Stuff happens for a reason.

When I was 4, the tv on the tall dresser fell on my head. I was in coma. They had to put me back in diapers. The doctors said I’d be a vegetable. Two weeks later, I was okay, but for a long time, no one understood what I was saying except my sister. Now that Pamela is 21 and I’m 18, she still understands me best. She is always supportive; she points out right from wrong, and always asks, “How is that helping your future?”

My mother and I never got along. My dad had passed away and I had mixed feelings about my stepfather. Even though I always got everything I wanted from him, when he drank, he turned into a monster. Their abusive relationship lasted for 16 years, Now, she’s doing it again with someone new. My mother always puts the man she’s with ahead of her kids. My sister saved my sanity. So did my best friend, Ro. And Stamford Academy, with its small classes and teachers who really care. I began to thrive there. I even made Honor Roll!

Still, when it came to money for the stuff I needed, I still had to go and beg my mother for it. It made me feel like she didn’t understand what I was trying to say, like I was still in diapers.

Then one day this December, I went out and got a job. I had heard that the Stop and Shop down the hill from my house was hiring. First I filled out their online application. Then I called the hiring manager to make sure he got it. “Call me back in five minutes,” he said, and, when I did, he said, “Can you come in today at 3:30 for an interview?” It was raining when I walked there but I didn’t care; I still went. I even got there half an hour early. “Come back at 8 and bring your social security card and your birth certificate,” he said. “You can start tonight.”

I was so happy and proud of myself but, (I told you we didn’t get along), my mother didn’t seem happy. “Bring your birth certificate? No job I ever heard of asks for that! You’re obviously lying.” Then I heard her telling my aunt how low the pay was. But it didn’t stop me. That night, I passed all computerized qualifying tests and even got a paycheck for the time I spent learning how to do the job. I’ve been working at Stop and Shop for the past three months, either from 4-8 or 3-6.

Having a job has completely changed my life. I love chatting with the customers as I bag their groceries. Even though they withhold $40 from check for taxes, I finally have my own money to buy sneakers, clothes, and go out to eat. Now, as I stand on the brink of graduating, with plans to study childcare at Norwalk Community College, I know this job is something I can do even when I’m going to school. It makes me feel responsible. And, by then, I’ll receive a raise.

From having the gumption it took to land my job, other things have changed as well. Before my job, whenever I was home, I felt like I was stuck in a box with 4 walls closing in on me. It made it hard to think about the future. Now that I’m earning my own money, my room has become my sanctuary not my prison. Some of the money I make has gone toward buying beautiful pink pillows, a robe, sweet-smelling body sprays and lotions to make me feel good about myself when I’m there. The only thing I need now is to start saving up for a tv. I’m feeling good about myself and for my future, and I thank god for everything.

Because stuff happens for a reason.

*edited with Virginia White

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