When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
No matter how hard I run from my past; in the end, I cannot find a hiding spot. This lesson does not settle within me naturally, but it is one I keep learning over and over again. I lived a childhood and early adulthood filled with poverty, conflict, violence, and self-doubt. By 16 years old, I dropped out of high school, and for the next 10 years continued the iterations that create more poverty, more conflict, more violence, and more self-doubt.
I cannot say at 27 I woke up and was different. I did find love, and that did break a lot of barriers and is a privilege I cherish to this day. But, I went back to school and took it all seriously. I was sprinting for progress like no other thinking I could run so far from a horrible past. Do this, and I will not be a high school drop-out anymore. Quit this, and I will not live in poverty. Join this, and I will feel normal. Act this way, and I’ll fake it till I make it. It can all be so oppressive and end the end, I cannot hide from that past no matter what I make better.
Without purposely making the connection, I somehow rigged it so I had to accept and embrace who I am and use it to my advantage. Or, maybe I can stop running. I did not study conflict and violence (diplomacy and human rights) in graduate school because of my history, but the connection cannot be denied. I did not start a program of national service and now looking at my second year because of my past, but the connection cannot be denied. I try not to blame my struggles in self-management and confidence on my past, but the connection cannot be denied.
Accepting I cannot hide from who I am and where I come from is a lesson learned every day. But, things are good, and each day I get better at accepting myself. I am not saying I stopped trying to better myself, or that progress is not important. I am just learning that peace and progress are not necessarily mutually exclusive.