Twenty-Seven

This assignment seemed easy from the start, but it began to get harder as it went along. I have become so accustomed to separating my professional life from my social media life. Not that I  ever post anything inappropriate, but I have never been one to use Instagram or Twitter as a way to talk about or consider professional issues.

I mainly used Twitter and Instagram to keep tabs on my friend, current events, or news, and less on what is happening in the sphere of public relations or advertising. This has taught me how to use social media as a way to think about and process what is going on in the world of PR and marketing. It has taught me to become intentional about using my resources, such as social media, as a way to further my knowledge and gain insight into what is happening in the world around me.

I will continue to be more critical when reading news headlines and look at how information is presented in the years to come.

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What was one thing that changed your life?

Asking people on the bus if I could interview them has actually gotten more difficult this semester. For some reason, I am afraid of rejection. I am afraid of people seeing me be rejected. I am afraid of them thinking I am annoying or naive. I fear that talking to people on the bus and telling them it is for school makes it seem that if it weren’t for the project, there is no way I would be talking to a person like that. These things reel through my mind when I think about approaching someone.

But after work on Wednesday, I walked on the bus and I was the only one on there. The fear of rejection didn’t seem so strong, because no one was there to witness me being shot down. I got up from my seat and walked to the front of the bus. He was a quiet bus driver. When I got on the bus, I said hello, and he did not respond. When I walked up to him, I asked him If I could interview him for a class. He smiled big and said that I could.

I asked him about a time when his life changed. “What was one thing that changed your life?” I said. He thought for a moment and then said, “When my older son was born.” “Why did that change your life?” I just loved how I could see parts of me in him. I had a part of me in a human being that was going to grow up, and that was the coolest thing.” This was going somewhere, so I kept prodding.

“What is your favorite thing about your son?” I asked. Without hesitation, he responded, “He is just always really determined. He is a hard worker, and knows what he wants. He reminds me of myself when I was his age. I’m so proud of him.”

Times like these make me wonder why I am ever scared of people. It makes me think of why I am so afraid of rejection, especially when I am simply having a conversation. This project has been eye-opening, and much harder than I thought it would be.

Unfortunately, Tyrone did not want his picture taken.

What do you hope to do in your lifetime?

On the bus yesterday, I met a woman named Lisa. She was on her way to a health clinic to take her four-year-old daughter to get her ears checked. She seemed stressed and frazzled with all that was going on. Waiting out in the cold for a bus with a sick child is definitely not ideal.

I asked if I could interview her, and she said yes. Unfortunately, she did not want her picture taken. I asked her, “What do you hope to do in your lifetime?” She thought about it for a while, and then said she hopes to find a husband that will support her and her daughter. Being a single mom has taken a toll on her.

“I want someone to do life with, to enjoy seeing my daughter grow up, and to also want to support her financially and emotionally.”

Lisa seemed tired and worn out. Not only from the day-to-day struggle of being a single mom, but from the continued feeling of helplessness. Lisa was so strong, and I am so glad I met her.

What are you most proud of in your life?

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On Friday, February 27, I walked on the bus and sat in the only spot available. I asked the woman next to me if I could interview her for an assignment. She said no, because we were nearing her stop. I turned around to see who else I could talk to.

I asked the man behind me If I could interview him for an assignment. His response shocked me. He said, “No, sorry. I didn’t go to school so I probably wouldn’t know how to answer you.” This broke my heart. I was sad to hear that, just because he didn’t go to college, he didn’t think his thoughts were valuable.

I told him that I didn’t mind, and that I wanted to hear his thoughts anyway, because his thoughts matter. He told me that his name is Mike and he has lived in Milwaukee for a while, and is a member of the Grand Avenue Club. I asked him what he is most proud of in his life.

“Well, I’m really proud of the ceramic fish I painted. I started it a couple years ago, and I just finished it last week. I painted it with red, blue, green and yellow.”

Talking to Mike made me think a lot about what I am proud of. I often think of the “bigger” things in my life. I would usually try to think of something that is “impressive” according to society, like my education or my internships, or my leadership experience.

Mike made me realize that the things we are proud of can be  way smaller– something that means a lot to us, but maybe not a lot to other people. I am proud of the kind of sister I am to my siblings. I am proud of a good batch of cookies I made a couple weeks ago. And, heck, I am proud of my ability to talk to people and show interest in things that other people wouldn’t.

What was the happiest moment of your life?

I spend close to an hour on the bus each week, driving to and from my internship at Crescendo Collective. I fear that campus is getting too comfortable; too safe for me. When I leave campus, It is so natural for me to put in my headphones and block out the part of Milwaukee that is outside of Marquette’s campus.

Brandon Stanton started Humans of New York, a blog about people and their stories that live in New York. He walks up to people on the street and asks about his or her life. He asks the New Yorkers  simple questions, but somehow he gets very heartfelt and in-depth answers, as if they had known Brandon for years.

I wanted to see what would happen if I stepped out of my comfort zone on the bus in Milwaukee and asked people around me about their lives. While sitting on the bus on Monday, January 26, I was riding the bust to my internship when we were stuck by a freight train. I glanced behind me and saw a man eating chips and salsa while wearing a pink knit hat. As I turned around, I smiled and he smiled back. I asked him if I could ask him a question about his life for a school project. He nodded.

“What was the happiest moment of your life?” I asked. He said, “Well, there have been a lot. I love to be alone, and the happiest moment was in the 80s and 90s when I would go hiking, hunting and fishing up north.” As I looked at his eyes through his black sparkly glasses, I could see him relive those memories in his mind.

He offered me a chip, but I had to get off the bus. The best part about meeting Lech was when I saw him on the bus two days later, and he walked past me and both smiled and waved at each other.