What is a scholar? They are someone who invests their curiosity, creativity, and full energy into discovering and mastering all there is to know about a thing. They take this thing, make it theirs and claim to hold all the secrets of wisdom regarding the thing. This curious inquiry is born of a passion, a mere initial interest. At some point, it becomes a voyage of discovery that takes one farther from one’s true self than one has ever been, a real distraction from self. We want to understand the world, to point out what is wrong, and heal the world, yet we have not sought to understand and heal ourselves. Maybe this journey of seeking to understand was always a journey about knowing oneself better, more intimately.
Unfortunately, regarding academia and higher education, I cannot say it has been an experience of returning to my self in any real positive and healthy way. What I can say is that I paid a shit load of money, assistantship and all, to go find out what I did not want, and I guess this is half the work. I have been emotionally and spiritually spent since returning to academia. I have not been happy or felt remotely content in my decision to return. Even when receiving praise or awards to support my research, there was never a feeling of—Wow, I really made it—because it never felt real to me. I remember folding laundry two years ago around this time, when I had submitted my final graduate school application, and thinking to myself—What the hell are you doing? Do you really need to go back to school to do what it is you are innately gifted and born here to do? Two years later, as I come upon my final semester, I have to say—ABSOLUTELY NOT.
I do not feel closer to my true self, or my purpose beyond the mundane. I do not feel I am in any better position to make effective/affective change in the world just because I will hold a Master’s degree in a mere few months. What I do feel is that I did what THEY wanted me to do, and THAT—I have never felt good about. I spent years trying to do something more, something positive, something civil, legal, meaningful…anything beyond the confines of living as a felon in the United States. Education let me in where Corporate America would not. Just because they let you in, does not mean they accept you, understand you, or even support you per se’. What they accept are the monies on your behalf for toxic indoctrination while they insist you temper your passions in a “scholarly” manner–whatever the fuck that really is (read “do it the white man’s way”).
Until a month ago, I was set to go through the rigorous process of applying to doctorate programs. I was convinced I must go on, and continue performing at high levels in a space, I was never meant for. Here I was something beyond felon. Here, I was noticed and awarded for my work, but I never felt it aligned with my true essence. I was afraid if I stopped, what next? I would be thrust back into the world of explanations and ensuing rejections, because at the end of the day I am a felon, marked for life here in the US, no matter what more I do or achieve. It leads and I must follow. But I will not, not any longer. I will not follow the rules of what you allow. I will not nurture passions around what others deem worth passion. I will not invest my time, energy, curiosity and creativity into perpetuating the very paradigms that keep us bound, keep us complicit, and keep us separated from our own power. I will not add one more dollar to the thousands I am indebted to the government for supplying me with an all in all toxic experience (graduate school). My intuition is powerful and loud. Next time I will listen.
Education has given me invaluable friendships, initiated global travels, and taught me people only understand at their level of experience, nothing more or less. It reminded me to trust myself, but to be malleable in my convictions. Through listening to others, I came to know we all struggle in our own personal hells in some way, no matter our backgrounds or beginnings. And we all triumph because that is what humans do. We are a species, like all others, innately programmed to survive. It showed me I am alone but not alone, and they can never understand because one only could if one lived it. I realized we all run towards what breaks our hearts (nicely put by someone other than me), some of us becoming the very thing we say we despise in our attempts to make right, wrongs done–the whole dig two graves thing. Most of all, I came to remember what I knew from the outset—I am a scholar, not of the conventional type and definitely not of the academic type—although I rise to the occasion like no other.
I am a scholar of the spiritual, the inner world, of all things unseen. This has always been true and often interfered with my fitting into spaces cut like a box, unable to hold all my glory. There is little room for the spiritual in academia. It is no surprise my life path unfolded in the manner it has. Each turn, each fall, each re-direction, was meant to propel me into the next experience. I was not born for the regular, the normal, the understood, the rational, the logical. I am a felon—not because I made a desperate decision 15 years ago under duress to survive, but because my soul had other plans. That was always my destiny beyond my will. I was not born to be in some routine societally approved job, inside four walls 8+ hours a day doing what I can because they “let me” rather than what I could because I am uniquely gifted to do so. The rejections were not obstacles hindering my growth and success. They were gifts sending me on detours to my true final destination. And either way, in spite of my paths, and because of, I have touched many lives in the most intimate ways, and will continue to do so. My life afforded me the ability and compassion necessary to do healing work only fit for a few.
As I forcefully push myself to work through this thesis in progress and my final academic semester, I am also forced to consider what next? In a mere few months I will complete what seems like a forever endeavor. I began because I needed to prove something—to myself and to the world. I needed to know I was more than a statistic, because in fact I am many. I needed to know I was stronger than the chains they bound me in, and I needed others in various forms of bondage to see it could be done. I had to go and show them my genius because they doubted its existence. I needed to know I was more than the seed of a maniac, carrying on cycles of abuse and despair. I went back to school because they told me no in every other arena. I navigated the waters as if I was a born captain, because I am. My GPA as a full time student, working various positions to sustain, a single mother of three young adults, and felon of 15 years—is currently a 3.82. I am in graduate school on an assistantship awarded to me in spite of it all. I did that for me and I did it for you, all of you.
What I will do next has nothing and everything to do with you. I will return to me, even though in fact I never left. I am a spiritualist, a naturalist–neither of which have anything to do with higher education. I will refocus and reinvest all my curiosity, creativity and energy into unlocking the secrets of the universe—the secrets of me. I will be the most devout scholar of self-inquiry, seeking to understand myself and creation in ways once commonly understood by ancient civilizations before government, greed, capitalism and war took their hold on societies. I will continue to travel and immerse myself in spaces that test my level of comfort, in order that I may grow deeper my understanding for existence in all its ways and forms. I will read the texts that bring me closer to source, closer to me, closer to you. I will tune into source, writing and creating in ways I am purposely here to do so. I will find a space where I may be in service to life, to humanity, in whatever way I am called. I know there is that space, that person, that community—just waiting for my unique gifts. I will continue in my fearless pursuit of happiness and ultimate freedom. I will choose only the things, people, places and experiences that intimately align with my deeper passion and person, and nothing less.
It is my time to step into my full power and know what spirit has always been trying to show me—I AM THE CREATRIX, THE ALL, THE POWERFUL. Whatever I deeply desire will be so. It already is. My light will shine in the darkest spaces, in the corners of hearts and minds—until it is so blinding they will know why I came. All paths lead home, and I am on my way.