Kevanté Cash: Heyyyyy y’all! Welcome back to the chatroom! It’s been a minute but, all things good, I hope?
Tanicia Pratt: Hey girlies. It’s so good to be back! I’m not gonna lie, this spring/early-summer season has been kind of chaotic for me: with a new job, Ramadan, school applications and a new project. And it seems like every time I finish one task, five more tasks pop up just leaving me drained. But pressure makes diamonds so I’m just focusing on...staying focused 😅.
Jodi Minnis: Hiya! I’ve been… keeping. Trying to keep my head above water and swim forward.
KC: I feel that. It’s the same on this end. Continuing my detox process, preparing for the new; throwing out the old… in the most practical ways too. I guess I've been thinking a lot about how life has shifted tremendously for me since graduating from college; what it means to be an ‘adultier’ adult, if you will (LOL) and how I feel off course and on course at the same time. I think it’s fitting too since it’s June and it’s nearing the last stretch of college graduation ceremonies and the beginning of celebrations for high school grads. I wanna know though, what has life been like for you both post-graduation?
TP: I gin’ need my money back 😭! Post-grad life isn’t all that your professors and family make it out to be. It’s very much a shark tank out here and constantly being on the grind. Which is fine, but if I knew ahead of time the ways the economy and job market would be changing, I think I would’ve been more prepared.
JM: Girl, I feel that. I wish that I could fully say that I’m in the post-graduate stage of my life, but sadly, I’m not. Hopefully, in a few weeks, I will be. However, since “walking”, it feels as though my life as come to a pause and I’m standing in the middle of the ocean drowning while simultaneously trying to figure out which direction to swim in. I would be lying if I said that my life was in a good place right now, ‘cause it’s not. But that’s okay though; it only means it has room to get better. I also feel the need to add a disclaimer that I am an extremely dramatic person.
TP: *whispers* believe her….
KC: LOL! But, we’re definitely on similar paths, Jodi. I’m there as well since graduating, and sometimes it feels as though the Universe is conspiring against me, but then I have to constantly remind myself that she is not. That there is no right or wrong path, no fixed agenda. Only a path of your decisions and that the Universe works around those decisions to give you the results you seek to experience. Laughing now as I think deeply about that quote from Deepak Chopra, because I remember being fresh out of undergrad two years ago and saying to myself and the Universe, I want to freelance. I want to work for myself, build up my clientele and be my own boss; and every occupational experience I’ve had since then - the good and bad - has led me back to that same statement. While it is challenging to navigate life as a freelancer in The Bahamas, I’m trying to remain still, hold out hope and let the opportunities flow to me. If that makes sense?
TP: I think that makes sense, K. For me, post-grad life is the real journey that shapes your later years. If you’re looking for work within your degree-field it’s not so easy as people would think. I constantly see ads for jobs in my field (Marketing), but when you read the description they’re either asking for something that has nothing to do with what you’ve learned or they’re expecting to pay you less than what you ask for 😒. It’s a complete shift from what our parents’ generation were used to. They only needed to focus on experience and they worked that job up until retirement. But for millennials, I find that we’re not always secure at the workplace because either the job asks for too much and we stretch ourselves thin, or find a better opportunity elsewhere. Millennials also find themselves on “breaks” where they’re not working a traditional 9 - 5 for months until they find a company worth working for. I’ve learned, after graduation, that self-preservation is of the utmost importance. Because if I’m not happy or valued for the work that I put in, I can better spend my time at home working on projects I actually like. Boy, it’s a good thing I’m not just a marketer. This fluidity in my creative space allows me to pool in money from other sourcing i.e. writing, creative direction.
KC: The part where you talked about millennials opting out of 9-5 jobs that undervalue and overwork them, I felt! I think it’s been statistically proven that the millennial generation are the ones who would rather work on contract or settle for part-time pay than work a full-time 8-hour job that isn’t benefiting their holistic wellness. I think it’s true about our generation, that we value ourselves a little too much (maybe even more than generations before us) to allow a job to work us to the bone then end up cutting us later. I’ve had that be a personal challenge for me since completing undergrad. I started a job six months after graduating and while it had its pros like me being able to take in a lot of information I may not have received in journalism school, it had its cons, like me working after hours - taking the work home to complete on more than enough occasions that it used to mess with my sleeping cycle. Not only that, but I would feel incapable all the time and like an inadequate writer because my writing never “matched up to company’s standards”. It played with my mental health as well. So all around, I was experiencing exhaustion and a case of low esteem from this job for four and a half months… and then they decided to cut me. It was hurtful at first but when I really sat down and processed the entire experience, the cut was for the better… to lead me right back to the very same statement I would find to be solidly true lol.
