Yesterday, I caught myself yelling out the chorus of Drake’s song while in my car. He sings “came up that’s all me….no help that’s all me, all me for real.”
I heard myself, and cringed. It felt disrespectful to God, my family and friends, to sing something that, for me, is fundamentally untrue.
The past few days have been both wonderful and challenging. I was invited to be the guest lecturer at Ursinus College, my alma mater. But getting there was an uphill battle. There was an issue with my transportation, then I discovered at the last minute that I had an expired license, then I ran out of contacts and was half blind, then I had to read half a book and give a lecture in my own class before I drove for 6 hours with little to no sleep. And that was just the half of it.
Did I mention that I still had to finish my lecture?
My entire family pitched in. On the weekend, they drove up to problem solve and rescue me. On Monday, my mom didn’t sleep as I drove, instead praying for my safe arrival. My dad texted me to make sure I went to the RMV to get a replacement license before I made the 6 hour drive.
After I got to Collegeville, my friend Katie and her husband made dinner for me. We watched stand up comedy while I edited my talk. Pound cake and tea appeared in front of me, and the jokes they shared helped me realize that I’d be okay. My best friends texted me to tell me they were praying for me from Holyoke, Amherst, and even Switzerland! My friends Katie, Toni, Marlena and Rachel showed up and supported me, and then took me out for drinks afterwards. I knew that as I spoke to a full auditorium, my family was at home praying for me to do well.
Image from: www.catholicdadsonline.org
While at Ursinus College, my mentor and former professors repeatedly told me that they were proud of me, and that they were rooting for me to do well. Even as they and students asked me provocative and interesting questions about my research, I knew that they were asking from a spirit of love, respect, and genuine curiosity. That atmosphere of love meant that I could focus on thinking critically about my research, and sharing my ideas with others. I had so many great conversations that will help me as I revise my dissertation.
One brilliant Afro Am history professor reminded me that, to break the cycles of oppression, we all need to first believe that it is possible, and then work together to make that a reality. While I think his thoughts are a bit idealistic, I love the idea that we ought to have a communal approach to recognizing and then solving problems. When something happens to me, my entire family is impacted, and they all rush to my aid. I wouldn’t have gotten this far in my career if they didn’t support me spiritually, emotionally, and financially.
Image from: alilochhead.com
It is difficult, if not downright impossible, to achieve any level of success without the love and support of others. Don’t be afraid to ask for love and support, or seek out relationships where you can receive it.
And please, give love and support to others as well. We live in a world that constantly talks about haters. Haters will always exist. It’s so much more challenging (and rewarding) to be a lover.
Image from: dejeka.wz.cz
Be radical. Love others.