Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm Young... So What?!!!

So, if you've been following my blog since it started you know that I am relatively young to be pursuing a graduate degree. My age has been a constant source of insecurity for me over the last few years, and even moreso now that I'm in the PhD program. It also doesn't help that I'm Black and a woman... yea that's a doozy lol.

My family and my mentors reassure me regularly that my age has nothing to do w/ my intellectual ability... a lot of them wish they had went straight through and were doing this in their 20's. Yet no matter how many times they have reassured me that "I'm the F***ing Queen" (yes someone actually bought me a mug for my birthday that says this lol) I find myself constantly second guessing myself and my abilities.

But yesterday I had a breakthrough... and it came at one of the oddest times and from a totally random situation... don't most of my breakthroughs happen this way? Anyway, I've had a few discussions w/ my "intellectual" friends lately about the plight of the Black women in America... particularly how we are rarely protected and supported when it comes to abusive situations. It amazes me more that Black women tend to be the first to blame the woman when she is abused, raped, molested, etc... and will continue to support the offenders. Someone mentioned that "women hate other women" period... and they would rather support a man than a woman any day. Most of these conversations were sparked by the women who still defend abusers like R. Kelly and Chris Brown, but berate Alicia Keys for being a "home-wrecker."

Anyway, I posted a random vent on twitter which included the following tweets:

Rant deleted because it is clear that people are missing the actual point of this blog due to their feelings about my rant... I am not trying to turn my blog into commentary on anyone or anything but me and my academic experiences.

Well apparently my rant hit a few nerves and caused someone that I have e-known for at least 6 years to call my rationale for not supporting/listening to R.Kelly's music retarded and blamed my decision on my age. I won't even go into detail on why the word choice or the fact that using my age to judge my intellectual ability are wrong, but I will admit that mentioning my age struck a nerve. Why? Because as a young, Black woman navigating my way through a White, male dominated space by another Black woman hurt. It also furthers my thoughts on Black women fighting one another over a Black man that could care less about either of them, but that's not the topic at hand. Plus, if she wanted to take things personal than she really needed to look in the mirror at her actions and consider her own maturity level.

Ironically, after I got over the initial sting of the statement and became angry I realized that I've been putting myself in this "I'm young, so people won't respect my intellectual abilities..." box... so why get hurt when someone actually says it? Because she's wrong and so am I lol... because I am in a place that people who are older would love to be and because I'm here way before a lot of my peers... because I can state confidently that I am a scholar and well on my way to being an intellectual. If anything my youth should make me more confident in my abilities, because I had the good sense to do this now... because I was able to choose a career path for my life without having to bump my head repeatedly. I was SMART enough to listen to those around me when they told me to do it now when I'm young. I was SMART enough to learn from the "mistakes" and experiences of my elders. I AM SMART enough to know that age is not indicative of maturity or intelligence. I AM SMART enough to know that just because someone is young it does not mean that they have not had just as many if not more life experiences than someone older. I AM SMART enough to realize that not everyone has to bump their head to learn... some people learn from those around them.

So, to the person that challenged my ability to make logical arguments based on my age I say THANK YOU! You just helped me more than you can ever know. I spent the rest of yesterday with my head held high knowing that I DESERVE to be in this space. I gave a presentation later that day on my current research completely confident that my ideas are original scholarship and will be well received... and they were by the way.

Oh and the next time you try to judge me based on my age take the time to reflect on where you were at 26.... where you are at 30+ and where I'll be at 30+... I can confidently say that by the time I'm 30+ I might not have the same "life experiences" but I will have an enriching career that fulfills me... I will be mentoring other young Black women who are aspiring to follow in my footsteps... and I will NEVER use someone's age to discount their ideas and opinions... hell you're an R. Kelly fan didn't he write "Age Ain't Nothin but a Number?"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Breakthrough...

I think I've had a breakthrough...

On Monday i attended my group therapy session on campus... yes I'm in group therapy... if you're a graduate student I highly recommend finding a group if you want to make it out remotely sane. Anyway... I decided to share the details of my previous blog and it lead to a breakthrough.

For as long as I can remember school has been my safe haven. I ALWAYS wanted to go to school... rain, shine, snow, sleet, mother in labor, sickness... I was going to school. My parents often gauged my level of illness by asking me if I still wanted to go to school... on the rare occasions when I said no off to the emergency room we went. School was my escape into another world... an escape from my reality at home. School was my first love and best friend... I was a shy kid w/ a lot of problems at home... I had a lot on my mind and pressure... but school never asked much of me. Sure I had to read books and write papers, and study for icky math exams; but it was totally worth it.

When I started my initial graduate studies in the Fall of 2006 I was running away from a lot of issues... I wanted to start over where no one knew me and I had no responsibilities to anyone or anything. Since then I have grown so much, and in growing I've learned to love other things. School is no longer the only place that I feel 100% safe... I now have a community of scholars that have become like family to me... I've fallen in love and am in a serious relationship...I'm no longer a hermit that sits at home w/ my books and laptop.

This growth has changed my relationship w/ school. Now that school is no longer my primary safe haven the love I felt for it in the past has started to dim. Don't get me wrong... I still love the smell of new books... and I still randomly blurt out some new research idea... but it's no longer the end all be all to my happiness...

As I worked out my thought process with the group members, I came to realize that because I have all these other wonderful things that I love in my life now I want to delve into them and I see school as a hindrance. While I'm "only" 26 I'm ready to get married and have a family... something that I NEVER considered for myself in the past. I want to travel and see the world. I want to be able to see my younger siblings more often and not have to rush them off the phone because I'm writing a paper. Sometimes I feel like school is cheating me out of a "life"... it's like school is this selfish lover that wants me all to himself and makes me feel horribly when I spend time with anyone else.

I'm sure this sounds crazy, but talking through that actually made me feel a lot better... it gave me a reason for why the emotional disconnect from my first love at this time.

My goal for the coming weeks is to figure out a balance... why can't a girl have it all?

(Please ignore any grammatical issues... I wrote this while flying in the air... yay for wifi)