“We can CHOOSE to see life through the lens of Inconsalable or Exuberant”

“As we get older, we get better at choosing in ways that will make us happy. We do a better job at picking activities that make us happy, and at spending time with people who make us happy. We are also better at letting things go.”- Sheena Iyengar.

Individuals can be coldhearted and selfish in this world without sympathy for the lives of others. Not everyone is like this, so on the contrary, individuals have the opportunity to be grateful for what we can begin to extend our hands into our communities to be a helping hand. Gratitude should be a choice we all take as a baseline for existing in a society that has lost touch with being a community and is very individualistic. I cannot preach without sharing my gratitude to the Frank Karel Fellowship that has immersed me in the Public Interest and Communications world; I know I will use the skills learned this summer in my future career endeavors. This blog will leave you with some takeaways about life’s purpose and learning to choose yourself.

It has been fascinating to see how the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream (MCAAD) is building a center and opportunities to expand access to the American Dream. All folks living in the U.S. should have access to resources and opportunities to shoot their shot to become successful in whatever that means for them individually. The mission of MCAAD is to advance economic and social mobility for all; however, there is an underlying understanding that the American Dream has not been achievable to all, especially underrepresented groups, such as LGBTQ+, Black and Brown communities, Indigenous groups, and many more. Over the summer, I was part of the base for the Marketing and Communications team at MCAAD. I learned skills in media relations, messaging, social media, newsletters, blogs, fundraising, public speaking, and much more. However, it was interesting to see how work is handled within a new organization dedicated to this mission.

This summer, I journaled daily about how I had been feeling, and it truly has been a rollercoaster for personal reasons and beyond, but I realized that despite anything, it is vital to stay true to our mission and purpose. If I want you to take away one thing from this blog, how are you staying true to your mission and purpose, and how are you choosing to plug in? When I think of my identity and how that connects to my mission and purpose, I identify with being on a journey of healing, being grateful, and being courageous. I am choosing to plug into my life and hone in my holistic health to pursue my life’s purpose and mission to serve communities across this nation and the world.

For example, I created a unique project called Pathways to Purpose: MCAAD Edition. I interviewed employees from all levels of the organization revolving around their definition of the American Dream, their life’s purpose, and any advice on balancing a healthy life. With the MCAAD team expressing their diverse stories and life purposes, this excerpt highlights folks’ journey to continue learning about their interests and possibilities of purpose. One MCAAD member identified themselves as having an “individual curiosity of understanding learning human experience to dismantle current standards to allow others to lead-free lives.” Another team member has known that his life mission is as an educator and to bring students the knowledge and resources they need to excel in academia and their lives. In addition, the MCAAD team shared a common notion that the American Dream is an idea that allows this country to continue seeking a better tomorrow. However, on a more realistic level, some shared, “While some people experience the “American Dream,” it is not a reality for all, and the notion of the American Dream often glosses over the real structural barriers faced by many trying to achieve socioeconomic mobility.” The team at MCAAD has been an embodiment of individuals who put their passion and personal life to advocate for the rights of all underrepresented groups so they can flourish. Whether one’s view of the American Dream or life’s purpose, we can begin to understand how opinions may connect or differ while some are more optimistic, while some are more realistic with the current systemic barriers that marginalized communities face.

I encourage folks reading this blog to be able to dissect what their life’s purpose is and how they are choosing to engage with this. My purpose statement contains identity markers, what I am good at, what I enjoy, and how I will work on needs in the world that can activate me. Mateo is a first-generation, low-income, public servant, and Latinx student of life. My purpose in life is to use my communication skills, passion, and humility, combined with my love for personal development and inclusive society, to motivate communities to take action in projects and issues that take our society into the future where we restructure structural barriers as changemakers. Finally, the Frank Karel Fellowship allowed me to think critically about how I want to communicate my story and move folks to action.

This summer has been filled with heartbreak, but I will move forward with being on a journey of healing, perspective, and abundance. All we can do when things get rough is plug into ourselves and reflect on what our body, soul, and mind need. Individuals here in the U.S. and abroad truly have the potential to become the next generation of mothers, fathers, activists, politicians, CEOs, community leaders, and much more. I encourage folks to plug into themselves to let their inner child truly breathe and experience and take care of themselves as we are constantly working towards bettering the lives of others when reluctant to prioritize our health. Life is genuinely a building block dedicated to understanding more about ourselves; we can choose how we want to share our insight and elevate the communities around us. Personally am going to embody the art of choosing how to respond to the things that happen in life in a more constructive and confident perspective. After bad things happen in life, we can divorce ourselves from the problem and make our peace, or we can break the link in the chain.

I am not going to fight the emotions of choosing how to make an impact in the communities I am from or deciding what to do upon graduation next spring (if you read this far and you know of anyone hiring, send me an email and let us get in touch!), but rather when difficulty comes, I shall journal about it, meditate, sit with it, dance with it, and welcome it. Through this summer fellowship, I have truly learned the power of words and how we choose to communicate how we feel to our constituents. A takeaway for me this summer is that if we never hear the words we wish for, if we never receive that apology, that “thank you,” the “I am proud of you.” Let us choose to speak life into other people and pass on those words to breathe life into folks. All in all, look at your work with purpose and the impact it can have on communities and ourselves. If we change our thoughts about our work, we can change the narratives of our lives.