Gessie Belizaire This Life I Live in Truth

I Could Not Sleep

By March 25, 2017 Life, Love, Relationships, Advice, Self Awareness, Truth

I could not sleep so I am up now writing.  I have not even fully processed my thoughts enough to know what this entry will be about, but I feel moved to write.  It was during the week of March 9th that I found out a college friend of mine suddenly passed away.  It stirred in me some emotions and it even struck in me questions that I would want to ask of myself before that time came.  I was sad that he was gone but glad to have known him.  The out pouring of love that came as a result of his passing was magnificent to witness.  When you do life right and 45 minutes at a time as he would have it, how could you not receive that amount of love! I began to ask of myself, was I living the kind of life that would merit that kind of an outpouring?  After meeting people, how did I make them feel?  Was I leaving a lasting and positive impression on others?  Were just some of the many questions that came rushing in my mind.

At the end of the day when everything is all said and done, I do not want to have to ask for more time with loved ones.  Wait….What?  Please hear me out; I want to live my life so intentionally that family and close friends and spending time with them is my priority.  Many times we get so busy and caught up with life, work, events and things that we begin to race this imaginary clock where more time with loved ones is our wish because we did not make enough time for it while we were living.  Let me tell you something that I learned tonight and continue to learn over and over again.  For everyone out there who is grieving and struggling with loss, know this, “Our God is an intentional God and He makes no mistakes…None.”  I know we may not realize it while we are in the midst of the pain, but just know that God will reveal what he knows through the mercy and grace that he has over our lives.

Even in the midst of our weakness, He is strong.  You will see, God will use us not despite our weaknesses but through our weaknesses.  If …your friend, your significant other, your mother, your sister, your brother, your cousin, your auntie, your uncle, and your etc. has passed and you are at your weakest point just know that beautiful things will come from it.  The Lord/higher power will use us while we are right in the middle of our weakness.  Who knows…Susie’s death may spark in you the desire to do research to find the cure for the disease that took her life, Tyrell’s death may cause you to live your life more intentionally, and Robin’s death may invigorate in you an old passion to sing.  Point is with every dark event like death there is always light to be shown.  There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  The goodness of life will prevail…you just have to believe.  As always I thank you for reading.  Until next time…take care and be true!

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Project: Color me Beautiful – Take Care

By March 18, 2017 Life, Love, Relationships, Advice, Self Awareness, Truth

 

August of 2011 shuck me to the core…I will never forget that time in my life because it was the first time I was hospitalized for an extended period of time.  Diagnosis: Over exhaustion…mental breakdown.

While at the hospital, I could recall looking at myself in the mirror and not liking nor recognizing the image that was staring back at me.  I was looking at a living corpse and sadly I do not understand how I could allow myself to get to that point.  How could I have let myself go so much that I could lose twelve pounds in just one week and allow the stress of it all to dry out my breast milk…. “for goodness sake I was now someone’s mother.”  As I stood in the mirror, wearing me was an old green staff t-shirt from my wonderful days working as a Resident Assistant at the University of Rhode Island and on my bottom were grey Victoria’s Secret leggings.  To my recollection, the leggings were baggy but snug enough that I could see that in between my legs was the biggest thigh gap known to man. I was weighing in at 101 pounds while standing at 5 feet and 2.5 inches.  I remember being told that my discharge was partially contingent on my gaining back the weight that I had lost (no pressure, right?) Again, how did I get to this point?

So what could make a 24 year old experience their first ever mental breakdown do you ask?  If I am being honest with myself, I think it was experiencing so many firsts and changes, some of which dramatic, all at the same time.  In 2011 alone, I gave birth to my first child, went through a bit of postpartum depression, landed my first real full time job, graduated from graduate school with a master’s degree, lived through a house fire, a minor earthquake and being homeless for one month.  I was also feeling many firsts; I felt like I was in a fairly new relationship romantically to be having to do forever with that person as a co-parent when we had yet to master the art of how to fight fairly or to love each other right.  I did not know how to handle all those changes and what others would call major milestones and tragedies in my life all at once.  I don’t think in a lifetime that anyone should have to remember having to dangle their then four month old out of a third floor window just to have the firemen send up a ladder to save his or her family and friends from a raging fire just three weeks after graduating from a master’s program.  To go from extreme happiness and feelings of great accomplishment to being in shock with so many unknowns lingering over your head weeks later was tough.  Although I was grateful to be alive, I just could not stop thinking of how close my newborn, my man, 2 close friends, and I came to the end.

