Oberlin Blogs

Dreams to Vision

August 9, 2015

Alexandria Cunningham ’16

"One thing I wish every college student will experience is a life-changing conversation that fills your spirit with such vigor and power that it throws you into action that has no limits for how far it can reach. I hope that you love every moment of it."

Sometimes it just so happens that I have really dope people in my life who talk to me about their dreams, what they are working on and who they hope to become. A couple nights ago fellow blogger Sammie and I were having our usual life chat that left me even more inspired than usual.

During our talk, I shared with her that I am in the beginning stages of launching a creative project that I want her special magic on as well. In a matter of minutes we went from discussing the energy it takes to get creative projects off the ground to making a mutual commitment to support each other's creative work, not only financially, but in whatever ways we can.

I am continually amazed to realize the influence that my mentors and peers have in my life, especially Black women. Oberlin has been a truly unique place in exposing me to so many women, of all sorts and backgrounds, who have this vision of themselves that they understand is attainable and they work, strategize and build to make that vision their reality. At the same time, Oberlin has given me a wealth of real time experience with overcoming challenges like a busy schedule, far too many requests/jobs that need to get done and not enough help or not enough resources to pull things off how they should be done.

If college has taught me anything worth stressing to everyone else it is this: College is not meant to be done alone. You need support, you need help, you need guidance. Find people invested in doing this for and with you and cherish them. My degree might only have my government name on it but believe me an entire village shares that paper with me and I hold them very near and dear to my heart.

"Whatever you discover in life that is worth more to you than your sleep, nurture it. Your passion is closer to you than you think, it is one of those "good" things keeping you up at night."

Something I have found is that I am constantly asking myself what is next? I want it all and because I am aware of that I am very careful about what I put my time and energy into. With a year left of undergrad I have switched gears to thinking about what am I continuing? In the same ways that I am constantly evolving as a person, my aspirations and directions for my lifework grow and that is something that takes a lot of time to reflect on as well.

When I think about my research and its own potential I realize that no matter what I do I need to write. I write for myself, my community and my world and I cannot imagine myself doing anything where writing is not a central component. At the same time, I want to nurture my creative energies in photography. But I also want to be a great community member and go back home and develop youth programs and trainings to address education, inequality and community empowerment. I have options (I know) but sometimes taking the first step is the hardest, right?

"Search for yourself and fall in love again. Promise yourself to wake up better than you went to sleep. Prioritize your energy, break up with your fears and love on all your talents and work."

Now that we are at the end of the post maybe you are wondering what is this project I am working on? What (concretely) is next for me? What is to become of my life?? No worries, I have a couple answers for you.

In the immediate sense, graduate school is next! I will be attending some wonderful (to be announced) program for my PhD in Sociology next fall and that is really exciting. Also, as of next week I will be starting to write to be published in some kind of way so *fingers crossed* on that one.

Finally, my what I am continuing question is being worked out by my creative project that I opened this post talking about. Since it is still very much so in its development stage all I can say it get ready for yet another space to read my writing and see the other ways that self-expression and creativity really can come alive. I anticipate having it ready for the world in the next year so before my very last post ever on the Oberlin Blogs I will make sure to give a last life update that talks about the project more in-depth!

Responses to this Entry

Alexandria, I really liked your post and your life philosophy. As my philosophy is so simple: "Every day new life begins. Therefore we should immense into everything we do to fully enjoy every moment of our life that we cannot stop or get back".

Posted by: James Brown on August 13, 2015 2:08 PM

When you listed all these things you're passionate about, I read them as "this AND this AND this," rather than a series of conflicting things that demand your time. This combination of skills and interests is what makes you you, and the things that drive you want to do more with all those things is what will continue to push you do awesome stuff because of those intersections. The secret is figuring out how you can continue to support and nourish all these things moving forward while continuing to propel yourself to great lengths. (I think you're doing a pretty excellent job at this so far, because Oberlin's atmosphere really lends itself to helping students find the connections between the things they love, but you can also continue to do this once you graduate, too!)

In short, I can't wait to see your project develop :D

Posted by: Ma'ayan on August 14, 2015 4:26 PM

James thank you so much for reading and commenting! Your life philosophy is a great one as well!

Posted by: Alexandria Cunningham '16 on August 20, 2015 1:41 PM

Ma'ayan I agree with you on all points made! I'm nervously excited to see how these intersecting interests of mine will come together post-Oberlin either in grad school or in a job. Oberlin has been a great space to begin to think those things through (and practice them!) so we'll see what life has in store. So, thank you again!

Posted by: Alexandria Cunningham '16 on August 20, 2015 1:47 PM

Yes Alex yes. These are the big questions we must all ask ourselves-especially nearing the end of a chapter. As a creative person, with a bunch of energy, I always find myself starting projects and barely making it through the development stages. Right now, I'm working on a podcast that I have developed and started recording but I need a little extra push. This is why relying on your support system is important to get you through it! To other creative people, keep creating. Developing a project is hard, but it is rewarding once the machine starts up and take off. Every building needs a strong foundation. Also, think about where your little project or ideas are heading- it might take you to a career. :) You go girl!

Posted by: Sammie Smylie on August 22, 2015 10:42 PM

Thanks Sammie! We've definitely talked about this before with finding the energy to both plan a project out but see it all the way through. I've gotten so much out of those conversations with you. I'm excited for your podcast though, it is going to be AMAZING.

Also, I definitely second relying on a support system to get you through the process, of any kind. Keep creating, keep planning, keep working towards whatever your goal might be! Sammie and I both have projects that fold into our emerging professional lives but are highly connected to our personal lives so keep working your dream on out!

Posted by: Alexandria Cunningham '16 on August 24, 2015 6:10 PM

"College is not meant to be done alone." This is wisdom needs to be repeated and shared. The entire residential model of college--the idea of classes WITH people--the encouragement to work together: it's all one big work-with-each-other and learn-from-each-other and support-each-other lesson plan. Which is all to say: I can't wait to see/read/hear about this new project, and is there anything I can do to support? (Also I'm so glad you're back on campus!)

Posted by: Tanya on September 9, 2015 8:30 AM

Tanya!!! Thank you so much.

At the moment, the project is on pause while I finish up some graduation things. I'm going to be working on it diligently throughout Winter Term and into the spring so that it can be ready by next fall. I'm always down to talk about it more with anyone so we can do that if you'd like!

Posted by: Alexandria Cunningham '16 on November 9, 2015 11:47 AM

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