This week is Brittany D. Claybrooks who is an alumni of Florida Agriculture & Mechanical University and New York University & a urban planner and also a council nominee.
1. What is the best advice you can give to someone starting out?
On my journey, I did my best to give every season all I had. It didn't matter how high or low of a point it was. I am a goal setter and task master by nature so I always had a plan; BUT I remained fully present in whatever stage of life I was living. When I was hanging in the streets and fighting in grade school, I did it fully present. I was fully present in my environment. I always wanted better and when better came, I took a full leap toward that. I wasn't perfect, and there were great times, good times, okay times, bad times, and even horrible, rock bottom times. But I never sought to skip a step. I took it as it came and worked through it all. From trying to pass my remedial math course at Tallahassee community college to eventually working my way up to tutoring math at levels as high as precalculus, graduating with honors, moving on to FAMU and graduating with honors again, and then graduate school at NYU. From working temporary work study and property maintenance jobs to working in state, federal, and city governments, and eventually running for office. From being ashamed to talk about my background and where I came from, to taking the journey in therapy and fully embracing ALL of who I am. And finally, from barely believing God cared about people like me to developing a real relationship with Him and fully experiencing how good He really is. I gave it all 100 percent at whatever time it came. So, to anyone at any point on their journey, especially to those who have just taken the leap toward whatever better looks like for them, my advice is just that: Give 100 percent to where you are at the time. I don't care what anybody says, you can't skip a step. You'll miss something. If you are broke, be that and learn how to make due with what you have so that you understand the value of stewardship. If you get the job, no matter what it is, give it all you got while you are there until you are blessed with better. When you are single, do your own inner work. (The work of someone else and a relationship is a job of its own. Get a head start which lies on the inside of yourself FIRST.) When you are uncomfortable, don't fight it. Learn what it is you need to get grounded. And lastly, when God blesses you with the high points along the way, never forget to be grateful. In fact, when you are giving it all you have, it's extremely hard not to be when you reflect on the entire journey.
2. What things inspire your process?
There is a lot that that inspires me. But among the top is the desire to become all that I am meant to be and inspire others to do the same regardless of how they started. I really believe that people deserve to experience their highest level of self actualization, especially when they were born into any form of struggle like so many of my people have. As I grow, serve, and lead (when necessary), I believe I have a responsibility to share myself and what I have learned so that others may do the same. I'll always be the one that left and moved up, but I'll also always be the one that stopped to help make someone else's life better along the way. I am always careful to leave every place I encounter just a little better than when I found it if I can.
3. Who are three people you look up to or inspire you?
Lawd! This is a tough one. Only three?! (Deep breath) Here we go.... (1) God, because..... Well... He's God. No one can compete. He's done too much. He's just that Good. (2) My Dad, Big Courtney. He's my best buddy. He really drove it home for me that I could be something in life and he made sure that he did everything in his power to see too it that I did. It didn't matter how hard I resisted at times, he never gave up on me. Folks who know his life understand what real perseverance, resurgence, and grit looks like. He has been through so much and yet he STILL finds a way to land on his feet. He stumbles but he lands nonetheless. I don't know a single person in his life who hasn't been influenced, helped, or inspired by him at some point. I'm just one of many and I appreciate him for it. (3) Every, and I mean every, woman that helped - and continues to help - me in any way on the journey. Sisters, all the "mama's" I gained along the way including my own two mothers (adopted and biological), cousins, friends, church members, colleagues, bosses, mentors, teachers...... I mean my God. There are too many to fit in this one interview. We'd be here all day. The journey to womanhood never ends and it's tough. As Michelle Obama has proclaimed, we are always "becoming." But I am grateful to have had so many different blueprints to help me through. [BONUS: Nipsey Hussle. (Duh). We shared the same sentiments and road map on how to live this funny thing called life. He's gone now but I replay old interviews and listen to a few of my favorite songs to keep going sometimes. It felt good to know that somebody else still thought keeping it G and reaching back in a real way was cool in modern day society. We forget how important it is sometimes.)