Sharing Light to Our Accounts
Let me share with you one small moment in time when I needed someone to share their light because mine was dimming by the day and by the minute…
As a first-year student in 1995 at Radford University in Radford, Virginia I signed up to be a journalism major. In high school, I was co-editor of the school newspaper, played sports, made honor roll, an overall successful student many would say). I was 17 years old and far from being self-aware. I had a difficult time finding my place in my new community even with having more than ten peers from my high school at the university. I had a hard time connecting so to get connected I decided to…PARTY!
My overall health began to suffer, yes physically but the turmoil began with emotional and mental anguish of feeling like a failure after so much success in high school.
To be connected I partied, not only Friday and Saturday but pretty much the entire week to numb myself because I did not know who I was supposed to be. I chose to heal by going to party after party – I did go to class but I am not sure how much I really was engaged in what was happening.
Well, after my first year I was on academic probation. I was at home and felt like a complete failure. That year my mothers’ father was very ill and my father’s mother was ill too. Overall, the feeling of loss of myself and those closest to me began to take over.
August was quickly approaching and it was almost time to go back to campus to start my third semester. A couple weeks before classes started, I lost PaPa, my grandfather.
Could things get any worse?
I made it back to campus with hurt in my heart for my loss and still could not get past my previous failures. That semester, I found a love for creative writing and poetry in a literature course I was taking. I had found my outlet for the pain and the class gave me an opportunity to reflect on what was taking place in my life.
The day after my birthday in October I received a call from my cousin that my grandmother had passed away, this was it; I could not take any more of this. I was extremely sad that fall semester and remember going to my sociology professor (I was not doing well in the course) for a meeting to share what I was going through. I told the professor I wanted to go home and see my family and he told me to “suck it up.”
Well that did not teach me anything about how to handle emotional and spiritual health. I thought I could be vulnerable and share what I was going through but all he did was make me feel like I was being ridiculous.
Long story short, after that meeting I called my mom and stated that I wanted to leave Radford University and transfer back home to Germanna Community College and that is exactly what I did. And a year and a half later I transferred to Elon College the fall of 1998.
Fast forward…who would have known about twelve years later I would find myself being an adjunct faculty member teaching courses at Radford University during my doctoral studies at Virginia Tech. My path as a fulltime faculty member is approaching almost ten years. To this day, I do my best to be there for students who are working through failure, assisting them to be brave and courageous, and encouraging them to take time to reflect.
It is our responsibility in any of our communities to share our light with others so that their light can shine too.
One example of this happened about a year and a half ago. I had a student who was a go-getter at the beginning of the semester and then all of a sudden he started not coming to class. I reached out multiple times to discuss the absences and finally it lead me to informing him that he had failed the course.
On exam day, the student showed up, I was shocked – not upset, definitely wondering where this would go and asking myself why he chose to show up on the last day.
As students began to exit the classroom, the student came towards me and asked if I had a minute. I said sure. We sat down, and I said it is good to see you, how are you doing today? The student teared up a bit and wanted to apologize to me for giving up on class. I had an instant flashback to my sociology professor telling me to “suck it up.” I took a deep breath and said, I am happy to see you here (in that moment he showed me his courage; this student was strong and brave for coming to the last day of class).
In that moment, I decided to share my Radford story with the student.
After sharing I said, we all make mistakes and fail. How you did in this class does not define you? It is all in how you respond to what you have learned from the experience. I want you to know that I am here for you. We will all fail; it could be a class, a relationship, an internship, a job and so on. Consider how you will choose to respond to failure, that is what counts. I am here if you ever need anything and I know this experience will contribute to the person you are becoming.
About a week ago on campus I ran into this student, he was vibrant and yelled, “Hey Dr. McFadden.” We hugged and I said it is great to see you. With excitement he said, “I will be retaking your class next year.” I responded by saying, “I look forward to seeing you in class.”
By sharing our light, we make deposits of light into others’ accounts and when we do, we add to our own account.
We can share our light by:
Sharing your light adds to your account and to others’ accounts. By sharing our light we add fruitful spells of fulfillment along the journey.
Go and share your light.