I teach at a university, the core part of my 006 paper- is to facilitate confidence in reading academic papers, and bravery to conquer essay battles.
My battalion: 34 bright eyed-bushy tailed Maori and Pasifika recruits, all but 6 are fresh out of high school. They have enlisted to this CUP Bridging Course, as the basic training to help them transition into studying first year University papers next semester.
My students speak a lot about:
1) Their parent’s hopes 2) The expectations of the world and 3) What they want to do.
As a proud Samoan who grew up in the harsh streets of South Auckland, with parents who migrated to this land of milk and honey, worked long hours in a factory for bugger all money, I know too well this weight of expectation.
We are complex gatekeepers of different worlds: Speak English at school and different languages at home, Mum and Dad are passing ships in the night as they hand us over between shifts, we have church commitments many days of the week, we buy 2L drinks and big bags of chips so we can share with our friends and when the phone rings and nana needs money for a fa’alavelave in Samoa, we understand eating rice/ noodles and bread all week is necessary, because these wider family obligations are part and parcel of our island way.
The struggle really is real. And Education is the golden ticket.
But what happens when our parent’s hopes are too much?
My mum wanted me to study law. My aunties were so happy and proud to introduce me as their niece who was a “Law Major” at uni. Truth is, I hated it. I dropped out at first year. I battled with this feeling of failure for ages, like I had let everyone down.
What happens when the expectations of the world are too high to reach?
Someone once asked me what I wanted to study at university, when I replied, “Classics” he immediately shot me down, “What kind of job is that going to get you?”. You know what’s funny? He had never been to uni, and here he was telling me how to live my life.
My students ask, “Can I be more than just one thing? What if I don’t know what I’m meant to do? What if I fail? OMG that would be epic Shaaaaameeee!”
So to you, my BRAVE students I speak.
Our parents may have that old school, “Be either a doctor or a lawyer” mentality, and go hard if that is the way you are wired, if you are BRAVE enough to chase your dream, guess what? Your folks will be at every play, political debate, engineering or architecture event, robotics display, programming launch and share great delight in your business / academic pursuits. Sporting and Artistic pursuits CAN co-exist if you are willing to put in the time and effort.
You may have to survive some death stares and some awkward silences, but underneath the hard exterior is the intense desire to know that you are happy and fulfilling your God – given potential. Turns out my mum and family were totes ok with me majoring in Linguistics and Political Science. I’m passionate about learning so teaching is a perfect fit for me and now I’m back at uni chasing a Masters in Business Administration dream.
The world’s expectations.
As a mother to 3 young girls I make it a point to know who they hang out with. When my daughter has moments of doubt, and as she grows up and has poignant questions of her place in the world, guess whose voice (aside from mine of course) is going to be very influential to her mindset?
Yep, her #RIDEorDIES!
So as a mum, I want to know that the friends she hangs out with, whether it be for a reason, a season, or a lifetime celebrate her kindness, positivity, compassion and excellence. She too must awhi her friends’ amazing qualities.
Shakespeare says, “To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods”, my real friends are just that, conversations that are never diminished by distance or time. We have this signature, loud as hyena cackling, they know where I have come from, accept my introverted ways, and always push me to grow. They remind me to not listen to the haters, but to dream bigger. To work harder. To climb higher.
Your friends must take you higher- their language, their values, and their mindset is crucial to your success.
What you want to do
The great poet W.B Yeates once wrote, “It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”
It’s never too late. Life is more than just paying bills, more than playing it safe or being comfortable. Life is about taking risks, to be so good at your talent(s) that it brings you into the presence of kings. To be engaged in work so meaningful, the world cannot ignore the social impact you are making.
I applaud you for digging deep and searching for more. For in chasing purpose, believe me, the paper will come.
Beware, this movement is not for the faint hearted.
But you my dear student, possess the courage and skill to make it so. There are dreams, gifts and strengths in you that this world needs.
Be prepared to exceed your ability
Be diligent in completing your tasks
Be fearless in your approach
Till next time xox