Pink Nail Polish and Mulch
From the time I could pick up a shovel I was working with my dad. There is something so raw, something so satisfyingly challenging about watching the progress unfold before you as you toil away under the sun- I dug my pink nails into the dirt. I am the daughter of a landscaper and a builder, who is a restless thinker and a big-time dreamer: a young black man who challenged the world by becoming an entrepreneur and marrying a beautiful white woman from a different facet of society. They together formulated a dream of eventual acres of land and limitless life. And, although I may not be blood of his blood, I can truly say that his and my mother’s sky-bound dreams for their children are something worthy of the movies: those inspirational, feel-good movies that leave you with a burning, almost annoying sense of joyful inspiration. It’s something you want to share with another; as do I when it comes to the unique dream I have in store, which has sprouted from the roots of a deep and stable foundation based upon the critical importance of a steadfast work ethic and a deep respect for the challenges and consequences of life choices. Just as a great palace is built brick by brick, my father (I consider him this despite the lack of biological paternity) made my siblings and I stack bricks in the form of paver patios, expressing his love for us and for teaching by feeding us lessons of life all through the work day. I remember getting popsicles and soda from the customers; they loved us. It’s not often in this day in age that you see kids supporting their families, doing physical labor. Passersby would stop and smile and stare at these little kids, wondering how in the world it was possible that they mulched so many landscape beds or built a pathway, when- all the while- we knew that it was only a simple process: one brick at a time.
And so I’ve been living my life this way, banking on a new day to bring me more inspiration. I have developed a mentality that revolves around my family’s reverence for creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. I began to believe that I could literally do anything I set my mind to, since that’s what they kept telling me, and so I saved up for this and I saved up for that and I bought my small but slightly expensive childhood dreams, from attending a horse-back riding camp to buying my very own laptop. In this way I fully convinced myself that there was a way to do everything I wanted, and still think this way.
I am fortunate enough to have the tools I need to get to the top, with a strange combination of leadership and artistic skills, the former of which were developed later and with effort. It’s difficult to rise up and seize opportunities when you live on welfare or the food pantry for most of your life, painfully aware that the intellectual passion of your family is not reflected in your predestined lifestyle. From the struggle sprouted stress; this crept into my mother’s mind in the form of a newly unearthed but hereditary mental disorder, which was passed on to me.I faced social anxiety and depression, but rose up when my talents, passion and logic overcame useless sadness. I proceeded in my endeavor to prove my worth, upping my academic aspirations and setting my goal to all A`s. my goals from there have continued to escalate, and now I’m doing something I never thought- with my background and my hindrances- I would consider, shooting for Ivy- League level. It’s because I fully believe in my capabilities; I’ve been awarded in small but meaningful ways consistently, becoming an acclaimed artist, writer, vocalist, and creative leader in my small community. I am honored by the honors I receive and the respect paid by my teachers and peers. It is an exciting victory to rise out of sadness and receive scholarships to summer college programs and statewide vocal competitions, receiving the only literature award in the school, and continuing to press on despite my lack of tangible resources. I believe that if the potential exists, money, location and status should not be an issue. I’ve made it this far, so who’s stopping me now from fulfilling my dreams of proving my abilities as a minority and being the first one in my father’s lineage to graduate from college? When I think about it and mull over the possibilities, I realize the only one who can poison my chances with doubt is me. But my doubts have always been proven wrong, and I’m beginning to forget the meaning of the word.