Not everyone has happy holidays. When I was a teenager, I was homeless. Even though my family had great Thanksgivings I could go to, I knew that my mother was still a substance abuser, and the next day I would be without family like the rest of the year. No one invited me for any other holidays, so Thanksgiving became both the best and worst day of the year for me.
As an educator, I see my story reflected in many of my students. It’s heartbreaking to realize that not all of these kids have the drive to keep trying. Many of them feel like, ‘Why bother? The world holds me down.’ I always tell them, ‘The only person that holds you back is yourself.’ That is what I used to say to myself in high school. I am not sure how I got the mindset that I am my own navigator, but I know that focus is what brought me here today. Still, the road was full of obstacles and disappointment, but I endured.
Will you always succeed? No! But you will grow and become a better person by learning from what went wrong and trying a different approach next time. Will it be worth it? You won’t always fail, and when you succeed, it’ll feel like climbing the tallest mountain. I roll the dice and take the chance because the satisfaction of success is immeasurable. Just remember to follow Scotty’s famous phrase: ‘I’m givin’ her all she’s got.’ Also, if you are alone today, tomorrow you may not be, and each day is a new opportunity to try.
As we move into the holiday season, I want you to consider that you may have a friend or a family member who, through no fault of their own, is neglected. I struggled for years to find myself. I didn’t turn to drugs, but I did have a long road to travel. Eventually, I became successful, started a family, bought a house—you know, dog and all. Maybe you are like me, or maybe not, but remember there are people who struggle with the holidays.