Just the other day, I was helping my mom file some of her paperwork and stumbled across this essay that I, with the help of my lovely mother, wrote back in 2012. I was just 15 years old at the time, applying to a program called PSEO here in Minnesota. It’s a program where you could attend actual college classes as a high school student, allowing you to earn both college & high school credit at the same time.
Being the type of person that I am, I wanted to go all in or not go at all (I still struggle with this all or nothing mindset to this day, haha). Thus, since I knew I didn’t want to go to any community college around here, I decided to apply only to the University of Minnesota. I’m not trying to say that there is anything wrong with community college at all, I fully embrace it and think it’s so smart to go there first, if possible, to save money. I just didn’t want to go through the application process for each and every college when I knew I had my heart set out to be a Gopher.
The application process was without a doubt, rigorous & time-consuming. I’m still beyond thankful every time I think of this, for my eighth grade teacher who pulled my mom aside to inform her about this program and for my parents who encouraged me to try because Lord knows that as a 15 year old, I definitely believed I had other important priorities. One part of the application process was to write an essay from a list of topics that they provided. This was my essay:
Evaluate A Significant Experience And It’s Impact On You
At one point or another, every person will go through at least one significant experience that will impact their life. Whether the experience is positive or negative, their life will no longer be the same.
This past year was not a typical year for me. It was as if I woke up to someone else’s life. All that I kept hearing was: economic crisis, economic decline, housing market crashing, and foreclosures increasing. These words had no real impact on me until the day I realized that the crisis impacted my family as much as it did other families.
The future seemed uncertain for us. My dad lost his job, and my mom’s salon was barely surviving. Even though they tried to cut spending as much as possible, their entire savings were depleted. My parents tried to prepare me as they realized that the possibility of us keeping our home was very slim.
All that I knew to be normal was instantly stripped away. The daunting reality that there was not one thing that I could do to change the situation that we were in. Within moments, it seemed like bankruptcies, foreclosures, and divorces became a reality within my circle of family and friends. I watched helplessly as families were ripped apart because material possessions were no longer there. Happiness, joy, and peace of mind were instead replaced by anger, bitterness, and blame.
I understood that there will be situations that are out of my control, but what I could control was how I reacted to these situations. Many react to these situations by getting angry, upset, or even drown in self-pity. Instead, I decided to react to the situation by realizing that everything truly does happen for a reason.
The two golden rules that my family live by during difficult times are: it’s only a bump in the road, and always try to see the glass as half-full instead of half-empty. As we pulled out of the hard times, I realized that through difficult times, we learned to be strong by leaning on one another’s strength. We encouraged each other to look into the future. We knew that situations can always be worse, and difficult times will pass. Our family survived because we understood that material things come and go, but family will always be there. What truly mattered was that we made it though because we wanted to remain a family.
This experience, as difficult as it was, ultimately had a positive impact on me. I discovered a new aspiration for my life. Focus on three things: Hope, Faith, and Love. I should always have a dream, a vision, or a goal, because it’s a map that shows a destination. This gives me Hope. Possibilities are endless and I believe that whatever I put my mind to, I will succeed. This comes from having Faith. I will strive to do everything out of compassion for others and remember that the simple acts of kindness can change a person’s entire outlook on life. This is because of Love.
This was the first time I’ve re-read this essay since I’ve written it. It’s mind-blowing to me how a piece of paper could stir up so many emotions. This essay allowed me, a naive 16-year old at the time, to attend the University of Minnesota, my dream school, back in the Fall of 2012. That opened up so many doors for me and brought with it countless incredible college experiences that I will forever hold so dearly in my heart.
Revisiting this essay again just made me think back to all of the challenges that my family went through that year. I think that oftentimes I try to tuck these memories away and almost force myself to forget (?) that it ever happened, because it just wasn’t an easy time in our lives. I reminisce now with complete gratitude. Grateful for my parents for instilling this positive mindset in me from such a young age, grateful for my family for the unconditional love, and honestly, grateful for the difficult times, because it made us stronger as a family.
As we prepare for the unforeseeable future ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic, coming across this essay also helped ground me as a reminder of what’s most important as we are presented with the uncertainty.
Throughout any of these hardships though, I always find myself having an even greater appreciation for family. I feel so incredibly blessed, and my heart is so full knowing the endless love & support we have for one another. When you get a chance friends, remember to hold your loved ones just a little tighter. I know I will.