Withered: A Lesson in moving to grow
One of the hardest decisions I had to make was deciding to leave the College of Public Health and switching to the College of Education. I am sure some of you guys are reading that and are extremely confused, but don't worry I am going to explain.
I have spoken about how I was diagnosed with three learning disabilities in May 2017. And this diagnosis truly changed my life forever. I knew after I found out this information, I didn't want to wear it like a badge; however, I also knew that the only way I was going to get help was if and when I spoke up for myself. And I also knew that staying in the public health was not going to be the place for me. I came to that conclusion after much self-reflection and after the professor said they didn't think that I had the ability to do their work.
That was a blow to my already low self-esteem. I resent phrases like that. I know I have the ability to do anything I put my brain to (we all do). But at that moment, I also knew that even though I knew I had the ability to do the work that this was not the place that was going to allow for my growth. That also meant that just because I decided to leave didn't mean that I was a quitter.
And that is the crux of it all, every environment doesn't allow for your proper growth. Just like certain plants can only thrive in certain types of temperaments and environments, the same thing applies to us.
I think that talking about this is important, especially for those interested or in graduate school. Graduate school is full of moments that will push and pull you and literally force you to grow; however, even with this pull and prodding, there is no guarantee that you will thrive. There is no guarantee that you actually even grow. Hell, there is no guarantee that you will even survive.
Honestly, I wish that the graduate school process was like when you go to the nursery to buy plants. The gardener will ask all about the type of place you live in, the frequency you are home, if you have pets, what level of responsibility you are looking for. Like why do I have to answer a whole interrogation for some plants but not for grad school? But that is another topic for another day.
The point is, that you have to know what type of environment that will best nurture you. I know that that is a daunting thought. And to be honest, sometimes you do not know WHAT will nurture you, but you know what WON'T! And that is just as important.
The cool thing about being a human is, that unlike plants we are able to pick up and move to a better environment. We do not have to stay in a plant pot on somebody's doorstep. We don't have to stay with an advisor that approaches us like a plastic plant that needs no care besides a little dusting every now and then. We don't have to stay in a relationship (romantic or friendship) with someone who refuses to water you. With someone who blocks the sun from reaching you.
When I left public health, I was so scared that everyone was going to view me as a quitter. They were gonna think I was this little Black girl who just couldn't handle graduate school. But when I looked in the mirror, I saw a wilting flower. I saw a girl who once had life and joy flowing through her veins and now instead was dull and dying. I was watching myself wither away each day that I stayed in a place where I was tolerated and not appreciated. I almost let my fear of what someone else thought of me stop me from pursuing what I was passionate about. I almost let fear literally and figuratively kill any ounce of life I had left inside of me.
I am writing this post to help you understand that you can't grow in an environment that is not conducive to your needs. Yes, there are plenty of roses and other plants that have grown in the concrete, but that doesn't mean you have to be one at this moment. You prove nothing to anyone by staying in a place that is not letting you thrive--you are actually hindering your own growth. You are not a quitter if you get up and move.
You deserve a chance to soak up all of the nutrients that you need and you cannot do that in a ground that isn't being watered or fed. You are not a quitter. Who cares about who labels you as one. This is your life and at the end of the day, if we are going to live our best Cardi B style lives, we have to give ourselves every opportunity to do so.