Turning from anger to teaching
When I present myself and journey of learning, work, acceptance I often fall into a single chapter. I often start the story of how I couldn't get work, trying to work with government to build tools/products/improve service delivery. I applied to cities across the country, a prototype to help the civic tech community got stepped over because of another person's ego, and after so many applications to 18F and USDS that I lost count. I was pissed to say the least. I'd half-jokingly say it was a cleave on my shoulder.
That anger was the fuel in my nuclear reactor that would lead me to create my own start-up and later build catapult Upsolve to be one of the premiere tech nonprofits. Meanwhile, I ended up depressed, selfish, and hurt those closest to me. I wanted to slip into the darkness.
The anger I felt after all those rejections, caring so deeply, trying so hard and never getting a shot never went away even as the awards came in. It was insatiable. There was nothing that could have cured the vengeance I desired against the nameless factors that denied me years earlier.
Today, I joined Emergent Works as a mentor. I came in with my intellectual reasons for systems change, teaching people who understand the penal system tools to change it, etc. But when he asked me why I wanted to join, that all fell to side and within me I knew it was to give people a shot when the world was telling them they didn't have one.
Although I never experienced incarceration, I know what it's like to hit wall after wall after wall. To feel like you're trying to get make it and you're holding on by your finger nails. I know how much the anger that rot someone at their core, have them lose faith in themselves, love, joy.
I can't wait to work with the folks here and see them grow and change everyone around them. They deserve a shot. We all deserve a shot.
I think what is striking me most about this moment is my acceptance and integration of my anger. I think in the past in some ways I used it as fuel for the fire in my belly. But now I feel I'm recognizing it as a guiding sign in my heart. It sits within me different today.