Six down, four to go

Monday, March 12, 2012

I can feel the stress leaving my body as I put together my final project-- which is due in 5 hours. Living life under deadline steals my joy. To constantly have something hanging over my head puts me in a state of constant irritability. You would think it might be easier as time goes on but I have been a student now for 18 months and instead it feels harder. Maybe it's just that the heat gets turned up when you get closer to your goal. Everything in you wants to throw in the towel. Many times I have wanted to raise the white flag and say "Forget this. It's not worth it." But when I look back with another quarter behind me, there is a huge sense of satisfaction that I overcame the challenge.

In spite of how grueling the last 11 weeks have been, I have learned a huge lesson in empathy. I hate how it always takes going through similar struggles to understand others' pain but it seems to be the only way.

When I say empathy, I am talking about how it feels to be a minority. I must admit I have been calloused to the battlecry of the non-white community. I have always had the impression that all our country's resources of time and money were being prioritized to those whose ancestors didn't immigrate from Europe and therefore they shouldn't be complaining. What I have realized is that time and money don't solve the issue of feeling left out. Entering a culture so vastly different from your own is an exercise in strength and self confidence. And let me tell you, it's hard to hold on to either when you spend day after day with people who have no interest in getting to know you. It is incredibly lonely. I may not be a minority in terms of my skin color but in every other subject. I don't have much in common with the majority of people on campus due to my marital status, my parental status, my political leanings, my religious beliefs--all the values I hold dear are not often shared by those I interact with on a daily basis. I can somewhat understand what it must feel like for the 8-10% of my fellow students who don't fit the stereotype either.

I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to do with this revelation but I'm glad I've made the discovery. I hope I will remember next quarter when, unlike this quater,I have like-minded friends in my classes, that I will make an effort when I sense someone is feeling excluded. I know this is all preparing me for what I will face in my classroom. So instead of looking back on these 3 months with disdain, I will file it away as another lesson learned and remember what I've said from the beginning: this is about so much more than the degree.