Reflections of a 1st Year Grad Student

Posted: July 31, 2013 in Education, Food For Thought

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

It’s been sometime since I’ve submitted a personal blog. In fact it’s been a little over a year; time has flown. Last year, I started this blog to express my thoughts on issues that were close to me and decided to share them with a community that I thought would care about them. Since then, I have learned a number of people share my thoughts on issues of education, politics, and life perspectives in general – it has been an amazing journey to learn together.

Throughout this past year a lot has transpired: I completed my first year of graduate school at Cornell, I discovered more about my personality, I defined a more transparent interest area for my career path, and I achieved a lot academically and socially. All-in-all, I have learned that I am not perfect, nor are the people around me, but if I would like to change who I am, I may need to change those who I surround myself with. You see: Life is interesting. You fight battles within yourself. You win some and you lose some. But, in the words of Pops:”You live to see another day.” I believe that the quote that I began with is perfect for this year. After I moved away from Houston, all the way to Ithaca, New York, I thought my life would get better by default, I thought the people would change, and that the future would be brighter – just because. Here’s a secret, people are the same no matter where you go, but one thing you can control is who you surround yourself with, and what you allow yourself to be influenced by. In order to ensure that I defined my foci for the next two-years, I wrote out my life goals, as I always do, and decided that I would aggressively pursue them and that nothing, or no one, would be able to stop me. This was true. I was ambitious, I thought I had it figured out, but I lost sight of a few things. I was moving too fast, and after the first semester at Cornell, I was delusional: losing sight on who I was, what I wanted, and ultimately what I thought that I was bound to do. This was not something that everyone could notice, but sometimes God speaks to you in ways that only you can understand and boy did I hear him. You see, time does not change things, I would more so say that things adapt with the times, but you have to know why you are adapting and if you can survive in these new circumstances, surroundings, environment – I could, but it was too different for me.

You see, being at Cornell, in Ithaca, far, far, away from the small, wholesome, family-oriented city of Longview was both good and bad for me. I learned that I was not as strong as I thought I was. I learned that I would have to live with the bare-minimum, which was extremely challenging. In retro-spec, I love this though. Being in the middle of nowhere, without a car, in frigid whether, reflecting upon my life and thinking about my future was anything, but life altering. I did not know what to expect, but for the first time in my life, I truly appreciated the unexpected and all that it could and was bound to bring. This “care-free” life so to speak offered a lot, but I was only interested in a few of these new things. Culture, Religion, Race, Lifestyle, Personalities, Learning Styles, and styles of entertainment were all things that I thought were the same, but I soon learned how to disaggregate all of these and “learn to love the differences.” I can truly say that I have learned so much in all of these areas in this one year of being in Ithaca, a student at Cornell, and opening myself up to these new life experiences. Being there, I opened myself up to nature in new ways, I’m from the country in a sense, but I found myself truly appreciating God’s design of earth, needless to say Ithaca is a very, very amazing place – I actually miss it. At this point, I feel like I’m rambling, but these are the thoughts that are flowing out of my mind as I take time to reflect over the great moments, and low points of life within this past year. I suggest you try it as well.

So what has really occurred this year: President Obama was sworn in for a second-term, Margaret Thatcher passed, Egypt over-through their President and suspended the constitution; Boston was bombed; the Pope resigned, Edward Snowden released some major secrets; the Supreme Court made some surprising decisions that will have a nationwide impact on America; Christopher Donner sent a letter to the Country; the Trayvon Martin decision sent a ripple throughout the world, and we now have a new Prince of Dutch – William. Though there was a lot more that transpired, these are the things that resonate within my mind as I write this post. Let’s discuss someone these things, well then-again, I’ll save that for another post. As I begin to think about each of these poignant moments in American history they are all paralleled by turning points in my life as well. As each of these moments occurred, I forced myself to think long, deep, and hard about my thoughts of being an American and what that really means. My final thoughts on that subject are not very clear, but as I begin to diagnose these areas of thought, I begin to forcibly ask myself, ‘what does it mean to be Black, American, and conscious all while being in environments that are not on the surface threatening to my well-being, or that of other African-Americans for that much?’ I have not gotten very far, yet, I am not sure that these questions will ever be answered in this lifetime.

At the tough age of 24, I have really invested in the thoughts of being, what does it mean to exist, and why? Stalking such thoughts have led me to chase intellectuals, read philosophical theories, challenge them, myself, colleagues, and anyone that sought to take part in this very introspective conversations with myself. Since I have turned 24, I am really looking forward in a fearful manner for the next six years of life, not for me, but for black and brown brothers that look like me. I know that my reflection exist within its current environment because so many others fought to ensure such circumstance, yet everyone is not experiencing such favor. America, Black America specifically is in peril – something is eating away at our core-existence and nothing truly is being done to rectify this internal, external, and very systematic attack on a generation of people. I’m not sure what exactly I’m speaking of at this moment, but just take a look around within our communities. Schools are closing, grocery stores do not exist, jobs are shipping overseas, education is tougher to obtain, markets are closing, and the barriers to entry have increased overall for Americans, but this disproportionately has impacted African American people. I cannot begin to imagine America in 50 years, where will we be? How will the issues of today, the decisions of our courts shape the American landscape? Honestly, I do not know want to know the answers to these questions, and I do not know the answer to the others. These thoughts are very personal, but I guess in reality they no longer are, but man how can I continue to carry the burden of X, the dream of King, and the thoughts of Newton within my mind?  With the heart of a King that I know suffered to ensure that the bondage of his people would no longer exist, yet in so many ways that people of Israel are suffering and an Exodus must occur, I’ll leave that alone. But at this point, God is all that I can I look to for comprehension of the circumstances on this earth.

It’s time for a change. I’m 24, and I have waited long enough for progress. It’s my time, our time to “be the change we want to see.”

Join Me! #J1InFullEffect

Note: This post was written  July 1st,2013.

A Moment at Sibley

A Moment at Sibley

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