It is defined as “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.”
This feeling resonated with me throughout college but has completely unraveled itself over me since August 2018 when I entered Canisius College as an official graduate student. It has been a while since I’ve posted on here. I did not want to write entirely about something I have been experiencing since entering graduate school without the proper introduction as to how I even got here (and trust me, on most days, I’m not sure how I got here either).
It was February of 2018 when the panic had set in. Was I getting a full-time job after undergrad or do I make the choice to further my education?Through constant chats with my professors, advisors, mentors, my friends, and of course, my family, graduate school ended up being my path. However, I had to put in the work to get to that decision. Through resume checks at the career center, signing up for mock interviews, talking to those whose positions inspired me ever since I received the position as a resident assistant- I made sure I spoke to anybody and everybody about what I was considering. I wanted to hear their perspectives, ask questions about their path, learn what empowers them, and draw my inspirations from those conversations. I knew I wanted something familiar but something different. I could not put my finger on it until learning about Canisius College—A small, private, Jesuit-Catholic institution located in Western New York. Something that pushes me is my passion for social justice activism. I had studied gender, became fascinated with the social constructs that guide our society, wanted to have discussions revolving around queer identity, and craved to have a space where I could talk about the intersectionality of it all. However, something I had never truly considered as even part of my path was attending a religiously affiliated institution, but something told me I should.
When I had first arrived, I was greeted with a warm welcome. Hugs came my way, conversations were started, and experiencing Buffalo was just over the horizon. Since I was with my family, I wanted to make sure they were able to check some things off of their bucket lists as well. Therefore, after I checked in, saw my (very first!) apartment, learned a little bit more about what I would be doing—it was time to adventure.
We picked up our things and traveled to the Buffalo zoo, Niagara Falls, and dinner at a French restaurant in downtown Buffalo. When we returned to my apartment, we continued to unpack, shop for necessities, and reality slowly began to set in. I was officially beginning my career within Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration. I hugged my family goodbye, watched them drive off, and began my life at Canisius College.
Hall Director training was both nerve-racking and exciting. Although I was constantly being called on to answer questions, there was something enriching about that. Something had told me when I was sitting, listening to presentations, and eagerly waiting to meet my first ever RA staff that I was in the right place, doing the right thing, and going through the right path. I was smiling, I was excited, but more importantly, I was ready.
RA training began and I could feel the shakiness in my voice when I had to hold my very first staff meeting. Although none of the RAs had made me feel like I was not capable, I was extremely focused on not messing anything up. However, as the year progressed—my team became my family. Just like any family, hiccups happened, team dynamics shifted, and life got in the way sometimes—but at the end of the day, I am proud of who my team became and everything we conquered throughout the year.
Academics was a whole other notion that was extremely daunting, uncomfortable, but riveting. Sitting in another classroom feeling as though I do not belong, but also understanding the hard work I put in every single day got me to this very place: I felt an extreme amount of dissonance. I was walking on the edge of “I’m confident I am meant to be here and am capable of doing this work,”and “How did you even get here? Who let you squeeze through the education system to sit in this very seat?”The constant back and forth of wanting to believe in myself and understanding the world around me, how academia was not meant for women like me, how this classroom wasn’t built to advance me, and how this knowledge wasn’t created for me tore me into several pieces every single day. Nevertheless, just like I did in college, I won my first year of graduate school. I stayed motivated, I stayed focused, and I stayed determined to not only prove to myself that I am capable, but to show other Black girls and Black women that they can do this too.
I write this as I sit in Rohnert Park, California for a summer internship. High school me would be so damn shocked at where I am sitting right now, what I am doing, and how far I have come. I am breaking the status quo. By being a Black woman, by existing as a Black woman, by fighting as a Black woman—that is power in and of itself. I’m 23 years old and still fighting to recognize that but acknowledging it has gotten so much easier. Here’s to the things I’ve done, the things I’m doing, and to the things I will do. To those Black girls and all Black womxn and beyond reading this, I cannot wait to see what we conquer together and how the world will try to silo and keep us out. We were meant for this, we were made for this, and this is just the beginning.