It is really hard to find something positive in our darkest days. However staying positive is the only way to make it through the tough times. Sometime back I came across the inspirational story of Liz Murray, a woman who overcame tremendous odds to become the best selling author, motivational speaker and a strong voice for women who are also working towards goals despite dealing with significant hardship.
Liz, born in the Bronx, New York, recalls her earliest memories of her parents spending their welfare payments on heroin and cocaine whilst she and her sister starved. “We ate ice cubes because it felt like eating. We split a tube of toothpaste between us for dinner.”
The sisters watched as their parents were rendered hopeless by drug addiction and poverty. Her mother would steal their birthday money, sell the TV and even a donated Thanksgiving Turkey in order to get her next hit. Liz would arrive at school scruffy where she was subject to bullying, dropping out as a result.
Her mother’s mantra was “one day life is going to be better.” When Liz was 15, her mother revealed that she was HIV positive and had aids. Shortly afterwards she succumbed to the illness and was buried in a donated wooden box.
Unable to pay the rent, the remainder of the family was evicted. Liz’s father went to a shelter, her sister to a friend’s place and Liz, to the streets.
Becoming homeless at 16, Liz would steal food and at the same time she shoplifted self-helps books and studied for exams in a friend’s hallway. Having not attended school for a number of years, at 17 Liz pledged to become a straight-A student and completed her high school education in just 2 years.
She then did a years work term while attending night classes. A teacher saw the drive she had and mentored her. When he took his top 10 students to Harvard Liz decided that was where she was headed and started to research ‘New York Times’ Scholarships.
Liz graduated from Harvard and went on to become a best-selling author as well as motivating teenagers to resist the temptations of drugs and gangs.
I need to take advantage of life right now. If I don’t, it will pass me by. It’s just that easy.Liz Murray
The ultimate message is not to use the hardships of childhood or even our current situation as an excuse not to take on opportunities. Stay positive to keep making investments into your future.