The month after the fire was rather stressful; I was living out of a hotel with my nuclear family and commuting over an hour and a half to my fairly new job.  I was doing my best to keep things together and as normal as possible but slowly I was unraveling and it was all at the risk of my own health.  I was so busy trying to care for others that I stopped caring for myself.  I had forgotten how to eat properly, to exercise and to sleep when needed.  I can just hear Mariah Carey’s song lyrics about needing to get some sleep. “…ohhh I got to get me some sleep…” in my head. I went nearly seven days without sleep before I ended up in the hospital. It is amazing to see first-hand how the lack of sleep can affect your life and health.  I was hearing voices because of it, I was paranoid, and I could no longer take care of myself, my hygiene, or my infant daughter.  I was going crazy literally.  I had to be medically induced to sleep to begin my recovery.

It was in my recovery process; while I was art therapy to be specific, did the concept for Project Color Beautiful come alive.  While coloring and putting together a beautiful collage, I could remember thinking if only I could also color my insides beautifully how much better the world and my life would be.  I wanted to go through a triumphant recovery and I knew I could not do it if I did not look at this as a glass half full rather than a glass half empty experience.  I wanted to find real true purpose in life again; I wanted to gain back the weight; I wanted to recommit my life to taking care of myself…”If I didn’t work, nothing else could.” I believe Dr. Maya Angelou once uttered those same words.  Once I understood that I knew that I could help others to reach a similar understanding through their own stories.  Once I was able to relearn how to take care of myself, I was then able to color myself and my life more beautifully.

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Am I Good Enough?

By March 11, 2017 Life, Love, Relationships, Advice, Self Awareness, Truth

Have you ever felt forced by life to ask yourself, “Am I good enough?”  For one reason or another you may be feeling like you aren’t good enough for him/her; like you aren’t good enough for your parents; like you aren’t good enough for your kids; like you aren’t good enough for your friends; or just plain aren’t good enough for yourself.  You feel inadequate and you don’t quite know why and to top that off you are beating yourself up for every little thing.  If these words are you please keep reading.

Hi Mr., Ms., Mrs. ‘I’m not good enough’ please stop and tell yourself today, no right now, that you are good enough…PERIOD!  You are good enough for him/her, you are good enough for your parents, you are good enough for your kids, you are good enough for your friends, and most importantly you are good enough for yourself.  Please know that, live by that, and breathe that known fact.

I need you to know that feelings of inadequacy are okay if you acknowledge that emotion and learn to move on from it.  To move on from it you must learn to quiet the voices of doubt and learn to replace them with words of affirmation.  Words like I am good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough, will go a long way especially if you are feeling like you are having a bad day.  You cannot just quit when you are feeling inadequate; all the more reason to fight the good fight.

I was once told that for every yin there is a yang and I would like to follow up that phrase by adding that for every bad emotion that you are feeling there is much good emotions waiting to be felt.  Remember that, cling on to that statement, especially if it’s during a moment where you are feeling like a failure.  It will help you to get to a better place where you can receive those good emotions.  Trust me I know I have been there, can write the book, and own the t-shirt to match lol. No but really, on a serious note,  I know that it is going to be hard to imagine getting to a better place when you are going  through the mess but it will be worth it because you have and always will be enough.

Remember always that you are enough.  I wish enough for everyone reading.  I wish you enough laughter to power over the tears in your life.  I wish you enough sun shining days to shelter out the storms that will come in your life.  I wish you enough of everything.

