My LDI fellowship experience started with the simple task of selecting a quote that we connected with. The quote I gravitated to was that of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
When someone holds a leadership role, it comes with knowing that the role comes with power and, for some individuals, unwanted or unpleasant responsibilities. I am an individual that did not see the power I hold, but rather the impact I can have. In our opening retreat we did a lot of reflecting. We set up and developed goals and asked ourselves questions I had avoided thinking about. These questions made me aware and reflect on what kind of leader I am and the kind of leader I strive to become.
As I work to be the person I want to be, I think about the sacrifices, hard work, and everything it took for my family and myself. And as I reflect on my journey, it was easier for me to realize what I knew I did not want, and what I deserved to have in this life.
Growing up, my parents were my example of hard work and the “American Dream.” Little did I know that they were trying their best to make my world as beautiful as possible and shield me from the bad. As a child I was not aware of the power and privileges others had, other than those of authority. But unfortunately, the world is not always as beautiful as it’s made to appear. Life happens and it doesn't come with a manual. As I think about my childhood, my struggles, the struggles of my family I keep reflecting on one of Tupac Shakur poems:
Did you hear about the rose that grew
From a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature's law is wrong
It learned to walk without having feet.
Funny it seems, but keeping its dreams,
It learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
When noone else ever cared.
I’d like to think I was that rose that grew in the circumstances where the odds were against me. Not only did the typical social factors impact my growth, but they made me who I am now. As the adult I am becoming and with the knowledge I’ve gained, I’ve chose to grow and be someone within my community. I reassured myself that I was not going to become a statistic for my family, but rather be someone with a purpose they would be proud of. My experience with LDI has made me recognize we are all our own rose and we all serve communities of roses growing on concrete. Being surrounded by such inspiring leaders has enlightened my ability to continue to be the best version of myself for those I come in contact with. It has impacted me to see how my own experience and journey can help someone else and, although my struggles may not have been as big or impactful as others, I've learned to value them.
As I wrote my press release, I found a common denominator and that was me continuously helping my community and making those meaningful connections with the families I served. As I matured and became the individual I am now, I realized I’m an includer and want to make sure everyone has what they need and/or is supported as needed. I am a giver and will continue to give
A rose that rose against all odds.