This I Believe

A - Napoleon, Ohio
Entered on December 12, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Change Is Your Choice

Black, white, rich, poor, rude, polite…

I don’t care who you are, you’ve been judged. Everybody gets judged sometime, some more than others. I’m one of those people. I wasn’t raised with the best things. My family isn’t perfect. In fact, my brothers are nowhere near perfect. I was raised by a single mother who struggled financially. My last name does have a reputation, and few let me forget that. I have been judged all my life. I refuse to let that get to me, because, this I believe I can’t change where I came from, but I can choose where I’m going. I can’t choose how others perceive me, but I can TRY to change that.

Throughout middle school, friends rarely came to my house. Their parents heard bad things about my family. It didn’t matter if it was true, few parents trusted me. I was good. I couldn’t understand. When I entered high school, I was once again stereotyped. Kids saw me as a partier, alcoholic, and druggy. Of-course, they only thought I was like that because my brothers were. Wow, untrue.

When I turned 16, I searched and searched for a job. I couldn’t get hired anywhere. A friend who worked where I applied said she overheard the boss saying he wouldn’t hire me. Apparently, he’d heard of my family name and wasn’t going to waste his time. He didn’t know me, how could he make this judgment?

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for three years now. His parents seemed to like me…at least I thought so. About four months ago, I learned otherwise. Until our two-year anniversary, his mom talked bad about me around her office. I wasn’t good enough for him, and my family was a bad influence. She had mad hate for me. However, my hard work paid off. Eventually, she saw me for me. She saw my brother’s names in the newspaper for breaking the law, but she also saw my name in the newspaper for being on the honor roll and volunteering for the Special Olympics. She saw my crappy house and what little money I had, but she also saw my commitment to work. She heard things about my family, but she put that reputation aside.

I don’t do drugs or cause trouble. I’m on the honor roll and make my own car, phone, and insurance payments. I’ve had a job for almost two years; I’m responsible. I never understood why nobody saw that. Now I understand. I must strive to prove myself and show them that I’m not who they think I am.

I can’t sit back and waste away. That’d just give those people who judged me the satisfaction of being right. My goal is to continue to prove all of them wrong. I will be successful.

Because…

It’s not where you came from that matters, but where you choose to go, that in turn WILL change how people perceive you.