Until next time,

Take care and be true

#thislifeiliveintruth

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Reaction Post: #Hurtbae

By March 4, 2017 Life, Love, Relationships, Advice, Self Awareness, Truth

How many of you have seen the viral video known as #hurtbae this week?  Well if you have not seen it watch it now and I will catch you up to speed.  The video documents real life ex’s Kourtney and Leonard confronting each other about their past hurts in the relationship.  The short video focuses on the constant cheating that happened in the relationship that eventually ended it.  The video depicted a vulnerable Kourtney and a cool, calm and collected Leonard.  Many people including myself felt for the raw emotions we saw #hurtbae displaying, while others could not understand why such a beautiful woman could stand for such blatant disrespect through the constant cheating that she endured at the hands of Leonard.

As far as Leonard is concerned, many thought he was unemotional and just plain right did not care that he hurt Kourtney.  Now look I really don’t want to get in between a relationship amongst strangers I probably will never meet but I do want to talk about the discussion this video has sparked.  I am sure now more than ever we want to know, “why do men cheat?”  Why?

In a psych blog written by Robert Weiss, we find out what some of the real reasons as to why men cheat.  They are as following:

  1. Insecurity – He may feel like he is not enough in many ways i.e.: handsome enough, rich enough, smart enough, powerful enough, etc. Cheating is usually what alleviates any cheaters insecurity because it makes him feel validated, wanted, desired and worthy.
  2. Entitlement – Plain and simple he feels like he deserves something special like a little side action.
  3. Selfishness – His primary concern in the relationship has and will always be himself and himself alone.
  4. Psychological Trauma – There may be unresolved childhood trauma that may have happened to him i.e.: neglect, emotional/physical abuse that has him unable or willing to commit to one person.
  5. Unrealistic Expectations – He has these strong beliefs about his partner that she should fulfill his every desire, sexual and otherwise, 24/7, no matter what. When these strong beliefs are not met, he seeks validation and fulfillment elsewhere.

I could list a few more reasons why men may cheat but I won’t.  What is most important is that we know the main few so as a means to understand a cheater’s reasoning behind their actions.  Most men may never have just one single factor driving their decision to cheat.  And if I am real most women will not care what those reasons are because they will be too involved in the fact that there was trust that was betrayed that they may never get back.  Regardless of why men cheat there needs to be an understanding from those men like Leonard that he did not have to do it.  Period!!!There are and will be other options i.e.: couples therapy, separation, divorce.  Before men like Leonard decide to ruin their integrity and sense of self they should think twice especially considering the #hurtbae result that it produces.

As always I thank you for reading.

Until next time,

Take care and be true.

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Story Time: Family First

By February 25, 2017 Life, Love, Relationships, Advice, Self Awareness, Truth

My family and I recently had a family weekend….it was the first of its kind and I hope not the last.  My cousins, sister, brothers and I got together in Washington, DC for Presidents’ weekend and yours truly hosted everyone, go figure (not go figure I am hosting but go figure DC as the destination for Presidents; weekend).  I am not going to lie; I was a bit nervous about the gathering because I was not quite sure all of our strong personalities would last a whole weekend in a small cramped space together without a blow out of some sort.  I was pleasantly surprised that such a thing did not occur.  We spent the weekend exploring the city going to visit different places; among our many stops was the Holocaust Museum, zoo, lunch on 14th Street, and a night out on U Street, the escape room, and an impromptu photoshoot outside a near graffiti wall.  Truly, it did not matter to me so much what we were doing just as long as we were together.  I got the family to even ride the metro system which was an experience in itself.  Everyone in some way was challenged to get out of their comfort zones or to try i.e. like the metro, something new.

It was a weekend filled with deep and light conversations, laughter, crying, prayer, dancing, eating, and oh did I mention laughter….lots of laughter.  It was quite a sight to see.  Everyone pitched in to clean and to cook in my home and as the host that was very much appreciated.  During the last day/what I would call the last final hours we had a debriefing, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  We all reflected on the weekend to see what we liked, could do better, and learned.  We also took this same time to share with each other what the other is up to in life, which really gave me a chance to sort of get caught up on everybody’s life.

