Obstacles in front of you now should be a stepping stone in the future

At first glance my countenance resembles that of most young black men: guarded, brazen, a bit skeptical.  I was always a man who, for years, had to be emotionally “ok”.  It forced me to bottle up and seal my emotions.

My name is Kweisi Stanley, and this is my Crystal Stair.

My childhood home in Macon, Georgia was much like any other Southern space; covered in childhood family photos, bible scriptures, doilies, Obama photos and ESSENCE magazines clippings, but when asked what defines my home, I named not objects, but emotions and circumstances.

Heartache

Struggle

Determination

Heartache and Struggle –

My parents divorced on my birthday in 5th grade.  What I remember most, is the front door to my father’s house…the day my parents separated is the day that my dad locked my mom out of the house.

This event overshadows my birthday every year and is one of the reasons I’m not big on celebrating.  It marks where I started to see the development of my hardened, protective layer form.  In this situation, as the new man of the house, I had a duty to support my mother and my sister as well.  But within that, my own self-care and ability to compartmentalize my emotions became peripheral.

There is a large skin graft pattern on my left leg, forever reminding me that we, as humans, are not invincible.  I broke my leg playing soccer at the peak of my high school career, right when coaches were beginning to noticing me.  Doctors used pieces of bone and skin from other parts of my body to cover my wound.  Ironically enough, I had my own literal staircase to climb in my house.  I had to teach myself to walk again.  I couldn’t use my crutches, so I had to use my arms, which helped me develop my upper body strength.  It was a long and painful recovery, both physically and emotionally.

Instances like this highlight how there is no “pause” button on life and that your fortitude and resiliency are and forever will be, consistently tested.  It makes the bounce back all the more rewarding.

Determination

So in a life overwhelmingly full of experiences designed to erode your optimism and etch away at your smile, where do I find the motivation and will to be successful?

Set Goals. Set Goals for yourself for the next 5-10 years.

Having graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in Computer Information Systems, I have my sights set on dental school.  I want to use technology to help with the early detection, treatment, and eventually curing of Gingivitis in underserved communities both domestically and abroad.

My 10 Life goals are a mix of professional, personal, and familial achievements that I wanted to accomplish by 35.  Among those are becoming the co-owner of business, starting a radio show, and being in stable marriage.  Studies show that you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams when you write them down.

So, if you’re like me, whose past may not have been the prettiest, grab the nearest pen and start dictating your own future.