Over the course of a few weeks I accepted a management position on my team and was also selected to be featured in an article on my graduate alma mater’s website for the school of business, where I received my Master’s of Business Administration. Not only was featured on their website, but the article was sent to two town papers and my high school. I was and still am truly honored, grateful, appreciative, but most all, humbled by this entire experience. I think it’s important when you’re successful and/or on the rise to recognize and remember where you came from and the trials and tribulations you went through to get to your destination.
You sometimes hear when people become famous or find success other who personally knew them say they’ve changed and now they act like they forgot where they came from. I do feel like some people would rather forget their past, instead of embracing where they came from, but why I’m not sure. In my opinion, without your past you wouldn’t have grown into the person you’re meant to be. Therefore, I want to share 5 of the most important things I gained from my humble beginnings, and how they helped shape and mold be into the woman I am today.
My humble beginnings have helped me gain wisdom over the years through reflection, experience, and imitation. I was born into a middle-class family and was raised by a single mother, to me and later on my little sister. Mostly the older women (grandmother, great aunts) in my family had bachelor degrees and graduate degrees, however they’re offspring were all struggling single women who didn’t finish or go to college and worked long hours with several children. I witnessed my mom struggle to keep me in a good school district, nice place to live, all the while facing the hardships of dealing with a drug addicted husband, work, and two strong-willed little girls.
I knew it wasn’t easy for my mom with me not the most behaved child, often mischievous and a wild-child, and my sister 7 years younger who was unique and bold. Overall, I was pretty good but, I was sassy, strong-willed, short-tempered, and didn’t like to listen, nor did I always respect people in authority, and made some mistakes along the way. But, my mom never gave up on me or my sister. Her strong work ethic, drive, and determination was self-reflected onto me and helped me change myself around. My mom always pushed me to work hard (especially when she knew I could do better), to pick and choose my battles, and learn from my mistakes( both mine and her’s). Now, I make smarter decisions in my life and my son’s, so that he hopefully doesn’t have to go through what I went through and can do better than me. In the end, I’m glad I was able to gain wisdom in my relationships (both love and friendships) and decipher the people who weren’t good for me, to fend and stand up for myself, learn where and who to focus my energy on, and ways to make my self standout in my career.
Fast forward to college, I was having the time of my life. I was doing well in school (for the most part, partying sometimes lol), had met a nice guy (my life partner and father of my child), and had my own car and money. I’d like to think I was doing pretty well for my age. Until…..
I got pregnant my junior year of college. My significant other (that nice guy) and I were not together during my pregnancy and he was in a different state. However, I decided to keep my baby even though I was temporarily left pregnant and alone to finish school and find a job. Fast forward a few months and my son was born and his father (my significant other) and I reconciled. I moved into my own apartment, had a decent job, and was still in college. But, this journey was not easy. I lost friends, gained friends, struggled financially, held several positions where I didn’t care for management, and had to iron out and face problems within my relationship and the unwanted issues that arose from them. Nonetheless, I didn’t allow the negativity or uncomfortable situations in my life to keep me down. I kept pushing and persevered, even though I wanted to get out of character, lose my cool, and sometimes give up and shut down at times.
And, let’s be honest here, females in my situation are not always expected to graduate college or make something of themselves. It’s an unfortunate stereotype, but it’s the sad truth. But, I knew God had bigger plans for me, my son, my relationship, and my career. I wasn’t going to allow the stereotype society placed me in to become true, become a statistic, not make my haters happy. So, I continued to work hard even though I couldn’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel and when I thought hard work wouldn’t pay off. And, although at times my mindset was negative, I fought to remain true to myself and character. I fought to remain positive, faithful, focused, lady-like, and full of joy and good energy. I refused to let my environment or negative people change or have any bearing on who I was destined to become. However, without my past I wouldn’t have grown into the woman I was destined to be and still become.
From my childhood to motherhood, my humble beginnings have caused me to grow in so many ways. I have grown physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I learned how to be more patient with myself and others, to have more forgiveness, love others, believe and have more faith in God and myself, decipher the people who are and aren’t meant to be in my life, to think outside the box, focus on my body, and enjoy the little moments in life. Had I not gone through certain things in my life, I wouldn’t have grown like I did. In the past, I was short-tempered, had little patience, inconsistent faith, and always in a rush. Looking back I can only imagine how far I would’ve gotten had I’d never grown or became a mother. For me, I truly give thanks to God for sending my son, who is truly a miracle. Had I not gotten pregnant so young, I don’t know that I would’ve fought so hard and like grow like I did. I think to myself, “What if I allowed the negative people and experiences in my life, love lost through friendships and relationships, and setbacks keep me at a standstill in life?”. If I didn’t embrace everything I went through and the uncomfortable situations God placed me in, I could have been stagnant, never moving forward. Sometimes God places us in certain situations so that we grow and reach our true potential.
I was a young, pregnant mother who had just graduated college when I first started my career. And, I started off in a position that didn’t make as much money as I would’ve liked, but it was a way for me to get my foot in the door and work my way up to the position I really wanted. However, during those years to build up my career, I experienced the styles of many different people in leadership. And, I say people in leadership because, in my opinion, every one in a leadership role isn’t a leader. I often witnessed people in leadership roles or my peers on the rise throw others under the bus, treat their employees/peers badly, try to get them fired, sabotage those trying to get ahead or keep them stagnant, and not help others get ahead or further than them. But, in spite of liking those in management or their character, I continued to transpire and build myself up for the next position God would bless me with.
But, it’s through those humble beginnings and starting from the bottom that I got to know the true meaning of leadership, so, I could in turn become the leader that I always wanted. Doing that time and in my current leadership role, I learned that leadership isn’t about having a title or being in a management role. Rather, it’s about how a leader leads others into personal growth, change, and opportunity. A true leader shares and communicates a vision, properly executes it, and inspires and motivates others. They share their knowledge and mentor those to achieve an overall goal for the company or organization, while helping them to achieve their personal goals. And, I am happy to say that from my humble beginnings I am using what I’ve learned to be the leader that I always wanted during that time.
Most of all through my humble beginnings, I’ve learned to accept where I came from and use to make me better. All the bad decisions and mistakes I made, the journey I took to get here, I accept it all. I embrace my struggles and who I was because, it enabled me to become who I am today and will continue to shape and mold me into who I will continue to be. I have learned to love, accept, and be proud of what I went through to use it as a testimony to help encourage, inspire, and motivate others. People should never be ashamed of what they went through, because God used that not only to better you, but to help better the lives of others. I believe having a testimony is a blessing to others. It keeps you humble and gives hope to someone else.
So, be proud and not ashamed of where you come from and what you experienced or went through to become the person you are today. It doesn’t matter if you went to college, are a single mom, were in an abusive relationship, were homeless, etc. If you have passion, drive, will, faith, and determination, God will get you to where you’re supposed to be regardless. Use your humble beginnings to inspire others and to keep yourself motivated. Work hard even when no one is looking, do the right thing, and stay positive, and you will be rewarded in the end.
All photo credits: by nkoehelerphotography
I hope you enjoyed this post, learned something new about me, and/or was motivated, encouraged, or inspired. Until next time…