Inside my bubble is cozy and warm. I am content and even more importantly, I feel safe. While I was growing up, my heart and my comfort zone took separate paths.
I have been fortunate enough to live within a community where most people are living the stereotypical American Dream. I grew up in a community where I went to a school that was well funded, full of committed teachers that taught because it was there passion not their job, and opportunities that were oozing. Traveling through life, I found that I took much of that for granted. I was wrapped up in the small things that were not going right; I missed out on all the big things that were. I might even go as far as to say I was sheltered.
My view on the world around me changed the day my friend asked me to go to a youth center in the inner city. If I am being honest, I had no idea what to expect. My friend explained that it was unlike anything I had experienced and to be prepared as it was outside my comfort zone. I expected the experience to be a couple feet outside my comfort zone, but it was more like a few miles.
Just 20 minutes away from my world, was a world I only saw in movies. We parked outside the center and I was afraid to get out of the car. We walked into the old, battered building. Little did I know that my heart would absorb the environment so much so that the walls of my comfort zone would shatter. It was as if I did not have a comfort zone at all. The girls played with my hair and talked to me about their lives. What was normal to them was unfathomable to me. What got me the most was the way they talked about their school.
The way those kids experienced school was directly opposite of what I endured. My heart broke for them. As I conversed with them for hours, an armed robbery took place across the street. Before, I would have had a panic attack. For a reason I still to this day am unaware of, I was more calm than most days. It was within that moment I knew this was my calling.
A career in a world that was miles outside my comfort zone sounded like suicide and misery to my brain but my heart was full. Somewhere along the way when my heart and my comfort zone took separate paths, my heart became the leader. My heart overpowered my head. It told me to go. It told me to be the teacher that these kids only heard about but never experienced. It told me to go make a difference.
This community was not somewhere I would want to grow up in, but it is a community I want to grow old in.
[At the top is a link to the spoken word I wrote about my understanding of what an inner city student feels about school. It’s this understanding that has stirred a passion for change in the education system.]