The work that brings you the most pride and happiness will not always be shared among others who may consider other work you've accomplished as more important or impressive.
You'll learn this primarily as you search for full-time work. When folks will ask you to give them examples of managing challenging situations or folks, the examples you will give will not be what they want to hear. For example, at the last full-time gig you had, you shared an accountability and responsibility process of which you are a part; one that was public, that was collective, and that connected to so much of what you value and believe in. You are so proud of that work, even if the outcome with the person held accountable did not happen on their end.
You were told that the process didn't matter, all the research, writing, documenting, conversations, building, negotiating, transparency, holding one another accountable in a loving and compassionate way because you are dealing with ways to deconstruct and destroy elitism, misogyny, and colorism. Instead, they will ask for an example of a challenge you dealt with in a *paid* position.
That's your first red flag. They don't value the work you do, all the work you do, that is unpaid or underpaid. Most of the work you are proud of is unpaid and underpaid.
Another example you'll give is when you created a curriculum for a non-profit you helped co-create with several of your local DMV homegirls of color. You created, at Tamika & Friends, Inc (the only national organization focusing on HPV and cervical cancer prevention and education targeting all genders and providing support to caregivers and survivors to.this.day), a curricula for HPV (House Parties of fiVe) parties. Along with one of your homegirls, you created an amazingly accessible curricula that folks used. It was nothing brand new, we just organized things in a particular way for the communities we are reaching out to at the moment.
That curricula was purchased by Merck Pharmaceuticals and used as examples of how to reach out to and engage communities of which you are a part. You learned through this experience that your work is sometimes best when it supports the community. You learned you don't need your name all over everything, you don't need to always get all the shine you think you deserve, that a lot of your work will benefit larger communities and that is enough.
Yet, other folks will be so impressed with this! And it will surprise you at first, but you'll learn it's what folks want to hear because they define success in ways you don't always. That's ok.
It's ok because you know that the work that brings you the most pride: the 20+ year mentorship you have with Candy, a young woman you met when she was in 1st grade and you in 10th; the accountability processes you've been a part of, the organizations you've co-created: Women of Color Sexual Health Network, The LatiNegr@s Project, your presenting at the World Association of Sexual Health (originally called Sexology) in Havanac, Cuba, presenting in English and Spanish about your personal research and work on Latinxs and pregnancy prevention in the US in 2003; all the students you've impacted just by being on staff/faculty, but by also seeing them as public intellectuals who need support and are hungry for learning more; all the young people, people of Color, queer folks who find confidence and care in reaching out to you to help them cope and understand aspects of their sex/uality, bodies, health, and relationships.
So what you learn instead, is how to convey the stories folks want to hear more than any other when asked. You keep those other stories at the front of your mind because those are what drives you on a regular basis. Those are what is most important to you. And that's when you begin to realize working on your own terms is probably best.
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