This I Believe: I Am Because You

By Luis H. Garay

In thinking about the topic of “This I Believe” a certain phrase came to my mind instantaneously: I am because you are. I firstheard these five words last year, perhaps on some pinterest board or widely-shared social media image. However, these words remind me of values I hold dear: strength, wisdom, connectedness, and the power of friendship.

When I first heard I am because you are it was attributed to an African proverb and ideology: Ubuntu. Before I began writing this post I did some initial research about the five words andUbuntu, since I am weary of quotes and words attributed to people, culture, or ideologies. A TED blog on Boyd Varty’s talk speaks on the history of Ubuntu as well as how Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela viewed the word. After reading the blog’s quote on their words, I found what Desmond Tutu said about Ubuntu fascinating: “[Ubuntu] is to say, ‘My humanity is inextricably bound up in yours.’ We belong in a bundle of life.” Is it not a neat idea? We are all connected to each other? Who we are is because of someone else or a group of people? 

I wanted to explore what Ubuntu and the ideology means to me both personally and professionally.
Personally, these words speak to the power of friendships. Moreover, I think about the person I am because of the friends I have. My friends over the years have taught me strength, confidence, how to live in the moment, love, and laughter. They’ve done all this all while supporting me and loving me exactly as I am. At the end of the last summer (in 2013), I made a shadow box full of picture for my two college best friends. In thinking about their friends, the words I am because you arecame to my mind. In my best craftsmanship skills I bought stickers to spell out the words to put in their shadow boxes (picture below). I believe I would not the same person if it was not for these best friends. I am better because of them. Because I know them, I have changed into a better person for good.

Professionally, these words speak to the power of mentorship. As the month of January is National Mentoring Month, my thought seems especially fitting. Ever since I was an undergraduate student leader to the present as a graduate student, I have had many mentors. Each of these mentors offered advice, encouragement, and support. The most valuable thing they offered was their time. They took time out of their schedules to meet me with me, answer emails with long questions, or texts in moments of panic and confusion. As I write this, I think about two current mentors. One who has been a support system since the beginning of my graduate experience and the other individual is a recent mentor. The former has especially challenged me to think beyond my comfort zone and box. They have also always kept me grounded by painting a reality. The latter has been a confidant since I’ve met them and shared in good and bad experiences. I look to them for empathy and relatable quotes. I am and continue to grow as a student affairs practitioner because of past, present, and future mentors.

Is there anyone in your life who fits I am because you are? Who are pillars of strength, support, and guidance for you? Have you thanked your mentors recently? Tweet me your thoughts at @LuisHGaray. Thank you for reading and being a SAFirstYears reader!

Student Affairs - the First Years

Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't be afraid! We love to hear from our readers!