Everyday I have the pleasure and sometimes pain of engaging with people experiencing various types of poverty. Everyday I drive past the college that I attended with the hope of breaking a cycle of poverty within my own life. But here I am back staring it in the face. The many different faces poverty represents.
Why the conflict? To them, I’ve got it all. A job, a college education. Life is great for me. This is the same experience I get from family members who would be perplexed if they knew my income. The reason I sometimes hide from how educated I am because of the pain of being seen as something I’ve not yet become. I am still going.
To some who don’t understand the responsibility of having knowledge, this seems hard to believe. So I only share what makes me relevant, to avoid judgement from what should be a good thing. Do you see? This is who we are in America. Thinking the other person is so much better than we are.
When I explain the grass isn’t greener, I realize I am conflicted about the very thing I believe in: Education.
The idea that education is a way out of adversity sometimes doesn’t sit well with me. I have not made it “out”. In fact, I feel sucked back in. Give back to the community I come from? How?
I tell myself be grateful for your privilege, the supportive family you have, the opportunities you’ve been given. And please know that I am.
But as I continue my work of service, I just stare at the elephant in the room. The mirror between myself and my skin color, myself and my gender, myself and my age, myself and pay gaps, myself and inequity, myself and the uniqueness of my life’s journey.
So when someone looks at me and asks how do you make it ? New neighborhood, new car, job, house, education, network, etc? Is this the answer? This is what we are selling. Work hard and you will have everything you want.
I’d like to add, patience to arrive at the place where you are most useful. The ability to adjust to change, acceptance of self and forgiveness of the injustice in the world. A new mind when you feel stuck. But never doubt a good investment because you are still arriving. You are on your way. You just haven’t gotten there yet.
Real thoughts. Real feelings will come. Reality will set in as you dream. But understand that life isn’t a dream at all, it is a mirror of the good and bad within us. Which will you reflect while you are waiting?
I’d love to know your thoughts. Please share in the comments below.