Think about the time in which you had the opportunity to stand up for a smaller kid on the bus who was bullied every afternoon. Did you speak up? If not, was it the result of your insecurity to speak out against someone bigger than you or older than you? Was it centered on your deductive reasoning that if you speak out, then the bully will come after you? Perhaps, it was both. You were too nervous to speak up in front of a crowd of kids from your school so you succumbed to turning your head while it happened. At least, that way, he did not go after you.
Or did he?
Inadvertently, he did. You remembered the look on the little kid’s face as he sat and cried in his seat, while his fingers were interwoven and white from the pressure of squeezing his backpack tightly to his chest. From your seat, you could see the tears falling onto the mud-stricken floor and his back heaving while he tried to stifle the crying. That night, you went to bed thinking about how you could have helped him. You thought about him the next night, too. The thoughts eventually slowed, and you only thought about him every once in a while. Then, you thought you had forgotten him until your child came home crying because “the big kids were being mean.”
When you did not think it would matter if you helped out a kid you hardly knew, it did matter. It still matters. It all matters.
In that situation, he was an oppressed child. You might have only been the same size. You might have even been smaller; however, in that situation, you were not the child who was teased or bullied for simply being himself. Your mom once said, “Just be yourself. Everyone will love you.” That child’s mom once said that to him, too.
You remember this child when you turn on the news every evening, and you see lives being shattered out of racism, homophobia, and xenophobia.
Why do black lives matter? Shouldn’t all lives matter? In a sense, they do. They matter every day. They matter when you walk to class, eat lunch, and drive your car. They do not all matter, though, when a cop suspects a black teenager of a crime simply based on his race. They do not all matter when a girl who is wearing a hijab sits next to you on the bus, and you contemplate moving to a different seat. They do not all matter when a man and his fiancé want a cake, but the baker refuses to provide them with their chosen dessert. They did not matter when Rosa Parks was arrested for not appeasing the will of a white man. They did not matter when people from the Jewish community were annihilated based on one man’s severe hatred. They did not all matter then, and they do not all matter now.
By celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we do not suggest breast cancer is the only cancer worth acknowledging. It is simply a reminder to reach out to those in need when they may ask for help. It gives you time to acknowledge the lives lost from this illness. By celebrating any one group, illness, or organization, we do not suggest they matter over their counterparts. We simply suggest taking a few moments out of your day to educate yourselves on the actualities of the harm, exhaustion, and disrespect others may receive at the feet of their oppressors.
While you may think it does not matter in this exact moment, it does. It matters now, and it always will.
Sometimes, you go to college with a declared major. Sometimes, it works out. Sometimes, though, it takes everything short of a little blood to force yourself to attempt to enjoy your classes. It is not noticeable at first, but it comes in slow movements. One day, you feel as though this major was the best decision of your life because you feel fulfilled during class discussions. Other times, though, you find yourself facing your computer screen with glazed eyes and your first D on a test.
You try to enjoy class. You even make an attempt to talk to more people and research controversial and well-established topics within the subject. What you soon realize is how you fell in love with an idea rather than a concrete subject. They told us in English classes: abstract ideas are thoughts you cannot physically grasp such as love or excitement. Concrete objects, though, are items you can physically touch such as a person or a book. We tend to fall in love with the abstract before understanding the underlying concrete actualities of reality.
Maybe you grew up fantasizing about being a reporter in the midst of political controversy or after a celebrity’s death, but how would you truly react in these scenarios? When you realize you would rather research your own information without worrying about prying into other people’s lives, you also soon realize how little you would be wanted in a newsroom. These ideas fabricate the actualities of the real workforce.
While it would be ideal to show up at a modern and crisp desk with a view of the skyline in New York City while you wholeheartedly receive a salary for updating your blog, this is not typically how careers form. They form by completing the worst work in the field. Do you want to become an editor? Are you okay with fetching coffee and organizing your boss’s calendar before you become your own boss? Then, awesome! You are probably on the right path if it is your dream to edit other’s pieces and be the face for your own publication as well.
Essentially, it is important to understand the concrete elements of your desired profession or college major. This explains why I have had three different majors and sifted through various minors to complement those majors within only three years of being an undergraduate student. We do not realize the turmoil certain professions undergo, and unless you are willing to undergo those facets of mayhem, you probably should not be on your current path.
Is that not how we create our own futures, though? Should we not form our own paths?
This is the point. In order to find your way in life, you need to begin by slashing through the greenery and forming your foundation for your path. Even if you begin by placing pebbles one at a time, at least you are on your way. There may come a time when you face a circumstance and you decide to change your direction. It is okay. This is your path, your journey, and you will reach your personal destination.
Lauren is a Ball State University alumna with a Bachelor's degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. She enjoys breakfast for dinner with a side of literary enjoyment.