Everything That Glitters Ain’t Gold, Part 3 

I’m Back

I’ll spare you all the details, but simply put, I’ve been dreading this particular post. I started this series as a way of trying to motivate others to work through their hardest times realizing that even our biggest achievements in life are filled with not so pretty crap.

Subconsciously, even after saying “this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon”, it was like I thought there would still be some kind of closure by the time I got to part 3. Negative!

In my last post, I talked about having this new degree in hand and how frickin’ hard it was to get it. Can’t a sista just celebrate? Guess what yall? The struggle continues. Ha!

So I’m working at this university in what I have always painted as my dream position. I get to teach, do research and service, work with students and kick it with a bunch of like-minded folks.  Some of that is true. Actually, most of that is true. But what is also true, is that there are not many people around that look like me. Whether spoken or unspoken, this next chapter of my life is about being black, young, and woman as a professor. And holy shit{excuse my language}, this is going to be an interesting ride.

Day One All Over Again

It didn’t take long for me to feel the tension in certain spaces, see the look in students’ eyes when I entered the class on the first day, and to feel squeamish at all the “standard” diversity talks.

There is something quite telling about students staring you down when you walk behind the podium and let the projector down, and you here whispers like, “she can’t be the professor!” There’s also something about the awkward silence that happens in rooms when strategic plans around inclusiveness and diversity are on the agenda and you’re the only brown person at the table.

YA’LL, I’m tired! I’m tired of feeling like I’ve got to defend brown folks, tired of having the nerve to not defend brown folks whenever I can, tired of being the only one around who is inherently responsible for defending brown folks. Hell, I’m kind of salty that we have to even be defended in 2018.

I hope this isn’t being a sellout, but somedays when they have these talks,  I fight the good fight, and some days, I just sit there sippin’ my green smoothie like everyone else gets to do at meetings. Sigh.

So anyways,  I was dealing with entering this new space, and then Hurricane Florence decided to head directly for Wilm, the city we just moved to 2 months prior. Ya’ll! Whyyyyyy? I thought I’d had my share of natural disaster experiences. Florence made my “new professor” role a little more complex. I was on edge already, my students were anxious as hell, and to top it off, I was teaching research methods and stats (everyone’s favorite class *sarcastic voice) while black, young, and woman.

New Tingz

I realize I’ve come a long way, particularly with my depression struggle, by learning how to care for myself- making better choices about what I put in my body, who I spend time with and engaging in things that are rewarding for me no matter what other priorities exist, but this here academia thing while being black, young, and woman is a new thang.

Something I realized recently (while sitting in a university talk about recovering from Florence) is that no matter how resilient you are, a huge part of self-care is recognizing that you may need to adopt new things for new self-care when you find yourself in new spaces. Ok ok, I didn’t come up with that AT ALL. I was actually talking to the person who was leading the talk, and he told me very pointedly that I owe myself new care no matter how much ‘overcoming’ and ‘self-caring’ I’d done so far. I think that is entirely true!

And so, I’m ending this series realizing that truly “everything that glitters ain’t gold”- relationships, shiny new degrees, dream jobs, parenting; all of them come with challenges. And rather than looking forward to Part 3 (somehow believing that journeys do end) and feeling like I’d done a great job at ‘overcoming’- I’m going to work on something new starting with Michelle Obama’s new book, Becoming. Yea, I like that. We are all forever becoming.

Play some dope music and get through another day ya’ll. Sometimes that’s all you can do for you right now. And THAT, is good enough.

Happy Holidays, JHJ

#mentalhealthmindset #everythingthatglitters #callmedrja