What I learned from the weekend was that I could- type-A personality and all, at times, go with the flow.  Life will call on us to go with the flow at times so we just have to listen to that and keep pushing.  They say the quickest way to make the Lord laugh is to make a plan.  I also realized that I was blessed to have a family that genuinely care about one another and who want to foster deeper meaningful relationships with one another.  I am rich when it comes to family…truly I am.  It’s family first in my book. I am so glad that last weekend happened and I am looking forward to more time with my family  I want to hear from my readers, what does family mean to you?  As always thank you for reading.

 

Until next time,

 

Take care and be true.

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Project: Color Me Beautiful – Scarred, But Still Worth It

By February 18, 2017 Life, Love, Relationships, Advice, Self Awareness, Truth

By: Cindy Jean-Georges

I was good at school and always on the honor roll. I was involved in extracurriculars. My teachers always had great things to say about me during parent-teacher conferences. So in my early teen years, if you had asked me what my biggest goal was, of course I would tell you I had a plan to go to college, major in psychology, and become a therapist. Sounds nice, right? My real goal – make it to 18.

I knew I was depressed when I was 12. It wasn’t your average pre-teen angst or a sad day here and there. No, I felt hopeless, worthless, and had lost count of the number of times I had contemplated suicide. By 16, I was no longer “contemplating” suicide, but picturing it vividly and frequently. My mind was constantly immersed in this fantasy world I created where I no longer felt pain, and more importantly, one where it didn’t matter if I didn’t matter. And believe me, I was convinced with everything in me that I did not matter.

As much as I thought about it, and as many times as I came incredibly close, I never went through with any of my plans to commit suicide. Instead, I found a coping method. Burning. It was quick, it was pain that I could control, and it was easy to explain away. “Oh, I was getting something out of the oven”. “I was reaching for something on the stove”. Lies and more lies. I would take a knife out of the kitchen drawer, turn the stove on, and let the knife heat up. Then I would burn my left arm. I had everyone in my life fooled. Nobody knew that the girl who was constantly cracking jokes would sit in her room with the lights off for hours at a time, rocking back and forth, unable to catch her breath from crying so much. Nobody knew that the girl who was always wearing a smile would utter the words “I hate you” to herself regularly. And nobody knew that the same girl who posted inspirational quotes daily on Facebook also carried around just enough painkillers so that if and when she finally decided that her time had come, she could do what she knew she had to. It worked for years. The problem is that there are only so many burns one can accumulate on one specific body part before people start to wonder if you’re just really clumsy or if something deeper is going on. Most people assumed the latter and with that, my secret was out.

Fast forward a bit, I started seeing a therapist. She was great. She offered perspectives I had never considered and helped me dig deeper into my “I don’t matter” complex. I finally felt like I could vent and release everything I had been holding in for 6 years without feeling like I was being a huge burden. She suggested medication and I was willing to do whatever it took to get better. I wasn’t suddenly cured and my depression didn’t magically disappear, but I was able to manage. I was able to think clearly. A bad grade or a fight with a friend didn’t have me reaching for a knife and turning on the stove anymore. I was no longer sitting alone, in the dark for hours on end. I wasn’t all the way there yet, but I could tell I was on my way to realizing that I did matter. I was worth it. And guess what – I made it to 18! With that, I knew I had a story to tell. Sure, it was still being written, but I was making progress.

I think what’s so beautiful about this thing called progress is that you can still slip and fall. Lord knows I did. But then you get back up and you keep going. You keep pushing. Having a slip up or a relapse doesn’t erase the progress you’ve made. It just means you’re human. In my journey to a healthier Cindy, I certainly made mistakes. After each one, I had to remind myself that I was still worth it. My burn scars prove that I’m capable of progress and capable of overcoming. I’m capable of turning something I thought would be the end of me into a story I want to share with anyone who needs to hear it. I suddenly realized that my story was worth sharing because it matters. And it matters, because I matter.

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How to Overcome Rejection?

By February 11, 2017 Life, Love, Relationships, Advice, Self Awareness, Truth

Who we are when we succeed is great but what is even greater to see is who we are in the midst of rejection.  ~Gessie Belizaire

Rejection, we have all been there right and it has made us do one of two things: it can make us not want to try again or it can give us the strength to try again.  No matter which way you choose to look at rejection, it is going to hurt and there really is no pretty way to put it, “Rejection sucks!”  But do you want to know what has the potential to not suck is who you choose to be in the midst of rejection.  Will you choose to be mentally strong and use that pain to grow stronger and better…or not?  Rejection will happen in life and maybe even one hundred times but the real question becomes how you will handle it when it can be the very thing that determines your entire course for your future.  I want to share a list of 5 ways that mentally strong people overcome rejection in hopes that it will help you.

