Transformational Personal Experience

927 words | 4 page(s)

I am fortunate to have had an amazing upbringing. Not only I have always been surrounded by loving parents and caring siblings but have also enjoyed access to all the resources that ensure healthy growth in terms of learning and education. As a result, I have generally been a good student which should not come as a fact because I have never had to worry about anything besides studies. My parents also worked hard in instilling the belief in me that in America our destiny is not handed out to us but instead we create our own destiny. In other words, our actions determine our present and future. Young children tend to place huge trust on their parents and as a result, often blindly believe whatever they are preached. I took the claim that everyone builds his/her own destiny to heart and started judging everyone by this rule. But I eventually learnt that while we do have the power to shape our destiny, we cannot underestimate the influence of out-of-control factors in shaping our future.

I went to a public middle school with a significant proportion of students from low-income background. These students often came from minority groups, mainly African Americans. One of the African American students in the class was Joshua who would often sleep in the class and had a regular history of missing assignments as well as performing poor on the tests. In middle school, I held strongly to the belief that the academic conduct of the students in school reflects their attitude towards life. Thus, I judged students like Joshua as merely irresponsible individuals who were least bit concerned about the future. In my mind, if Joshua wanted he could have been a good student with a bright future ahead but he probably didn’t care. Over time, I also came to know that Joshua was living with his aunt since his parents had divorced when he was only six years old. Even though I did feel a bit of sympathy for Joshua, I dismissed the fact that this difficult childhood could be the reason behind Joshua’s struggles in academics.

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Soon an event would occur in my life that would help me better understand individuals like Joshua. I was extremely closely to my maternal grandmother who passed away at the age of 72 while I was still in middle school. I had experienced all kind of emotions by then but not depression because this was the first time I had lost someone I was so close to. The depression even started negatively affecting my studies. Despite having a loving and caring family and all the emotional support, it took me about two months to finally deal with the loss and return to my normal life. Sometimes they say that even bad experiences have certain positive sides and this experience helped me become less judgmental towards others.

One of the lessons I learnt from this experience is that we should not judge others unless we have walked in the same shoes as others. This realization gave me the courage to put myself in Joshua’s shoes and just imagining myself in Joshua’s place was a frightening thought. At that moment I knew I had really been overestimating myself all my life when it comes to academic achievements because I had been very lucky in being born and raised under the ideal circumstances while Joshua was not. If I were in Joshua’s place, I might have performed even poorly in academics than Joshua. I didn’t only develop respect for individuals from low-income background but also decided I would do something personally to help improve the status of such individuals.

Actions speak louder than words and I wanted to convince myself I had changed and become less judgmental. As a result, I became friends with Joshua and started to learn more about his background. As I learnt more, I realized Joshua indeed wanted to succeed but the conditions at home were not ideal. As a result, he would often sleep late which explained why I would find him sleeping in the class. Joshua also told me he tries to focus in class but his mind often wanders due to the problems at home. The insight influenced me to research about nonprofit organizations that allow individuals to become mentors of students from disadvantaged economic and social backgrounds. It was clear that my parents might have given me advice in good faith but they themselves came from prosperous families, thus, their personal experiences shaped the advice.

While I still believe one has the power to shape his/her destiny, I also believe one should not underestimate the role laws of probability play in one’s life. Some of us are born under better conditions and similarly, some of us are presented by better opportunities in life than others. While one should be proud of his/her achievements, one should also have the humility to acknowledge his/her good fortune in his/her success. And the best way to be thankful for good fortune and opportunities is to do something for those who are less fortunate so that they can also try to realize their true potential. Society prospers when those with resources and power extend help to those below them in economic and social hierarchy. In fact, this is the key to America’s economic rise over the last century as opposed to many other countries. American society invests in its citizens from less fortunate background so that they can also realize American Dream.

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