Mali, Central High School
I believe that challenges and obstacles come to teach you lessons. I learned the hard way about the demands and pressures of working at a construction site while I was living in Antigua. My desire to feel independent caused me to drop out of school and seek employment. Shortly after my decision, the harsh reality of the real world set in. Every morning it was the same routine, a schedule that I could never quite get used to. I was confronted with the frustration of waking up at 5:00 in the morning and preparing for another day of challenging work. I did not have the privilege or the freedom to stay home and take a day off for any trivial reason. There were serious consequences that I knew would be attached to my actions. Without a legitimate excuse I could be facing unemployment and I did not want to get fired!
I watched with dissatisfaction as my shift supervisors procrastinated, sat around, and told their workers what to do. Working in the hot sun, lifting heavy steel and cleaning the sites were not a joke for any of us. Every day I would go home from work with a different bruise, exhausted from my daily responsibilities. I was unable to associate with my friends and enjoy a normal social life without worrying about the time. I could not attend any late night parties like my friends did, because in the morning I knew that I would pay for it. Instead I had to sacrifice extra curricular activities to work a 40-hour shift.
After three months of this, I knew that this way of living was not the life that I wanted for myself. This insight led me to identify that seeking my education would provide me with more opportunities and offer a better life for me. I must admit that my past decisions were wrong. I made a terrible mistake; I could not skip my high school education and expect prosperity or a smooth transition into a successful career. I needed to return to my high school and seek my future by learning first. Later that same year I moved back to the United States and focused on being disciplined in my studies. With a better work ethic, I was confident that I would benefit and reach my goals. My studies and academic career, if taken seriously, would open new doors.
I value the lessons that I learned from these past experiences and I will never forget them. I appreciate the men who get up early in the morning, work long hours, and endure hard shifts at construction sites in order to provide for their families. I believe I am fortunate to have learned these lessons at a young age. I believe I still have the opportunity to redeem myself by graduating from high school and going to college. I am looking forward to widening my horizons with college.
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