Throughout her career as a children rights advocate, Marian Wright Edelman has reiterated the importance for children to see themselves represented in the books and materials they learn from, highlighting the idea that it’s incredibly difficult to be what you can’t see.
About a year ago, we restarted the Breaking Cycle Project, after nearly a two-year hiatus, with that idea in mind—that without examples the path forward seems more daunting. Over the past year we’ve had the opportunity to speak with dozens of first-generation students who have reaffirmed our commitment to this endeavor. There have been numerous times when I’ve been interviewing someone and hear them, almost verbatim, describe situations, feelings, and doubts that I’ve experienced before. Even years later, hearing someone else voice a part of my experience, is oddly comforting.
There is power in community, in identifying others who are going through the same things you are. There is power in realizing that there are a million paths to your version of success. This past year we’ve met students with a million different aspirations—some want to be lawyers, some want to be musicians, still others want to go to vocational school or start their own businesses. And while we recognize that it is more difficult to be that which you can’t see, we know that it is not impossible. We want this project to help bridge the gap, to provide access to information and resources. We know that no matter how diverse a group of first-gen students we try to highlight on this platform, we won’t cover everyone’s aspirations.
Some of you might want to quite literally “be the first” to do something. You want to shatter glass ceilings that have never even been cracked, you want to engineer a scientific breakthrough, or you want do what the more cynical have dubbed “impossible”. We know that, we acknowledge that, and want to remind you, as this new year kicks off, that while it might be more difficult, it is not impossible.
Whatever path you’re chasing down requires some degree of blind trust. Trust that your efforts are going to pay off, trust that you will overcome the current hardship, trust that you will grow into a dream that seems so insurmountable and even audacious at this moment.
In 2019 we challenge you to trust in your path. Even if it’s unconventional, doesn’t look like anyone else’s, or is more difficult than you expected. Some days you might laugh hysterically (like me, in the picture above), others might be full of doubt, and still others might call for some quiet introspection, regardless, celebrate the days of laughter and wait out the bad days—they willpass. Stick with it, your future self will thank you.
As for us? We’ll work to continue bringing you stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives and experiences, while simultaneously working to extend our reach beyond our community. Time to get to work.
Cheers to 2019!