What drives me to succeed? How did I make it out of a broken home? I never really asked myself how I became who I am today. I always thought in the moment. “Don’t worry about the past. The past can’t help me now, I’ve climbed out of the darkness.” That is where I was wrong. You have to sometimes live in the past to learn from it. What did I do to make it out of the darkness so I can educate my children, friends, and the public?
Fear. Fear is the answer to how I brought myself out of the darkness. There are other factors as well such as great support from friends and teachers but it starts with the individual. If you don’t let people in, it will be a long journey of life. I was always fearful of losing. Whether it is regarding sports, competitions, school; I hated to lose. The irony in all of this is that I love the aftermath of losing. It builds that chip on my shoulder to strive to be the best.
Growing up, I went through a lot. For most of my childhood, I was raised by a single mother. The most I remember my father was when he was abusive to my mom. My last memory of him was when he had a knife to my mom’s throat. He held us against our will until the police rescued us. I was 5 years old at the time. My mother worked two jobs to raise her two children.
While in my teens, around 15 years old, my mom decided to pick up drinking, smoking, and drugs. Prior, she was sober for 10 years; no smoking or drinking. Things went downhill fast. I found myself with little food at home so I spent most of my time at work, school or at a friend’s house. Sports, marching band, and comradery saved my life.
I remember looking around at school and noticing other kids in my situation. They were always in detention, smoking, drinking and getting bad grades. I told myself that I will not be like them. I feared being like them. I had to work harder, longer, and smarter than everyone else in order to succeed. If I wasn’t at drumline practice, I was at work or in the band room studying.
In the end, I ended up being the first in my family to graduate high school and go to college. I joined the Air Force as a Security Forces member after a year of college because I didn’t see myself going places in my current situation. At age 19, I went to war in Iraq and broke my back. That still didn’t prevent me from succeeding. When I was in my early 20’s, my mother died of pneumonia due to her drug and alcohol use. Once again, I refused to let those events shape my life in a negative way. After the military, I enrolled in college and received my BA in IT Administrative Management. The first in my family to ever graduate college.
I am now 27 years old with a great career. Fear is not something to be afraid of. Fear stands for Face Everything and Rise. I will always take on challenges to better myself and to show my children that fear is what shapes your mindset. I hope my story will help others who think it’s impossible to rise above the negative cloud that surrounds them.