By Tania Brown
Our experiences in life can either make us bitter or better.
I learned very early on growing up in inner-city Cleveland, Ohio, the child of a single mother and a drug-addicted father who was in and out of my life.
It’s our choice to either waddle in despair or turn our experiences around and perhaps help someone else find their purpose and overcome obstacles.
For the most part, I had done everything that was expected of me growing up.
I graduated from high school and became a first generation college student.
I knew that if I remained focused, I would succeed. But, life is choice-driven. After college, I pretty much “lived it up,” sometimes recklessly. In 2005, I was 24-years-old, a graduate school dropout, making $6.11 per hour, pregnant and SINGLE.
I cried many nights, wondering how I was going to feed a child earning barely above minimum wage--how I was going to get back on track and reach my full potential? I resolved within myself that being an unwed, single mother was not going to make me bitter—it was going to make me better.
I prayed without ceasing and I searched for work it seemed like 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I never felt sorry for myself. In 2006, just three weeks after having my baby, I found a job where my salary was double of what I made before.
I worked during the day and stayed up most nights taking care of my baby, meditating and praying.
My nearest family was in Cleveland; I could have gone back home with my baby in tow, but I decided I would remain in Montgomery and “stick it out.” I re-enrolled in graduate school when my daughter was about six-months-old.
My coworkers and friends stepped in to keep my baby while I went to school. I earned my Master’s degree in 2008. It was at that time I really started to step into and discover God’s purpose for my life—mentoring and writing.
I began writing on a volunteer basis and in 2012 became the lead writer and editor for President Obama’s campaign in Alabama.
Becoming a parent has changed my life for the good.
Ironically, the job I’ve been doing for the past six years is working with mostly unwed mothers in finding work, getting back in school and most of all getting back on track.
My life’s experiences are the blueprint for who I’m becoming now.
My daughter is watching me so I must lead by example.
Things just didn’t occur by happenstance and I surely didn’t let my circumstances define me.
Even when the deck seems like it’s stacked against us, there is something about that experience that is meant to help us discover who we are and perhaps help someone else.
I live this.