Inhabit: Jarrod Uddin at Rollins College

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SPONSORED by lil indies: Inhabit is a series by local photographer David Lawrence (Website), that shares stories about the people who call Orlando home. It’s an exploration of where people live and spend their days, whether that be at home, in an office, the streets of downtown, or anywhere in between. Lawrence explores who people are and how they ended there.

Every other week we will be sharing Lawrence’s interviews, featuring a different Orlandoan and telling the story of the places they inhabit. Lawrence is available for private photography projects and can be reached through his website, above.

*This interview was transcribed and edited from an audio interview.

Who are you?

I am Jarrod Uddin. I am a millennial motivational speaker. I am the guy that jumps in and helps students that are getting ready to graduate college and those who just dipped their toes in the career market out of college. I help them avoid the early quarter-life crisis.

I am part African-American and the other half, Eastern Indian. A lot of my family is from the Middle East and so in our family, to be successful, we are often taught that you need to be a doctor or an engineer or go to one of the careers that is going to make a lot of money. I’m one of the few people in my family from that side that actually broke from that tradition because I was not good enough at math. I did not like science. I looked at a couple of the course sets for bio pre-med and I was like, this is totally not for me. I totally can’t do this! So I’m the one in the family that had to find a different way of doing things.


You were talking about the quarter life crisis, can you give me a brief example of what the first sign of a quarter life crisis is?

Panic. That’s number one. You see the end of the road coming and fear hits you and you just don’t know what to do. You don’t know what’s next. Because personally, that was me. I went to school for broadcast journalism because I knew I was going to be a newscaster or a journalist. Matter of fact, I thought I knew since I was in the sixth grade. [I] got to the end of my college career, I was a month away from crossing the stage and getting ready to graduate and then discovered, holy crap, after three internships this is not what I want. I thought this is what I wanted. I thought this was going to be the lane for my passions, my strengths and talents.

[It was not] the industry I thought it was at all. And so I’m sitting here panicking. ‘Okay, I have to move out of my dorm in five minutes. Literally. I’m graduating and I have no job prospects. No offers. What am I going to do with my life?’ When that questions hits you and fear kicks in. I think that is the beginning of the early quarter-life crisis.

I spent my first nine months after college graduation homeless. Sleeping out of the backseat of my car. Now, I will say this, I could have asked for help. I could have moved back home; I’m from Michigan. So I could have moved from Tennessee (where I was going to school at the time) back to Michigan, lived with my parents. I could have taken a job offer from some people in my family. Ultimately, I knew it wasn’t going to be what I wanted. I knew I was going to have to live under someone else’s rule’s. And I knew that I was going to be miserable going to clock into some office doing something that had nothing to do with the core of what I was good at, but I knew one thing I had to give myself a chance to find out what I was worth. Whether it was even if I had to go scrub toilets somewhere or just make some crap money for awhile. I knew it would have at least been my choice.


Where are we currently and what is important to you about this space?

Currently we are at Rollins College. School hasn’t gotten back in session yet, so it’s empty. I love it because it’s outdoors. We’re out in the grass. There’s water. There’s air. And it’s also, I like being around prosperous areas; areas that are well manicured, well-kept, where there is sense of pride for a community. I come here just to kind of clear my head. I spend so much time in front of a screen, writing, creating, thinking, but out here there’s something about fresh air and the outdoors that just brings so much clarity to your brain. It’s like a rush of energy and ideas can just come in.

If you could condense the meaning of your business into a short mission statement, what would that be?

So, the name of my most recent program is called “From Zero to Impact”. It is a college workshop that helps students to answer life’s two biggest questions: Who am I and what should I be doing with my life?

Do you feel like you’ve been successful with the launch of this program?

Yes—well, more than anything, I’ve been successful with answering those questions. My talent is helping other people find their answer to those questions. Mainly through just sharing my story or experiences. The mentorship, the work, the diligence that was all required to get through that phase of life. The launch of the program is actually coming up at the end of the month on September 1. But I’ve also been kind of piloting it at a few different places. A few different schools. One I piloted last week actually for a student leadership conference and it went over very well. 

You mentioned a little bit about how you knew since the 6th grade what you were going to do with your life and then you had a crisis that changed the course of your career. Is what you are doing now completely different altogether or are there similarities to what you envisioned?

Yes and no; everything is a yes and no question. So, I’ll start here. In my book I write a chapter that’s …


I interrupted to ask the name of the book.

The name of the book is called, Unfollow The Crowd: The New Education for Young Millennials Who Crave Purpose, Freedom, and Impact.

So for me, when I was in the first grade, I think that was the first time I discovered that I had a passion for words and word structures. English classes were always my best and favorite classes. Anytime the teacher asked us to stand up or someone to volunteer to stand up in the class and read this book out loud or this page, I’d be the first one to volunteer and stand up. I would love doing it. And so in 6th grade we took a trip to the news station. They had us all sit in the studio and we got to watch newscasters do a live newscast. And I thought to myself, this is great, this is it.

And you’re kind of doing that now.

I am kind of doing that now. The only difference is, I discovered a different way to do it. Which is motivational speaking. I always loved mentorship. So hey! Why not write books and a blog or those kinds of things that can help people with their lives. Why not get on stage and speak? I thought it was only going to be through a news camera. [However], there was also opportunities for speaking in colleges, leading workshops, doing pep rallies. So it is the same thing, it’s just not the way I thought it would turn out, but it’s better.

What is your advice for those who are struggling with their current endeavours?

I say, number one: get very, very clear on what it is that you really want. Very, very clear. I found that the time I struggled the most at my career was when I jumped out of my lane of my deepest passions and strengths and just tried to apply for any job or something that someone else told me that I should do because this is what is gonna make you a lot of money or this is what is going to to make you happy. When I let other people define me for me, that’s when I started to lose. That’s when I got frustrated. And frustration is just lack of goal attainment. That’s all it is. But if you can, get honest with yourself, by yourself, about what it is that you really want.

Maybe you really do want to practice law. Or maybe you really do want to become an author or a cartoon illustrator, whatever it is. No matter how long it’s going to take to get there, start by being purely honest with yourself about what it is [and] write it down. Assess what your internal strengths are. Your real strengths. The things that you love to do so much that you’ll do it for free, but maybe you’ll learn to do it well enough where someone pays you for it. Be honest with what that is. Write it down. Most of us already know the answers.

We already have it, but we allow ourselves to get bogged down by “Oh, I gotta pay rent” or “I’ve got child support” or “I have this apartment now and this car.” Or “I’ve got to make a certain amount of money. I can’t drop it all.” Yeah, maybe you can. So, get very honest with yourself. Get very clear and then just commit to taking one step. I don’t care if it’s looking up a degree program or if it’s maybe reading five books in that area or finding a mentor and reaching out and just getting the scoop on what it’s gonna take to get there. But being honest with yourself and writing it down and just committing in your mind to going after it will totally clear out the frustration. It will clear out the stress and no matter what it takes to get there, even if you’ve gotta sacrifice everything, in your mind it will be worth it the minute you decide that you’re going to follow that path and not the one of the expected standard.

Click HERE to read more of Jarrod’s work. 

About the photographer: 

David Lawrence is an Orlando-based photographer with a passion for people and storytelling. Lawrence lives in Colonialtown with his wife, Dawn, and when he’s not taking photos he occasionally attends church, drinks a lot of coffee, and overall just tries to be a kind human.

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