Due to the collision of working retail and the holidays & my current motivation to write a book in the month of January, my blog had been terribly neglected. I also feel like the winter cold and winter blues have been negatively affecting me more than ever (which is saying something since I’ve lived in Minnesota for 24 1/2 years, aka my entire life). Wow am I full of excuses this morning. Without deadlines or inspiration, I suppose there isn’t much to write about, though. I digress.
As I have been awake since 5:30 am to attend the famous breakfast at the Minneapolis Convention Center in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this morning, I have listened to a lot of great speeches this morning and read many great things. I also finished reading Elie Wiesel’s Night this weekend and read his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech just this morning. I feel as though these things are more connected than one might first believe them to be. Peace, education, non-violence, speaking out, standing up, diversity and moving forward are themes I found in both Wiesel’s speech and in the event and speeches for MLK, Jr.
Marian Wright Edelman, the keynote speaker of this morning’s breakfast, quoted Dr. King from a speech he gave when he visited her college campus (at Spelman College), “If you can’t fly, drive. If you can’t drive, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But keep moving forward.”
And throughout the morning, I have realized I am not living up to my full potential because I am in my way. I graduated college with no direction. I joke that I majored in “overachieving” because I do so much and I am so interested in everything. And in some ways, it is true. I don’t know what to do because I want to do everything, because I am interested in so much, and because I don’t know what jobs exist that will allow me to do the things that I am passionate about.
I spent my summer applying to Americorps and what I thought might be my “dream” job. I spent my fall applying to job after job after job that I came across on the non-profit website. Without a car, my opportunities were slightly limited, but I started applying to all minimum wage jobs within walking distance from where I lived. Finally, I was given a chance to interview in person at a retail job, and soon, I continued the mentoring I had begun during my college career. And for then, that was enough. That was something. But not the end. I spent my free time creating six differing resumes, trolling through non-profit job listings, and searching for every History Day website of every state.
Somewhere between then and now I gave up and gave in to maintaining the status quo of my life. A part time job and contract hours. On the surface, I suppose that sounds boring. Some days it is, some days it isn’t. However, they were and are still my jobs and so I give them 110% because being all that you can be should not only apply to the Army Reserve. But the feeling of unfulfilled potential still remains. And it is this feeling that was sparked awake this morning.
Like many middle- and highschoolers, I often felt lost or alone or lonely. I held onto this idea of never giving up, persistence, perseverance to push me forward through those moments. Be your best. That was important to me. Throughout college, I was unbelievably lucky to have a second family (my rugby team) who pushed me through, and giving up never even crossed my mind because of their love, support, and encouragement. Which finally brings me to where I am to today. Stuck in that feeling of reinventing the wheel. Floundering to find a second family. Realizing I have already lost sight of never giving up. I’m sure some famous and inspirational person once said something along the lines of, “To be able to do for others, we must first do for ourselves.” If not, today I am just channeling all of them. So I will be renewed in my search to do more things that make me feel passionate about my life, and about helping others, and about bridging the achievement gaps. And maybe I don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but it might be time to find some new tires (or “choose your own cheesy cliche“).
I have spent a lot of time working with so-called “young people,” being a mentor or role model on some level. I had a woman who came in to my work the other day (at 8:59…we close at 9, so you can imagine how we all felt at this moment), but I was patient nonetheless. She wanted to talk about all the little things she was doing to try to change the world and about all of her passions (anti-chemicals, anti-plastic, anti-Monsanto, creating Peace kits for teachers across the US that she was friends with), and I started to see a little of myself in her as I voiced agreement on all points. Although, I hope I don’t become quite so scatterbrained (but that’s not my point). She asked, “What do you do? Do you do anything to help change the world?” And at first, I didn’t want to say no, but I felt that was my answer. Then, I told her that I mentor students through History Day, who are mostly ELL students and Special Ed. students. As I walked her to the door, she told me she was glad I was involved with changing the world and, “We’re counting on you young people, you are our future!” So I must ask myself, what’s next?