Saturday, April 7, 2012

Home Again

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Whether inspiring or unsettling, compelling or subtle, my experiences are all precious to me. They are the jewels of my life. My extraordinary experiences have helped to define my life by providing me with insights into the realm of what is possible. This autobiography will summarize some of my most meaningful experiences. Life experiences�both negative and the positive�relate to each other like images on a sweater; each is woven from the same thread or like the yin and the yang. It is both my individuality and my perception of certain events that become the facet of the flow and pattern of my existence. I believe that my experiences in life have made me who I am today.

As long as I can remember, I’ve always had a sense of self-respect and confidence, which I attribute to having a strong family nucleus. All of the experiences Ive had in life and how I chose to deal with them continue to reflect upon the values that were instilled in me at an early age. The things that we tend to say and do usually have a purpose and virtue about them. Of course it is in the eye of the beholder.

My parents were very instrumental in giving me what I thought to be a basic understanding of life, which became vital components in my own personal development. I think as a child the many chores and tasks that I was given were important. My mother would force me to make up my bed every morning. This always bothered me growing up and I felt that it didn’t make sense. After all, I would come home in the evening and mess it up all over again, right? The valuable lesson was self-respect. The fact that my bedroom represented my character and part of the person I would become. That one task every morning is one of the first major responsibilities I had growing up. It taught me how important it is to take care of my surroundings and myself; you never know who may be watching you.

My father would not let me watch television for long periods of time throughout the day. It was important to him that I contributed to something around the house. Whether it be cutting the yard or watching him change the oil in the family car. All of which seemed so senseless to me. As I got older, my frustrations grew. I would be forced to participate in piano lessons, made to go to church every Sunday morning, and take out the trash every week. Of course, not realizing the vital role these tasks would play in the building of my character, soon those responsibilities began to help develop my ability to act independently.

At the age of 15, I was old enough to comprehend and internalize these experiences, so naturally certain things began to make more sense. As a high school student, I began to develop the type of personality that had the ability to blend in with any type of peer group. As I look back, I realize that my family was very instrumental in this process because I carried bits and pieces of valuable knowledge from various points of view and personality characteristics. Some of this wisdom was passed on to me in the form of “ parental training”, and the rest came naturally. While most students found comfort in joining a specific crowd in the hierarchy of high school, I maintained my balance. I didn’t just hang out with my class and age group, or only with the athletic guys. I hung around anyone that I felt comfortable. A trait that I acquired from my father was the ability to be versatile. My father showed me how to effectively assimilate to my surroundings. We would go to African cultural events and mingle with those of African descent, jog-a-thons for Special Olympics sponsored by my mothers company, where I had the chance to talk with the professionals she worked with, and of course the various neighborhood events where I had the chance to network with those who lived around us. My father is very vocal and sociable when he is around people no matter what their nationality or background. This characteristic definitely rubbed off on me and I understood this in high school and embraced it.

I made it a point to talk to any and every one that I came in to contact with in high school, which allowed me to gain popularity amongst most of my peers. I was involved in sports, which reinforced the many jewels that my parents worked so hard to instill in me such as how to have self-discipline, show self-confidence, and work hard at whatever I do. I also learned how to be persistent when I wanted something bad enough and to never give up. A major life lesson that will always be important to me and that has helped me to be successful in life and relationships with others is not to be afraid or embarrassed to rely on teammates or co-workers to help you achieve your goals.

