Proud Black Woman/Fitness Enthusiast/Lover of People/Lover of Jesus
I have the ability to make people feel comfortable in almost any situation or community. I didn’t realize this was a gift until recently. My heart for people extends beyond just being nice. I really try to find something unique about every single person upon first meeting them.
My parents divorced when I was in 6th grade. That was extremely difficult at that time, but I channeled this “inner strength” at the young age of 10 and felt like I had to protect my mom and sister during this time. While my parents are now re-married (wild, I know haha) the strength I exhibited at such a young age has manifested itself in other areas of my life to this day.
It was less than 1 year ago that I truly recognized MY power. I was always able to identify it in others and secretly envied those who had recognized and embraced the power they brought into this world. When I got diagnosed with a rare form of Vasculitis in early 2015, I felt empty… like the little bit of power I did have, had completely vanished. I struggled tremendously trying to wrap my head around the fact that I, of all people, had to go through that at such a young age.
I was in a lot of pain for almost a year. I lost strength in my feet, arms, and hands. I wasn’t able to fully utilize my hands and had to re-learn how to hold a pencil and chopsticks. Once my medication actually started working, I had a lot of side effects from it – extreme weight gain, mood swings, constant fatigue, among many other daily inconveniences.
This made my job at Google very difficult. Simply trying to get through the day was absolutely miserable. At this same time, I was planning my wedding; which obviously comes with its own stress. I left my contract role at Google and attempted to focus on my health and my wedding.
While this was the best decision from a physical standpoint, mentally, I was not in a good place. I didn’t know of anyone at the age of 25 who had to quit their job due to health reasons. I dealt with depression and was very angry.
I saw all of my friends prospering in their jobs and in their lives (at least according to social media), yet I was in a bad place at that time. Not to mention, I was in constant pain, trying to plan a wedding, and at the doctor’s office multiple times a week.
I honestly don’t know when the mind shift happened, but it turned from “Why me?” to “I’m pretty bad a** for being able to go through this and still hold my head up!”. I thank God that I have supportive family and friends that helped me through that terrible time. I’m so incredibly thankful that I do not have to stress about having to work a traditional job to pay for everyday expenses. I have an amazing husband who works hard and supports our family.
When I was diagnosed, I was not able to work a typical 9-5pm job, like I had my heart set on. During my time at home, I decided to make the most of it. I knew that I was destined for more than sitting at home. I used my organizational skills and love for weddings and events and made a business out of it! God helped me to find my purpose and passion in being a Wedding Coordinator.
I went out on a limb and started my own company, E33 Bay Area. I am thankful every single day I took the leap. I can work from home or a coffee shop during the week and take a break or a nap if my meds make me sleepy. I also get the satisfaction of working outside of the home when I’m onsite at a wedding or event. I absolutely love it, am thankful for my business, and enjoy getting to know the couples and vendors I get to work with.
I have since made the decision to share my story with those who may be suffering in silence. I want to be an advocate for those who are not yet comfortable speaking up about being ill or facing adversity and are too afraid or ashamed to share. I hope that by being vulnerable, it will encourage others to be vulnerable as well.
I want people to see that it’s completely normal to not be “perfect.” Deep down we all know this, but for some reason people have a difficult time expressing their difficulties and hardships. I believe that if more people shared what they were really facing, we’d all have more emotional support about what we are really dealing with.
I want to continue on my journey to becoming the woman I have always dreamed of becoming… and then some. I want to continue taking myself out of my comfort zone, try new things, talk to new people, hear more stories, share more, see more of the world, help more people, and live every day with purpose and drive.
If I had to leave people with one thing, I’d tell them to be proud to “Be YOU”. Don’t let the fake lives portrayed on social media define you or how you think you should live your life. If you want to try something, go for it. Live your best life, everyday. Embrace being an individual of color, in whatever way that means to YOU. Share YOUR story because it will unlock your gift to this work and you never know who it may help.
Want to stay connected to Erica and her work?
- Wedding Coordinator business: https://www.e33bayarea.com/
- Business ig:@e33bayarea
- Personal ig: @ericaada