TP: Tree can’t grow without no heavy rain.
KC: Word up!
JM: Girl, I get it. The Universe is always guiding us back to our truest selves. As for me, my biggest hold up trying to obtain this degree is money, money, money, moneyyyyyyy, moneyyy! I used to say that I was in a lower socioeconomic class and my mother would get furious with me, but sis, it’s the truth lol. The personal challenges I’ve faced have all been a direct result of money issues. As an artist, there are times when I have a steady income and money is flowing, but a lot of the money was just funneled straight towards my tuition. Now it feels like the money is just trickling in. It happens. One of the challenges now is that I don’t have a cause to raise money for, how will I sell my work? I’m battling with a lot of doubt and insecurity at the moment, not in my abilities but in my plans and next steps. Once again, I am dramatic lol.
TP: I think doubt comes naturally when things seem to be on pause. And people don’t realize that money is at the root for a lot of people’s situational depression and anxieties. From an artistic perspective, post-grad life has been… tough. Because you can’t write or create anything if you’re worried about the rent but you also can’t write if you’re spending so much time paying the rent, aye 😓? I find balancing work, life, and my creative space to be tough. It often means sacrificing time with friends and family. For me, I’m someone who is more creative in the morning time. So when I’m working from 9am - 5pm, I’m drained by the time I reach home. But I have been writing more recently because I felt the pressure to commit myself to putting out consistent pieces (even if that means staying up when I’m tired). So this Spring, what I’ve been doing was coming home around 6pm; grabbing some food, resting for about an hour, taking a shower and hitting the road - to either a Starbucks or gas station cafe. And I would write there until l start to get sleepy. This means coming home sometimes at 4am to get ready and do it all over again. But what I’ve learned was that if I have my heart set on a goal, I need to sacrifice for that moment to fit in the time to do that. Sacrifice & Discipline are key.
But what are some of the artistic challenges you’ve both been faced with since walking or completing your degrees?
KC: That’s powerful! And something I should consider more when I get overwhelmed with work and/or the duties of the day and make up excuses for not feeding my creative self. As for me, right now since I’m freelancing, I find that scheduling days in to create has been useful and most impactful. So I can dedicate a full Wednesday to just sitting down and editing essays or poetry and writing new affirmations for my collection. I’ve also been turning more to affirmations as a creative outlet recently and I don’t consciously know why, but I think my subconscious mind is up to something lol. But I’ll tell you, it took me a while to get to this place of realization that being an artist was something I wanted to do and could actually make money from. I think that’s been the biggest challenge of them all for me - sitting in that truth. And I thought that I couldn’t claim it because I hadn’t been to art or creative writing school, so it was safer if I just referred to myself as an arts enthusiast… but I’m realizing I’m definitely more than that. I’m an artist, creative writer and journalist seeking to perfect myself and craft by surrounding myself with individuals who can help to elevate me along this journey. I’ve even taken the steps to enroll myself in a MFA creative writing program because I want to be taken seriously as the artist I claim I am, and I also need to manifest this money, as Jodi says! I’ve found since finishing undergrad too, that just an undergraduate degree in certain fields just won’t do. And that within itself may be arguable, but when you consider someone who’s studied journalism wanting to make the switch to the arts, some level of higher education should occur. It doesn’t necessarily have to be applying for a Masters program but certifications or something of the likes should be considered if we’re serious about being taken seriously. I know I just opened up a can of worms and I’m totally okay with that, but it makes space for conversations we may hold in the future lol.
JM: Whewww, chile. That was a lot lol! But I feel you. I do not have any artistic challenges at the moment. I’ve been energized and excited to create new work. Fortunately, my grandmother who is the most supportive grandmother in the world is providing a studio space for me. It is still being renovated so I hope to move in later this year. I’m transitioning more to drawing now because it’s less expensive to do here than painting with oil paints. I wouldn’t consider this a challenge; however, I’ve been thinking about my subject matter. I look at artists like Betye Saar and Michael Ray Charles and what they’ve accomplished, so I know it’s possible to create the kind of work that I want to and be successful.
Any major successes from each of you?
TP: So far, this year, my work was published in 3 literary mags, and I did an interview feature w/ Nosey Bad. I’m also working on releasing new work, collabs and sending out some more rounds of submissions. So it all works out. Once you set your mind on what your aim is, you’ll always get rewarded. Just need to be sure on what it is you want, and be patient.
