I remember it like it was yesterday…undergrad graduation. The moment I had spent four years working toward and all I could think about was how nervous I was and about what I was going to do next. I was tired and had been operating a system of well-timed naps for about a month leading up to the big day. I was at the end of a journey. The end of journey can be a scary place to be. I remember getting a wake up call from from my mom about an hour before my scheduled time to walk across the stage. It was the big day, my grandmother and uncle from Oakland even made their way out to see me walk across the stage. Here I was, the second person in my immediate family to graduate with a bachelors degree and all I could think about was how nervous and scared I was. I was unsure if I was prepared to enter the working world and post-graduate life at the age of 20. I was supposed to be excited, yet I was stressed, afraid, and perplexed.
As I walked across the stage, doubt to flooded my mind. Was I ready? Was I good enough for what would come next? Where do I even go next? Would I even be accepted in a “real” working environment? As these questions raced through my mind, graduation ended in a blur and I was back at my mom’s house. It was here that the last present I received blew away my doubt. It wasn’t the present itself but the thought behind it.
My mom handed me an Apple bag. I was thinking maybe new software of some sort. Either way, all I remember was opening the bag to see a brand new Macbook. ( The 13” model.)
Now, I don’t quite come from an affluent background so I was totally caught off guard. (This was probably one of the most expensive gifts I’d ever received.) However, the explanation for the gift is what blew me away and released me from the all the fear and doubt I was feeling. My mom told me it was a gift from both my grandmother and my uncle. My mom also told me that my they knew I had been learning to develop websites and I needed something I could take with me. (I was interning and picking up contract work for extra cash at the time.) I almost teared up because in that moment I realized a couple of things..
1.) Never Doubt Your Potential
As I said earlier, on what should’ve be a joyous occasion I was filled with doubt. But in that moment, when I opened that Macbook, I was reminded of how proud my family was. Although I was caught in a swirl of doubt, I was reminded by both the people who loved me and the gift…that I had what it takes. The gift wasn’t wasn’t about the price. My family knew if I wanted to be a graphic designer and web developer I needed tools. But this taught me that there is no room for doubt when you have people that BELIEVE in you.
All the late nights and early mornings, along with my classes, were worth something. Even when you may not see your potential, the people who love you will. Don’t question it! Instead, focus on taking what they give you and making the most of it. THERE WAS NO ROOM FOR DOUBT! Stop the questioning, stop the doubt and go out and “Knock em Dead” as my grandma would always say.
2.) Cherish the Gifts You Are Given. Often Times They End Up Having a Deeper Meaning.
My Macbook served as a reminder to cherish the things people give you. It became a symbol of the faith that my family had in me to continue pushing forward and growing. To some people, it might have been “just a laptop”. To me it became a family relic. My Macbook reminded me of my family during every struggle I encountered while freelancing and during graduate school. During the times I wanted to give up, I was reminded of the very first group of people who looked beyond my “disability” and believed in my ability.
That Macbook traveled to every class, camp, conference, trip, and art show I attended from 2007- 2013. The whole time serving as a reminder that I had people who believed in me. No matter the challenge, quitting wasn’t an option.
After completing my master’s degree in the fall of 09, the next challenge I faced was starting my career. I got a little discouraged during my search because I knew people were questioning my abilities as interviewed. (You read a resume, only to find out when the candidate walks in, they don’t have hands. You’re not entirely allowed to ask them what they can and can’t do either. Not fun for me, probably awkward for both parties… but I guess I can understand. ) However, it was because of these experiences that I started painting again.
In 2010, I began working at UTD and after work I used my Macbook to record myself painting. I figured if I could show the world what I was capable of then maybe some of those awkward interviews would never happen again. My hope was to not only negate these types of experiences for myself in the future but for other people with limb differences as well. If someone ever questioned my ability I’d just show them a video of me painting. My Macbook (FAMILY) allowed me to do that…I could show people what I was capable of. If I could paint… I could work..simple as that.
Sometimes there are gifts we receive that are more than gifts. My Macbook was just that. It finally took it’s last breath in 2013, almost a year after my grandmother passed away. Covered in charcoal, paint, and with a couple cracks in the keyboard it is now priceless. It reminds me that no matter what anyone else says, I have people that love me and have faith in me. That alone, is more than enough to overcome any challenge. For you reading this, it may be a family member, a friend, or even a random stranger…. but someone is watching you and some one believes in you….That is the REAL gift…. now go out there and “KNOCK EM DEAD!”
If you have a gift that has a similar meaning to you leave a comment below. I’d like to hear about it and what it taught you.
(*P.S. I ended up getting a new laptop but thats a story for another day. ;))