Every day, people talk. They send me condolences and sympathies. They say they know my pain.
They say they know how it feels to go from riding around in GranTurismos and Super Sports, Range Rovers and coupes, walking around in $200 Air Force Ones with costume leather, gold MKs, Polo. Not the fake Polo, but the real Polo. Every day I smelt like I lived in a Dolce & Gabbana store.
Now when I shower, I put the same outfit on. I only got one pair of shoes. I smell like Old Spice deodorant. I put on a façade, a fake face and attitude. It says that I can handle all this. It says I got the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I’m still pushing on.
But on the inside, I’m barely holding even my own weight. I’m hurting. Every new day is a struggle. Hell, every old day is a struggle. But there comes a point in time every day when I look in the mirror, I tell myself to keep on going. I tell myself that when I get too weak, I’m not the one I’m fighting for. I’m fighting for my family.
I had just turned 16 when I got locked up. I’m 18 now. I was a kid. I was ignorant. I didn’t see any alternative to the lifestyle I was living. All I saw was pain. I turned pain into fighting. I turned my pain into money. I turned my pain into negative ambition. All I saw every day was pain.
Now I realize that I was weak. I was in pain because my dad was never there. I was in pain because my mom was never there. She was there, but she wasn’t. I was in pain because I felt like my family turned their back on me. I was in constant struggle with myself. One side trying to do the some bad for a bad reason, the other side trying to do some bad for a good reason.
All I had was excuses. But I turned these excuses into motivation. I put all my motivation into negative progression. That’s the problem with today’s generation. Everybody has excuses. Everybody has excuses. The question is, what are you going to do with your excuses? That’s what make the man. A man is not defined by what he has been through. A man is defined by how what he has been through affects him. Everybody has been through struggle and hard times. You can’t use the past as an excuse to deprive yourself of the morality or need or drive to make something out of yourself.
It’s not about the pain we feel, it’s about what we turn our pain into that defines us. A weak mind turns past experiences into an excuse for future failures. A strong mind turns past experiences, past hurt, past pain into positive motivation, ambition and perseverance to succeed. That’s what separates the men from the boys. That’s what separates the weak from the strong. That’s what separates failure from success in today’s society.
Everybody has excuses and pain, but are you going to let that hurt minimize your brain? Are you going to fall back in the same struggle? You might be fresh. You might have the new Balmains with a Louis Vuitton belt or a Gucci or Hermes, with a Glock 40 and a 30 clip hanging out. What is that going to get you in life? Almost everybody in here has probably lost someone to a bullet. So why carry the guns? What are your excuses? Do you carry it because… (list of reasons on the spot).
Whatever your excuse is, it is a weak excuse. You might say that these streets are all you know. You got to get it how you live. That may be true. But if you got to get it how you live and you’re not getting it right, then you ain’t living right.
As a generation we have to change how we live before we lose our chance. The struggle you’ve been through, don’t let it use you. You use it. I’ve always been a gifted mathematician, and chemist. I’ve always excelled in science and math. But instead of getting my high school diploma and going on to college to use my talents to produce a productive lifestyle, I decided it wasn’t for me. I decided that my dope money was good enough.
You see, I wasn’t an average hustler. When I got in the game, I realized that the product I was selling could always be found right down the street for a cheaper price. So I had to switch my game up. And I found a new plug. A legitimate distribution company called the United States Postal Service. And they were always on time.
Yeah, I was making good money. But I was hurting the people I cared about most. And I thought, “Man. It is what it is. They will thank me later.”
Well, it’s later, and I haven’t heard one thank you yet. Nah. Instead, I’m the one saying thank you. Thank you for putting that money on my books, G-ma; thank you for that hot plate; thank you for those pictures; thank you for picking up the phone; and thank you for coming to see me. Thank you for hiring an attorney. And most importantly, thank you for never giving up on me, even when sometimes I wanted to give up on myself.
You see, I could have avoided this situation. I could have used my brains to go to college and make them proud. I could have made money the right way. Do you know that you can get paid for going to school now? There are so many jobs out there, so many different opportunities to make money without risking your life or you freedom. I mean, anything. It’s crazy, for real. You’d be surprised what kind of jobs they got now.
I just wish somebody would have taken the time to pull me away from the hype. Say, “Aye dude. You’re really disappointing your family right now. If you stay on the right track, you could have anything.”
But nah. I ain’t listen. I let my pain and previous circumstances affect my present decisions in a bad way. See, selling dope turns out to contradict itself for me. I started selling because I thought it would get me things nothing else could. Little did I know that it would end up taking things away from me that I thought could never be taken.
Mistakes are made for learning purposes. Struggle and pain can be good things if used as an excuse to do better. Use your bad past as fuel for a good future. I see the real, and I see the actors. You have to define yourself as a person. You have to define what you stand for. You have to define your purpose. Everybody has one.
So I ask you, what sort of person do you want your struggle to make you? Do you want to be the person that people say, “Nobody in his family has even passed high school. No wonder he’s in jail.” Or do you want to the one they say, “Ah. He didn’t have a dad, and his mom didn’t have enough money to put food on the table for him and his sibling. How did he make it to college? How did he get his bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate? How is he a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a coach, a mechanic, an engineer, a lieutenant, a captain, a general? How did he not let his situation define him, but he defined his situation as fuel to rise above?
So who will you become? Who do you want to be? And always remember, if you don’t want to do it for yourself, you can always do it for your loved ones. Make a better life for your kids, and you can affect the whole world. Never limit yourself.