WHAT WILL YOU CHOOSE?
By: Angelica G
Which path should you take? Are you going to follow the path so many generations before you went down, or will you go your own way? Did your parents graduate? Will you? Will your path lead you to a dead end, or will it lead you straight into the life you have always dreamed of? Are you up for a challenge, or are you going to take the easy way? Will you settle? Are you truly happy? Do you wish you would have make a different decision?
In my neighborhood, Bridgeport, and many surrounding areas, homeless people, alcoholics, drug users, gang-bangers and people who are struggling to make a life with a part time job that pays little to nothing are everywhere. Taking a closer look reveals that there are a handful of people who are well educated and either have or seem like they can have a good life ahead of them. Those people are usually the ones who decided to make a different life for themselves rather than those who decided to go with the flow and decided to do what they know.
Kristina Balboa, who is a cousin of mine, is the first in our close family to attend school. Our family has a long history of dropouts, and she is the first to break the cycle. I asked Kristina, who just finished freshman year at Moraine Valley Community College, some questions about herself:
Q: How do you feel about the lack of higher education our family has?
A: It is very upsetting. I feel that our parents could have gone on to get careers if they would have stayed in school. But with that being said, their lack of education means we should push ourselves to do better; to be better.
Q: Is that why you attend college? Because you want to do better than what the generations before us did?
A: I guess you can say that. It is not that I wanted to be better than anyone but I want better for myself. I want to have a life with having to have to go through the struggles that I see so many other people have.
Q: What do you plan on doing with your life?
A: I plan on finishing college first of all but what I really want to do it travel the world. I want to travel the world and write articles about what I see. I want to be a journalist.
Kristina also said, “I want to be successful in life. Our parents did the best that they could do but I believe we can do better. We all have obstacles we have to overcome but I am not afraid to face those obstacles that stand in my way. Success is so near I can taste it.”
Kristina is a person who was not afraid to fight the tide. Instead of settling for the shore, she decided to chase the sunset and that is the path she chose. I believe her path will lead her to a successful life. I hope to also have a successful life in the future.
Kristina is an example of a person who chose to make her own path even though she didn’t and still does not really know where it will lead here. My Uncle Randy grew up in Bridgeport, Chicago. He is now 33 years old. I will be asking him questions about him growing up as well as his life now.
Q: Alright, Uncle Randy, let’s get started. How was your life growing up?
A: Tough It was tough. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun but it was hard growing up back then just like it is now.
Q: Tough how?
A: I had to face all the problems teens now face. There were gangs, drugs, family problems, and more. You know how it is now but back then it was worse.
I asked Uncle Randy to give me a summary of how it was growing up for him, “Growing up I was in a lot of trouble. I was always fighting, causing trouble etc. I was also in a gang starting at the age 11. Yeah, I grew up in Bridgeport, but I spent most of my life on Morgan. That block has taken just as much as it has given. I have lost family, actual blood relatives along with my close friends. I have seen so many things I wish I could unsee; done things I wish I didn’t and all my regrets are no one else’s but mine because I chose to do what I did. Gel, being in a gang is not worth your freedom, you see that all of us (All of my others Uncles, dad etc. were also involved in a gang) cannot go certain places because of what will happen. I put my life on the line to be part of something that was not getting me anywhere but in jail or the hospital. I didn’t have a job, my job was to protect my block. I had a kid at the age 19 and another at 22 and I was still gang-banging because once you choose that lifestyle it is almost impossible to get out. But like I said, almost. It is almost impossible to get out but it is possible.”
Uncle Randy is no longer a gang banger. He cleaned up his act about a year or two ago and has been making nothing but progress ever since. He has an actual job, a good relationship, a new baby boy, and no longer lives in Bridgeport. He said he is the happiest he had been in years. You hardly see him on ‘The Block’ Morgan anymore. When you do, he is usually visiting friends who unfortunately are stuck in the dark and can not find their way to a new path. He is now living a good and happy life and I am extremely happy that I no longer have to yell at him about hanging out on Morgan. He is saving both his life and my voice.
Those who went down the right path since the beginning like Kristina seem to have a good future ahead of them. Those who went down the wrong path and decided they no longer wanted to be in the dark but rather the light like Uncle Randy did have a chance to find their way to a new path. Roads change, just as one can find the light another can lose it. You have to continue to choose the right path so it can lead you to where you want to be. If you do not see a path, make your own. Life is full of roads to choose from, which one will you choose?