This is an essay by Kendall Polidori, a finalist for the 2018 WeParent Scholarship. She is a student at Columbia College Chicago.
Growing up with divorced parents shaped my life in ways that I would have never thought possible. My mom, raising me basically on her own, taught me the importance of being independent, dedicated, and goal oriented. Though at the time when everything first happened it seemed like it would never get better and that I was forced to grow up too fast, I came out on the other side a better person than if it didn’t happen.
My parents split when I was in the fifth grade, and there was no warning to it. I remember feeling absolutely heartbroken and as though my whole life changed, which it did, but only when I got older did I realize how even when my parents were together my mom was the one who was always around and supporting me. Being on her own, she shined as the figure of a mom. She worked twelve hour days and managed to take us to any school events or sports, paying for everything on her own, and giving us the affection we needed.
I recall a time in middle school when I just looked at her amazed, I had no idea how she did it on her own and how she never made it obvious that she was hurting too. Growing up with a woman figure so powerful and independent shaped me into the woman I am today. I like to consider myself very independent, as I had to learn to grow up at a very young age. As I am older now I realize she taught me the most important thing that I hold onto in my life, which is that I don’t need anyone by my side for me to succeed and get what I want. The only person who can control my life is me, and that is exactly what she did with her life.
Witnessing my mom work herself to the bone in order to pay the bills and give us a decent life showed me the importance of being dedicated to something. My brother and I were her motivation to keep going and to work hard. Once I got to high school and started applying to colleges, I found that my motivation was my mom. Everything I did or worked for I did it because of her, to make her proud and feel as though what she did with her life was ultimately worth it. Personally, school never came easy to me, but once I found something that I truly loved, writing and journalism, my mom pushed me to pursue my dreams. And now, as I am living out my dreams of school and work in journalism it all seems so easy. Hard work truly pays off when you reach your goals and even begin to reach higher.
When my parents first divorced I felt lost, like I had no idea what was to come or what I had to do next. I was exposed to things that most people my age were not, which forced me to grow up in my own way. I felt like I was alone, and so I put great focus into the things that I loved. This pushed me towards being very goal oriented and always working for something or towards something. I put my heart into everything I did because that’s the only place I felt like it could go. This turned me into the writer I am today, and without being so devoted and fixed on it I don’t think I would nearly as successful as I am.
Though having divorced parents at a very young age taught me things such as loss and hate, it shaped me into the person I am today, and for the better. Having my mom raise me on her own, I was given the best example of what a woman should be, teaching me to be independent, dedicated, and goal oriented in every aspect of my life. I used to think that because of this I grew up too fast, but now as I am older I know that is exactly what I needed and couldn’t be more grateful.