“True courage requires vulnerability.”
- Adapted from a quote by Brené Brown
My generation has been calibrated to look at ourselves through one lens, at least as it pertains to our professional lives. As children, we were encouraged to go to good schools, become professionals, excel in our careers and ride off into the sunset. Indeed, I feel very blessed to have procured the academic training, professional achievements and life experience that I have.
However, when we achieve goals that we have set for ourselves, we must be careful not to allow ourselves to be lulled into complacency. After achieving set goals, we should never feel as if our contributions to the world must cease or are limited to a certain form or genre moving forward.
I felt moved to write a book a few years ago that would equip young people with the tools they needed to succeed in elite academic and competitive social spaces, and would help their parents and educators effectively support them. Despite my abilities and accomplishments, I kept talking myself out of it. The excuse parade pummeled me relentlessly. It wasn’t the right time. I didn’t know enough about the book writing and publishing process to execute the project. No one would be interested in the subject matter. And perhaps the mental impediment that resonated the most with me: what gave me the audacity to believe that I could make a meaningful contribution to a field outside of my professional expertise? The list of deterrents kept me paralyzed and stuck in inaction. For a while, I allowed my fear of failure and public vulnerability to convince me to abandon the idea.
Then 2020 happened. Specifically, the summer of 2020 happened and young people across the country started vocalizing their experiences with oppression, trauma and dejection during their tenure at elite independent schools throughout the U.S. Their long-suppressed emotions were bubbling up. I knew that I had to take action.
I started writing. I wrote furiously and purposefully calling back into the forefront of my consciousness stories that I had long since buried. I wrote and wrote and wrote until my book Black Prep: Life Lessons of A Perpetual Outsider, was fully formed. The book officially launches on December 7.
My hope is that the book will help young people, parents and educators alike. My prayer is that it will help people, who like me, had to navigate the unfamiliar terrain of elite educational spaces with no roadmap. People, who like me, felt as if they were constantly being told they were inferior, not good enough, and not worthy of having a seat at the table. People, who like me, needed the support of my village and reiteration of my worth in order to remain resilient and whole in the face of adversity.
It is important that I deliver one key message loud and clear: you are good enough. You are more than enough. You are the asset. You do not have to change who you are in order to be successful in elite spaces. If anything, you may simply need to change the way you see yourself. See yourself as the asset.
I hope that the book will not only support and encourage young people, but that the book will inspire others to step outside of their comfort zones. I took a step outside of a well-trodden professional path to do something in new and uncharted territory.
We all must remember that no matter where we come from, our background, our educational level, and even our achievements, we write our own story. We decide how we will move forward in our journey. While we might not always select the terrain over which we must traverse on the road to achieving our goals, we can be intentional about deciding where we are headed.
Be brave and courageous. Seize each moment and do not take one day of your life for granted. It is imperative that we share who we are with the world. In this season of giving, please be brave enough to share your gifts.