A few weeks ago, I was reading this post by Deb Schmidt-Rogers about the “Secret Lives of Women” (found here in case you missed it: http://wisakc.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/the-secret-lives-of-women-by-deb-schmidt-rogers-depaul-university/). The basic message of this post hit home hard. I am in transition right now and in a situation I have never been in. My situation involves a lot of beauty, love, stress, and uncertainty. I’m unemployed, job searching, and beginning my life with my partner and our dog. I have explained before why this is so challenging. I have had a series of interviews, applications, and rejections and in the interim I am trying to accomplish some things I have always wanted to do and plan our wedding. Sometimes, everything is too much.
My grandfather, who is 72 and battling lung cancer, has always been a key figure in my life. My partner and I recently found our dream venue in North Carolina and have decided to host the wedding there. I knew this would mean that a majority of my family (My grandparents, Aunt, and cousins that I grew up with) would not be able to make it. Knowing something and believing something are two different things. When I called Papa last week to ask him if there was any way he would be able to make it to the wedding if we had it in NC, he said no. It took everything in me not to burst into tears in the middle of Best Buy.
Sometimes, somethings just add up too quickly, or pile on too high. I called my mom Friday morning at work and was sobbing. She hates this because she is in OK and I am in NC and we can’t see other. Talking to her always makes me feel better and sharing my raw emotions with my partner helps too. Currently, this is the context of my life. I know it will change, but this is my context for operating at this time.
I sincerely like to believe that no one man or woman is an island (no matter how much someone may feel that way). People, students, administrators, you, me, we operate within the context of our lives. One of my goals for this life journey I’m on is to learn as much about my context, and the context of others, as possible. Something I learned while working with Upward Bound, is that we can never assume someone’s context. We operate in a small section viewing bits and pieces of someone else’s larger whole and we only share bits and pieces (a professional piece here, a personal piece there) of ourselves with others. In reality, the context of our lives is much fuller and much more complex and complete. I sometimes think that because we know the context of our lives two things happen: we assume others do, and we assume we know the context of other people’s lives. This is rarely the case.
Learn your own context, explore your thoughts, emotions, and reactions to your context. Never make assumptions about someone else’s context or perspective. And always, always be kind (to yourself and others) because your simple act of kindness, could change a situation or difficult context for someone else and yourself.
How do you explore your context and the context of others? How do you encourage students to do the same? What do you do with this knowledge? How have people been kind to you when you most needed it? When have you been kind to others and how can you intentionally continue to do this?