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As a young child, I followed in the footsteps of others; never making goals of my own or leaving my own impressions on the world. I never believed in the old saying, “You can go anywhere, as long as you set your mind to it.” Believing this, I just skidded through life, not putting the effort into it. Looking back now, I know that if ever ounce of my mind, body, and soul is put into the task at hand, I will go far in life.
Growing up the youngest of four girls, I always looked up to my sisters and wanted to follow their every move. They would always tell me I couldn’t do ‘this’ or ‘that;’ it’s just not possible. Eventually, I began to believe them more and more as time passed. Saying this, I merely accomplished the bare minimum to get by in life. For example, I did very well in school, but I never thought twice of furthering my experience by getting involved and joining extracurricular activities; I lacked the motivation and self-confidence it took to succeed. Instead, I would go home and focus my attention on other forms of entertainment, like television or playing games. As I grew older, I became more and more independent; completing most tasks on my own, away from my family. Although I began to regain my motivation, I still lacked the confidence to strive for better and greater goals.
After I graduated high school, in May 2010, I began working at a chain called Which Wich Superior Sandwiches in Cumming, Georgia. I knew I would like to go to college as well as what I wanted to major in, but I never thought I could afford it, so I put it on the back burner and began to pursue another goal. My next goal wouldn’t be easy either. I wanted to purchase a car. I knew from seeing my oldest sister struggle with car after car that I wanted to be able to pay the total of my car the day I bought it. I knew this would take a lot of saving, but I also knew it would put me one step closer to being free. This thought continued to push me day after day.
My chance had finally come after working day after endless day of eight hour, sometimes 10 hour, shifts for five long months. I woke up early this morning knowing the tasks I wished to complete that day. It was a freezing day on December twenty-third, 2010. My mother and I piled in her car, my debit card in hand. I was nervous yet excited. We were headed to meet up with my uncle so he could give the car one last inspection before the big purchase. After meeting my uncle, we had to make one last stop; the bank. I withdrew the money I needed to purchase my new car and we were finally on the way. We talked, we listened to music, but the twenty-five minutes it took us to arrive at our destination seemed more like an hour. The three of us walked in the front office to consult with the seller. After explaining to him that I would like to purchase the Chevy Cavalier he has parked out front, he continues to pull out some paperwork. After it’s all completed I walked outside for one last look over of my new car before handing over the money. Once I was done, I looked at my mom knowing it was time. I nervously counted out the money for the gentleman; one hundred, two hundred… one thousand and so on until I reached my total amount. He thanked me, and handed me two sets of keys. I couldn’t wait to drive my new car. With a big smile on my face I excitedly opened the door and sat behind the wheel. Placing the key into the ignition and gently turning, it started up with a tender roar. Nothing had ever made me happier than knowing I did this all on my own. This car was all mine; solely in my name, insured by me and paid for one hundred percent by me.
Looking back now, I realize that it doesn’t matter what others tell me I can or can’t do, it solely depends on whether I believe in myself. After purchasing my car I learnt that I can do whatever I wish to in life; all I need is the motivation and courage to go after it. Although I still struggle with self-confidence, I remind myself that if I continue to push myself harder and harder on a daily basis then the goals I can set for myself are limitless. All I need to do to accomplish these goals is to believe in my heart that I will get there and not let anyone take that away from me.
I am privileged. Profoundly, unequivocally privileged, because I was loved from the beginning. And not only loved, I was supported.
Both of my parents were born in Southern India in extremely conservative families. My grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, second cousins and even the dog next door were all exceedingly religious, traditional, sexist, and absolutely cliche-ridden. Now, science may declare that parents pass down most of their traits to their children, but my parents are living proof that not all children inherit their parents’ traits. I mean my parents are nothing like my grandparents. In fact, they’re the exact opposite.
After my parents and I moved from India to the United States, I had an extremely hard time adjusting to the new environment. Even after I started school, I always felt like the odd one out which given some time, began affecting my education. I started to hate learning and going to school. I let down my parents more times than I would like to admit when I was younger. Whether it was being incapable of receiving the grades they wanted, or not working as hard as I should have or lying about working when I wasn’t, my parents still had strong confidence in me from childhood.
Now, unlike my parents, when we occasionally went to India to visit my cousins, I watched the verbal and physical abuse their parents put them through just because they forgot to do a chore, or weren’t the smartest kid in their class. I’m not saying that my aunts and uncles are horrible people who aren’t fit to raise kids. I’m just saying that their style of parenting is a little archaic and quite incompetent. Afterall, the most fundamental thing a parent can do is love, encourage, support and guide their kids to be the best that they can be. Unfortunately, that’s not a familiar concept in India.
I was baffled by the complete, and utter difference between my parents and my cousins’ parents. My aunts and uncles were strict and impatient, while my parents were compassionate and understanding. And in that moment, I truly realized how privileged I was. Later that year, I really pulled myself together and began working really hard at school. I would not only do the homework my teacher assigned, but I would also complete the extra credit problems and stay ahead of the class which for a 5th grader was quite impressive. Before I knew it, I had regained my passion for learning and was hungry for more. I came to school everyday eager to learn and left every day completely satisfied.
Throughout my life, I’ve learned to be happy and look at things in a positive way because that’s how I was raised. I’m passionate, hardworking, ambitious and most of all I have a great family. My family loves to have fun, make jokes, and live life to the absolute fullest. No matter what, my dad has a positive attitude and constantly wants to make others laugh. And my mom has advice for me that I can apply to every aspect of my life. The values my parents cultivated in me have helped me in more ways than one. I have embodied these values in all aspects of my life and they have enabled me to grow as an individual. My parents never restricted my aspirations, but encouraged my to aim higher and attain the greatest achievements in my life. It was because of their support that my life’s philosophy has been anchored on hard work. And for that, I will always be grateful to them.
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