I didn’t choose my family, but I chose to live. My commencement of life experience started in North Philadelphia.
I lived in a neighborhood overwhelmed with crime and often ignored by the police. The economic struggle was severe and I wasn’t a stranger to it.
Unemployment and underemployment was high. People said that you were lucky if you had a full-time job, even if you were working for McDonald’s.
My parents weren’t great role models. My father was a religious hypocrite and my mother had an entitlement mentality. I don’t hate my parents. Unfortunately, they chose a bad time to be parents.
I have an older brother that I thought it would end up being a professional backup dancer. He was such a talented dancer, but he allowed adversity to damage his self-esteem.
My mother and father argued so much that I believed that they hated each other. There were many times that I had to live away from them because it wasn’t a healthy environment for a child.
I did well in elementary and middle school. I enjoyed being in school more than being with my parents.
School was the safest place for me. My parents were yelling at each other at such volume that the other neighbors heard them. The streets of North Philadelphia weren’t safer either. I always worried about the frequent sounds of gunshots.
When I started high school, school wasn’t the safest place anymore. My new home felt like home. I was 16-year-old high school student that rented a friend’s studio apartment. I also had a near full-time job at Dunkin Donuts.
Public high school wasn’t very helpful. Problematic students prevented my teachers from teaching for most of the class. Once the teachers neutralized the situation, the teachers had about 10 minutes to teach their class.
Whenever I wasn’t working or at school, I was at the public library. I was spending about 10 hours there every week because I had to go to school to learn almost nothing.
I would browse through my high school textbooks and make notes to study at the library. In addition, I read books about business fundamentals and career development.
Due to the economic challenges in the ghetto, I was giving free career advice to my neighbors. Some advice was good and some wasn’t as good, but I did my best.
After a year, I started to become popular. People were telling others that they knew a person who could help with their problem. I still laugh about it sometimes because the people in need were expecting an adult to help them. Some people laughed when they saw me. They couldn’t believe that their friends suggested a teenager to help them.
My neighbors believed that I was the most promising teenager to succeed from the ghetto. I graduated from high school and got accepted to attend Penn State University.
Fifteen years later, I still have that eager desire to help people to reach the finish line in their careers.
In 2014, I authored Reaching The Finish Line: A Practical Guide to Discovering the Champion in You. The book became a #1 bestseller in Mexico.
I recognized that there are people in the world that can’t afford a book because their weekly wages equal the cost of a book. So, I partnered with Library for All to give away the book to Haitian and African communities.
Recently, I donated my second book, Reaching The Finish Line: How to Thrive in the Generation Y Era, to the non-profit organization, NABU.ORG. They host a library for Rwandans, Congolese, and Haitians.
Those countries have limited access to local language books. As a consequence, people can’t learn how to read in their native language.
For some people, it’ll be a great resource to help them to become literate. For other people, it’ll be a great resource to help them to be better citizens and achieve great things.
I’m writing a career book to release in the first quarter of next year. I’m trying to raise global awareness with my campaign about the job dissatisfaction epidemic. With some financial luck, I’ll publish the book and sell enough copies to pay for translations and distribution to serve developing countries in multiple formats.
I wish that I had a better childhood, but I didn’t choose my family. Instead, I chose to live a life with meaning. I’ll never be Batman, but I’ll always be a hero to some people.
This article was originally published on Medium and republished here with the author’s permission.