Tuesday, October 9, 2012


"Find the thing you think about when you have nothing else to think about."

That was the advice Henry B. Eyring's dad gave him when he was trying to pick a major in school.

Now I'm here in my last year of school and I'm trying to find purpose and I'm trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.  I'm trying to make my dreams match reality and I'm trying to figure out what's responsible and what's reasonable and what the dang heck I want out of this life. So, I've been thinking about that quote a lot lately because I think it could help give me some direction in what I want to do and how I ought to get there.

For a long time, all I ever thought about was how I wanted to be a secretary.  I know, it sounds ridiculous and like it's a waste of my college career, but seriously. I love being a secretary, not a joke.  I just like helping people and yet, I don't like being the most important.  I like being in the background, in the details.  I like making it so the other people, the more important people, can succeed.  And I know it's silly to think that making copies for someone is important or making sure their test doesn't have any glaring errors will actually make a huge difference, but maybe sometimes I really think it does.  I like knowing the little quirks of the people I work for and how exactly they like things done.  I like figuring that stuff out.  I like being helpful.  Have a I spent enough time convincing you of the importance of secretaries?

So that was kind of my plan.  Graduate from college and since nothing is holding me back, I'd just move to the east coast and be a secretary.  I know, big dreams, right?

But then this semester came along and I've been taking a Family Sociology class and an Inequality in Society class and suddenly all I can think about are those kids.  Those kids who are so disadvantaged from the day they are born.  Those kids who grow up in less than ideal situations, with parents who are just there and aren't giving their kids as much time, attention, and resources that other parents are.  I think about the growing achievement gap and these kids who grow up in poverty and don't have mentors to help them make it through the education system.  Kids who get lost in the system, who drop out of school, who are told and treated as if there is no hope for them.  Kids who grow up in communities where no one has graduated from high school and where it seems like there is no way of getting out.  I just can't stop thinking about these kids.

And I want to help them, but I don't know how.  Sometimes I think I could be a teacher, but I really don't think I'd be very good at it.  Now don't get me wrong--I bet I could do it, it's just that there are better people for the job out there.  And there's just so much at stake with these kids that I don't want to mess it all up.  But I guess that's really just a horrible reason not to do it.  I suppose if I put my mind to it, I could make a difference to these kids.

And the other thing is that it really isn't their fault that they are where they are today.  They didn't choose to grow up in poverty, they didn't choose to be of a certain race, they didn't choose to have parents who don't care very much about their education (though this is not true of all parents in poverty), they didn't choose to have zero mentors who were telling them from day one how important education is.  Don't tell me that these kids are lazy or that they are just choosing not to do well in school--making it their fault that they will continue to live in poverty--because that's just not true.

So I could be a teacher, but not only do I think I might not be good at it, it also scares me.  Like, really scares me.  I've never ever liked public speaking or teaching (I know, surprising considering how much I talk), so there's that.  Maybe if I could just teach kids math.  That would be pretty neat.

I don't know, I think I need to just look into it more.  And maybe I shouldn't let this scare me.  Or maybe I should do this because it scares me.  Because I think these kids deserve someone who cares.  I think these kids deserve someone who will believe in them, someone who thinks that they are worth the time and the energy that is put into teaching them.  Because I have been given much, and so I too must give.

I just feel like I have a responsibility.  Because I have been so blessed in my life, I should give back.  Because I have had the opportunity to come to college and to learn all these skills, I owe it to the world to make something of myself, to make a difference, to make a change. I mean, enter to learn, go forth to serve, right?  I guess the real issue is figuring out how I want to serve.

If nothing else, I believe strongly in the following quote, which is a reminder of the responsibility I feel we all have.

"If the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, 
but by our institutions, 
great is our sin."
                                                     -Charles Darwin

And as an extra little note at the end here, I feel like all of us can serve.  We don't have to be teachers in urban schools and we don't have to work at homeless shelters and we don't have to end world hunger.  But we can see the classmate who is struggling and give them a hand. We can see the person who looks like they need a friend and then be that friend.  We can open doors for people, we can help the old lady with her groceries, we can listen to someone who just needs to talk. We can be the secretaries that work in the background details because you know what?  It's not always easy out there. 

Everyone's got something.  Big, small, something.


Janelle said...

And this is why I love our major. We are totes cool!

Lena said...

Very well put Stacy.

Ed Eschler said...

Slow clap, building up speed and ending with a standing ovation.

Anonymous said...

Go Stacy! :)