I entered my second decade on this earth a week ago today and I’ve never felt more alive.
I’ve spent my entire life awaiting this age with angst, fear, and excitement all in one. As a child, I saw people reach the age of twenty and fall deeper into the toxicity of the hood.
Without a “teenage” label to fall back on it, it was far too easy to succumb to the temptations of gang violence, pregnancy, and so much more that is notoriously known for holding inner-city youth back.
At the ripe age of twenty years old, my mother had two kids. At times I am stunned at the amount of privilege I have to only worry about myself, while my mother spent her twenties working to support three people. I laugh at how I find myself upset at increasing gas prices or buying my own groceries in college, yet I never heard one complaint from my mother about a penny.
My father on the other hand spent a majority of his twenties incarcerated, exempt from living a full life and raising his children.
The same narrative goes for my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. as they have all been bound to the cyclical nature of our environment.
Witnessing my family’s setbacks and triumphs fueled both my fear and motivation to rise above the world’s expectations of myself and my livelihood.
The world said:
Children of teen mothers are 50% more likely than children of older parents to repeat a grade, are less likely to complete high school than the children of older mothers, and have lower performance on standardized tests.
Children of teen mothers are more likely to be unemployed and to become teenage parents themselves than those born to women who delay childbearing.
Children born to teen mothers are at greater risk of social behavioral problems and are almost three times as likely to be incarcerated during their ado- lescence or early 20s as are the children of older mothers.
And I simply responded, no.
From a young age I was very intuitive to the world around me. I questioned everything and craved knowledge, that of which remains true to this day. Due to this aspect of my personality, I was easily driven by parents words of advice to focus on school and make it far, far, away from Chicago.
This mindset has fueled my academic achievements, social involvement, and my entire livelihood as I strive everyday to not be “better” than where I’m from, but better than what is expected of me.
Going into my 20th year of life, while entering my third year at University is nothing short of amazing. I feel the essence of triumph and conquer creeping up on me, pushing me to keep up the work at hand.
Often times when I speak on my foundation of life, where I’ve been, and what I plan to become, I feel as though I’m parading around on a float of misfortune. It’s easy to look at our individual lives and think that what we’ve been through is nothing short of average as it’s our “normal.”
However, in this second decade of mine I am rebuking that thought process, because for a long time I thought it would be impossible to make it to where I am regardless of the work I put in. I’m sharing all of this to hopefully reach a spirit like mine that is fueled by something greater than what it sees, and that is destined for more than it can believe. You’ll make it.