Growing up I had it good. My parents were divorced before I was one, but were both incredibly active in me and my sisters life so it didn’t phase us much. Realistically, the lifestyles between the two of my parents were quite different. On one side of town where we lived with my mother felt perfect to us. We lived in a majority minority town home community with a pool and would ride our bikes until it got dark out. Our fridge was full of all of the popsicles, pizza rolls and flavored sodas you could’ve dreamed of. We had our own rooms with all the toys imaginable, clear clock radios and telephones because those were so cool back then. My sister would fix our dinner and pack our lunch because our mom was always working.
On the other side of town, my dad lived in a 5 bedroom house in a predominately white neighborhood with a pool and jacuzzi in the backyard. We loved it, of course, but couldn’t see how significant the difference was until we were older. It wasn’t until I got my first job that I realized our fridge was always full because my mom had food stamps and my sister made us dinner because my mom was working two jobs to make sure we had everything we needed. I had what I thought was a normal childhood because each of my parents went out of their way to make us feel that it was. My mom made her struggle look painless.
I started working at 15 and never looked back. I’m sure my mom was relieved I was able to fund my own sneaker collection and put gas in the car she made sure I had before I turned 16. I worked full-time throughout college, because there was no other option. My father passed away my sophomore year and my mom just couldn’t afford to help. Granted, the opportunities I was receiving I was blessed to have, but that didn’t make life any less difficult. It was especially difficult when I was reminded that I was the minority. My friends didn’t have to work. They were enjoying their college experience with brand new foreign cars and no real responsibilities. They were making the deans list effortlessly every semester partying four nights a week. They didn’t have to budget, or wrap up projects after leaving work on a Wednesday. They had jobs lined up for them once they graduated while I juggled a job, five classes and an internship my last semester. I knew I was smart. I knew that I was capable, but I also knew I had to work three times as hard as others to be on the same page. I wasn’t ungrateful, but I was jealous. Why wasn’t I allotted those same privileges?
Everything that led up to me being where I currently am in life shaped my character in unimaginable ways. It allowed me to see the limitless opportunities that are available to each of us and how easy life can be if you play your cards right as well as how we can make the best out of situations that aren’t ideal. Those experiences matured me, taught me discipline, gave me tough skin and embedded the value of time into me. It made every “no” I ever heard easier to swallow than the next. I’m not frontin’ in these pictures, I worked for this y’all!
I think struggle is important, on some level mentally. There’s so much value in not being pampered. It creates the improvisation skills necessary to be unconditionally effective. Plus, you become more compassionate for those who are in worse positions once you’ve realized how good you’ve got it. I’m so thankful I wasn’t given everything, for that would’ve never amounted in me pushing my potential. Nothing that I do surprises me these days because I’ve been preparing for them before I even realized it. If life hasn’t been served to you with a silver spoon, consider yourself lucky. You’re far more prepared than those who have.
“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” – Philippians 4:12
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