I was tasked with writing a 500 word statement on a transformative experience that has happened during my time in the College of Education at the University of Mary Washington. There was only one possible thing I could write about, but it is deeply personal. I avoided writing this but in the end have found that even thinking through my feelings on the topic and putting them into this essay have helped me learn about myself.
I wear my heart on my sleeve and social justice is one of its driving forces, but my advocacy used to be selfish. What was wrong, I argued with myself, about wanting to accessibly pave the world with good intentions? As long as the world changed for the better, what should it matter if the intentions were mainly to make my own life easier at the end of the day?
That changed when my mom died. It feels like cheating to use her suicide as a transformative experience and I don’t know how to talk about her death and my grief without seeming like I’m looking for sympathy. I don’t know what to do with sympathy, or pity, or any of those weird and difficult feelings I have welling up inside me other than to use my restless energy to do and to make and to (electronically) yell.
My mother’s death took me outside of myself and my struggles and made me more aware that others are fighting battles just as hard as mine. I know how to give a voice to somebody who can’t or won’t speak out, but more importantly I have learned the importance of giving others that voice before it is gone. My classroom is going to be a place where voices are heard. We are going to read our away around the world and write until we know ourselves.
My advocacy isn’t simply selfish anymore. Now it’s angry and frustrated and so very sad. It’s personal and it’s universal. My advocacy, and who I am as a person, has changed for the bittersweetly better.