One of my first memories is sitting near the end of a chapel pew at my father’s funeral. I was seven and I distinctly remember my cousin leaning over and whispering into my ear. “You know, it’s okay to cry.”
Somehow, from the beginning, I have been able to transport myself to the other side of a storm. Through the many years since that day I have created, been surprised by, and endured many storms, mostly under the column of death of a loved one. Disease. Accident. Murder. Miscarriage. Suicide. Rage. Guilt. Wasting away.
I don’t believe anyone owns a storm. We can all tell tales of where we were during any given storm. We participate or we do not.
Some storms go unnoticed. Some most certainly do not. That there are many sides to a storm does not diminish the power of the storm.
From that young age, I pledged to myself that I would care for my world. That I would help others through storms because I had been through so many and because I knew how to believe in the other side.
Yesterday morning I spent a little over an hour with a group of 23 college advisers.
I have met with this same group of advisers every Monday morning by video for the past nine weeks. And I have met with them before, in person.
These advisers and their work through the College Advising Corps (https://advisingcorps.org/) are committed to “ensuring our nation’s low-income, first-generation college-going, and underrepresented high school seniors achieve their dreams for higher education and economic mobility.”
These “Monday Mornings With Amy” were placed on the calendar as an opportunity for these advisers to share questions, comments, and concerns about the rapidly changing landscape of this world we all share…and to be motivated by me. Because high school students need solid advisers. Because that is what I do.
I work to remove self-doubt and in its place I install self-truth, self-confidence, and decision making prowess.
I love what I do, and I love working for these advisers because I have long believed in a better world.
I love listening to these advisers because I know the impact they make on the lives of the thousands of students they work with.
I love encouraging these advisers when I can hear the confusion and uncertainty they are faced with in their own lives, knowing that they are charged with the responsibility to sometimes put those feelings of instability aside for the sake of propping up a high school student who may be just as petrified as they are about their future.
Meanwhile I am sometimes petrified, too.
We’ve covered a lot of ground on these Mondays, every week thinking we’ve hit some new zenith in all things apocalyptic.
I have gazed into the courageous eyes of these advisers on a video monitor week after week, and in their earnest queries for understanding, I have seen no evidence of surrender.
Yesterday, atop yet another zenith of our times, we talked about equal rights and justice. We talked about how to determine what responsibility looks like for each and every one of us.
And then, a moment of clarity. Responsibility looks different for everyone because, whether we choose to recognize it as such or not, our world is diverse. Our world IS diverse. Diversity IS.
So our responsibilities, as unified agents of change, will also be diverse.
When a person is faced with how to demonstrate their devotion to a person, a place, a concept much greater than a single life can prop up, perhaps it is best to begin with knowing that we all have the capacity to be agents of change.
Storms are as diverse as sunrises. And my voice has always been just one voice in the wind, but my belief in a better planet resides in my pledge to myself that I would care for my world.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s okay to cry. But honestly, I spend most of my time seeing myself and this planet on the other side of the storm, when the sun rises, and I remember who I am and what I am.
I am a believer of storms. Great, ground-shaking, ground-breaking, and terrifying storms.
But my job as an agent of change is as a motivator. I deal in confidence and self-solidity.
And in order for me to be able to motivate in the midst of the tempest, I must be able to see myself on the other side of this storm, too.
I see myself on the other side. I will be there for you.