When I was 10-years-old I moved to a new city and a new school. I was bullied for years. I got fed up and befriended my enemies. I hung around with the wrong crowd and got into a lot of trouble just trying to fit in and avoid being bullied.
My mother passed away when I was only 13. I didn’t want to live and contemplated suicide. I went deep into the street life getting into drugs and alcohol. I took it out on my father and siblings and acted like I was the only one who lost a loved one.
School was the last place I wanted to be so I avoided it as much as possible. The school system kept pushing me along from grade to grade to keep me with my age group. I eventually dropped out in the middle of high-school but still hadn’t obtained any credentials. I went in and out of youth custody and into the adult system once I turned 18.
By the time I was 19 I was a father of 2. I had a lengthy criminal record and only grade 6 education on paper.
At age 23 I hit what I call my “go big or go home moment”. I was to go all in with a gang or run for the hills and never look back. I saw my future flash before my eyes and it wasn’t pretty. I knew I didn’t want to end up in prison for life or dead. I didn’t want to give my kids the same reason of loss that I had, that made me go down the wrong path. I wanted to be around for them in a positive way. I chose to change my life for the better, but I had no idea how. The streets was all I ever knew and I burnt every bridge with everyone who loved me. No one trusted me anymore.
I worked hard to prove to them I wanted to change and I did. I had to do it on my own first. I slowly got back into the lives of people who loved me unconditionally. I struggled through dead end jobs due to my criminal record and lack of education. I wanted a career where I could help youth like me see their worth and go for their dreams. I looked at getting an education that would help me get a career.
I applied for university with only grade 6 education. They excepted me as a mature student. I struggled at first not knowing what an essay was. I ended up on academic probation the whole time I was there. I struggled to fit in and was being told by professors and academic advisors that I had an unattainable goal and I should get out before I end up with too much student debt. I used it as fuel and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree. I then went on to also obtain a college diploma in the justice field.
I started at the bottom and found a job working with youth in custody, facilitating adventure based therapy. I later worked as an addictions counsellor teaching wellness. I then moved into social work were I now run a Youth program and supervise a team of youth outreach workers who help youth in the child welfare and justice system.
I came back around full circle. I no longer use substances to deal with my pain. I have great relationships with my family. My 3 kids are proud of the man that I have become through the adversities I have overcome. I strive to the the best version of myself and be an example to those around me.
I have so much gratitude for my second chance at life.