When I became pregnant at 17, I knew that my life would never be the same, and that I could kiss my normal teenage and adult years goodbye. I was scared and embarrassed, and I didn’t want to finish high school. My life is over, I thought, because I had become the one thing I swore I wouldn’t become.
I didn’t even like kids, and now I was going to be a mom at such a young age.
No more waking up each day and thinking about myself and my needs first. No going out-of-state for college.
Most importantly, there was no way to support myself and my child. I was ashamed and full of self-pity.
I managed to obtain a summer internship at a credit information company. It started just two months after I found out about my situation. It paid $13 per hour, and I learned a lot that summer in between numerous trips to the restroom to try to mask my morning sickness.
I didn’t want to let anyone down by mentioning I was pregnant at the time. But in reality, I was ashamed and full of self-pity.
Teen moms and single mothers don’t have the best reputation of being successful with their finances or life in general, according to some of these widely disseminated statistics.
What these “facts” tell me and every other single teen mother is that we are at a huge disadvantage of ever being successful in life.
After my summer internship, my mom and sister found an alternative high school for me to attend. It was an extension of the high school in my school district. This way, I could still earn the rest of my credits, but I would be attending school on a flexible schedule with a bunch of other pregnant girls.
My parents never had a lot of money. My mom had my older sister when she was 18. But my mom always stressed the importance of obtaining a good education to my siblings and me.
As I sat in class at my alternative school, I had an epiphany. I realized I didn’t want to be one of those statistics and that I actually had a choice. That day, I told myself that life was not over and, in fact, it had just begun.
I committed to working hard to get out of self-pity and obtain the life I really wanted and not the life I was predicted to have.
After I graduated from high school a semester early, I applied for financial aid. I went to a local college and got on welfare to help support myself and my son. Honestly, I didn’t care what people thought about me. My plan was to use welfare while I could to get through college and find better job prospects. I first learned how to budget my food stamps for the month.
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Welfare helped me survive while I focused on my education and established my writing career.
I took advantage of campus resources like child care, internships, workshops, and seminars. I flew through my courses, even getting the opportunity to study abroad in Europe for one summer.
Then, I graduated in four years just like my peers. Just a few years ago, I was living in a low-income apartment telling myself, “If I could just earn at least $1,000 per month, everything would be alright and I could meet my expenses.”
I’m proud to say that I now earn at least five times that amount per month, and I do it all through my passion of writing.
I don’t need welfare anymore. But I wouldn’t have ever gotten to that point if I had stayed in my self-pity mindset. There are opportunities out there to earn more money if you’re determined to put the work and effort in.
No matter who you are, you need to write your own unique story to rise above the statistical average.