On November 14th of this year, I passed a milestone. Although my birthday is in June and receiving my Ph.D. from Harvard University in African American Studies is still years away, Saturday the 14th was a big deal for me. It marked my 10,000th day alive.
I realize that 10,000 days is a completely arbitrary number. We don’t count weeks, months, or years in powers of ten, and hardly anyone cares about the number of days it’s been since an event occurred. I wouldn’t even have known myself that my 10,000th day was coming up if I hadn’t stumbled across a notice on Reddit signifying as much.
The middle days.
Once I realize that my 10,000th day was around the corner, though, the day instantly became important. I realized that the transitions I have gone through in my life – birth and early childhood, growing up in Detroit, Michigan, attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, Goergia, and attending UCLA and receiving both a law degree and a masters in Afro-American Studies – were filled with experiences and moments that I will always cherish and shape the very man I am today. In those 10,000 days were my first kiss, my first girlfriend, my first boyfriend, my coming out, my first . . . everything. I have gone from being a kindergartner to an undergrad, a Hopps Scholar to a Point Scholar, and a shy kid to an out and proud man. Far from staying in the books and letting time flitter away, I have seen the other side of the world, conducted and presented research that is dear to me, and gained great friends and insights along the way.
I didn’t just grow physically during the preceding 10,000 days, filling out a robust 6’9” frame, I’ve grown emotionally and mentally as well. Battling depression and suicide ideation from the age of eleven (more than half my 10,000 days) has marked some of my days (and weeks and months) with some of the greatest despair and hopelessness I’ve ever known. Although my mental health continues to be an area of struggle for me, it has not stopped me. In spite of it, I have thrived in my own skin and shinned brightly even in moments of absolute darkness. When I think about the fact that I’ve made it 10,000 days, the depth of my disease make my survival even more remarkable.
Recent days with his mother.
Part of the reason I have made it this far in my life is due to the fact that the world has changed so much in the past 10,000 days. When I was born, the lives and love of LGBTQ people throughout America were under constant scrutiny in the eyes of the law and the public. Today, marriage equality, civil rights protections, and respect for gender equality are at the forefront of political and social thought, with new milestones being met all the time. Although we have not reached a utopic place, people of color and LGBTQ people like myself are worlds away from the one I was born into, and I couldn’t be happier.
Looking forward, I realize that my next 10,000 days will take me to the age of 54 – and the year 2042. By then, I would have finished my dissertation (hopefully), and embarked on a career of scholarship, research, teaching, mentoring, and giving. More important, I will start a family and see the next generation go through the highs and lows of life. I could possibly have grandchildren by then – but I perish the thought. All I know for sure is that I am 10,000 days (and counting) strong, 10,000 days wise, and 10,000 days lucky to be alive.
This post was written by Point Scholar Gregory Davis
Gregory Davis was raised with his brother by his mother, older sister, grandmother, and uncle in Detroit, Michigan; a city in perpetual (identity) crisis. In his studies, Gregory uses his training in social psychology, law, and African-American studies to understand the dynamics, philosophies, and policies of diversity and inclusion in higher education. His work centers on making admissions, recruitment, and retention better for all applicants in all levels of higher education. In his work, Gregory strives to make education a welcoming developmental space for all those marginalized by race, sexual orientation, gender, or disability.
Read more about Gregory.