Sui Generis is Latin for “Uncommon” – It has represented everything I’ve been, everything I am, and everything I will become. I’ve always been – uncommon. It’s something that I both revel in and that I’m challenged by. Having varying interests and trying to invest equal time in those interests in hard.
I’m Spencer Kelly and this is my Crystal Stair.
Life for me has always been about opposites:
I was the neat freak sibling, while my brothers were haphazard.
I attended a private school while my brothers attended public schools.
As the middle brother of three, I was neither the favorite firstborn nor the baby of the family. The biggest lesson has been learning how to master my identity in a sea of other people. I always asked myself, What defines you?
My brothers grew up in our town, played with the neighbors, and were very familiar with the suburban life. I drove 45 minutes every day to attend my school, which subsequently meant that the friends I made didn’t live in our community. I stayed in my own lane and was always independent from them. Not to say that we weren’t close, because we were extremely close, but the way we moved throughout our lives was very different.
One thing we had in common was that we all played sports at the college level. My younger brother played baseball, I played tennis, and my older brother played golf. And it was sports that led me to a very unique opportunity.
When I started playing tennis at Howard University, I began to involve myself with a non-profit called The Grassroot Project.
It was started 10 years ago by a George Washington University student athlete during an era when the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area was one of the most severely hit places affected by HIV/AIDS. The project was a mixture Division 1 athletes from Howard University and American University that engaged the community in conversations about sexual education, sexual awareness, nutrition, and overall health. We go into middle school for 8 weeks using hands on activities and games.
I’ve been able to thrive in that program as an ambassador helping with grant writing, sponsorships and traveling to spread the message of the Grassroot Project.
There is power in representation. There is comfort in representation. Sexual Health is a sensitive topic especially amongst younger students and sometimes that similarity – whether it be ethnicity, age, or life experiences, may just be the thing that allows that student to be comfortable asking the important questions. The more you know, the more responsible you’ll be. I take pride in being a confidant for these students in such an integral time in their lives.
I believe it is important to embrace everything about yourself, from being comfortable in your own skin to the hurts and difficulties you are going through. And with that kind of inspiration, I write whenever I can. Enjoy this piece, titled To Wander and Wonder:
He was known as a wanderer
He was me, a black boy wanting to climb the air, count the bricks, get lost in other people’s words.
He wanted to wander and wonder.
You are they, and she is him.
I am my, and me is the self.
Always remind yourself that being your authentic self is a self that yours. A you that isn’t broken, isn’t defeated, and that isn’t mistaken.
I love what I do, and what I can bring into this world. And I hope you feel the same way about yourself.