Jun 27, 2008

I love Monster.com’s motto, “Never Settle.” The career website’s mission is to help individuals find jobs they will be passionate about. Their motto reflects the belief that people have a right to expect the best out of their careers and life in general.

One would hope that the “never settle” motto would be ingrained in young African-Americans’ and other minorities’ psyches by society, as we are said to have more opportunities than ever before. Yet, the majority of us seem to be encouraged to settle for less than what we desire and deserve. We are told in myriad ways by the media, educators, employers, and our family and friends that we are “lucky” just to have graduated from high school or college, and that aspiring to have anything beyond a job that pays our bills is wishful thinking. Instead of being encouraged and aided to follow our dreams, well-meaning but harmful people instill a fear in us that our ethnicity will be a huge barrier to our achievement, certain careers are too hard to succeed in, and that the further we seek to go in our careers the more we are at risk of failing.

In fact, many minorities are taught to settle throughout their lives. Parents can be heard telling their children they “better finish high school,” instead of taking it for granted that they will and focusing on how they will succeed in college. When in college, minority students are often told to major in a field they aren’t excited about or one that will supposedly guarantee them a job, instead of studying something more suited to their interests and strengths.

Fueling complacency in this way results in people having mediocre careers and mediocre lives. Ultimately, they will feel as if they missed out on something and did not realize their full potential—in which case they’d be right. Throughout history we have seen that the people who had the most rewarding careers and are remembered as leaders in their field, are those that knew their worth and refused to be happy with what others said should make them content.

So why should we have to take jobs that don’t excite us, utilize our skills, and help us grow? Why should we feel overjoyed to receive a paycheck every two weeks regardless of who it’s from? Why should we put our dreams on the backburner?

We can’t afford to lower our expectations and let others dictate what we’re worthy of having. We do ourselves, our ancestors, and future generations a disservice by striving for anything less than excellence and the realization of our goals. Robert Williams, a writer, once said, “It is impossible for a people to rise above their aspirations. If we think we cannot, we most certainly cannot. Our greatest enemy is our own defeatist attitude.” This is the mentality we need to have and nurture in others. Never let anyone tell you that something cannot be done or you’re not the person to do it. Never let anyone tell you that there is a limit to how much you can accomplish and that you should be satisfied to have made it as far as you have. Go further savvy sistas, and never settle.


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