I chose to swallow the red pill, spiraling deep into our family’s rabbit hole. I wanted to see these strangers with my own eyes, study their expressions, and decipher the truth for myself. As the door swung open, they were gazing back at me, this gathering of impeccably dressed, beautiful, prestigious people. A family, including four young adults, breathing luxury and comfort from every pore, walking with ease through the high-ceilinged rooms of a mansion illuminated by crystal chandeliers, choosing from a display of sumptuous foods and drinks, clearly orchestrated by household assistants. It was the polar opposite to my own dilapidated home, living with my divorcee mom and mildly-autistic brother, relying on government support, and working after school so we could eat more than peanut butter. I am 19 years when I discover the existence or my father's second family and meet my siblings for the first time. I am speechless.
My relationship with my father had always been superficial: no more than a monthly dinner at Olive Garden. My mother was very narrow-minded, limiting the capacity of my thinking and downplaying the importance of schooling. I came to realize for myself that education was the most likely vehicle to escape my past and improve the probability of a better future. Accepting the reality of my surroundings, I made a commitment to learning as the key to self-improvement, propelling my forward momentum in life. (Are these two sentences repetitive?)
The process of breaking away from the family I grew up with to accept a scholarship at the local state university, sleeping in my car to save on rent, while juggling athletics, multiple jobs, and an honors curriculum, pushed me to my limits. This pressure allowed me to hyper-focus on my education, hoping the temporary sacrifices would one day pay off. Physics and mathematics expanded my mind and showed me that there was a universe far greater than I had imagined. I had no idea that would include an entire second family.
Becoming more familiar with my father's second family provided exposure to his business and all he had accomplished throughout his career. I became incessantly interested in that world and developed a dream to one day work together. Joining his business was a crowning moment, but I soon realized I needed to keep on my path of education, this time for an MBA with a global focus to prepare for life’s next step.
Adversity taught me the importance of continually moving forward, with one eye set on the future and the other reflecting on the past. This ensures you don't become enslaved to habit, glamour, adulation, success, not to mention family influence or prestige. The decision to embrace a second family, rather than allowing emotions to cloud my thinking, taught me how to welcome the unknown, remain open-minded, and establish common ties that connect human beings. Constantly re-evaluating the world through new lenses accelerated my growth as an entrepreneur and individual. As the world continues to evolve and cultures are blended together, this is what will be expected of our future global business leaders.
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