I have an unusual ego. I always have. It probably borders healthy confidence and a hint of arrogance. I try to avoid the ladder, but it comes out occasionally. I think it was all born out of my Mother treating me truly special growing up. See, before I was born two things happened that make my birth somewhat unique.
The first thing was that the doctor told my mother it was unlikely she would ever be able to have children. At least this is what I’ve been told.
The second thing is that my Mother was in a terrible car accident about 6 months prior to becoming pregnant with me. The car accident left my Mother paralyzed from the waist down. It was a hit-and-run.
Still, to my parents surprise my Mother became pregnant and out popped a tiny 6 lbs 3 oz me. So throughout my childhood my Mother planted seeds of “you are special” in my tiny brain and there it grew. It’s a good thing too because I would need that later.
We were poor growing up. We lived in a bad neighborhood where drugs and violence were accessible to anyone who cared enough to ask for it. I learned to accept certain things that when I look back now it seems almost unbelievable.
I remember being fed alcohol before I was a teenager. I remember being taken to convenient store trips to steal as much merchandise as possible – then being praised for it by my parents later. I remember my dad growing marijuana plants in the woods and taking me to see them. I remember the pills, the cocaine, the fights… None of it took hold of me though and I’m not sure why.
No one was there to prevent me from doing the drugs, from committing a crime, or making the wrong friends – somehow I managed to hover just on the outskirts of it all. I also managed to maintain a freakish confidence that everything would be okay.
It’s not that I didn’t have my problems. My Father when to jail a few times, my Mom was mentally unstable with a little too much frequency, and events that would undoubtedly shatter a young man’s psyche somehow spared me. To this day I’m not sure what separates me from the countless others who gave in. I don’t know why.
I always knew it would be alright in the end. Maybe it’s just the expectations I set for myself. Maybe I was just lucky and ignorant enough to believe it. Maybe part of it was just believing it at all. Maybe that’s the key – having something you believe in – especially when that something is yourself. Believing leads to determination and determination drives hard work and eventually success. Eventually someone will notice and then you’ve made it. Perhaps confidence in general is a self fulfilling prophecy.
But how do you convince a young person to believe in themselves – to have the belief that it will all turn out okay in the end. How do you teach them to make the right decisions that will keep them out of trouble. How do you teach them morality and ethics when there is no discernible roll-model to learn from? Who teaches a child in these situations the subtle social interactions which makes them successful? Why did I pick up these skills when others didn’t?
I know people who were given every opportunity, but failed. They failed by their own doing. I also know individuals who conquered adversity despite it all. What is it that differentiates the successful from the unsuccessful? It has to be something in that person, I’m convinced.
Something in that person that refuses to give up. That refused to accept less than the expectations one has set for oneself. Sometimes you just set the bar for yourself and decide there is no lowering it – no matter what. I’m not sure why some people do this and others do not. But it seems to me that makes all the difference.