rrorized my youth and those in my community. Incubated in an American culture of those aspiring to the middle class, but stuck outside of it, I often pouted as my mother could not lend me a quarter. The grocery store was my amusement park, and the promise of a candy bar sent thrills up my spine. I rarely got my candy bar, and the reason was always the same– no money. The audacity, I often thought, that she could come to the store without money or change to spare.
My mother and I emigrated from a third world country that could be described as a den of murderous thieves where saints walk and pride runs rampant. Jamaica’s zealous and fervent womb produced a strong woman i am proud to call my mother. The religious blueprint of my mother laid the foundation for my upbringing. The whole chain of command and respect of elders was prioritized.
I survived without material things; like a vagabond in the desert I went on without. Shoes, wardrobe, and popularity seem to be the only thing going through many a middle school kid’s head, because of the dependence on social acceptance. I, on the other hand, had numbed my mind from those thoughts because they were shallow distractions. Staying legally sound and being successful are not common amongst my peers; success, for my community – that narrow path – is one un-trodden.
Fear, denial, self doubt, and boldness shaped and made me different from the others in my situation. fear of failure, denial of what my enemies expected of me, storms of self doubt i weathered that molded me, and the boldness to risk embarrassment to accomplish my goals. I recall as a child, scurrying home in great anxiety, abandoning neighborhood parks in fear of an older and more powerful generation. These local vermin would go to the “park”, our elementary school yard; therefore I quickly left for home upon dismissal. I reluctantly accepted the unspoken laws of our fragmented community, as I turned tail home. Respect out of fear, staying out of trouble and achieving good goals rarely occur where I come from. Isolation from the negativity was good for me, because if I was surrounded by negativity I could not maintain my positive mindset.
I think differently—I am always the odd man out. None of my childhood friends were in any of my classes. Instead I found people who judged me on appearance in the advanced classes. I had to gain my peer’s and teacher’s respect on an intellectual level by answering questions quickly and accurately, leaving an array of impressed faces. As the only person of color and from a low income community, I maintained my individualism. I remain an individual, as do my cast of friends which is full of engaging characters. I have lived on a real dead end, which has been a key to my development; it allowed me to escape all the negativity around me and to advance. I always had a safe haven hidden, where I could escape reality. It shaped my psyche and perspective. Many associate dead ends with negativity but I, however, see the good in every bad, the soul in every dictator but also the demon in every angel. The world needs thinkers. My experiences have given me the perspective and tools to engage and prosper as a college student. In return, college will provide me with critical thinking exercises which will help me to continue to turn dead end streets into bridges to success.
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