Tell us about personal, social or family challenges you have faced. How have you dealt with them and how have they shaped your thinking?
The only number my mother ever taught me to dial was 9-1-1. And after seeing her on the floor with marks all over her body, I did as she taught me. My most resonating memory when I was 5 years old was of my father walking away handcuffed, not knowing if I would ever see him again. I didn't really understand the impact my actions would have on my life until my responsibilities began mounting. I made the call that locked up my father, and now I had to accept the consequences of my actions. Most boys have a father to guide them to become a man; I had none of that.
Most of my new responsibilities I mastered by trial and error. With countless efforts I learned that bleach does not clean couches, Windex wasn't used to wash dishes and olive oil made the floors extremely slippery. When damages were found around the house, I had to tackle them with the skills of a repairman but the mind of a child. I became the muscle of the house, bringing groceries from the store to my home. I learned how to ride a bike after countless amounts of crashes and learned how to shave after innumerable nicks on my face. At the age of fourteen, while my friends were handing out greetings at the park, I was outside handing out fliers to help my family out financially. I discovered at an early age that life is difficult, but only if you let it beat you down.
Life is full of choices and although many of my adolescent choices were made for me, I now stand a confident man that used his past to propel himself forward. I learned through my experiences that when people depend on me, I must deliver. With trial and error I learned how to adapt to my situations by being tenacious. I realized that everything happens deliberately. I became aware that the actions we take make us who we are in the long run, and I could not be more proud of who I am today- a man, not necessarily in everyone's eyes, but in my own. As Kipling said in the poem If, "If you can fill the unforgiving minute, With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son". And the furniture will be a lot better off.