KC: Congrats, Tanicia! That’s inspiring for a young creative writer like myself. I think as of recently, my major success has been applying for grad school and getting in. Also, joining a badass women’s circle of Black writers who are helping to prepare me for my ventures abroad with schooling. Last year, the biggest thing for me was releasing my micropoems and affirmations to the world via social media. Thankfully, I found a community among the interwebs that has embraced my voice and keeps pushing and inspiring me to create and release more. I’m definitely not in a rush or in the space right now to give out a full body of work as yet, but it’s humbling to see and hear from social media friends who support my writing. Oh, and one of my poems was featured on an ‘End-Of-Year’ literary series for a beauty and holistic wellness site: The Reign XY. I thought that was a cool highlight of last year too lol. Just taking life in strides and going after the opportunities as they come along, is all.
JM: My girls are not just poets but published poets. I am proud! I completed 127 credits out of 124 necessary to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree, and I walked during the May commencement ceremony to mark that achievement. However, after degree auditing, I am still two classes short (bummer), but it feels good to be very close to the finish line. Apart of “graduating” with a BFA from my university is displaying your work in a thesis exhibition, the exhibition opened in April and closed in May. I received a prestigious award from my department and it gave me the motivation I needed to keep going. I’m also apart of the Small Works exhibition at the Current, and I sold a piece! I think that’s about it.
TP: Congratulations on everything girls! 👏👏👏 Dis’ how I gatta hear you get publish na, K? 😅 But that’s awesome. I’ve had the chance to see Jodi’s work in person and I am so proud. Stalking your IG to view the process and to actually see it on the walls was stunning. I must say this year’s theme “I Fry Fish for Me / Not Your Bahama Mama” was my fave since “Home”. Couldn’t consider who better for UT to award.
KC: LOL! My bad! Tenkss doe & congrats, Jodi! We out here killing the game. I’m proud!
But, last question before we close out, what is one thing you’ve found to be true about college while navigating life as a post-graduate?
TP: Grades 👏matter 👏. If you’re thinking of leveling up for another degree, scholarship, grant etc. Your transcript matters! I’m just so tired of people telling freshman it’s okay to fail classes after they glittered their transcripts with D’s. Understand that graduating college is a privilege, so do your best no matter the department. Also, make relationships with your professors and take their advice about internships seriously. If you want to be a working professional, experience matters just as much as your degree. Many companies aren’t willing to hire you if you only have a degree with less than 3 years of experience. Get that experience whether it means working in campus life, or your departments’ projects. Learn to balance college and work life (and your artistic projects) from early on. Pick up a technical skill in an elective class. Keep a main and side hustle. All the best, kiddos!
JM: Grades do matter. College, in my opinion, is more about placing yourself in unfamiliar territory and learning how to survive than just learning. I believe that the most valuable lessons you learn is about how best you, as an individual, can use the information and resources that’s accessible to you. You can have a wealth of knowledge in front of you, but if you don’t know how to access it and how it can work for you, it will not be valuable to you. I agree with what Tanicia said about college being a privilege. College is expensive, and colleges are businesses. I also think and I will shout this from the mountain top, that UB is doing a great disservice to it’s art major by not offering a Bachelor’s degree or having an understanding with another institution in the UK for us to matriculate into. Anyway, they will make it happen. But, do your best, soak up all the opportunities, exhaust all the people resources!
KC: Chile, that was a lot to take in. But I feel it though.
Kevanté Cash is a "Writer + poet + publicist"... or at least that's what her email signature reads. She credits her Piscean nature and idolization of Badu for the maintenance of her fluidity and duality. You can typically find her immersed in literature, curating her IG stories to fit an 'artsy, self-love' vibe, hanging with friends to discuss the latest in pop culture + astrology or journaling for healing’s sake. She holds a BA in Media Journalism from The University of The Bahamas and acts as Gray Area's chief editor.
Jodi Minnis is a multi-disciplinary artist from Nassau, Bahamas based in Tampa, Florida (at the moment). Her work focuses on the intersections of gender, race and culture in Bahamian society. She also makes work that tethers and exposes the lines of the personal and the political. The artistic director of Gray Area, she holds an Associates in Fine Arts from the College of The Bahamas and is pursuing a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of Tampa.
Tanicia Pratt is a writer, poet and performer from Nassau, Bahamas. Her life is a gray area; often reflected in her work + identity. She is unpredictable. Lover of ‘whatever’s interesting’...and coffee. Tanicia holds a BA in Marketing from The University of the Bahamas. Creative Director of Gray Area.