After college graduation, I had the rare opportunity to move out to Los Angeles and work as the director of marketing for a television production company. One of the first lessons I learned, aside from the power of an earthquake, was “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Some of the biggest stars and most successful, generous, and friendly people dress in the most plain, unassuming clothes and manner. While much of that is by design (to not draw attention), just as much is related to their confidence and understanding of self-worth, which has nothing to do with the clothes they wear and everything to do with how they treat others and experience the most of out of life. On the flipside, some of the most untrustworthy people I worked with were those who were well polished. They put on a good show, but when you visited their home, in many cases there was literally nothing inside – they were beautiful on the outside, but empty on the inside.
I spent eight years in Los Angeles and loved every minute. Some moments were scary, like witnessing drive-by shootings, bomb threats in our building, and having my car and home broken into, but I still loved the city because it’s where my dreams were coming true. I made tremendous life-long friends and I met my wife while I was living out there. Living in a city like Los Angeles, which is a huge melting pot of cultures, you learn that the real measure of a person is not their skin color, socio economic level, the language they speak or the clothes they wear – it’s their heart, positive and encouraging attitude, and desire to help others and make a difference.
Recently, I’ve read facebook posts from friends and had lunch with people who shared difficult stories about divorce, domestic abuse, homelessness, and job loss. Two were women who took their children and had to flee from a bad situation with almost nothing in their pockets and nowhere to go. They shared how differently they’re treated now, now that they’re back on their feet and independently successful, versus when they had nothing but the desire to be safe and live a better life. As we journey through 2017, let’s understand that all of us will go through difficulties, even our great city of Memphis, but let’s look past the clothes we’re wearing and the color of our skins and search for heart. If we encourage each other, we can make a difference together!