Behind the Pretty: Renting for the First Time
I recently graded my 8th graders' argument essays. One student wrote about reading or lexile levels and how they do not determine intelligence. I was undoubtedly impressed with this essay, and as you can probably imagine, I was writing "yaass" all over.
As I was reading this essay I couldn't stop thinking about the big change I was undergoing in my life. I was moving out of my mom's place and renting an apartment with a college friend for the very first time. Exciting right?? It was a decision I made entirely on my own, but not one I was truly excited about. Not excited about having may own place??? I mean pretty much. I enjoyed staying with my mom, home-cooked meals, contributing to the rent and putting the rest of my pay check towards travel and savings, but certain circumstances just call for dire changes to be made, no matter how hard, scary or unnerving. In my case, having someone close steal my identity. Yes, you read that right-- multiple credit cards were opened under my name and I had no knowledge of it until I checked my credit report two months later, and boy had it dropped.
There were many other factors that led me to make the big move, such as starting school in the fall and needing peace and quiet. This "situation," however, was the universe's doing, and it was its way of telling me to stop complaining and to just LEAVE ALREADY.
It wasn't that simple. I often question how people make difficult things look so easy. Nothing ever comes easy for me, or in many cases, us. When I decided to move, I stayed with a co-worker for two weeks-- she let me sleep on this very comfy pull-out in her living room. She was a blessing. When I explained my situation to her she offered me space in her apartment before I even asked for the favor. The universe was looking out (thank you). I let no time go to waste. I couldn't afford to; In those two weeks I did a ton of research, looked at a dozen apartments, solidified a roommate and reached out to brokers. Since my colleague only offered to house me for two weeks, I was fortunate enough to spend another two weeks with another college friend and his family. I will always be indebted to both my co-worker and my friend's hospitality. (In the midst of it all I even managed to sneak in a trip to Dickinson's Class of 2018 graduation & a visit to see my husband in Cuba). At the end of what felt like the longest month ever, I was ready to sign the lease on June 1st and acquire the keys to my first ever apartment!! There was truly a light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn't meticulously plan moving out-- it kind of just happened. AND it wasn't as pretty as it seemed on social media-- I mean, my brother got arrested as I was putting boxes into the moving truck (talk about a dramatic backdrop).
Now, what does this all have to do with reading levels?
A higher reading level represents becoming a stronger reader, it means development and growth. Similarly, a new step into adulthood, such as renting for the first time, equally represents growth and development. Does it mean success? Does it reflect intelligence? It might for some. For me, it's a big no. I remember seeing many of my college friends rent immediately after graduating! I remember feeling like I wasn't a "real" adult because I was still living at home. I didn't consider factors such as salaries, family wealth, family connections, locations, etc. My reality was and is that I live in New York City, an expensive a** city, I come from a poor family, and as the first in my family to go to college, I had an unspoken responsibility to return home and contribute in whatever ways I could, usually financially. I consider those factors now, and I say, "Ahh, you're good Mika. Work at your own pace and eventually (it doesn't matter when, whether you're 18, 22, 26 or 36) you will be in a place where you are comfortable and exactly where you've always wanted to be." (Just keep in mind you'll start paying for grad school tuition in the fall! lol!).
If you you feel behind, just like I did and still do sometimes, remember that YOU add value to what is around you. You add the value to whatever situation you're in, whatever item you buy and whatever space you occupy-- not the other way around. This month we have truly seen that social media posts do not reflect a person's true happiness or success. Rather they are a frozen second, in a minute, in an hour, in a day of someone's life.
Remember that. Remember your value. And with that, I want to end by saying Rest in Peace to Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, two public figures who showed so much of their best selves to the world, but had a darkness that lingered over them, one that many didn't know about. Thank you for your creations, your contributions, and for sharing bits and pieces of your life with the world. Thank you to my students who wrote argument essays about ways to prevent suicide. To those who talked about their own thoughts and their methods of coping. Thank you for feeling comfortable enough to share with me that you were once in a dark place. I am glad you are there no longer.
I've just shared a but of my realities (a bit of what's behind my "pretty"). What's behind yours?!
Comment below! I'm all ears... and eyes.
Lots of love and light <3
PS. Thank you to my student Trinity for transcribing most of this post for me. As a full-time teacher and part-time blogger I will take all the help I can get <3