  1. Acknowledge ones emotions

They face and acknowledge their emotions head on, which is a crucial part of coping with their discomfort in a healthy manner.

  1. They see rejection as proof that their pushing boundaries

Mentally strong people are unafraid to go for the things in life that are outside of their comfort zone, even if it may be a long shot.  Being rejected every now and again is healthy because it is a clear indication that you are living life to the fullest.

  1. They treat self with kindness

Rather than listen to the negative self-talk in their head, they quiet the noise with helpful mantras that will keep them mentally strong.

  1. They have great perspective on rejection

Mentally strong people are not quick to make generalizations based on when they are rejected.  If one company turns them down, they do not make declarations about themselves that they are incompetent.  A single opinion or incident should never define who you are.

  1. They learn from the act of rejection

Mentally strong people almost always ask themselves, “What did I gain from this?” so as to learn from the rejection.  With each painful rejection comes the opportunity for self-growth and a chance to be better.

Rejection can be a good teacher if you allow it to be.  Rejection can teach you about taking the time to learn about areas in your life that need improvement, or about coming to realize that rejection is not so bad.  No matter what rejection has or is teaching you, use rejection as a fuel to propel you to move forward in wisdom. As always thank you for reading.  Until next time take care and be true.

#thislifeiliveintruth

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Happy Black History Month Yall!

By February 4, 2017 Life, Love, Relationships, Advice, Self Awareness, Truth

Happy Black History month yall! I am so glad that I get to share this beautiful month with you that never really ends and is more than just one month.  During this Black History month we’re going to focus on the truth; the real, undeniable, unshaken truth and we are also going to falsify lies like the false narrative that Black history began with slavery, ended with the Obamas, and is a privilege that Blacks get to enjoy.  It is instead a right….a right to tell the truth about how we are woven into the fabric of the American dream/history.

As I look back at my childhood, I can remember growing up in school and being fed lies on top of lies about my history.  So much of what I learned was taught to me in a very “hurry up let us get this part of the syllabus over with” fashion.  Most of what I learned about my history was about slavery.  I began to think, surely, there is more to my history than this.  I remember the intention that I felt was being pressed upon me was meant to leave me feeling sad, hopeless, inferior, ashamed, and downright angry.  I wanted to believe that there was more to my history than suffering.  What happened to the feeling of pride that many other cultures, nationalities, and races had towards their history.  It wasn’t until I got to college did I really begin to learn and be taught about my history and Black history.  In my discovery, I learned that I was being robbed, all these years, of my joy, my pride, and my magic…there was so much history out there about my history that would make anyone proud.

I did not know growing up that I was born to a group of people who had the largest and most successful slave rebellion in the Western hemisphere.  The Haitian revolution inspired the birth of many simultaneous Revolutionary movements. AND YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT….IT DOES NOT END THERE.

Did you know that before there was a Rosa Parks, there was a Claudette Colvin.  There were several women before Rosa Parks who refused to give up there seat on a bus and among them was none other than Claudette Colvin. Nine months before Rosa Parks launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott, on March 2, 1955, the fifteen year old schoolgirl refused to give up her seat to sit in the back of the bus.  She was jailed because of it, and she and four other women challenged the segregation law in court in the Browder V. Gayle court case which later became the court case that successfully overturned bus segregation laws in both Montgomery and Alabama. (pbs.org)

I wish I knew of this story in history when I was a teenage girl going through that awkward phase in life.  And not really feeling like I belonged anywhere, if I had known that a teenager could be so fearless, I probably would have challenged my younger self to be braver and less afraid of the unknown.   Had I also known about Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives and the first female candidate for president in 1972 of the United States,  maybe I would be well on my way to becoming the first Black female President.  Or had I known about Dr. Mae Jemison, who in 1992 became the first African American woman to go into space aboard the space shuttle, Endeavor.  Where in a 8 day session Jemison worked with U.S. and Japanese researchers, and was a co-investigator on a bone cell experiment, who knows where I would be.  The sky seems to be my only limit.   It is important for everyone including our youth to learn about Black history because it is a part of American History.  We have to understand and early on that black girl magic is real, that black excellence is real, that black unity is real, and that black wealth is in fact real.  If we do not believe in that than well stand for anything and everything that is not the truth.  As always I thank you for reading.  Until next time, take care and be true.

