This week I celebrated my one-year anniversary of working at my current job. This is a HUGE milestone for a number of reasons.
Many of you know that I took a sabbatical, a mental health break, for 14 months when I transitioned from my life in Northern Virginia to coming back home to Baltimore. (Read my E-book on how I was financially sustained during this time.)
I didn’t plan on “resting” for that long, but my body, mind, soul and spirit needed the rejuvenation.
Just one month into my new job, the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world and changed life as we know it.
I, like all of us, had to adapt. Just when I got ready to be “back in the world” again, it was time to go back in the house. And stay there.
So, I oftentimes say that I was quarantined for a whole year before the rest of America was.
And that is no light thing.
During my sabbatical, I experienced isolation on a number of levels, even though I was home with people who loved me. Nobody was going through what I was going through and no one could give me the answers I was looking for from a mental and physical health perspective.
This is something I’m still navigating every single day.
But, enough with the background story.
I want to jot down some thoughts about what I’ve been learning during this season of my life!
- Social justice work is not for the faint of heart.
I’d always been intrigued by social justice movements and causes but I truly didn’t have much baseline knowledge about all that it entails. (Not to say in the slightest that I now know it all).
Systemic oppression permeates every fabric and fiber of our society and once you see it, you can’t unsee it. This work is a marathon, not a sprint, and so those of us in this field have to practice radical self-care if we’re going to stick it out. Fortunately, I took the time I needed to figure out how I wanted to move about in the world and the type of boundaries I wasn’t willing to negotiate on.
For example, not everything is worth my energy. There is always a fight to pick, a battle to champion. But to preserve my supply (which isn’t limitless), I have to be selective about which conversations I enter into and which I allow to ride out. I don’t need to stand up for someone at every single turn. It’s exhausting. Especially when I’m still learning how to stand up for myself in certain instances.
2. A strong support system can save your life.
I learned this during my time off work, as I had to lean on dozens of people, but the lesson has been intensified in the context of my organization’s mission. *Disclaimer: these views are my own and don’t represent Thread, Inc.*
We exist to end social isolation by having a volunteer network that rallies around the city’s youth facing significant educational and achievement barriers (to name a few) and giving them a support network for at least 10 years of their life.
As a result, we build transformational relationships that extend beyond zip codes, race, class, age, gender and more. Our young people enter into our community off track to graduate high school and we get them back on track to not only graduate but to choose one of five post high school pathways: 1.) 4-year college, 2). 2-year college, 3.) trade school/ apprenticeship 4.) straight to workforce, or 5.) entrepreneurship.
Gang activity, gun violence and incarceration numbers decrease by being a part of our community.
This weekend (February 5th-7th) is Baltimore Ceasefire Weekend, where there is a cry for no lives to be taken on this weekend. Find out more at www.baltimoreceasefire.com.
3. Building relationships across lines of difference is humbling and hard.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we’re drawn to sameness. Whether it’s cultural, ethnic, racial, religious, career-wise or something else, we like to be with people who either look, think, act or believe the way we do.
I’ve been pretty insulated in Christian community for the past 7 years. And before that, it was mainly black community, with pockets of other races and backgrounds here and there.
Everyone brings a different lived experience to this life and each experience is valid and worthy and beautiful in their own right. AND there are mindsets and patterns of behavior that are oppressive, harmful, ignorant and out of touch with reality. The reconciling of these two statements is where the hard work comes in.
Every day I challenge myself to embody Thread’s core competencies which are: 1.) Show All the Way Up, 2). Fail Forward, 3.) Treat Relationships as Wealth and 4.) Learn from All Voices.
These values help us to assume best intentions, learn how inextricably linked we are to others and to own our mistakes as we grow.
Perfection doesn’t exist, but progression does.
And that’s the goal.
I just want to thank everyone who prayed me into this work. It wasn’t just about a job. It was about a longer term calling that continues to unfold before me as I seek God’s will for my life. So, the story continues!
Cheers to year one!
Until Next Time,