Dear Sista Girl,
I met a high-school classmate for lunch the other day.
I hadn’t seen him for 32 years. It was nice to reminisce about the people and experiences we had growing up in semi-rural North Carolina. The conversation took an odd turn when he asked me if I knew that others said that I acted as though I was better than they were.
I tried not to be defensive in my response, but I don’t if I accomplished my goal. In my heart, I was genuine when I said that was not the case.
Is there a proper response? How would you have handled it?
That must have created an awkward moment for you both. It is my belief that people make those comments because they know you have big dreams and enough courage to chase them. Think of it as a compliment, not a criticism. With that said, it is always best to be completely honest. Say yes, if that’s how you feel or felt.
I have been asked on more than one occasion, and my answer has been that I did not feel that I was better than anyone else. Even though I grew up in public housing and in a lower income bracket, I felt I was better than my surroundings and circumstances. I wanted more than what I saw. I knew I did not belong where I started and would do everything humanly possible to rise above it. If the people who were in a similar plight did not feel the same, I did not ridicule or look down on them for feeling that way. I didn’t have to say anything except that I wasn’t staying.
Early on I knew that education was my way out. I had a lot of potential and wasn’t going to waste it. I hadn’t met anyone where I lived with a college degree or high-paying job, so I decided that if I went to college I didn’t have to live there.
When you have dreams and work hard, your surroundings and circumstances can be thought of as temporary. It wasn’t about the people or what they thought. They were part of my journey and shaped who I wanted to be. We are all role models in this life whether we act accordingly or not.
Never feel the need to stay in bad circumstances to feed others’ egos so they won’t feel bad for wanting to stay. Find your place in this world. If that place is away from them—go.
~ Sista Girl
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