One of my most interesting classes this semester is for the living community I’m engaged in, Shared Interest Housing (abbreviated SIH and also known as “Colloquium Part 2” among my friends), which got me into Greiner Hall in the first place.
About this time last year, I had applied for a position as a Resident Advisor (basically, a student mentor who lives in the dorms) with UB’s Campus Living department. I talked about the application/interview process a little bit in the post Major Life Update, which I published last February after my interview. I was banking on being offered a job to determine where I’d be living this current year. I later found out that I had been waitlisted for the RA position, which sent me into a wild panic as I attempted to figure out where I would be living. That’s how I initially got involved in the Shared Interest program, and even though I was offered a job in Campus Living later on, I chose to stay with the Shared Interest living community and Greiner Hall.
The program, which I’ve talked about a little bit before, is a service-learning class focused on community involvement in the city of Buffalo (which means– yep you guessed it–volunteering hours). All the members of the SIH program (about 15 to 20 of us) are enrolled in a one-credit course that meets for an hour on Mondays, and every week, a new hand-selected speaker comes in to speak to us about the work that they do in Buffalo, what they’re doing with their lives, and they pretty much tell their stories and offer advice to us as we reach the halfway point of our college careers (eek).
I feel inspired to tell you guys about this because today’s speaker was among the best we’ve had so far. One thing that I love about all the people who come to talk to us is that most of them haven’t followed a specific conventional path to get to the point where they are today. They’re an incredibly diverse group of people who all lead vastly different lives and pursue different careers with different goals, but they are all (1) passionate about the specific work they do, and (2) passionate about Buffalo. It’s so cool to compare and contrast the variety of options we all have to take with our lives. Everyone brings a different point of view, a different piece of advice in facing (and creating) our futures.
Okay, I got off-track. Today’s speaker was really young, vibrant, and peppy. It was clear just from listening to her speak that she is so excited about the work she does, and it was contagious. Everyone in the class was participating more than usual, asking questions and trying to figure out how she could possibly be doing something she loved so much and still surviving on it.
We’re constantly taught, from the time that we’re old enough to begin to grasp what the real adult world is like, that we can’t have it all. We’re told that we’ll have to make compromises and give up certain things, like our dream jobs, to gain financial stability… The ultimate goal. The only way to “succeed” in life is through a collegiate degree, but earning that degree will cost a lot, so we’d better get a well-paying job after that in order to pay off college loans, buy a house, start a family, and hold on as tight as possible to that sacred idea of financial stability, the American dream. That’s a lot of pressure.
The class was really intrigued by this woman who followed a really unconventional path of reaching her dreams. She waited a few years after graduating high school before starting college. She travelled and then got a job as she started her freshman year. She started her own business upon graduating college and now she is the picture of success. We all wanted to know her secret. How did she do it?
She didn’t really have much to say about it being a secret. She told us, “Passion, dedication, and believing in yourself is 90 percent of the process, and you’ll figure out the rest.” She reminded us how important it is to know that we can do anything we want, if we are willing to work hard enough for it. She said, “Don’t be afraid to be the president of your own fan club,” and I loved that.
The scary thing to me was how risky everything seemed. When she told her story, she told us that she relied on others for a lot of support and guidance. She didn’t have a specific plan for her life that she followed perfectly. She wasn’t afraid to talk to others and ask questions and ask for help and get involved over her head. That’s scary, too. In all honesty, I don’t even really know what I exactly it is that I want to be doing after I graduate, so I guess I ought to be scared of that too, but I’m starting to trust that it’ll all work out if I do build those connections, learn more about what it is that I love to do and what impact I want to make, and ascend to the position of President of the Maggie Fan Club.
Apparently, all it takes is passion and belief. We’re gonna see how it works out.
Lots of love,