I live life with an attitude of gratitude. I am constantly pushing for the next thing and the next stage in my life, but I know where I came from.
I remember working my first job fresh out of university, living in a room in a compound with my salary barely covering my rent. I was happy, excited even.
I was out of my parent's house and carving a place for myself in the world. As the last of five significantly older and high-achieving children, I was fiercely independent and eager to show the world who I was.
I remember the exact moment I decided to do my master's. The opposition from family, "you just finished school!" The real questions. "How are you going to fund this? Where will you live?"
I'm like a "dog with a bone." Once I set my mind to something, nothing will stop me.
After finally winning over my family and my girlfriend, I made a plan. After a scholarship of £1500, I would still need to cover course costs of £9000 and my living expenses for two years.
I had to find a way to raise all that money upfront.
So I set to work, canvassing friends and family members. Creating copies of my CV, introduction letter, and grade reports. I walked into businesses to plead my case. Places I had never been before. Sometimes I think back and wonder where I got the cojones it took to do that!
In one instance, I went to a law firm. I had a referral letter to speak to one of the managing partners. Being a bustling law firm, I was told by the receptionist that I would be called when a slot in his calendar opened up. Hence, I deposited myself in the foyer to wait.
It took 4 days.
Every day, I would walk in and sit down and wait. The only times I left were to use the bathroom and step outside to grab a quick bite. Finally, it was time. I walked in, made my case, and walked out with half of what I needed in cash!
I am forever grateful to the man that took a significant chance on me, and to this day, I say thank you and send him a case of his favorite wine every Christmas!
I learned two lessons that day. Be Persistent - stay the course and Be Humble - It takes a village.
Fast forward two years and many tribulations later (maybe a different blog post?) I was in my final year of my master's. I was working full-time and finishing off my master's part-time. My schedule was impossible.
I worked two and a half hours away from home. The university was three hours away from my home and four hours away from my workplace. This meant that I would leave home at 5 am and walk 45mins to catch my first train on a typical day. I would then race across six platforms to catch my connecting train to be at work at 9 am.
I would then do the same in reverse to get home at 10 pm (fewer trains at night). On days where I needed to be at university, I would work on the train and literally spend a whole day traveling.
I was tired and constantly broke.
My girlfriend at the time had a heart of gold because I would fall asleep on the phone regularly due to exhaustion.
Giving up was never an option. I just kept moving forward, one day at a time.
I remember walking home one day tired beyond belief. I stopped at the ATM, hoping to take out £5 out for a taxi as a treat. My legs were jelly that night. When I checked the balance, I owed the bank! My bills had gone out, my visa renewal had been processed. I had nothing. I remember how I felt that moment like it was yesterday.
I was grateful.
I was grateful that I had the opportunity I had. I was grateful to be even in the position that I could pay my bills, that I could live to fight another day. I shrugged my shoulders and forced my feet onwards. I had very little in my fridge that night, but I made do and went to bed.
Fast forward a few more years, graduating with an MSc. in Advanced Computer Science with Distinction and lots more tribulation (yet another blog post :) ).
Things are much different!
I have a family now, and I am grateful that I can provide for them. My children have access to the best the world has to offer.
The fridge and pantry are fully stocked. Every time I hear a complaint about how we are out of the one thing that they ate fifteen billion times, which wasn't restocked automagically, I smile. Every time they complain about piano lessons, I smile.
I am grateful every time I open the door to the house.
I am thankful every time I slide my card into an ATM.
I am grateful every time I lie in bed that I have a place to lay my head.
I am grateful that I stayed the course, and I am thankful to the village that held me up and continues to hold me up.
Year after year, things just keep getting better. I have my writing now, and I might have exciting news soon, but two things still stay with me.
Those lessons I learned years ago are still close to my heart. Be Persistent - stay the course and Be Humble - It takes a village.
No matter where you are in your life's journey, remember, it doesn't matter how long the dark tunnel is. There is always light at the end of any tunnel!
I should know, I found mine!