What do wish you would have known when you started?
I wish I could've known what to do at a time of crisis. Unlike any other Bush Fellowship cohort, the global pandemic and shut down was announced as we were awarded this great honor in addition to the murder of George Floyd when our group was presented to the world. It's not how I imagined going into the fellowship especially when a moment of personal celebration was so heavily overshadowed by heavy moments for the world. The deep sense of loss and grief was incredible hard to bare during that time and to this day I haven't yet healed.
What stands out/surprised you the most?
What has surprised me the most is how much work left I still want to and have to do. In this final stretch, I've found myself in a place of feeling ready to rise but am now frustrated at not being seen at the scale I had hoped. The fear of being seen has gone away and I have the Bush Fellowship to thank for that, but now it's time to reach even more people with my work around building a more inclusive creative economy.
I have also found that in these final months of the fellowship, my Mother's mental health has become worse. We're currently seeking treatment in Thailand but she's adamant to return back to the U.S although there are little to no options here for her. It's been challenging, a little heartbreaking, but I do have to accept that even though I had high goals for my time as a fellow this work will never be done but at the very least I've built up more tools than I have before.
Another note that has surprised me is how simple it is to build those tools and also to reset. I never thought that vacations, hobbies, and time away would be such so healing for my mental health. Growing up in a lower-middle class family, everything I did always needed to have a purpose in terms of saving or earning more time or money. My time as a Bush Fellow changed the way I think about vacation or personal hobbies not as a waste of time or money but as an investment in myself as a leader. Thank you for that and this incredible, life-changing experience.