Name: Tiffany Walker
Occupation: Non-profit CEO/ Therapist
How I am Living Fearlessly: My name is Tiffany Walker, I was born and raised in Newark, NJ and currently live in Orange, NJ. In 2016, I left my job at a well-known university in the pursuit of purpose. It was a wild and tough journey but ultimately it refined my character and redirected my entire career and life mission. It was during that year that I launched Pathways Toward Peace. Pathways Toward Peace is a non-profit whose mission is to provide capacity building and training to faith and community-based organizations about mental health (www.pathwaystowardpeace.org).
To be honest, I never wanted to do this work. I remember when I was an undergraduate student at Widener University, I completed my field placement as a school social worker and told my advisor I never wanted to be a therapist. Really, I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t think I could do it. And I thought it was a better fit for something else. Despite, completing my MSW at Columbia University, I had it made it up in my mind that I would have a successful and lucrative career as an administrator; creating, and evaluating and managing youth development programs. However, life would have a different variation of the story.
I would experience a significant season of turmoil, mainly watching my mom battle severe clinical depression while simultaneously fighting to maintain my own mental and emotional health amongst career frustration, heartbreak, financial challenges, losing friends and just navigating life as a millennial woman of color. I now realize that you can only be effective in where you’ve been afflicted. So the seasons I thought were meant to kill my joy and ruin my life truly developed me for this work. It made me more graceful, more relatable and more compassionate.
I created Pathways Toward Peace because I was concerned about the lack of conversation, resources and practical information available in faith-based communities about depression and other mental illnesses. Historically, the idea of charity was rooted in the Catholic Church and people of color have always credited their faith to the reason behind their resilience. Yet, unfortunately, mental health is still a taboo subject in vulnerable communities. So I’ve spent the last year of my life completely immersed in this work.
It has been slow, painful and it often feels like I’ve experienced more losses than wins. I’m learning that’s just part of the territory. I do my best to glean on and stay motivated by the successes of Pathways Toward Peace like receiving two small grants and launching our Training Institute. It’s tough work and there is SO much that I am constantly managing, but I wouldn’t neglect this vision if you paid me. And I mean that!
Now my career is on a brand new trajectory. I finally passed my licensing exam (five years after completing my graduate degree. So in addition to running a mental health advocacy non-profit I’ve begun working as an outpatient therapist. I love this work! It’s arduous, but it is also rewarding and I can appreciate that now my “9-5” is in alignment with and my entrepreneurial vision until it can support itself. All of these things affirm that I’m on my God created path.
I sometimes feel like the phrase “fearlessly living” is a misnomer. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel “scared” about a big decision I have to make, a relationship I have to cultivate (or server) for the business, or money I have to miraculously come up with for an expense. Honestly, I am greeted by fear almost every day BUT every day I consciously make a choice to surrender that fear to my God and get to work!
If there’s anything I could to say to someone who feels an idea or vision tugging on his or her heart it would be to go for it and look out for your personalized provision! Some people are able to save a bunch of money before starting; some people are pushed into it because there are literally no other doors opening. Whatever be your reason or your circumstance, hold on to your convictions and your dreams with every fiber of your being. And when you see fear knocking on your door, give to God, I promise you will not be disappointed. In fact, you’ll be fearlessly living with an abundance of peace and purpose!