For the past year and a half, I’ve been a College Adviser at Hope High School here in Providence. I’ve worked with two classes of seniors through their entire college application process. Essays, SATs, recommendations, FAFSAs etc. My time has been amazing, frustrating, rewarding and difficult. I’ve grown as a professional and as a young adult. As I move into the next phase of my professional career, I’ve been reflecting on my past experiences, my strengths and my weaknesses personally and professionally.
In the last few months, I’ve applied to dozens of jobs and I’ve been rejected, ignored, hired and interviewed. With each response, I’ve felt peaks and valleys of insecurity and confidence. I’ve asked for advice and words of wisdom and still feel stuck. There is an intangible pressure on the shoulders of young black professionals when considering their next career move. The trajectory of their entire lives might rest on what company they choose, what field they commit to, and what their pay grade is. Even with a college education, there is a very thin line between success and poverty, and that stress can keep us from making riskier choices that might yield higher rewards. We don’t have the privilege of taking a year off to travel, work on an app or simply find ourselves. Our parents sent us off to college for a reason and they want to see those results.
My fear, excitement and uncertainty grow out of how far I may be able to step out of my comfort zone with my next opportunity. My comfort zone is Providence, within my small room, in my dad’s basement, playing Metal Gear Solid V in the dark. Insecurity and self-doubt have kept me from creating more for myself. I have moments where I feel confident and capable. I look at this website, I look at my resume and I feel accomplished. Unfortunately, most of the time, I don’t feel smart enough, creative enough, or enthusiastic enough to do anything well. I’ve convinced myself that the only thing keeping me employed is my personality. I think about how much this stems from the White Reality we exist in and my actual capacity to work effectively. I haven’t found the answer, but Double Consciousness drastically alters the way we look at ourselves. Measuring intelligence, freedom, happiness, success and creativity through a white lens is dangerous. It’s a reality we will never experience. Not because we’re not good enough, or rich enough, but because of our differences, both culturally and racially.
I believe I will step up to the challenges that I’ve created for myself only because that’s what growing us is all about. Not necessarily being prepared for life, but being able to adapt when you need too.
To all the young black professionals on the job hunt, be willing to take risks and recognize that you’ve been able to flourish in a system designed to destroy you. You’re amazing. We’re amazing