Storm or Nah?

“Not all storms come to disrupt your life. Some come to clear your path.” 


I was waiting for my train this morning and lazily scrolling through my Instagram feed when this quote popped up.  Y’all. Your girl almost shed a little thug tear. I’m sure you can all also relate because- life. I feel like sometimes, especially as black women, we get hit with these massive “bomb cyclone” type storms in life and it is so hard to see the why or the good that came out of them. 


I remember my first real-life adult code red “storm”. I was getting ready to graduate from college- planning to move to Houston and live my best life! That is what I had spent the last four years prepping for right? Wrong. Wrong AF.  The housing market had just crashed taking the job market (aka my hopes and dreams) with it. I was a college grad, with thousands of dollars of debt, working at Target, living with my parents and receiving food stamps.  Life Storm- 15054 Joy- 0


Moving back home was hard, but not only did it motivate me, it also gave me time. Time to think and figure it all out. If I can’t get a decent job, then I should probably go back to school right? That sounded safe. The only thing I have ever been truly passionate about has been to travel so maybe I can just do graduate school someplace else? That sounds dope. Two birds with one stone. So, I began to research schools overseas. The more research I did, the more I realized I would need a job if I wanted to survive. Life Storm- 93884 Joy- 0


I kept seeing ads about teaching English. It was something I could potentially do off the books as well in the event that my student visa for whichever country limited my working hours. It seemed plausible enough- I spoke English, right? I could teach it! I ended up getting my official certification and taking a leave of absence from my job at Target to work at an ESL summer camp and get some hands-on experience without leaving the country. I found out, I actually enjoyed it! This was me. Life Storm- 85012 Joy-2


My ass was out here hustling up ESL volunteer work to pad my resume with experience while juggling my work schedule. I finally decided to go abroad- to China. Storm clouds tried to gather up- visa issues were plaguing the experience but I happened to have a big dinner with some old high school friends right around the same time. A friend, also an ESL teacher, was like “Girl, send me your resume!.” I credit this girl to this day for clearing that pathway bruh. To this dayyyy. Long story short, I sent her that resume I had spent a miserable year cultivating. I got an offer to teach in North Africa a week later. 


I haven’t looked back since that e-mail. At 30, I have lived in 5 continents (prepping to move to country #6!) and have a passport half full of stamps. My friends actually call me Carmen San Diego.  Have there been other storms? Absolutely. Living abroad is hard- I’ve cried, I’ve been frustrated, and I’ve felt overwhelmed. But I have never regretted or doubted the road I took- I am actually really thankful for that storm now. Without it, I don’t think I would be where I am. Hell, I don’t think I would be the woman I am today with it. I’m proud of that and what I have accomplished. In the words of the great Canadian philosopher, Drake, “Everybody dies but not everybody lives.” 

Written By: Joy Robinson

Occupation: English as a Foreign Language Teacher / Freelancer

Location: Melbourne, Australia