83: Here I Stand

83: Here I Stand

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness

Here I Stand

May men rise on stepping-stones of their dead selves to higher things.

~Lord Alfred Tennyson

I sat staring at the pink stick. It can’t be true. I looked at the directions again and back to the stick. It’s true. Oh no. I am pregnant. What will my friends say? What will my boyfriend say? Worst of all what will my mom say?

There I stood nineteen and pregnant.

I quickly married my boyfriend of two years. We began to play house. We filled our apartment with baby gear and decorative couch pillows. We purchased throw rugs and lasagna pans as if that were what a typical nineteen-year-old girl and twenty-one-year-old boy would do. We were mature, we were going to have a baby, and we would be together forever.

Everyone told me we would never make it. We were too young. We were babies having babies. I spent four years trying to prove them wrong. But they weren’t wrong.

There I stood, twenty-three and a single mom.

I was angry more than hurt. I was still so young I didn’t feel the pain of a failed marriage. I felt the pain of “I told you so.” I was furious. I didn’t want to be another statistic. I wasn’t going to be a young single mom who couldn’t afford to feed her child or an unsuccessful single mom who wasted her life.

There I stood in my empty apartment. No furniture, no money, and only macaroni and cheese in the bare cupboards. There I stood with only one thing on my mind. I was not going to accept this fate.

I watched my son running around the empty living room like an airplane. He smiled and laughed at all the freedom he had.

I ran and got some paper. I sat on the floor and wrote out a list. A list of all I wanted from life. My list ranged from getting a couch to starting my own business. I wrote down everything. And then, I put it in a drawer and played airplane with my son. We both discovered freedom in the hollow living room that first night in our new apartment.

Two years passed. I was twenty-five. I had an apartment full of furniture. The cupboards were full of food. I was making it. I occasionally would pull out my, now tattered, list and check things off. I surprisingly had more things checked off than I thought I would after such a short time.

As I looked at my list I realized only the biggest of dreams and goals were left. I wanted to buy a new car. I wanted a condo. I wanted to own my own business. I wanted to give my son a better life. I wanted the most out of life.

I pulled out another piece of paper. It was time to make a new list. The new list consisted of stepping stones to get me to the bigger dreams. If I was going to own my own business I had better make some goals to get me there. Step by step. Things I could do, to grow, to rise up.

There I stood at the age of twenty-nine. I had gone from the receptionist in the accounting department to the accounting manager of a small business. My income had doubled. It was only then I made the attempt at getting my dream condo. I was shocked, and still am to this day, to know I did get that condo. I purchased it myself, with my own money, without anyone’s help.

It was at that moment I realized anything is possible.

At the age of thirty-four, I started my own business. Anything is possible.

Here I stand. My son is now grown. He has moved out to build his own life. I have since remarried. I still have my own business. I would consider my life a success. Not because of the business. Not because of the material things. But because of the will; the will I have to keep going. To keep growing. To never give in to what others believed was my fate.

My fate is in my hands and I can do anything.

~Diana DeAndrea-Kohn

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