At one point in our lives we have taken our circumstances for granted. We have acknowledged that other people live worse lives in poor conditions with less opportunities. Yet, we do not let it affect us. It might be instinct for us to isolate ourselves in our own little bubble. However, I believe that we should let this knowledge affect us in a positive way instead of just ignoring the privilege that we have. I wish I would have known this sooner.
Before coming to Michigan, my family’s income was tight and our basic necessities weren’t met. Once I started working, I was finally able to buy my own things and realized that we viewed necessities as luxury. I was amazed to find myself in a place I yearned to be for so long. Once exams and papers piled up, I found myself too stressed to realize how blessed I was. I was finally at the university of my dreams while others couldn’t afford an education. I was doing work-study research while others were breaking their backs picking fruits and vegetables in fields for the same pay or less. I was spending a summer in an internship with a scholarship to cover expenses while others were struggling with transportation and housing costs. I was in air-conditioned rooms, with educated professors, students with personal phones and laptops, running water, bathrooms, electricity, and clean water. I was living in luxury. My past finally caught up with me and I felt overwhelmed for complaining about silly homework assignments.
To help relieve my imposter syndrome and feelings of not belonging, I connected with students and advisors with similar backgrounds. I built a community with people who could relate to what I was feeling and seeked help from The National Forum among other offices. It was then that I realized I could use my past to keep me going. It is now a great source of motivation and a part of me that keeps me grounded. Coming from humble beginnings and entering college can make anyone feel out of place, especially when you’re surrounded by people who can pay for several coffees a day and expensive study supplies. You run around campus as a student but feel like you are missing something and are at a disadvantage. But when you think about home, you realize that your student life is better than the life your parents could provide. So you are very thankful you’ve been blessed with such privilege.
I wish I knew this information before the beginning of any experience in college. But I found myself slowly developing and processing this information. I believe that any workplace, internship, and opportunity will enhance who you are as person and make you accepting of others. You will always work with people so it’s better to be kind and helpful than discriminate others and be rude. I know my internship experience helped enhance my values and traits. Working with many people and holding conferences/workshops helped me gain more knowledge about my strengths and weaknesses, allowing me to improve myself. Due to my previous visits to The Forum seeking assistance, I was able to connect with the director and land a summer internship there. Throughout my internship, I found myself building a network of people whom I could trust. I was able to build the community I needed while gaining necessary skills. It was then that I thought to myself how lucky and grateful I was for my internship opportunity and all opportunities I have had access to.
Acknowledging where we come from and where we don’t not only helps ourselves but can help others. We are now more considerate and accepting when it comes to different students. We use our and others hardest adversities to motivate us and remind ourselves why we need to be grateful every day. We need to use this to persevere and to take advantage of every opportunity because you never know how much someone wishes to be in your shoes and have that privilege too.