the importance of valleys


“Remember how you feel right now, so you can make sure you never feel like this again.”

Those were some of the first words my father said to me when I called him on November 14, 2018, crying hysterically outside of a coffee shop. After a long weekend of playing guessing games, my fears had been affirmed, I was being fired from the job that I moved to one of the most expensive cities in the world for.

I was immediately afraid.

Right before I made this call, during my conversation with my former boss as he explained to me why they wouldn’t need me anymore --- “Everyone here loves you, we just feel like we need someone with more experience.” --- and why it took him so long to make the decision, all I could think of was how I was going to pay my $1,000 dollar rent for the next few months. How would I buy groceries? I smiled understandingly on the outside but on the inside, I was a wreck. I felt like a pawn; someone you could offer something to one day and the next decide you’d had enough of them without so much as an explanation as to what I did wrong.

This was my first job after college and I had been fired.

When I called my dad, I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. Like I wasn’t good enough to make it in this city that I always dreamed of, all of the feelings of excitement and confidence that came with moving to my dream city and getting a job right after graduation turned into feelings of rejection and anxiety.

“I wanna come home, I wanna come home,” was all I could manage to say. Nothing else made sense. I felt like there was no possible way I could make it anymore.

As I rode the train home, my fathers' words echoed in my ears, “Remember how you feel right now, so you can make sure you never feel like this again.” I meditated on that, and recognized that moment was not where the story began. I thought of how the girl I was just a year ago in November of 2017 would’ve dealt with this. The girl that couldn’t see beyond sadness. She would’ve denied it. She would’ve allowed anxiety to take over her thoughts and allow her to believe that she wasn’t worthy, that she wasn’t good enough. At that moment, although I still felt sadness, I allowed myself to recognize that I wasn’t her anymore.

At some point during that period of my life that was filled with deep depression, a crippling case of self-doubt and constant waves of anxiety, something happened within me. Although I didn’t recognize it at that moment and still did not fully understand it a year later, I had grown from that season. I decided to handle life differently.

After doubting myself for long enough I decided that I was tired of being my worst enemy and that I was going to attack life from a different point of view.

Peace, love, and light had always been the values that led my moral compass but for some reason, I forgot that if I didn’t treat myself with them first and foremost I wouldn’t be able to share them with anyone else.

As the train began to approach my stop, I continued to resonate on the past year. I had gone through a bout of depression that, at some points, seemed like it would never end and then I decided to choose love and happiness. I graduated from college, I moved to the city I had always dreamed of living in to do a job that was in the arts (my dream), and now I was being fired. I recognized that this would be another period where I was going to decide whether or not I would focus on what seemed to be negative, or if I would choose love and continue to grow. I understood now that whichever I chose would shape my life experience regardless, so I decided to choose love. I decided that everything I was going through and had been through was happening for a reason. The person I was the year before wouldn’t even be able to think clearly in moments like this.

Throughout the next couple of days, I began to try and understand it all. What was it that had changed in me when I wasn’t able to see the light at all? How had it made me stronger? How was I able to have such a positive outlook in this current moment all because of something that had happened to me a year ago? I had always heard about the valleys in life, that they made you stronger, I believed it, I was stronger, but I still did not understand how. So, I sought to figure it out.

I decided to interview a few of my favorite girl bosses about valley moments in their lives and how they prepared them for where they are now in order to find the common thread.

Brittany Wilson is the CEO and Lead Designer at The Idea Girl Co. When I asked her to describe herself in three words she responded with dynamic, vibrant and that bitch. The last one --- granted it’s two words --- resonated with me the most.

My first ever conversation with Brittany felt like I was talking to a long lost girlfriend. After she explained that losing a job was what motivated her to invest in herself she said, “A year ago I was selling Snapchat filters for $40, now I don’t get on the phone for less than a certain amount.”

I was immediately motivated and kept her on my radar as the embodiment of a boss.

A few weeks later when I deemed it totally necessary to investigate what happens to us in these valley moments, I decided Brittany would be the perfect first subject. I wanted to figure out what it was that molded her into who she is now.

She described her 24th year as being a really sucky year. There was a lot going on. She lost her job and felt demoted and worthless and became depressed. She felt like life would get worse and worse and eventually started to begin feeling suicidal.

Then one day, she got tired. She got tired of being depressed and decided to be happy no matter what. It was a transition period in her life, her becoming. “I needed to be stripped into what I needed,” she said, “I needed to go to the gutter, to be dragged to get what I have now. It deepened my purpose, it deepened my why.”

“And how are you now?” I asked.

“I’m happy because I’m grateful. It’s the little things that matter. Be happy wherever you are in life. Three years ago I started manifesting everything I wanted and now I’m finally seeing my seeds being brought into fruition.”

I began to think about the irony in that. In seeds being planted. In what it meant to feel like you were being buried, but instead, in due time, recognizing you were being planted.

