“Thinking of The Master Plan…”

Great read! This puts young adult life into a realistic perspective. On social media we all try to put our best foot forward, but that doesn’t mean that things are sunshine and rainbows in our everyday lives. Don’t compare your friends’ lives to your own! We all have a unique path.

The Heart of a Fighter (In the Center Ring)

Here’s the thing. I desire to be better and the only way that desire has the chance to come to pass is if I make some serious changes. One of those changes includes my relationship with social media. Don’t get me wrong, Social media applications and websites can be a wonderful thing to experience. With just a click of a finger, a scroll of a thumb, and a touch of a screen, you are looking through a person’s point of view of how awesome their lives are… and honestly, that makes me happy. I love that people feel beautiful, that they are accomplished and well-traveled, but if I’m being honest, it also pushes me to compare myself to the “accomplishments” of others.

I am not traveling the world, I am not a model, I am not employed at the job of my dreams, I cannot afford to make weekend trips…

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Journey into the Unknown

Life after graduation through my eyes

In early June of last year I reached a milestone. I earned my Bachelor’s degree from Towson University. I had spent much time dreaming about that moment.

While I was slaving over 20 page papers..

While I was running to class from across the campus…

While I was reaching into the depths of my mind to pull out answers during my finals….

Those experiences, along with countless others, lead to the moment when I first held my degree in my hands. I felt both joy and relief. I had accomplished what I set out to do during the fall of 2009. Then it hit me. About an hour after those feelings subsided, a sense of dread bulldozed it’s way to the forefront of my mind. Two words would haunt me for the many months to follow: what next?

Many of us picture ourselves getting our dream jobs straight out of college. In reality, it can take years to finally reach the position you have been waiting for. During that time, you may suffer failures in your different endeavors. I experienced such a failure myself, but I found solace in the fact that I knew working there wasn’t my end goal. That being said, it is important to give your best effort no matter what job you find yourself in. You never know what kind of skills or connections you may pick up along the way.

“Whatever you are, be a good one” -Abraham Lincoln

As you fill out countless job applications (I know, it sucks), take the time to write down your goals. As it is written, so shall it be (or something along those lines). We all want to work and earn a living, but is the money you make worth your joy? Did you earn your degree to simply settle for a salary? Your answer (at least hopefully) is a definite no. Don’t get me wrong! We all have bills to pay; however, don’t be content with just earning a steady income.You started this journey with an end goal in mind, and it is important that you continue down the path you have chosen. Yes, this road may wind and narrow at times, but it is during troublesome stretches of life that you must keep your dream alive. Trust me, you do not want to quit and get stuck working somewhere where you are miserable. You can make your money and live out your goals, you just need to persevere.

“It’s not about a salary, it’s all about reality” – KRS-One

If you have a passion, I urge you to follow it. Let your hobbies feed your dreams. While I may not have many opportunities to write creatively at my new job, I still will have my blog to freely express myself. Remember that we must use our time wisely. Show your future employers that your dreams inhabit your being, as well as your resume. Keep your skills sharp so that when opportunity presents itself, you can latch on and never let go.

Life after graduation has been an illuminating experience. For one, I have learned to enjoy reading (when it’s not required of you, it actually is quite fun)! Cooking is not as daunting, or dangerous, as it once was. Also, my relationship has improved. Additionally, I have learned that my dreams will take a bit more work, and a bit more education, to come true. That is why I am pursuing my masters degree. Along the way I hope to participate in career based organizations, and meet people that can help me on the way to my goals. While I may not be where I want to be at the moment, I have a plan, and my goals are in sight. If you find yourself in a similar position, don’t fret, just think of how much more you will appreciate your journey after your plans reach fruition.

I leave you with a quote from Thoreau’s Walden:

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favour in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.”

(Props to Life or Something After College for a great list of quotes, and to KRS-One for dropping knowledge!)

The Dehumanizing Effects of Idolatry

New Leaven

What is idolatry? In his excellent work Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller says that idolatry “is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”  According to the Bible, when idolatry happens, its effects are dehumanizing.  We become and function less than our Creator God intends for us, his creatures.

“You must not worship the Lord your God the way the other nations worship their gods, for they perform for their gods every detestable act that the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods” (Deut. 12:31 NLT)

In other words, the effects of idolatry are not neutral.  Because God has been replaced by another, and that which has replaced God is by nature evil, the effects are less than God’s best–they are dehumanizing.

Consider what happens…

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Shades of Love

My experience in an interracial relationship-

I am Black. My girlfriend is Salvadoran. We’ve been together for about one year and eight months. There have been plenty of fights, make-ups, lonely nights, and silent treatments, but I can honestly say that having her in my life has been (and continues to be) extremely rewarding. I can’t think of another relationship or instance in my life that has fostered the same amount of growth that my relationship has. Alright, enough of the mushy sentiments, let’s get down to business. We are different. I believe that our differences greatly impact our relationship. I know that our love has helped us to navigate through those differences, and appreciate our uniqueness.  In this post I will touch on a few things that have helped us to get over the obstacles we have faced in our relationship.

