This I Believe

Lalita - Sanford, Florida
Entered on May 24, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: courage, work

Finding Strength in the Unreasonable

I’ve always taken the doubt and criticism of others as a welcome challenge. I love to stand in proud defiance, having accomplished that which no one else thought I could. However, I’ve found that it’s much more difficult to overcome the unspoken limitations I place upon myself. Self-defined boundaries are too easily incorporated into the fabric of reality and taken as truth. Finding these boundaries, and crossing them, is one of the most powerful things you can do. I believe everyone is capable of accomplishing more than they give themselves credit for.

I’ve always been my own harshest critic, having often believed so fervently that I couldn’t do something that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I didn’t think I would finish high school, and proved myself right. I married young, and believed it could never last. Again, my predictions proved true. At twenty, I was single and homeless with a baby. I moved to Colorado to get back on my feet, leaving my two-year-old son in North Carolina with his grandparents. I slept with his little blue t-shirt every night, and cried myself to sleep. I didn’t think I could make it on my own, but for the first time I was motivated by something far stronger than my self-doubt: my love for my son. I couldn’t rationalize to my son that I was too young or too uneducated to support him. The only option was for me to act, to do what I thought I couldn’t.

I applied for a job I never thought I could get, and landed it. I found that my expectations were a poor predictor of my capability. I decided to study for the Special Enrollment Examination to practice before the IRS. I had just six months to study a four thousand page study guide. I was told that even among trained tax preparers, only twenty-five percent of applicants pass on the first try. I had no previous experience with taxation, but decided to take the test anyways. I passed all four parts the first time, and within a few months, I was able to bring my son home.

Since then, defying my own expectations has become a passion of mine. As a working single mother, I didn’t think I could also be a full-time honor student. I was wrong. I never expected that I would keep a 4.0 GPA, but for two years I have. When I applied to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for a full scholarship – one that pays up to $30,000 a year – I never thought I’d win. You know what? I did.

As I develop faith in myself, pushing the envelope has gotten more challenging. I’m absolutely thrilled by the long list of things I supposedly can’t accomplish. For example, it’s completely unreasonable for me to believe I can create a foundation that offers free financial planning and education to every welfare recipient in the nation, but I’m looking forward to proving myself wrong.