Coffee Talk with Vanessa Michelle | What are you willing to sacrifice?

by Vanessa Michelle

The City of Akron paid tribute to Sherice Y. Thompson on Nov. 8, 2019. This day will go down in history as a day of love, legacy, and generosity. Signed and sealed by the Mayor himself. I was able to witness this tribute to Sherice’s daughter (a good friend of mine), Yvette Thompson. 

There are moments in life that require a pause from the hustle. Some moments force us into it. Nov. 8 was one of those moments. I attended Sherice’s funeral. 

Because of this day, I will live a more intentional life. 

Yvette is a warrior, a friend, a relentless entrepreneur. I was able to hang out with Yvette and her mother Sherice during some promotional work for Yvette’s podcast, Life Her Podcast.  

Ms. Sherice Thompson was amazing! She was so genuine and a light for all around her. She was very adamant about women realizing their self-worth. I was all ears whenever she spoke. Her legacy is vivid in Yvette.

I was so inspired by the ceremony for Sherice that it lead me into deep reflection on the evening of the funeral. After spending hours pouring out my feelings in my journal I had this realization: My grandmother, aunt and uncle left their legacy in me. I have to live it out. They all raised me. Their legacy is all the lessons, advice and teachings they passed on to me — most of which I never wanted to acknowledge as a child. 

But now, things are different. I learned a lot through their mistakes and triumphs. I feel like it’s my job to carry on those lessons and use them to be great. On some level, I’ve been subconsciously living out their legacy, but moving forward, I want to be more intentional about it. They set such a great foundation for me. They taught me how to be self-sufficient, a hard worker and a kind person. During my journey as a new entrepreneur, those things were necessary. Without understanding the importance of independence and hard work I wouldn’t be where I am today. And to be honest, I’m nowhere near where I’m going to be in 3 years.

Even though I’m grateful for understanding hard work and executing on it, I’ve been actively redefining what hard work looks like in my life. I was guilty for using “working hard” as an excuse for not attending family events or friends’ birthdays and neglecting personal care. Yeah, I’m open to admit it: I was extremely neglectful and didn’t care about the things I should have cared about. Working hard was more important to me than anything else at the time. Because it meant I was busy being successful, right? 

Wrong! So wrong. When I was in college, I was “too busy” for anything and everything. Those were the best and worst times of my life. I was happy to be independent, but I developed a bad reputation with my family and friends. They got used to hearing me say “I’m too busy,” which sometimes still haunts me today.

Over the years I’ve gotten better at balancing things out. So when I hear really enthusiastic entrepreneurs yelling, “Work hard, sacrifice everything you have to get what you want!” OOHHHHH! It hits such a soft spot for me. Because I did that — and it was unfulfilling. I did need to make sacrifices, but the problem was how I decided to sacrifice. 

The way I see it now is very different, so different that it even scares me! I sound like a real adult when I tell other entrepreneurs who are “working hard” that “sacrificing everything” has nothing to do with family, friends, health or your personal care. It has everything to do with personal discipline, integrity and accountability. 

Mic drop!!! (Haha!)

What do I mean? I believe in personal sacrifice and working hard, but in healthy ways. By working hard during the time you planned. If you promised your little cousin, sister or son that you would be at their concert at 6 pm, then be a badass, efficient hustler from 8 am to 4 pm so you have enough time to commute and get there early. Don’t use your work as an excuse to not show up. It gets worse when you take a rain check or take them for ice cream five weeks later to apologize. This is a bad formula, trust me. We have to seek balance.

Along with sacrificing poor time management, I urge entrepreneurs to sacrifice their procrastination and lazy habits. Create better plans for work and pressure. I guarantee most of us procrastinate because we barely give ourselves enough time to play intentionally, which affects us working intentionally. Right? 

Sacrifice some convenience in favor of your health: Throw away unhealthy eating habits. Sacrifice some relationships so that you can invest in others: Stop dealing with energy suckers. It’s okay to be selfish about these things. I’m giving you (healthy) permission to be selfish and sacrifice for the sake of healthier relationships. 

Be ruthless about your discipline within this framework. When it’s time for family, only do that. If there’s a birthday coming, plan your work around it. Make it to more birthdays. Sacrifice your procrastination, your excuses — not your family and friends. 

Vanessa Michelle is a full-time YouTuber who has created a platform for creatives everywhere!  Her journey to journalism started at the University of Akron, where she was an on-air personality and TV-Host for WZIP-FM and ZTV Akron. Vanessa has been featured in local publications as “The Oprah of YouTube” and one of Akron’s most unique entrepreneurs.

Photo: Used with permission from Vanessa Michelle.