My father grew up in the inner city of Chicago. The Austin Neighborhood. Now if you happen to not be as knowledgeable of Chicago like my father is, the Austin Neighborhood is/was one of the worst neighborhoods in Chicago in terms of violence, and drugs, and other things. He was the first person in his family to go to college and he ended up going to graduate school to become a doctor. These life lessons below are some of the reasons why I am who I am today, and I am very grateful that he has taught me or showed me these things.
1. Always value education
Given that my father was the first in his family to go to college, this one was sort of a given. He told me to always put education first, as that will help you achieve your dreams. He taught me that it was okay to "love school" when it was socially unacceptable to say those two words together in elementary school. He taught me the value of staying up late at night and studying and working hard to become the best version of yourself.
2. Always respect others
Always respect others, but don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. This one to me was self-explanatory. Always respect people no matter their race, religion, or political orientation, in the end, it does not matter because people are not defined by that one characteristic. They are defined by who they are on the inside, and that takes actually getting to know someone as opposed to just listening to 'hearsay'. He said to do these things, but stand up for what you believe in. "People are never going to agree on everything or believe the same way as you are" he so commonly has said; but, "if you show that you will respect others for who they are, in turn, you will build respect and credibility when you stand up and voice what you believe in". No matter what circumstance you find yourself in, I have made this a life goal and motto.
3. Respect life and live it to the fullest
He said this in both religious and personal way. In a personal way, he wanted me to know that it was okay to have fun and enjoy your life, as long as you respect it and live it to the fullest doing what you love. In a religious sense, he taught me the importance of childhood and life in a religious sense when he told me I was adopted. He said to me, "GOD put you in my family, and I am so proud that he did. Make sure that you are ready when you want to create life and start a family because the human life that you create with another woman is its own individual being created by GOD and deserves only the best."
4. Always remain energetic
Always remain energetic and positive no matter what circumstance is occurring. You can be going through a battle with cancer, or you can be finding true love. Life is always going to have its ups and its downs, and you cannot let that determine how you act or appear before other people. He always told me to "put a smile on my face and appreciate the things that I have, for there are others who wish they could have what you have," and I never truly realized how real this was. He taught me to always stay positive because that positivity and that energy can cause a smile to spread someone else's life. I have worked to always be extremely energetic and positive as this helps to make time go by faster, and it helps you appreciate the way things are and recognize the true power of what we as Americans and what I as a college student have been given.
5. Value hard work
Value hard work and only give 100% your best effort. This one is self-explanatory. My father did not have any financial platform to jump off of, or an older sibling to lend his or her books to him. He had to work hard and sacrifice in order to become who he is today. He told me that if you keep working at something, and you keep trying and trying and giving it your all eventually whatever you are working towards will go your way; and, that one victory is all the spark you need to shoot off the ground. As Rachel Platten puts it in her hit song, "Fight Song," "I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion." Hard work - to me and my father - is that match, and the explosion is our success.
6. Don't quit
If you see something you want, run after it and don't stop until you have received the 'fruits of your labor'. This one to me I have applied in mainly education and knowledge. If I want to know about a certain thing, I will put my phone down and read about it - yes even sometimes with a physical book from the library. If I want to get something that I cannot afford, I will pull together as much money as possible and work for whatever else I need and then be happy to see that my hard work ended up helping me get what I wanted.
I am very blessed that GOD put me into this family when I was born. I am thankful that my birth mother - wherever and whomever she may be - decided to give me up for adoption so that I can grow up with the wonderful man that my father truly is.