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When It’s Your time, IT IS YOUR TIME!

By January 28, 2017 Life, Love, Relationships, Advice, Self Awareness, Truth

I woke up this morning not knowing what today’s blog post was going to be about.  I asked myself, “What do you want to tell the world that you have recently told yourself…maybe even more than once.”  And then suddenly I had that ‘ah hah’ moment that Oprah is famous coining.

…..

Did you know that when the Lord or a higher power says it’s your time IT IS YOUR TIME! Just Believe!

So you got passed up on that promotion at work that you knew you deserved…..Unfair right?  Wrong, it was not your time.  You got to believe that He or something is preparing you for something greater…….Just believe.  What could be greater than a promotion do you ask?  Could be a new role is being created for you somewhere else that you do not already know about.  You have got to trust and to have faith that everything will work out in the end.  Patience is in fact a virtue.

It is true, Patience is in fact a virtue, when it’s your time IT IS YOUR TIME! Just Believe!  I spent the last year and a half living in a “big, small” city; I call it, without a vehicle living that motto.  To get, a now, six year old daughter to and from school, to get myself to work from DC to Maryland, to running errands on the weekend: laundry and groceries, and to going to church all on foot, by bus, metro, oh and thank goodness for Uber.  I remember on days when the weather was below zero, or it was down pouring rain that I just could not do this for one more day, but then another day came and left that I had braved that showed me that I could do it.  I did it for one year in a half and after spending thousands of dollars on Uber, and wearing out many shoes, and braving the elements of the weather I finally got myself a car.  It took patience to get to that point.  I thought I was going to get a car many a times but it just was not my time at the time.  But I will tell you this, “when it was my time, the Lord did things for me that I never thought imaginable just so I could get the car.”  For one my credit to get a car wasn’t so great, but that did not matter.  He was able to help me to find a car dealership that specialized with people with bad/fair credit.  I was told that my interest would be high, my monthly would be high, and my down payment would be high but none of those things were true and thank goodness for that. I remember saying a prayer while I was at the dealership to help me to get a great deal and to dispel all these so called facts and He did just that for me.

He can do it for you too.  Something that you believe in can do that for you too.  If you find yourself losing faith and losing the patience to go on just know and trust that when it’s your time IT IS YOUR TIME.  Believe it!  Say it over and over again until you do in fact trust it.  Everything will work out in the end ….you just have to be patient to get to that point to see it.

As always I thank you for reading.  Until next time, take care and be true.

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Project: Color Me Beautiful – Show Yourself Strong

By January 22, 2017 Life, Love, Relationships, Advice, Self Awareness, Truth

By: Marlene Baumann

I knew since I was a little girl what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to work with children. I grew up in a Haitian home, so my mother desired for me to be a nurse or a doctor, so to make her happy and to keep my dream of working with children, I decided I wanted to be a Pediatrician. When I was in my Junior year in High School I went with my godson to one of his appointments and they gave him a shot. He cried, and I held him in tears, it was in that moment I realized I did not have the heart to give children shots. I told my mother that I would be a teacher. She was not upset or disappointed because she saw how passionate I was about children.  I went to school in South Lancaster, MA, Atlantic Union College was the name of the school. It was a very small private school in the middle of nowhere and I did not know anyone there. I was not prepared at all for college. I was the first in my family to attend college; I was not aware of tuition, board, fees, how to register for my classes, textbooks, meal plans etc. I just knew I needed a degree to become successful so that my mother’s move to America was not in vain.

