I was feeling really worn down which subsequently led to a bad attitude most of the day. Having ‘a case of the Mondays’ rang true as I failed to shake feelings of self-doubt. In short, I was feeling uninspired and quite negative. I found myself asking internal questions like, What am I doing with my career? Is it going how I imagined? Am I doing enough? Why do things seem to always be working against me? Where did all the muscle go that I worked so hard for? I feel weak, I used to be strong. I’m struggling. I’m swimming upstream. Is this blog even making a difference? Am I being true to myself? I’m sure many of you understand the feeling.
So when Alex’s parents let us know they had extra tickets to Chicago Ideas Week, I initially went with my usual response, I’m tired, I can’t, but I realized I needed to kick myself out of this rut … or at least try. I thought this could be a welcome change. Make it something worthwhile, I thought. And it was. If you’re looking to feel inspired and live in Chicago, these events are filled with people pushing to be the best version of themselves and to make Chicago the amazing place we all know it is. I left feeling like a much better version of me, too.
Speaker 1: David Milliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee highlighted the work done across the world with refugees and his committee. Some of the most shocking points he made included:
- There are 65 million people who claim refugee status, and if you put all of them together in one country, it would be larger than the UK.
- You are more likely to get struck by lightning than harmed or killed by a refugee.
- The largest refugee camp in the world is currently in Kenya. At nearly 300,000 residents, over a third were born in the camp. Are they supposed to go “home”? A refugee camp IS their home. They need a beacon of hope on the horizon.
Speaker 2: Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, next spoke on the hostile political culture that surrounds our country today and steps we can take to combat that. He identified something that really resonated with me.
- When someone we love or care for disagrees with us politically we feel contempt, not anger, which can be difficult to swallow. In his work over the years, he has had the opportunity to speak with the Dalai Lama, and brought up the topic to his Holiness. The Dalai Lama said that contempt should be met with warm-heartedness, something I try to do in my life, but am guilty of failing at from time to time.
So, I just want to mention that all of you whom I tend to disagree with, especially those close to me, I want to start a new conversation, one that is filled with respect for each other. I know I don’t make that easy, because yes, I am opinionated. But just because everyone else is acting a certain way doesn’t mean we have to.
Speaker 3: Adam Foss, co-founder of Prosecutor Impact, spoke about mass incarceration and racial injustice. A former prosecutor, he gave several surprising statistics about children’s development prior to schooling as well as their access to education and really called my attention to the need for reform in the prison system as well as the education system to take care of these people who do not have the opportunities I have had. Some of the most shocking points he made included:
- 90% of incarcerated women on Planet Earth are in the American penal system.
- There are currently more black people incarcerated than there were slaves at the advent of the United States of America.
Oh, and all the performers were incredible.
The night closed with 3 women giving their final thoughts.
- Anna Valencia: One of the first female, latina, millennials to serve in a Chicago elected position focused on giving opportunities and being prepared for them to be given to minorities and millennials, as well as a call to action to have those employers empower us to do more and push us to succeed.
- Elizabeth Dozier: former principal and founder of Chicago Beyond had my second favorite thought – guns and violence are said to be Chicago’s biggest problem, but they are actually our biggest symptom. How spot on is that?
- Bridget Gainer: commission in Cook County, and founder of the Chicago Land Bank discussed the outstanding impact this organization has had on the blighted areas around the city, as well as how we can highlight our differences and use them as an opportunity to provide change within the city limits.
All of this to say, when you are having a rough Monday, try to push yourself out of that rut and focus on someone other than yourself. Make an effort to help those around you. It’s hard to always like yourself, or at least I find it difficult to, however, there is someone out there who could benefit from everything you know and your presence in general. I’m not saying every bad day can turn into a good one, but even if you can turn one around and make a change, it’s worth it.
Positive vibes ….