When I first met her, she was seventeen years old and already had a four year-old daughter. She had waited in line for thirty minutes to tell me her story. With tears in her eyes, she slowly approached me and said, “I know I can be somebody because you are somebody.” It was clear she needed a hug, so I held her in my arms and asked, “What’s going on?” I knew the story I was about to hear would break my heart.
Gathering herself together, she told me how she’d grown up in a home torn apart by drugs. It was a crack house, a place where anybody could stop by to get high. Not only did her mother not protect her daughter, but actually started prostituting her out at twelve years old. After a year of this hell, the girl became pregnant at thirteen. She had no idea who the father was, except that it was one of her johns. Thankfully, a state worker caught wind of what was going on and she was taken from this home and placed in foster care. Despite the miserable circumstances surrounding her pregnancy, she decided to keep her baby.
I had the pleasure of meeting her foster parents and getting to thank them personally for rescuing this sweet girl and her daughter from such a horrible environment. As far as I’m concerned, these people are saints. Fostering one child is a huge responsibility, but taking in a child who herself has a child is really going above and beyond.
After we had discussed her past for a while, we began to discuss her future. “What is your dream job?” I asked her. “What do you want to be in life?” Without a moment’s hesitation, she told me she wanted to be a psychologist, having always been curious about how the human mind worked. I looked into her eyes and told her to never give up on that dream – NEVER! I told her to focus on where she was going instead of where she’d been, and to never lose direction in life. I told her to envision herself succeeding at her goal, and it would be the fire in her belly that kept her on the path.
Believe me, I was crying right along with her during our conversation. I’m the motivational speaker, but with each event I speak at I am inspired in equal measure. To see a young girl rise above her terrible past and have the fire within to go after her dreams reminded me of why I do this. I am very proud to report that she has just finished her first year of college. Good for her! She is well on her way to creating her own destiny and becoming everything she was meant to be. It would have been easy for her to quit, and use her terrible past as an excuse for failure: but she has persevered. When life knocked her down, she found the strength to get back up on her feet and keep fighting.
When life knocks you down, you can either be a trier or a crier. The way you respond to challenges determines the level of success you have in life. Our yesterdays do not have to define who we are today. Take a look at this brutally honest video about never letting your past infect your future. Your best days are still ahead of you.
There are a lot of parents in the world that are messing up their child. Parents are responsible for shaping their child’s life. Period! I have seen the effects of a selfish parent who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, and often physically, sexually and mentally abusing their children. The parents mindset puts pleasure before love, inflicts pain before bestowing affection. These parents have given up on the thing that matters most, love. They have found a way to justify giving up. Maybe their parents did the same thing to them and they are carrying out the cycle once more. When parents give up on these innocent children, children often give up too. The child then as low self esteem, lacks confidence and trust, and is all to commonly afraid of giving love unconditionally, burdened as he or she questions their own self worth. I know, I have been there!
As a child that was given up on, dropped off a psychiatric facility when I was 5 years old and then placed in foster care for 13 years, I know about not feeling worthy of love and given up on. That rejection though, it a new vehicle to connection. We are valuable! Sometimes we sell ourselves short and allow others to determine our self worth. I came from a failing background, but once I got past he fear of being a failure as a child, the only way I could go was up. I once heard Dr. Wayne Dyer state “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” How true that is! So what if you have bad habits, lack ambition, or have endured a life of tragedy? We need to think of these situations as life teachers that aid us in improving our character.
Do not hesitate to exercise your will power in order to take the actions necessary to shaping your life the way YOU want. Remember this is your life, not your parents, teachers, friends, church’s, or boss’s. Take control now so that when you are older, you won’t let everyone walk all over you and make you feel like you are not worthy of great things in this life. You are equal to any person, and nobody is better than you. Don’t let your past confine you or define you, it is time to let it refine you. Remember, out of pain, something can become great.
By Derek Clark
Motivational speaker and author of 6 inspirational books.
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