Literally within two hours of signing with this company and letting other companies know that I respectfully declined their offers, they let me know that their Atlanta – Peachtree City – location was in a restructuring process, and my position had been dropped (more on this in “A Thousand Miles from Comfort”). Hence the move to Asheville, NC where there was an opening for a different position for the same company.
With me being a person that tends to go with the flow, especially with things that I can’t control (#bars, I ain’t a rapper though!!!), I had no issue with this change. I figured that it was meant to be. Plus, I wouldn’t be here that long, right?
Wrong! As time went on I found myself pushing back the opportunity with the other company by making excuses like, “My current company has given me a signing bonus of $5000 and gave me $5000 for my moving expenses. If I don’t stay for at least half a year, I’ll have to pay all of that money back. Is there any way for me to push this back a few months?” They agreed, but I soon found myself continue to make some sort of excuse to pause the process. This went on until I finally realized that I didn’t want to accept this opportunity because I feared becoming comfortable, and putting to bed dreams of creating something of my own.
After months of pushing them back, I finally found the courage to tell them that I would be turning down the offer, respectfully.
Oh s#!t, now what?
You’ve guessed it! The depression began to kick in. There were a number of thoughts running through my mind at this time. Leaving me in a “cerebral prison” while keeping me stagnant. This was horrible. I turned down an opportunity that I wanted a few months before, which left me in a city that I didn’t necessarily want to be in, working for a company that I ultimately chose because they had a location in a city that I wanted to experience. All of this while being a thousand miles away from friends and family – no shade to the friends and family that I gained in Asheville, I was just getting to know all of you beautiful people that have showed nothing but love at this time. Plus there was a break-up and other issues that just decided to hit at once.
Although I didn’t want to be in Asheville, it’s exactly what I needed. The adversity, the feeling of being alone yet having people around, along with the wise words of older people that I came across is what drove me to begin thinking about my happiness. From these people I learned that I didn’t want to get to a point in my life where I looked back and said that I wish I would’ve done this or that.
No, I wanted to be about action. I wanted to actually reach my dreams, or die trying because merely living not doing what you love without who you love is dying in itself.
Courage began to overtake my body and engulf my attitude. I finally decided to take the steps needed to start my entertainment company, rEvolutionary Arts, with the help of Jerry Nichols, founder/CEO/artist of Imani Arts and partner in The Visionary Effect. I also decided to continue my education in software engineering in hopes of opening a few businesses dealing with website and app development as well as offer cyber security solutions, down the road. I decided to do both mainly because people say you can’t be an engineer and artist at the same time. Watch me!
With the closing of this chapter and the beginning of Part II, Chapter II, I can’t help but thank the Most High for everything that has taken place over the last three years. Again, I didn’t want to necessarily be in Asheville, but it was exactly what I needed to slow things down. I had to be still in order to grow, and I really feel that I’ve gotten the opportunity to do that.
I came here on my own with a fear of what the future holds, but I’m leaving with an extended family that I love deeply with the courage to reach for anything. I love you Asheville, and I will greatly miss you. I will always carry your oddly free-spirit with me everywhere I go from here.
L.A., here I come!