This I Believe

Tracie - Smyrna, Georgia
Entered on August 8, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: setbacks, work

All of my young life I grew up poor. I often lived without the simple pleasures in life, and sometimes without the simple necessities. Winters were far colder, summers far hotter, outgrown cloths, old rusty bikes, and second hand everything. From this I learned what was probably the most important lesson of my life: How to Make Due. Learning to make due is a lost virtue. It makes you appreciate so much, and take so little for granted. I find it a source of strength in those times when I may be tempted by frivolous things that are now attainable by financial security. It helps keep me focused. More importantly it helps me remember the true reason for income. For many people wealth, life and work are all about accumulating things. Things that provide only temporary happiness. Things that define status or style. For me however its about accumulating experiences. Its about learning all you can learn, immersing in other cultures, and simply gaining new and life changing ways to look at life. Its about making a difference in your life, and in the lives of others. In my opinion if you haven’t made a positive impact on those around you then you have wasted your time here, and this life is a limited gift.

Growing up with limited means taught me another valuable lesson. I learned that having a strong work ethic and a thirst to learn everything you can at work, will pull you out of poverty. In fact, it will provide you with a path that will allow you to truly live life. Not just survive, but to love it and thrive in it! My mother tirelessly worked to provide for me. She toiled to develop skills that would make her more employable. Often she worked a second job. The harder she worked, the more rewards she slowly earned. They were few and far between at first, but then someone noticed and valued her perseverance. This was her first break at a career that provided us with security, health benefits, and a chance to plan for a well deserved retirement. A strong work ethic is also a virtue that I hold very close to my heart.

I think that these lessons are what gave me the thirst for life that most of my friends and family would call “adventurous”, as well as my work ethic which gave me the means to quench that thirst. I worked 3 jobs to put myself through college. In 32 years I have had careers ranging from catering and lab technician, to counseling the developmentally disabled and IP engineering. I have studied in Italy, been to the running of the bulls, danced with my family in the Caribbean and spent countless summer days teaching myself to surf.

Life is a precious gift. I believe that the virtues of poverty have made me fully realize that and gave me an insatiable thirst to soak up all of its bountiful goodness.