And Why Are You Here?

The story of how a change in career led to a major shift in perspective.

Jael R. Bakari


My mother yelled at me in my dream this morning.

This isn’t an unusual occurrence as the nature of our relationship involved waxing and waning between screaming matches and laugh out loud comical interactions. It was complicated sure but there was no doubt we loved each other. It was just the relating part that was difficult.

So when it was business as usual in my dream this morning I was about to write the whole thing off as more of the same until she asked me a very key question:

what happened to you that you don’t want to talk about?

When dreams do the talking for you

I was flabbergasted both in the dream and when i woke up, because I was left without the words to articulate exactly what it was that happened and could only feel anger and confusion around what had me upset. And that emotional cocktail of anger and frustration, coupled with an inability to articulate what’s wrong, has been a running theme for me for most of my life.

I ended up telling her what was wrong in the dream but in the most direct yet roundabout way possible and then followed up with “but I’m still working through it. ”

Now I have a very very active dream life. So much so that my husband always say “whew that’s a lot” whenever I finish telling him one of them. They are cinematical realities to say the least.

But amid dreams of dinosaur chases, dimension jumping, talks with God and mentors, and of course, ample fights of the verbal and physical nature — apparently I’m an action star in my head — I have not once ever had a conversation like the one I had with my mother this morning. At least that is to say both in real life while she was alive and in the dreams I’ve had of her since, she’s never once asked me about what went on in my childhood that I just don’t want to discuss. And for the most part I haven’t really taken to discussing it much with anyone except a choice few people and it’s something I immediately downplay because I always thought “oh it’s not even that serious, i know people who’ve been through worse.”

You’re Always on a Quest to Find

But a funny thing happened. Somehow over the last three years or so in my quest to live a life of purpose and meaning I’ve become obsessed with finding out what it is I was meant to do in life.

And following sage advice, I dove back into my childhood only to come away with a few key things that made life enjoyable amidst the bullshit experiences I tried to sweep beneath a dusty rug.

Cooking, reading, drawing, acting, singing (even though I’m always flat), writing, telling stories, and comedy; these were the things that brought me joy in the middle of my sadness as a kid.

And I tried my hand at a few of these things again in an attempt to bring myself back to life in my adulthood after finding myself comfortably in the depths of despair following the death of both of my parents.

If you’ve followed me for awhile now you’ll know I even quit my job to go balls to the wall hard and start writing my ass off for a bit hoping to get some kind of public recognition for my talent and ability. And whether you’ve followed me for sometime or not, I’m pretty sure you can guess how that turned out seeing as I am still very much a beast of no name and very much back in the employ of corporate America.

And I’ve been chilling here for the last few years, bullshitting on social media and doom scrolling my way through the apocalypse while I tried to find something, anything to make the pain stop.

The Pieces You Left Behind

In my latest attempt however, I find myself gravitating towards comedy, specifically stand up comedy. Because for some reason I got it in my head that this cutthroat field of irreverent clowns and illustrious performers is somehow meant for me to dive into, despite being over 30 upon entering into the arena.

I did what I was raised to though and as soon as I made up my mind this is what i wanted to try my hand at, I came up with a curriculum of sorts designed to immerse me deep into the world of what and why things were funny with the intent, as always, to be the very best at what I do. But unlike with anything else I’ve done so far, if I planned to be good and most importantly good as a latecomer to the field, I needed to be able to answer a very critical series of questions. Especially since most of my would be peers would have been at this from a very young age (14–19) and would have had ample time and skin in the game over me.

The most critical of these questions being what exactly brings me here?

It’s not enough to want fortune or fame. I tried that shit with writing and the bitch backfired in my face. That wouldn’t be enough. It can’t be because I want to be seen as the most hilarious person since :insert comedy legend name here:, no one would take me seriously if that was my driving force. Shit I wouldn’t take me seriously if that was my driving force.

And They Been Looking For You Too

And funny enough it was this question that brought that dream into being this morning and the heated conversation that demanded to know what it was I was too hurt, scared and angry to talk about.

What was I leaving simmering unprocessed beneath the surface and subsequently out of sight and mind, praying that if i ignored it hard enough, if i downplayed it long enough, it would just go away.

Comedy for me has always been a way to escape the pain. A way to laugh through being bullied in elementary school; being bullied in junior high; to forget about struggling to adapt to a high school environment; or just not having to think about the pain that came with feeling lost and very much alone in the world.

And now as I study it for the craft that it is I realize it’s giving me something totally different. It’s serving as a framework for understanding my pain, reflecting on the actions of people around me, and most surprisingly a way to clean my mirror so that I can see myself (and the things that went wrong) clearly and —most importantly — without fear.

Pointing The Way Home

So why am I telling you this?

Because when you begin to clean out your proverbial closet and sort through your life in an attempt to make it all make sense, it’s easy to stumble onto random talents and gifts and treasures you’ve kept hidden away. Don’t let your first thought be to adopt the ways of late stage capitalism and immediately think: how can I cash out on this pain. Instead let the treasure you find do the work of guiding you home to yourself so that when your life is all said and done, you can say you were able to look in the mirror unafraid and unashamed.

Here’s to finding yourself among the rubble and sins.

Till Next Time Loves

Jael R. Bakari



Jael R. Bakari
Writer for

hero maker by day, psychic clown witch by night. writer of literary crack. future poor white billionaire. your favorite —ist