As the Think Tank continues our exploration of support structures, we found ourselves discussing our own entry points into the project. Why are we so keenly interested in the development, maintenance, and furthering of robust support structures?
For myself, I am always interested in the stories we tell. How do we represent ourselves to others through personal narrative, and how does this narrative relate to what other people see. In graduate school, I became aware of some people’s attempt to distance themselves from the financial and emotional support they had received as children and young adults. Why is it a bad thing that your parents were able to send you to college? Why must you have done it all alone? For me, it seems tied to the myth of bootstrapping that is so pervasive in our national founding mythology. Can’t we break that cycle?
I feel very lucky to have been raised in a loving and supportive environment. I went to great schools, and my parents supported me through my undergraduate education. They continue to support me when I ask for help and when they can. And they are proud of the success I have had as a result of their support. They know, and I know, that I was given opportunities growing up on the far north side of Chicago that others were not–due to race, class, and other factors too numerous to name. Why can’t we (the royal we) acknowledge that inequity and work to change it?
Identifying our support structures and owning up to them is the first step in strengthening these networks and support structures for others.