Don’t Confuse Your Life Task With Your Day Job

“We must learn to lift as we climb.” – Angela Davis

It’s not very often that I am caught off guard about something. I tend to regulate my emotions to the best of my ability and yet, despite that you can still see my heart on my sleeve. When I took the offer to write for the Huffington Post, I will admit, that I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into.  I knew that my potential audience would be bigger and my name would get out there more, but I didn’t know what to expect in terms of feedback.

It was my girlfriend who told me that I needed to be very mindful about potential comments that I may receive, after all, I do not get very many on this blog and I have become quite used to that. But, she was referring to people who would not agree with my view on life. What she was trying to do was prepare me for potential negativity with the things I write. 

There was a lot of thought put into what I was going to write about in the Huff Post. I wanted to make sure that I was going to be ok with the angle I decided to take, which of course is all based on my time working at Syracuse University. I really wanted to get into my observations and my feelings with working at SU as well as getting to know the students. I wanted to be able to reflect on my experiences as a former student and current staff while giving the reader a glimpse of what I see and do.

I have taken pride and often times I have been humbled by the show of support by fellow alumni and staff when I debuted a couple of weeks ago. There was nothing better to me than to be recognized for my ability to write. I also wanted to use my gift to highlight those who work in the trenches with me. So this is not only meant as a tool to talk about students but the wonderful staff as well. That is what I based the second blog post on. I started looking at things differently after that blog was published.
I have made it a point not to be overly critical of my own work. I go into this whole writing thing knowing that I can always improve because typos are the bane of my existence. I can take people arguing with me when I post something controversial. I know that not everyone wants to hear what I have to say when it comes to Racism and I am ok with that. But, in this particular case, I am writing about my students, the ones that I have a love/hate relationship with because in many ways (and i hate to admit it) they are the closest thing I will have to younger siblings. 

So imagine my surprise when the comments are negative. By no means am I that sensitive, but I was completely caught off guard by the type of responses. I find it funny that I can talk about something that I feel we need, which is more Latinos in Higher Education, and to insinuate that everything that I am saying is borderline racist is laughable. Of course, I made the choice of engaging one person when I just should have let it go as many of my other friends told me. But, what got me was the fact that there were people liking these responses. It made me question a few things.

Cornel West came to Syracuse University this week too. He spoke about the new youth movement and how America’s youth are poised for action. He said that at any moment we will be witness to a time period where people will begin to mobilize for justice, much like the Occupy Movement. He talked about leadership and being able to tell the truth and take the truth, but the one thing that I found to be most profound (and there were many) was when he gave advice to students who are looking to make in the word, Have the courage to be yourself. Don’t confuse your life task with your day job.” That in itself made me realize that I am doing exactly what I want to do no matter what anyone thinks.

However, it was all brought together by my students. I had 3 students this week ask me for personal advice; things that they cannot ask anyone else. I had one student break my heart when he told me that he felt defeated. He knows what he wants to do but has no idea how to get there. He is convinced that his poor grades will make him a laughing stock. This kid told me that no one knows his story and the hell he has been through in life and all he wants to do is just help other students. What do I tell him? Do I tell him that he is a fuck up? Do I say “pull up your bootstraps, hard work will get you what you want!”

Yes, he needs to put in the work…but how do I help him find his motivation? By doing my job, that just happens to be my life task.

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