One Simple Trick....
Hello Community Members,
Welcome to Status:Melanated’s blog series, "If only I had known, life would've been different". Here we explore different perspectives of former students of color in predominantly white educational communities. Contributors discuss if they knew back in school what they know now would their experiences have been different. Perspectives will range from positive to negative but they will not oppose each other in the level of real emotions and thoughts. This is the first of many in a series where we explore diverse aspects and perspectives of a minority life amongst a majority world. Our posts will enlighten and encourage students and parents interested in learning the real about what is in the life of a minority in an education community of the majority. Our blogs are about the status of us being highly educated and melanated status.
One Simple Trick...
When I think about it, there is so much to that I wish I should, would, and could have known throughout my private educational career, both secondary and college. The biggest thing I wish I knew then was to make yourself happy first. Going through school, this was such a weird concept to grasp. I always thought making other people happy would fuel my happiness but instead, I just continued to get lost and failed to realize that I, too, have emotions that needed to be fulfilled.
Going from Lower School (Elementary) to College I always struggled with this concept. It was a coping mechanism to deal with the fact I was in the 5-8% of the student body that schools tried to excuse for “diversity”. I don’t think these school really knew what diversity stood for and that really disappointed me.
I always knew I was different but didn’t fully understand that people weren’t going to be ok with that. I didn’t believe that my racial and cultural differences would isolate me so much. I didn’t realize that people really didn’t feel at ease with me. I just always thought I could still fit in with my differences at least that’s what my high school brochures and their faculty and student representatives made it seem like. They made me feel like I could fit in the school’s culture with little barriers. This is why I felt I needed to make them happy with me and not have me be happy with myself.
So with that in my head, I thought the best way to make the mainstream happy was to make sure they were ok with me being amongst them, learning what they were learning and achieving what they were achieving. As a result, I would always joke around with everybody trying to put them at ease. This was a mistake not only for me but for them because that wasn’t the true me. I had days where I didn’t want to be making jokes but wanted to make statements but felt I couldn’t because I felt trapped in the joking persona and could not seem to escape. When I made a statement and it didn’t sit well with people and I knew it, I would try to add an anecdote which never worked. I could hear it not work through those awkward chuckles used to make one appear not rude.
I wish I knew this small simple action would have been a rabbit hole that has been hard to climb out of. If I knew I needed to make myself happy first and more often then I think my experiences would have been different. I would have made myself happy by spending more time exploring things I am interested in like pro wrestling and saying “no” more often to things that don’t sound appealing to me. I think my current status in life wouldn’t necessarily be better but it certainly would be different. I think I would have more actively sought mentorship beyond my parents. I don’t think I would have confused internal happiness with external happiness and pursued more school groups and activities of my interest.
From elementary school to college I was caught up in trying to appease my white counterparts while dismissing the black experience almost entirely. I wanted to fit in so bad that I gave up joining my affinity groups and the black experience, finding myself, and most importantly my happiness. Don’t worry this story isn’t all bad because this isn’t the series of unfortunate events! Quite the contrary, now that I’m 25 and contemplating more education, *wink**wink* mom, I couldn’t be happier! I am currently working in education and started my own business and blog which you’re reading right now! I am slowly but surely embracing what I love and makes me happy. I’m thinking about me first in a healthy cultural manner. One way that I did it was by asking myself , “Would I be happy doing that?” If the answer was yes then I wouldn’t hesitate to participate. I guess the lesson here, community members, is seek personal cultural happiness as early as you can in your educational careers. The quicker you find it the more fulfilling each experience will be. Personal happiness is a hard thing to grapple with but baby steps will always suffice!
“Privately Educated, Highly Melanated!”
Kramer Deans graduated Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in 2010 and went on to graduate with a Social Entrepreneurship degree from Belmont University in 2015. He currently works as an Operations Assistant at a Charter School in the Metro Nashville area. You can follow him and his busy on his social medias:
Instagram: @kraymith, @Melanatedstatus, and @blkfoodiechronicles