In theory, everyone lives their life in search, in confirmation, or in declaration of who they are. Once you find yourself, you should feel a sense of accomplishment and appreciation in knowing who YOU are. It was the summer of 2003, when I realized who I was and who I wanted to be.
In the summer of 2003, I found myself in the toughest predicament I'd ever faced. My roommate and I got an apartment off campus. We were paying bills, living without the rules and restrictions of the college dorm- feeling "grown-up". Everything was going supremely well, until my roommate broke her collarbone and had to go home for the summer. I was left with a large amount of responsibility; more than I dared to tell my family. I decided that going home wasn't an option, and that the only option I had was to suck-up my circumstance and get on the grind.
I was working as an office assistant at Morgan Keegan part time, and I added a night job working as a cashier at Hollywood Video. They called me the "bundle queen", because I was so good at getting people to spend an extra $2.99 for the special bundle package of: two popcorns, one candy, and one soda with the purchase of two movies. Between both jobs, I was working thirteen hours a day. I was somehow able to maintain my bills and my sanity, but it came at a cost and reward.
When I wasn't working, I was likely running. I ran more the summer of 2003 than I had as a high school athlete playing four sports. I ran to release tension and pressure; I found solitude in being completely burnt-out. I enjoyed pushing my body to the limit; it made me feel superior and as if it was all for something. My pride didn't allow me to ask for help from home. I was too stubborn to admit that I needed anything from anybody. I lived off Roman Noodles and cans of Hunts tomatoe sauce that summer; my home recipe for spaghetti. I was approaching the end of the summer, just one more rent payment and light bill to make before my roommate returned, when the worse thing possible happened: I was robbed.
Very few people know this, in fact, I don't think I've ever told anyone in my family until now. Ironically, I was going into the corner store down the street from my apartment to get a money order for rent. An older man seemingly in his early 60's was coming out of the convenient store as I walked inside. The man dropped his bag, and being the person that I am, I bent over to help him pick up his items. The rent money was in my left hand. It happened so fast that I didn't realize my hand was empty until I got to the counter. I immediately panicked and frantically searched outside the store and inside my car. After realizing the money was gone, I sat inside my car outside the store, frozen with pain.
Finally, I begin to think. Realization hit me like a dark cloud on a stormy day. I recalled the man extending his hand to thank me for helping him pick-up his items, and in that moment he'd slid the money from my hand. It was the smoothest robbery anyone could ever have happen to them. Although it wasn't violent, it was the worse way to be stolen from. I was conned; suckered; hoodwinked. I felt young and inexperienced. How could I be so naive?
I went home to my special recipe spaghetti and licked my wounds. I got up the next day, a Sunday, and I applied for an additional job at Kroger. For the last month of the summer, I worked three jobs. I rearranged my bills and paid the most important first, until I could come up with money for the rest. In the mix of my struggle, I was recruited at Hollywood video by the new store manager at Oakley in the Galleria. He happened to be one of the customers I sold a bundle package to. It was his first time in the store, and my last; he offered me a job at Oakley the next morning. Somehow, despite it all, I survived the summer of 2003 and even came out on top.
I remember going home at the tailend of that summer, and my family would make comments about how skinny I'd gotten. Some one even noticed that I was running every night like clock work, and were adamant I'd went to college and lost my mind. I never said a word about my summer "diet" or the robbery. No one needed to know about my tough summer; they just needed to know I was doing alright.
I was hope in a room full of doubters. I had done something that the vast majority of my family had never experienced and likely couldn't fathom. I'd gone off and began to make something of myself, and the pride I felt in knowing I stood for something special in their life superceded anything that I'd gone through that summer. In fact, the summer of 2003 was the summer I became who I am today.
I am ruthless in the face of despair. I will give all of me to stay ahead; to survive. I look at conditions as they are meant to be: non-permanent choices. If you want something bad enough to give your best efforts to it, you'll likely succeed at obtaining it. But, it won't be easy. Nothing worth having ever is. Life can be a battle between you and obstacles. Hold steady and hurdle what's to come, because the finish line makes it all worthwhile. There's no greater accomplishment than the ones we sacrifice for; the ones that come hard are the ones we tend to be the most thankful for.
I am like the little girl smiling in the tree; free spirited and full of life. It's been said that you can see the life people have lived on their face. When I examine the picture of the little girl in the tree, I see the same smile and the same spark in my eyes today. I am still LIVING...