how did going through my undergrad and grad school programs impact my life?

how did going through my undergrad and grad school programs negatively impact my life? phew. do i even know where to start with this one?

my first thought goes to my income. and then i think about my debt. in 2023 i am slated to make somewhere between $130k and $180k. and i have somewhere around $40k in debt. the only reason my income is that high is due to have these two degrees from MIT (well, i guess i can’t be certain of that, but i do think the MIT brand impacts my credibility). but the only reason my debt is that high is also due to these degrees. i wonder what my financial situation would look like if i hadn’t gone this route? would i have less annual income but no debt?

my next thought is about my work path. i took two years off after undergrad because from florida to MIT going triggered a full-on spiritual identity crisis. sometimes i talk about this like it’s small. i do that because i think i’ve integrated that experience well and have moved on in a way that makes it feel less extreme. but the reality is that going to MIT triggered a full-on spiritual identity crisis. during my time off i was happy, often barefoot, and doing work that felt rooted and spiritually fulfilling. i went back to MIT via a push from someone i was in community with (thank you, leroy). i feel glad for his reminder that not that many black men get to go to MIT. and i wonder what would have happened had i stayed on the path i was on during my gainesville years. would i still be barefoot? would i still be doing web design? would i be more deeply connected to my family in florida? would i be more grounded in land justice/reparations/land back work with the land(s) that raised me? how would i relate to muskvke and seminole people today?

my final thought on this for now… well, i’m realizing the last thought is really the previous thought that i would like to separate into two: one is about my work path and the other is about my geographic path. finishing at MIT has shaped my paid employment as well as my organizing career. and it has shaped where i live. i chose to stay in boston after finishing school because i felt i was just getting started in my work to have a positive impact on communities i care about here. i didn’t want to waste as the social capital i’d built up during my community-focused college years. but what would my choices have been about where to live if i had finished college in florida or not gone to college at all?

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