Monday Motivation: How I Survived Making A Bad Choice That Almost Cost Me My Future...
So I just recently turned 26, and every time I relay this information to people their mouth always drops in amazement at how much I've been able to accomplish at such a young age. Many can only imagine what I must have been like as a teenager, and I'm here to tell you that I was just as trash as any other teenager you'll encounter. Sleeping in and watching TV were my favorite Saturday activities, and at the time, it was very hard for me to imagine a Saturday that could go any other way.
And then when I was 12, I got into a summer/year-round preparedness program aimed at helping inner-city kids gain more access to the private/boarding school sector. I remember when I learned about boarding school, and how this program could help make it a real option for me, and my heart swelling at the thought of the opportunity. At the time I thought I was willing to do anything to increase my chances of getting into a school. But the Saturday morning sacrifice that I had to make every week to attend my SSAT prep classes proved to be no easy task for a lazy 13 year old such as myself.
And in retrospect, I'll even say that I was definitely feeling a bit cocky about my chances. At the time, I attended a public school where I had always been the best at almost everything school-related. So when it came to getting up early on those Saturdays, sometimes I just didn't think it was that necessary.
And I can so clearly remember the morning that my mom tried to wake me up to catch the bus to attend my program. I buried myself deeper in my comforter burrito, and told her that I didn't feel like going-- I’ll just “go next week.” I remember the sternness in her voice as she handed me the small baby blue card.
“What is this?” I asked.
“Why don't you read it?” she said.
It was from a program that I applied to called A Better Chance. If selected to be part of this program, I would have been guaranteed full funding to attend a boarding school within their network of partner schools.
I don't know if it was the fact that I still had sleep crust in my eyes, or that I didn't want to face the truth, but I asked my mom again what did this mean?
And very bluntly she said, “You didn't get into your program, and so I'm not sure if boarding school is going to be an option for you.”
And there are very few moments in my life where I've cried as hard as I did in that moment. I couldn't believe that I screwed up what felt like my one chance to really change my circumstances, and get a better education for myself.
So in this moment I was faced with a choice -- to either continue to cry myself into oblivion, or to get up, get ready, and try to make the most out of the mess I had created for myself. So with my quivering upper lip, and tear-streaked cheeks, I threw on some clothes, got my materials together, and I believe my mom who literally just came home from a night shift, drove me all the way out to Concord, MA where my preparedness program was hosted.
I had to tell my program director what my situation was, and take all of the feedback/critique necessary to figure out how to still attend boarding school. It wasn't a fun situation. I had severely limited my options as financial aid for a private high schools is not always so generous since being in that environment is more so of a privilege. I not only had to deal with the stress of trying to get in, but then I also had to worry about whether or not I would truly be able to afford it.
I was very upset by the choices that I made to get to this place, but the most important lesson that I was able to take away from the whole ordeal was that it’s not my past choices that define me; it is how I choose to respond that does.
We are going to make millions of choices in our lifetime -- from what to eat to what to wear to whom to marry, and so on. And while we always want to attempt to make the best choices on the first go-around, unfortunately probability just isn't on our side with this one. Sometimes you are going to make a choice that doesn't end up giving you the result that you hoped for. I initially chose not to fully invest myself in my preparedness program; I got cocky and thought that it would all work out. But the reason why I can write to you today as not only a boarding school graduate, but as the student body president is because I did not let the outcome of my initial choice stop me from going after what I wanted. I initially made a really shitty choice, but I was lucky enough to remember that the power of my choices, and how I respond to them was always in my hands.
We're always going to make mistakes; wander off course or go down the wrong path. But if you think that's the reason why you are not living the life that you want to live today then I hate to break it to you, but that just isn't true. Many of us are not living the lives that we want to live today because we are not truly choosing to live them. We are being weighed down by the guilt from mistakes and missteps of our past choices.
Let that shit go. You are not your past choices, but you are how you choose to respond to them. Always choose to acknowledge, be humble, and do better.