It has been almost eight years since I moved to Washington, DC. I came because I was tired of the crowdedness that is New York City, and wanted to live somewhere more spacious. I also knew I was ready to own a home, and real estate prices in the Tri-State Area were far beyond my budget. Finally, I was looking to satisfy a dream to live in the Nation’s Capital that I had been harboring since I visited my dad as a 13-year-old teen. Inspired by attending President Obama’s Inauguration in the frigid cold, I decided that 2009 was the time to make the move.
Life in DC has not been what I expected. My health hasn’t been great. After years without any issues, I have suffered with nasal congestion and allergic rhinitis pretty much since I arrived. My weight has gone up and down, with me maxing out at 174 a few weeks ago. I’ve had chronic inflammation in the joints of my hands and struggle to open up new glass jars. At one point, things got so bad that I could barely walk, and needed to take massive doses of steroids to deal with the situation. Another time, even the steroids didn’t work, and I had to be hospitalized for a week. I didn’t move here expecting so many health challenges.
I also stalled in my career. I tried unsuccessfully to advance at the education tech company where I had been working. Then, I went to work for DC Public Schools. Within two months of my arrival, the Chancellor resigned her position, and the woman who recruited me also resigned. It was a tumultuous year, and at the end of it, DCPS eliminated my entire team. By then, most had gotten other jobs within the District. I found myself working as a school-based Instructional Coach—a step backwards professionally.
My next position was even more difficult. I quickly found myself working for someone who didn’t appreciate the skills I brought to the table. It was really hard to thrive in that kind of environment, especially when the person wasn’t secure in his leadership. I stopped sharing my ideas about how to make things work, and “did what I was told.” But the stress affected my health, and eventually my hair began to fall out. As things reached a breaking point, and bald spots proliferated, the Board decided to eliminate my position due to budget shortfalls. I was devastated to lose my job unexpectedly, but honestly that was the best thing that could have happened. I needed to get away from an environment that had become harmful.
With nothing but time on my hands, I was able to think about where I wanted to go next professionally. I decided to open a yoga studio, and a contract to work with the DC State Superintendent of Education fell into my lap. Thanks to the same woman who recruited me to work for her at DCPS, I became an independent consultant supporting low-achieving DC public schools. The contract paid well, and gave me lots of time to focus on my studio. I gave it my all, but it still didn’t work out. My yoga studio failed, and I lost thousands of dollars pursuing my dream.
I don’t even want to get into my dating life. I barely date, have only had one significant relationship in eight years, and often find myself alone. I expected there to be more prospects and opportunities living in Chocolate City—a place that abounds in attractive, intelligent, college-educated Black men.
Despite these personal, professional, and health setbacks, I am grateful for these last eight years. From the surface, it may look like I haven’t made any progress at all. But underneath, I have been kicking like crazy, treading water to stay afloat. In the process, I have grown stronger emotionally and spiritually. I have learned how to set boundaries and have healthier relationships. I have gotten a handle on my seasonal depression, figuring out ways to temper its effects. I have embraced the practice of gratitude and seen it shift my mindset. I have been able to let go of all the anger that choked the joy out of my life for many years. I also have dealt with the trauma and shame of being sexually abused as a child. As a result of facing the crap from my past, I learned to stop shutting down my feelings. With my therapist’s help dealing with and removing the things that no longer served me, I have been able to open up emotionally. Along the way, I allowed an amazing group of Christian women into my life, who have brought boundless joy over the last seven years.
So, I may not be as physically healthy, professionally satisfied, or relationally fulfilled as I would like. But I am proud of the woman I am becoming. By figuring out what I didn’t like about my career choices, I discovered my strengths and have been taking steps to build a career I can be proud of. I have become more confident, secure, and stable in the process. I will be more than ready for success when it shows up in the health, personal and professional areas of my life. In the meantime, I will keep kicking like crazy, getting stronger, and treading water where I am.
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.