The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. How Full is Your Bucket? The self-help books of the decade. These both have been New York Times bestsellers. Government officials and average citizens throughout the world buy books and tapes on how to improve themselves and their lives. I won’t lie. I’ve delved into a couple of these books (you can’t avoid them with a paranoid mother). In each book I read, it stresses you grow from your mistakes, and that your “problems” make you stronger. Is it odd that I have grown more from one of my closest cousins’ trials and errors, and not my own?
“Are they twins? They’re adorable!”My cousin and I used to get that each time we went to the local grocery store. We were inseparable. We would play horse in the fields, pick strawberries, and hoola-hoop the summers away. The years passed, but the summers were different.
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We drifted. Although she was far away, she was still my hero. I admired her hop scotch skills, her confidence, and how cool she was. Tanya. My best friend. We promised we would never drift, but it happened. It was almost like having my vision taken away. It was hard to live without. Today, she’s nineteen. She’s in prison, facing six felonies and forty years. Heroin and coke replaced me as her best friend. But they can’t laugh with her. They can’t swing with her, gossip about boys, or help mend a broken heart. She wasn’t even the same girl anymore. I felt like my hero had disappeared. So, who do I look up to now?
I’m not trying to tell you a sob story. I know hardships happen in every family. But my cousin impacted me in a way that no one else has. By seeing her potential ruined, I realized I have a chance to make a difference. She was made for greatness, and I want to choose the path she could have taken. I’m planning on going for a psychology major, so I can do my best to prevent tragedies in other families. Maybe I can be like the self help book for a family in need. If I could help even one person like my cousin, I would be satisfied. I love Tanya dearly, and I wish for nothing but the best. But you don’t always get the best. The saying, “the most you can do is hope for the best, but expect the worse” has stuck with me. Thanks to my cousin, I’d like to change that. For myself, I hope and expect nothing but the best.