At the young age of ten, I had the privilege to occupy a homeless shelter that once was a hospital. It had eight floors, an abundance of beg bugs, and probably some ghost too. It made for a lovely haunted house during the month of October and my place of residence for about seven months that year. Looking from the outside in, people sometimes felt sorry for me because I had to live in a homeless shelter. Never would they ever think that is was actually one of the best times of my life and one of the most valuable experiences. It allowed me to grow significantly in many aspects of my life and I have become very appreciative of this life experience.
Living in a homeless shelter pushed me to become mentally and emotionally tough. I lived in a building with hundreds of other troubled families and sometimes it seemed like drama was inevitable; I was either in the drama or I was a witness to it. I clearly remember an evening when all of the children on my floor were playing together and our game suddenly stopped as two women and a man began shouting at each other in the hallway. I was not sure what they were shouting about, but we all realized quickly just how serious the situation became when the man ran to his room and reappeared in the hallway with a large knife. As a ten year old I did not know what to do other than to sit and watch all the drama unfold. The man began waving the knife around in the two women’s faces and threatened to stab them both. Now I began to fear the worst, and it wasn 't until one of the women’s siblings ran to me in fear that I realized I had to get out of the hallway and ...
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... there was no need to react that way for three reasons; One, I already knew I was “fat” I looked in the mirror everyday so it was not a new discovery for me. Secondly, I did not know who this person was so it truly did not bother me. Lastly, and most importantly, I thought to myself “Umm, okay… Thanks I’m fabulous anyway”. This moment in time I had realized that the way I thought about myself had changed. I was able to walk away from the situation unbothered and I was truly proud of that moment.
I look at my experience in the shelter, not as a time in my life where I was at my lowest, but a time where I was given the opportunity to learn and become a better person in important areas of my life. Not every difficult situation in life has to be labeled as a terrible time. For me it was a blessing and it is not something I would ever change if I were given the chance to.
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