This I Believe

Tamia - Greenville, North Carolina
Entered on October 2, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

October 2, 2006

I believe that society can either destroy you or motivate you.

When I was a 16 year old high school student, there were many pressures and a lot of negative influence. I was always told that high school was a place to learn and I was suppose to pay attention, listen to my teachers and make excellent grades. I was taught and tutored in order to make sure I was always in good academic standing. But the one thing I was not taught was how to handle the world outside of school.

After school hours are the worse times of the day. During those hours, students are more prone to get into trouble and are easily negatively influenced. I knew exactly what time my mom would call me from work and what time she would be home from work. I would leave home and walk up and down the streets just out of pure boredom. I was surrounded by a world that was not nurturing but was ready to destroy another young person. I would see people that lived on the streets, people who looked like they were using drugs and this one particular person who was schizophrenic.

My walk consisted of my crossing over railroad tracks to the side of town that was notoriously known for frequent violence. One day, as I was taking this walk, I was approached by a young man who did not know me. I had not seen him before. He looked as if he had been living a hard life. He asked me “what is a pretty little girl like you doing walking all alone.” I said “nothing.” He then began to tell me and show me reasons as to why I should not be on his side of town.

The man showed me his arm where he had been shooting heroin and said “this is what the streets will do to you.” He was living in an old abandoned shack with no lights or running water. He was surviving the best way that he could. I had never seen anything like it before. I will never forget him telling me to go home before I ended up doing things that could destroy my life forever. That was an eye opener. It is a cruel world out there. A lot of teenagers end up in trouble and in the streets because they are “bored.” From that day forward I decided that I would not become a statistic. I believe that society can either destroy you or motivate you.