Participating in the Micah program is evidence of my commitment in learning about other people’s culture. I want to learn about West Oakland, its history and its people in order to better understand the strengths of the community in order for me to apply some of the same principles in my life. This knowledge allows me to understand someone’s personal history better and gives me a lens to better understand what is true and important to them.
During dinner at an Oakland Ethiopian restaurant (which is very similar to the Eritrean food that Mehari grew up on), we discussed the quote on page 347 of Susan R. Komives and Wendy Wagner’s Leadership for a Better World, “Because fully functioning persons are unencumbered by others’ expectations for them, they can make more sound personal choices.” For some reason, I really struggled with accepting this statement as true. One of the ways that I identify myself is as a people person. I have a genuine desire to care for others and make sure that all of their needs are met. I see the good that I do through the people that I am in relationship with and see God at work in them. One of the things that was brought up in our discussion was whether or not someone could identify as a people-pleaser while making sure that they are unaffected by other people’s judgments of you. To me, it felt as if in order to maintain my identity as a people person, it would be necessary to listen carefully to others and work to make sure that everyone is as happy as possible.
While I see that there are massive benefits to listening to others, I can also see that there are some flaws to placing such a large value on others. Between going to school, babysitting, working with CILSA, going to church, my commitments to my family and friends, I rarely have time to set aside for myself. I work really hard to fulfill all of my obligations and sometimes stretch myself too thin in doing so. In some ways, I feel like I am losing my sense of self. When people ask what hobbies I have, I stumble over my words while thinking of an answer. When I have time, I cook and bake, but that only happens a few times a week. I love to craft—especially to makeover thrift store items for my apartment, but haven’t had the opportunity to DIY anything since last summer. I love volunteering and serving others, but am unable to do so unless it is part of my job through CILSA. One place that I do have for myself is in my car—one top of being the place where I catch up with my family and friends between jobs or classes, it is also where I quietly reflect, pray or listen to Christian music.
I came to the Bay Area to get an education at Saint Mary’s College of CA, meet new people, gain knowledge in a variety of ways and develop spiritually, emotionally, and as a part of extremely strong communities. But I wonder—am I still on track? Is my busy schedule getting in the way of that? How can I decide what to cut from my life when I love everything that I do? Do I even need to? How do I lead a life of reflection without time to set aside for reflection?