“I just want to be happy.” It sounds so simple but this has been my plea to God for the past 16 years. I experienced several traumatic losses during my childhood, including my father, in addition to struggling with identity issues that were never properly dealt with. I shut off my emotions believing I had to be a “strong black man” and embarked down a self destructive path that led to more anguish, heartache, and pain. I filled the void that I felt deep within with extracurriculars and sports during high school, and in college, internships and leadership roles. Insecurities overwhelmed me and I found myself in toxic situationships with those that didn’t truly care about me. It took a nervous breakdown from working 40 hours a week, going to school full time, and dealing with a heartbreak like no other during my sophomore year of college to realize that I needed to do something different. Overworked and emotionally drained from loving someone that was incapable of reciprocating, I found myself physically and mentally unable to proceed like I previously had done. In July of 2015, I set out on a soul searching journey in order to live the life that God has destined for me and truly understand my purpose. It has been difficult and emotionally draining. However, I must put in the work if I want to see the results. Day by day. One step at a time. I owe it to myself. For every night I spent crying, for every blunt I rolled in my old apartment to cope, and for every day I stood on the train platform staring at the edge while the Red Line approached daring myself to end it all. I deserve a shot at happiness and I’m finally ready to give myself that gift.