In trying to write this blog post, I realized that I haven’t been asked to produce something from my own experience in almost a year. I am struggling to form full thoughts and figure out how I am processing this Fellowship year. I don’t want to sound too cheesy, and I also don’t want to sound too critical. The funny thing about the truth is, it lies somewhere in between. Like any experience in life, this year as the Newman’s Own Foundation Fellow with the Posse Foundation has been one immersed in challenge and triumph. It has pushed me in ways I did not expect, and given me more growth than I could imagine. To avoid going too far down the path of pure queso, I’d rather just share some of the lessons I’ve learned during my Fellowship, and will be taking with me on my next opportunity.
- Good work attracts good people – There is something unique about the amount of ‘heart’ the non-profit sector demands, and the kind of people that are attracted to doing this work. I have been lucky enough to work at a place that hires high-functioning and emotionally intelligent folk. It is with them that I have been able to grow in my job-related skill sets and also in my ambition to intentionally create an authentic, respectful working community. I will leave this Fellowship with newfound value in not just doing good work but doing it with quality people.
- My value is (far) beyond my work – I was often asked as a child, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” And while I value the hopeful inquiry that I’d do something at all, I now don’t think it was the right kind of question to be asking. It stumbles over the nuances of a rapidly changing work environment, and the changes that happen within ourselves as we begin to learn who we really are. What I want to do, changes by the day, because every day I am learning about new and interesting ways people are positively impacting the world.I’m now at a stage in my life where I don’t know what I want to do next, or where life will take me; I find the better question to ask myself is “What type of person do I want to be as I grow up?” Because, whether I become a lawyer, a farmer, a tour guide, or all three, I want to be kind. Whatever work I may do, it could never assume my full value, because, it’s the intangibles of what I bring to spaces, that craft my worth.
- I belong wherever my feet are planted – I was born and raised in the great city of Houston, Texas. I moved across the country to go to college. I’ve traveled across the world to learn some more, and I now find myself in New York City: a place that people write books about, make movies romanticizing, and strive to live in one day. It is easy to feel small and out of place with so much happening around me. And yet, I’m here. I’m here, living in a city bursting with life. I’m here learning lessons that will only matter if I stop my insecurities from clouding my capabilities and put them into action. No matter where I end up in the world, or how far away from ‘home’ I may be, if I believe in what I am doing, I know that I belong.
The essence of this Fellowship is not just what I am going through and learning, but it’s also about who I am going through it with. Sharing this year with my cohort of NOF Fellows, has allowed me to see firsthand that we have all succeeded, and will continue to do so after our Fellowship year. They are an amazing group of people, who I am extremely lucky to have in my life. To close, I offer a quote from Paul Newman that encapsulates how it feels to have been a part of this Fellowship year: “I’m a great believer in luck and the extraordinary role it plays in all of our lives.”
By Raq Massey, NOF Fellow at the Posse Foundation, New York, NY