I could not afford all my books so I would borrow my colleague’s books and make copies when needed. I couldn’t afford my school bill; I had to do work study. Speaking of study, I did not know how to study. I never set a time out in my day to read, to study or to review. I literally would read before or during class. I remember my teachers saying that I have so much potential because my papers were excellent (but almost always late) and I could talk my heart away during discussions. I had the aspirations of being an awesome teacher but with the habits of a awful student. I left Atlantic Union College after Spring 2008 semester because of a bad break up. I did not see myself ever going back to school there (as long as my ex was there) So I enrolled at the Community College of RI. I went to some classes before realizing that the work load was too much and working and trying to keep a social life to distract me from my broken heart. I started to hang out with friends who knew how to study and I took advantage of that; I started to create good study habits.

Finals came around and I remember leaving class with excitement and confidence because I knew I just aced my first final. I received a phone call from my brother saying that, “Luis Perez died” I knew he had a friend named Luis Perez so I said, “Oh no Ben I’m so sorry to hear that. He responded, “Not my friend Luis Perez, your Luis Perez.” My heart dropped, I pulled off to the side of the highway and called Luis’s mother. She picked up only crying on the line. My heart broke into pieces. Luis Perez was my high school best friend; I was the first friend he made when he moved from New York to Rhode Island. I missed the rest of my finals because I was mourning. I never made those exams up. I failed that semester. I decided not to go back. I realized I did not want to be in Rhode Island any longer. I decided to go back to Atlantic Union College in Spring 2011. When I registered for classes, I was determined to get better grades, that this would be my chance to start over and graduate. When I returned to AUC, there were a lot of rumors that the school was going bankrupt, that we were losing our accreditation, and that we were not going to be able to finish our degrees. I was so afraid I was not going to finish school,  but our President assured us that no such thing would take place. Summer of 2011, I received a letter saying that AUC was closed down and that we could not return back to school that Fall. They gave us options of going to school in Maryland, Michigan and Tennessee. I chose Maryland because it was the closest to home

When I moved to Maryland, I slept in my car for one week before the dorms let me in. The dorm administrators told me they could not let me stay a week early. I would go inside the dorm every morning to shower and get ready for the day. I would drive around looking for jobs. I found one, a really good job that I would go on to work for, for the next six years. When the semester started I quickly realized how hard this was going to be. I had to work to pay school and to take care of my other bills. I couldn’t afford to live in the dorm. I had to move out, so I lived in a basement at a home daycare center. I began working for them, working for my daytime teaching job, babysitting, hosting children’s birthday parties and going to school full time. I was always tired, my health was declining I could feel it. I worked so much that my grades suffered. I knew what I was being taught, it’s just that I missed class because of work, or I turned in my papers late or not at all. I looked like an awful student again and it hurt me. This went on for four years. I watched my younger brother graduate before me. I watched my best friend graduate before me. I watched all the younger kids I knew graduate before me. Watching everyone do it except for me made me feel hopeless. In 2015 my mother fell ill, she lost her home of 18 years! I went to Rhode Island, packed up the house into a truck, and moved my mother, sister, niece and nephew into my two-bedroom apartment. I continued to work hard, stressed every day and just angry at life.

To top everything off, I found out that I maxed out my federal loans, I could not afford school out of pocket. I was truly depressed. This was the only topic that could instantly bring tears to my eyes-not being able to graduate. I did not know this at the time, but many people wanted to see me graduate. A family that I babysat for, for years wrote me a generous check, my church Metropolitan SDA, and generous friends helped out by creating a Go Fund Me account; they all pitched in to help me financially. The school accepted me back in and I was able to graduate in just two semesters. That morning while driving to the ceremony, I began to cry in the car as I was talking to God. I was reminiscing back on my journey, all the pain, tears, rejection and shame, I finally made it. My mother’s move to America was not in vain. I didn’t walk across that stage, danced across the stage May 2016. I learned that persistence is so important to becoming successful, hope is vital for survival and prayer will change everything. My best friend told me that graduating college was not a race, it was a marathon. I remembered that every time I had an exam, a difficult time registering for classes or a block in the road. Don’t ever give up, there will always be a way even if you can’t see it.    

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