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Trailblazing: Break free of what others believe is impossible and what you are conditioned to think.

“If you haven’t decided your purpose in life someone else will likely do it for you, and you probably won’t like it when they do.” This is an excerpt from the book No Excuses, which covers topics from boosting your earning potential to finding your true purpose. That being said, “first generation” college students (individuals […]

“If you haven’t decided your purpose in life someone else will likely do it for you, and you probably won’t like it when they do.” This is an excerpt from the book No Excuses, which covers topics from boosting your earning potential to finding your true purpose.

That being said, “first generation” college students (individuals who are the first members of their families to receive any formal higher education other than high school) are highly esteemed. Their pursuit of a college degree shows that they have initiative and the fact that they had the drive and determination to pursue a college degree also shows that they must have some important life goal that they are working towards. You may not know it yet, but if you are a first-generation student, admissions offices across the country will have their eyes on you when it comes time for you to apply. One of the reasons why first-generation college students are highly desired by many colleges is because they offer a unique and strong persona to a school and are most often driven by a hard work ethic and a clear vision. Why are first-generation students a pool for such high achievers? It’s because they have paved their own path and had to overcome a great deal of challenges while doing so. They did not have a roadmap established for them by anyone in their family. Oprah Winfrey, a trailblazer in many respects, once remarked that as she began losing weight, her friends started to hold her back from her goals, and she eventually lost both weight and her friends. 

In life, there are leaders and there are followers. You are either one or the other. This is one of the most basic social and biological truths about human interaction. If you find yourself wandering through life with no real or specific goal in mind and someone else who knows exactly what they want sees you standing idly with nothing to do, chances are they will try to lead you so that they can use you to achieve their own goals. And of course you, the follower, would go ahead and most likely listen to what they say because what else would you do? If you do not have goals and you do not know what to make of yourself, this could be your fate. The key to breaking free from this follower mindset (as you have probably heard before) is to develop a vision of what you want and establish milestones that will get you there. Nobody can lead others if they cannot lead themselves.

Your good is not good enough. Coming from a disadvantaged background has always had people fighting an uphill battle. When coming from a disadvantaged place, the impoverished mentality is often a greater burden than financial hardship. With access to cutting edge healthcare, public libraries, and the internet, today even the poorest people in the United States live better than the upper class of even 100 years ago when the average life expectancy for men and women hovered around 50 years of age. 

People, especially those coming from a low socioeconomic background, make solving problems harder than they actually are. When you’ve been conditioned your entire life to believe that attending college is difficult, you will probably find a lot of excuses as to why you might not get in. This is a dangerous mentality, as once you become unsure about your goal and question your own capabilities, you are giving yourself a reason for why failure might be ok and you may slowly begin to take your foot off the gas, so to speak. In reality, attending college at an affordable cost is easier than most people would think. Similarly, this idea can transfer to different stages and areas of your life. If you let barriers and stigmas control you, you will not succeed.

The difference between you and someone from affluence is that you are constantly reminded of reasons to improve yourself. While those around you may try to hold you back and prevent you from reaching your full potential (a process which occurs more on the subconscious level even if you might not feel aware of it) your life’s circumstances are constantly pushing you to do better. Think about all those around you who had opportunities but never quite reached for them as far as they could. Let them be examples to motivate you towards success. Those who succeed academically often had a significant amount of pressure placed on them to perform well when growing up. This pressure was both self-imposed as well as provided by elders and peers. If you received little pressure from your parents, siblings, teachers, friends, and those in your community to do well in your academics, let those people provide pressure on you to be successful.

Remember that you are the only one that is responsible for how far you go in life. Use your experiences, both achievements, and failures, to propel you over your self established hurdles and through the emotional and mental drains of others. While many of those around will say they want you to succeed, you might find that very few people truly want you to do something remarkable. Nobody likes to be outperformed, regardless of how little effort they put into bettering themselves. Network and find friends with whom you can exchange favors with, but do not rely on others to do well and be self-aware enough to admit mistakes. Getting into college and doing well once you are there is really much easier than others tell you it is. Those around you make something out to harder than it actually was when trying to compensate for their own failures. People of all levels of intellect, every race, gender, and identity have done it before, by continuing to step outside your comfort zone you can blaze a path that is unique to you and no one has seen before. 

This is an excerpt from the book No Excuses, which covers topics from boosting your earning potential to finding your true purpose. Please contact us at https://partnersthrougheducation.org/ to learn more.


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