For many of us, change is one of the most uncomfortable things in the world. Yet, it’s the one thing that we all know we’re going to experience. Most of the time it happens without our permission, other times we choose it.
This is one of those times. I’m choosing change.
Those of you who have been with me for the long haul know that I’ve been blogging for nearly a decade. (Crazy, right?!) ‘Blake Von D’ began as a space where I was simply writing about the things that were happening in my life. I was completing my senior year at Spelman College and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life next and, honestly, didn’t feel like I had very many options. Although it had always been my dream to go to law school, I had let fear of rejection talk me out of even applying. The shame of that decision pushed me into a state of denial. To the point that I didn’t even really bother with applying for post-graduation jobs until it was much too late and by the time graduation rolled around, I was feeling pretty hopeless.
So, New Year’s Eve 2008, I started a blog.
I eventually found a job as an AmeriCorps member, but in all honesty, my heart wasn’t in it. I was so lost and broken on the inside, I didn’t have the heart to give. I had struggled through all of college with the realities of being a dark-skinned Black woman. Always comparing myself to lighter women and feeling that I didn’t measure up. I was also still trying to heal the wounds that came with growing up in foster care. All while floundering professionally and financially. Let’s just suffice it to say, I was a hot mess.
But instead of trying to fix what was broken, I buried myself inside this persona I had created. This woman—the internet version of Blake—who was bold, confident, driven and knew exactly what she wanted out of life. She was my Sasha Fierce. But in real life, I was anything but.
I embraced Blake Von D fully. I made her the woman I wanted to be and then I got busy pretending to be that woman.
Photo credit: Victoria Gamlen
“I made her the woman I wanted to be and then I got busy pretending to be that woman.”
And it worked for many, many years. As my little corner of the internet grew I—the real Blake—began to grow, too. I big chopped. I moved to NYC. I got a Master’s degree. I even made my way to law school. Finally, learned to love myself. I moved to Chicago. Passed the NY bar exam. I did it all. But then one day I looked up and realized, I had done all of those things as me, as Blake, and that person wasn’t getting enough recognition for her growth.
I began to feel suffocated and I wanted out. Badly. But like clockwork, that fear of change reared its ugly head.
Self-doubt made me wonder: “Would people accept plain ole Blake?” But there were also the career concerns. I had just recently decided to go full-time as an influencer and I questioned whether I had enough brand equity to detour now? I convinced myself the answer was ‘no’ and so I resolved to stay the same.
And I did…for 3.5 more years.
This past September, I decided to finally take the leap.
I was beyond excited and immediately got to work bringing my vision to life. Because this was more than just a name change, for me. It was me finally stepping out of an alter ego and into me—just me—and a simple ‘edit profile’ wouldn’t be enough to mark the evolution. FOR ME.
This change was about giving myself (and anyone else who might be in a similar head space) permission to shed the things that no longer serve me. Whether it’s a career, a relationship, a friendship, or a hometown, I needed to make it clear you can leave it behind. You can move on. And it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the lessons or growth that period of my life provided, it just means I’m ready for new lessons.
But change isn’t always easy…and this change was no exception.
I hit many road blocks along the way. Many of them technical. Finding someone at Instagram to change my username was a nightmare. I couldn’t get my old content migrated onto the new site. My computer crashed. You name it. And, of course, I had moments where I second-guessed my decision from a branding perspective. People had grown attached to this version of me and, again, change is hard. For everyone. But I am under no obligation to be the same person I was a year ago, a month ago, a week ago. Those who want to journey with me would understand that.
“I am under no obligation to be the same person I was a year ago, a month ago, a week ago.”
Now that it’s all said and done, I feel such a weight lifted and like I can finally move forward without that nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I heard someone refer to me by a name I no longer felt connected to. I feel free. Much like I felt when I big chopped.
What you see is what you get. No glitz. No glam. No distractions. Just me.