Today we’d like to introduce you to Rayshauna Gray.
Rayshauna, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m Rayshauna Gray, a native Chicagoan currently living it up in Cambridge, MA. I’m currently writing my first book Roseland (https://beltpublishing.com/products/roseland & https://beltpublishing.com/blogs/news/roseland-by-rayshauna-gray-forthcoming-in-2019) and researching in Tufts University’s history department and Center for the Study of Race and Democracy (http://as.tufts.edu/csrd/). Up until a week ago, I was also coordinating Harvard Business School’s Gender Initiative (www.hbs.edu/gender).
I’m living my dream these days, but things didn’t start out that way. Nine years ago, I ran out of money for college and desperately needed to change my life. My academic hopes were dashed and I was watching the world pass me by from a little apartment in Waukegan, IL.
After languishing for a year, I picked myself up, secured a job that provided housing, and moved to Cambridge with $12 in my wallet and a dream. I’d traveled a bit during undergrad, so I had some skills. Every summer during college, I’d pull out a map of the States, pick a random city and find short-term gigs – usually running dorms for international students coming to learn English. The summer of ’06 was San Francisco, ’07 was L.A., and ’08 brought me to Boston the first time.
I didn’t want the end of college to be the end of my education (http://www.theideologue.info/blogtext/2015/8/25/an-education), so I started attending lectures all over New England once I moved (https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2015/08/25/free-education-in-boston/). I also started The Ideologue (www.theideologue.info), a website to chronicle all my lessons. I’d eventually attend 500+ lectures, conduct 100+ interviews with scholars, and volunteer with some great organizations – tangoing with impostor syndrome along the way.
I wanted to learn even more, so I conducted a House of Worship hop to connect with people in other faith traditions and spent two years writing organizational testimony for MassNOW’s legislative task force in service of some amazing bills in the Massachusetts state house (Pay Equity, Trans Equal Access and Public Accommodations, Healthy Youth, and Anti-Shackling). I also had a stint writing for LinkedIn’s Education and Millennials editor about a range of topics including startup cultures using Shakespeare and Impostor Syndrome!
Eventually, Boston Magazine reached out to ask about my journey.
I’m also my family historian. My book will be about the last 200 years of my family’s history told through the lives of the last seven generations of women. Here’s my Google talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wghi3yKxug8&feature=youtu.be) about some of them (text of the essay’s here: https://southsideweekly.com/chiasmus/).
It’s been an interesting, challenging, thrilling nine years. I still have so much more to accomplish and learn … and I’m thrilled to do it. 🙂
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Impostor Syndrome was a MAJOR source of stress. I wrote about it here, (https://bit.ly/2LZO2rb) but I’d like to share an excerpt:
“Reader, if you’re anything like me, you’ve doubted your skills. You’ve sat in meetings withholding insight and scribbling notes in the margins of your notepad. If you happen to be a woman or person of color or a Millennial like me, you’ve also come up against the doubts of others on a cultural level – and you might’ve even been instructed (like I was) to expect to work harder for a portion of your just due.
I’ve experienced self-doubt so intense that for years I turned down amazing opportunities, neglected to advocate for myself or negotiate salaries and pay raises. I’ve also stayed in unhealthy workplace environments much longer than I should’ve because I didn’t think that my propensities had value or that I had the ability to flourish on my own.”
I kept writing my way through it. I used my superpower (metacognition) to put my struggle into words:
The Ideologue – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m a writer and a historian.
I study and deliberate about our cultural inheritance in the community…and share what I find. As an activist, I found ways to use my knowledge of our shared past to inform policy with MassNOW’s Legislative Task Force and other community orgs.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
To me, success is signified by authenticity, integrity, and curiosity.
- Website: www.theideologue.info
- Instagram: instagram.com/rayshaunagray
- Twitter: twitter.com/rayshaunagray