Written by: Ramona M. Pinckney
I now realize that life isn’t about what you have, but it is about making the most of what you have.
I grew up in Bronx, New York in a dysfunctional family living in the inner city. Everyone seemed to live for the moment and without hope for a future. As a product of my surroundings, I lived a life of hopelessness and despair. My only point of reference for a better life was what I saw on television and that was of course out of my reach. Not equipped with the life skills needed to escape my surroundings, I became just another statistic of inner city life. At eight years of age, I was molested by my cousin. Evil’s embrace taught me that safety did not exist, not even at home. I became a teenaged mother at the age of 15 and attempted suicide twice. For many years, depression, isolation and hopelessness were my closest companions. There was always a loud voice inside me that said, “Give up,” “What’s the use?” and “No one cares.” But, there was also a quieter voice saying “Just maybe,” “Keep trying,” “God loves you.”
I decided to listen to that quieter voice and obtained a G.E.D. when I was 17 years old and eventually earned many degrees. However, the louder voice never went away. Secretly, I wished for someone to come and rescue me from myself and my circumstances–no one came. My toolbox for living a better life was bare, but it was up to me to use what I had. The tool I used to chisel my way out of my prison of despair was a love for reading.
My story is sad, but so are many others. No one has a choice regarding the circumstances in which he or she is born, but there is a choice in deciding how one chooses to live. I have chosen to be better and not bitter so that I may serve others. I realize that what happened to me was not for me alone. There are many, many others who are living in despair. They are placed in silos of corruption and pain by others through no fault of their own. Learning, sharing and helping others are the keys which will unlock the chains and unleash the potential that lies within all of us.
That’s why Women’s Speaker Network is a platform for all who have a voice and a desire to inspire, encourage and empower women. I have learned that my past failure and abuse by others was a boot camp for dealing with the many trials that have already come my way. All over the world, women are victims of social, emotional, and physical abuse. Equipping women with life skills is what creates a better world. In an article written for Foreign Affairs, Isobel Colemans stated, “When women are educated and can earn and control income, a number of good results follow: infant mortality declines, child health and nutrition improves, agricultural productivity rises, population growth slows, economies expand, and cycles of poverty are broken” (The Global Glass Ceiling: Why Empowering Women is Good for Business. May/June 2010). The quieter voice has now become loudest as it joins others in one collective voice to all women wherever they may be.