Someone Like Me

“It must be easy for someone like you ….” Her words hung heavy between humor and offense as I took them in. Easy for someone like me, I thought, who does she think she is? Who does she think I am?

My mind races to a time when my mother would leave water in empty pickle jars outside in the sun all day, so we would have warm water to clean up with that evening. I flash back to a time when I was showing a friend a house in which I lived, and he said, “Oh, that’s not a bad house.” I blushed and lowered my head when I had to correct him. “No, not that house. The shed behind it. That’s where I lived.”

My story isn’t a lot different than the upbringing of other folks. Some people have had it better and some have had it worse. But to say that ‘for someone like me’ it must be easy, seems a bit ignorant. There is not much easy about growing up in poverty, suffering abuse, and, years later, waking up with nightmares and headaches because of it.

There isn’t much ‘easy’ about working until 10 p.m., waking up at 5 a.m. and hustling for a dream that others don’t believe in, let alone support or encourage. After all, “It’s not practical.” It’s not easy to hang tough when you’re struggling financially, and people tell you to do the ‘easy’ thing and get a ‘real’ job.

Yet, here I stand – both proud and unbelievably humble as she looks at me and says, “It’s probably easy for someone like you.” The truth is, the struggle has made me stronger. It’s why I have success. It hasn’t been easy, and I am so grateful that it hasn’t been.

When people look at me, if they care enough to look beyond the surface of ‘now,’ they will see my struggle. They will identify with the self-doubts and insecurities with which I still struggle, and they will be inspired to keep pushing for the ‘right’ thing even when the ‘easy’ thing is in front of them.

What it comes down to is this: Taking it ‘easy’ and settling for an average life just isn’t good enough for someone like me.

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