As a child raised in foster care, people made snap judgments about me. When I was officially adopted at the age of 14, the school guidance counselor told my new adoptive parents, not to invest too much in me–because I’d be lucky to grow up to get a job at a Burger King. She also told them to not expect me to go to college–’my kind’ didn’t go to college.
There was another time that I babysat for this woman’s children (horrible brats, by the way) for a year. One day, I told her “Well, in that foster home, the mother used to do that.” The lady really overreacted, and said, “You grew up in foster care? I didn’t know that! Get out of my house – you probably have been stealing my stuff this whole time and hurting my children!” As an adult, I think she wanted an excuse not to pay me the money she had owed me for months – but as a young person, I didn’t understand her cruelty.
These things honestly happened to me. Of course I cried about the mean things that people had said (remember, I was a child), and for a while believed that they must be right–that I shouldn’t expect too much of life because of where I came from.
Was I destined to be a thug because I had incapable parents? It took a long time to change my own opinion about myself from the way that people had treated me.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
- It doesn’t matter where you come from – it matters who you are now.
- You should never let other people’s opinions about your ‘worth’ color your own destiny.
- If you value yourself, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
- Being a compassionate person who works hard for the money they earn, is better than being a millionaire who is emotionally bankrupt.
- No one is better than anyone else. We are all equals, with different talents and resources.
- There is no job that you are not worthy of doing or having.
- All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
- You are not your mother, or your father, or the city you grew up in, or the environment you grew up in. You should strive to be the best of the things that you’ve learned, and leave the negatives in the past where they belong.
- An honest person is someone who never lies to themselves.
- When in doubt, give the benefit of the doubt.
- Strive to see the best in everything, and in everyone–when bad things happen, never give up hope.
- Watch your words. Negative words can have a bigger impact than you can imagine. So can positive words.
- Always try to be a person that you would want someone to look up to.
I don’t care where you come from, whether from the best, or the worst, or somewhere in between. Never let someone else dictate to you your own destiny.
For more on this subject, check out one of my favorite life-altering poems: The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer