I love to travel. There’s something about going somewhere new and navigating the scene that excites me! I enjoy getting lost and finding different places to eat. I love people watching and scoping out others’ do things. And even if you’ve been to a place before, you can discover new things.
I find it hard to awaken this same sense of excitement and discovery on a daily basis. Always eager to learn though, I was listening to a podcast and the question was asked: should I stay at my job of 16 years or move on to something else? I thought this question was interesting for a few reasons: 1) Why was this caller asking a complete stranger for THIS type of advice?, 2) Why do some people stay in place while others leave? 3) Should I be asking myself this question?
I always find it weird when adults ask certain questions. Some things I assume people should just KNOW, but that is not always the case. The woman who posed the question didn’t mention what type of work she did or even where she was located which to me, made it kind of hard to answer her question. BUT, either she loved her job so much that she committed to it long-term OR she found herself stuck; committed without consent. The host of this responded rather confidently and said, “I wouldn’t stay anywhere 16 years!”
I thought for a moment how easy it is for people to go from place to place without ever having a sense of belonging. Many, many years ago people would get hired at a company and remain until retirement or death. Gone are those days, I imagine. People used to buy homes that their children and grandchildren would hopefully live in. But now, the terms “starter-home”, “dream home” and “vacation home” eliminate any sense of identity or familial ties. These notions trickle down into relationships. People commit to each other but are willing to leave at the slightest inkling of a problem. I’m fully aware that most people do things because they can. But even more people do most things because they can’t (or feel that they can’t) do others.
This lead me to wonder if I should be asking myself the same question, should I stay or should I go? When I was about 17 years old and started seriously looking at colleges, I vowed to only apply to schools outside of the state of California.
I wanted to GO as far away as I could and hopefully never return. When you’re young, the whole world is an option; you believe everything will work itself out and anything you want you can have. Part of me still believes that. But in my junior year of college when I became pregnant with my son, home in California is where I ended up. Seven years later, here I am. While it is a blessing to raise my son in the same place I once grew up, there’s an uneasy feeling of complacency and lack of accomplishment that haunts me. Am I limiting my potential by staying in my hometown? Is there something out THERE that I should be doing? Am I playing it too safe?
These are just questions I have not answered for myself yet. And I think that’s healthy. I also think, change is good and one may be due for me soon. Whether it is career, lifestyle or location, I do know that I do not want to be the podcast caller relying on a complete stranger to make that decision for me. I also don’t want to spend 16 years figuring out if I’m happy where I am or if I need something more. The struggle… of growing up, I guess.
The first toy my son held in his hand was a plastic guitar. It played “Achy breaks heart” and lit up when you touched it. My son loved that toy. He was probably around two years old when we purchased him a basketball hoop though. He would, I assume like most kids, try to fit all his toys into the circle just to see what they’d do. When he was five, we joined the ymca and thus, he became apart of the non-competitive summer league.
I watched my son change that summer. Despite the many activities I put him in such as dance, piano, soccer and art, basketball seemed to ignite a fire inside of him. His language changed. He wanted to talk about basketball all the time. Everything he held in his hand became a basketball. He wanted to watch it on tv, new and old games, professional, college and high school. Every time he blinked he was practicing his jump shot. And this passion and excitement has been consistent over the last two years.
I teach middle school. Last week, at our school-wide rally, staff and students faced off on the basketball court. Unlike many other rallies, there was Aton of interest with sign ups for students reaching over 50 people. When the teams were announced though, I noticed all of our student athletes were Black. Not only that, these boys were suited up Iike they were part of Duke’s starting five. It was clear that these came to play and win.
It occurred to me many of these boys were the same students often sent out of class, suspended, failing their classes and cutting class. It also occurred to me that if they could get serious about basketball they could be that focused about anything If they wanted to. But the question still lingered, “why basketball?
For little Black boys, competition is a necessary part of growing up. The need to show and prove is critical for boys at any age. I think also, that physical,kinetic relationship is important for developing as a young man. It gives them a sense of accomplishment that few other things can. So as teacher, I’m thinking, include more movement, games and competition in the classroom and our Black boys might be a little more successful in school. I’m not an expert or claim to be on any of this. I’m just saying….
Here’s an interesting article I found from Bleacher Report http://bleacherreport.com/articles/585049-white-fans-black-players-one-mans-view-of-race-in-college-basketball