Know yourself, know your worth…

I wrote this post for those who felt like life has taken a turn on them. Take a break, take time to refocus, take time to remind yourself that you’re enough. Write out your goals, your plans, your vision for yourself. Losing family/friends in the midst of being a full-time student is so difficult and no one really prepared me for this, but it definitely has allowed me to be more intentional about my actions and given me more of a reason to grind. Hopefully this post prompts you to take care of yourself, like it has done for me.

Lately, I’ve been trying to find a way for me to be a student, an activist, a President  and a researcher, while also dealing with this thing we call life. To be completely honest, I’ve been a bit lazy and unfocused in taking the time to figure out how to merge all of these things and still be true to my goals and myself. Life hit hard this year and I know that personally it’s been hard to stay focused on the work, but after prayers, amazing family/friends and well-needed time to myself, I’m back and better than ever.

My recent adventure to Bermuda couldn’t have come at a better time. Bermuda was transformative. Bermuda was affirming. Bermuda was necessary. file4

Before this trip, I noticed that I was becoming underwhelmed. I realized that I began to lose my drive and passion for the work that I was doing because life was getting hard. As I started to lose family and friends who were near and dear to my heart, I started to lose hope. Started to question myself and my position. Started to let life tell me that I wasn’t doing enough and that I wasn’t enough. I was giving so much of myself to others that when it was time to focus and care for me, I didn’t know how. This trip came at a perfect time.

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the 5th Annual International Colloquium on Black Males in Education in Hamilton, Bermuda. The clear blue ocean, pink sand, cool breeze and the abundance of Blackness displayed through this past week has allowed me to engage in critical soul searching.

The colloquium was so much more than relaxing on the beach, listening to presentations and indulging in Bermuda’s fine cuisine. It was an opportunity for me to see myself as deserving of this type of lifestyle. 

I continually asked myself, how will your work impact the state of your people? How will it bring about change in the realms of academia and media? What are you actively doing that promotes the change that you pray for? With a few walks on the beach, insightful conversations with academic professionals and students from great institutions, constantly listening to A Seat At The Table and Coloring Book while talking to my lost loved ones and praying for guidance. I refueled my purpose and passion.

Being surrounded by so many Black professionals, I had only one question. How? How did you manage to make it this far? One particular said to me, “Know yourself and know your worth.” Who knew that Drake lyrics would be referenced by a tenured faculty member?

So, I ran with the advice. I went to my room, sat on balcony, grabbed pen and paper, turned on some music and got to work.file8

Know Yourself: I wrote down my interests, hobbies, long-term and short-term goals and what my dream career looks like. This allowed me to make sure that I inserted my whole self in my academic and career pursuits, to ensure that I would always do what makes me happy. I noticed that way too often the expectations of others and what they envision for us to do, weigh heavily on our ability to work on ourselves and then we begin forget who we are. I learned from these Black professionals that if I didn’t take the time to include and envision myself in the work that I plan on doing, for myself, what really is my motivation for pursuing it, just for others or for me?

Know Your Worth: Once I inserted myself and visualized myself in the work that I plan on doing, I began to realize that I’m unique. After giving over 20 elevator speeches to professionals this past week, I noticed that I remembered why I’m so passionate about the work I’m doing and what I want to do. If you don’t get butterflies in your stomach when discussing your future, are you really dreaming big enough? If you aren’t a bit nervous about your future endeavors, are you selling yourself short?  I learned from these Black professionals that if I didn’t see myself worthy of this lifestyle, I’m wasting my time. If I didn’t see myself worthy of the opportunities that are presented to me, I’m wasting my time. I took the butterflies and nervousness as proof that I am worthy.

Overall, in a short week, I was able to regain my purpose and passion for what I do. It also made me smile that I knew in my heart that my lost loved ones were with me the entire time. I felt them with me and that was the most transformative part. I’m back on campus now and more driven than I’ve been in a while. I also know that my lost family will be with me wherever I may go. Continue to live within me on this journey and rest in heaven peacefully, Aunt Theresa, John & Keemari.



Twitter: @MarquiseMays Facebook: Marquise Mays Instagram: @__mjmays



Hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Marquise Mays, is a graduate student at the University of Southern California studying Cinema and Media Studies. His interests include visual culture, the performance of Blackness, audience reception and television. His passion lies in producing research, visual art and multimedia that critically assesses the presentation of Blackness on television. Through this he would like to connect the practice of storytelling to theoretical frameworks, like Critical Race Theory, to ultimately introduce Black men with the agency to discover themselves through television production processes.

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