If you’re one of the lucky ones these two things are true:
1. You came into this world naked and screaming.
2. You will leave this world fully closed and at peace.
Everything that happens in between is unique only to you. You are not alone; you are never alone. However, that does not mean that others are going to have your experiences at the same time or in the same way that you do. In the past year, I have noticed that a lot of people have become comfortable with being unaccepting of others. It seems to have become okay to use slurs and derogatory remarks casually in conversation or on social media. I, fortunately, have only blocked one person’s posts in all of this, and only on Facebook (that is to say her Instagram is perfect). But in general, the number of stories that I see openly being alright with mean comments.
Experiences and environment both greatly define how people conduct themselves, their comfort zone, and much more. This is why, for the most part, I do not take personal interactions too seriously anymore. I grew up in a very mixed community, but I left that behind when I chose to prioritize my education. I was, and am, perfectly comfortable with that, but as others become more open about their negative feelings towards non-white Americans, I realize that I need to be more vocal myself.
If I had to tell my story, I would start from the very beginning. My parents were about 40 when I was born. I am an only child; I was their first and their only. And although I have always felt nothing but love from them, I also feel like my mother had an easier time letting me go than other mothers. I used to think that she really just wanted what was best for me and knew that she had to let me go to allow that to happen. But I also think she has been waiting for me to go, so that I can come back. My mother spent two years at home with me after I was born, and it is something I still cannot wrap my head around, although I’m sure having a child would help with that. My work is just so central to my life because I love it so much that the idea seems completely foreign to me.
I went to private (Catholic) schools my entire life. When people hear this I am often asked one of two questions: a) Why? And b) Does that mean you want your kids to go to private schools too? The answer to both questions have the same explanation- I would not be where I am today if I was a part of the public school system in my home town. If I see the same would happen to my children, I would not put them in public schools. It has nothing to do with the idea of tuition payments or the environment of a private versus public school. It has everything to do with giving my children the best opportunity that I can, which is exactly what my parents did for me. I drove past the public high school I would have had to go to every single day on my way to and from school for four years. At least once a week the street was littered with cop cars. Would it have made me stronger to be part of that environment or weaker? I cannot answer that question, but I am fortunate that I remember police at my high school twice in the four years I was there- my first and my third years.
I went to graduate school immediately following college. I now have both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemical engineering, and I am working to finish my PhD. I am now engaged to a wonderful man with goals and dreams and I couldn’t have planned this if I wanted to. However, I did plan it. Through my choices, and my knowledge of my goals, I have written this part of my story for myself without realizing it. Things don’t always go your way, and they may not go your way when you want them to, but they do have a way of working out.
I am not delusional, I know that there are extraneous circumstances that hold all of us back every single day. I know that systemic racism is the state of America. I know that the opportunities that I should be getting because I am human are not always there because I am black. I know that affirmative action means that there are opportunities I must be considered for, but not necessarily be considered for equally. I know that I am lucky in just as many ways that tI am unlucky. But I also know that if I am myself, unapologetically, I can do what will ensure that I die happy.