Growing up I understood what it was like to live without money, but it hurt me to find out why I was living with so little. My mom was working at Panda Express for minimum wage merely to support our family. It was a constant struggle to see her work daily.

Working for ten years at the same place was easy to complain about, but, she was very patient. My dad has always been a part time worker, part time gambler. He made the bare minimum possible working as a cook. He loved playing with money like a game of Monopoly. He ultimately became the banker and the player. It was his addiction.

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Money was slippery in our family and it made it harder for me to go to school. Money had a huge affect on my life because it was the main conflict that created problems. Money is the root of all evil and it grows up through the family tree. My parents always fought about our finances. My mom would work so hard every month while my dad would gamble her money, trying to be lucky at every game.

With their focus, my main priority was education and wanting to be a better version of my parents. I found my own ways to pay by mowing lawns and walking dogs just so that I wouldn’t be in the middle. I carried the weight of not having the same opportunities as others. I didn’t have a car, I didn’t even have a license. It was a struggle to ask help from friends or to even balance my class work and volunteer work at the same time. Transportation was a hardship because my mom and dad were both too busy to pick me up from tennis practice and take me to the hospital (where I volunteered).

I couldn’t be in two places at once. There were times where I had to stay after school for a Key Club officers meeting and I had to wait until five to be picked up. By the time I got home, I would be sweating and tired and then forced to switch gears into doing homework. It was very hard knowing in the back of my mind that my mom was working twice as hard as I was while my dad was wasting his life away. During the times of adversity, it’s all about perseverance and resilience. It’s about bouncing back, having hope that it will get better the next day.

It’s diligence and it’s working harder everyday. I get my strength from my friends and family. When I do fall down, my friends always catch me before I shatter. My parents never had the same opportunities that I did and now I don’t even have the same opportunities as the average American. It doesn’t matter where anyone starts in life, but the true value is where one ends up. I don’t let money become a barrier.

It’s not a net. I don’t let money become an excuse to give up, so I continue to work hard in order to prove that I didn’t need the money to begin with.