23

Written by Oodie Taliaferro

You were 23. You were working at a coffee company that you just knew you would work with for years. Sure, your boss said some really inconsiderate things to you, sure your identity was a punchline, but you were young and impostor syndrome shook you to the core. I mean, who else would put you in an education position? Wasn’t this company that had footing in two major Texas cities it for you?

You wanted to grow with a company that had a name. You would’ve put yourself through hell with them to be successful, and you did, but the success that you craved and fought for just wasn’t on the horizon for you. You failed a lot and you failed hard. It took months of emotional manipulation to finally realize that everything you thought to be true, the glamour of the job, the title that came with it meant nothing. I mean, you weren’t even being paid what you were told you were going to be. What was it that made it all worth it? A year and a half of hell. Why did you stay?

You begin to realize how much growth you have restricted yourself from, how the things that you placed value on didn’t line up with that of the company that you tried so desperately to align yourself with. What comes next? How do you set yourself up for progression now?

“You have to stand up for yourself the way you stand up for others.”

 

Your friends are right. You have to move forward. So what, this dream job didn’t work out. You’re only 23. This is not your peak. You walked into the next meeting with your bosses and finally, you do it. You call out the inappropriate behavior and hope for the best. Little did you know, you would not feel better after this, you would actually Most Definitely Feel Worse than before. You send in your two weeks the next morning. You leave the job that you credited for bringing you so far.

On to the next thing.

Over the next year you would go on to a company that valued people as much as they valued coffee. You would find yourself uniquely positioned to independently take part in a competition that would send you to Seattle to compete with some of the best baristas in the nation. You will do this because you are good at what you do and people want to help you because they value you and your success as much as you value theirs. All of the impostor syndrome, all of the crushing feelings of failure and desire to leave the industry you love would shake away. You will walk on to a national stage and be able to speak into others the way that you’ve been craving to be spoken into for years. Through all the pain and failure, you will find success.

As someone who has changed their minds about what their life was supposed to look like once every three years for their entire life, failure is no stranger to you. With each failure comes the realization of significant growth. Each time you fail, whether financially, in your career, or in your relationships, you will come to learn that they all are for a reason. Each time you find yourself lost and without direction you will adjust and redirect. Nobody is better at being you than you, nobody can love yourself like you can. You’ll learn that accepting the stumbles as they come along will only raise you higher. You’ll learn to fail and fail hard, because once your knees and face hit the concrete, the only thing that’s left to do is wipe the tears from your eyes, brush the gravel out of your knees and keep moving.


 Photo by Reed J Kenney

Photo by Reed J Kenney

Oodie Taliaferro is a freshly minted Austin transplant from Dallas, Texas. They work in the specialty coffee industry and strive to push back against the boundaries set in place by the ever-present colonial traditionalists. Catch them reading too many books, making dank cappuccinos, and trying their best to create spaces for non-white people living outside of a binary.

Chelsea Francis