Feeling unsupported and abandoned can cause you not to dream. Those who are able to push through and dream are met with a daily fight of questions and doubts. You know some of people who have these feelings at your church, your job, your school or maybe that person is you.
My statement to you today is that “It is Time to Believe in You!”
I know it may sound cliche but building up your self esteem is the difference between fulfillment and being unfulfilled in life. That belief in your own capabilities and strength are like vitamins.
You’ll need it once a day!
As I started to receive more and more adoption stories, Tonya reached out to me with hers. It brought me to tears because her story, like many others teens in the foster care system, comes during a crucial time when friendships are really important and support is vital.
Our youth need us and many don’t know how to tell us. This story will inspire you to listen to the youth in your life and have a conversation with the youth within yourself.
Here is Tonya’s story:
When you’re taken away from the one person who is supposed to love, protect, and nourish you, life begins to take a downturn emotionally. I was 13 years old when my birth mom violently beat me until I was bleeding out of my ear, bruised over my body and suffered a black eye.
That was the moment I decided enough is enough.
I went to school and with the help of a good friend reported the incident and showed my bruises to the school counselor. That’s when my life dramatically changed.
My brother and I were placed in the Jamison Center in Bakersfield, CA. Here we saw it all in a short period of time. Kids who were abused by family, neglected, drug use and some who were just defiant. I often thought this would be the rest of my life and I would never amount to anything.
Then my social worker made a miracle happen. My best friends mom was contacted and she was informed of what happened. She immediately went to work on getting custody of us.
The challenges seemed like mountains because my ‘Birth” mom still had her parental rights. My birth mom didn’t want anyone who actually cared about me to be able to assist. It seemed and felt like her preference was for us to stay in the system versus getting into a stable environment.
My mom Gloria was resilient. She made it happen. She took the classes, went to the meetings and assured me that I could be anything that I wanted to as long as I believed I could.
That was the problem “believing in myself??”
How can I believe in myself when the person who gave me life “hated” me? How can I believe in myself when the person who gave me life wished me dead? Then my social worker started speaking the same language “Tonya life can be what you make it you just have to believe it could happen”
I began to take notice of the genuine love from both my newfound life and my social worker. I was introduced to people who look like me and were doing well in school. My biggest hurdles were overcoming anger and trust issues while learning to love myself.
Often times my mind would fill with thoughts like, “if my own mom doesn’t love me how can anyone else”? Often times I questioned my being with severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Being in foster care actually gave me the fuel I needed to prove everyone who ever doubted that I could be something completely wrong.
I realized my foster mom and social worker were a rare breed. They would ask me what I wanted to be when I became an adult and for one year I just wanted to live until I was 18. In foster care I wasn’t beaten, verbally or physically abused. This was different from the life I was used to. My foster mom treated me like “she” gave birth to me. My siblings and I were raised as a family and they never uttered the words “foster kid” to me or anyone else. I had to learn to except the love and learn to love myself in the process. Both of these feelings were new and I was going to need help navigating my new life.
As time went on, I discovered my passion in doing hair. By my sophomore year I was braiding all of my friends hair, then started cutting it too. By the time I was a senior I had the opportunity to sit in with a well known hair stylist in our area and watch the magic he created behind the chair.
From that point on my “language” changed. It was no longer “I want to do hair”, it was now “When I own my own Salon and Beauty Supply”.
My foster mom made sure my grades were good, I got a job when I turned 16 and I had a checking account. She reminded me when I turned 18 that she would always be here, but I would have newer responsibilities that I needed to be prepared for. She made sure I understood the added responsibilities of being a responsible adult.
By the time I transitioned from foster care to adult hood I did what I needed to learn more about business. My language and thoughts were consistent with me wanting to own my own business. I had the right people to fuel my passion and lead me in the right direction.
At the time, I worked in Corporate America knowing at some point I would own my own business. In 2009 it finally happened. I walked away from a 16yr corporate America job and became Self-Employed. In 2013 I opened my first location, in 2016 my second location and in 2018 my third.
All of this occurred as I continued my education, gave back to those who helped me and kept my focus on my future. I realized once I started believing in myself, others did too and that made a difference in my path of success. Along with my salons I travel teaching others how to have a “Life of Purpose” regardless of your circumstances.