ALL WAYS UP FOUNDATION wrote -
I once had this concrete belief that who I was, was defined by where I originated from, that my future and path weren’t of my own choosing but already shaped before I had the chance to sculpt it. I hadn’t truly known who I was, but accepted what everyone else had deemed me: only a woman. I put “only” in front of woman because it seemed to the people I called family, that a woman had no redeeming qualities other than just being a woman. I would come to learn that this label did not define who I was, or who I had the potential to be. The scowls and biting remarks thrown my way would destroy my self confidence. I would send myself into a frenzy trying to find these horrifying flaws they spotted in me, and one day I found them. I couldn’t distinguish if they were the imperfections that I saw in myself, or just the scorning words of others obscuring my vision. For years this frame of mind held me back, and I felt like everyone else in the world was moving on while I stood motionless. My escape from confinement came in a devastating form. My mother sat me aside and smiled tiredly at me. I could distinctly make out a dullness in her eyes that had never existed before. The source: breast cancer. Suddenly life was wasn’t moving slow enough, it was going fast- too fast. It was baffling, just days before my life consisted of deflecting my tormentors and keeping myself afloat. How would I be of assistance to my mother when I could barely hold myself together? My answer came soon after in a cliché known by all- I could do anything if I only I put my mind to it. So I did, and while descending that murky path I discovered something I had never encountered before- myself. Somewhere along the way, after holding my mother’s hair back on those off days, supporting her frail form, and aiding her on her road to recovery, I had finally sculpted a path of my own. I knew who I was, not just who I yearned to be. I aspired to help people. I came to a conclusion that if I wanted to aid others in the future I should start right there and then. So the hours that weren’t filled with schoolwork were substituted with community service. I joined various groups that advocated social justice and education. Then there were things like raising money for breast cancer awareness, and volunteering at the homeless shelter with members of my club. They seemed so miniscule, yet they presented me with a sense of comfort. I hadn’t felt so at home in my life. I had walked through life oblivious to the potential I held because I let the negativity of others dictate who I was. I allowed myself to believe that I would never amount to anything other than “only” a woman. For years I resented having to overcome the obstacles in my life, choosing to believe that they made life worse. But I came to realize that we all face adversity, and it is in how we deal with those circumstances that truly defines us.