Many people tend to have their own definition of family. For some people, family is defined as the people who share the same bloodline as you. For others, the definition is those who look after you no matter what. But for me it's more than that. For me family means that you are part of someone's dreams. That doesn't mean that people who support your dreams are going to fix dreams for you, or that they are going to lead the way, so all your dreams come true. Family is made up of individuals who believe in your dreams, unconditionally.
As a young child I always had dreams of doing big things for the world. I was optimistic and inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, and Rosa Parks. I had audacity of hope that I could help make the world a better place; that I could solve the problems that were byproducts of hate and misunderstandings of others. And then life happens in real time and your world changes. Then you realize that things are not always what they seem, and some things don't always work out the way you planned.
My oldest sister died when I was 8 years-old. My sister was my rock star, my idol, my role model, and everything that was good in the world; everything that made living exciting. She wanted to help others; she wanted to be a medical doctor. And I loved that about her. So, when she died that became my dream. As I got older living the dream for someone else about someone else was not enough. When I got to high school, I realize I had a dream for myself.
I knew I wanted to be an educator from the moment I took US history in high school. I knew I loved teaching people things they needed to know, so they could get to where they wanted to go. Teaching brings me joy…the same joy as making the last shot in a game; the same joy as helping your team in a wrestling dual meet…the same joy taking 1st place in a race. It was a joy no one could take from me; a joy that wasn't temporary. And that's how I knew it was my calling. I did know exactly how I was going to do this educator thing, but my family supported me along the way.
People can say they support your dreams because it is easy to say. To really do it right, it takes an intentional willingness to really support a dream that is not yours, even in the face of adversity; even in the face of uncertainty...even when you don't understand exactly what the dream means. Family is about helping each other without expectations of something in return. You help because you believe the dream a family member is trying to make come true is what's best for them...brings out the best in them and will help them make a lasting impact on this planet, whether their impact is large or microscopic.
I am grateful for the family that I have in my life. I don't have a lot of friends, but I do have a lot of family. And my family members have found many ways to help me in reaching my dreams. They help me even when my dreams have changed. Some help with words of encouragement; others help with providing physical labor to get things done. Some help financially, while others provide free or discounted services. Some family members provided (and are still willing to provide me) love donations in the form of food, clothes, housing, and even transportation. A whole lot of people in my family have done lots of praying for me. And a small few have done all the above. I don't think the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, or the New American Heritage Dictionary have the words to accurately describe how blessed and privileged I am to have the family that I have.
This journey has reminded me that the most important family that I have on this planet are the ones sitting in my house. My family starts with my better half, my Sunshine, my wife. Before I even finished college, she believed in the dream I only joked about. She knew that one day I would do something that I thought was impossible; that one day I would become a doctor in some social science/education field. Since we became a couple, she listed me in her phone contacts as “Dr. Hurd.” She believed in me when I was too foolish to believe in myself. In contemporary times she believes in me when I have doubts or when I have set backs in this dissertation journey. But that's what family is for. Everyday my family locally, regionally, nationally, and even internationally reminds me that I'm not alone...ALL my family is with me on this journey all the way to the finish line (whenever it comes).
So, here are my recommendations to everyone reading this: First, find family members who believe in your dreams. Second, when you find them, thank them often.
To my family who has unconditionally supported my dreams, thank you!!!
Elgrie Jones Hurd, III is originally from eastern Menlo Park, California. He holds a master’s degree from San José State University in sociology, with an emphasis in sociology of education. He also has a bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly Pomona University in sociology. During his studies at San [...]