From the moment I decided to apply to the Atlas Corps Fellowship to the moment I was offered a position, my motivation was personal.
You see, the more I worked with marginalized groups in my home country, the more I was reminded of my own experiences growing up in the inner city: witnessing unlawful killings by the police, unjustified arrests, searches without warrants, and other civil and social violations unheard of in the “uptown communities” of white/light skinned Jamaicans. Each time I participated in grassroots activities such as school tours, I was reminded of the structural classism/colourism that shuttles poor black kids through under-resourced and overcrowded schools, infringing on their civil and social rights. Working with human rights organizations such as Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), I was reminded of a childhood friend who was forced to leave his community because of his sexual orientation.
The more I experienced, the more I felt jaded and powerless. Unsurprisingly, I had grown tired and had enough of people in general, and with the death of my mother (a firm believer in people and the goodness of human spirit) in September 2013, I was OVER mankind.
So when I clicked that submit button in April of 2013, I was (personally) motivated to be the change I wish to see in this world, alright. But the truth is, in that moment, the only change I wanted was a change of environment. The only world I was interested in changing was MY world.
I committed to the process – albeit personally motivated – but committed nonetheless. My one goal was that at the end of this fellowship, I should be a better version of myself. But to be a better version of myself, I had to know who I was.
I was so consumed by the tragedies of my world; I had forgotten who I was and why I decided to become an advocate for change – before the world, and its tragedies, made me resentful. So my promise to myself was that every day on this journey I would ask myself three questions:
(i) What are my core principles?
(ii) What are my skills and talents?
(iii) If not development, then what?
My underlying objective being to find a career that was aligned to the things I was most passionate about as well as my skills and talents.
By the 3-month mark, I think I had pretty much narrowed down my top 5 values. By my midterm evaluation, my perspective regarding mankind and role as a change maker had somewhat shifted – more importantly, shifted to a place of clarity. Now, at the 8-month mark, I think I have a pretty good sketch of my skills and talents.
However, the question ‘if not development, then what’ still remains unanswered, lingering in my subconscious. I am pretty much still over mankind (work in progress, folks) but I’m guessing that the fact that, I haven’t come up with an answer is perhaps a sign that this never-ending quest to help humanity – termed development – is what I want to do, where I need to be. So I suppose it’s now it’s a question of if not development, then what?