Brittany explained that because of what she went through, she is now able to be Brittany Wilson, the CEO of the Idea Girl. A coach, a cheerleader, a daughter, a sister.

One of her highest moments, she exuberantly expressed, was launching The Idea Girl Gang. An online creative haven for black women looking to level up their lives in every aspect and facet. There was a joy she found in “helping women who have felt what I felt by sharing my story and helping them recognize their greatness.”

By teaching women to create a life that they want. By showing them their magic.

It did all seem kind of like magic when I began to think about it, being able to get back up from the thing that you thought would knock you down and to recognize you had planted seeds. Seeds that were sewn deep enough for you to want to share them with others. To show other women it was possible.

To show other women what was possible.

The thread began to identify itself almost immediately as I started to interview my next subject, Brooke Devard Ozaydinli. Brooke is a Product Marketing Manager at Instagram working in Partner Marketing. She is also the creator of The Naked Beauty Podcast, a podcast dedicated to sharing different women's approaches to self-care.

When I asked Brooke what she liked best about both of these roles, she explained that in both roles she was trying to empower people to share their authentic self. “It’s really about enjoying the journey and not obsessing over the destination.”’

This was one thing she had learned many times in life. She recalled her transition between industries. She had a good thing, but wasn’t happy and wanted more. She experienced moments of uncertainty and a fear of what’s next. “There’s always a fear around that,” she said. But she said that she had to take a step back. She said this was a lesson for her, in trusting your intuition.

“When I think back about my best moments, they’ve always been moments where I trusted my intuition and didn’t second guess it.”

Moments like the Naked Beauty Brunch. A brunch she had to commemorate a year of the podcast. Being able to see her mission come into fruition right in front of her face. She wanted to build community, inspire new friendships and have women see women like them doing inspiring work. And here they were, all sitting together, having brunch.

And again I thought about it, seeds being planted. I asked Brooke what she thought about these valley moments in your life.

“Every setback makes you stronger,” she said. “Everything does happen and you have to make it for a reason. Sit back and analyze why am I in this place, how do I work so that I’m never in this place again.”

Word for word.

“Remember how you feel right now, so you can make sure you never feel like this again.”

I sat a couple weeks and though some more about it before my conversation with my last subject, Alyssa Neilson, tied it all together.

Alyssa is currently a Communications Strategist at Droga5, but she recalls less than a year ago when she was unemployed in a brand new city, Los Angeles.

For Alyssa, moving from New York to Los Angeles and back to Noew York was emotionally challenging. She felt unseen, unworthy, was going through financial challenges from her move, and on top of that, she felt alone.

When she contrasted that time period in her life to where she is now, I began to think again about seeds being planted. “I’m at a place where I’m learning to be more self sufficient and creative,” she said. A period she referred to as an “exploratory phase.”

She said that this time had deepened her self awareness. It taught her that “being alone is okay.”

“I would prefer to be alone than to be in bad company,” she said. Being alone taught her about learning how to do things and how to develop the skill of discernment.

This happened because she decided to shift her perspective. She decided to try to find the value in the season she was in and began volunteering more at her church, leading dinner parties, and she started to see the fruit come in little by little after being unemployed.

And suddenly I recognized it. That there is an importance in both the valleys and the mountaintops in our lives. The importance of valleys was to plant something within us that mountaintops would not be able to, something that sticks.

It was the magic Brittany had talked about. The fact that we are all able to at anytime turn our circumstances into something positive.

It was the intuition that Brooke spoke of. Everything happens, and it is up to us to make it for a reason, so we must trust ourselves and be able to listen to our instincts.

But overall, the common thread was fruit. Alyssa tied it all together for me. There are seasons for everything in your life. There is a season for the seeds to be sewn, and there is a season for the plants to bear fruit.

There is something about valleys that brings life to something inside of you. It was once explained to me that in these valley moments, you come to the end of yourself in some way, and at that moment, you are reborn.

It could be a deeper purpose like it was for Brittany, or a lesson in trusting your intuition like for Brooke. Regardless of what it is for you, in order to recognize, you have to shift your perspective. You have to acknowledge that although fruit is being created in all seasons it is up to you to figure out how to use your current “valley,” or “low point”, or feelings of depression, or anxiety, or demotion, or worthlessness, or loneliness, to fulfill your purpose.

“Remember how you feel right now, so you can make sure you never feel like this again.”

The Importance of Valleys is that they take you to a point that you wouldn’t reach otherwise. They ground you. They grow you. They encourage you to acknowledge where you are in order to understand what is possible for you. They allow you to obtain a new perspective. They allow you to witness the heights of possibility in ways unimagined. They plant seeds in us that are sewn so deep they will reflect in everything we are a part of from that point on.

So, regardless of if you are in a valley or on a cloud from success, I encourage you to remember that as long as you maintain a fruitful perspective, there will always be fruit in your life.