It’s been nearly a year since I first began my journey in the Management Intern program at the NIH. I can assure that a year ago I had no idea what was in store for me. It’s been a great year, a challenging year, an overwhelming year, but perhaps, most importantly it’s been a year that has caused me to think deeply about how I view life. This morning I had a “not so original” epiphany that I’ll share in just a bit.
You see…my starting the intern program nearly a year ago means that a new group of individuals just found out they made it into the program. Each year, there’s a diverse group of individuals who apply…candidates come from all racial backgrounds, all career series, all pay levels, different institutes and centers, the diversity of the applicants is limitless, but the selected interns do not always reflect this spectrum of diversity. Upon the naming of the new interns, one of my colleagues made the decision to make some assumptions about the new interns based on a numerical value that has been placed on them, their pay grade. Initially, I was irritated that this person found it acceptable to seek out this information, but this irritation has slowly festered into anger. And, if I’m honest, I desperately want to address the issue directly with the person, but I won’t, I’ve decided it’s best to walk away. Nevertheless, this act of judging others based on an artificial marker of worth, knowledge, potential, and character opened my eyes to this morning’s ordinary epiphany. No matter who we are, we view life through our own set of unique lenses.
This epiphany helped me immensely because I’ve been bothered, and quite frankly, angered, a lot over the past few weeks by people in my circles who seem extremely judgmental. Have I wrongfully judged in the past…certainly. Have I looked down on people before…I’m guilty, but my thought process has matured over time. I also think my lens view of life has taught me to avoid looking down on others. I come from a family where there are individuals that never received their high school diploma and that humbles me. I come from a family where my grandparents opened their homes to those in need and served as foster parents and that humbles me. I grew up in a family where anyone was welcome to eat at mealtime, whether you lived in the house or were just visiting because you knew a meal was being served and that humbles me. I grew up in a family where folks have committed the crime and served the time, yet they are still good at their core and that humbles me.
Coming from a family that was far from privileged causes me to see life differently. Through my lens…people are not defined by their salary, their educational level, their job, their college, their neighborhood, the color of their skin, their religion…no, through my lens, people are defined by their character, their inner being, their heart, their compassion, their love, their ability to fall down and get back up again, their ability to defeat the odds, and their ability to overcome the stereotypes society has placed on them. It’s not my job, nor my right to look down on somebody else because my truth is that I don’t fully understand the images seen through their lens.
Until next time…