Think about the number of people in prison, on the street, or in any other devastating position. Do you ever think about the life they've lived leading up to their situation? What was the breaking point that brought them to this.
Unfortunately, a lot of people have a very stereotypical viewpoint of these people that they just seem to lump together. Many times I've heard people equate a life of crime or an unsatisfactory life to the way they were brought up. If they were given more support in their childhood, they would have made better choices. They would have been able to make something of their life.
Working in a low income and very trauma informed school, I have learned a lot about these things called ""ACEs."" ACE stands for adverse childhood experiences. These are a variety of things that people have experienced before the age of 18. These experiences are things like abuse in the home, divorce, family members being incarcerated, etc. The score ranges from 0-10 with 0 meaning having none of these adverse experiences. They say the higher the score, the more likely you are no experience more mental, physical, and emotional health problems that lead to problems later in life.
While I strongly believe that these experiences can potentially lead to a confusing and painful time later in life, I also believe there is a possibility to beat the odds. I'm my opinion, a hard childhood doesn't necessarily lead to a life of crime or despair and being a criminal doesn't necessarily mean you had a bad life in your younger days.
Let's set up a scenario.
We are looking at a person with an ACE score of 9. Someone who lived in a run down rental house with their mother, two of their siblings, and occasionally their grandmother. A child who didn't have a bedroom until they were in the sixth grade and has never had a real bed. While their mother worked 4-5 jobs to keep food on the table for her kids and their friends she was raising, they lived without heat, electricity, and other amenities for parts of the year. This person was raised by a single parent, has the definition of a dead-beat father, saw loved ones in and out of jail, was raised dirt floor poor, along with many other experiences.
Take a moment to imagine what this person grew up to be. Every odd was against them from the moment they began their life. Let me tell you how this story has developed so far:
I graduated from high school with a 3.9 GPA, dozens of offers from colleges and universities, and endless amounts scholarship opportunities. I attended a private University with tuition completely paid by scholarships. I got involved in many organizations, inducted into honor societies, and became a leader on campus. I was given many opportunities over my four years, and then graduated Summa Cum Laude - where I won the highest undergraduate award given at graduation for my involvement and accomplishments. I was offered an accepted a job before I graduated where I am currently working today. I am starting classes for my Master's degree soon, have a plan to get my Doctorate soon after, and have career dreams that go way beyond where I am now.
This isn't a post to brag about what I have done in my life. This is a simple story to show that your past does not have to define who you are going to be. There were so many people that counted my siblings and I out because of the way we grew up. In my opinion, we are all doing better than we could have ever imagined. Did we have everything we wanted? Heck no. I took what I was given to me and ran with it. I made the most out of what I had. I didn't sit around and wallow in my own self pity and use my past as an excuse to do whatever I wanted. I was disciplined and understood what it took to be successful and did it.
Be all you can be, not who your past or society says you should be.