I’ve been thinking a lot about starting. I just finished Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in an African Slum by Kennedy Odede & Jessica Posner. They started a school for girls in a Kenyan slum and wrote a book about it. Not knowing anything about it, I picked up the book so I could make polite conversation with Jessica if I ran into her. I knew her from undergrad. But, the book caught me, plucked some deep strings in my soul, and changed my life.
• • •
“This is the very first primary school for girls in the slum providing a superior, creative education, daily nourishment, and a refuge from the pressures of the slum.”
“My God, Jess. Do you think we could actually do this?”
She takes my hand in hers. “If you tell me how to navigate the logistics, I understand the educational piece and can make a plan for your school.”
—from Find Me Unafraid
Jessica’s sentiment is a feeling I remember from undergrad. At Wesleyan, if you had a plan, you could do whatever you wanted. It’s the company line, but it was true. That was my experience. I was a mediocre history major, but I had a plan, and I got to write the history thesis paper I wanted to write. Because I had a plan, a clear plan that rattled around in my passions, I did pretty well on that thesis. I also wanted to direct a play while I wrote that thesis. I made a plan, a plan that was clear and that excited me. I got the funds to build the ridiculous sets the designer and I wanted built. Somehow, a composer agreed to write an original score. The shows were pretty cool.
New York is a different animal. The systems are harder to find. It’s scarier to start. Anything you do will be put on your permanent record. If at Wesleyan you were a big fish in a small pond, then in New York you’re krill. There’s someone better than you, more handsome than you, richer than you, and related to more famous people than you. There’s someone more passionate about and more committed to whatever it is you’re doing or thinking of doing or doing on a whim. It’s expensive and you don’t have time. You can drink alone in your apartment. And so on.