Life hacks can offer all of us a way forward even when opportunities are scarce

Chicago’s Next Voices columnist Lashaunta Moore: Hard work and life hacks can open doors and unleash talent, especially for those from underserved communities.

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Lashaunta Moore, the Chicago Sun-Times latest Chicago’s Next Voices columnist.

Lashaunta Moore, the Chicago Sun-Times latest Chicago’s Next Voices columnist.

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Chicago is a city jam-packed with opportunities. Yet, when you live in neighborhoods like Roseland and West Pullman, two communities facing great challenges, opportunities don’t come knocking at your door.

How did I improve my life, having been born and raised amid gun violence, a lack of fresh food and a lower life expectancy? I worked hard, and life hacks became my best friend.

Growing up in Roseland, it didn’t take me long to notice that my family was poor. We couldn’t afford many things, like multiple pairs of shoes, an air conditioner, a car and bottled water. I recall feeling like my life was restricted because we didn’t have access to certain things, and I knew this wasn’t the life I wanted to live forever. So I started dreaming big, writing outlines and mapping out ways to achieve those goals.

I started by deciding to attend college, and being poor once again constrained my life. After taking a gap semester following high school graduation, I found a hack: community college. Typically, life hacks are techniques used to optimize time and daily activities more efficiently. But the ones I used weren’t geared to “achieve this faster by doing this quick and easy step.”

I found life-changing strategies to manage and turn my life in a direction I wanted to that could contribute to my overall goal of living a better life.

After conducting research, I realized that city colleges weren’t high school 2.0, like people told me they were. They were an inexpensive solution to my problem of not being able to attend a university. I enrolled in classes at Richard J. Daley College and opened a box filled with resources.

I was a Star Scholar, a work-study student and a member of honor societies. I also received transferable scholarships. The professors and advisers had loads of knowledge to provide to students.

I graduated with my associate’s degree and transferred to Saint Xavier University. After getting my bachelor’s degree in media communication from SXU in 2020, adult life hit hard. To make matters worse, we were at the beginning of the pandemic. When life became challenging, I turned to life hacks again.

This time, I wanted a way to start my media career. There was a crucial need for freelance writers at small publications. I saw this as an opportunity, or hack, to get professional writing experience and break into the media industry. It worked.

In June 2020, I received my first byline. Since then, I’ve written for over 15 print and digital publications and got my first cover story, a profile of Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Muni Long.

Throughout my life, I noticed that we place politicians in positions hoping they’ll find solutions for issues like poverty. Most of the proposals made during election runs are empty promises. So, when elected officials fall short, people must fully take matters into their own hands to improve their lives.

I know everyone’s life story is different, and what worked for me won’t work for others. The beauty of these life hacks is that you can alter them to fit your vision with some research that can quickly be done on your phone or using a computer at Chicago’s public libraries.

I used life hacks to improve the quality of my life and believe more Chicagoans can discover strategies that will help them far better than any politician in office can.

Lashaunta Moore is our latest Chicago’s Next Voices guest columnist.

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