Since I left college, I have always held a professional role that required me to serve others.
First, it was higher education. Certainly not Ivy League, but more like Harvard on Halsted. At the community college, I served local individuals through academic programming models that were designed to literally transition under-prepared, low-income, first-generation students to academic scholars in a few short years.
It was difficult. Not to mention, many of the students we served found us while eating at the McDonald’s across the street, looked up, saw the college, and walked in as a student. We had to meet people were they were…and that took a lot of empathy.
Everyone has a story.
Everyone has a past.
Some are privileged.
Most are not.
And in the field of human services, you must listen for understanding in order to effectively help someone.
Well lately, that’s been a struggle for me.
I posted this image the other day.
The story behind this message was centered on my daily reminder that you have to be kind to people. You never know what trials and tribulations a person has faced before they gained the courage to stand before you. If you work in social/human services, this is especially important for you to understand.
Now, I work for a youth-centered, workforce development program. Recently, I met with a youth that has been struggling to maintain work. He has made some irresponsible decisions, and to be honest, I lost my cool with him. I found myself getting on his case in a way that is outside of my norm. I had to make myself stop, take a breather, and think about my next choice of words before I spoke again.
Finally, I asked the right question, that produced the answer I needed, in order to better serve him. It’s simple emotional intelligence. But I let my own personal thoughts and opinions distract me from doing what was best for him.
A former college peer commented on the post and mentioned apathy.
Yes, let’s talk about that. It is the exact opposite of empathy. Many of us are walking around with an apathetic disposition, yet we wonder why the world is the way it is today. Let’ face it. Your concern (or lack thereof) for others is what drives your community. We can’t build better communities if we don’t care.
I encourage you to listen to others.
I mean really listen.
Read between the lines. Be patient. Empathize with others, as one day, you may need someone to do the same for you.
Every young person I serve is an older version of my own child. So, I try to keep him in mind when I work with someone else’s child. I pray that my son maintains his spirit of empathy. His generation is going to need it.
It is our responsibility to instill those values in our children. We have to do better.
Dr. Lauren Meeks
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Confessions Of A Melanated Queen
Confessions of A Melanated Queen: Complexities of the Modern Black Woman, is comprised of controversial and thought-provoking commentary related to life, marriage, and family, through the lens of a millennial African American woman