I played football, basketball, and ran track in high school. One of the most significant experiences I can remember is a period in which I had a problem with the authority of the coaches in basketball, which at the time was my favorite sport. I went through a depression because I was unable to get along with the coaches of the basketball teams for both the junior varsity and varsity level therefore I did not get much play time so I quit. I ran into Mr. Marino one of my freshman basketball coaches. He was the type of guy that was good at bringing out the best in everyone and his words of encouragement made my day. He basically told me that I was wasting my talents by not being involved in some kind of sport and that I should look into football or track. Needless to say, I started playing football to fill that void and it was a new environment for me so I had to adapt fast. Playing sports in high school was a big deal in the social arena and I had to make a big first impression coming out. When I initially began playing football I was not ready. I was physically weak against my fellow classmates. This made my social life pretty rough during that time in high school. By the summer of my junior year, I was training with one of the best athletes on the team along with my father, in order to increase my chances of competing at the top level. Every day I woke up that summer early in the morning and either visited the weight room or the track to improve my strength and speed. I learned so much about discipline, courage and commitment and I developed as a young man. At the end of the summer I had gained 0 pounds of muscle and I was faster and quicker than ever before. I experienced a priceless journey during that segment of my life. The determination that I had to reach my goal prepared me for the day that I stepped foot on the field as a senior. I knew that I was ready. That feeling continues to have a big impact on my life.

Another important experience for me was attending church. I’m not a very religious person at this point in my life but I definitely attribute my moral values and outlook on life to my foundation that I had in church. I was raised in the Baptist church and like most African American children; I was forced to attend church as long as I was living in my mother’s house. The philosophy is that Christian Baptist is what my mother was taught and that’s what she knew, so naturally that is what I was taught. It took me a while to respect and embrace my experiences that occurred at church for what they were. At the age of 16, very unique women who I was blessed to have in my life at the time touched me. She was my Sunday school teacher at the time and she taught in a different way. There was something about the way she asked questions and shared stories that opened my mind and inspired me. I attended the regular services and heard many pastors speak but the difference was in the message. She did not enforce any particular religion on me, but instead opened my mind to what made sense as a spiritual human being. She obviously saw the hunger I had for knowledge and later gave me the opportunity to help conduct the Sunday school class. Teaching that class not only developed my comfort ability in speaking in front of my peers, but also taught me various philosophical concepts that would later open my mind to new ideas and give me the desire to explore my heritage as an African American. This experience also prepared me for my next step in life, college.

At this point I felt as though I was ready for anything. I did a good job with handling the pressures of high school and fulfilling what my parents believed to be the best steps in the journey towards adulthood. College was like going to heaven. I was on my own, no real responsibilities and no overseers telling me what to do. College has become the epitome of what discovering your true self is all about and improving it, in other words, personal development. Of course I came to college as a freshmen and enjoyed the many festivities it had to offer, but essentially I received more than just the standard “corporate” education. Spiritually, physically, emotionally, and socially there was more taught to me than one could have ever imagined. If I had to sum up what I have learned from my college experience, it would be I learned the value of patience. You can’t be responsible or truly develop as a human being with out being patient. Understanding that everything happens for a reason and taking what life gives you and using it to your advantage is a major key in life. That lesson has been very valuable to me; through the shaky friendships and relationships I had with different men and women, times of financial problems, etc. I found that when I am patient and let life take its course while remaining positive, it seems to all work out. Because of the path I have chosen, being a student who once dreaded picking up a book, I now enjoy reading. In fact, having a library in my future dream home is something that I feel is essential. I attribute so many of my learning experiences to picking up a variety of books including those that were not assigned by a professor. I also travel out of state twice, sometimes three times a year because I recently discovered that one’s perception of life is a reflection of their environment and so many people have limited imaginations and dreams because they have not taken the time to really see the world. Traveling has expanded that perception for me considerably. My philosophy is that life should be lived like a tree. As long as the environment permits it, a tree will continue to grow until the day it dies.

Personal development, self-respect, working hard at achieving my dreams, loving my family and my heritage, has lead to the confidence that I have today. I will be successful in life and continue to contribute to society in any way that I can. I realize that staying spiritually rooted is very instrumental in making the best of what short lives we have.

Understanding that life is about balance, I’ve dedicated my life to improving my health, being more family orientated, increasing my knowledge of self, and becoming a successful entrepreneur. I would also like to be in a financial position to give back to my community on a consistent basis. I am thankful for what I have learned and experienced and hope that long after I am gone, people will look back and say that I made a difference in their life.

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