Reflection: A life transition through travel

Rasharra Smith PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

I “heart” New York!

I had never been to New York City before. I had never been on a plane before.

The year 2024 has given me so much and continues to give.

In January, I shared my 2024 affirmations, and I must say, they are working for me. I’ve gotten a new car, a new job and a new salary. I’ve met so many new people and experienced so many new things, and I’m not done yet. I visited New York on a work trip. My birthday was May 17. I’m now 26. We left for New York on May 20. Happy birthday to me.

I’d like to share a not-so-secret, secret: I am blessed and highly favored. This month, this moment, I’m taking time to thank God for everything I have, for everything I do and for all that I am. I don’t just praise him in private. I praise him loud and proud.

Lately, it has hit me that I am living the life I used to pray for, cry for, hurt for. I say this because I’ve come very far as a person, an artist and as a writer.

I cried this morning while I was speaking to myself in the mirror, as one does in the morning getting dressed for work. They weren’t sad tears though, and that made me cry even more.

I just graduated with my Master’s Degree, a first-generation graduate. I remember days when I didn’t think I’d live past high school. My pain and grief had taken over, and there were times when I thought of taking my life before ever thinking I’d set foot on a college campus or in a graduate study classroom.

I let my art reflect my mind at the time, and my poetry spoke everything I couldn’t bring myself to say out loud.

I saw a friend a few days ago who asked how my writing was going. He asked, “Are you still writing dark stuff?” Not that I didn’t know a large percentage of my work was heavy, but when he said it, I felt a little offended and ashamed. That is not how I want to be remembered, as the tortured artist. It’s a washed up trope, and I’m not always dark and twisty (but I have been for a long time).

For the first time in a long time now, I’m happy. I don’t mean fake happiness either, like when someone asks you how you’re doing, and you say fine when you really aren’t. No masking. No pretending.

I’m grateful for how far I’ve come mentally and emotionally. I finally feel like I’m growing into the woman I’m meant to be. I’m growing into the artist I want to be and becoming the writer that has more to say than I did before.

I enjoy sharing my journey with everyone who supports me. And I enjoy my time writing every month for those who follow my column. This opportunity has helped me discover the kind of writer I want to be. I’m multifaceted, and my work as an artist and writer always will demonstrate that. I’m ready to show the world more sides of me. I have new poems I’m working on, new artwork in the making. I have new and bigger goals for myself and my career.

I’ve traveled before, but this is new and different. I’m new and different, and I like it. Traveling is transitioning. I’m excited to see where I’m going next, not just on the map, but in life.

This month, I’d like to ask if the world would travel with me. Grow with me, go with me on my journey. Just then, maybe I can reach my number one goal as an artist — to take you to places you’ve never been, through my words and through my work.

Rasharra Smith is a recent graduate of the University of Dubuque.

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