The impact of my family

We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with (Rohn X). I am the derivative of my immediate family. As I expose the unique characteristics of each family member, it will be apparent as to why I am this complex, compassionate, enthusiastic, individual eager to learn and gain independence. Before I dive too deep into the characteristics of the individual in my family, I will give you some context and family history. There is a total of 6 individuals in my family. All were born in Ethiopia with the expectation of me. I am the youngest by 10 years and I was the only one born in the United States. Due to civil war and government instability, my family moved to the US in 1999. Each individual in my family played a significant role in defining the reality in which I live. The impact made by each individual members in my family can be summarized into the following words: Sacrifice, Tenacity, Voice, Balance, and Discipline.

Sacrifice

Ethiopia is a flourishing country, with vibrant culture and diversity. It's rich history and culture dates back to 980 BC. The past 50 years, the era my parents grew up in, there was significant tension between different ethnic groups and different ruling political parties. The tension resulted in multiple wars and civil unrest. It became apparent to my parents that if they wanted a bright future for their children, they would have to consider migrating to a new country where the system of government was much more stable. My father and mother had a discussion and it was decided that the family would move to the US to live the "American Dream". The plan was for my dad to move to America, alone, to work and earn money to afford the cost to move the family to the US. My father served as an air marshal for Ethiopian airlines before he moved to the US. Due to education standardization in the US, my father's education documentations were not accepted by any of the major US airlines. Like the US airlines, many companies my father sought employment with did not accept his education. This left my dad with little opportunity for employment. My dad did not have the luxury of going back to school, as there was a pressing need to earn income to pay for immigration services. This left my dad with one option, to become a Truck Driver. My father lived in the US, alone for five years, prior to the family moving in 1999. During this time my father faced a great deal of challenges and obstacles. Away from everything he was familiar with, my dad sacrificed his life for his family. One day while my dad was transporting crude oil, as this was his job at the time, a spark ignited. The entire truck caught on fire, my dad burned more than 75% of his body. After a speedy and miraculous recovery, my father was so courageous, and stepped into his crude oil truck the first day the doctor released him for work. Instead saying he's never going to transport crude oil again, he conquered his fear and put his life on the line, again, for his family. Even though I have never had to make a sacrifice equally as substantial as my dad, I recall my first report card where I had received a B in a math a class while in middle school. My parents were not disappointed, but they were not too pleased. My parents knew I was capable of doing so much better if I just applied myself. They came up with the clever idea to incentive me to make sure I got all A's on the next six weeks report card. They promised I would receive whatever I ask for within reason. For the next six weeks, I would go early and stay late after school to attend my teacher's tutorials After six weeks of late night studying and early mornings, I received all A's on my report card. So for my reward, I requested for my first real winter Michael Kors jacket. Even though money was tight, my parents believed I deserved the reward and purchased the jacket for me. I fell in love with the jacket, it was a black trench coat style, and it had three buttons with a belt and hoodie. It was so soft and warm. Two days after I received the jacket I was madly in love with and worked so hard to obtain, I walked into my room to find the jacket missing from the hanger. I panicked and screamed out my mother's name. She runs to my room to find me puzzled and distort over my new jacket. I asked her, where is my jacket??? She answers, "Yene Konjo" which translate to my beauty, I saw your sister Edom grab your jacket before she walked out for her school trip to California. I knew how important it was that she stays warm so she can focus on presenting at a medical conference she will be attending. Against my better judgment, I allowed my sister use my jacket on her trip. I gave her a call to let her know how special the jacket was and to be very careful with the item. A week after my sisters trip to California, she pulls into our driveway. Eagerly waiting for my jacket, I run to my sister's car to ask her for my jacket. Edom looks at me with watery puppy eyes, and breaks the bad news to me gently. Leilt, I left your jacket at the hotel we stayed. I am so sorry! At that moment, I just started crying. I went through the 5 stages of grief over the jacket, it was first denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. I had to accept that all the hard work I put into getting all A's was not just for the jacket, but it was also for the lesson I learned. I learned to scarify my time in order to study and make progress on my report card and most importantly, I learned to sacrifice my desires and wants for someone else needs just like my father. I quickly came to terms that the beautiful jacket was long gone, and that people make mistakes. I apologized to my sister for handling the bad news so terribly. It was through the observations I made growing up around my father that I was able to understand the concept of sacrifice and apply it to something that was relevant in my life.

