Last night I got back from a five-day trip to Chicago, got home, hugged my dog, took a deep breath and then picked up my laptop.
It was time to put the finishing touches on my dissertation proposal meeting and I had about two hours of work left to accomplish. At 11:57, I e-mailed myself the files for the presentation, went to bed and then woke up at 5 a.m. in order to proofread what I had done.
45 minutes later I was ready with the “final, final” files. I sent them to myself once again, got ready quickly and headed to campus. The days are already shorter and I drove the one hour to campus in the dark.
I needed to stop by the library to print off all my materials for the meeting, but it didn’t open until 7 a.m. By the time I had parked my car and crossed the lawn to the library steps, it was 6:47. And there, grouped around the door were 20 male students harassing each other, talking about homework, calling their friends who hadn’t shown up for a group project, etc.
Just a few seconds later, the guy closest to the door started snapping. A few other students joined in and then the leader started singing Michael Jackson’s, “Man in the Mirror.“ By the time he was half-way into the first stanza, about six of them were singing and a few others were dancing up and down the steps without abandon. My eyes twinkled as they spent the last five minutes before the library opened entertaining themselves in a cool and confident manner.
The song came to an end, a few more calls were made to friends who hadn’t yet shown up, and then someone in the group spied the all-important guy with the key coming to unlock the front doors. The levity stopped, the work began, and the group quickly filed in to take their places around the library.
As I walked to my own station and began my work, I thought to myself, “Okay people of the world…don’t you dare think our youth today are unambitious.” They’re the people who are “gonna make that change.“ And, they’re the people who – at least this morning – helped give me the shot of confidence I needed to get through my own two-hour meeting.
And pass on to becoming a doctoral candidate.
“The Man in the Mirror” helped me dig deep, finish my own task, and own it when I signed all the official forms today.
I feel good, and a whole bunch of that feeling was due to twenty guys on the library steps preparing to make their own way into the world.