1. Having a strong relationship

This is by far the most important factor in my relationship. When I listen to friends talk about Black love and how important it is, I can easily talk my love with the same zeal. Should I be ashamed of dating outside of my race? Not at all. The strength of my relationship has  also helped me to overcome the fears and doubts concerning what her family may have thought about me. I was nervous meeting her family on that Christmas Eve, but I knew that this was an important step in developing our future together. So I manned up and hug/shook hands, danced, and sang all night to show her family that I care about my girlfriend and all that she brings to the table. We have not experienced any overt racism or friction from anyone as of yet, and for that I am thankful. I know that there are biracial couples who have it ten times worse than us. I am sure that they would agree with me that a strong relationship is what allows them to endure the hate while continuing to grow together.

2. Appreciating her culture

Being exposed to Salvadoran-American culture has been one of the most exciting parts of my relationship. I am always learning new things from both her and her family. All of the new tastes, sounds, smells, and movements bring me great joy. I know that if I did not appreciate her culture, our relationship would not have grown. To deny her culture is to deny her very being. My openness to her traditions and customs has fortified our relationship. It has allowed her to share something that she holds very close to her heart, and for that I am grateful.

3. Recognizing differences while breaking down stereotypes

I was originally going to use “ignoring stereotypes” but that would have been an injustice. I know that I can always go to her to find out what is real, despite what I may see on TV or hear on the radio. She paints vivid pictures of her homeland and her people. The truths she reveals to me, help me to unlearn any stereotypes I may have picked up from mass media. With that knowledge I can spread it to others who may believe said stereotypes. She learns from  me about my culture and as do I from her. Our relationship is built on abolishing racism! Not really we just happen to love each other.  That being said, we are different. Some of my traditions are foreign to her and vice versa. For example, I can remember a sense of sincere puzzlement at the way she washed dishes (my canned response being ‘Mom does it this way’). Yes that was a joke, and yes you may laugh. Her speech and mannerisms took some getting used to as well. Getting used to her style of communication was/is particularly difficult at times, but I did/do not fault her for her ways of communicating. It is a part of who she is. Realizing that her differences make her who she is, has really helped me grow in our relationship.

4. Communicating

We always share our feelings, ideas, goals, fears, and experiences with each other. She tends to do the lion’s share of feeling sharing :P. Communication is the heart of the relationship. If we were not genuine about our communication, I don’t know where we would be! We are different people, and it takes communication to overcome many of those differences. Before thinking about her race, I have to try to understand her wants/needs/feelings as a woman. Being a 22 year old man, I have not picked up on all of the subtleties of womanhood, so I ask her about them to get a better understanding of who she is. Our willingness to talk things out has, and will continue to, be a pillar of our relationship.

I love being in an interracial relationship. We are maneuvering through life’s many trials together. She has her experiences and traditions, as do I. I learn about myself the more I learn about her. Though we may appear more different than most couples, our love is just as strong as any others’. I love her, and she loves me. Our relationship is not perfect. We have plenty of flaws, but I appreciate her for who she is. For her, that has been enough.

You aren’t “black” enough

A couple of years ago, I almost had the opportunity to serve as a mentor at Towson University. The purpose of the program was to more or less pair students with mentors who would show the freshmen how to navigate the wilds of college.  AWESOME. However, I was turned away after the interview process because “A few of the mentors felt that you would not be able to relate to incoming black freshmen.”

45150286Now for some back story… I was actually a part of the same program during my freshmen year. My mentor happened to be Latino, which was perfectly fine with me. You are supposed to interact with and appreciate new people, cultures, ideas, and experiences during college, right? He took me to different events on campus, and introduced me to the Latin American Student Organization. I fell in love with LASO! The atmosphere was warm and vibrant, and I felt like the people there were sincerely interested in learning who I was. I ended up joining the group, serving as group secretary, planning meetings, and making a ton of friends. It was during this time that the director of the mentoring program approached me multiple times about possibly becoming a mentor. COOL! I wanted to show new freshmen how to get involved and make college the best experience of their lives! Then I heard the dreaded question “Are you Latino?” Of course I was honest in my reply. I am BLACK and I am PROUD of my heritage. The director would go on to back track, which gave me the impression that I was only considered for the position because he thought I was Latino. After the conversation I tried to make sense of the politics behind what was just said, but I had a quiz coming up in a couple of hours so I decided to focus on that.

FAST FORWARD 1 YEAR

I am once again approached by the director to take part in the program. I made the choice to go ahead with the interview process because I really wanted to help make a difference on our campus by giving back to a program that helped me as a freshmen. There was a large group interview where prospective mentors were mixed with current ones. We talked about the different responsibilities of the mentors and also about diversity issues on campus. I believe that I performed well during the process. A week passes by and I am contacted by the director. After the meeting, I was genuinely hurt by what was said.  I was not upset about the decision itself, but at the absurd reasoning behind the decision. I’m no stranger to being called “oreo” or “whiteboy.” I grew up in the suburbs and most of my friends were either white or Filipino. That being said, being blackballed for not being black enough was an entirely new experience. Ridicule from youth on the playground is one thing, but that same criticism (albeit in a more sophisticated fashion) hurts ten times worse when it bars you from something you are passionate about.

My question is simple. Why would the director of a student affairs program designed to “foster academic achievement, personal development, and campus wide involvement among entering students from diverse backgrounds,”  keep an involved, connected,  former mentee with a 3.2 gpa from the position?  The answer: TO BE DETERMINED

If you ever happen to come across a similar situation, don’t fret. Odds are you are better off finding another way to do what you love while still being yourself. I turned to other student groups, the Student Government Association, and eventually Greek life to find my niche. In closing, don’t let other people’s opinions, theories, or criticisms (no matter how RIDICULOUS they  may seem)  stop you from giving back!