Tenacity

Similar to my father's experience with employment, my mother faced similar challenges. My mom came to the US with an associates degrees in agricultural science. Her education documentation was rejected by companies my mom sough employment with. My mother was left with minimum paying job opportunities in the sales industry. My mother has worked for the same company for 18 years. She has experience the company change managements numerous times. She is the only person at her work of employment who has been there since it opened. The struggle of trying to find a balance between having a fulltime job and being a full time mom was enormous. My mother had a full schedule, she lived a very active work and social life. My siblings and I were also involved in many activities, inducing school, club sports, dance and church summer camps. She was well organized. She used activity calendar and a chore schedule to keep the kids and herself organized. Working in sales was not my mother's dream job, she is most passionate about environmental stewardship. However she understood the importance of stability. The job working in sales provided that for her and her family. I witnessed my mom's tenacity working day and night, 6 days a week over 60 hours. It takes a great deal of discipline and unconditional love to walk a single mile in my mother's shoes. My mother is not only fighting for her children in the US, but she is also fighting for hundreds of people back in Ethiopia, including my grandmother. My mother took on the responsibilities in her life with courage and purpose. No matter how hard things got she never lost faith. I learned from my mom to never give up. I recall a memory where my soccer coach in little league had two teams. The teams were based on the age range of the player. Naturally the other team was more advance due the four to five-year age gap. One season we started losing game after game. It became hard to get excited about playing soccer, I hated losing. I found myself very passionate about the game that I wanted to make a difference on my team. As a way to improve, I started going to the older teams practice in addition to my team's practice. Practicing with the older kids made me try harder and focus more. A couple of weeks training with the older team, I saw improvement, to the point where no opponent could get passed me when I played in defense. Finally, our last game came around and it was the second half, we were tied 0-0. The coach put me in the game as defense. Immediately when I step on the field, the opposing team's player is barreling towards me with the ball. At that moment, I took a time to think, breath and respond. I ran towards the player and I anticipated the player would fake going left, I used one of the footwork skills learned in practice and recovered the ball. I then passed the ball to asset in a goal. We won 1-0. It is one of my proudest moments in life. I made a genuine effort at making a change. I was tenacious, I worked hard and I did not give up. I use this memory as a reference point to help guide me when I struggle with something I find worth doing.

Voice

Growing up in a family where by the age of ten every member of your family is 20 years old or higher. It felt like I had four parents rather than my parents and my siblings. So it was difficult for me to voice my opinion on a subject or any problems I had. I love making my family proud and talking about that I had no problem, what kid would. But when I knew I had done something that was going to disappoint them, I felt like it was all on me to try and fix it. But when I was younger my brother left the house to be on his own, now fast-forward about 5 years he comes back. He saw that any time the family had discussion about me or anything about involving me, I would just stay quiet not saying anything. So he pulled me aside and we had a deep conversation about how that it's not good or healthy for me to not let people how I felt or my thoughts on a subject. I remember an specific memory, when the family were in the dining room chatting about what to eat for dinner, so I had proposed pizza but then again money was kind of tight at the moment so my sister said no, but I kept asking and asking when she suddenly shouted at me to shut up about the pizza and that we didn't have money to be wasting money on ordering out. Shocked by her outburst I quietly said sorry and went outside and sat on the bench we have. As soon as I sat down, the flood gates opened and the tears came falling down. I hear the front door of the house open and closing, wiping my tears I saw it was my brother. He sat down ask me what was wrong, as every girl does I said I was fine. Clearly not believing me, he kept asking until I told him that I was crying because my sister yelled me, what he told me next stays with me. He said "how is crying outside going to make anything better, you can't say you don't like it when somebody does something, but then not say anything about it and expect them to never do it again. You have to actually talk to them about it in order to make a change. Otherwise no one's going to know that what they're doing is upsetting you, they're going to think you're okay with it." Since then slowly I've become more inclined about lettings others know my thoughts and feelings.

Balance

A Lot of people including myself don't have self-control or an understanding of balance. However, depending on the area you lacking balance and self-control this may not always be a bad thing or it can be self-destructive. Though for me it wasn't self-destructive it definitely wasn't doing me any good because I lacked the self-control to say no, I just couldn't say no to people when they asked me to do a task. Even if I didn't have the time or the energy to waste, I never prioritized myself first. My eldest sister has always get on to me about not prioritizing my time and energy for myself but rather giving to people who don't need it. She would tell me "the people you call friends will not always be there, five years or ten years from now you may not even remember their names. But do you know who's going to be there? You. You'll be there for yourself, so you have to prioritize yourself before others. Be selfish, you have to be or you'll never be able to be successful because you'll be more worried about family, friends everything that not going to help better yourself." I needed to find a balance between when to say yes or no. My sister was trying to teach that only when I have everything I'm supposed to do done then I can give others my attention. Before I never realized what I was doing, I just thought I was doing a good daughter or good friend, but it actually doing me harm when I would just stop whatever I was doing to help someone else. An example is if my homework originally would have taken me 30 minutes turned into 2 hours because I would be distracted with doing favors or task for people who had asked rather than no I need to finish my work then I'll be able to help until then I can't. I've learned that it's okay to be selfish when it for the right reasons.


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