• Marya Kazmi

You Might Win Some

This past week I had the opportunity to facilitate at a conference on the connections between the institution of school as a piece of structural racism and how and what we choose to teach students. If I have piqued your curiosity and you want to find out more visit the site for UnboundEd.


I had a lot of takeaways and growth points over the six days, but one thing stuck out to me because it began to connect to my own life experiences beyond the work I am passionate about in school systems. That was the toolbelt award.


This was no ordinary toolbelt. This was the coveted symbolic award that was given to a team of facilitators that skillfully impressed observers in the way they led participants and conversations. Each afternoon after a full day of learning with adults, we would circle up with the 60 some facilitators and coaches to find out which team changed lives and impressed the “judges”.


This was no ordinary toolbelt. This was the coveted symbolic award that was given to a team of facilitators that skillfully impressed observers in the way they led participants and conversations. Each afternoon after a full day of learning with adults, we would circle up with the 60 some facilitators and coaches to find out which team changed lives and impressed the “judges”.


We all have off days where things just don’t click and we are not on the top of our game. To be honest, my overthinking and over-preparedness coupled with the cost of misrepresenting the topics of racism and antiracism does not allow for many of those in my professional spaces. But still, they happen.


So that first day, I had absolutely no hope for getting this belt, because I knew I was subpar and not fully myself while presenting. I was content and glad to hear the work was being done in other rooms and honored to be in the same space as the other facilitators doing it well. On the subsequent days, I started to anticipate the possibility of the belt finding its way into my hands, because I thought I was doing all I was supposed to and proving my worth.


I never got the tool belt but those who did deserve the accolades and recognition. So, even though I was eagerly hoping our team's name was called, I was at peace and glad to know that the important work we were all charged to do was happening. I was content with the consolation prizes I got of positive feedback on my growth and a book I won in a raffle. I wasn't empty handed when I walked away that week.


Throughout the week I was also processing my disappointment and frustration about this with a friend. Each day he would ask about the belt and each day I would become a little more sullen when I shared I didn't get it. At one point he even suggested that I watch what the others were doing to possibly replicate their work and maybe then I could get the belt. I would, but we are siloed in our rooms and I have no idea what was going on in the other room. He was patient with my attention to this, because he knows that when I set my eyes on something, I generally will make it happen with strategic steps and finding my in-roads. But I was missing the toolbelt every day despite how hard I tried to make it happen and how determined I was to find the magic sauce to bring that win into my reality.


This frustration reminded me of another thing that has been illusive in my life . . . . receiving romantic love. If the toolbelt was symbolic of my love life, it would be spot on. I eagerly wait thinking I might have figured out what it takes to be chosen as someone’s partner, and then have watched as they came close, some almost even handed me the offer of love and relationship then quickly took it back and gave it to someone else. Or I have experienced how someone dangled it in front of me like a prize I could potentially work towards, knowing full well they never had any intention to choose me for it. Just like the rooms I can’t see, I had no idea what made them choose someone else over me. I didn’t know the secret sauce, I just knew what I came with wasn’t it. I have been standing in the circle of life watching others be awarded for the same things I thought I did and being passed over and over again for this prize of being loved unconditionally and wholly by someone who wants me to feel the win.


I know love isn’t a toolbelt or a prize that you win. But the frustration of working hard to get no reward was eating away and making me feel deflated each time I was passed up. I have begun to question everything about myself and how I engage with the men in my life. The rejection has pushed me to grow and I have become stronger and more self assured despite the pain it caused. But I still crave that toolbelt of love.


Sometimes I still wonder . . .

What would feel like when I am no longer an option but the choice for someone I also want?

What would it feel like when I am fully seen and valued for who I authentically show up as and what I bring into a relationship?

What would it feel like to have a partner to experience life with?

What would it feel like when love isn’t fleeting and snatched away, but holds on to me and wraps around me to reassure me that it exists in my world and that I deserve it?

What is real love and will I ever find out or am I meant to accept the consolation prize of friendship and lessons in life to forever be building my character?


I have grown and worked a lot on myself in the past nine months. But healing can also come with moments of needing more to put all the pieces into place and find my full peace in life.

I spent the first 17 years of my adulthood in a disappointing and damaging marriage thinking love was meant to hurt and that would be all I would ever know and experience.


In the past four years of separation and now divorce I have a sense that love can be different. I can almost even taste it and recognize the calm it might wash over me. But I have yet to know the certainty and assurance of love when it is real, honest, safe and most importantly stays and shows up for me because I am worthy of every bit of it.


I might win some, but I keep losing this one.