Black History Month Series: Assurance Partner Offers Encouragement to Younger Self

Each year, for Black History Month, we’re honored to tell the stories of some of our Black professionals, highlighting their successes and experiences – both past and present.

This month, BDO’s Multicultural Alliance is hosting local and national events centered around dialogue, education, and exploration into the cultures and influential roles of Black Americans. As part of this learning experience, we invited professionals to share their perspectives through first-person letters, touching on their personal triumphs and the lessons learned along the way.

Editor’s Note: The following is a letter from Raleigh-based Assurance Partner La Shaun King. King chose to write a letter to her younger self, who is about to graduate college and enter the workforce.

LaShaun King image 1LaShaun King at her college graduation

Dear La Shaun,

Hey girl, it’s me. I see you. And I appreciate you ― even the parts of you that you’re dying to change. Since I know how this thing will go, let me offer you some perspective ... 

It’s OK to not know. Guess what? No one else really knows everything either! I bet you’re ready to leave college, eager to prove all that you learned. But when you start as a first-year professional, you’ll quickly realize you know nothing!

LaShaun King image 2King in her first apartment

Well not quite nothing ― but it’s a humbling experience to realize your multiple years of education is a foundation, not a pinnacle. There is so much more to learn and build upon. The technical knowledge will come over the years, but that’s only part of what will make you an amazing professional. You’ll learn how to go places outside of your comfort zone and find connection; how to tackle the difficult issues or the hard parts first (and do so in ways that allow for grace); how to be a better human. 

The learning continues, and I expect that will be the case for the rest of your life. But it’s easy to look back at the hard parts of maturing into an adult and say they were necessary learning experiences. Right now, you’re probably having some moments of anxiety around all that you don’t know, as well as angst about whether you’ll learn everything in time to avoid mistakes (spoiler: we didn’t learn everything ― but that, too, is a vital part of the maturing process). And I would love to lessen some of your anxiety so that you could be more focused on the “now.” But, again, maybe those feelings are part of maturing into an adult.

LaShaun King image 3King [center right] at her first office 
holiday party

I would also add that it’s important to take it all in at each stage of life. American culture puts so much emphasis on achieving the next milestone (and trust me you will achieve a lot after college). Many professionals rush to check the next box, have the next experience and make the next career progression. Don’t get me wrong, that ambition is important for continued success. But our lives are so much more complex than a checklist of expectations to fulfill. Since you’re fresh out of college, I urge you to scribble in the margins more. The boxes will be checked, but the real story is in between those tidy checkmarks ― those are the bits that make for a full life.  

Keep moving forward because the journey is worthwhile. It’s led us to a great firm, with which you will feel blessed to work. Family from near and far will show you love in ways that speak to you. Along the way, you will find a close group of friends to lean on and support as we continue figuring out life and who we are. You will find a career with incredible meaning and joy; one that will help you grow as a person. You will still be hungry to achieve more and gain an appreciation for the little things in life. Looking back, I wouldn’t want to change anything. Even if I did have that power, thanks to “Back to the Future,” I’m mindful that any seemingly positive shift in that journey could have unintended impacts. You have so much to look forward to.

La Shaun